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AM News: New Year, New iPad Plan For LAUSD

Calls grow for wider inquiry into bidding on L.A. Unified iPad project LA Times: A day after Los Angeles Unified abruptly suspended the contract for its controversial iPad project, there were growing calls for a more thorough investigation into whether the bidding process for the $1-billion program was improperly handled.

The LA School iPad Scandal: What You Need To Know KPCC: The Los Angeles Unified School District has shut down a half-a-billion-dollar deal with Apple and Pearson to provide classroom technology. Here's what happened.

LIVESTREAM: First LAUSD school board meeting of the year LA School Report

Primary Round-Up: Races Across the Country Showcase Education Issues EdWeek: High-profile governor and state education chief races in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, and Vermont highlight the common core and education funding as top campaign issues.

Despite Racial Disparity, Alumni Group Backs Test-Only Policy for Elite Schools NYT: Very few black and Hispanic students attend New York City’s eight specialized high schools, which base admissions solely on the results of a standardized test.

Teaching computer science — without touching a computer Hechinger:  It may not look like it, but the children engaged in these exercises are learning computer science. In the first activity, they’ve turned themselves into a sorting network: a strategy computers use to sort random numbers into order. And in the second activity, they’re acting out the process by which computer networks route information to its intended destination.

Youth seek solutions as Chicago’s violent summer persists PBS NewsHour:  Nine-year-old Antonio Smith was fatally shot at least four times in a South Side backyard just blocks away from his home, according to the Chicago Tribune.  This real-time map, created by Chicago-Sun Times before the the summer began, pinpoints and identifies every shooting recorded during each weekend, the most violent period of time.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Best/Worst Common Core Defense Ever?

"Gadflies' latest attacks on New York's Common Core exams are the most ignorant yet." Oped in the NYDN ow.ly/AK5PL 

Great story from Chicago Tribune's @lollybowean about what happened to some of @UrbanPrep's 2010 grads ow.ly/AK4dA

New Teachers College book on #diversecharters (among other things) coming out next week: A Smarter Charter http://ow.ly/3p7GPS 

The problem isn't tenure, writes David B. Cohen in @valeriestrauss' The Answer Sheet http://ow.ly/AJrGz  It's, er, something else.

 Four years ago, the case for teacher cams was already being made by @MichaelPetrilli   educationnext.org/lights-camera-…#teachercams

Today's college freshman were in kindergarten when 9/11 happened & other tdibts via @libbyanelson ow.ly/AKqmx [beneath Vox, but it's a late August week and I obviously have no standards].

John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts

NationatriskMany or most problems in urban education are rooted in Ronald Reagan’s “Voodoo Economics.” Yes, schools declined after the 1973 Energy Crisis started the deindustrialization of America. But, Reagan’s “Supply Side Economics” accelerated the tragedy by offering tax incentives for closing still-profitable factories. Families cratered in the face of the subsidized and rapid destruction of jobs, erasing so many hopes.

The implicit message of Sarah Garland’s Hechinger Report, Why Is a Reagan-Era Report Driving Today’s Education Reform?, is that the failure to improve schools is also rooted in Reaganism.

Garland notes, “the Republican-driven revolution is being driven home, as never before, by a Democratic president.” She recalls that many of the proposals in Obama’s RttT and  SIG programs seem to be “copied right out of the 1983 report [Reagan’s A Nation at Risk.]

Garland begins by linking the dubious policy of value-added evaluations with A Nation of Risk. I would gladly lay the blame for today’s testing mania on Reagan, but in the only weak part of her thought-provoking piece, I don’t think she nailed down the case for such a linkage. Clearly, however, Garland is correct in her observation, “the Obama administration appears to be doubling down on the standardized testing that critics say was a misinterpretation of A Nation at Risk.”

Similarly, Garland illustrates the test and punish mentality when quoting Chester Finn. Finn supports testing for teacher and student accountability because, “If there’s no sanction or punishment for not learning, then why work harder to learn more?”

I wonder if there is a reason, besides avoiding pain, why human beings might teach and learn?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts" »

Numbers: 27 State New Ed Reform Groups In 5 Years

Over the past five years, national K-12 advocacy organizations created 27 state affiliates, according to a May 2014 report  quoted in EdWeek (Leadership, Political Winds Buffet Education Advocacy Groups).  

That's up from 8 such groups created in the decade 1997-2007. 

You can read the report here.

I've asked them for updated figures, since some of the affiliates have closed up shop and others have opened since then.

Quotes: No, Transparency *Won't* Fix Things All By Itself

Quotes2When government seems to fail, Americans habitually resort to the same solutions: more process, more transparency, more appeals to courts. -- David Frum in The Atlantic (The Transparency Trap)

Morning Video: College Dispenses With Courses -- Should K12 Schools Follow?

 

"College for America, an online degree program, has no classes, professors or credit hours. It's been cited as an innovative way to make college more affordable. But how do its students qualify for a degree?" (Via PBS NewsHour).  The idea might sound crazy or not work at scale, but then again traditional colleges aren't doing any better at graduating poor minorities and are resisting government ratings showing how well they perform, so maybe it's time for some changes.

AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"

 LA schools cancel iPad contracts after KPCC publishes internal emails KPCC: Three days after KPCC published internal emails showing top L.A. Unified officials and executives from Pearson and Apple met and discussed bringing tablet-driven education software to the classroom, the school district announced Monday it will cancel the contract with Apple and Pearson and open its one-to-one technology project to new bids.

Rick Scott Unveils New Education Initiatives To Calm Common Core Critics Reuters: Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, unveiled two new education initiatives on Monday aimed at calming critics of "common core" national curriculum standards and countering his main Democratic rival's attacks on his record.

