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AM News: De Blasio Forced To Accommodate NYC Charter Expansion

Mayor Agrees to Accommodate 4 Larger or New Charter Schools NYT: Under a new state law, New York City must offer free space in public buildings or or help with the cost of renting private space.

Palm Beach school leaders won't opt out of high-stakes testing Sun Sentinel: The Lee County board initially supported the anti-test stance, even though state officials said it's against the law and would affect funding, student grades, graduation and eligibility for athletics. The Lee board reversed itself earlier this month.

One Newark, Many Changes WNYC: Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson talks about why drastic changes are required, despite protests and opposition from the mayor.

In-seat attendance up in D.C. schools Washington Post: DCPS in recent years has shifted away from measuring “average-daily attendance” which counts students with excused absences as attending on any given day, according to Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works, a national organization that has worked with DCPS. The new “in-seat attendance” measure only counts students who are actually there, which is a more meaningful number, she said.

Playgrounds For All Children: Here's How To Find One NPR: For kids with disabilities, a simple activity like going down a slide can be a challenge. An NPR crowdsourcing project maps inclusive playgrounds — fun and safe for all — across the country.

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music. NPR: A new study suggests that learning to play a musical instrument helps improve the brain's ability to process language. That means music lessons could give kids from low-income communities a big boost.

Duncan Looks to Tennessee's Turnaround School District as Model for Country PK12: On the last stop of his back-to-school bus tour through three Southern states, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan used a panel discussion Wednesday to tackle the education crisis present in so many economically devastated communities across the country. 

D.C. Teacher To Apologize For Asking Students To Compare Bush To Hitler WAMU: As part of a discussion on the book "War and Peace," a sixth-grade teacher asked their students to compare and contrast President George W. Bush and German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Chicago Mayoral Race: Lewis, Fioretti Turn Up the Heat NBC Chicago:Two of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most vocal critics are inching closer to making a decision on whether to challenge him at the ballot box this February.

UTLA tells LAUSD: 'The money is there' for 17.6 percent teacher pay raise LA Daily News: United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl on Tuesday told the Los Angeles Unified School board that it can clearly afford to give teachers a raise.

First Lady Michelle Obama Consoles Child Who Fainted ABC News:   The first lady called for paramedics and said, “If anyone is starting to feel tired standing up, bend your knees! And eat your breakfast, and lunch!”

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Even When #CCSS Critics Win, They Lose

CCSS critics out-debated advocates -- but [spoiler alert/trigger warning!] audience voted for CC anyway - EdWeek ow.ly/BlsUN

Common Core Advocates' Top 3 Mistakes - @yep-DC @BrainofMatter ow.ly/BkLHr Mistake #1: Ignoring materials and training.

Just 5 of 43 states with #CCSS are considering repeal of some kind, reports @ecs ow.ly/BkPt5 Though many have #renamed

Revamping tenure doesn't poll well in MO, reports @TeacherBeat ow.ly/BlMoO Then again, the state's already revamped tval.

Is It Time to Cash in on Charter Schools? I Don’t Think So - NJ Spotlight http://ow.ly/Bk3bU 

Newsweek: The Manhattan School That's Helping Immigrant Students Succeed ow.ly/Bl6dp

About 70 percent of America's elementary schools still rely on slow Internet connections. ow.ly/BkDTS

Video: Rhee, Kahlenberg, & Daniels Debate Common Core, Integration, & New iPhone Design

 Watch this panel featuring Michelle Rhee, Mitch Daniels, and Richard D. Kahlenberg from yesterday's NYT Schools For Tomorrow.  It's titled "Getting To College-Ready" and the Twitter hashtag was #NYTsft

Events: [Fashion] Notes From "Schools For Tomorrow"

Some highlights from yesterday's NYT education conference (aka #NYTsft):

*Watching and then chatting with Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, who have a new book out about "smarter" charters (ie, diverse & teacher-led ones). Can't wait to read it.

*Chatting with Ben Nelson, the guy who founded the Minerva Project, who explained to me that MOOCs got overfocused on eye-popping signup numbers but actually have good results with folks who take the first couple of classes.

*Catching up a bit with Ted Mitchell, whom I interviewed for my book on Green Dot long long, ago, and meeting a tall smart-looking guy from the Council of Economic Advisors who was with him (sorry - bad with names and no time to look it up).

*Meeting NPR education blogger and fellow Brooklyner Anya Kamenetz (she's super-friendly, and taller than you might think!)

*Seeing familiar faces like Paul Tough and Michelle Rhee fly through the lobby (and lots of "looks-familiar" faces, too).

*Hanging out with Scholastic Administrator editor Wayne D'Orio (who got to see the US Open - jealous).

*Keeping a keen eye out for #thatJCrewginghamshirt but not spotting it on any of the dapper dudes in slender suits (maybe because it was a fancy event, or because it's fall?)

