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Quotes: Why Louis C.K. Makes His Daughter Take The "Smelly" Bus To School

Quotes2My 13-year-old daughter leaves the house at 7:15 every morning and takes a smelly city bus to school* way uptown. It's like 8 degrees out, and it's dark and she's got this morning face and I send her out there to take a bus.  I could send her in the Mercedes and then have it come back to get me, but I can't have my kid doing that. I can't do that to her. Me? I earned that f—ing Mercedes. You better f—ing believe it.

- Comedian Louis C.K. in the Hollywood Reporter 

*Anyone know whether it's a public school he sends her to, and whether he opted her out?

People: Journo Who Broke Chicago SUPES Story Two Years Ago Changing Jobs

Catalyst Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp, widely credited with having broken the $20 million SUPES story that has now led to an FBI Investigation and the stepping down of the head of the Chicago school system, is leaving to join the Better Government Association of Chicago. 

For a time, it seemed like nobody would ever follow up on Karp's 2013 SUPES scoop.  Local NPR station WBEZ had her on to talk about the story, and local ABC 7's Sarah Schulte did a segment.  However, neither the Sun-Times or Tribune followed up in any meaningful way -- until now.

That's nothing new. Super-competitive news outlets sometimes refuse to "follow" other outlets. Other times, they re-report each others' stories and pretend their competitors' versions don't exist (which is understandable but super-annoying). Of course, sometimes it's not a conscious decision, they just have other stories to work on, more urgent-seeming matters, and don't have time or staff to cover everything they'd like.

In any case, Catalyst is looking for a new reporter to replace Karp, and publisher and founder Linda Lenz noted graciously "We're pleased that she will take all the knowledge she gained at Catalyst to a new audience. The city, in effect, will get an additional ed reporter."  Reporter Melissa Sanchez remains.

Meantime, Catalyst is also celebrating a 25th anniversary and figuring out where and what to do next.  (So is Philly's Notebook, another long-running district-based news outlet focused on education. Here's an overview of anniversary activities and events surrounding Catalyst's 25th.

While it may seem like a strange move, the BGA has staffed up with reporters in recent years and covered education along the way. After a decade at Catalyst, Karp starts at the BGA next month. She's going to cover K-12 education as well as higher ed and state government. Read more about Karp and the story she broke nearly 2 years ago here.  

Disclosure: I used to do some freelancing for Catalyst, and they lent me a free desk for a time, and kindly hosted the launch of a book on Chicago school reform I edited that came out in 2004.

Events: Highlights (& Lowlights) From #EWA15 Day One

It was an action-packed first day of #EWA15, with a firehose of journalists' frantic tweets and an appearance of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to help fuel the scandal surrounding Chicago superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett. 

OVERTWEETING? The tweeting was a bit much, you'll know if you tried to follow along online, especially once folks not at the event started barging into the hashtag (as is their right). If the conference continues to get bigger, and social media continues to proliferate, then we'll probably have to create sub-hashtags to go along with the single event hashtag.  Or maybe folks will self-organize and focus their tweeting on certain issues or topics.  I wonder how other, bigger events handle a glut of livetweets.  I guess it's a good problem to have.

A LOCAL SCANDAL NOT YET NATIONAL: Speaking of Rauner, the fast-moving Chicago story provides an exciting backdrop to the conference surroundings, though most of the journalists in attendance don't know or care much about it (and financial misdeeds aren't really news in Chicago). Maybe the story will go national, but I'm not sure. 

STORIES YOU NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE: The evening's awards ceremonies highlighted a slew of education stories that you (and I) may not have been aware of when they were first published.   What's amazing to realize is that some of the best education stories of the year -- at least according to EWA and those who submitted their pieces -- aren't all big sexy splashy pieces that get passed around widely but are smaller, more focused pieces or series whose impact builds over time.

THE "EVERYTHING" BEAT: It was also great to hear EWA president (and ChalkbeatIN honcho) Scott Elliot describe education as the "everything" beat. "Your audience as an ed journalist: Everyone who has a kid, cares about kids, and/or pays taxes. So, everyone!" I couldn't agree more. 

A PULITZER FOR A FORMER EDUCATION REPORTER: The day ended with news that a local news team in Southern California had won a Pulitzer Prize for its education-related coverage -- but that the education reporter who had kicked things off had left the newsroom for a better-paying public relations job.  If that isn't a great illustration of education journalism in 2015, I don't know what is.

