About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Morning Video: Remembering CA Student Killed In Paris

NBC News: Friends, Relatives Recall Student Killed in Paris

AM News: Educators Respond To Paris Attacks (Plus NCLB Rewrite Agreement)

The California student killed in Paris saw herself as a driven, independent Mexican American LA Times: Gonzalez, a 23-year-old design student at Cal State Long Beach, had arrived in the city in September. She had never been out of the country and was looking forward to the semester abroad. See also TODAY and Joshua Starr tweet reminding educators to be aware of issues that may come up in American classrooms this week.

Paris Teachers Prepare To Discuss Attacks With Worried Students HuffPost: On Jan. 7, 2015, there was suffocating alarm, horror and fear in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. The next day, wounds still fresh, it was necessary to keep going. It was a difficult day for schoolteachers in France, faced with students and their questions, and at times their anger.

Lawmakers Announce Preliminary Agreement On ESEA Rewrite PK12: Congressional negotiators announced they have a way forward to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with a conference committee to start working on a compromise soon. See also Washington Post.

Pell Grants, Sandy Hook Highlight Brief Nods to Education in Democratic Debate PK12: In keeping with the previous Republican and Democratic debates, there weren't any direct questions on K-12.

Four Chicago charter schools push back against sudden closings WBEZ: The school board passed a new policy 15 days ago, outlining which charter schools it deemed poor performing. A week later, district officials announced a list of four schools it wants to close at the end of this school year.

More than 11,000 school staff members are 'missing' from Virginia schools Washington Post: Study says that during the recession, school enrollment boomed but school districts didn't hire teachers and staff to keep up.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Educators Respond To Paris Attacks (Plus NCLB Rewrite Agreement)" »

Update: Re-Imaging The Stories Behind "Humans Of New York"

Last week's New Yorker had a thought-provoking article about how we produce and consume media including media about kids and schools. Titled Humans of New York and the Cavalier Consumption of Others, the article focuses on the well-known photo from HONY (now a book as well as a website, etc.) of a boy named Vidal, who attends Mott Hall Bridges Academy, in Brownsville, run by Nadia Lopez, and whose appearance on Facebook led to a White House visit, a crowdfunding campaign. 

Just the description of the picture might make you think a bit more about it than you did when you first saw it online:

"Beneath the jacket is a fleece-lined hoodie, also black, and in his hand the boy holds a black plastic bag, stretched by the weight of what might be groceries. The sidewalk behind him is cracked and dotted with litter. Dull-brown public-housing towers—as much a part of the quintessential visual New York as the bodega bag—form a jagged horizon."

The critique of HONY -- and TED Talks, and The Moth -- might make you bristle:

"A story has lately become a glossier, less thrilling thing: a burst of pathos, a revelation without a veil to pull away. “Storytelling,” in this parlance, is best employed in the service of illuminating business principles, or selling tickets to non-profit galas, or winning contests."

The New Yorker piece urges us to do the impossible and forget the story, focusing back on the image:

"Forget, for a moment, the factual details that we have gathered in the course of knowing-but-not-really-knowing him... Consider, instead, the ease of the boy’s sneakers against the sidewalk; his shy, smirking confidence; the preternatural calm with which he occupies the space within the frame. Viewed like this—as, yes, irrefutably real, but also as a readable image—he is reminiscent of Gordon Parks’s squinting Harlem newsboy. Both convey something almost spiritual: something about the delicate string that hangs between youth and resilience, about the miraculous talent of children, however voiceless, to stand unswallowed by the city."

Whether you agree or disagree with the point -- and the rest of the essay's reflection on images in politics and society -- it's helpful I think to remember that stories and images can overtake us if we let them, and that sometimes we need to step back from the narrative we're constructing and look at the individual parts. 

Related posts: "Humans Of New York" Comes To The White HouseUnemployed Photographer & Bronx Middle School"Humans Of New York" Principal Was Thinking Of Quitting.

People: Students, Fans Rally Behind Emotional Math Teacher

Maybe you missed it (as I did), but a 42-year-old eighth grade math teacher from Queens (aka #WillFromQueens) made news last month when he cried during a sports radio call-in show and -- after being mocked initially -- was celebrated by his students and sports fans.

Charts: Effective Advocacy Doesn't Stop With Policy Wins


So 50CAN's newly updated advocacy handbook -- think of it as open-source advocacy advice -- notes something that many have found the hard way: getting a law passed is only the beginning of the process. But there's lots more, including case studies from Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland and it's available in all sorts of portable formats: onlineiBookKindlePDF.