*Trying to recognize people from their tiny Twitter avatars (and usually getting it wrong).

Your turn -- best moments, tweets, quotes, fails?

Charts: NYT Ranks Top Colleges For Economic Diversity

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 09 13.07

"Colleges with similar resources admit very different numbers of low-income undergraduates. Some wealthy colleges admit many such students, but others do not." David Leonhardt on the NYT's new ranking. Image used with permission.

Quotes: The Teachers Unions' Quandry

Quotes2The developments [Vergara, etc.] have left the nation's two largest teachers unions in a quandary: How to alter the perception that they are obstacles to change while holding on to principles such as tenure that their members demand. - WSJ (Teachers Unions Under Fire)

Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy

 

Or click below and watch Smiley interview Diane Ravitch.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy" »

AM News: Mid-Term Election Results With Edu-Implications

U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., Longtime Ed. Committee Member, Loses Primary PK12:The liberal congressman with a thick Boston accent was a longtime member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and known for his aggressive style of politics. 

Cuomo wins closer-than-expected primary race Vox: On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo beat back a left-wing primary challenge and won renomination, defeating Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. 

Reform Candidate Closes Gap In Race To Be Calif. Schools Chief-Poll Reuters: A former charter school executive aiming to unseat California's education chief is in a statistical tie in a race shaping up to be a proxy war between school reform advocates and the state's powerful teachers unions, a poll showed on Tuesday.

Common Core 2.0: Common Core by another name WashPost: As the national debate over the Common Core K-12 academic standards rages on, most of the states that originally adopted them are standing by the standards, though they’re calling them something different. See also State EdWatch

American Teachers Spend More Time In The Classroom Than World Peers, Says Report HuffPost:  American middle school and high school teachers spend more time educating students than peers in every OECD country except Chile, according to the report. In addition to classroom time, U.S. teachers are required to be at school for more hours than most of their international peers.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Mid-Term Election Results With Edu-Implications" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: So That FL District Reversed Itself On Testing Opt-Out

FL district rescinds testing opt-out vote WBBH News http://ow.ly/BiI4n

Former EdTrust/Obama/Kennedy/Pell guy @M_Dannenberg1 is joining Ed Reform Now, "think tank to DFER and others."

RT @hechingerreport: If there is a testing craze, @BarthRichard says his three NYC public school kids are getting tested more in soccer...

Key Players in the Future of Education - OZY http://ow.ly/Bi3pL  feat. Ruslyn Ali, John White, Roland Fryer, Mike Johnston, Poland.

Statement from Chancellor Henderson Regarding Washington Post Column http://ow.ly/3qqcDG 

Richard Kahlenberg of Century Foundation: “It’s not hard to be pro-union on this panel.” He’s with Michelle Rhee and Mitch Daniels. #nytsft via @scholasticadms

A Rare Virus Plagues Back-to-School Season - Atlantic Mobile http://ow.ly/3qqskJ 

 

Teaching: Vergara Decision Spotlights Administrator Practices As Much As Teachers

image from www.scholastic.comThe gist of my latest Scholastic Administrator column is that the Vergara decision in California -- and the slew of lawsuits that may follow -- put as much if not more pressure on school and district administrators as on teachers.

"The key task for educators is to decide whether to hunker down and keep doing what they’re already doing—a time-tested approach to change that is sometimes the wisest course—or take a hard look at what’s really possible under current law, start talking to counterparts about improving things in their districts in the short term and perhaps avoid the necessity of a wave of Vergara-like lawsuits in the first place."

But really, the star of the column is the graphic, right? A red apple with one of those small stickers on it (tenure) with an old-school wooden pencil crashing through the whole thing at high speed. 

Livestream: NYT "Schools For Tomorrow" Conference

Link to agenda and previous segments here@NYTConf#NYTsft

Quotes: "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"

Quotes2There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness... I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - Ta-Nehesi Coates (‘I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me’ Atlantic Magazine via Longreads)

Morning Video: 15 High Seniors Tell Their Stories In New Documentary

AM News: NYT Ranks Top Colleges That Actually Enroll Low-Income Students

Top Colleges That Enroll Rich, Middle Class and Poor NYT: A new index measures which colleges [Grinnell, Wesleyan, etc.] have the most economically diverse student bodies — and charge the least to lower-income students.

Education secretary touts teacher diversity during Atlanta visit Atlanta Journal Constitution: During a visit Monday to Spelman College, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the country needs to increase the diversity of its teacher workforce to match the diversity of schoolchildren. 

Karen Lewis loans $40K to her own mayoral bid Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis put $40,000 of her own money toward a mayoral exploration effort in hopes of signaling to donors that she should be taken seriously. 

Karen Lewis puts $40000 of own money into mayoral bid Chicago Tribune: For weeks, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has said she is seriously considering a run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On Monday Lewis offered what she said is proof: $40,000 of her own money.