AM News: Common Core Questions, Pessimistic #ESEA Insiders, Chicago Scandal

Common Core Tests Continue After Server Problems, But With Leeway AP via HuffPost: Limited testing was successful Friday in Nevada for the troubled Common Core assessments, but now the state is offering school districts leeway that could present an unprecedented challenge to the federal testing mandate.

PARCC Opt-Outs Raise Question About Score Validity State EdWatch: There are two testing windows for PARCC, one of two assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. What implications does that have for students who might opt out?

Teachers’ Unions Fight Standardized Testing, and Find Diverse Allies NYT: Often painted as obstacles to improving schools, the unions now find common ground with parents who object to testing and conservatives who oppose the Common Core.

Inside the beltway pessimistic about reauthorization SI&A Cabinet Report: Despite signs of growing bipartisan support for legislation reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 52 percent of Washington’s education stakeholder community says it won’t happen while President Barack Obama is in office.

Federal Probe in Chicago Schools Includes Non-Profit Education Fund District Dossier: Federal officials are reportedly looking into a $20.5 million contract awarded to a company that once employed Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. 

The CPS No-Bid Investigation Spreads to CPEF, Once Chaired By Bruce Rauner  Chicagomag: This script could have been written by CTU President Karen Lewis, or her acting replacement, Jesse Sharkey, or by Rahm's opponent in the second round of the mayor's race, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. 

Local education reporting nets Pulitzer Washington Post: Local education reporting is rarely glamorous, but a team of California journalists has shown that it can be powerful. They revealed that the superintendent of a small school district in Los Angeles County had received excessive compensation and an unusually plush set of perks at the same time tight budgets were forcing teacher layoffs and budget cuts.

 Smart video games can assess kids better than standardized tests, a new book says  Washington Post: A new book is being released on Tuesday titled “The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter.” If you doubt the title, read this post — and then the book.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Questions, Pessimistic #ESEA Insiders, Chicago Scandal" »

Events: Torrent Of Tweets From #EWA15 In Chicago

The torrent of social media updates from #EWA15 is pretty overwhelming. Any of it any good? I've yet to find out. But I'm asking. 

People: Meet The Teacher Who Started #IWishMyTeacherKnew

Screen shot 2015-04-20 at 10.49.41 AM

Meet Kyle Schwarz, the Denver 3rd grade teacher who apparently started the #IWishMyTeacherKnew meme that has spread to at least 17 states, according to CBS News. Image via Twitter. @kylemschwartz.

Correction: NPR Blogger Corrects New Orleans Tweet (But Stands By Story)

I don't know all the details but here's a tweet from NPR's Anya Kamenetz correcting a previous message about suspensions. There was a bunch of Tweeting to/at NPR last week about their NOLA story. If you know the inside scoop, email me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com

Books: First Look At Dale Rusakoff's Forthcoming "The Prize"

9780547840055_lresHere's a first look at Dale Rusakoff's forthcoming book about Newark, titled The Prize and scheduled for release in September. 

"Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, and Cory Booker were ready to reform our failing schools," proclaims the book promo copy. "What they got instead was an education."

"Their plans soon ran into a constituency not so easily moved — Newark’s key education players, fiercely protective of their billion-dollar-per-annum system. It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s students."

Rusakoff's writing on Newark has appeared in the New Yorker

"The Prize is a portrait of a titanic struggle over the future of education for the poorest kids, and a cautionary tale for those who care about the shape of America’s schools."

See more here.

Rusakoff is appearing at this week's EWA conference in Chicago. It's a big week for education book. Greg Toppo's book about learning games is out this week, as is Ken Robinson's book on schools and creativity.

Related posts: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat They're Saying About That New Yorker ArticleNew Yorker Reporter Talks NewarkFact-Checking Cami AndersonWhite Reporters & Students Of Color.

AM News: All Eyes On Chicago

Feds eye CPS records on education group backed by state's, city's elites Chicago Tribune: Launched in 2000, the group was first led by then-Chicago Tribune Publisher Scott Smith. Rauner joined the board the next year and later was its chairman before becoming an emeritus member of the board, along with future U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, a former member of the Chicago school board; and current school board President David Vitale.

Murky past of company boss in CPS probe Chicago Sun-Times: Now, Solomon, who wasn't charged with any crime, again finds himself under a harsh spotlight, his business empire at the center of a federal probe.

State board of education member resigns over superintendent hire Tribune: James Baumann, a key member of the Illinois State Board of Education, formally resigned this week, citing concerns about the unusual way the new state school superintendent was chosen.