D.C. Extends Day At 25 Schools, Hoping That More Time Means Better Scores WAMU: Students at 25 D.C. public schools will stay in school longer every day, a move that city officials hope will help struggling students catch up with their peers.

Ferguson schools reopen, offer calm amid chaos AP: Schools in Ferguson welcomed back students from their summer breaks on Monday, providing the children with a much-needed break from the raucous street protests and police patrols that have gripped the St. Louis suburb since a white officer killed an unarmed black man more than two weeks ago.

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges NYT: A series of federal surveys of selective colleges found virtually no change from the 1990s to 2012 in enrollment of students who are less well off — less than 15 percent by some measures — even though there was a huge increase over that time in the number of such students going to college.

Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software NPR: One company and its algorithms are changing the way America's schools handle classroom ethics.

Is Google's Free Software A Good Deal For Educators? NPR: Classroom enables a teacher to create a "class" at the touch of a button. She or he can upload syllabus materials, whether text, audio, or video, and send out assignments on the class news feed.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Everybody -- Let's Put Cameras On Teachers, Too!

The case for cop AND teacher cams - Chicago Tribune ( Reihan Salam) ow.ly/AHgIY

Reform advocacy groups like DFER & Stand evolving strategies, reports EdWeek's @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHiHg

Why DFER's staying out of Tuck/Torlakson (and Vergara, too), via @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHjk1

New Orleans' charter school system ill-prepared for jump in Central American immigrants | NOLA.comow.ly/AGFNs

Sometimes the school down the block makes you nervous - The Post reposts Jay Mathews' 2000 columnow.ly/AHxUv via @EducationNext

Two Spencer Fellow books reviewed in same edition of the NYT -- including one written by a 3rd Spencer 

Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early - The Atlantic ow.ly/AHff7

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

 

Philanthropy: Case Studies Of 100 Grant-Funded Efforts (1900-2000)

Doing some research on foundation-funded education efforts (and still looking for an apples-to-apples comparison to the Ford era to the Gates era) this interesting collection of cases was recommended to me by Stanford's Rob Reich (Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret).  

It's 100 case studies focused on specific grant-funded efforts from 1900 to 2000. Some of the most interesting recent ones include: Charter Schools Funding: Walton Family Foundation, 1991Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000A Model for the New Inner-City School: KIPP Academies: Pisces Foundation, 2000. But there are lots of others.  

Anyone seen case studies of more recent grant-funded efforts (say, since 2005)? As you know, I think it can be fascinating to look back and examine efforts like these, however they turned out. These cases aren't comprehensive -- some are quite short -- but the approach is appealing.  It also reminds us that the Gates era is just the most recent one, and that previous efforts have struggled with impact and in some cases been wrong-headed, too.

Quotes: Why Unions Attack Obama Proxies For Reform Efforts

Quotes2Asking teachers to choose between Obama and the union line runs the risk that many teachers will decide the union is wrong. - Jonathan Chait in NY Magazine (The Proxy Fight for the Democratic Party Future)

AM News: Districts Brace For Unaccompanied Minors

D.C. Area Schools Braced For Influx Of Unaccompanied Minors WAMU: Schools across the D.C. area are returning to the classroom this week, and hundreds of unaccompanied minors will be counted among their ranks, bringing their own unique challenges to school systems.

‘The Teacher Wars,’ Dana Goldstein’s History of Education NYTL The journalist Dana Goldstein’s “The Teacher Wars” serves up historical commentary instead of a searing philippic on one of the day’s hot-button issues: the role of teaching in America.

LA schools iPad project: How it started ... before the bidding began KPCC: Superintendent John Deasy was a year into his tenure at the Los Angeles Unified School District when he started talking to the largest publishing company in the world, Pearson PLC, about working together on a digital transformation in public education.

On Turning Around a Troubled School: "Make Kids Feel Special" WNYC: A middle school principal explains how he turned around one of the most violent schools in New York City by establishing order and making his students feel special.

As city seeks out new pre-K teachers, a training challenge grows ChalkbeatNY: Emma Markarian, now a pre-kindergarten teacher in the city, was surprised to find herself leading an abbreviated course on child development in June to aspiring pre-K teachers who hoped to lead their own classrooms this fall — with only three months of training under their belts.

Lewis talks about Emanuel but avoids his name Chicago Tribune: Parents of schoolchildren need to shoulder more of the financial burden of funding the Chicago Public Schools. After all, homeowners who use.

More education news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Update: Alexander's Annual Summer Road Trip

2012-01-06_14-16-45_888I'm going on my annual road trip to Boston and thereabouts, so I'll be updating the site -- very lightly -- via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook and here).

See it all below. Or, go to Politico, RealClear Education, Huffington Post, or Annenberg for your daily morning news roundup.

Have a great week!

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Google Wants Kids To Have GMail (Apparently Unaware That Kids Don't Use Email Anymore)

The Trouble With Tenure - Frank Bruni feat. Mike Johnston in the NYTimes.com ow.ly/AuAHO

Obama Waivers Add Fuel to Lawsuit Bid - @PoliticsK12 ow.ly/AuS0p

Common Core for Young Learners Educators tackle challenges in the early grades ow.ly/AuHJO

Google May Start Handing Out Gmail Accounts to Kids - The Wire ow.ly/AuQ9u But how to do so without violating COPPA?