Universal preschool spending draws wide support in national poll KPCC: The telephone survey of 1,013 adults nationwide showed, not surprisingly, that Democrats love the idea of universal preschool, with 87 percent in support. But over half of the Republicans polled also agreed that public money should be used for preschool.  

Pa. Gov. Corbett Urges Review as Part of Effort to 'Roll Back' Common Core State EdWatch: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett releases a somewhat ambiguous statement about the future of the Common Core State Standards in the Keystone State.

Custodial contract causing problems at start of school year WBEZ: Belanger is just one of more than 230 principals recently surveyed by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The results reveal problems across Chicago Public Schools—dirty classrooms, damaged materials, theft and an overall lack of communication.

New Reduced Pricing For Amplify's All-In-One Tablet EdSurge: This week Amplify announced a price dip for it’s all-in-one tablet, which made headlines last year after some of its chargers melted.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Choice, Cheating, Common Core Half-Truths

On the School-Choice Barricades with Kevin Chavous - WSJ http://ow.ly/Be47y 

Atlanta school cheating trial has 12 teachers facing prison - LA Times ow.ly/Bf244

Common Core’s five big half-truths - @rickhess99 via @DianeRavitch ow.ly/BfIea

Beyond standardized tests, we need a richer accountability model. Test scores alone aren't enough. msdf.co/1niIsdn

States Collaborate to Keep Track of Students http://ow.ly/Be1NN  - Stateline

Ravitch & Deasy scheduled to be on Tavis Smiley tonight (separately, I presume) http://ow.ly/Be3Hm 

Reform: Goldstein Puts TFA Under The Microscope

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.comAlong with several familiar (and to me somewhat unfair or overstated) complaints, the TFA-focused excerpt Vox has published from Dana Goldstein's Teacher Wars book includes some delicious details (and graphics).

In particular, Goldstein captures some of the increasingly awkward rhetorical evolution that TFA went through in the years leading up to the Great Recession -- the head-in-the-sand silence in response to critics (friendly and otherwise) for many years; the ever-shifting, ever-expanding definitions of success and accomplishment, the nearly-unchanged program model growing creakier every year -- and the near-ubiquity of the program in certain circles ("In 2014, it seems that in white-collar America, everyone has a daughter, nephew, colleague, or friend who "did" TFA.")

 Goldstein also unearths some new, perhaps difficult truths and nuances. Fer example, the candor internally over program problems. ("From the outside, Teach for America looked defensive, but internally, it was engaged in profound self-exploration and self-critique."); or, the successful promotion of the idea that teaching is a cool thing for college grads to do (whether or not they apply to TFA) -- a broader impact that I don't think should be underestimated even if it doesn't show up in classroom or school statistics; or, the organization's success in bringing minority teachers into urban classrooms.

There are a couple of things that I think Goldstein may get wrong or leaves out: Gates isn't a big TFA supporter, far as I recall -- or hasn't been for a while now. Check me on that and leave them off the list next time, perhaps.  Also: TFA represents just 5-10 percent of alternative certification route teachers in classrooms, though the loophole it created in NCLB is responsible for allowing those teachers to be considered qualified to teach low-income classrooms. While reform organizations are full of TFA alums, I don't know if it's fair to say that TFA has led or influenced greatly the reform movement's interests. (TFA founder Wendy Kopp generally focused the organization narrowly on operational issues, and came out only occasionally --against publishing teachers' ratings, for example).

But over all I found it an extremely worthwhile read- much more interesting than, say, that recent Politico story about the organization (if perhaps a bit less juicy). You might not think you need to read it, but you probably do.

Related posts: 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)TFA Moves To Soften "Pervasive Sense" Of Reform Support.; Goldstein Taking Her Talents To The Marshall ProjectTraditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFAHoward Dean Touts TFA & Charter School. Image used with permission.

Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning

CyberEven when I supported Common Core as a step toward improving instruction, critical thinking, and teaching for mastery, I suspected that it was a part of a failure of imagination. 

Forget the idiocy of seeking high-stakes tests to force teachers and students into the 21st century. Given the explosion of knowledge, why worry over a list of the facts and concepts that secondary schools should teach?

Why not help teachers teach with the greatest curriculum on earth – the web sites of PBS, NPR, our incredible newspapers and magazines, and our awesome national museums and parks?

Every Sunday, listening to NPR, I’m reminded of the tragic opportunity costs of the contemporary school reform movement. This week, American Radio Works reported on the great potential of Common Core to counter the drill and kill prompted by testing, as well as the primitive worksheet-driven pedagogy that preceded it. Ironically, the child of a teacher featured in the report complained that the introduction of Common Core into his high-performing school means that packets of worksheets are driving out engaging instruction in his favorite subject, science.

Reformers assume that high-stakes tests are essential to making teachers and students do their jobs, so they downplay the damage done by their test, sort, and punish mentality.