Chicago schools chief requests temporary leave amid probe WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett requested a leave of absence Friday amid a federal investigation over a $20.5 million no-bid contract the district awarded to a training academy where she once worked as a consultant, according to her attorney.

Chicago Schools Chief Takes Leave AP: Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, will take a paid leave of absence amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract the district awarded.

Common Core: Test refusal pushed by middle class families LoHud: Districts with a high test participation rate fell into one of two categories — they are either home to a large number of adults with advanced degrees and high household income, or where more than half the students are categorized by the state as "economically disadvantaged."

Anti-Test 'Opt Out' Movement Makes A Wave In New York State NPR: Activists say that about 175,000 students refused to take federally mandated tests last week.

LAUSD, teachers reach tentative agreement KPCC LA: The agreement covering over 31,000 members calls for a 10 percent raise over two years and an re-opener in 2016-2017. The pay raises would be phased in: 4 percent retroactive to July 1 and 2 percent retroactive to Jan. 1 and then 2 percent increases on July 1 of this year and again on Jan. 1, 2016.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On Chicago" »

Video: Tisch Vs. Ravitch On Opting Out (What's Hayes Making Of All This?)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this segment from Tuesday is watching host Chris Hayes try and make sense of the issues. Tisch and Ravitch basically stick to their talking points and fight to a draw. Along the way Hayes raises the education-poverty question and brings up the comparison to anti-vaxxers. he seems to understand that the issue can be seen as one of individual choice vs. collective need. ("You just destroy the dataset.") At the same time, he describes the movement as a "digital grassroots."

Or, watch NPR's Anya Kamenetz on The Nightly Show, talking about whether college is worth it.

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

It's Friday and I'm on the road 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!

Afternoon #TBT Video: Homey The Substitute Teacher

It's a Thursday afternoon that feels like a Friday afternoon -- so balmy outside, and such post-ESEA markup euphoria -- so here's a #TBT segment from In Living Color in which Homey D. Clown tries his hand as a substitute teacher:

 

via Grantland: Bragging Rights

Quotes: Why De Blasio Hasn't (Yet) Endorsed Hillary

Quotes2I think progressives all over the country, I think everyday Americans are demanding that their candidates—the President and every other level—really say that we have a plan that we can believe in for addressing income inequality... It has to include increases in wages and benefits. It has to include the willingness to tax the wealthy so we can invest in infrastructure, so we can invest in education.

- NYC Mayor  Bill de Blasio (who's holding off on endorsing Hillary) in the New Yorker (Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ Inequality Agenda)

 

Pop Culture: Meet "Primary School Problems," One Of The UK's Most Viral Twitter Feeds

The account is one of several run by a group of young entrepreneurs in the UK whose company, Social Chain, regularly takes over social media, according to this BuzzFeed article. Other popular accounts are Exam Problems. The company has been accused of stealing others' content and -- more problematically -- functioning as an advertiser without sufficient disclosure.  

Why should you care? Because your Twitter feed isn't just accidentally filling up with updates about things. Whether advertisers or advocates, the Twitterverse if increasingly filled with folks paid to influence your opinion or make you think things are bigger or smaller than they may be in real life. 

Related posts: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"How Twitter Has Helped & Hurt.

Morning Video: In Iowa, Hillary Clinton Talks Common Core

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton named Ann O'Leary as one of her top policy wonks for the campaign, and I predicted that the candidate might make it until Memorial Day before talking about Common Core. Well, she talked about it yesterday in Iowa, and the good folks at PJ Media's Tatler shared the clip (starts at 5:33), asked by a teacher. “You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful,” she says.

AM News: Testing Snafus In 3 States, Plus NJ Opt-Outs Range From 4 To 15 Percent

Common Core Tests Halted in 3 States Because of Server Issue AP: A problem with a computer server is stopping Common Core testing in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota after a previous technical issue delayed it last month, officials said. See also WSJ: Common Core Testing Optional in Montana.

Montana Lets Schools Cancel Smarter Balanced Testing After Technical Woes State EdWatch: Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau said it would be "in the best interest of our students" to let districts cancel Smarter Balanced testing if necessary.

More Students Opt Out of N.Y. State Exams WSJ: In New Jersey, the average “parental refusal” rate was 4.6% for elementary schools, the state said. The biggest number of opt-outs came in 11th grade, where the combined refusal rate for English language arts and Algebra II was 14.5%.

