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Quotes: Democratic Divide On Education Hurts Reformers

Quotes2The next Democratic president [may] stop pushing for tougher teacher evaluations and more charter schools and blah blah and will instead push in the other direction. -- Slate's Matt Yglesias (Divided Democrats).


Bruno: The Case Against Tenure Seems Weak

6085534723_e383e3cf43One of the upshots of the #Vergara trial is that it seems to be pushing commentators to more starkly articulate their views on education reform.

It's often too easy to talk about, say, teacher tenure protections in terms of generalities and platitudes, but when those ideas are on trial people seem to feel additional pressure to be a bit more specific.

So, for example, last week Dan Weisberg took to the TNTP blog to argue that the Vergara plaintiffs are obviously correct to challenge California's tenure rules because those rules force "administrators to grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after just 18 months in the classroom".

In Weisberg's view, this is a problem because a year-and-a-half is "well before school leaders have time to meaningfully assess a teacher’s influence on student learning". If he thinks the argument warrants further elaboration, he doesn't provide it.

With the argument laid out so clearly it's possible to evaluate it.  

Below the fold, I'll explain why at least two of Weisberg's assumptions seem questionable.

Continue reading "Bruno: The Case Against Tenure Seems Weak" »

#EdGif Of The Day: Duncan Shines In NBA Celebrity All-Star Game

GIF via SBNation Via

Weekend Reading: Best Ed Articles You Probably Missed

It's pretty amazing how much good education news and commentary comes out over the weekend (or gets missed by me and others during the week). Some recent examples:

The Common Core in NY NYT editorial http://ht.ly/tHSKm  "Missteps aside, the state cannot afford to let this project founder."

"Most parents don't have a public school option that's as good" as Mayor de Blasio, notes Eva Moscowitz in WSJ http://ht.ly/tENJq 

AASA Report on Supe Salaries Reveals Disparity Between Pay for Men and Women -- THE Journal http://ht.ly/tFWWk 

Students lose in latest #LAUSD board turf war - LA Times editorial  http://ht.ly/tIjKJ @aspire@calcharters

Evidence mounting that medication for ADHD doesn't make a lasting difference to schoolwork or achievement. Nature http://ht.ly/tEbBG 

Charter schools: Charter schools are working, but New York’s mayor wants to stop them The Economist http://ht.ly/tFVHi 

School Improvement Grant Report Revised, Still Shows One-Third Of Schools' Scores Decreased http://ht.ly/tEZmS 

From Jay Mathews: High school course too tough for you? That’s good.: D.C. schools show major strides on AP ex... http://wapo.st/1bbBhkX 

Still not enough?  Good.  There's more below.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Best Ed Articles You Probably Missed" »

Morning Video: Schools Conduct Newly-Required "Active Shooter" Drills

Watch the segment from a Missouri school's drill above, read the NBC.com article here, or watch MSNBC host Chris Hayes and reporter @Nona Willis Aronowitz discuss it here

AM News: The Return Of Magnet Schools


Magnet Schools Find a Renewed Embrace in Cities NYT: In Miami and many other cities, public schools that admit students districtwide and focus on themes like art, law or technology are gaining popularity after largely falling off the radar.

Maryland students avoid ‘double-testing’ WP: About 25,000 elementary and middle school students in Maryland public schools, who will take the new Common Core exams for a test-drive next month, have been excused by federal officials from also having to take the Maryland School Assessment.

N.C. Becomes First Race to Top State to Win Teacher-Evaluation Delay PK12: North Carolina (and other Race to the Top states) made certain promises to win their big Race to the Top grants. And in its Feb. 12 approval letter, department officials note this one-year extension will, in fact, delay the teacher-evaluation part of the state's sweeping $400 million plan. Three other states have been approved for this one-year teacher-evaluation delay: Mississippi, Nevada, and Kentucky. 

Spoiler alert: Ed-related tidbits in Season 2 of House of Cards via PK12

Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left NYT: The newest chorus of complaints about the common learning standards is coming from one of their earliest champions: New York State.

States Want Kids To Learn A Lot — Maybe Too Much NPR: When state legislators impose mandates on schools, educators get nervous. Sometimes, lawmakers want kids to learn legitimate skills; other times, they try to micromanage lessons down to the historical event.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: The Return Of Magnet Schools" »

Love Is Just A Domestic Version Of Classroom Management (Right)?

Shamu husband nyt 2006What happens when classroom management guru Doug Lemov's wife starts using his techniques around the house?

I’d like you to try again at the end of the day to nail the laundry in the basket thing we’ve been working on.  I’m giving you the opportunity to show me how much you’ve improved!

POW!  Technique 39.

Find out by clicking here.

Lemov's wife isn't the only one to consider these kinds of things. Remember the 2006 New York Times piece (What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage)?

And pretty much every teacher I've ever met (or gone out with) has tried to use classroom tricks --the eerily calm"teacher voice" and the incessant praise -- to get their way (make life better, etc.)

Image via NYT.

Thompson: Why Haven't Reformers Rejected High-Stakes Tests (Yet)?