Then, NPR’s TED Talk Radio Hour (rerun) reminded us of what I would think that everyone - even reformers during their childhood - once knew.  Sugata Mitra started the discussion with the reminder that education is not about “making” learning happen, but by “letting learning happen.”

Continue reading "Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning" »

Quotes: Top Obama Ed Official Endorsed Vergara Decision (ICYMI)

Quotes2

The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers. -- Arne Duncan responding to #Vergara decision as quoted in the WSJ (Teachers Unions Under Fire)

Morning Audio: ICYMI Common Core Documentary

 

Here's the full audio for the widely-admired embedded American RadioWorks documentary about teachers working with Common Core that came out last week. Or download or read it it here.

AM News: All Eyes On California & Rhode Island

Brown challenger targets CA Gov.'s ties to teachers’ union EdSource Today: In the sharpest exchange of the first, and most likely, only debate between the two leading gubernatorial candidates, GOP challenger Neil Kashkari on Thursday night accused Gov. Jerry Brown of putting the interests of teachers unions over those of students.

Dem divisions on display in R.I. race Politico: The race for an open governor's seat is shaping up as the most expensive in state history. 

Delaware Schools Struggle To Make Room For Unaccompanied Minors WAMU: It's not just the D.C. Metro area that has had to respond to an influx in Central American — Delaware's largest school district is also trying to figure out how to provide these kids the support they need.

First Lady Michelle Obama, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to visit The Republic: First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to visit Atlanta as part of her Reach Higher education initiative.

News Analysis: Why Don’t More Men Go Into Teaching? NYT: A change in the gender imbalance could sway the way teaching is regarded, and help it attract the best candidates.

Q&A: Dana Goldstein, Author, 'The Teacher Wars' NPR: Testing, tenure, pay, standards, business influence, poverty and inequality — the big education issues have been with us a long time, says a new book.

In Maryland's Poorest County, Free Meal Program Could Go A Long Way WAMU: Maryland's Somerset County is the first in the state to implement a federal nutrition program that will provide free breakfast and lunch to all of its public school students.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On California & Rhode Island" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Gates, Unions, Testing, Integration, & Teens

So Bill Gates Has This Idea for a History Class - NYT Sunday Magazine - ow.ly/B9pPD ow.ly/3q4oSB

Teachers Unions Under Fire, Firing Back [at allies as well as sworn enemies] - WSJ  ow.ly/B9Bcw  @carolineporter

Why Do Teacher Unions Hate Eva Moskowitz? -- NYMag @jonathanchait ow.ly/B8YkP She focuses on results, not jobs

The Ivy League Is Broken -- and Only Standardized Tests Can Fix It http://ow.ly/B8VE5 

‘It Was Like A War Zone’: Busing In Boston | WBUR http://ow.ly/B8oIX  Looking back at 40 years ago - via @annenberginst

New @AJAMPresents doc showing what life's like for 15 HS seniors starts Sunday ow.ly/B9iWs

"Brave Teen Refuses to Attend Middle School, Chooses Jail Instead" http://feedly.com/e/qRPVk_g1 

Charts: US Kids Spend 943 Hours In Class A Year - More Than All But 3 Other Nations*

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

Via Five Thirty Eight (American Kids Will Spend An Average Of 943 Hours In Elementary School This Year). Image used with permission. *Charts and text now corrected. New OECD figures coming out Tuesday.

Quotes: Shame On Reform Allies Who Let Rhee Critics "Get Away With It"

Quotes2Her critics deserve shame for being so quick to paint her as the wicked witch. And the rest of us earned some shame for letting them get away with it a lot of the time. - TNTP's David Keeling (The High Price of Leadership)

Charts: Traditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFA

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.comAmerican school children are getting more and more diverse, as is TFA's small but growing band of merry teachers. But traditional classroom teaching remains super white. Image via Vox, used with permission.  Click here for the feature article about TFA's evolution.

Morning Video: Teachers Describe Common Core Transformation

 

Check out 7 minutes of video above feturing Reno (Washoe) teachers talking about their experiences with the Common Core. Your eyes might be opened.  Then go and read the sidebar story from American Radio Works about how things have played out there. Then -- almost done! -- listen to the full hourlong documentary, and several other sidebar stories (including Carol Burris and Lace To The Top). Last but not least, there's a second video from Washoe in which teachers reflect you can watch here, courtesy Torrey Palmer and Aaron Grossman.

AM News: Too Much Education News, All Published In One Short Week!

NEA Ad Buy Slams Republican in N.C. Senate Race on K-12 Spending PK12: The National Education Association launched a seven-figure TV ad buy Friday in North Carolina, slamming GOP Senate hopeful Thom Tillis for education spending cuts that occurred under his watch as state House Speaker. See also.

