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Quotes: Former Kennedy, Obama Official Calls Chicago Teachers Union "Foolish" Over Common Core

Quotes2Teachers are understandably asking for appropriate training and other resources needed to implement the standards and expressing concerns with high stakes decision-making attached to new tests. But the CTU has gone further and called for abandoning these new standards and better tests, with no alternative but to fall back on outdated standards that consistently failed students. It is irresponsible to turn back the clock on raising standards. -- Carmel Martin in the Chicago Sun Times (CTU foolish to fight Common Core)

Events: Live Tweets From Nashville [#EWA14]

The annual education writers conference is still going strong in Nashville today -- watch along (and interact with folks) here:

AM News: There Is No Education News Today

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Julian Castro, Noted for Early Ed. Push, Reportedly Picked for Obama Cabinet Post PK12: San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who has made education policy a hallmark of his tenure, has been tapped by President Barack Obama to be the new US Secretary of Housing, according to the San Antonio Express News

Teen Asks Joe Biden To The Prom; VP Sends Her A Corsage Hartford Courant: When Talia Maselli envisioned her perfect prom date, one man immediately sprang to mind: Vice President Joe Biden. "Joe Biden makes me laugh," Maselli said. "He just cracks me up."

Tablets proliferate in nation’s classrooms, and take a swipe at the status quo WPost: Social studies students in a District middle school use a touch screen to swipe through the articles of the Constitution. A fifth-grade teacher in Arlington County sends video lessons to students as homework so she can spend more time helping them in class.

What to Watch for During the District’s Teacher Contract Negotiations VOSD: Let’s face it: Contract negotiations between school districts and the teachers union are a drag. There are theatrics, muscle-flexing, flag-waving and shows of solidarity. And that’s just the first 10 minutes of a San Diego Unified school board meeting.

Newark's New Mayor Demands Return of Schools to Local Control District Dossier: Mayor-elect Ras Baraka also called for the immediate halt to Superintendent Cami Anderson's plan to close and restructure several low-performing schools.

Schools Work to Help Transgender Students Fit In ABC News: Law or no law, schools across US work to help transgender students fit in without a fuss.

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

Continue reading "AM News: There Is No Education News Today" »

Afternoon Video: Reform Leader Connects Common Core To Racial Integration

John King gave a speech yesterday linking Common Core to the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, which is having a big anniversary.  Transcript here. He was on WNYC local public radio this morning, making liberal listeners crazy I'm sure. 

 

 

Charts: De-Segregating Schools "Might Be The Easy Part"

image from www.newrepublic.comThis was probably the last year when white students were the majority (they're 52 percent now) but classroom teachers are still overwhelmingly white (at 82 percent), according to this chart from TNR via CAP (Racial Divide for Students, Teachers) that focuses on how minority students are treated even in schools that are integrated. 

Quotes: Initial Wins Are Nice, But Only The Beginning

Quotes2When advocates of a particular education policy are victorious in the legislative arena, they have only won a battle, not a war. Opponents will show up again and again during implementation—in schools, or before school boards, or in other local forums—to continue the battle. - Brookings' Tom Loveless via Robert Pondiscio

Morning Video: Rand Paul Nobody In DC "Knows A Damn Thing" About Education

 

This video from last month shows Rand Paul talking education reform in Milwaukee. Rebel Pundit via RCe. Link here.

AM News: Looking Back At Brown & Ahead Towards Zip Code Inequality


image from t.co

A Decision That Helped Shape Michelle Obama NYT: For the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Michelle Obama will head to Topeka to talk about a Supreme Court ruling that affected her life. [pictured, via Instagram]

Segregation Is Back Politico: Sixty years after Brown v. Board, educational advantages are still unequally divided—not by race, but by zip code. 

Who Gets to Graduate? NYT Sunday Magazine: Rich students complete their college degrees; working-class students like Vanessa Brewer usually don’t. Can the University of Texas change her chances of success?

Before 'Brown V. Board,' Mendez Fought California's Segregated Schools NPR: Latino families sued four Orange County school districts over school segregation. The case, Mendez v. Westminster, ended school segregation in California seven years before Brown v. Board.

Commissioner John King on Common Core and Equality WNYC: New York State education commissioner and president of the University of the State of New York argues that Common Core opponents are standing in the way of achieving racial equality in our schools.

At A New Orleans High School, Marching Band Is A Lifeline For Kids NPR: Reporter Keith O'Brien spent a year following the Edna Karr High School marching band. Being a member is more than just a way to be popular; the band offers students a pathway to college.

Educating Girls: Big Payoff For $45 A Year NPR: Girls without an education are six times more likely to marry young than those who've finished high school, according to a new report from the World Bank Group. Guest host Celeste Headlee learns more.

New book traces city's revitalization through schools USA Today: What makes Syracuse and its schools appropriate for an intervention like this? Maeroff: Syracuse and Say Yes were a good fit for two reasons.

Afternoon Audio: New Yorker Reporter Talks Newark

Check out this podcast in which Dale Russakoff talks about her Newark story, and also be sure to read her post about the mayoral election that just happenedL Ras Baraka's Newark Victory

 
In her post about the election, Russakoff notes that Jeffries was rising quickly in the polls, thanks to reform money (no figure is given for union money behind Baraka - has anyone seen how much they spent?) and notes that the mayor-elect's position on charters has recently evolved. NB: I think she was also on WBUR's On Point earlier today. 