Tests Against my better judgment, being a team player, I originally supported my union and the majority of teachers who endorsed NCLB. Watching the recent TeachPlus presentation, The Student and the Stopwatch, and listening to the Education Next discussion on the time devoted to testing, I wondered how many participants are doing the same thing.

Leading the discussion with Dave Driscoll, Andrew Rotherham, and TeachPlus’s Celine Coggins, Mike Petrilli kept probing, asking whether high-stakes testing was to blame for excessive test prep. I hope they are just being team players as they all seemed close to acknowledging that high stakes testing had failed. 

None, however, said aloud the logical conclusion that they seemed to be approaching.

Driscoll and Rotherham described the benefits of Massachusetts’ standards based reforms and the “sea change” produced by President Clinton’s reforms of 1994.  Both nailed the key reason for those successes, and both came close to articulating the reason why NCLB failed, and why a Common Core/high stakes testing train wreck is coming.    

Rotherham even coined the best Common Core metaphor that I’ve heard.  Hoping it will solve the problems created by NCLB is like a couple having a baby to save their marriage.
To fully appreciate the wisdom of Rotherham’s punch line, we have to back up and think through his and Driscoll’s diagnosis of education’s real problems.

Continue reading "Thompson: Why Haven't Reformers Rejected High-Stakes Tests (Yet)?" »

People: When Reformers Switch Sides (& Vice Versa)

Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 10.50.35 PMThere have been a handful of high-profile public defections from the ranks of reformers over the years.

Some of the flip-flops are bizarrly complete and public -- Ravitch, for example.  

Others are partial and more subtle -- Camika Royal, say, or Chicago's Seth Lavin.

To the second category add Philadelphia's Helen Gym, the parent activist who's profiled in a recent edition of Philly Magazine (The Agitator).

Gym battles the Mayor, and the school district. She might run for Mayor on an education agenda.

But she also helped found a charter school (Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures School), is married to one of its board members, and sent her children there.

I don't know anything more about Gym than what I read, but I have to say I like the nuance that's suggested. There are all too few people who admit to having doubts or concerns about whatever views they're espousing -- online, especially -- and even fewer who will admit to compromises or complications in their own lives and decisions.  

What about reform critics turned supporters?  There aren't any vivid examples that come to mind, but it could be said that many if not most of those past the age of 40 who supports reform positions now (regarding charters, accountability, teacher evaluation) probably started out (ie, grew up) wanting to be for the traditional education system.

AM News: Snow Day Recriminations

News2Snow Day? That’s Great. Now Log In. Get to Class. NYT: Public schools around the country are exploring whether they can use virtual learning as a practical solution to unpredictable weather, effectively transforming the traditional snow day into a day of instruction.

School snow days a challenge for low-income working parents AJAM: In 2012, 44 percent of full-time workers had paid personal leave; only 16 percent of part-timers enjoyed the same. “Low-wage workers are the least likely to have these options,” said Ruth Milkman, a labor sociologist at the City University of New York. 

De Blasio defends controversial decision to keep schools open during storm ChalkbeatNY:“Based on our knowledge of what sanitation could do over night, we were convinced that kids could get to school this morning,” de Blasio told reporters from the Office of Emergency Management offices in Brooklyn.

NYC Posts Lowest School Attendance of the Year WNYC: This was also the third time in 2014 that a third or more of the city’s public school students missed class — most likely due to weather events in all three cases. Some parents and educators called it "a mistake" to keep schools open during the messy storm that dumped snow and icy rain on the city. Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña cited "lessons learned" from this latest snow storm experience.

VIDEOS: Rappin' And Rockin' School Closing Announcements NPR: Something's going on at some schools in states hit hard by the weather this winter. What it is ain't exactly clear. But administrators seem to want to have some fun when they have to spread the word about school being closed. See how they set their news to hits by Queen and Vanilla Ice.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Snow Day Recriminations" »

Books: Boston, NYC, and Chicago Programs Touted

image from restoringopportunity.comTwo professors have written a new book focused on efforts to reduce inequality in American society and in this Atlantic Education page essay they include the UChicago charter network among three programs doing a notably good job educating low-income students (How Public Schools Can Fight Back Against Inequality).

"These durable programs [the others are NYC's small schools and Boston's pre-K program] demonstrate that it is indeed possible to improve the education of low-income children by focusing resources consistently on improving the teaching of critical skills.. They highlight what it will take to improve the education of low-income children on a wider scale."

Be sure not to read the article, since you already know what you think and probably don't care to have any of your ideas challenged. Charter-haters (and -skeptics) will note that the UChicago schools are, well, charters.  UNO! Noble Street! Etc. (Or simply hate them because UChicago.)

Charter supporters and enthusiasts will note that for all their problems, at least charters don't exclude children on the basis of where they live, perpetuating segregation and inequality. 

Link to the video, in case it doesn't work above, is here. Link to the book is here.

Cross-posted from D299.


Charts: High School Grads Now Earn 39 Percent Less

image from www.motherjones.com
College may not be what it used to be, earnings-wise, but neither is high school. Via Mother Jones.