New Jersey Parents And Students Boycott First Day Of School HuffPost: A group of parents and students in Newark, New Jersey, boycotted the first day of school on Thursday to protest a new system that reorganized the state-run district this year. See also NJ Spotlight

Suspensions and expulsions down in D.C. charter schools Washington Post: The expulsion rate for D.C. public charter schools in the past school year was about half of what it was two years before, and the rate of out-of-school suspensions decreased by about 20 percent in one year, according to a report released Thursday.

Former MPS board member Chris Stewart to blog for Education Post Minn Post: Chris Stewart has left his position as executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) to become director of outreach and external affairs for a new national education reform communications effort.

Teach for America has faced criticism for years. Now it’s listening — and changing Vox: From the outside, Teach for America looked defensive, but internally, it was engaged in profound self-exploration and self-critique. 

The Battle for New York Schools NYT: The fight between two liberal crusaders with profoundly divergent ideas about how to aid and educate the disempowered.

The Myth Of The Superstar Superintendent? NPR: Superintendents make almost no difference when it comes to student success, according to a new report.

American Kids Will Spend An Average Of 943 Hours In Elementary School This Year Five Thirty-Eight: Only in Chile, Israel and Australia do elementary school students spend longer in class each year than their U.S. counterparts.

America's Schools Could Be More Efficient If Teachers Were Paid Less: Report HuffPost: GEMS Education Solutions, an education consulting firm, released its "Efficiency Index" and an accompanying report on Thursday, ranking the return on investment for 30 different nations' education budgets. The index "treats the educational system as if it were a company which attempts to obtain an output," according to the report.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Too Much Education News, All Published In One Short Week!" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Mother Jones On The Common Core Bogeyman

How the Common Core Became the Biggest Conservative Bogeyman Since Obamacare | Mother Jones @timothypmurphy ow.ly/B5eIW

Student demographics are rapidly changing but teacher demographics aren't keeping up: http://bddy.me/1AaDLH0 

Varied views on launch of @edu_post in EdWeek http://ow.ly/B6e0M  Seemed to stumble a bit the first day despite lovely WP writeup

Michele Cahill leaving Carnegie Corp of NY as of 9/12ow.ly/B6zER LaVerne Evans Srinivasan will be acting VP for ed

"Google Will Refund At Least $19 Million for Kids' In-App Purchases" feedly.com/e/kMGzBDW7

New criticism of The Wire raises provocative questions about journalism and race http://ow.ly/B4ans  #edjourn

Maps: 18 of 22 Smarter Balanced States Expected To Sign Contracts This Year

  image from edsource.org"California and eight other dark green states have signed a contract to give the Smarter Balanced tests next spring. Nine light green states are expected to contract with the consortium. Four blue Smarter Balanced member states won't contract next year." (State awards Common Core test contract) NB: Smarter Balanced says it's going to be run by a unit within UCLA that is separate from CRESST (which is also at UCLA).

 

Quotes: From Pariah To Guru

Quotes2It’s hard to feel like a guru... I’ve been a pariah for so long.

- E.D. Hirsch, profiled by Peg Tyre in Politico (along with David Coleman)

NB Diane Ravitch was also profiled.

Journalism: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting

Group-spencer1415-hpIt's been a busy few weeks for the folks at Columbia University's Journalism School, what with not one but two Spencer Fellow alumnae having books out and three new Spencer Fellows arriving on campus (pictured).

In addition, there's a new program that's launched alongside the Spencer Fellowship, with Spencer alumna Sarah Carr at the helm.

Called a "post-graduate reporting project," the new effort will focus on teachers and features the work of recent CSJ grads over the next year.

The first crop of reporters -- all CSJ 2014 graduates -- includes Madeleine Cummings (her first story is here), Matt Collette (his first story is here) and Alexandra Neason (coming soon!).  

Image used with permission. 

Books: If Teacher-Bashing Is Real, The Ford Foundation Started It

image from www.newyorker.comColumbia J-School professor Sam Freedman's New Yorker review of Up The Down Staircase (The Book That Got Teaching Right) makes at least one claim with which I disagree strongly -- that teacher-bashing "has become a major strain, even the dominant strain, of what passes for “education reform."

This may be the conventional wisdom among liberal Democrats and all too many education journalists, and there may be some teacher haters among the reform community but the vast majority of those that I have met and whose work I have followed are not so inclined.  It's essentially an idea that's been popularized by anti-reform advocates and teachers unions.

However, Freedman complicates matteers in some interesting ways when he (a) highlights some of the book's sections that deride teachers who found the career "an excuse or a refuge" and (b) goes on to describe how teacher-bashing has a long, illustrious career and its proponents (intentional and otherwise) include liberal philanthropy like that of the Ford Foundation, who allied themselves with low-income communities in a "pincer movement" that focused on white middle class teachers (most of them women).

It's an intersting notion -- one that's surely embedded in Dana Goldstein's history of conflicts surrounding teaching if only I'd gotten that far --that progressives and liberals are partly to blame for over-focusing on teachers and are thus making claims against reformers that could well be made against them.  (Certainly, teachers unions and low-income parents haven't always gotten along or had the same ideas about what schools needed most.)

