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Newsmakers: A New TFA For A New Era?

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 1.26.47 PM
The latest issue of Scholastic Administrator includes my interview with TFA co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva-Beard. There's no breaking news but it's interesting to hear how they divvy up the work and how much harder the job seems to have been than they could have imagined a year ago. 

Related posts: 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Howard Dean Touts TFATraditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFATFA Under The Microscope;  Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media PanelSo Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA

 

Teachers: Poor Leadership, Inflammatory Coverage Diminish Public Perceptions

Veteran Chicago Public Schools teacher and blogger Ray Salazar -- who recently explained why he chose a charter school for one of his children -- now has an interesting take on yesterday's PDK/Gallup poll results on his blog (Three reasons people don’t trust teachers).  

Public trust in teachers is down (along with support for test-based teacher evaluation), notes Salazar. But teachers aren't in charge of how they're perceived, or many of the factors that shape public opinion.

Who or what is?

Ineffective and incoherent leadership at the district level -- including union leadership -- is factor #1, according to Salazar. "Honestly, as I stood on the picket line in 2012, I struggled to articulate why we were striking for the first time in 27 years," remembers Salazar. (Another strike is possible soon.)

Factor #2 is "inflammatory" coverage of the schools, fueled by "mostly white activists, many of whom haven’t taught in our schools," who are quoted as authorities in the media and teachers -- especially minority teachers -- are ignored. Salazar blames the media for focusing on relatively minor flaws in the system -- a front page story about teacher certification -- rather than reporting large-scale successes like teachers helping students win millions in scholarships.

Last but not least, district mandates are overwhelming classroom teachers with requirements. "Today, a typical Chicago high school teacher has 150 students and must enter 300-450 grades a week (2-3 per student) on a highly public and scrutinized gradebook system. Our teacher evaluation, while no longer a checklist that mentions bulletin boards, is a time-absorbing exercise that will not help a teacher improve if the administrator lacks instructional expertise.

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Builds A Better Teacher*

Trust in teachers is down, and support for better (more rigorous, clinical) teacher prep is up. PBS NewsHour goes into it with Dana Goldstein Elizabeth Green. First broadcast last night. Online extra here.

AM News: Another CA Lawsuit Challenges Teachers Union Practices

Lawsuit challenges teachers’ compulsory dues EdSource Today: A lawsuit working its way through the courts is striking at the core of the California Teachers Association’s power: its authority to automatically deduct hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dues from the paychecks of both members and non-members.

LAUSD police to give up some weaponry obtained in federal program LA Times: Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. The move comes as education and civil rights groups have called on the...

Teachers union urges board to fire Deasy LA School Report: UTLA says it wants the board to downgrade Deasy’s performance to “unsatisfactory” at his annual evaluation, scheduled to take place behind closed doors on October 21. That would effectively spell the end to the superintendent’s contract which – at his own insistence – stipulates he meet performance targets set by the board.

What’s the best way to teach teachers? PBS NewsHour: An annual poll out today by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa finds that majorities of Americans believe teacher preparation should be more rigorous.  There was also support for stronger certification requirements and evaluations, more training and practice time for teaching candidates, and opposition to using student test results to evaluate teachers. A new book explores what better teaching may look like.

Bobby Jindal Trusts Science Except When He Doesn't Huffington Post: America needs a leader to bridge the widening gulf between faith and science, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a devout Roman Catholic with Ivy League-level science training, thinks he can be that person.

Wealthy L.A. Schools' Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan's Hollywood Reporter: Hollywood parents say not vaccinating makes "instinctive" sense. Now their kids have whooping cough.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Another CA Lawsuit Challenges Teachers Union Practices" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Shifting Public Opinion On Teachers, Teaching

Americans Want Teachers to Take a Bar Exam - The Atlantic ow.ly/Bz3Dd  @EmilyRichmond @EWAEmily

Tom Kane doubles down on combining #commoncore & teacher evaluation in @EducationNext ow.ly/BzlaA

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior - How long will it last? @smarick @rhess99 @MichaelPetrilli ow.ly/BzmJv

Time for Reformers, Educators to Work Together - @Eduflack http://ow.ly/ByFjZ  @edu_post

Vox raises possibility reformers let Rahm face Lewis/AFT alone bit.ly/1shNabk Repeat of Fenty/Gray? @dropoutnation @mikeantonnuci

Pension reform isn't the same as pension theft, @ChadAldeman reminds @DanaGoldstein Education Next ow.ly/BzkX7

Afternoon Video: Preview Of Tonight's PBS NewsHour Teacher Preparation Segment

Here's a preview of the PBS NewsHour segment on Elizabeth Green's teacher preparation book; the full version is slated to air tonight.