Thompson: Parents Should Opt Out - And Teachers Should Help

TestI plead guilty to not being militant enough in resisting NCLB-type testing.  Had teachers put up a real fight, including "sick-outs" on testing day, they could not have fired us all, and our students would not have had to endure more than a decade of bubble-in malpractice. 

The Tulsa World's Kim Archer, in Parents Opting Kids Out of State Testing Could Put Schools in a Bind, points to a way for teachers to atone for our timidity. The state of Oklahoma has joined Chicago, New York City (under Mike Bloomberg), and others in attempting to intimidate parents into dropping their protests against high-stakes testing. Archer explains the reason, "If test participation dips below 90 percent, the district receives an automatic F, according to the A-F school grade law."

School systems often make herculean efforts to test 95% of students, which is the required minimum for each test. If only one or two students per class were to boycott bubble-in testing, the entire system would collapse. They can't give every school an "F," can they?

Of course, we would have to be strategic and we would have to put student welfare first. We could not expect many parents to opt their 3rd graders out of tests required to pass to 4th grade. Neither could we ask high school students to boycott End of Instruction tests, until they passed the minimum number required to graduate.  Except in the inner city, most students pass the prerequisite four tests by their junior year. If they boycott the rest, the A-F Report Card scheme would crater.

Teachers, of course, need to be more than fans, cheering on students and parents who opt out. I would start a legal defense fund to challenge high-stakes testing abuses. Whenever a student is denied a high school diploma due to failing Common Core or "Common Core-type" graduation exams, for instance, if he has not had an appropriate amount of Common Core or Common Core-type instruction, we should litigate for that student.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.       

Morning Video: Exclusionary Attendance Zones & District Boundaries


A recent case of school district gerrymandering gets coverage from MSNBC and reminds us that district boundaries and neighborhood attendance zones used in most parts of the country have profound exclusionary effects for poor, minority children. Sorry about the John Legend.

AM News: Snow Days, Common Core, & State Backsliding


Holidays For Kids Mean Headaches For Administrators NPR: Schools across the country are running out of the planned snow days they'd put in place to deal with bad weather. As winter's blast of frigid temperatures and snowy conditions drags on, some school districts have kids at home completing assignments online while others are figuring out ways to deal with lost school days.

For Lower-Income Students, Snow Days Can Be Hungry Days NPR: When bad weather shuts down school or delays its openings, it locks out many needy kids from a key source of nutrition. Some 70 percent of U.S. schoolchildren who eat school lunches get them for free or at reduced prices.

House Democrats to Duncan: States are backsliding on help for low achievers WP: House Democratic leaders are worried that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is not doing enough to hold states accountable for educating public school students who are low-income, minority, disabled or English-language learners. See also HuffPostPK12

A fight is brewing over tests in the Common Core age WP: Testing season begins soon in U.S. public schools, requiring millions of students to spend days answering standardized questions in math and reading, as mandated by an outdated federal law. But this year is filled with tumult. Educators are questioning the purpose of testing, lawmakers in several states are pushing back against federal regulations, and a momentous standoff between California — the state with the largest number of public school students — and the Obama administration looms.

More news below and throughout the day in @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Snow Days, Common Core, & State Backsliding" »

Afternoon Video: Harvard Book Touts NYC, Boston, Chicago Success Stories


The University of Chicago's charter network is one of three programs touted in a new book about effective programs that could be replicated in other places. The others are Boston's pre-K program and NYC's small schools. Via Atlantic EDU.

Charts: Teacher Attendance Improves Under New Eval. System

image from main.abqjournal.netdna-cdn.comAbsences are down 15 percentage points (in red) among teachers in Albuquerque Public Schools under a new evaluation system that counts attendance (10 percent). Via Annenberg Institute.

Update: National Audit Of Testing Proposed By Senate

Screenshot.16Curious about just how much testing is going on in schools, and frustrated with the anecdotal reports and hyperbolic accounts?  

So was the Senate HELP Commmittee, way back in 2011-2012.

That's right. There was language in the bipartisan Harkin ESEA bill calling for the creation of a national commission that would have, among other things, been charged with "determining the frequency, length, and scheduling of such tests and assessments, and measuring, in hours and days, the student and teacher time spent on testing."

The Senate language was proposed by Senators Alexander and Bennet.  

Indeed, Bennet introduced standalone legislation last year. Colorado has been working on auditing and coordinating tests for several years, according to this 2011 Durango Herald opinion piece. Alexander is listed as a co-sponsor.

Since then, the noise surrounding test proliferation and/or test uses has risen exponentially -- warranted or not, we don't really know.  Chicago and DC have already initiated testing audit/streamlining procedures. 

The TeachPlus report that came out the other day indicated that there were large variations around the country, and that official and classroom views of the testing burden are very different.  However, the report was limited to a small set of districts. [See here for some updated information on why its Chicago numbers were initially wrong.]

I proposed something along the same lines in my latest Scholastic Administrator column: "Secretary Duncan has at least one thing he could do with his remaining time in office that could be both effective at preserving his initiatives and popular with educators and parents. He could begin to address concerns over test proliferation...  Serving as a watchdog against overtesting, he would also effectively be protecting the Common Core assessments during a very vulnerable time."