Nonwhite student body is now the majority, but most white students won't know (because neighborhood assignment) - Vox ow.ly/AuSWz

Gates touts teacher tools ow.ly/AuKcr feat. BetterLesson, ThinkCERCA, LightSail, FineTune, Edmodo, BloomBoard

Longest trial in SC history focuses on education | @ajam @Warbelle ow.ly/AuSkK

The Los Angeles Unified School District ducks out of trigger law, cites federal waiver | Deseret News ow.ly/AuLAe

 

EdTech: 8 Ways to Protect Student Data

image from hepg.orgMy latest "Tech Talk" piece in the Harvard Education Letter is now online, and -- thanks to critics and advocates and regular old practitioners who filled me in -- it's got what seems like some extremely useful advice about how educators can proceed explore education technology without either locking everything down or giving it all away.

The first couple of items in the piece (Eight Ways to Protect Student Data) include basics like inventorying student data collection that's going on already and putting someone in charge of student data policies (a "privacy" officer or someone with those responsibilities).  

For the remaining 6 recommendations, click the link.

Image courtesy Harvard Education Publishing Group.

 

 

Media: 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Finding great public radio content online is getting easier and easier, thanks to there being more of it available in more places.  

This recent Poynter article touts a new streaming (think Pandora) service (NPR One app potential is huge) out of the national NPR shop plus six big local stations.  I've tried it a little and it's OK but not my favorite (yet).

There's also the WNYC "Discover" app, which lets you pick some categories of story that you like (both local to New York City and national) and download them before you get on the subway or into your bunker as the case may be.  There's more and more WiFi on subway platforms, but still not much by way of service in between stations.  The key is remembering to download the material ahead of time (and finding it once you have).

However, I'm still a big fan of the basic NPR News app, in large part because it lets me livesream whatever station I want to listen to, and also allows me to listen via program -- catching up on All Things Considered, for example -- after hours or even the next day.  For any given program, just hit "Add All To Playlist" and - boom! -- it's all there.)

I'm not sure if that's technically considered a podcast or not -- some of these distinctions are lost on me -- but I know that I like being able to go back and hear the most recent version of a show I missed if I was out, or busy, or napping, or whatever.  That they're mobile is great, but I must admit that a lot of the time I'm listening to them sitting at my desk or in front of a laptop.

Last but not least, since my policy is that no post should lack at least a smidgen of controversy, check out Peter Cook's critique of NPR's recent New Orleans charter schools piece, which contained not only a big error that had to be corrected on air but also a few other wiggly aspects.   Early on, NPR's education team was sometimes accused of being pro-reform because it's funded by some pro-reform foundations.  In Cook's piece, he raises the question whether it (or its newsroom) lean the other way.

Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments

Quotes2It's like saying you're for interstellar travel but against warp drive.

- NYCAN's Derrell Bradford via Facebook on NEA Common Core position(s) -- see full quote below.

Continue reading "Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments" »

Morning Video: "Teacher-Led" Schools Increase Retention (But Not Test Scores)

On last night's PBS NewsHour, John Tulenko took us to Mission Hill in Boston, where teacher retention is high (but test scores aren't -- at leats not so far). There are roughly 70 of these consensus-run schools nationwide.

 

AM News: As Common Core Support Falls, NYC Mayor Forges Ahead

Support For The Common Core Plummets, Especially Among Teachers HuffPost: 40 percent of teachers said they opposed the Common Core -- more than triple the 12 percent who said they were against the standards in 2013.  Broken down by party lines, Republicans were much more likely to have switched their opinion than Democrats. 

How much did students really gain on Common Core tests in New York? Data doesn’t say Hechinger Report: Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Farina, pointedly confirmed their commitment to Common Core when they announced the test results. “Both promised to invest more in teacher training to help implement the new standards in the classroom.

Fight on Common Core Is Dividing Louisiana NYT: The fight has generated two dueling lawsuits, a standoff between Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state superintendent of education he appointed, and a sense of chaos among educators and parents.

No Safe Place: Ferguson Postpones Start of School Year WNYC: The decision to cancel school is one Scott Spurgeon, superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District, made on Monday. Spurgeon oversees the school district that includes the location where 18-year-old Brown was shot.

Undocumented Children Strain Miami Schools NPR: School administrators in South Florida are concerned about funding and resources for these new students, who often require extra attention. Some children have never attended school before, and others suffer from psychological trauma from the gang violence back home.

Los Angeles to Reduce Arrest Rate in Schools NYT: New policies with the aim of keeping students out of the court system will end citations for minor offenses like fighting or defacing school property.

Two Teens Arrested for Mass School Shooting Plot in Southern California AP: Two students at South Pasadena High School were arrested on suspicion of a plot that reportedly involved shooting three school staffers and then targeting as many students as possible.

How Chicago is Bringing Together Edtech Entrepreneurs and Educators EdSurge: At the second annual Collaborative last Thursday, August 14, over 650 educators from Chicago and surrounding areas and entrepreneurs from 37 startups gathered at the South Side’s Bridgeport Art Center to engage in panels, workshops and pitch sessions.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Is NPR Pro-Reform Or Con?

Initially, critics claimed @npr_ed was pro-reform (b/c Gates $$). Here @petercook suggests it's anti (b/c NOLA story) ow.ly/As6Zs

‘Vergara’ decision signals the start of a 3rd wave of ed reform - Joshua Lewis in The Washington Postow.ly/As6Oi

Overdue process for Duval County FL special ed teacher teacher, or illustration why job protections needed?ow.ly/As5C3

Rotherham not sure Rhee "drew fire away from other groups," then in next graf describes how she did just thatow.ly/As2MG

The Common Core Will *Not* Double The Dropout Rate http://ow.ly/ArZOZ  No matter what Carnegie Corp or @drjohnthompson say - @mrpabruno

Reform critics at @NetworkPublicEd add new board members to address lack of diversity, but botch rollout with "Crayon" comment.