Books: I Trust That You Will Find This Useful

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 1.14.43 PMUlrich Boser's new book, The Leap, is about the science of trust and includes some education-related policy implications you might want to check out.

In the policymakers' guide that comes along with the book, Boser addresses some of the things that can be done to empower individuals through education, including:

• Support schools that lengthen the school day.
• Reform school funding so that it’s both more equitable and effective, and have school dollars follow children instead of programs.
• Make college more affordable through Pell Grants.• Allow college students to gain credit for learn-
ing outside the classroom.
 
There's also good reading on trust and public policy in Robert Putnam's writings such as here.
 
Most directly comparable of all is the work that Tony Bryk and others have done at the University of Chicago showing that trust among adults and kids is an important condition for effective learning. 
 
Boser is a longtime fellow/contributor at CAP and has another book after this one already in the works.
 

Quotes: Reformers "Don't Hurry To Claim" Chicago Or Emanuel

Quotes2While Emanuel is a supporter of charter schools who's generally seen as being a reform-friendly, reformers don't hurry to claim Chicago as a hotbed of change, which could blunt the election's symbolic weight. - Vox's Libby Nelson (What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics).

Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?*

The sad but unsurprising news from this recent On The Media segment (The Labor Beat) is that labor coverage has dwindled sharply in the mainstream press -- down to just a couple of fulltime labor beat reporters at major national papers (WSJ and NYT).  

What's fascinating to note is that there's so little labor-focused coverage in education newsgathering operations, too -- even as there are new (especially small nonprofit) education-focused journalism operations sprouting up all over the place.

The argument for labor coverage in education is pretty straightforward.  Union numbers may be dwindling sharply in the private sector and other parts of the public sector, too, but last I looked charter schools (most of them non-union) educate less than 10 percent of the students in America and union representation of district school teachers is at around 50 percent.

Labor is and will continue to be a big part of the K-12 education space for the foreseeable future, and yet other than the occasional controversy or flareup unions and laws surrounding them get surprisingly little coverage.

EdWeek's Steven Sawchuk handles the issue as best he can over at Teacher Beat, but he's also got every other teacher-related issue under the sun to cover (research, politics, etc.).  EIA's Mike Antonucci is the only full-time, labor-focused person out there that I know of -- and his coverage (if not his reporting) are generally critical-minded.

Given how many teachers there are -- and how important and influential (and in some corners controversial) teachers unions are, you'd think there'd be more regular, in-depth coverage.  

Or is there more ongoing coverage out there than I'm seeing?

*I should have included RiShawn Biddle's coverage of teachers unions at Dropout Nation, including updates like this one.

AM News: District NCLB Waivers, Charter Expansions, Chicago

NCLB waiver extended for seven districts EdSource:  After months of negotiations, seven California school districts have received a one-year extension of the waivers from the federal government exempting them from key provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in return for meeting a slew of new requirements. See also PK12.

Charter school enrollments increased by 13 percent nationally Washington Post: Nationwide, about 2.5 million public school students were enrolled in charter schools last school year, up from 789,000 a decade earlier, according to the most recent enrollment estimates from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

David Boies, eyeing education through a civil rights lens Washington Post: David Boies, the superlawyer who chairs a group that is trying to overturn teacher tenure laws in New York and elsewhere, said Monday that his organization is not looking to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court — at least not in the short run.

What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics Vox: Political observers say Lewis and her confrontational style had an immediate effect on the Chicago Teachers Union's umbrella group, the American Federation of Teachers. While Emanuel is a supporter of charter schools who's generally seen as being a reform-friendly, reformers don't hurry to claim Chicago as a hotbed of change, which could blunt the election's symbolic weight.

California school district rewrites menu for student lunches PBS NewsHour: Finally tonight:  With the new school year now in full swing, one urban district in California [Oakland] is implementing an ambitious plan to transform their lunch program to provide healthier, locally sourced food.

The Case for Having Class Discussions on Twitter Atlantic: Lively debate and direct quotes continue to fill the threads four hours after school has ended. Students upload pictures of their annotated texts and ask their classmates to help them understand the nuances of iambic pentameter.