Philanthropy: Funding Public Charters (Broad) Vs. Funding Private Schools (Geffen)

"And Eli Broad is the bad guy? Whatever you think of Broad strategy, he is trying to help kids who need it the most." Neerav Kingsland responding to news of David Geffen's $100 million donation to create a new private school at UCLA.

Morning Video: Struggling Schools Tries "Self-Organized" Learning

"A public elementary school in Harlem, New York, is adopting a radical idea that threatens the education industry as we know it, SOLEs, Self-Organized Learning Environments." From the PBS NewsHour -- includes reactions from teachers and a union rep. 

AM News: Friday News Roundup

Sanders-scores-postal-union-endorsement CNN: The American Postal Workers Union announced their endorsement of Sanders Thursday, giving the insurgent Democratic candidate a small boost at a critical moment as his campaign tries to find its way. See also Bloomberg News.

Massachusetts Chief Recommends Hybrid State/PARCC Testing Approach State EdWatch: Massachusetts' education commissioner is recommending that students take a hybrid test in 2017 that would include material from both the state's own test and the PARCC common-core-aligned assessment. See also Boston Learning LabAP.

PARCC switches to a Chinese menu of standardized testing options Washington Post: Next year, states will be able to buy the entire Common Core test, or parts, or even just a few questions. See also EdWeek.

Education researchers caution against using students’ test scores to evaluate teachers Washington Post: Many states are now evaluating teachers using a method that researchers are calling questionable.

Sources: House and Senate Negotiators Have Reached Preliminary ESEA Deal PK12: Christmas seems to have came early this year for education advocates. After weeks of long and hard negotiations, House and Senate lawmakers have reached preliminary agreement on a bill to reauthorize the very long-stalled No Child Left Behind Act, multiple sources say.

Broad Foundation defends charter plan after concerns about public school impact KPCC: “We’ve got over 50,000 students on wait lists in charters. Why is that? It’s because parents want different choices, they want something different,” Broad's Gregory McGinity said, speaking publicly on the plan for the first time since it was leaked in September. See also LA Times.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Friday News Roundup " »

AM News: Unions Members For Sanders, Testing A La Carte, MA Hybrid Approach

Sanders-scores-postal-union-endorsement CNN: The American Postal Workers Union announced their endorsement of Sanders Thursday, giving the insurgent Democratic candidate a small boost at a critical moment as his campaign tries to find its way. See also Bloomberg News.

Massachusetts Chief Recommends Hybrid State/PARCC Testing Approach State EdWatch: Massachusetts' education commissioner is recommending that students take a hybrid test in 2017 that would include material from both the state's own test and the PARCC common-core-aligned assessment. See also Boston Learning LabAP.

PARCC switches to a Chinese menu of standardized testing options Washington Post: Next year, states will be able to buy the entire Common Core test, or parts, or even just a few questions. See also EdWeek.

Education researchers caution against using students’ test scores to evaluate teachers Washington Post: Many states are now evaluating teachers using a method that researchers are calling questionable.

Sources: House and Senate Negotiators Have Reached Preliminary ESEA Deal PK12: Christmas seems to have came early this year for education advocates. After weeks of long and hard negotiations, House and Senate lawmakers have reached preliminary agreement on a bill to reauthorize the very long-stalled No Child Left Behind Act, multiple sources say.

Broad Foundation defends charter plan after concerns about public school impact KPCC: “We’ve got over 50,000 students on wait lists in charters. Why is that? It’s because parents want different choices, they want something different,” Broad's Gregory McGinity said, speaking publicly on the plan for the first time since it was leaked in September. See also LA Times.


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

Continue reading "AM News: Unions Members For Sanders, Testing A La Carte, MA Hybrid Approach" »

People: Ted Dintersmith = A Mashup Of Bill Gates, Ken Robinson, & Bob Compton

So there's this guy, a former venture capitalist, named Ted Dintersmith, and apparently everyone else but me (and possibly you) has heard of him already.

But not to worry -- we can catch up quick. The latest thing I've seen (by which I mean the first) is this Answer Sheet oped penned by him (A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school) but bylined by Valerie Strauss, in which we learn that he helped bankroll the documentary “Most Likely To Succeed” and get his world view of education (trailer above).

But Dintersmith's been everywhere, media-wise, in recent weeks and months, including a previous Valerie Strauss pieceHuff PostBoston Globe (oped), NYTimes (Brooks review of the movie), a Politico mention, a Journal-Sentinel Q&A.

There's more, but you get the idea.

Get your own impression, but to me Dintersmith comes off like an unholy mashup of Bill Gates/WhitneyTilson/Sir Ken Robinson -- with maybe a bit of Bob (2 million minutes) Compton thrown in.