All this and more throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Thompson: Frontline's Terrifying Portrait of Generation "Like"

How is Douglas Rushkoff’s PBS Frontline “Generation Like” different than semi-addictive social media that “reels” in people like they are a fish?

Rushkoff starts with some disturbing social media issues that perplex adults. He then lets students, and new media entrepreneurs, speak for themselves. This allows us to see the dynamism and the potentially wonderful use of the digital “mashup of commerce and culture” for “self-empowerment.”

By the time Rushkoff completely reels in the viewer, however, we recognize the true danger of a world where young people believe “you are what you like.” He explains a “meticulously planned marketing strategy” where young consumers become the marketers. The result is an “endless feedback loop” where every moment in a teen’s life is transformed into “a branding opportunity.”

At first, we can grin along with the energy and antics of “Baby Scumbag,” as the talented and immature social media star seeks validation. At first, his and his peers’ efforts to seek “fame by association” prompt mixed feelings. We can understand his claim “it’s all fun.”  As we see him “playing the class clown in public” to get skateboard freebies, the dynamics become more frightening.  Then, Rushkoff pulls us into an Orwellian world of “fame by association.” We recognize the horrifying essence of a commercial digital culture where “to stay alive” young people must “get people to like you.”

But, Rushkoff embodies the balance necessary to use social media to build a better world. He demonstrates the role that all adults should have played in listening and mentoring digital natives.

Like the young people portrayed in the documentary, I had no idea of how deliberate entrepreneurs are in engineering "serendipity by design." I hope that someday our generation won't be cursed by young people for ignoring our responsibility to help teach them to use and not be used by technology. While we are fighting over silly schemes to measure "outputs" and reward and punish educators, I fear that we are ignoring our real responsibility to today's students.-JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Quotes: NYC Mayor De Blasio Praises Predecessor For Common Core Focus

Quotes2They were right to focus on the Common Core curriculum. -- NYC Mayor De Blasio on Bloomberg decisions that led to NYC test score increases (WNYC Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests)

Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?

As was apparent at last week's discussion of the Vergara case between Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane, the current generation of school reformers is generally dismissive of legal cases in search of school improvements. 

Lawsuits don't work, or are at best crude measures compared to policies and statutes.Or, theyre good for quantity-related issues (like funding) but not for quality-related issues (like access to effective teaching). Check out Petrilli and McShane's responses to my Twitter query at the 30 minute mark.

They may be right. I'm no legal scholar, and it's certainly conventional wisdom that the wave of equity and adequacy cases of the 1970s and 1980s didn't result in any wholesale improvements in American education. Some would say the same about civil rights cases. 

But the Vergara case, its successors, and a whole host of non-education advocacy (same-sex marriage, for example), suggest that the conventional wisdom might be worth reconsidering, or at least examining.

Historically, it seems to me that legal cases have played an important role in shaping education -- perhaps as much or more so than laws that have been passed. I don't see any big advantage of one forum over the other.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?" »

AM News: New York Scores Up (But Union Still Won't Endorse Cuomo)

Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests WNYC: State Education Commissioner John King speculated on Thursday that the city showed more gains because it began training groups of teachers and principals in the Common Core learning standards a few years ago, ahead of other districts. 

N.Y. Union Won't Endorse in Governor's Race Teacher Beat: NYSUT opted not to endorse Cuomo or any other candidate for the 2014 governor's race.

Why The Atlanta Testing Scandal Matters NPR: The pressure placed on schools and educators by high-stakes tests can lead to unintended consequences.

Helping Students Make Sense Of A Young Black Man's Death In Missouri NPR: The shooting of Michael Brown may raise questions for students, and teachers need to be prepared.

 Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts NYT: The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a cigarette tax for the city that would make the budget reductions temporary.

LAUSD says it's not subject to state's 'parent trigger' law this year NYT: In a letter last year, a U.S. Department of Education official told Deasy the federal waiver did not exempt L.A. Unified from identifying schools for improvement, corrective action or restructuring, and did not affect any related state laws.

 

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

Continue reading "AM News: New York Scores Up (But Union Still Won't Endorse Cuomo)" »

Twitter Friday: News & Commentary Here, On Facebook, & Via Twitter

It's a Friday in August and so I'll be updating the site -- lightly -- via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook and here). See it all below. Have a great weekend!

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: US Teachers Double OECD Classroom Average

US teachers' classroom hours (double OECD avg) prevent changes @elizwgreen book promotes, writes @smosle http://ow.ly/AjTnG 

Green's new book ultimately rejects reflects on @Doug_Lemov's methods touted in 2010, notes @smosle http://ow.ly/AjSq6 

45 pct of teachers think CC *tests* will improve achievement; nearly 70 pct believe CC = improved instruction http://ow.ly/AjVGk 

Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe will join board of pro-Vergara group @studentsmatter, reports @Morning_Edu 

Valerie Strauss's annual break from criticizing reform efforts is out today: #thankscommoncore ow.ly/Al2Ww

Wait, what? Kansas comes in #5 among states with best school systems http://ow.ly/Akgvx  @huffpostedu @rklein9

All this and much much more at @alexanderrusso.

 

Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure

The Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits broke the news on Tuesday.  The Sacramento Bee followed up with a focus on Rhee's work on behalf of her husband, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who may run for higher office in two years.  Beaten badly on the news, Politico published a misleadingly negative account of Rhee's accomplishments, noting her successes only in the bottom half of its story.