Charts: The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools Over Time

image from i.huffpost.com"At the very least, things are not as bad as they were before the court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools," notes HuffPost entry on UCLA study released today. Over all, at least.  Segregation in the NE is higher than it was in 1968, and the segregation rates are up across the board since 1989 for all regions. 

Thompson: The "Third Way" Promotes Evidence-Free Way to Improve Teaching

Stop-NeoliberalismThe Third Way promotes moderate efforts to promote “principled compromise.” It is “built around policy teams that create high-impact written products.” Two previous posts (here and here) described solid Third Way studies based on social science. But, both of those studies remained agnostic about education reform policies. 

A third paper, Tamara Hiler’s and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky’s Teaching: The Next Generation, is two papers in one. The first half summarizes the findings of a poll of 400 high-performing college students. The data is interesting and potentially useful. The second half is an infomercial for the TNTP and other teacher-bashers. It distorts that evidence and uses the poll as a prop to promote corporate reform.

I have concerns about the language that the Third Way used in introducing the other two studies but neither began with a statement such as “Only 35% (of top-performing college students) described teachers as ‘smart,’" and “Education was seen as the top profession that ‘average’ people choose.”

In fact, the survey found that 200 students see people who are nice, caring, patient, and smart as almost as likely to choose teaching as nursing. Smart people are as likely to choose teaching as as philosophy, and more likely to choose teaching over English, art, and communication. Educators may be more “mediocre” than political scientists, but more socially conscious.

Above all, Hiler and Hatalsky assume that the key to education is the intellect - “the Head,” not “the Heart.” They prejudge the potential benefits of teachers who are ambitious, competitive, and rootless, as opposed to being caring and grounded in the community.

Yes, from 3/4ths to 9/10ths of students said that reputation and opportunities for advancement are important. But, greater percentages said that stability and the opportunity to help others are important.

Continue reading "Thompson: The "Third Way" Promotes Evidence-Free Way to Improve Teaching" »

Media: Reporters Should Identify Union Employees, Says Anonymous Blog

NJ_18598An anonymous Montclair New Jersey blog  called "Montclair Schools Watch" noted earlier this week that Maia Davis, apparently one of the most prominent critics of the district and its implementation of the Common Core, has been quoted repeatedly in local media (like the Bergen Record) and started a group critical of reform efforts there without being identified as a UFT communications staffer.  

"It’s probably not a coincidence that one of their most aggressive spokespeople is really a professional spokesperson, employed by the massive teachers union across the river that has been one of the most aggressive in fighting reform efforts."

That's pretty much all I know.  Someone with the same name as Davis IDs herself as such on Twitter (@maia_davis). On Twitter, WSJ reporter Lisa Fleisher says that neither she nor her successor Leslie Brodie quoted Davis in their pieces but that Davis' views shouldn't necessarily be discounted if a reporter says where she works: "Hopefully people strongly believe in their work, so it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that in a story."

Should reporters ask (and pass along) what parent advocates do for their day jobs?  Should advocates identify themselves by where they work or what kind of work they do if it's relevant? My inclination is to say "yes."  The issue has come up in the past, for example in Chicago where parents and teachers were quoted without any indication of their affiliations. Reporters often reach out to the closest, most convenient, and most vocal stakeholders for quotes (rather than the most typical ones), and fail to ID them as such.

Of course, the blog making this point doesn't have any names attached to it, so the point is somewhat undercut. Whether it's "reformy astro turf" (as described by a critic on Twitter) or balanced and responsible, we don't know. And, the person who sent me the item comes from the reform side of the aisle, so there's that, too.

 

Morning Video: Principal Slams Threatening Bosses, Calls On Colleagues To Take Stronger Leadership Role

Interviewed here on local public television, a Chicago principal describes how administrators need to stand up for what they know -- but haven't. See also his oped in the Chicago Sun-Times. A Chicago Reader blog post delves deeper into LaRaviere's views on tenure, among other things.

AM News: USDE Updates Civil Rights Rules For Charters (What About Discriminatory Attendance Zones?)

News2Civil Rights Laws Apply Equally to Charters, Says USDE PK12: The "Dear Colleague" letter by Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon includes specific guidance for charter schools related to admissions, students with disabilities, English-language learners, and discipline.

In speech on school integration, King takes a dig at the city’s enrollment rules Chalkbeat: “There are places where you can look, including New York City, where blocks away students are separated by economic status,” King said. “Schools that serve mostly wealthy students blocks away from schools that serve mostly high-needs students, and we know that that segregation breeds inequality.”

De Blasio quietly adds hundreds of millions for charters  Capital NY: Tucked in a 291-page document related to the Fiscal Year 2015 budget he unveiled on May 8 are two increases to charter schools: $26.9 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and an extra $219.7 million for next year. Those figures reflect spikes from the preliminary fiscal plan he unveiled in February. That brings the total amount his administration plans to spend on charters in FY2015 to nearly $1.3 billion, up from $1.06 billion this year.