Truth is, I first came across his blog 3 years ago, when he was coming off a big trip with his family and spending time in NYC. Among the more memorable things he wrote at the time was his impression that of Michelle Rhee-run StudentsFirst organization, which described as "an angry dog barking up the wrong tree."

So that explains the appearances in the Answer Sheet.

To my credit (if not to the credit of my memory), I did apparently share out something about the documentary this spring:

The website for the film is here. Here's a review of the book

#EDgif Of The Day: FL School Police Officer Charged With Felony Abuse

From WFTV: FL school resource officer on tape slamming boy to ground, charged with felony abuse.

Morning Video: Eleven Minutes With Marco Rubio

From The Seventy Four: Rubio Says Clinton 'Owned' By Unions, Decries System Where Only Rich Can Choose Schools

AM News: DC's Henderson Reaches Five-Yeark Mark At Helm

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson celebrates 5 years at helm Washington Post: Most urban superintendents leave after three years; many credit stability at the top for D.C.’s improvement. See also Washington Post.

Ahead of Departure, Arne Duncan Reflects on Signature Education Programs US News: On Thursday, speaking at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, Duncan plans to reflect on his work thus far in conjunction with the department's release of two comprehensive assessments of its most significant programs, the Race to the Top competition and the School Improvement Grant.

New SIG Data Serves Up Same Old Conclusion: Mixed Results PK12: The latest Education Department report on the federal School Improvement Grant program paints an uneven picture of SIG's impact, just as Congress is about to decide its fate. See also Washington Post.

What the Ed. Dept.'s New Race to the Top Report Reveals, and What It Avoids PK12: The Education Department says all states in the competitive-grant program made progress toward their goals, but makes little mention of areas where they stumbled or backtracked.

How N.J. school distirct is making enrollment much easier NJ.com: Replacing a "patchwork" system of 17 different applications, the Camden City School District on Tuesday rolled out a better way of getting kids into school.

Montgomery County Schools Recognize Muslim Holiday of Eid Slate: Some districts in New Jersey have closed for Muslim holidays for years, while others, like Jersey City, recently voted against closing for Eid this year. And this spring, the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the country, where an estimated 10 percent of students are Muslim, announced that schools would close for Eid al-Adha.

Common Core testing showdown in Massachusetts Hechinger Report: The Massachusetts Board of Education is deciding whether to use a multi-state test, the Partnership for Assessing College and Career Readiness, known as PARCC, or to stick with its own test.

Research Group Latest to Caution Use of 'Value Added' for Teachers TeacherBeat: The American Educational Research Association lists eight principles that it says must be considered before using VAM to judge teachers or teaching programs.

Want To Make A School Better? Get Kids To Show Up NPR: Students who miss 15 or 20 days of school a year may never catch up. The Department of Education is looking for prevention ideas, and one Baltimore school could provide some.

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

Continue reading "AM News: DC's Henderson Reaches Five-Yeark Mark At Helm" »

Charts: Impact Of Personalized Learning On Student Achievement

  Unnamed (1)
“The longer students experiences personalized learning practices, the greater their growth in achievement,” asserts a new report from the Gates Foundation (
Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning#inacol15


Campaign 2016: Jeb Bush Jumps On Clinton Charter Comments

"Distorting the role charter schools play in transforming lives in order to placate the teachers unions is beyond the pale," tweeted Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton -- even as she tried to distance herself (split the difference) from her weekend remarks criticizing charters.

Lists: Top Local Education Funds Include Pinellas (Yes, Pinellas)

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.14.54 PM
Here's a list of the top 200 local education foundations in the US, which is somewhat ironically led by Pinellas County (where there's been some pretty dramatic resegregation of schools lately). I can't vouch for the data, the methodology, or anything else. MSU's Sarah Reckhow notes on Twitter that it's not a lot of money that they're talking about in the larger scheme of things. The report is put out annual by Dewey and Associates. Thanks to Mesa's Joe O'Reilly for passing this along.



Morning Video: Another Disturbing School Police Video

Link from Florida TV station is here

Or, watch a Washington Post story (and video) about the high school science experiment that seems to lead to a number of classroom injuries.

Quotes: Clinton Spokesperson Clarifies Candidate's Views On Charters

Quotes2For decades, Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of both public charter schools and an unflinching advocate for traditional public schools, their teachers and their students,... [She] wants to be sure that public charter schools, like traditional public schools, serve all students and do not discriminate against students with disabilities or behavioral challenges.

-- Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson in Washington Post (Hillary Clinton wades into the internal Democratic battle over public schools)

AM News: LAUSD Eyes Charter Expansion, New Leadership (Plus Chicago Strike?)