However, it's not really news that Rhee and her organization made crazy demands and didn't coordinate well with others or that she didn't reach her $1 billion fundraising goal.  Just recently, she listed a set of states suitable for Vergara-like lawsuits without (I'm told) consulting with Campbell Brown's organization. And no doubt, Rhee et al made a bunch of mistakes. (Focusing on ending seniority in layoffs was the biggest among them, in my opinion.)

But much of the criticism now focused on Rhee is the product of anti-reform advocates gleeful at her departure and thin-skinned reformer who didn't like being elbowed aside while Rhee was on the front pages and generally failed to support or defend her against the relentless critiques of anti-reform advocates who dominate the online discourse and influence many reporters.  (For a recent example of just how dominant reform critics are online, read this US News story: Common Core Opponents Hijack Supporters' Twitter Blitz.) 

Continue reading "Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure" »

Bruno: A Goodbye & Retrospective

I've been contributing posts to This Week in Education since January 2012, when Alexander kindly invited me to begin writing. This, however, will be my last post here.

Last week I submitted my resignation at my teaching job which, for a variety of reasons, was not a good fit for me.

I don't have firm plans for what I'm going to be doing next - possibly teaching, possibly some consulting work, probably something education-related - but investigating other opportunities was going to be easier for me if I wasn't simultaneously working full time. (And if you've got suggestions for cool jobs I should be applying for, let me know!)

While I make these transitions - including, potentially, the transition out of the classroom - I'm going to be scaling back the blogging.

To some extent this is about time constraints and focus, but it is also because it's less clear what "point of view" I will represent going forward - teacher? former teacher? consultant? interested citizen? - and I don't want to have to worry about my credibility in the eyes of readers.

I may still write at my personal site, and you can always find me on Twitter, but I will no longer be contributing here.

With that being said, now is also a good opportunity for me to reflect on the last two-and-a-half years. Below the fold, I'll reflect and offer a short retrospective.

Continue reading "Bruno: A Goodbye & Retrospective" »

Morning Video: "Freedom Schools" Still Needed, 50 Years Later

From the PBS NewsHour: 50 Years On, Freedom Schools Still Teaching Most Vulnerable includes interview with founder of the program, who went on to start the Children's Defense Fund.

AM News: Teachers Union Wins Another LA School Board Election

Teachers union-backed candidate George McKenna elected to Los Angeles Unified school board LA Daily News: The 35,000-member union threw its weight behind McKenna, who was outspent 3 to 1 by Alex Johnson and his supporters, which included a political action committee affiliated with charter schools.

Outspent by rival, McKenna drew on connections in school board victory LA TImes: In this week's election for a seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education, one side had deep pockets and extensive political connections; the other side had people such as Orley Frost Jr.

McKenna victory gives appearance of a pro-teacher union board LA School Report: Since her upset win, board member Monica Ratliff has been held up as the epitome of the David and Goliath-style triumph over big money reform.

With Tueday's school board loss, charter advocates recalculate KPCC: After Tuesday's defeat of another of their candidates to the Los Angeles school board, charter school advocates are rethinking how to support local candidates.

Ex-Head of Washington Schools Steps Down at Advocacy Group NYT: Rhee said that it was “time for my next step in life” and that she would focus on her family and support her husband, Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, as “he continues to move forward with his career.” 

Michelle Rhee drops out of school group Politico: As she prepares to step down as CEO, she leaves a trail of disappointment and disillusionment.

State Attorney General wants two teacher tenure lawsuits to become one Chalkbeat NY: The attorney general’s office writes in the filing that the request was made “to avoid the possibility of conflicting findings” and because the two suits “involve the same legal and factual issues and seek the same relief.” The attorney general’s did not provide further comment.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Union Wins Another LA School Board Election" »

Tenure: Public Divided On "Too Easy/Hard To Fire" Teachers

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 1.18.40 PM"Only 31 percent of respondents said they thought it is too difficult to fire public school teachers in their state. Conversely, 12 percent of respondents said it was is too easy to fire teachers, and 27 percent said the difficulty level was about right." (HuffPost). Image used with permission.

Lunchtime Video: Paying Kids For Learning In Memphis

Here's the video that goes along with the story in Politico. Click here if the video doesn't load properly.

Thompson: How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate

I received an enthusiastic response, especially from educators, regarding last week's TWIE post Common Core Will Double the Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation.  

The piece also produced some pushback from persons who question the Carnegie Corporation projection and who assert that districts would do whatever is necessary to avoid such an increase in dropouts.

Before addressing research and testing issues, I would like to explain why so many urban educators anticipate that an unconscionable number of low-skilled students will be pushed out of school by the botched implementation of Common Core.

For over a dozen years, too many students have only been taught to parse simple, straightforward sentences and paragraphs, and to answer primitive right-wrong questions. These students need to unlearn these deplorable habits that were worsened by education malpractice encouraged by bubble-in accountability.

The transition from these simple, but counterproductive, worksheet-driven behaviors to meaningful learning is necessary. But, it won't be quick, cheap or easy. The rate by which low-skilled students unlearn the legacy of rote instruction, and master authentic learning, will first be determined by the time it takes for students to rebound from inevitable setbacks. The pace by which teachers help students master new learning skills will be determined by their success in rebuilding the confidence of students after they face defeats.   

As has long been explained by the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, the job of counseling and remotivating students to meet much higher standards is far beyond the capacity of teachers in high-poverty schools. The supports students need require a "second shift" or teams of educators.

Continue reading "Thompson: How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate" »

AM News: What Happens If/When Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst?

Michelle Rhee Prepares To Leave CEO Job At StudentsFirst, Group She Founded HuffPost: The change comes as the education reform movement that Rhee spearheaded has a new face: Former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown. 

Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School? Politico: In Memphis, Mayor A.C. Wharton, a Bloomberg ally, has engaged in what amounts to a four-year-running battle with his city council to pony up relatively modest sums (less than $1 million a year) to offset the roughly $6 million being invested by Bloomberg’s philanthropy and federal grants.

Kansas Union Challenges Tenure-Repeal Law TeacherBeat: The Kansas National Education Association is challenging provisions tacked onto a 2014 budget bill eliminating due process.

McKenna wins key L.A. school board seat, according to unofficial results LA Times: Veteran school administrator George McKenna won his bid for a key seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education besting political newcomer Alex Johnson, according to unofficial results released Tuesday night.

Smartphone Apps Help To Battle Campus Sexual Assaults NPR: Several new smartphone apps offer quick ways for college students facing dangerous or uncomfortable situations to reach out to friends, connect with resources on campus or call the police.

What Robin Williams Taught Us About Teaching NPR:  As a young, handsome, floppy-haired English teacher with the highly apropos name of John Keating, Williams makes the classroom a stage, pulling out all the stops to get his students excited about the wonders of poetry, and, by extension, life.

Video: School supplies cost $20-$100 more this year Today: A survey found that supplies for a middle school student will cost an average of around $312 this fall, up about $100 from last year. Outfitting a student in high school will run about $350, up by about $20. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: What Happens If/When Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst?" »

Is a Hard Life Inherited? - NYTimes.com

Quotes2Just as wealthy Americans inherit opportunity, working-class men inherit adversity. -- Nick Kristof (Is a Hard Life Inherited?)

 
 

Morning Audio: 53K Chicago Parents Choose Other *District* School Over Neighborhood Assignment

 The choice debate often gets boiled down to district vs. charter schools, with district advocates claiming that they're being disadvantaged and charter schools claiming much the same.  

But if you click "play" on this very recent Chicago Public Radio story you'll learn it's not quite as simple as all that.  Neighborhood schools in Chicago are losing local kids not just to charter schools (and to dwindling enrollment in the district over all) but to other neighborhood programs.

According to the Linda Lutton piece, "52,963 grammar school kids choose neighborhood schools that are not their own. That’s almost as many kids as attend charters, gifted schools and magnets combined." (More Chicago kids say 'no' to their neighborhood grammar school)

AM News: Release Of NY Test Questions Prompts Demands For More

Weingarten pushes NY state to release more test questions ChalkbeatNY: The state’s release of 50 percent of the questions represented a jump from last year, when it released a quarter of the questions. But educators and parents have pushed for the state to release even more questions, which some have criticized as developmentally inappropriate or poorly crafted.

Diversity on the Rise Among TFA Recruits TeacherBeat: TFA's newest corps is its most diverse ever, with fully half identifying as people of color.

Putting Power Tools In The Hands Of 5-Year-Olds NPR: To move kids away from computer screens, a new wave of learning programs is emphasizing hands-on activities. Like building stuff.

Lunch lady rises to teachers union leader and takes on all comers, bluntly Washington Post: She began her career in a school cafeteria, as a lunch lady. In three weeks, she will take over as head of the nation's largest labor union, representing 3 million educators. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Release Of NY Test Questions Prompts Demands For More" »

Site News: On Deadline -- Taking The Day Off

Highres_136748192I'm on deadline for a couple of freelance projects today, so there will be little or no blogging from me unless I can't bear it or really need to procrastinate.  

For morning news headlines, try Real Clear Education or Politico or AISR's Morning News.

For video clips, check out the MSNBC segment that taped/aired yesterday featuring Derrell Bradford.  

For smart, independent commentary that takes everyone to task in roughly equal measure, you'll have to wait until tomorrow :-).

I might tweet out a few things -- or you may have missed some recent tweets from over the weekend (yes, it's true).  You'll find that at @alexanderrusso.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Endorse, Oppose, Or Stay Out Of The Race?

Unions vary political strategies in places where they are at odds with Dem governors, notes @eia's Antonucci ow.ly/A7Xex

Fordham's @MichaelPetrilli interviews @elizwgreenabout her book-length followup to her 2010 NYT article ow.ly/A7bVn

Chicago releases improved test score results -- too bad they're not on the annual state tests - District299 ow.ly/A6wsS

Map: Handful of states (CA, TX, FL, NY, VA) getting biggest numbers of unaccompanied minorsow.ly/A7Nba @l_maxwell

New series on Dems & choice features opeds from @parentrev @dfer @rwhitmire Doug Tthill Myles Mendoza Gloria Romero ow.ly/A7pF4

30 Ed Applications of Google Glass include teacher eval, teacher's view, ow.ly/A7ftu

NYT Schools for Tomorrow Conf 9/9 includes @RickKahlenberg @paultough @MichelleRhee ow.ly/A6Ta9

 

Quotes: In Violent Neighborhoods, Kids Become "Immune" To Death

Quotes2I remember being so immune to death, so immune to shootings, killings. I just remember wanting them to rush, like get the body out the way so we can get back to playing hopscotch or dodgeball. -- Monica Jaundoo Of Parkville, Md. (NPR Race Blog)

Campaigns: Parent Revolution & The AFT Walk Into The Same Organizing Event

What happens when Democratic education advocates on opposite sides of many policy issues attend the same campaign training events?  Things get awkward.  That's apparently what happend at a recent New Organizing Institute event when members of the AFT and Parent Revolution both showed up and -- I'm speculating here -- didn't much want to be put at the same table brainstorming ideas together. 