Hardcore testing opponents would not be appeased, of course -- look no further than the reactions to the New York State attempts to compromise on Common Core implementation for evidence of that. But, depending on the results such an audit provided, everyone else might be reassured and glad to know how different states and districts compare.

No word back yet about whether the USDE had taken a position on the language or not -- or what they think of the idea now.   

Morning Video: AFT Touts Philly, New Mexico Successes

"This is the story of how two AFT affiliates fought back against privatization, severe education cuts and over-testing to promote an education agenda that treats teachers as professionals and serves all children."

AM News: Under Pressure, New York Reverses Course On Teacher Evaluation


New York Officials Stall Plans to Tweak Teacher Evaluations NYT: After criticism from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the State Board of Regents set aside a proposal to let teachers contest poor assessments by citing difficulties related to the new Common Core standards.

See also WNYC, Chalkbeat.

New York Students With Disabilities May Soon Take Easier Tests Than Their Peers HuffPost:  The controversial proposal revives a concept known as out-of-level testing, and civil rights advocates argue that New York's adoption of the proposal could lead to it becoming standard nationwide. 

De Blasio Prepares for 'Profound Fight' Over Pre-K WNYC: Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied his troops Tuesday, a day after a Republican State Senate co-leader said he would block a vote on the mayor's plan to expand pre-kindergarten and after-school programs by taxing the city's wealthiest residents.

Pay Cuts, End Of Tenure Put North Carolina Teachers On Edge NPR: No state has seen as steep a drop in teacher salaries over the past few years. Legislators also halted a salary bump for teachers with master's degrees and cut a cap on class size. "Teachers are really questioning why they want to teach," says the head of a state advocacy group.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Under Pressure, New York Reverses Course On Teacher Evaluation" »

Charts: Common Core Cocktail Party Cheat Sheet

image from www.greatschools.orgWhat's hot and what's not in the Common Core, via GreatSchools.

Quotes: What Are Online Courses Good For?

Main-qimg-0b7d7f1c033b714e82cd214d47052db6Online courses can be excellent and often more suitable than classroom for Knowledge level... Without huge investment, online courses are usually unsuitable for Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation.  - NASA engineer Robert Frost (Will online courses ever be more powerful and effective than a classroom course? via Quora)

Thompson: What Do "Influentials" Think They Are Doing?

Department_of_Education_-_NCLB_doorI know it’s weird, but I still have a strange curiosity about what education policy-makers think they’re doing.  Eduwonk’s Whiteboard Advisors Education Insiders Survey provides some clues, albeit complicated ones. 

The latest survey of movers and shakers concludes that collaboration and team building, risk taking, and decision making are the most important leadership skills. I agree with two of them, but I’d argue that the most important leadership value should be “first, do no harm” to the children you want to help. 

The survey determined that the three most important technical skills of policy leaders are content expertise, communication skills, and research, analysis and evaluation. Several volunteered comments about the value of actual teaching experience, however. The bottom three answers, however, were project management, strategic planning, and implementation management.

The Whiteboard Advisors then asked the astute question of what three skills they should have focused on at the age of 25.  Those answers were the opposite!  The majority wished that they had focused on real-world skills involving planning, management, and implementation. All three, by the way, are skills that effective teachers and administrators practice. In doing so, many or most practitioners become more risk-adverse.

Then, the survey’s finding really got complicated. When asked the three most overrated skills, strategic planning, project management, and research and analysis were the most overrated!

Continue reading "Thompson: What Do "Influentials" Think They Are Doing?" »

Maps: 17 States Forced To Adopt Common Core But Rejected ObamaCare

image from blogs.edweek.org

Much has been made of the fact that states were "forced" to adopt Common Core for financial and other reasons, but if that was the case then why would 17 of them have adopted Common Core but not the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act? EdWeek's Andrew Ujifusa delves into the apparent paradox.

Media: Union Blog Post Fails To Meet BuzzFeed Standards

Screenshot.15The AFT's social media team was thwarted yesterday in their efforts to get BuzzFeed to post a list of arguments against ALEC's education-related agenda -- though having the item taken down may generate more attention that the list would otherwise have attracted.

BuzzFeed allows outside organizations to contribute their own blog posts, and the USDE and AFT among others have provided content.

For example: Top 9 Things Every College Freshman Needs To Know (from USDE).

The site also has occasional education-related content that the site's own staff creates, and is interested in covering the business of education in the future.

Full of #edgifs, the anti-ALEC list was posted for a time, then taken down.

Then it was restored, and then taken down again. 

The AFT's Kombiz Lavasany explained on Twitter: "BuzzFeed took it down because they view it as "personal", even though it's factual."

BuzzFeed's sarcastic response, via honcho Ben Smith: "You're totally stuck with just the rest of the internet to publish on." 

The original post included disclaimer language: "This post was created by a user and has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed's editorial staff. BuzzFeed Community is a place where anyone can post awesome lists and creations." 

But apparently someone complained about the AFT post, or the site has some standards for submissions it accepts that aren't covered in the disclaimer language. 