Senate Committee Makes Progress On Updates To Education Law AP: In all, the committee has passed 24 amendments and defeated six. Dozens more amendments were debated but withdrawn as lawmakers sought to find common ground and leave some of the tougher fights for later.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Testing Snafus In 3 States, Plus NJ Opt-Outs Range From 4 To 15 Percent " »

Thompson: Building on Common Ground

In their joint Huffington Post contribution Is There a Third Way for ESEA?, Linda Darling-Hammond and Paul Hill acknowledge that they are "members of very different 'camps' on school reform," but "we think there is more common ground than has yet been evident in the political process." They drew upon the efforts of two "distinct groups of scholars and policy experts that met separately to rethink educational accountability."

Perhaps the most important point of agreement was Darling-Hammond's and Hill's statement:

We agreed that, because a student's learning in any one year depends on what was learned previously and on the efforts of many professionals working together, the consequences of high and low performance should attach to whole schools, rather than to individual educators.

State and federal governments can provide data and research, as well as systems of support, and can incentivize improvement. But they should not make decisions about how to evaluate individual educators or manage individual schools. 

I just wish they had taken their impeccable logic one step further and applied it to individual students; for the same reasons, a student should not be denied a high school diploma simply because he failed a college-readiness test. 

In my experience, many or most reformers understand that value-added evaluations are a big mistake, but they sometimes are reluctant to openly call for a reversal of that failed policy. Sadly, in my experience, liberal reformers are often more uneasy about separating themselves from this crumbling cornerstone of Arne Duncan's term.

So, when I followed their link to Fordham Foundation's and The Center for Reinventing Education's Designing the Next Generation of State Education Accountability Systems, was only somewhat pleasantly surprised. The CRPE cites their "emerging consensus about state accountability systems providing a light (or lighter) touch on districts and schools." It also acknowledges that the "lack of autonomy forced by consequences can also drive high-performing teachers away from the schools that need them the most."

I was more pleasantly surprised by Robin Lake's Time for Charters to Lead on Special Education.

Continue reading "Thompson: Building on Common Ground" »

Update: Mainstream Coverage Of NY Testing All Over The Place

A few weeks ago, I chided mainstream media outlets for how they covered the New Jersey testing rollout.

Are they doing any better this week, with New York?  

It's a mixed bag, with several outlets yet to show their stuff.

Some of them are doing quite well, treating the story carefully:

The WSJ's Leslie Brody reports that there are pockets of opt-outs but wide variations from one place to another (including just one kid opting out in East Harlem).

Others seem to be focused on making the opt-out numbers seem as big as possible, without bothering to verify numbers (or do much math).

The NY Daily News passes along a 300,000-student estimate of opt outs that is, far as I can tell, just a number a district superintendent pulled out of thin air. The headline for a NY Daily News piece by Rick Hess calls the opt-outs a "tsunami," which seems wildly overstated given what we know at this point. (He's much better in this US News piece about ending the reform wars.) 

Last year, as you may recall, the opt-out number turned out to be only about 70,000 statewide, and the NYC number was less than 2,000.

Lots of folks are missing from the field, so far at least, perhaps because of the lack of any hard numbers to work with:

I haven't seen a NYT story on this yet - perhaps one is in the works. A Kyle Spencer piece that came out before testing started noted that opting out was less common in most parts of the city last year and that even parents who don't agree with the tests struggle to pull kids out.

Some folks are angry about this:

 WNYC did a piece about parents being pressured one way and the other and has done several call-in segments about the pros and cons of opting out, but has yet to produce reporting on the trend.

ChalkbeatNY is aggregating others' coverage but doesn't seem to have reported out any original pieces on this yet this year so far.
 
NY governor Cuomo and NYC's Carmen Farina aren't commenting or providing real-time numbers, creating a vacuum. Governor Cuomo also ratcheted up pressure on the tests this year by calling for 50 percent of teacher evaluations to come from student test score results.
 

Events: More Visuals From Today's Senate NCLB Markup, Please?

Heading into Day 2 of the Senate education committee markup of #EveryChildAchievesAct (aka #ESEA or #FixNCLB), we can't help but wish for a little more Campaign 2016-style coverage by traditional media and everyone else who's there.

We've got near real-time images of Hillary ordering at Chipotle and talking to community college kids in Iowa:

But there have been precious few visuals coming from all the lobbyists, advocates, staffers, and journalists in the Senate markup so far.