The NOI is a relatively new outfit, and its work was written up earlier this week in the Post (Inside the Democratic party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry): 

"With the real midterms fast approaching, Democrats areager to put more people in the field who've been trained in the latest campaigning techniques... Boot campers have gone on to some of the most prominent left-leaning organizations in the country — such as AFL-CIO, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood, not to mention the White House and political firms like Blue State Digital."

It makes sense that both groups would be there, given how hard everyone's trying to figure out/get better at campaign and mobilization work these past couple of years in particular.  I've heard that similar things have happened at the Marshall Ganz boot camp, too. 

Related posts:  NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To BostonCommunity Organizing & School Reform;  The Left's Getting Itself Organized, Too.

 

 

 

Morning Video: Another Day, Another Campbell Brown Segment

 

"Campbell Brown, founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice, and Keoni Wright, a NY Parent who is a plaintiff in the Wright v NY lawsuit against the state, joined Inside City Hall with Errol Louis to discuss their call to change New York’s teacher tenure rules."

AM News: Everybody's Looking At NY's Common Core Questions

Take a peek at some of the newly released NY state reading questions Chalkbeat: Below are two reading sections, one from grade 3 and another from grade 8, along with handwritten student responses to questions. We took all of the them from the State Education Department’s set.

Just How Hard Are Common Core Tests? See For Yourself HuffPost: New York State's Department of Education released about half of the questions that were used on this year's math and English tests, allowing the public to see what kinds of items were on the controversial Common Core tests. 

Checking in on Common Core WBEZ: During the last two weeks of school, seventh graders in Wheatley’s class were reviewing for their final test of the school year. The desks in her room were set up in clusters of four—a common arrangement for all of the Common Core lessons WBEZ sat in on. Students would work for 15 minutes reviewing each skill and then pass the materials to the next group over and start on another.

Education Reform Is Becoming A Celebrity Cause NPR: Celebrities are becoming a prominent fixture in the debate over K-12 education.  Comic Louis C.K. is one of many celebrities to come down hard on the Common Core academic standards. And NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas wrote an op-ed in support of the Common Core.

Michelle Obama, Laura Bush push for girls' education Chicago Daily Herald: Mrs. Bush "set a high bar for me during her time in the White House" and has long been a source of inspiration, Mrs.Obama said. "I consider her not just a role model but also a friend," the first lady said. 

Tests That Look Like Video Games NPR: Imagine you're playing a computer game that asks you to design a poster for the school fair. You're fiddling with fonts, changing background colors and deciding what activity to feature: Will a basketball toss appeal to more people than a pie bake-off?

Feds Single Out Va. Schools For Restraining And Isolating Misbehaving Students WAMU: The U.S. Department of Education has singled out two Virginia schools for routinely putting students in isolation or physically restraining them in response to misbehavior.

Why I'll Never Read Another Parenting Book NPR:  Anxious parents are big business, and parenting books — along with baby monitors that track breathing, baby baths that digitally control water temperature and tutors for preschoolers — are an important segment of the insecurity economy.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: "Half-Day" Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

Lets retire the full day and half day#ECE labels. bit.ly/1vg4q7U @NewAmerica

Six Myths in the NYT Math Article | Brookings Institution http://ow.ly/A45td 

Common Core Is Boring - @conorpwilliams in TPM http://ow.ly/A4vsu 

Tests That Look Like Video Games : NPR Ed : NPR http://ow.ly/A4qVO 

15 Strategies for Placing Excellent Teachers in High-Need Schools - EdWeek ow.ly/A4w3b 

Is the Duolingo language app good enough to prep students for the TOEFL? ow.ly/A4SKO  

Writeup of @dfer CA re-launch in Long Beach last weekow.ly/A4WAe @SteveBarrLA

Who does @campbell_brown think she is, asks @citizenstewartow.ly/A4RYX +41 comment

Throwback Thursday: What Was Going On Five Years Ago Today (August 7, 2009)?

Throwback Thursday #tbt is a big thing on Facebook but why should they have all the fun?  

So I took a look at what was happening five years ago in education by checking out the blog archives.  

Right about now 5 years ago, I was still posting Duncan's weekly schedule.

Thompson was still (already) raising hell (The True NEA Revealed).

There were furloughs in ATL (Furloughs alter teachers' schedules, paychecks). 

I posted the opening monologue from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The Feds were investigating the use of clout to get well-connected Chicago kids into elite schools.

Readers still commented on posts rather than ranting on Twitter. (I was still telling people How To "Do" Twitter", and trying to fool you about undocumented TFA teachers. 

What else happened in August 2009?

There were lots of vacations taken. I was still reading ASCD's SmartBrief (is it still there?).

Quotes: Teachers Just "Loving Kids" Isn't Enough

Quotes2“Every single time I get on a plane I’m really glad that the plane is not being flown by someone who just always loved planes." - Teacher quoted in review of Elizabeth Green's new book about preparing teachers better.

Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"

For me, the hands-down top new Twitter feed in education in 2014 is @thnkscommoncore, but I may be alone in that.

The much more official and deeply-considered Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014 are quite another thing, according to the folks at Education Next who put out the annual update.

This year's version includes three lists -- top overall, top individual, and top organization.  There's lots of overlap, and no doubt some of the accounts (Arne Duncan and USDE) are being run by the same social media manager.

On a related note, should individual accounts for folks like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee that are presumably run by more than one person be included in the list of "people"?

As in the past, the list focuses on Klout scores rather than numbers of followers.  It's not clickable, or re-sortable (by followers, say).  I've asked for a Twitter list so that you can subscribe to all these folks with a single click, and crossed fingers it might happen (yay!).