LAUSD Board of Education eyes growth of charter schools LA Daily News: The focus of the board's deliberations will be a controversial $490 million plan to more than double the number of charter schools in Los Angeles. See also KPCC LA.

Next L.A. schools chief: A politically savvy educator who's a superhero? LA Times: The people have spoken about what they want in a new superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the hunt is on for Superman or Superwoman. 

Chicago Teachers Union Says Its Members Are Willing to Strike TeacherBeat: The Chicago Teachers Union took a "practice" vote last week to test how its members felt about walking off the job. See also Tribune, Sun-Times.  

Feds: Ex-CPS CEO 'fraudulently' steered $40M contract in Detroit Sun Times: An FBI agent believed corrupt former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked to “fraudulently steer” a $40 million contract to one of the country’s biggest educational publishers while she worked for the Detroit schools, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Education Continues to Struggle for Airtime in GOP Debates PK12: If you tuned into the Tuesday night GOP presidential debate hoping for education policy talk, once again, you got very meager scraps.

City Releases Latest School Quality Guides WNYC: The latest guides showed a slight uptick of graduating high school seniors last year enrolled in either a two- or four-year college, vocational program or public service program, up two percentage points to 53 percent. The city's overall college-readiness rate also was up, reaching 35 percent compared to 33 percent last year. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Video Shows School Resource Officer Slam Black Teen To Ground HuffPost: Damning video has surfaced in the case of a Florida school resource officer accused of abusing a 13-year-old black student.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Eyes Charter Expansion, New Leadership (Plus Chicago Strike?)" »

Maps: Most Grade 3-8 Students To Be Assessed Online in 2016

image from blogs.edweek.org"For the first time, most state-required summative assessments in U.S. elementary and middle schools will be administered via technology rather than by paper and pencil in the 2015-16 school year, according to a report released Thursday by EdTech Strategies, LLC, a research and consulting firm." Edweek (Paperless Testing: Most Grade 3-8 Students To Be Assessed Online in 2016). 

Charts: Districts Like LA Reducing Disciplinary Gap

For better or worse.

Quotes: Zuckerberg's Philanthropy "Not That Much Different"

Quotes2Whatever you may think of Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, in most ways it’s not that much different than that of a great many other funders who gone before him. The same can also be said of most tech leaders. A notable exception to this point is that Zuckerberg and other younger tech funders seem unlikely to create large bureaucratic organizations to give away their money.

- Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan (What Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Announcement Tells Us About the New Philanthropy)

Update: Where's Michelle Rhee (& What's StudentsFirst Up To Now)?

This Sacramento Bee story (What’s next for Michelle Rhee, once the national face of education activism?) tells you what you already know: that Rhee has pretty much dropped off the face of the earth when it comes to education advocacy.

What's alluded later on in the piece is just how different (and perhaps much-diminished) her organization, StudentsFirst, has been operating since she stepped down, Pope Ratzinger-like, from day to day oversight.

In contrast to the Rhee era, StudentsFirst under Jim Blew is much more low key, and focused on fewer states (10 vs. 17). The organization claims to have helped enact 40 laws including "a new charter school measure in Alabama, an enhanced charter school law in Ohio and a teacher-evaluation bill in Michigan."

Back in 2012, however, StudentsFirst was involved in a host of state and local races (see below), funding both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Three years later, I've come across little if any sign of them having been involved in any of last week's big races (Philadelphia, Kentucky, St. Paul, Denver, JeffCo, Seattle, etc.). Though I haven't confirmed it independently, I'm told that StudentsFirst wasn't directly involved in any of these races. 

Related posts: StudentsFirst 14-State 2012 Candidate SpendingStudentsFirst 2012 Spending On Local Board RacesNEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirst.

Morning Video: "TeachStrong" Campaign Launch (Plus Roundup)

As outlined yesterday, CAP and other groups have launched TeachStrong, an effort to revamp the teaching profession. See also TeacherBeat (Can a New Political Campaign to 'Modernize' Teaching Succeed?) and Washington Post (How to build a better teacher: Groups push a 9-point plan called TeachStrong).

AM News: Democratic Front-Runner Criticizes Charters

Hillary Clinton Rebukes Charter Schools Politico: Her comments in South Carolina came straight from charter school critics’ playbook and distanced her from the legacies of her husband, former President Bill Clinton — credited with creating a federal stream of money to launch charters around the country — and President Barack Obama, whose administration has dangled federal incentives to push states to become more charter friendly. See also PK12. Video here.