Instead of getting ready for the tech revolution, schools are scaling back Hechinger: For schools that haven’t yet made technology an integral part of every student’s school day and every teacher’s lesson planning, the problem is often basic: Their Internet connection is too weakand their laptops (if they even have them) are too old to handle whole classrooms of students spending most or even part of their day online.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks teaching before giving ASU ... Phoenix Business Journal: Before giving the commencement speech for more than 10,000 graduates at Arizona State University in Tempe tonight, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan met with a dozen Phoenix-area principals to talk about how teachers can play a more central role

Are student files private? It depends. Politico: The laws may sound iron-clad, but there are huge loopholes. See also: Data mining your children Politico: Private-sector data mining is galloping forward - perhaps nowhere faster than in education.

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

Continue reading "AM News: USDE Updates Civil Rights Rules For Charters (What About Discriminatory Attendance Zones?)" »

Roundup: What They're Saying About That New Yorker Article

Here's a roundup of coverage I've seen so far of Dale Russakoff's New Yorker article about reform efforts in Newark:

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NJ Spotlight (In Newark, New Yorker Magazine Grabs Attention of Educators, Politicos) credits the story for creating a lot of election-week buzz -- especially about the claim that most of the $100M Zuckerberg gift is gone or committed -- and reminds us that Russakoff is working on a book about Newark.

Over at Salon (Mark Zuckerberg’s Newark schools cash drop) there are four lessons from the "epic" article about "charter schools, political ambition, race and poverty. ... It’s a story about a problem without an easy solution." Indeed.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates (When School Reform And Democracy Meet) has what might be the most robust reader comment thread going (77 entries and counting) and hones in on Russakoff's theme that reformers operate in an anti-democratic way (about which I have many thoughts) even though he (Coates) is "unconvinced" that teachers should be tenured and shares Booker's thoughts about seniority.

Last but not least, don't miss the photo essay that accompanies Russakoff's article (Picture Me Tomorrow: The Faces of a Newark School), taken at a renewal school (Carver) where the principal is being removed.

Any other notable takes on the piece?  Let us know.  I'm trying to get an interview with Dale (a woman, by the way -- seems to be a lot of confusion about this), and trying to gather my own thoughts as well. 

Quotes: Reform Still Hasn't Done Much (For Better Or Worse)

Quotes2Despite all the sturm und drang of education reform debates, despite all the noise and nonsense, the trajectory of American public education hasn’t changed a whole lot. Even the biggest, most comprehensive reforms have mostly ended up as tinkering around the edges. - New America's Connor Williams (Taking Education Reform From Launch to Stable Orbit)

Maps: Advantaged Kids Not Doing So Well In Most States, Either

ScreenHunter_06 May. 13 14.00

We're not supposed to trust data just because it's presented in soothing map form, but according to EdNext "U.S. schools seem to do as badly teaching those from better-educated families as they do teaching those from less well educated families. " U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests. Click for the interactive version (and be sure to moust over to the arrow for better-educated families).

Morning Video: New Way To Debate Evolution (& Maybe CommonCore, Too?)

"To demonstrate how the climate change debate is misconstrued by having one person debate another on nearly every television news program, John Oliver invited Bill Nye The Science Guy to hold a more statistically and mathematically accurate debate with 97 scientists who believe in climate change against 3 climate change deniers. "

AM News: A New Era For Newark School Improvement Efforts?

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Ras Baraka declares victory in Newark mayoral election | NJ.com. The councilman and fiery community activist who campaigned on the vow to "take back Newark" from outsiders, was elected mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in decisive fashion Tuesday night, declaring victory before the votes were even fully counted.

Newark, N.J., Schools Plan Opposed By Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka Takes Big Step Forward HuffPost: The letters sent home to parents this week seek to assuage at least some of the concerns. On Friday, the district sent enrollment decision letters to families who participated in the plan’s universal enrollment system, which allowed students to rank their top eight choices for schools in one application. 

Newark Voters Elect New Mayor, Signaling Major Shift in Direction for City Schools District Dossier: Newark voters heavily favored Ras Baraka, a city councilor and former high school principal who has been an outspoken critic of the state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson.

The Broad Foundation's Bruce Reed on education reform, teachers and charters LA Times: The Broad Foundation's education initiatives began 15 years ago, but the organization is just now getting its first president, and his surname isn't Broad. 

Who watches the watchers? Big Data goes unchecked Politico: Private companies already collect, mine and sell as many as 75,000 individual data points.

The feds' push for Big Data Politico: The Obama administration seeks to leverage, not crack down.

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

Continue reading "AM News: A New Era For Newark School Improvement Efforts?" »

Afternoon Video: Colin Powell Tells Grads Not To Listen To Haters (Etc.)

Thompson: A "Third Way" Analysis of Closing the Achievement Gap

NewgradThe Third Way describes itself a representing the “vital center.” It is a moderate effort to break think tanks out of policy “silos” and it is “built around policy teams that create high-impact written products.” 

The new think tank’s David Autor and Melanie Wasserman, in Wayward Sons, draw upon social science to make a valuable contribution to understanding the achievement gap.