Washington Partners' @DellaBCronin was among few who were giving us an inside view of the markup:

The official Republican @GOPHELP account provided an image:

You're at the Coachella of education, and frankly we don't need all of you tweeting the same basic information. Serious or silly (or a little bit of both), what we need is some Twitter pics, maybe a Vine, or even some Periscope/Meerkat. Snap someone's great tie, or shoes.  Make a sleepy colleague (or rival) Twitter-famous for a few minutes. 

Livestream here.

Reality Check: Restorative Justice Not As Easy As It May Seem

Check out this new story from Bright about the realities behind "restorative justice," the approach meant to replace zero-tolerance school discipline policies.

AM News: NY Opt-Out Rates, Senate NCLB Markup, Atlanta Sentencing

Some schools see high opt-out rates The Journal News: In Mahopac, some students were kept home by their parents for the duration of the tests and others, who showed up at school, sat in the cafeteria or ..... See also Daily Journal: New York school districts report varying rates of participation in Common Core testing

Senate panel takes up No Child Left Behind rewrite Washington Post: The Senate education panel began marking up a bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind on Tuesday, with Democrats and Republicans going to great lengths to hold together a delicately crafted consensus around the proposal. 

Atlanta Schools Cheating Case Judge Keeps Word on Sentences AP: True to his word, a judge showed mercy to former Atlanta public school educators who accepted responsibility for their role in a widespread conspiracy to inflate student scores on standardized tests. Those who refused to admit guilt and agree to other conditions set by prosecutors, he treated much more harshly. See also NPR: Educators Sentenced To Jail In Atlanta Cheating Scandal, NYT: Atlanta School Workers Sentenced in Test Score Cheating Case

New Jersey Gov. Christie Distances Himself On Common Core WSJ: Gov. Chris Christie said implementing the Common Core wasn't working in New Jersey and that he will likely address the situation in coming weeks, among his strongest comments on the controversial education standards. See also Politico: Hillary Clinton 2016: The long hot summer that turned her into a politician

'Historic': First Katrina state takeover school returns to New Orleans control |  NOLA.com: A couple of School Board charter groups have taken over failed Recovery charters, but this is the first time a takeover school has chosen to return -- after dozens turned down the opportunity. 

In Classroom Discipline, a Soft Approach Is Harder Than It Looks Bright: Restorative justice has been credited with slowing the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Here’s how to ensure it fulfills that promise.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NY Opt-Out Rates, Senate NCLB Markup, Atlanta Sentencing" »

Quotes: Why Those Cali. Poll Numbers Looked So Bad For Tenure, Seniority

Quotes2This poll happens in a certain context, which is that over the last number of years, there’s been a well-funded, concerted effort to attack teachers’ seniority, to misrepresent it—and to scapegoat teachers for problems in the classroom.

-- Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, in the LA Times (Unions critical of poll on teachers tenure and seniority-based layoffs)

Morning Video: Christo Rey Featured On Al Jazeera

 

Now 28 schools nationwide, Christo Rey has expanded to Baltimore, and has corporate support, but its graduation rate is about average and not all kids thrive there (Cristo Rey: The school corporate America built) via Al Jazeera.

AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch

Senate Attempts To Revise No Child Left Behind Measure NPR: A Senate committee begins work on a bill that would overhaul the education law. That measure — once considered a great uniter of politicians on the left and right — has since become a great divider. See also NPR

Parents Get An Earful on Opting Out of the State Tests WNYC: Last year, 1,925 students opted out, according to the city's Department of Education. In 2012, 113 students opted out of the tests, education officials said.

Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but Not in Practice NYT: Even parents who are uncomfortable with the exams are discovering that it is hard to push the button on the nuclear option — refusing to have their own children take them.

Atlanta Judge Urges Talks on Sentences in School Cheating Case NYT: Judge Jerry W. Baxter said, he thought an appropriate sentence for educators convicted of altering test scores would mean sending them to jail. But then he had a change of heart. See also Washington Post: Judge urges Atlanta educators to accept plea deals in test cheating case.

Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's Fusion:  and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch" »

Thompson: My Contribution to Oklahoma Edu-Bloggers' Discussion of Teaching Content

The Tulsa blogger, Blue Cereal, challenged Oklahoma edu-bloggers to describe, in 1200 words or less, our personal beliefs regarding the teaching of content. Here's my contribution: 

Akili (as I will call him) borrowed every issue of my New York Review of Books.  One evening we were shocked to learn that it was past 6:00 and we had been talking for hours.  He had wanted to discuss Herbert Gutman's theory about the black family.  Akili said, "You are the coolest white man I've known.  Here we are having an intellectual discussion.  You respect my brain."