But I still don't really buy the teacher-bashing argument is at the heart of Freedman's review and that's so prevalent out there among liberal critics. Yes, there are some strains of class criticism in there (elites criticizing middle-class teachers.) But if uou want to see real teacher-bashing, take a look at what Republicans and Tea Party candidates want to do with public education.  The rest, in my opinion, boils down to exaggerated claims (re layoffs in particular) and disrespect promulgated for political advantage, media complacency (too good to check!), and the occasional self-inflicted wound by reformers (Rhee's broomstick magazine cover, for example).

Morning Video: Teaching Teachers Reading

 

From PBS NewsHour:"When Liz Woody’s son Mason was in third grade, he struggled to read basic words. After Woody moved Mason to a specialized school, she set out to transform techniques to reach struggling readers."

AM News: All Eyes On NYC's First Day Under De Blasio

NYC School Year Starts with New Mayor's Imprint WNYC: While his signature campaign initiative to expand pre-kindergarten classes has received the most attention, it is just one of several policy changes expected to ripple through the system. 

Final Touches Range From Flowery to Frantic as Expanded Pre-K Awaits Start NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promised free prekindergarten for every 4-year-old, and his administration has invested mightily in quickly bringing that plan to life.

Gentlemen, Preschool Is Calling NPR: New York City is scrambling to make good on its promise to provide preschool for all. That means hiring roughly 1,000 new teachers. But few will likely be men.

Texas Mimics New York in Pushing Back State Tests' Impact on Students State EdWatch: Texas is considering a timeline for phasing in the impact of new tests on students that resembles an approach recently adopted by New York state.

State awards Common Core test contract EdSource Today: With the State Board of Education’s approval, California became the ninth state Wednesday to award a contract to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for the standardized tests in the Common Core State Standards that students will take next spring.

Michael Bloomberg to Return to Lead Bloomberg L.P. NYT: When he left politics, Mr. Bloomberg, 72, was expected to devote most of his time to giving away his $32.8 billion fortune.

State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class NYT: Panorama Education, aided by prominent tech investors, is refining student feedback through innovative data collection. School systems are embracing the concept.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On NYC's First Day Under De Blasio" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Bad Times For Democrats = Good For Progressives

Why a tough year for America’s Democrats could be a good opportunity for the party’s far left - Quartz ow.ly/B3ujx

Don't tell @davidsirota that the NEA is partnering with Walden ("Won't Back Down") Media ow.ly/B39yj

Ray Suarez interviews NEA head Lily Eskelsen Garcia re#vergara etc on AJAM ow.ly/B358X

Democrats, unions pour $25M into key Colo. races | Chalkbeat ow.ly/B3rYC via @RealClearEd

Zero (0) black/Hispanic students at 90 NYC schools passed state tests this year @NYDNBenChapman via @RedditEducation ow.ly/B3404

Teachers in Reno embrace the Common Core | American RadioWorks | ow.ly/B3caB

The Battle for NYC Schools: Moskowitz vs. de Blasio - NYT Sunday Magazine - http://ow.ly/B2FWF  Anything new or different here?

iPad is Running Into Trouble in the Education Market - Motley Fool via @RedditEducation http://ow.ly/B34CZ 

Trailers: "Rich Hill" Features Children Growing Up In Rural Poverty

"This is what goes through my mind: 'God has to be busy with everyone else.  Eventually he will come into my life.' I hope it happens.  If it doesn't it's going to break my heart."

Quotes: Reno Teachers Love The Core, Worry About The Tests

Quotes2For many teachers in Washoe County, Common Core has been liberating. They are free from the way textbooks, and tests, had come to define education... But new tests are coming. -- American Radio Works (Teachers embrace the Common Core)

Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking

Wow! I agree with Mike Petrilli on two big issues in one week! The revocation of Oklahoma’s NCLB Waiver, based on our repeal of Common Core, is a “terrible decision.”

I mostly agree with Petrilli’s thoughtful address to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. In an effort to understand the anti-reform backlash, he asks where his movement went wrong.

Most schools aren’t failing; the bigger problem is mediocrity. Most “failing” schools have teachers who are probably as good as those in higher-performing schools. 

I taught in “dropout factories, the dangerous schools …,” and my colleagues were far better teachers than those of my childhood. In the 1990s, our Curriculum Department and professional development were awesome.

But, Petrilli gets the second part of his diagnosis backwards. My schools responded to “wave after wave of reform.”  Those half-baked reforms made them worse.

I share Petrilli’s doubt that districts can replicate the few successful high-performing charter schools. He might also be right; in ten or twenty years, high-poverty systems may be dominated by charter schools.