 I was saddened by the way that the study was introduced in the Third Way Web site, however. It “make(s) the case that the decline in male achievement is almost exclusively reserved for males born into single-parent households; while females in single-parent households do OK, boys seem to suffer.”

I’m hoping that this way of articulating the problem does not foreshadow more of the neoliberal blame game where single mothers and/or fathers are guilty but economic elites are always innocent. That blunt introduction contrasts with the subtleties of Wayward Sons. While the Third Way emphasizes a single issue, social family structure, Autor and Wasserman describe a complex "vicous cycle." 

Autor and Wasserman cite “a growing body of evidence … [which] indicates that the absence of stable fathers from children’s lives has particularly significant adverse consequences for boys’ psychosocial development and educational achievement.”

Continue reading "Thompson: A "Third Way" Analysis of Closing the Achievement Gap" »

Quotes: Not Just One Achievement Gap In The U.S.

Quotes2The United States has two achievement gaps to be bridged—the one between the advantaged and the disadvantaged and the one between itself and its peers abroad. Neither goal need be sacrificed to attain the other. - Hanushek and Peterson in EdNext (U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests)

Morning Video: Reformers & Disadvantaged Communities

"In the debate over the CCSS, as in other efforts to even the odds for underserved students, education reformers have not won the hearts and minds of the families and communities they seek to serve," is the stark summary from the NSVF 2014 summit video presented below:

It's an issue for progressive educators, too, as you may recall from last month's The Unbearable Whiteness of the American Left (The Nation).

Bruno: So The Common Core Probably Won't Lead to a National Curriculum

134329177_73f61a9bf3_nThe debate over the Common Core frequently returns to the question of whether the standards are really a curriculum.

For the most part, this is not a helpful debate to have. It is fair to say that, as a technical matter, the CCSS are not a curriculum, but most people do not care about the distinction and standards are meant to have curricular implications so not much turns on this question in any case.

To make the distinction between standards (what students are supposed to learn) and curricula (roughly, how to teach them) really seem to matter, you have to take one of two extreme positions: either that standards have almost no curricular implications or that standards effectively create a de facto curriculum.

Neither position is very plausible, but nor are they uncommon.

Proponents of the CCSS sometimes implicitly adopt the former position in an effort to avoid guilt-by-association with bad (or just unpopular) curricula.

Opponents, meanwhile, often adopt the equally-implausible latter position: that the standards are, for most intents and purposes, a curriculum.

Last week, for instance, Peter Greene took to the Huffington Post to argue that the CCSS "almost certainly will" result in a "nationalized curriculum".

I'll lay out my main objection to his argument below the fold.

Continue reading "Bruno: So The Common Core Probably Won't Lead to a National Curriculum" »

AM News: New Studies Show Pre-K Variations & VAM Weaknesses

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Good teaching, poor test scores: Doubt cast on grading teachers by student performance Washington Post: The study, published Tuesday in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, is the latest in a growing body of research that has cast doubt on whether it is possible for states to use empirical data in identifying good and bad teachers.

Availability of pre-K education varies widely between states PBS: A new report to be released Tuesday finds wide disparities in the number of spots available for publicly funded preschool programs. A whopping 94 percent of 4-year-olds attended such a program in the District of Columbia and more than 7 out of 10 did in Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont. Ten states had no such program. Overall, $5.4 billion was spent by states on pre-K funding for about 1.3 million preschoolers. See also WPost.

California Turns Down District's Bid to Lengthen Pre-Tenure Period Teacher Beat: California won't grant a bid by the San Jose district and union to extend the two-year probationary period for some teachers.

Total cost of proposed teachers union contract comes to almost $9 billion Chalkbeat: The total cost of the proposed teachers union contract: $8.9 billion through 2021, offset by $2.9 billion in healthcare savings, the city said Monday. 

Teens are Losing More Sleep Than Ever WNYC: Young people used to have sleepovers on the weekends and stay up all night talking, but now, it’s like they’re having unlimited sleepovers, seven nights a week in their own bedrooms.  Teenagers should get about nine hours of sleep a night but, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the average teenager sleeps a little over seven hours a night. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: New Studies Show Pre-K Variations & VAM Weaknesses" »

Quotes: When Vendors Calls Themselves "Partners"

Quotes2If you’re going to come sell us a product, don’t call yourself a partner. You’re not, you’re a vendor. If you want to partner with us, that means you have to listen to us and we have something that’s going to change you, and you have something that’s going to change us. -- Chris Lehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, at this year's SXSW (via EdSurge)

#EdGif Of The Day: "Cosmos" Explains Magnetism

Image AP

"We also got a peek behind the magician's curtain, with a discussion of the fraught relationships between Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, among others, who set the stage for Albert Einstein's monumental discoveries." The Atlantic Wire: Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Us How Magnets Work 

 

 

Weekend Reading: Good Stuff From The New Republic, Pacific Standard, LA Weekly

Take a look at stories from weeklies and other sites I check on weekends -- and feel free to suggest other sites or stories I might have missed:

Here's What's Wrong With Teaching "Grit," KIPP-Style - a Carleton Professor in The New Republic http://ht.ly/wHob6  @KIPP

A Startup [Quad Learning] Gives Community Colleges An Elite Makeover http://ht.ly/wHnfI  @Molly_HC