Such experiences taught me that poor students of color respond with pride and with excellence when challenged to meet high and authentic standards.

My approach was consistent with Martin Haberman's critique of The Pedagogy of Poverty. Haberman argued that good teaching for poor children was a "process of drawing out" the power inside students rather than "stuffing in" knowledge. I also saw learning stimulated by "divergent questioning strategies" and culminating in reflective conversations to help students “see major concepts, big ideas, and general principles and ... not [being] merely engaged in the pursuit of isolated facts."

Even in the 1990s, it would have been hard to teach effectively had I not experimented under the cover of "Orientation" during the first weeks of the school year. Administrators wouldn’t demand that teachers immediately rush into teaching the tested subject matter.  They understood the importance of laying a foundation for a successful class.  Teachers were encouraged to heed the wisdom of progressive scholars like Haberman and use the first week of school to get to know their students as individuals.

At the beginning of the year, we could move outside the prescribed curriculum to promote motivation and teamwork. Teachers were told to take two or three days to lay out rules, procedures, and expectations.  We could "break it down" for children, establish relationships, and steer them for success by teaching them to be students. The expectation was that this would be over and done with after a week. I preferred to stretch opportunities for dynamic classroom instruction far past the date when the administration expected us to focus on the curriculum pacing guide.

My first lesson each year initially surprised students who had heard the laughter coming out of my classroom the years before.

Continue reading "Thompson: My Contribution to Oklahoma Edu-Bloggers' Discussion of Teaching Content" »

Morning Video: Arne Duncan's Impenetrable Wall Of Talking Points

Last week, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tried valiantly to get past EdSec Duncan's talking points (Why is Common Core so controversial?) Curmudgucation tears it apart here. At least Duncan now limits his "race-to-the-bottom" claims about NCLB to 20 states.

Already seen it? Watch this Engadget blog post about a new video game, No Pineapple Left Behind. ("You're a principal lording over pineapples, making sure they do amazingly well on standardized tests because that's what begets more funding for your school...")

AM News: Testing Week Begins In New York (This Should Be Fun)

Opting Out of NY State Standardized Tests WNYC:  State standardized tests begin as of April 14th and mark the start of six days of annual exams for New York children in grades three to eight. And we take calls from parents on why they have their kids opt out from the exams.

Al Sharpton an unlikely ally in support of Common Core exams NY Post: Sharpton said a boycott could hurt urban kids and pointed out that neither he nor NAN chapter leaders in upstate cities such as Buffalo and Syracuse were consulted about the opt-out campaign.

5 percent of Portland Public Schools students opt out of Common Core tests Oregon Live: As of Wednesday, about 1,200 of the district's approximately 25,000 test-takers have submitted exemption forms.

Paul touts education issues in public, not on Hill Politico: Paul has sat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since 2011 and is co-chairman of its subcommittee on children and families, but he seldom attends committee hearings or works on the daily grind of writing letters or authoring bills. Paul did not attend any of the five education hearings held by the committee this year, a POLITICO review has found.

NEA: No Child Left Behind rewrite doesn’t level the playing field Washington Post: The head of the country’s largest teachers union said that her organization does not support a bipartisan proposal in the Senate to replace the nation’s main federal education law because it does not go far enough to create equal educational opportunities for poor children.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Testing Week Begins In New York (This Should Be Fun)" »

Pop Culture: The Middle School Teacher Who Played "Unhittable Sidd Finch"

Screenshot 2015-04-10 16.27.12
Thirty years ago this month, Sports Illustrated pulled off one of the biggest media hoaxes imaginable at the time, presenting a long feature story by George Plimpton about a mysterious buddhist with a 168 mph fastball who was going to propel the Mets to World Series success. As revisited in this ESPN documentary short (Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball), the man who played the mysterious pitcher was actually a middle school teacher from Chicago named Joe Berton. The explanation starts here.

EdTech: Here Come the Chromebooks

ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 10 09.47
One more thing about tablets: Here Come the Chromebooks.  This story from Scholastic Administrator (site sponsor) and Michelle Davis describes how Chromebook sales have skyrocketed in recent months even as tablet sales and uses have come under pressure. Check it out!

Quotes: Thinking You're Part Of The 99 Percent Might Make You Part Of The Problem

Quotes2Don't consider yourself part of the 99 percent if you live near a Whole Foods. If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth... If any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that, actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem. -- Anand Giridharadas (7 signs you are clueless about income inequality)

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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.