Mark Zuckerberg Highlights What He Learned After $100 Million Gift To Newark AP: In a Facebook post Friday, Zuckerberg acknowledged increased graduation rates in Newark and successful charter schools, but also noted the "challenges, mistakes and honest differences among people with good intentions."

The Nation’s High School Dropout Rate Has Fallen, Study Says Washington Post: The U.S. high school dropout rate has fallen in recent years, with the number of dropouts declining from 1 million in 2008 to about 750,000 in 2012, according to a new study to be released Tuesday. The number of “dropout factories” — high schools in which fewer than 60 percent of freshmen graduate in four years — declined significantly during the same period, according to the study by a coalition of education groups. 

Racial Tension and Protests on Campuses Across the Country NYT: Instances of racism and bigotry have ignited protests at colleges across the United States, and social media has amplified the outcry.

Walton Foundation sustains local funding for Teach For America with new grant LA Times: The Los Angeles Unified School District also has relied on TFA, though less so in recent years, when the district made few hires. Currently, about 30% of the local TFA corps works in L.A. Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system. A handful also works in Lynwood.

In Many States, Security Guards Get Scant Training, Oversight Stateline: About 90 bills were introduced in state legislatures this year dealing with the licensing and training of security officers or requirements for security companies, according to Steve Amitay, director of the National Association of Security Companies (NASCO), an industry group. In recent years, similar numbers of measures have been proposed. None of this year’s bills that would have substantially toughened state requirements was enacted, Amitay said.

Quotes: Outrage ≠ Change

Quotes2White Americans are increasingly aware of the realities with which black and brown Americans live; black and brown Americans are increasingly aware of the granular details of events beyond their own communities... What we haven’t seen yet is change.

—  Emily L. Hauser (Why outrage over police brutality isn’t enough)

Maps: How A Wealthy Dallas District Keeps Itself Segregated

This Slate article describes how Highland Park keeps itself separate from the surrounding Dallas schools. Plus map from EdBuild.

Morning Video: Candidate Clinton Walks Back Charter Support

Here's C-SPAN footage of the remarks Hillary Clinton made about charters among other education topics, as reported by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post (Hillary Clinton: Most charter schools ‘don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids').

AM News: Obama On Mascots, De Blasio On Real Estate, Zuckerberg On Community Responsiveness

Obama: Schools 'Really Don’t Have An Excuse' To Keep Native American Mascots HuffPost: With Adidas' recent announcement that the company will help schools transition away from Native American mascots, "schools now really don’t have an excuse" for keeping them, President Barack Obama said Thursday at the 2015 White House Tribal Nations Conference.

De Blasio: City must respect families’ investments amid school diversity debates Chalkbeat: “You have to also respect families who have made a decision to live in a certain area oftentimes because of a specific school,” de Blasio said when a reporter asked what is stopping the city from creating new zones to promote school integration. Those families, he said, have “made massive life decisions and investments because of which school their kid would go to.”

Zuckerberg Talks Success, Lessons Learned in Newark Schools AP: "It's very important to understand the desires of a community, to listen and learn from families, teachers, elected officials and other experts," he wrote. "We now better understand why it can take years to build the support to durably cement the changes needed to provide every student with a high quality education."

Chicago lead way on charter school unions Catalyst:  Nationally, the movement to organize charter school teachers is just now gaining momentum. For example, the United Teachers of Los Angeles is working to organize teachers in that city's largest charter network, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

How to build a better teacher: Groups push a 9-point plan called TeachStrong Washington Post: A coalition of 40 education groups — including some strange bedfellows — is starting a national campaign aimed at “modernizing and elevating” the teaching profession.

A Hedge Fund Sales Pitch Casts a Spell on Public Pensions New York Times: “The report was really intended to give information to pension trustees so they could ask the tough questions and fulfill their fiduciary duties to the funds and their participants,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the teachers' union.

What kids saw on a Common Core test NPR: Amid all the political controversy over the Common Core and whether students should even take these exams, this gives us a chance to look objectively at the tests themselves. In this post, we picked a handful of those questions that jumped out at us (and likely would have jumped out at you, too). We ran them by a few experts who played no official role in developing them.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Obama On Mascots, De Blasio On Real Estate, Zuckerberg On Community Responsiveness" »

Maps: How Many States Have "Repealed" Common Core, Again?

image from si.wsj.net
There's some energetic back and forth going on behind the scenes about the accuracy of this WSJ piece and how it codes the states (Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout), but that doesn't mean you can't read it and check out the map of states.

Quotes: Why Turnaround Worked In Miami But Not In Chicago

Quotes2In Miami, school district officials had prepared for the grants. They had the support of teachers, unions and parents. In Chicago, where teachers fought the program and officials changed almost yearly, schools churned through millions of dollars but didn’t budge the needle.