PolitiFact's Top 5 most popular fact-checks for April 2014 incl #CommonCore, debunks several myths http://ht.ly/wIXyE  thanks, @LouisCK

“’If I Suspend Them, I Can’t Teach Them.’” @PacificStand http://ht.ly/wHnbJ 

Let's Talk About Diversity and Prejudice in America's Public Schools - @PacificStand http://ht.ly/wHnaq 

Duncan, Haslam to address 400 @EdWriters at Vanderbilt | Times Free Press http://ht.ly/wHoNF 

Inside LA’s ‘Teacher Jail’ | The Nation http://ht.ly/wHmXP  450 #LAUSD teachers @LASchoolReport @laweekly

Audio: Teachers Union President Weingarten to Seek Reelection - @BloombergRadio http://ht.ly/wHnsN 

 

Magazines: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash

ScreenHunter_02 May. 12 10.02Just in time for tomorrow's voting, the latest New Yorker has a Dale Russakoff piece on reform efforts in Newark:   "Schooled: Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg Had a Plan to Reform Newark’s Schools. They Got an Education."

"In 2010, Zuckerberg pledged a hundred-million-dollar challenge grant to help Booker, then the mayor of Newark, and Christie overhaul the school district, one of the most troubled in the country.

"Four years later, “improbably, a [school] district with a billion dollars in revenue and two hundred million dollars in philanthropy was going broke,” and Newark is at war over its schools."

Closing quote:" Shavar Jeffries believes that the Newark backlash could have been avoided. Too often, he said, “education reform . . . comes across as colonial to people who’ve been here for decades. It’s very missionary, imposed, done to people rather than in coöperation with people.” Some reformers have told him that unions and machine politicians will always dominate turnout in school-board elections and thus control the public schools. He disagrees: “This is a democracy. A majority of people support these ideas. You have to build coalitions and educate and advocate.” As he put it to me at the outset of the reform initiative, “This remains the United States. At some time, you have to persuade people.” 

Check it out and let us know if it's interesting, fair, etc. 

MEDIA: Testing Headline Not Backed Up By Reporting (Again)

Telephone-game-595x382This new LA Times piece (State's new computerized exam tryout plagued by glitches) gives us yet another example where a headline (and the claims made in the piece itself) aren't really backed up by the reported facts in the story.

California is field-testing the Common Core assessment -- and has decided to test all students rather than sample like many other states -- and the LAT article suggests all sorts of widespread problems, ignoring its only hard numbers suggest something far from disastrous:

"As of last week, more than 2.7 million California students had completed the tests; a total of 3.2 million are scheduled to take the new exam before June 6... During the sixth week of the effort, the state assistance center logged 657 calls a day for help."

This kind of thing happens all the time -- a reporter or editor or headline writer gets focused on one or the other side of a story (or wants to dramatize what's happening to get readers' attention) and pushes out beyond the reported facts.  But it's extremely unfortunate and misleading to the public, and happens all too often. Please stop.

Previous posts: Media Getting SAT Story WrongWhat WNYC's Charter School Advocacy Story Gets WrongWhat The NYT Got (Wrong) Re NCLB WaiversThree Ways NYT Gets Turnaround Story WrongEverything You Read In That Mother Jones Article Is WrongWhat MSNBC's O'Donnell Gets Wrong About Denver.

 

AM News: NYC Mayor Defends Remarks Of Teacher Union Prez

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UFT chief Mulgrew doubles down on private remarks, with one concession Chalkbeat: When Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked on Friday whether the union president’s remarks indicated an unwillingness to support change, the mayor defended Mulgrew. “These are all fundamental reforms, so Mr. Mulgrew was front and center in making those reforms happen with us and I respect him for it,” de Blasio said.

Under Restructured Rules, Kansas Teachers Lose Tenure NPR: Kansas lawmakers a bill that will take away some of the employment protections offered to teachers. Teachers argue this will allow them to be fired for unfair reasons.

CA's new computerized exam tryout plagued by glitches LA Times: During the sixth week of the effort, the state assistance center logged 657 calls a day for help. L.A. Unified's technology staff was sometimes deluged, and some schools helped each other. [note mismatch between headline and facts cited]

Ed. Dept. to Extend NCLB Waivers Without Considering Teacher Evaluation PK12: The U.S. Department of Education told state chiefs Friday that it will grant some states extensions on their waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, even if their teacher-evaluation systems aren't yet completely up to snuff. The plan, which is still being developed, would give states that are already making progress on implementing teacher-evaluation systems that conform to the department's principles extra time to tweak and refine those systems.

Can schools find room for Greek tragedy in Common Core? Hechinger: After learning more about Common Core, Concord-Carlisle High School Principal Peter Badalament hopes that his high-performing school won’t have to make many changes to how they teach English language arts.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Mayor Defends Remarks Of Teacher Union Prez" »

Philanthropy: $44 Billion/Year That Would Otherwise Fund Public Projects

Fist-of-Money-1Speaking of philanthropy, check out this new article in Businessweek if you want to be amazed and perhaps appalled at how little is known about some of the wealthy individuals who decide to create foundations and give their money away rather than pay it in taxes and let the government decide what's most important (Three Mysterious Philanthropists Fund Fourth-Largest U.S. Charity).