New Rochelle Struggles Amid Rice’s Unraveling NYT: Now that Ray Rice, a hometown football hero, has been dismissed from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the National Football League, the New Rochelle High School community is struggling to determine how to react.

Regents Weigh New Routes to a High School Diploma WNYC: If approved by the Regents next month, high school students could substitute one of the two social studies exams with a test in career and technical education, the arts or humanities. They would still have to take Regents exams in English, math and science to meet federal requirements. See also ChalkbeatNY

Chicago Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not 'as smooth as we would like' WBEZ: CPS employs 825 custodian positions that are covered by SEIU Local 73 and none of those positions are being cut, according to district officials. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to cover other schools as a result of the layoffs.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Why Are There Still So Few Quality Voc-Ed Programs?

MA vocational schools unable to educate enough - The Boston Globe ow.ly/Bw9cL

In face of broad vendor claims, some districts rate#commoncore materials for quality ow.ly/Bx140

Eduwonk also questions @libbyanelson's Vox critique of HS ratings ow.ly/BwYbB My orig post here ow.ly/BwZab

NY union local upset with AFT head @rweingarten for making calls on behalf of Cuomo running mate ow.ly/BwXQg

More names from @Larryferlazzo for my ow.ly/BwBv1 list: @DrCamikaRoyal @Roxanna_Elden @WhiteRhinoRay@Lily_NEA @TeachMoore

#TheTeacherWars' @DanaGoldstein takes a narrow lead with a New Yorker mention/review ow.ly/Bwu3n

"This is not research but pamphlet. Unfortunate misinformation. Myths rather than facts." says Pasi Sahlberg

 

Thompson: How Chicago Increased Graduation Rates

The single most successful reform in any of my old schools was the establishment of Freshmen Academies. We had very little money to invest in school improvements, but our high schools got the biggest bang for the buck from a "High Touch," team effort to get 9th graders on track.

Our successes were consistent with the findings of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) which show, “Graduation is mostly determined in the ninth grade year.” 

The CCSR’s Tim Knowles, in Chicago Isn't Waiting for Superman,  reports that, for the second year in a row, Chicago’s graduation rate jumped 4%. It is now a record-high 69.4%. 

Chicago focused “on what research told school leaders would matter most," keeping freshmen on track to graduate" by improving their attendance and tailoring interventions to particular students’ needs. Knowles explains, “The new focus compelled greater problem-solving and collaboration among teachers and administrators committed to ensuring every single student was on-track for graduation.” 

He says that it “might sound small or obvious,” but “the focus on freshman on-track represented a major psychological and cultural shift for school leaders.” 

Policy people tend to lack an understanding of “promoting power,” and putting teens on "positive trajectories." Repeated failure does no good for anyone, but success breeds success.  

The focus on test scores has distracted adults from what really matters, helping students progress.  It might (or might not) be good when the average student correctly answers a couple more bubble-in test questions, but what do those numbers really mean? When educators and students work together, and kids make it over the finish line, however, we know something meaningful was accomplished. –JT(drjohnthompson) 

Quotes: A Parent's Response To Her Child's Test Anxiety

Quotes2Yes, she has test anxiety. Yes, she has cried... I comfort her, but I tell her: ‘I make $14.42 an hour. What are you going to do to have a better life?.' - Success Academy parent Natasha Shannon in the NYT (The Battle for New York Schools)

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Media: This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters" Needs More Names*

A somewhat more diverse version of Education Dive's recent 12 education thought leaders you should follow on Twitter might include who(m), exactly? 

Off the top of my head -- without much concern for how much I agree or disagree with them (and vice versa) -- how about Chicago's Xian Barrett (@xianb8),LA's Liz Dwyer (@losangelista),NYC's Jose Vilson (@theJLV), NYCAN's Derrell Bradford (@Dyrnwyn), ProPublica's Nikole Hannah Jones  (@nhannahjones), The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (@tanehisicoates), The Lens' Jessica Williams (@williamslensnola), Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle (@dropoutnation), the NEA's Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) and Education Post's Chris Stewart (@citizenstewart).

Others to add, suggest, or critique?  There are two more spots to get to an even 12.  Or, take issue with the whole notion of creating such a list in the first place. 

Thanks for the suggestion, Heather Harding (@heatherHJ)!  Education Dive's original list includes a mix of men and women but only two POC that I know of (LDH and Michelle R.).

*Additional names that have been suggested (on Twitter and Facebook) since the original posting include @drsteveperry, @jmsummers, and @drkamikaroyal.   