Previous posts: 33 Signs You're A New TeacherWhich Of Buzzfeed's 23 "Favorite Teacher" Is Best?BuzzFeed Hiring "Business Of Education" Reporter.

AM News: Governor Cuomo Blasts State For Diluting Common Core Plan


Cuomo Says Education Board’s Plan Dilutes Teacher Reviews NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attacked state education officials over a proposal that would give teachers more leeway to protest poor evaluations. See also TeacherBeat, ChalkbeatNY.

Cuomo Clashes with Education Leaders Over Common Core Fixes WNYC: In a fiery statement, the governor charged that the Regents were halting the teacher evaluation system and seemed to question the Regents' competence overall. See also Hechinger Report.

Colorado's slow rollout of teacher evaluations could hold advantages Denver Post: Colorado is among two-thirds of states that have passed laws since 2009 reforming educator evaluation systems in an effort to tap federal stimulus money and qualify for waivers from mandates established through No Child Left Behind.

White students get better teachers in L.A., researcher testifies LA Times: Black and Latino students are more likely to get ineffective teachers in Los Angeles schools than white and Asian students, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. The findings were released this week during a trial challenging the way California handles the dismissal, lay off and tenure process for teachers. See also HuffPost.

School Leaders Present Their Brand of Accountability for a Renewed ESEA EdWeek: Fifteen superintendents who make up the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium call for a whole lot less standardized testing, a whole lot more leeway for states and local districts to set their own academic targets for students—akin to what's already been happening under the federal No Child Left Behind waivers for states.

StudentsFirst forming small donor campaign fund for local, state elections EdSource: The advocacy and lobbying organization wants to set up a small contributor committee, Californians for Putting Students First, that would give money directly to state and local candidates.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Governor Cuomo Blasts State For Diluting Common Core Plan " »

Quotes: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose Choice

Quotes2Moderate liberals and conservatives want to expand and empower the public schools that admit everybody by random lottery. The lefties want to preserve geographic-based restrictions. - New York magazine article (Public Education’s Weird Ideological Divide)

Bruno: I Sure Wish Teach Plus Had Included Science Tests

5843577306_06fd6132f7Last week's TeachPlus report on the amount of time students spend testing in different districts is a useful contribution to the discussion of the role of testing in schools.

Among other things, the study underscores how much of the burden of testing is self-imposed at the local level rather than directly mandated from the top.

Still, the report has at least one major limitation: it looks only at math and English-language arts tests.

This is an important limitation because while math and ELA tests comprise the majority of required testing, other tests can take up considerable school time as well.

The authors acknowledge that classroom-level tests administered at the teacher's discretion and tests for "special populations of students" (e.g., English learners) can substantially increase the amount of time students spend testing, but are not captured in their results. 

Read on to see what the authors fail to acknowledge, and why it matters.

Continue reading "Bruno: I Sure Wish Teach Plus Had Included Science Tests" »

Maps: 8 States Where Faking A School Address Can Get Parents Jail Time

8 places that can jail you for stealing education
From Al Jazeera America:  "The severity of states’ laws varies greatly, as do the punishments for families that are caught." States listed are OK, MO, IL, MI, OH, NY, PA, DC.

Unsolicited Suggestions: A National Testing Audit*

TestauditduncanscholasticMy new column for Scholastic Administrator proposes that the Obama administration undertake an audit and establish some testing guidelines for states and district to work with -- not a mandate, just some parameters.

Why bother?  Earlier this year, I noted that for all the hullabaloo surrounding overtesting we didn't really know all that much about test proliferation beyond anecdotal reports and isolated (and sometimes hyperbolic) media accounts. There is no national data that I've found. FairTest doesn't track this information comprehensively.  

Some parents and teachers seemed to feel like there was way more testing than in the past.  Some were just objecting to new, harder tests or to  new, controversial uses of the test results (to rate teachers not just schools or kids).

Last week, Teach Plus took a stab at answering some of the questions about test proliferation and variations among districts and states.  Even with findings revised to reflect changes in Chicago, there were clearly large differences among districts in terms of how much testing and time were involved -- and large differences between official time for administration and teachers' accounts even before test prep time was included.

Of course, the USDE has its hands full with test-related issues over which it has more direct control than whatever add-ons states and districts have layered onto federal requirements. The Secretary has given out 5 "double-test" waivers (CT, MS, MT, SD, VT) and has another 10 under review (CA, IA, IL, IA, KS, MD, MA, NV, OR, WA). Three states (ID, MT, and SD) are going to use their new field test assessments.  Connecticut is going to use the field test assessments for 90 percent of districts.  California is going to use them for elementary school accountability. 

But I still think that it'd be a good idea for someone to take a national snapshot of where we are on the testing burden front.  Right now, the whole discussion is happening in the absence of consistent and reliable data. Image via @scholasticadms *Fixed link - thanks, KL

AM News: Schools In 10 States Running Out Of Snow Days


Schools run short on snow days, adjust schedules AP: Students will make up at least three days in Philadelphia and New Haven, Conn., and two in Washington, D.C. Delaware schools have missed a week’s worth of class, and more than half of Maryland’s school districts reached or exceeded their allotted snow days. Boston is extending its school year by nearly a week. via ChalkbeatNY

Philly schools consider universal enrollment model AP: When it's time to enroll in school in Philadelphia, students face a bewildering array of choices: Neighborhood public school? Cyber school? Charter? Private or religious school? What about a specialty district school focused on science? Performing arts? International affairs?...