But, that would be the double nightmare scenario - bad for more kids in "No Excuses" charters and worse for students left behind in even more awful concentrations of poverty and trauma. High-performing charters have contributed to a “neo-Plessyism” which is bad for all constituencies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking" »

Morning Audio: Sounds Of The First Day Of School

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWith millions of children headed back to school, we asked reporters from member stations around the country to bring us the sounds of that first day

  • In Marfa, Texas, a 14-year-old who's been home-schooled all his life is about to enter a classroom for the first time. (Tom Michael, KRTS)
  • Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School is celebrating its opening day in downtown Brooklyn. (Beth Fertig, WNYC)
  • The Newcomer School is a school for kids who are on their first or second year in the U.S. (Devin Katayama, WFPL)
  • At Noble Street-Rauner College Prep, a 22-year-old is preparing to teach his very first class. (Becky Vevea, WBEZ)
  • Students at the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in Austin, Texas, are learning how to tie their own ties. (Kate McGee, KUT)
  • Students at Bailey STEM Magnet School in Nashville prepare to launch their own hot air balloons. (Emily Siner, WPLN)
  • A kindergarten class at Hazel Valley Elementary in the Seattle suburb of Burien starts the first day of school the way you might expect: with the ABCs. (Ann Dornfeld, KUOW)

Image Flickr CC via

AM News: Even Seattle Has A Charter School Now

State’s charter-school era begins with Seattle elementary Seattle Times: First Place Scholars, which has been serving homeless students for 25 years, will convert Wednesday from a private school to the state’s first taxpayer-funded charter school.

Vergara decision headed for appeals court KPCC:  Putting the tentative and final rulings side by side, each 16 pages long, it's difficult to see any major changes, besides the dates they were filed. Treu left “TENTATIVE DECISION” at the bottom of each page in the document filed as his final ruling. See also TeacherBeat.

L.A. schools Supt. Deasy defends his dealings with Apple, Pearson LA Times:  Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy on Tuesday issued his most extensive and passionate defense yet of his actions involving Apple and Pearson, the companies that received the major contract in a $1.3-billion technology program. 

New Schedule in NYC Schools Makes Time for Teaching the Teachers NYT: City schools are taking 150 minutes that was used mostly for helping students and repackaging it to help teachers improve their craft, and contact families. But who really benefits - students or teachers?

Newark Launches 'Safe Passages' Transportation Program for Students District Dossier: The transportation plan includes a shuttle bus service for some students and maps showing safe walking routes.

New York Cancels or Postpones Opening of 45 Pre-K Programs NYT: Nine sites that would have served 265 students will not open because of safety concerns or other issues, officials announced two days before the first day of school.

 More news  below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Even Seattle Has A Charter School Now" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Let's All Publish School Stories On The Same Day!

So many school stories on the first day of a new year -- some of them good, many pro forma, very few breaking through #edjourn

Skipping School Correlates With Low Test Scores But Cracking Down on Truancy May Not Solve The Problem- @ewaemily http://ow.ly/AZOxL 

Lawsuits, snafus, delays, and unchanged outcomes snag early teacher rating efforts, reports @caitlinzemma http://ow.ly/B0ddD 

CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading - Chicago Sun-Times http://ow.ly/AZjOL 

Why Do Americans Love to Blame Teachers? - The Atlantic @hoodedu http://ow.ly/AZOqB 

NPR's Ominous "The End Of Neighborhood Schools" in NOLA http://ow.ly/B07wu  But isn't that what Cambridge, MA has?

Boston principals hire own teachers & leave 110 veterans out - "wasting" $10M - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/AZi8p  via @annenberginst

Quotes: Surrounding Poor Kids With High-Achieving Adults

Quotes2There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness. I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (Acting French)

Advocacy: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism

image from educationpost.orgThe Washington Post has a story about Peter Cunningham's new education group (Education Post aims to take the sting out of national conversations about school reform) that hints at but doesn't quite get to the real story behind the organization.

Described as "a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions," the $12 million Chicago-based organization (Cunningham, Mike Vaughn, etc.) is funded by Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton, among others.  

It's an obvious (and long-needed) attempt to address the insufficiencies of the reform movement when it comes to shaping the education debate -- the reform version of Parents Across America or the Network for Public Education or Sabrina Stevens' group (though I haven't heard much from them lately).

The purely communication-oriented outfit ((RSS FeedTwitter) is led by longtime Arne Duncan guy Cunningham and including blogger Citizen Stewart. A sampling of their blog posts (Public Education Needs a New ConversationSpeak Up, Don’t Give UpThe Right School for My ChildThe Common Sense Behind Common Core 

Versions of Education Post have been discussed for a while now, online and in the real world.  A version of the same idea almost came to being 18 months ago, tentatively called "The Hub." Why another group? Advocacy groups get embroiled in pushing for changes, and lack time and resources to coordinate among each other or to focus on communications. They barely have time or capacity to defend themselves, much less put out a positive agenda across multiple groups.  