-- Reporter Caitlin Emma in Politico

Morning Video: Kids Debate Whether Hillary Clinton Could Be President

Watch kids talk about whether a woman could be President -- and then meet Hillary Clinton.

Or (it's Friday!), watch this amazing video of two "jetmen" flying alongside a massive jetliner:

AM News: Washington State Wants Its NCLB Waiver Back (& More)

With White House rethinking tests, Washington wants its ‘No Child Left Behind’ waiver back Seattle Times: With federal waivers — which Washington had for awhile — school districts didn’t have to set aside some of their federal funds to pay for private tutoring for students attending schools where test scores fell under certain levels.  

PARCC Exam Results for NJ Magnify Achievement Gaps Linked to Income, Race NJ Spotlight: While New Jersey’s so-called “achievement gap” between rich and poor and white and minorities has always been wide, the chasm appears even wider based on the first year of the new PARCC testing.

English learners struggling at NYC schools NY Daily News: Nearly half of roughly 95,000 students who speak foreign languages failed to meet city benchmarks for learning the language in 2014, according to the group’s analysis of Education Department data.

Less than half of Montgomery students are college-ready, new tests show Washington Post: In Prince George’s County, less than a third of public school students met that same benchmark on tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

Algebra pass rates fall amid Common Core shift, leaving at-risk students furthest behind ChalkbeatNY: Sixty-three percent of all test-takers passed the Common Core-aligned Algebra I Regents examination last school year, compared to 72 percent who passed an easier exam that students took the previous year, according to the data. The drops are even steeper for black and Hispanic students, as well as high-need students.

Report: CA 1 of 5 states without linking teacher reviews to learning LA School Report: “Student outcomes should be determined in a far more robust way than mainly using test scores, such as through student grades, projects, other student work and regular observations,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. 

Two Chicago public schools inch closer to integration after divided voteWBEZ: The local school council (LSC) at Ogden International School voted seven to six in favor of a possible merger with nearby Jenner Academy of the Arts. The meeting lasted four hours and included seven presentations from parents both for and against a merger.  

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

Continue reading "AM News: Washington State Wants Its NCLB Waiver Back (& More)" »

Maps: Handful Of States Still Omit Student Growth Measures For Teachers

image from blogs.edweek.org

"At least three states, Alabama, Texas, and New Hampshire again, told the federal Education Department that they use state test scores in teacher evaluations, but those policies only exist in their waivers." EdWeek writeup of NCTQ report ("Will Teacher Evaluations Through Test Scores Outlast Obama?)

Quotes: Privatization "Such An Easy Way To Avoid Issues"

"I worry about the folks who link every challenge public school districts face to "privatization." It's such an easy way to avoid issues." - Deray McKesson

Morning Video: "I Thought I Knew How To Listen To People"

Watch this UC Memphis panel on #BlackLivesMatter and education, featuring among others  Brittany Packnett. (Skip to 14:00 to hear her "I thought I knew how to listen people... I thought that I was not being paternalistic in my practice...")

AM News: Feds Tap Brakes On Ohio Charters

Federal government puts the brakes on $32 million to Ohio for charters Washington Post: More than a month after the Obama administration gave $32.5 million to Ohio to expand charter schools despite Ohio's history of multiple scandals involving charters, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to state officials in which it said it... See also Columbus Dispatch.

Portland Public Schools Proposes Boundary Changes That Could Affect Thousands Of Students NPR: Parents with kids in Portland Public Schools are reacting to proposals aimed at balancing enrollment and increasing equity across the district.

Study: Most States Link Student Learning to Teacher Reviews AP: The comprehensive state-by-state analysis released Wednesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality shows 42 states and the District of Columbia have policies on the books requiring that student growth and achievement be considered in evaluations for public school teachers. In 2009, only 15 states linked scores to teacher reviews. See also Teacher Beat, EdWeek.

School Funding Case Returns to Court WNYC: Nine years after the state's highest court found Albany failed to provide New York City with enough school aid, the case went back to court on Wednesday with plaintiffs arguing the state never lived up to that 2006 court order.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Feds Tap Brakes On Ohio Charters" »

Charts: The Great Convergence (Of NAEP Scores, Demographically Adjusted)


"Once you control for demographics, nearly every state performs about the same," notes a recent post from Neerav Kingsland (NAEP and the Great Convergence). "only 4-5 states are outside of the +/- six month band... This feels like a great convergence of some sort."