De Blasio Tests Political Might in Pre-K Push NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio is now seeking to revive the populist zeal of his mayoral bid for a new campaign: persuading state lawmakers to back a tax increase to pay for prekindergarten.

Montgomery County, teachers reach tentative deal including raises, higher health premiums WP: The Montgomery County Board of Education and the union representing the county’s 12,000 teachers have reached a tentative deal on a contract granting raises totaling about 5.5 percent over three years, school officials announced Saturday. Read full artic

Common Core and Medicaid Expansion: Comparing Big Decisions by States EdWeek: Does the widespread rebuke by states of the Medicaid expansion show that states are not so easily coerced by the federal government--and its money--after all?

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Schools In 10 States Running Out Of Snow Days" »

Video: Getting In Trouble At School Used To Mean After-School Detention

"Kids Today Have It Hard" The Advancement Project via Upworthy (ugh).

Charts: Check Out The NEA's $5.6M Super PAC Contribution (2013)

The nation's largest teachers union comes in 4th on this CPI listing of top Super PAC donors, with $5.6 million in contributions, right after the DGA, Mike Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer:

image from 31.media.tumblr.comThink about this next time you hear or read someone like Diane Ravitch talking about corporate involvement in education -- or -- even more important! -- are about to say or write something about school reform involvement in electoral politics.  via I Love Charts.

Thompson: Weingarten Gets The Right Balance In Oklahoma City

Randi_Weingarten_2008_croppedAfter watching AFT President Randi Weingarten wow an audience of religious and labor leaders in Oklahoma City, I’m convinced that the union has reached the proper balance between resistance and collaboration.

She presented The Principles that Unite Us, a plan for communities and labor to unite for educational and social justice. It is also a counter-attack against corporate reform.

Weingarten started by recognizing the insight of the pastor’s opening prayer. This week, our 91% low-income district again closed schools due to the cold. Too many children would have been waiting for school busses without coats, gloves, and hats.

Randi and the AFT embrace the old-fashioned idea that educators must model democratic practices. The effort to improve the lives of poor children of color must be “rooted in communities.”  

Weingarten took her stand at the Fairview Baptist Church, which is led by some of Oklahoma’s most dedicated civil rights leaders. That postage stamp of urban America illustrates the bitter conflicts that continue to divide us. A few blocks to the southeast was Ralph Ellison’s old neighborhood, where The Invisible Man was inspired.  The “No Trespass Zone” where Governor “Alfalfa Bill” Murray placed a machine gun to enforce “Jim Crow” segregation was a few hundred yards away.

School patrons are justifiable angry about the past and present. That is why, a few blocks to the north, the California-based Parent Revolution found an audience. Its organizer urged parents to “go to war” against the school district. If their “parent trigger” goes into effect, it is not clear that the Oklahoma City Public School System will survive.

Continue reading "Thompson: Weingarten Gets The Right Balance In Oklahoma City" »

Maps: Which 7 States Have 2014 Legislative, Gubernatorial, & State Supe Elections?

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 07 11.18

Here's EdWeek's map for 2014 showing 7 states where there are state superintndent races as well as the usual gubernatorial and legislative races.  California is an obvious hotspot, with its elected state superintendent position.  EdWeek highlights other states like Texas, Wisconsin, and others with key education issues and leadership positions being considered.

Campaign 2016: AFT Keeping Presidential Endorsement Options Open

Warren ravitch weingarten 020514The AFT and the Clinton folks have been strenghtening their relationship lately, but that doesn't mean that the union isn't keeping its Campaign 2016 options open. Here's liberal darling US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), NYU education professor Diane Ravitch, and AFT head Randi Weingarten. Via AFT.

AM News: De Blasio Faces Pre-K Teacher Pay Gap


In teacher pay gap, another obstacle for de Blasio’s pre-K plan ChalkbeatNY: Public school pre-K teachers, who are part of the city teachers union, need a college degree and a state teaching certificate. The head pre-K teachers at childcare centers also must have a college degree, but they can start teaching without a certificate if they have a plan to earn one within five years.

In Boston, low-performing schools navigate Common Core standards Hechinger Report: Jim Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank that focuses on education, says the new standards will only increase inequality and achievement gaps.

How much time do D.C. Public Schools spend testing? Washington Post: Teach Plus examined school system assessment calendars in 12 large cities. Teachers surveyed by Teach Plus said that they actually lose much more instructional time to testing than is reflected on official calendars. Elementary-school teachers said they spent more than twice the amount of time testing than accounted for on the calendars.

New Orleans school closure process has uneven effect on students at failing schools The Lens: The reality, however, is messier. Of the four schools that were closed last summer, students from two of them generally attend better ones — in the case of Habans, significantly better. Those who were at the other two mostly ended up in similar, poorly performing schools.