Morning Audio: Special Ed, Suburban Students, Private Schools

image from www.thisamericanlife.orgWhat happens when orthodox Jews move into a suburban New York neighborhood with high property taxes and don't send their kids to private yeshivas -- or vote down school budgets-- as long as the district doesn't monitor the private schools and gives as much money as possible (up to $27,000 per kid)?

The deal doesn't last forever.  

The result is a situation that's "Like nothing you have seen in any school district anywhere," according to Ira Glass. NSFW (curse words).

Politics, budgets, religion, regulation -- it's all in there. Image via This American Life.

 

 

AM News: Union Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark

CTU President Karen Lewis meets with Newark Mayor WGN-TV: The Chicago Sun-Times reports Chicago Teacher's Union President, Karen Lewis, another possible candidate for mayor, was in Newark, New Jersey over the past few days. She was talking with Newark's mayor, who also had a background in education.

Karen Lewis in Jersey to talk to Newark educator-turned-mayor Chicago Sun-Times: Possible mayoral hopeful Karen Lewis last week traveled to Newark and apparently took part in a series of meetings and seminars, including with the city's mayor, who happens to have a bit in common with Lewis. 

Strained ties cloud future of Deasy, LAUSD LA Times: The controversy engulfing Los Angeles Unified's $1.3-billion technology project has inflamed long-held tensions between the Board of Education and Supt. John Deasy, who is questioning whether he should step down.

New York City Charter Schools Test New Rent Rules WNYC: Ascend is among the first wave of charters seeking to take advantage of a state law approved in April that requires the city to give charters free space in public school buildings or pay their rent.

For Teachers, Many Paths Into The Classroom ... Some Say Too Many NPR:  One in five newly hired teachers has skipped university preparation for teaching. Indiana is the latest state to make entering the classroom easier.

Room for Debate: How to Diversify Teaching NYT: What can be done to make a career in education more attractive to men and people of color?

With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise NYT: Parent groups and privacy advocates are challenging the practices of an industry built on data collection, and California has passed wide-ranging legislation protecting students’ personal information.

Schools move toward ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies to boost student tech use Washington Post: His iPhone is on his desk, out in the open, and Joshua Perez’s teacher does not take it away. Instead, she asks the eighth-grader and his classmates in honors geometry at Argyle Magnet Middle School to Google the words “vertex form parabola.”

Using tablets to teach reading Marketplace: We're kicking off a week-long series on how technology is changing reading.

Ready To Work WNYC: Next, we'll spend time at a vocational school in one of America's wealthiest school districts in Lexington, MA. Then: a trip to Nashville, where failing schools have been turned into so-called "career academies" that focus on technical education.

San Diego School District's New 18-Ton Armored Vehicle Creates Stir NPR: The mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, will have teddy bears in it, school police officials say. The MRAP is a piece of military surplus equipment that's worth around $733,000.

California School Cops Received Military Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Armored Vehicles HuffPost: A Los Angeles Unified School District spokesperson who requested anonymity confirmed school police received the gear noted in the report. The district, which has 400 sworn officers, has been receiving military weaponry since 2001, the spokesperson said.

Twitter Erupts as Nicki Minaj’s Offer to School Is Declined NYT: Students at the rapper’s alma mater, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, post their dismay after a visit falls through.

Books: Get Ready For 2015's "The Test"

The test book 2015Hey, everyone, so sorry if you're not done reading Goldstein, Green, Kahlenberg/Potter, or any of the other education books that have come out in recent weeks, but it's time to start getting ready for the next wave of titles coming down the pike.

First one that I know of for 2015 is Anya Kamenetz's The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be.

According to the understandably hyperbolic promo writeup (I haven't actually seen the book itself), many schools are spending up to 28 percent of their time on test prep, and the Common Core is going to require "an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year", and the nation's spending $1.4 billion a year on testing.

I don't know if any of that is accurate (or if $1.4 billion is a lot) but it's certainly pretty alarming -- and I guess that's the point. Not to worry, there are things that parents and educators to do to deal with the overtesting problem.  And there are celebrity profiles showing us how high tech folks like Gates and Bezos deal with overtesting in their kids' lives.

All snark aside, it'll be interesting to see what Kamenetz's book adds to the overtesting debate, which is sure to continue this year as states and districts and schools deal with Common Core assessments and parents' and teachers' concerns about testing, test prep, and use of test results. The timing couldn't be better.

