Via Hechinger Report's Annie Murphy Paul.
I've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.
The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts:
*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).
*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).
*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).
The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.
Related posts: Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance; Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.
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.
"Gadflies' latest attacks on New York's Common Core exams are the most ignorant yet." Oped in the NYDN ow.ly/AK5PL
Many 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?
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.
When 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)
"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.
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).
The case for cop AND teacher cams - Chicago Tribune ( Reihan Salam) ow.ly/AHgIY
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.
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, 1991; Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999; Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000; A 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.
Asking 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)
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.
See it all below. Or, go to Politico, RealClear Education, Huffington Post, or Annenberg for your daily morning news roundup.
Have a great week! Tweets about "@alexanderrusso"
5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Google Wants Kids To Have GMail (Apparently Unaware That Kids Don't Use Email Anymore)
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
The Los Angeles Unified School District ducks out of trigger law, cites federal waiver | Deseret News ow.ly/AuLAe
My 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.
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.
- NYCAN's Derrell Bradford via Facebook on NEA Common Core position(s) -- see full quote below.
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.
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.
‘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
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.
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.
They 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)
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.
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).
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! Tweets about "@alexanderrusso"
45 pct of teachers think CC *tests* will improve achievement; nearly 70 pct believe CC = improved instruction http://ow.ly/AjVGk
All this and much much more at @alexanderrusso.
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.)
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.
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.
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.