Meantime, a small but dedicated group of reform critics and groups(many of them union-funded or - affiliated) has managed to embed themselves in the minds of reporters and generate an enormous amount of resistance to reform measures. 

Related posts: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

Morning Video: Teaching Kids To Build Things (Not Apps)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

AM News: Oklahoma Loses NCLB Waiver Over Common Core Retreat

50-State Look at How Common Core Playing out in US AP: The Alabama state school board folded Common Core into the state's College and Career Ready Standards for public schools and has been defending the decision ever since.

Oklahoma Loses Waiver From No Child Left Behind Provisions NYT: The move comes as a result of the state’s retreat from Common Core, a set of reading and math standards adopted by more than 40 states.

Push To Revamp Federal Testing Requirements Unlikely To Gain Traction WAMU: Local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would like to see changes to federal laws mandating standardized testing, but legislation is unlikely before the midterm elections.

California schools chief to appeal ruling striking down teacher tenure AP: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says the ruling by a Los Angeles judge isn't supported by facts or the law and says it unfairly blames teachers for flaws in the education system. His opponent in the November race, Marshall Tuck, says Torlakson isn't sticking up for students. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Summer school motivates college dreams for middle school students PBS NewsHour:  This unusual start to a day is actually quite normal for a program called Breakthrough, a unique summer program with the sole focus of showing low-income, under-resourced middle school students how to get to college.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Oklahoma Loses NCLB Waiver Over Common Core Retreat" »

Labor Day Weekend: Safe Travels, Everyone

20140824_142128I'm off for a couple of days -- as are you, perhaps, if you're not getting ready for the first day of class.  Have a fun and safe weekend.  See you in September.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Don't Expect Much - It's The Thursday Before Labor Day Weekend

Governor Jindal is a [Legal] Troll | EdCentral ow.ly/APrXV@l tepe 

Teacher unions ought to ease up on the gas — @njleftbehind - NewsWorks ow.ly/AQ7YB

5 @greendot [unionized charter] schools make Daily Beast/Newsweek top HS in the nation list ow.ly/APxGU

Ferguson area teachers given directives on how to talk about Michael Brown | Al Jazeera America ow.ly/APrPg

A Simple Education App [Remind] May Reach The Top Of The App Store Charts ow.ly/APpkq

More Research On Precisely What Works for English Language Learners | EdCentral ow.ly/APrRY

Teenagers Favor Tech Over Clothes - NYT ow.ly/AQ8gn "The conversation always circles back to the iPhone 6"

 

Maps: Most White Kids Still Attend Majority-White Schools

  image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"Even as students become more diverse, many are attending classes with other kids who look like them," notes Vox's Libby Nelson (3 maps that show school segregation in the US).

Lunchtime Video: FLA School District Opts Out Of Testing

Via FairTest and Diane Ravitch.  Is this really the first time this has ever happened?

AM News: Teacher Job Protection Lawsuits Likely To Be Merged In NY

Campbell Brown teacher tenure lawsuit likely to combine with NY group's case Washington Post: Lawyers in New York working with former CNN anchor Campbell Brown on a legal challenge of teacher tenure have agreed to consolidate their case with an earlier complaint filed by a group of public school parents that also seeks to change job protections for teachers.

School Districts Praise Ed. Secretary for Recognizing Over-Reliance on Testing District Dossier: The Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium, which represents 16 districts across the country, applauded Education Secretary Arne Duncan's recent statement that there is too much focus on standardized testing in the nation's schools.

Arne Duncan to Head South for Annual Back-to-School Bus Tour PK12: This year's trip, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8, to Wednesday, Sept. 10, will take the secretary and senior department officials to schools in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Head Start grantees flagged for quality concerns state-by-state Washington Post: So far, about 360 of the nation’s 1,700 Head Start grantees have been required to compete for new funds, according to government data.

Comptroller, NYC Mayor Face Off on Pre-K Readiness WNYC: He said the mayor’s office is late to submit contracts with pre-k providers for his approval — he’s reviewed 141 contracts, out of more than 500, or about 28 percent. Without the contracts, he said he can’t check for fraud and corruption and ensure classroom safety.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: US Little League Champs Mostly Attend Charters, Magnets

25 High Schools "Doing the Most With the Least" - includes Noble Street - The Daily Beast ow.ly/ANgzm

Jindal Sues Feds over Common Core ow.ly/ANyFw & Receives Renewed Support For Voucher Program ow.ly/ANyBe

Can @DrDeasyLAUSD survive the iPad fiasco? - LA Times ow.ly/ANy0M

Jay Matthews: Big charter change seen in 2 D.C. schools - The Washington Post ow.ly/3pfiSJ @HalleyTCF @RickKahlenberg

Theme park law keeps VA schools from opening until after labor day, reports Washingtonian http://ow.ly/AKEoP  @brfreed Other states?

Most of Chicago's Little League Champs attend magnet or charter schools, reports ABC News http://ow.ly/AMc2L 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.