Follow Friday [#FF]: Top Education Tweeters, According To Education Dive

image from d1bb041l1ipbcm.cloudfront.netI'm still not quite sure what Education Dive is all about -- one of several different industry "dives" that the company puts out -- but still I'm happy to be included in its list of best education Twitter feeds to follow (along with several other noteworthies) and appreciate in particular the kind writeup:

"A former educator, and a staffer under California Sen. Diane Feinstein, Russo has his thumb on education trends. He is constantly updating his feed with interesting ed reads, and as the founder of Scholastic's This Week In Education, he is never short of content. Something to appreciate about Russo's feed is he never seems to push one agenda, but rather curates an interesting selection of must-reads."

Thanks for including me, Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth). Image courtesy @EducationDive.

 

 

Quotes: Steve Jobs Didn't Let His Kids Have iPads

Quotes2We have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids. - Tech mogul Chris Anderson about tech parents limiting kids' exposure (NYT: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent)

Events: We All Missed #TheTeacherWars Confab In NYC Last Night

image from t.co

#edjourn Last Night at New America's SoHo offices there was a lively-sounding filled-to-capacity three hour discussion with Jose Vilson, Dana Goldstein, and Motoko Rich (pictured, courtesy Melinda Anderson).

I wasn't there and haven't heard about any audio or video to share -- there's apparently a podcast in the works for some time in the near future.

In the meantime there are lots of tweets you can catch up on via #theteacherwars, #NANYC, @newamericaNYC and @danagoldstein, @TheJLV, and @motokorich.

Or, if you were there or following along in real time, tell us what we missed or what jumped out at you.

Thanks again to @MDAwriter Melinda Anderson for the picture.

Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful

#edjourn  Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 4.31.15 PMIt's not hard to relate to Libby Nelson'spoint of view in a recent Vox piece (Ranking high schools tells you which schools are rich or selective ), in which she notes that the rankings from places like the Daily Beast  mostly function to tell us what we already know -- that wealthier, whiter communities generate higher-performing high schools and that news outlets put out the lists to generate web traffic rather than to shed light on any particular phenomenon.

"The public schools that top these lists are mostly selective magnet schools that get to pick which students they educate. If they're not, they're much likely to enroll fewer poor students than public schools as a whole." That -- plus the reality that few families move for high school like they do for college -- explain why ranking high schools like this "makes no sense at all."

But the high school rankings phenomenon isn't as recent as Nelson seems to imagine, isn't quite as empty of substance or usefulness as it might seem, and isn't all that different than stories that Nelson and her colleagues at Vox (and here) sometimes also run.

Continue reading "Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful" »

AM News: Top Court Tells Wash. State To Get Cracking On School Funding

Legislature Is Held in Contempt Over School Funding NYT: The State Supreme Court held the Washington State Legislature in contempt on Thursday for its lack of progress on fixing the way the state pays for public education, but it withheld punishment until after the 2015 session. See also State EdWatch, Seattle Times

Judge Approves Merger of Teacher Tenure Lawsuits in New York WNYC: But that doesn't mean things will proceed smoothly. Davids has accused Brown of "bullying" the law firm Gibson Dunn into reneging on its offer to represent her group. The firm, which represented the plaintiffs in California, denied Davids' claim. She is represented by a local lawyer. The state is expected to ask the court to dismiss the case which could drag on for years. See also ChalkbeatNY.

What have states actually done in crusade against Common Core? Christian Science Monitor: Some states are rebelling against Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states, saying it is a sign of federal overreach. But few states are actually taking concrete steps, according to a new study.

New 'Leaders and Laggards' Report From U.S. Chamber: Which States Improved? State EdWatch: Seven years after its "Leaders and Laggards" report took states to task over their K-12 policy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows what it thinks of the K-12 landscape in 2014.

LAUSD's Deasy seeks records of board members' tech-firm contacts LA Times: In a bold challenge to his bosses, L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy has filed a public records request seeking emails and other documents involving school board members and nearly two dozen companies including those at the center of the controversial iPad project.

Giving Every Kid Equal Standing In The School Lunch Line NPR: For students who don't have enough money for a hot lunch each day, visiting the cafeteria can be a source of shame. In Houston, school volunteer Kenny Thompson decided he wanted to change that.

Teacher Hurt When Gun Accidently Shatters Toilet ABC News: Utah elementary school teacher hurt after her gun accidently fires, shatters school toilet

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: So, Should We Blame Weak US Education Effects On Flawed Reform Efforts Or Entrenched Interests (Or Both)?