It's not so much that the grantmaking decisions are horrible -- some include education-related efforts, like LA's 9 Dots, which is always good to me.  

It's that there's a lot of money involved -- an estimated $44 billion per year -- and that the transparency isn't always as good as it should be.

 

Philanthropy: Do Journalists Make Good Program Officers?

BancheroThis piece from Inside Philanthropy asks and tries to answer the very good question: Why the Joyce Foundation Chose a Wall Street Journal Reporter to Lead Its Education Program.  

At Joyce, Banchero will be Senior Program Officer and report directly to Joyce President Ellen Alberding. She'll be using her reporters' skills to dig into programs and make decisions about who gets funded or re-funded.  

This is in contrast to other ed journalists who have gone to work in writing or communications capacities for the USDE (Hoff, Turner), or a nonprofit (Chenoweth, Aarons, Sipchen) or a communications firm (Zuckerbrod, etc.).  

Banchero isn't the only reporter to have a grantmaking or programmatic role.  EdWeek's Lynn Olsen at Gates is deeply involved in programmatic decisions, and just the other week Michele McNeil announced she was going to work for the College Board -- in a policy position. Three makes a trend, right? 

Of course, being a good reporter doesn't mean you'll be a good program officer.  Journalists are typically quick studies and great at boiling things down but not too many have studied education policy or know much about evaluation or philanthropy, or know when it's their turn to buy the next round, or how to manage larger long-term projects or how to suck up to board members.

Previous posts here, here, and here.

Quotes: Charters Don't "Sap" Resources From Other Public Schools

Quotes2This notion that public schools can sap resources from another public school to me is a little challenging. -- FFES head Jeremiah Kittredge in the New Haven Register (Connecticut group aims for ‘excellent schools’)

Morning Video: MSNBC Focuses On Conservative Opposition To Common Core

Below, watch Chris Hayes try so very hard to explain the Common Core controversy and the entire history of education reform, focusing almost entirely on Conservative opposition (interesting!). The segment features a late-night clip I hadn't seen where Louis C.K. joking tells David Letterman that low-performing schools are going to be "burned to the ground"):

 

In a second segment there's some vaguely pro-con commentary from AFT head Randi Weingarten (she's ostensibly pro) and advocate Sabrina Stevens (who briefly worked for the AFT and made a controversial appearance on the show not too long ago - also with Weingarten).

AM News: Schools Warned Against Screening Out Possible Immigrants

News2Districts Told Not to Deny Students Over Immigration NYT: The Justice and Education Departments said schools “may be in violation of federal law” if they turn children away because they or their parents do not have immigration papers. See also NPR, LA Times.

Ted Mitchell, former state board president, confirmed as under secretary of education EdSource: Mitchell, who will oversee higher education in the federal department, has been an advocate for education reform in California and nationally. He was president of the State Board of Education from 2008 through 2010 and was president of Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1999 to 2005.

Two Democrats Seeking To Replace Moran Say They Oppose Common Core Standards WAMU: Candidates in the hotly contested Democratic primary to replace longtime Congressman Jim Moran are divided about national education standards.

Mulgrew’s contract speech draws fierce reactions Chalkbeat: UFT President Michael Mulgrew told teachers at a closed meeting that the union had tried to “gum up the works” of the new evaluation system and said they are "at war with the reformers." 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Schools Warned Against Screening Out Possible Immigrants" »

Quotes: School Buildings As Learning Hubs Rather Than Factories

Quotes2Kids will still go to physical schools, to socialize and be guided by teachers, but as much, if not more, learning will take place employing carefully designed educational tools in the spirit of today’s Khan Academy --modular learning tailored to a student’s needs. -- Google gurus Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen pp 21-22 of  THE NEW DIGITAL AGE: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives (Vintage) 

Thompson: "Third Way" Study Shows Real Way to College Readiness

Thirdway

The Third Way describes itself as representing the “vital center.” It is a moderate effort to break think tanks out of policy “silos” and it is “built around policy teams that create high-impact written products.”

While I respect an effort to articulate “principled compromise,” I hope that education isn’t treated as a pawn, to be sacrificed when appealing to corporate powers’ supposedly better angels. [I also hope that its founder Jon Cowan doesn’t share the anti-teacher positions of his former boss, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.]

I became more optimistic after reading the Third Way’s The Secret of College Completion.  Cowan and Elaine C. Kamarck introduce the study by Thomas DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann. They explain that 8th grade grades are strong predictors of college completion because they are indicators of behavioral patterns which are learned early in life. These patterns tend to persist into high school and college.

In other words, factors beyond the control of teachers make it unlikely that reforms focusing on “value-added” in the secondary school classroom will work.

Continue reading "Thompson: "Third Way" Study Shows Real Way to College Readiness" »

Research: New App Tries To Evaluate Impact Of Ed-Themed Movies

IS_Wireframes_06A_cs4_all_issues
Advocacy campaigns can be extremely powerful -- but even the best-designed efforts can also be sadly ineffective, or at least appear to be so.  Measuring their impact is hair-pullingly difficult.