Charts: How One Miami SIG School Made Significant Progress

Quotes: Don't Blame Students' Poverty For Academic Achievement

Quotes2There is no way you can blame socioeconomic status for the performance of the United States... When you look at all dimensions of social background, the United States does not suffer a particular disadvantage.

-- OECD's Andreas Shcleicher quoted in NYT column by Eduardo Porter (School vs. Society in America’s Failing Students)

Morning Listen: Parents' Nuanced Views About School Choice

From WBEZ Chicago: A small tale about a new school, market-based education reforms and Home Depot.

AM News: Elections Change Landscape In JeffCo, St. Paul, & Seattle

Jeffco school board members who pushed controversial changes ousted in recall ChalkbeatCO: After two years of political acrimony in the Colorado’s second largest school district, three conservative school board members were easily swept out of office Tuesday in a recall election that cost more than a million dollars and attracted national attention. Replacing them are three candidates backed by a constituency of well-connected parents, high-profile county Democrats and the teachers union. They will serve the rest of the recall targets’ four-year terms. See also HuffPost, Washington Post.

St. Paul school board: 4 union-backed newcomers elected TwinCities.com: The union wanted more input on the district's major initiatives, such as the mainstreaming of special-education students and a shift away from out-of-school suspensions. Several candidates in April sought the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement under the banner of Caucus for Change, a union-backed, anti-incumbent movement of mostly teachers and parents. The four who emerged ran as a unified team, promising to hold district leaders accountable for missed enrollment goals, sagging test scores and racial inequities.

Four newcomers to join Seattle School Board Seattle Times: With incumbent Marty McLaren losing to challenger Leslie Harris, four newcomers will make up the majority of the seven-member Seattle School Board.

In Texas, Elementary Schools Mete Out More Punishment to Black Students Washington Post: An analysis of discipline in elementary schools across Texas shows that black students, especially boys, are suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates and are labeled as troublemakers as early as pre-kindergarten. The study by Texas Appleseed focuses on the second-most populous state, but it mirrors school discipline patterns nationwide. It also comes as concern grows about suspensions, which researchers have linked to greater risks of academic failure, dropping out of high school and involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Case Tests Whether New York Underfunds Schools WSJ: The governor’s lawyers have sought to dismiss the case, saying state dollars for education rose significantly in recent years. In state Supreme Court in Manhattan, JusticeManuel Mendez will hear arguments on the case Wednesday. A key question is whether the state has a constitutional obligation to abide by a 2007 funding formula, which was passed by the Legislature after years of litigation in a case brought by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Two Chicago schools inch closer to integration after divided vote WBEZ: Ultimately, the council does not have jurisdiction to approve a merger, but Ogden principal Michael Beyer said he wouldn’t move forward with the idea without the council’s support. Although the vote was largely symbolic, six members of the 13-member council chose to abstain.

As Transgender Students Make Gains, Schools Hesitate at Bathrooms NYT:  Many schools have crafted policies that require transgender students to use private changing and showering facilities, drawing complaints of discrimination. See also NBC News.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Elections Change Landscape In JeffCo, St. Paul, & Seattle" »

Charts: What Teachers Get Paid (Compared To Other Professions)

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 4.58.58 PM
Here's an figure from CAP's new report on improving the teaching profession: "Smart, Skilled, and Striving." Image used with permission. 

Charters: When "Thin" Contracts Were All The Rage (2009)

There was a moment, maybe six or seven years years ago, when it seemed like charter schools with "thin" contracts were all the rage. 

They combined the autonomy and flexibility of a charter with the protections against unwarranted dismissal or arbitrary treatment from supervisors. But not all of the schools that had them performed as well as some may have hoped (just like teacher-run schools and every other type of governance option that's been proposed), and charter stalwarts and union hard-liners both hated them equally. 

I wrote about them in Harvard's Education Letter (RIP): Charters and Unions: What's the future for this unorthodox relationship?. But that was long ago. I declared them "so 2009" in 2011.

These days, pretty much only the Century Fund talks about them. Some giant percentage of the charters in Chicago are now organized, thanks in part to the efforts of a smooth-talking South African(?) union organizer who's never been seen or photographed. But not with thin contracts, as far as I understand. Much more common seem to be traditional (antagonistic) organizing/unionization efforts like the one currently going on in LA. 

Eventually, one would imagine, reform advocates and critics would get their acts together and return to an idea like this -- or a new generation of parents, funders, and politicians would get sick of the more rigid charter and union ideologies. But it's going to be a little while -- and going to take a lot of bravery. 

Related posts:Would Unions Ruin Charter Schools -- Or Vice Versa? (2009); Thin Contract At Locke High School.; The Return Of The "Thin" Contract? (2010); "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led (2014); 

Quotes: Are Edu-Combatants Ready For Collaboration?