CORE districts’ tackling of tough issues impresses federal official EdSource: A high-ranking federal education official – a woman with Secretary Arne Duncan’s ear – said she liked what she heard at the first meeting of the committee overseeing eight California districts that have received the nation’s only district waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: De Blasio Faces Pre-K Teacher Pay Gap" »

Afternoon Video: NewsHour Features Playworks


PBS NewsHour "Tight budgets and high-stakes tests can lead schools to cut time for the arts, physical education and even recess to make more room for academics. But taking away exercise may be counterproductive. The NewsHour’s April Brown reports on how nonprofit Playworks helps schools reincorporate play into their day."

Charts: Test/Test Prep Time Lowest In Chicago, Highest In Cleveland

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"In Chicago, for instance, students will spend 38.8 hours on state and districts tests by 8th grade, while in Denver that total will top 159 hours. At the 3rd grade level, differences in testing time could amount to as much as three instructional days: each year in Chicago, children spent five hours on tests, while in Cleveland they spent 25 hours." (EdWeek: Study: Districts Vary Widely in the Amount of Time They Spend on Testing)

Media: 8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd (That Weren't About Early Ed)

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 12.57.06 PMThere was tons of great early ed discussion and sites visits via EWA's New Orleans #EWAearled seminar (Building a Child's Mind) earlier this week -- plus no shortage of shmoozing and good food shared among hard-working education journalists.

I especially enjoyed the mock battle between USDOE's Libby Daggett and Brookings' Russ Whitehurst, and a rogue visit to a charter school startup where they're doing balanced listeracy and a mini maker event about which I am still apologizing.

However, I probably learned as much about things going on in journalism as I did about Early Ed, and you probably care more about that stuff than the rest:

8- The LA Times has three fulltime K-12 education reporters (Blume, Caesar, and Watanabe) plus three more higher ed reporters (who don't count), which means that EdSource (with Fensterwald, Frey, Mongeau, and Baron plus an LA-based reporter TBD) is - holy cow! --the biggest education newsroom in California if not the universe. 

7-The Seattle Times' recently-announced Education Lab takes the "solutions" approach to journalism to a grand scale but has already run into some controversy thanks to an info-sharing deal revealed by KUOW radio that some say could endanger student privacy.

6-The new CNN/Robert Redford series, ChicagoLand, looks like it features LOTS of education-related footage (the teachers strike, etc.).

5-The New Haven Independent combines serious public affairs journalism with tabloid-style headlines like 2012's"Beyonce Scores A Faldita" -- thankfully minus the ALL CAPS.

Read below for the remaining items.

Continue reading "Media: 8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd (That Weren't About Early Ed)" »

Morning Video: MSNBC Interviews Pro-Choice House Democrat


MSNBC's Craig Melvin interview's Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and talks about parental choice for good schools (charters, magnets) and positive pressures created by choice - but stops short of endorsing vouchers or saying that choice itself is the top priority in education. 6:49 via EducationNation

AM News: Mass. Teachers Implementing Common Core


In Massachusetts, top-performing schools phase in Common Core with reservations Hechinger Report: Back in Concord, Math teacher Sue Ravalese dismisses the notion that the new standards will hold Massachusetts students back. In fact, she thinks Common Core will actually require her students to develop better critical thinking skills.

Universal Pre-K Doomed to Fail in NYC WNYC: A Bank Street pre-school director is decidedly pessimistic about New York's plan to expand universal pre-k. She has her reasons. See also: NYC's Looming Contracts, and Retroactive Pay (WNYC).

Illinois' K-12 Funding System Might be Changed to Resemble California's State EdWatch: The new formula recommended by an Illinois Senate committee report would focus more resources on low-income students and reduce state bureaucracy.

Op-Ed Contributor: A Solution for Bad Teaching NYT: Tweaking tenure could help students and researchers.

Walton group funds more charter schools in L.A. than elsewhere LA Times: Across the country last year, the foundation awarded $25 million to help start 112 charters. The full investment since 1997 has been $335 million.

Hostility over, parent-trigger school strives to improve Hechinger Report: So far, the transition has been much less dramatic than the process to make it happen. Halfway through its first school year under charter management, the newly named Desert Trails Preparatory Academy has retained a majority of the neighborhood students. The healing process has begun for the community.

Utah District Hears Why School Lunches Were Taken AP: Under board member questioning, Orton said his department didn't properly tell parents about a new electronic payment system and promised efforts so meals aren't tossed again. He said the investigation was ongoing and his report wasn't definitive.

More news below and throughout the day via @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Mass. Teachers Implementing Common Core" »

Afternoon Video: Jon Stewart Suggests 50-50 Pre-K Split To De Blasio

That was Daily Show host Jon Stewart's suggestion about how to fund the proposed pre-school expansion. Via Mike Klonsky. Sorry about the autoplay! 

Maps: School Funding Levels 2011

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Check out your state's funding changes by year via this new report from the Ed Law Center and Bruce Baker.  This would make a great #edgif to show these changes over time, I'm just saying.