As Petrilli notes, here are a couple of newcomers in the form of the Badass Teachers Association and founder Mark Naison, which should yet again have reform advocates reconsidering their disinterest in becoming involved in social media.  (Newcomer Campbell Brown is on the list, but I don't think anyone's expecting her or her organization to carry the reform message on Twitter and Facebook single-handedly.)

CAP and New America also made it -- apparently their first time.

Other observations, profound and otherwise are below the fold.  A few folks made it on the list with high Klout scores but very few followers, about which I have mixed feelings.  Some venerable education policy types aren't on this year's list, lots of mainstream media journalists and journalistic outlets aren't included either (for lack of policy or lack of activity, it's not clear).

Continue reading "Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" " »

AM News: Vergara Backers Join One Of Two NY Tenure Lawsuits

Group behind Vergara suit joins anti-tenure challenge in New York ChalkbeatNY:The lesser-known of two lawsuits aimed at taking down New York’s teacher tenure laws got a boost on Wednesday.

Vergara Legal Team Signs On To N.Y. Lawsuit TeacherBeat: The high-powered lawyers that litigated the California suit will represent the plaintiffs in one of two suits targeting teacher tenure in New York.

Big Publishers See A Big Opportunity In Universal Pre-K BuzzFeed: When more than 50,000 children enroll in Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature prekindergarten program in New York City this fall, it will signal a major victory for advocates of early childhood education. To the country's largest education publishers, it will be a sign of something else, too: a major growth opportunity in a sphere that has, so far, been relatively small, fragmented, and underfunded.

Charter Schools Push Back Against New State Law's Measure on Closures Texas Tribune: In their lawsuit, the schools argued that because of the limited appeals, the administrative hearings violated their right to due process under the law. They also questioned why the new law had relied on accountability ratings that had predated its enactment.  

Should state sue Arne Duncan to get No Child waiver back? Seattle Times: The executive director of the association that represents Washington school superintendents says Washington state should challenge the revocation of the state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind law in federal court. 

More Chicago kids say no to their neighborhood grammar school WBEZ: Marsh is a classic neighborhood school. Ninety-four percent of the Chicago Public Schools students in Marsh’s attendance boundary are enrolled here, and that’s despite an explosion in families’ options — many more charter schools, gifted or magnet schools to choose from. Kids can even go to other neighborhood schools; while the district once insisted that a child live in the attendance boundary to enroll in a neighborhood school, that rule has been relaxed.

Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead NPR: Take two kids, the same age, who grew up in the same city. Which one is more likely to go to jail ... or college?

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Bad Teacher Math From Weingarten

Teachers avg 14 years of experience not 2, says @StudentsFirst's @jacobwaters about @rweingarten @AFTunion claims ow.ly/A1IhY

"Who The Fck Is Campbell Brown?" writes Esquire's angry political blogger, Charles P. Pierce ow.ly/A2dqO@ESQPolitics

‘The View' Hosts Apparently Love Teachers, Hate Tenure http://ow.ly/A1FnA 

Half-day and full-day labels mislead early education debate, notes @NewAmericaEd via @RedditEducation http://ow.ly/A1GaI 

20 states with new student-data laws | Marketplace.orgow.ly/A1GIU @adrienehill 

Jindal lawyer: Common Core a ‘scheme’ that breaks federal law - @caitlinzemma POLITICO.com ow.ly/A2dhF

Cool new learning space for LA's Locke HS @EdSurge@MJMadda ow.ly/A1J2Z @greendot 

Thompson: Common Core Will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation*

How did I miss it? The single most important study on Common Core implementation was published by the Carnegie Corporation in 2013, but its key finding has been ignored.

Hat tip to Tom Hoffman and Larry Ferlazzo for showcasing the evidence that is so unnerving.

Carnegie’s Leah Hamilton and Anne Mackinnon, in Opportunity by Design, and the McKinsey Group estimate that the implementation of Common Core (without first establishing a level of systematic supports that would clearly be impossible) would double the nation’s dropout rate.

Even if Common Core was implemented only by top-quartile teachers – who “'move’ student performance at the rate of 1.25 grade levels per year” – the best teachers “cannot possibly meet the demand to raise student achievement to Common Core levels.”

School reformers have long misused multi-colored graphs by the McKinsey Group to argue that improved teacher quality could drive school improvement. So, it is doubly important that Carnegie commissioned McKinsey to use the reformers’ data “to test whether or not it might be possible to avoid large drops in graduation rates using human capital strate­gies alone.”

A year ago, Carnegie and McKinsey concluded, “The short answer is no: even coordinated, rapid, and highly effective efforts to improve high school teaching would leave millions of students achieving be­low the level needed for graduation and college success as defined by the Common Core.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core Will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation*" »

Polarization: The Education Debate Could Be *Much* Worse

image from oaklandwiki.orgEducators and journalists like to talk about how extreme and polarized today's debate has become, and in some ways that's true.  Social media is full of extremism and polarization.  Democrats are fractured internally even as Republicans are being stretched to the right by the Tea Party movement (not dead yet!).

But still, it's almost entirely words and yelling and rallies and protests, painful and triggering to be sure but well short of property damage or physical violence that's taken place in the reproductive rights debate or even in education at times.

For a little bit of historical context , remember the murder of Marcus Foster, the superintendent of Oakland schools, in 1973.  

Yep, murder.  

Members of the group that called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army shot Foster and his deputy as they left a board meeting, killing Foster outright, in response to a student ID card proposal that Foster had actually helped water down, according to Wikipedia, anyway.

I didn't know about this either, by the way.  Just heard it on the radio and looked it up so I could wag my finger at everyone. Credit Oakland Wiki/CC BY 3.0

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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.