Quotes2I think we may be reaching an end to those pitched, and pointless, battles... It is starting to feel that in a large and significant sense, all roads are beginning to converge on the educational definition of Rome: a public education system that clearly places students at the center by making learning more personalized, relevant, and real-world-situated.

- Sam Chaltain (Are We Finally Ending the Battle of the Edu-Tribes?)

Morning Video: Charter Principal Apologizes For Targeting Disruptive Kids

“As an educator I fell short of my commitment to all children and families at my school and for that I am deeply sorry,” said Success Academy Fort Greene principal Candido Brown, speaking through tears. (via Chalkbeat: Success Academy principal gives emotional apology for list of ‘Got-to-Go’ students)

AM News: Conflict In JeffCo (Colo.), Big Vote In Mississippi

Elections in Three States Are Low-Profile, But High-Stakes for Education State EdWatch: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi hold gubernatorial elections, as well as down-ballot contests Nov. 3, and issues range from the Common Core State Standards to K-12 spending.

Colorado School District Immersed In Political Turmoil Amid Recall AP: While school-board spats typically are confined locally, these recall efforts have attracted spending from special-interest groups in a battle over what education reform should look like. It's no surprise the setting for that question is Jefferson County, a politically diverse swing district where rural, mountain, and urban communities mingle. See also District Dossier.

Mississippi voters to decide how schools should be funded PBS: Initiative 42 is a proposed amendment to Mississippi’s constitution that supporters say would “provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” If the state doesn’t continue to fund public K-12 schools at these current levels, courts could enforce the amendment to get more money and resources, according to the original filing with Mississippi Secretary of State’s office.

California's Attorney General Is Investigating The Online Charter School Industry BuzzFeed: The for-profit online charter school industry is the target of an investigation by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, according to a filing by K12 Inc., the country’s largest online charter management company.

Teachers need more time, money and prestige, report says LA Times: Changing the teaching profession by making it more prestigious and giving teachers more planning time are just two proposals that are part of a new report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington. The report, which was provided to The Times and is being released Tuesday, calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the pipeline for becoming a teacher and staying in the classroom.

Help for Homework Help: Teaching Parents Common Core Math AP: They're holding special classes or giving out materials designed for adults so they can help children with their math homework. After parents learn the strategies, educators say, they're more willing to get on board with Common Core math amid criticism from some politicians, from fellow parents, on social media and from celebrities like Louis C.K., who complained Common Core math made his daughters cry.

Rift Emerges Among Gun Owners Over Concealing Weapons in Schools NYT: A dispute in a Michigan district is part of a larger debate over state legislation that is pitting open-carry groups — and gun control activists — against those who favor concealing guns at times.

Longtime Residents Witness Brooklyn Waterfront’s Changing Fortune WNYC: While a revitalized, polished Dumbo is open to anyone — like the adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park  — many Farragut residents said they felt that development and progress have bypassed their community.

Seattle district seeks to sever ties with Alliance for Education Seattle Times: The Seattle School Board will vote this week whether to restructure or dissolve its two-decade relationship with its fundraising arm, the Alliance for Education.

Only 35 L.A. public schools get an A in supporting the arts LA Times: For the first time, L.A. Unified in September completed a detailed accounting of arts programs at its campuses that shows stark disparities in class offerings, the number of teachers and help provided by outside groups.

#EDgif Of The Day: Holding On Until Thanksgiving

giphy (88)

From Pixar's Inside Out. More #EDgifs here.

Magazines: RIP, Grantland

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 10.05.37 PMOstensibly a sports-themed site, Grantland.com was actually full of culture writing. And some of the best writing about education explores its cultural aspects.

For example: The Teacher (Maya Angelou) and the Students (Dave Chapelle, Common)A Teacher Abuses His Power Over a Drummer in ‘Whiplash’What ‘Dangerous Minds’ and Other Movies Get Right and Wrong About Teachers.

That last one, by Shea Serrano, is particularly about pop culture and K-12 education.

Alas, the ESPN-funded version of the site is no more (though many of its writers have followed Bill Simmons to HBO).

There were occasional references to the site here: Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show"Breaking Bad" Will Solve All Our STEM ProblemsHomey The Substitute Teacher.

And a few more on Twitter.


Quotes: Things To Avoid Saying/Doing Around Black Male Teachers

Quotes2Their colleagues saw them first as police officers and not teachers... Their colleagues only sought their help when it came to behavior management and not when it came to thinking about some of the content that they might have designed to engage students.

From NPR (Keeping Black Men In Front Of The Class)



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.