That's why one of the most interesting outfits I learned when re-examing the impact of the 2010 film Waiting For Superman -- in-depth report coming soon from AEI! -- is the NYC-based Harmony Institute.  

The outfit did a preliminary investigation of the impact of WFS that was funded by the Ford Foundation (but never released in full), and is now demo-ing a product called ImpactSpace, which is a web application for "visualizing the social impact of documentary films." The app now includes 250 films across 24 social issues (including education). Check it out -- and let us know what you think.

Previous posts: A Misleading Approach to Assessing Advocacy [Reckhow]; More Ways To Measure AdvocacyAdvocacy Costs Lots, But What About Its Impact?Impact Of Advocacy Funding On Services.

Morning Video: Parent Arrest Video Gets 750,000 Views

I'm not sure what's particularly newsworthy about this but New Hampshire parent William Baer was arrested for going past his allotted 2 minutes in complaining about a book that'd been assigned to his daughter. Via Viral Videos. Read more on CBSFox, and HuffPost

AM News: FLA Teacher Evaluation System Deemed Legal (If Unfair)

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Florida Judge: Teacher-Evaluation System Unfair, But Legal TeacherBeat: Florida's teacher-evaluation law may be hastily implemented and unfair, but it's still legal, a federal court ruled.

How Should NCLB Waiver States Keep an Eye On District Teacher-Evaluation Plans? PK12: Of the 42 states with waivers, just 10 choose a statewide evaluation system that looks the same in every district, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress. That means, of course, that while the feds are busy policing and negotiating with states on the finer points of the waiver plans, [those 10] states are doing the same thing with districts. 

Connecticut Students Show Gains in National Tests NYT: The state’s seniors did better on reading and math exams, but New Jersey remained flat in those areas, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Demographic changes do not explain test-score stagnation among U.S. high school seniors Hechinger: The scores for high school seniors haven’t improved at all since 1992, when reading tests were first administered. Indeed, today’s reading scores are actually lower than they were in 1992. The math results, which date back to only 2005, show a modest increase right after that first year. But it’s been complete stagnation since. It’s hard to make sense of this data. How do you explain why there are improvements in fourth and eighth grade, but not twelfth?

Department Of Education Brings Home A Disappointing Report Card NPR: The Department of Education has released its latest math and reading scores for 12th graders. The scores offer little good news for educators, with results low and largely unchanged since 2009.

How is Australia beating the U.S. at graduating first-generation, low-income college students? Hechinger: Students in polos and plaids streamed into the auditorium at the University of Western Sydney as Lorde’s “Royals” blasted on repeat. While she sang about having “no post code envy,” hundreds of low-income high school seniors and students who would be the first in their families to go to college took their seats. Ahead of them was a day of panels and information sessions on college and careers put on by Fast Forward, a UWS program that reaches out to economically disadvantaged groups.

School Segregation After Brown ProPublica: Hundreds of school districts were placed under court order to desegregate following the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Many communities do not know the status of these orders. Use this tool to find out whether your district is or ever was under a desegregation order, and also to look at the levels of integration and segregation in your schools.

How the Common Core made Kafka way more popular Vox: The list of stories, poems, and nonfiction near the end of the Common Core state standards isn't supposed to be an assignment list. But teachers seem to be using it that way.The list, called Appendix B, is meant only to give an idea of the type of works students should be reading in order to meet the standards; middle-schoolers aren't required to readThe Adventures of Tom Sawyerbut teachers should choose books at a similar level of difficulty or with similar themes.

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

Continue reading "AM News: FLA Teacher Evaluation System Deemed Legal (If Unfair)" »

Afternoon Video: Diversifying Education Leadership (& Everything Else)

Here's a segment from last week's #NSVFSummit in which Jim Shelton addresses the need to diversify education leadership -- a topic that warrants attention from all sides of the education debate. (Increasing the Diversity of Education Leadership).

Maps: Which Are The 13 States Not Participating In Smarter Balanced or PARCC?

image from thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.comHere's the map of states, and links to a couple of education articles here and here

Media: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" Reporting On Education

Conspirator-FlickrHere's an interesting roundup of coverage and perspectives from various MSNBC shows that you might find interesting even if you don't agree with any or all of the interpretations and perspectives (OpEdNews).

Basically, the writer is taking MSNBC producers and hosts to task for not covering education thoroughly enough -- and critically, too.  It's quite comprehensive (and super paranoid in some elements). Parent company Comcast is a member of ALEC and plans to profit off of Common Core. 

The underlying question surrounding the lack of coverage is valid, even if the specifics are not.  I'd love to see a more straightforward and dispassionate analysis like this one.  

Previous posts: MSNBC Covers Suspended Preschoolers Study (Sort Of)Ravitch On MSNBCWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?Schools Conduct Newly-Required "Active Shooter" DrillsMeet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate". Image via Flickr.

Charts: Education & Training Helps Create All Those Self-Made Billionaires

image from static2.businessinsider.com

The US creates so many billionaires for lots of resasons, reports Business Insider, the larest factors being access to capital (think Silicon Valley) and an entrepreneurship culture (How The US Produces Self-Made Billionaires). But our education and training is also a leading feature, which is interesting to note.

