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Morning Round-up February 16, 2007

A School District With Low Taxes and No Schools NYT
A loophole in Arizona law allowed for Patrick Flynn to create a school district with no schools to avoid paying higher property taxes on million dollars homes.

Flu outbreak closes three schools in North Carolina
CNN.com
Three schools closed until Monday because of an outbreak of flu-like symptoms after attendance dropped 20 percent. The closings were recommended to give the students a break to get to the doctor and stop spreading the germs.

Rhode Island launches first statewide curriculum Boston Globe
These step-by-step lesson plans, available to the public on a newly opened Web site, are designed to help teachers in schools that can face sanctions or even lose funding if students don't make adequate progress on annual tests.

Would A Constitutional Amendment Do Any Good?

All this back and forth with The Quick & The Ed's Sara Mead got me wondering well, what difference would a Constitutional amendment on education make, anyway? Would it be merely symbolic, as so many things are, or would it have any real impact?

The answer, I'm learning, is that if enacted it would have an enormous effect. And, regardless, it challenges the ed policy world to consider big ideas along with little ones. Click below to read more.

Continue reading "Would A Constitutional Amendment Do Any Good?" »

"Placed" Items: What The Other Blogs Don't Tell You

Like me (see below), at least a couple of other blogs including edspresso (here) and eduwonk (here) have linked to the thing about how the NEA opposes incentive pay. But what they don't tell you is that the item was sent to them (ie, "placed") by the Republican Senate communications shop, which of course has an interest in making Dems and the NEA look bad. I think that's worth knowing. Not sure why the others didn't mention it.

Ed Trust's Amy Wilkins Is Back...Can She Do It Again?

amy_wilkins2.jpgFor a time, there didn't seem to be anyone who got more stuff into more legislation than the Ed Trust's Amy Wilkins, who was notoriously good at doing the Vulcan mind-meld with Congressional staff (including me) and powerful lawmakers (like Miller). It was crazy, as was the amount of positive press that the Trust got during those days. K12, higher ed, they were everywhere.

Then Wilkins went off to do a few other things -- early childhood, charter school cap stuff, etc., and the Trust kept pushing along but not, it seemed to me, quite as powerfully as before.

But now she's back, according to the Ed Trust press release this week. Now titled Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications, she likes the Aspen Institute's highly qualified effective teacher idea. Will Wilkins and the Trust rise again to influence NCLB 2 like last time around? It's not yet clear. But I wouldn't bet against it.

"Most Viewed" On EdWeek? Not Quite.

most%20viewed.gifLike the NYT, EdWeek now has a "most viewed" stories tab that lets you see which stories are getting the most reads (for an example see here). And, over the past few weeks, this blog has steadily creeped up the list and is (today at least) number two.

Of course, the list is totally unfair to everyone else at EdWeek, since I'm slapping up 5 or more posts every day and they're putting out one or two real articles a week. At best, the blog is "most glanced at."

But at least EdWeek readers seem to like the blog, and hopefully are stopping by to read the "real" EdWeek before or after they come here for some irresponsible gossip or snarky analysis. And, if it keeps up like this, maybe they'll find a way to pay me more than my current starvation wages. In the meantime, please write in and tell them to stop hiding my stuff down in the bottom left corner of their homepage (www.edweek.org). That's no way to treat their shiny new toy.

What If The USDE Required Security Checks For Teachers?

The security clearance issue keeps bubbling along, with a website with background and information (Employee Clearance - Home), which includes the letter signed and sent to the USDE (but no names of signatories).

There's big money in these USDE contracts and the regional education labs, points out Andy Zucker, the informal head of the rebellion, which may explain why so few folks like SRI or AIR protested publicly.

Remember, these are full-on security clearances, not background checks or fingerprinting we're all used to for better or worse. Previous post: Security Checks For Ed Researchers

Who's Who: Edison Lobbyist Heather Podesta

heather%20podesta.gifHere's a light profile from the Wall Street Journal of one of the lobbyists who works on education issues on the Hill for clients including Edison Schools, Heather Podesta (New Congress, New Lobbyists). We met at the start of the year. If I recall correctly, she shares a birthday with NCLB. Married to Tony Podesta, flamboyant brother of former Clinton Chief of Staff and current Center On American Progress head John Podesta. They throw good Oscars parties, or used to. Maybe it's not too late to make friends and get yourself an invitation.

The Ed Sector's Sara Mead Says "Small Ideas Only, Please"

bigideasno.JPGNo big ideas for the Ed Sector's Sara Mead, thank you very much. She says she prefers "small-bore ones" instead. And then she cryptically links to yet another DC schools article -- enough already -- without really making any point.

Mead's knee-jerk disdain for "big, flashy ideas" like amending the Constitution to make education a Constitutional right might be understandable if it weren't so obviously ill-considered, if we weren't already so used to the Ed Sector's tendency towards quick dismissals of any ideas that aren't "theirs," and if Mead's boss Andy hadn't just the day before highlighted a very similar provision as something that could "radically alter education accountability."