Barely 30 percent of US adults exceed their parents' education level - worse than all but 3 OECD nations ow.ly/Bo9FD

ICYMI: @ChiPubSchools Show Real Graduation Rate Progress, @UChicagoUEI Tim Knowles US News ow.ly/Bo84n

Jose Vilson praises @elizwgreen book for listening to teachers ow.ly/Bo1EI

The nations "most-educated" towns are mostly affluent suburbs ow.ly/Bon3w #yayneighborhoodschools?

HS rankings may not tell us much, as @libbyanelsonnotes - but what about high-perf, high-pov HSs also listed? ow.ly/BofgC

On Dana Goldstein’s Piece Last Week in Vox @TeachForAmerica @DanaGoldstein ow.ly/Boe2x

NYT's Porter corrects attribution of income gap / grad rate research - UM's Bailey & Dynarski #edjourn ow.ly/Boaa2

Throwback Thursday: September 11 Will Always Be Connected To Education

 

Here are some #TBT blog posts from previous years on this date that seem sort of interesting, both related to 9/11 and otherwise:

The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up: In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked. (2011) 

Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?": Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?" 10 It's a diet.  A set of exercises.  A scientific term. A guide to behavior. (2013)

StoryCorps Teachers Starts Today: Today is the launch date for the StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative I told you about a few weeks ago (2011).

Or, look around for others that might be interesting here.

Thompson: TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It's Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union

TNTP has done teachers a great service in publishing “Rebalancing Tenure Rights.” 

I’m serious. Liberal non-educators who support anti-tenure lawsuits seem to assume that the strickened laws would inevitably be replaced by something better. Vergara supporters have been mum on what would replace today’s imperfect but necessary laws, protecting the rights of teachers. 

TNTP now makes it clear, however, that if Vergara and similar suits are upheld on appeal, it will push an agenda that is fundamentally anti-teacher and anti-union. It would strip teachers of their right to challenge their accusers’ judgment. In doing so, they would make it impossible for the teacher’s side of the story to be entered into evidence in a dismissal case, and call the survival of collective bargaining into question.

Of course, TNTP spins its position, claiming that it is only "good faith" judgments that should be all-powerful. In theory, an administrative judge, in an one-day hearing, could reject bad faith and false judgments of administrators. But, if teachers aren't allowed to cross examine those judgments, how could the judge make such a determination? And, why would teachers join unions that could not challenge claims against their members?

Non-educators who haven’t seriously studied education history may not understand why teachers should have the democratic rights - enjoyed by all other Americans – to use the political process to gain protections that are more than those of the weakest civil service protections. But, there are huge problems with their claims.

Continue reading "Thompson: TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It's Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union" »

Media: FiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The Gate

#Edjourn Newish data-based journalism site FiveThirtyEight is rumored to be looking for someone to head its education coverage, and indeed posted a story last week about US kids spending lots of time in class (which I happily shared out). So far, so good, right?ScreenHunter_10 Sep. 05 16.16

Well, part of the story confused TIMSS test scores with classroom instructional time. We've all made mistakes, but ... Oops! At least they had the class to remove the data and issue this correction. And crossed fingers that the outlet joins other newish mainstream outlets like Vox, BuzzFeed, Storyline, and The Upshot in publishing education pieces that I can share with you. 

Quotes: An Honest Conversation (Among Reform Critics)

Quotes2We play to crowds, portend allegiance, retweet and rewrite the same messages, and hero-worship with no critical thought... And all of this is OK because, well, we agree on something, whatever that one thing is, and that’s what matters, right?

- Jose Vilson (On Honest and Civil Conversation (Simmer Down Now))

AM News: De Blasio Forced To Accommodate NYC Charter Expansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charts: NYT Ranks Top Colleges For Economic Diversity

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 09 13.07

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

Quotes: The Teachers Unions' Quandry

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

Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy

 

Or click below and watch Smiley interview Diane Ravitch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Teaching: Vergara Decision Spotlights Administrator Practices As Much As Teachers

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

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

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

Livestream: NYT "Schools For Tomorrow" Conference

Link to agenda and previous segments here@NYTConf#NYTsft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reform: Goldstein Puts TFA Under The Microscope

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes2

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

Morning Audio: ICYMI Common Core Documentary

 

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

AM News: All Eyes On California & Rhode Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

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

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

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

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