AM News: New Polls Suggest Stronger Support For Testing

Teachers, students and adult public more supportive of school testing than you might think Hechinger: Two different opinion polls show a surprising level of support for bubbling in circles with number 2 pencils... It seems that teachers are softening their resistance to testing. 

UFT releases details about proposed changes to teacher evals, Absent Teacher Reserve Chalkbeat: Severance pay will be offered to excessed teachers based on how many years they’ve been in the system: One week of pay for ATRs with three to four years of work, and two weeks pay for four to six years of work. The top cash-out would be 10 weeks of pay for 20 years of service.

Unions Picket N.Y. Advocacy-Group Meeting TeacherBeat: Teachers' union members are protesting an meeting staged by the advocacy organization Education Reform Now, which they depict as an example of big-money interests trying to profit off of public schools.

Teacher-Evaluation Bid in Texas Gets Poor Union Reception Teacher Beat: The Texas AFT doesn't like a plan submitted by the Lone Star State as part of its NCLB waiver.

Last year, 25 hedge fund managers earned more than double every kindergarten teacher combined Vox: It's about 0.13 percent of total national income for 2013 being earned by something like 0.00000008 percent of the American population. 

Controversy Over Title IX Protecting Transgender Students NPR: The Department of Education declared that transgender students are protected under Title IX. But there are questions about how that will work on campuses, and what the legal complications might be.

Samuel Halperin, Education Policy Leader of Great Society Era, Dies PK12: In 1993, Mr. Halperin founded the American Youth Policy Forum, a professional-development program for federal policy aides that provides information and field experiences related to youth development.

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

Continue reading "AM News: New Polls Suggest Stronger Support For Testing " »

Maps: Teachers Get Appreciated, Lawyers Get Paid ($70K More)

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com"It's Teacher Appreciation Week, so everyone's going to be saying nice things about teachers. In a market economy, however, we often show appreciation for people's work by paying them money." (Vox) See also map of states where high school teachers make more than other high school teachers.

 

Charts: Everything's Gotten Cheaper - Except Child Care, College, & Health Care

Sure, the cost of "things like electronics and cell phones have dropped consistently over the past decade." But big, ongoing expenses like college and childcare have gone up markedly. NYT via Atlantic Wire.

Thompson: Merit Badges for Teachers? You've Gotta Be Joking

Skinner_box_scheme_01Perhaps the key purpose of schools is teaching children to become "inner directed" persons, who can control their own behavior. Its hard to think of a single more destructive aspect of data-driven reform than its seemingly unintended consequence of turning children into "other directed" persons, trained to just respond to carrots and sticks.

Perhaps this is not a disgraceful byproduct of testing, but an embrace of a humiliating value system for both adults and children.  

The Tennessean’s Joey Garrison, in Merit Badge Idea for Nashville Teachers, Students Draws Ire, describes an incredible new way of supposedly bestowing respect on teachers – issuing merit badges.

He reports on the opportunity being granted to “earn ‘virtual badges’ — tokens, of sorts — for taking on additional professional development or demonstrating other accomplishments.” Garrison writes that the badge system might even be expanded and tied to compensation.

This is not an April Fools joke. The badges would be digital icons or logos on the district's computer system. But, they may also offer a physical badge, like those issued by the Boy Scouts.

Nashville’s chief academic officer, who pushes the idea, said that the district will solicit teacher input before developing its final proposal. They might tie the badges to pay in the 2015-16 budget.

There is talk of expanding this disrespectful idea to students, further teaching them to salivate before virtual treats. The kids could cash in virtual badges at online stores. The logic behind teaching students to devalue learning is, as usual, Orwellian, "We want kids to own their learning and own their experience, and this is a way to do it."-JY(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Testing: Should US Schools Sign Up For New International Assessment?

Flickr CC University of SaskatchewanNext month, roughly 300 US schools are going to find out how well their sophomores match up to similar students in other countries (and what they really think about the schooling they're receiving). For some of the schools, it will be the second time.

Whether the school-level assessment that provides the scores -- a PISA-based measure called the OECD Test For Schools -- will help schools improve instruction or merely help them market themselves is the subject of my latest Harvard Education Letter piece. 

You can find it online here

 Some folks -- Andreas Schleicher, for example -- think it's a great new tool.  Others - Pasi Sahlberg -- like the PISA and the OECD Test but worry about schools misusing the results to create rankings rather than revamping their offerings. The handful of schools that participated in the 2012 pilot and talked to me about their scores and responses were a mixed bag.

International testing is coming, one way or the other. And I'm not just talking about IB programs.  The Common Core has a lot of overlap with PISA. Three states already get a state-level PISA (as do roughly 100 states and regions in other countries that particpate in PISA). I wouldn't be surprised if more states and districts sign up for the next administrations of PISA and the OECD Test.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with the story -- and not to worry I hope to be writing again about this in the near future so all those conversations and email exchanges won't go to waste. For me, it's fascinating to find out how hungry some educators are for international test results and frustrating if understandable that so many schools participated but haven't revealed their results.

More immediately, there's a ton of information about the experiences and results from Fairfax County (where 10 schools participated in 2012 and 25 participated this year) here. There's also a slideshow from the OECD here.Image via Flickr.

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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.