Thompson: Rep. Miller Had To Have Known How NCLB Would Be Implemented

NclbEdSource’s Kathryn Baron, in NCLB Co-author Says He Never Anticipated Federal Law Would Force Testing Obsession, reports that Rep. George Miller, an  architect of No Child Left Behind, says that he did not intend to create “what some have charged is a simplistic ‘drill and kill’ approach that subverts real instruction.”

Miller claims that the most important part of the law was reporting data on the outcomes of each demographic group. This “turned out to be a firestorm.”

No! The reporting of disaggregated test score data was a win-win policy welcomed by all types of stakeholders.  It was the high-stakes testing that educators oppose.

Miller undercuts his professions of innocence to dumbing down teaching and learning. He says that “there were people who believed that drill and kill could lead to learning. And there were people who were drilling and killing and saying ‘This is absolutely wrong. But that was the policy’.”

Miller still seems oblivious to the damage done by creating the utopian goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. And, again, he blames school systems for responding in ways that he should have known were predictable.

Continue reading "Thompson: Rep. Miller Had To Have Known How NCLB Would Be Implemented" »

TVal: NEA Denies Flip-Flop On Teacher Evaluation

image from 3.bp.blogspot.comConsistency is the hobgoblin of small minds -- everyone knows that -- but folks in and out of the reform movement have been noting apparent inconsistencies in AFT and NEA position on similar-seeming proposals and statutes.

This time it's Chicago reform critic Mike Klonsky who has questions.  One of them is directed at NEA head Dennis Van Roekel, whose union supported teacher evaluation law in Illinois that among other things gives student achievement a role but opposes the "nearly identical" law now in Colorado [SB191].

Wait just a second, says Alice O'Brien, NEA Office of General Counsel.  The Colorado lawsuit that NEA is supporting is a challenge to the "discharge without cause" provisions of SB191, not the evaluation provisions.  

According to the NEA, there's nothing like that in SB 7.  "The IL law was not modeled on SB 191, does not include the type of discharge without cause provisions challenged in the CO lawsuit, and includes collectively bargained evaluation plans, which IEA strongly supports."

Image via Klonsky.

Morning Video: DC Mayor Touts Early Childhood (With Duncan Assist)


DC's City Paper notes that EdSec Duncan makes a cameo appearance  -- in Mayor Vincent Gray's latest education video, and that his predecessor worked hard to get an endorsement from Duncan (but never apparently got one).

AM News: CA Teacher Job Protection Case Continues


Deasy provides fodder for both sides in lawsuit LA Times: In #Vergara vs. California, a groundbreaking trial over teacher job protections, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy was a star witness — for both sides. Also: Finally, evidence of a student hurt by state laws (LA School Report)

U.S. Rep. Scott To Pursue Top Democratic Slot on Education Committee PK12: Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia, is throwing his hat in the ring for the "ranking member" (aka top Democratic) slot on the House education committee, beginning in 2015. 

A Call to Ignore Exam Results When Evaluating Educators NYT: Leaders of the New York Legislature propose that standardized tests aligned with the new Common Core curriculum standards be excluded, for now, from the state’s new system for grading teachers.

Obama Secures Funding To Help Connect Students To Internet NPR: Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint pledged $750 million in equipment and services. Obama said this is part of an initiative that seeks to connect almost all American students to high speed Internet within five years.

Why the FCC pays for landlines but not broadband Internet Marketplace: In a speech today, President Barack Obama talked up plans to give all schools fast internet ...

Arne Duncan: Feds Won't Prescribe Even 'A Single Semicolon' of Curricula EdWeek: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a ringing endorsement the other day of local control over standards and curriculum, something that could have landed on jittery common-core supporters like a blanket of reassurance. 

More news below and from overnight / throughout the day via @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: CA Teacher Job Protection Case Continues" »

Bruno: Common Core Apathy Unsettling For Both Sides

2854281112_04b9018aedOver the last few months we've seen something of a Common Core paradox.

On the one hand, the Common Core standards appeared to be broadly popular.

At the same time, the new standards have begun experiencing sudden-seeming political collapses in places like New York and Indiana.

CCSS supporters seem surprised by the growing resistance, but they shouldn't be because there is not really a paradox here.

Support for the Common Core was just never that strong to begin with.

It's easy for those of us who spend a lot of time thinking and talking and writing about these things to forget that most people, including most parents and teachers, just don't care that much about education policy.

Even fewer people care much about the content of our education standards.

So while it was never difficult to find surveys indicating that many stakeholders who knew of them were generally supportive of the CCSS, even most public school parents were completely unaware of the new standards.

And even among their backers, support for the CCSS has never seemed very strong. Many reformers and educators alike seem to have based their support only on the vaguest - and most platitudinous - abstractions about what good standards should be. (Realistically, who wouldn't say they support standards everyone claims are "fewer", "clearer", and "deeper"?)

Continue reading "Bruno: Common Core Apathy Unsettling For Both Sides" »

Quotes: Don't Forget Florida Reform School Victims

Quotes2Difficult and delinquent boys are so easy to forget about. - New Yorker article on long history of abuse at Florida reform school  (and lack of charges being filed against perpetrators)




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