Creating a new right of action for parents sounds pretty big -- and pretty similar -- to me. It probably won't happen, either. Neither did opportunity to learn standards (remember those?) or national testing (so far). But that's not really the point. Good and bad, viable or not in the current situation, big ideas give us a better sense of the far edges of the table we're playing on, instead of always playing on the same two-inch square in the middle all day.

Morning Round-up February 15, 2007

Schools strive for 'no parent left behind' CSM
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) actually requires schools that need improvement to inform and involve parents in their strategies, but federal and state monitors haven't been paying much attention to that part of the law.

No Child Left Behind? These Kids Just Want to Come in From Cold WaPo
Students share their thoughts with reporters about how they felt when their schools were unable to et them attend because of damages due to weather.

The "Other" Gap EdWeek
Why aren’t educators and policymakers talking about low-achieving Asian-American students, who they are, and what should be done to help them catch up?

Why Is The NEA So Opposed To The Teacher Incentive Fund?

So the NEA sends a letter to Senator Alexander urging him to vote against his own amendment to restore the TIF funding that was eliminated in the House. And the Senate Republicans want us to know. Sen. Alexander describes the situation here:

Sending the letter to Alexander is nothing big -- happens all the time -- but, not having seen the letter, I still wonder why the NEA is working against the TIF when (a) it has so many bigger fish to fry and (b) the program has already been funded and money sent out starting last year? There are few enough things that lawmakers are willing to fund. Defunding TIF isn't going to create new money for something else.

Aspen Report Leader Heads To The Hill

Alex_Nockcolor.jpgAs predicted here several months ago, Aspen Institute NCLB Commission head Alex Nock is leaving his post after having successfully delivering the report yesterday and is heading back to the Hill.

Formerly the education guy for the House education committee, he's now going to be the deputy chief of staff overseeing education, labor, and other issues for Chairman Miller. Tommy Thompson announced it yesterday after the report was rolled out. Denise and Alice are still in place.

Congrats and condolences.

Now Here's A Big Education Idea

constitution.gifI've been feeling down about the lack of big ideas out there on education -- even bad ones -- but my little Valentine's Day gift from Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr (D-IL) comes in the form of a bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution (yes, that one) that would make access to a quality education a federal, not state by state, right (Library of Congress).

Here's the text -- short and sweet (based on last year's version): "All citizens of the United States shall enjoy the right to a public education of equal high quality. The Congress shall have power to implement this article by appropriate legislation."

Potential impact? Immense. Chances of passage? Slim to none. Mind-expanding ability? Powerful stuff.

In Other News...

Effective teachers brace for change USA Today
Even at a glance, Zakia Sims seems like a good teacher....But in a few years, her credentials might not help her keep her job. It might come down to this: How well do her 6- and 7-year-olds do on standardized tests?

On Education: On Different Pages With Bilingual Education NYT
Recent decisions on school closures have fueled the debate over bilingual education.

Kansas: Anti-Evolution Guidelines Are Repealed AP
The State Board of Education repealed science guidelines questioning evolution, putting into effect new ones that reflect mainstream scientific views.

Mikulski Seeks Federal Aid for Schools Before Student Influx Washington Post
U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said yesterday that she would push an amendment allowing any school district affected by the realignment of military bases to receive federal aid before the arrival of students whose parents relocate for the job shifts. accountable for raising test scores in science by 2014.

The Carnival of Education Returns Home

The 106th Edition is up over at The Education Wonks. It was a pleasure to host the carnival last week, thanks to those who submitted posts. Here's a taste of this week's carnival:Have you ever considered what it means to have a right to an education? An easy concept to consider, but not necessarily so easy to articulate. Consider taking a look at this well-articulated consideration of this basic human right by Principled Discovery.

Hot For Education 2007

sports%20illustrated%20cover.jpgOne of the most popular -- and embarrassing -- posts that's ever run on this site has been Hot For Education, a highly arbitrary and much-commented on listing of some of the folks who might qualify as "hot...for education." And, in honor of this snowy Valentine's Day (and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, just out), I'm giving it another try.

With any luck, this year's winter edition will be just as controversial -- and fun. Or at least it'll embarass EdWeek. The rules are simple. To qualify, someone needs to work in education and to be thought to be hot by someone (an admiring co-worker, an anonymous nominator, "everyone," me). There has to be an easily available picture of you somewhere. Men and women are eligible (last time, the comments about some of the men were downright lascivious.)

tim%20knowles.jpgOh, and your pic can't have been posted last time around. (This leaves out the original 5: Ted Kennedy, Nina Rees, Jon Schnur, Wendy Kopp, & Tim Knowles (pictured), as well as Pedro Noguera. Casey Lartigue is also excluded, for ballot stuffing.)

And now, on to the hotties... [PLUS COMMENTS -- CHECK THEM OUT]

Continue reading "Hot For Education 2007" »

The Papers Cover The Aspen Commission Report

Everyone covers the Aspen Commission report from yesterday, including:

'No Child' Commission Presents Ambitious Plan  Washington Post
A commission proposed a wide-reaching expansion of the No Child Left Behind law yesterday that would for the first time require schools to ensure that all seniors are proficient in reading and math and hold schools.

Panel Recommends No Child Left Behind Changes NPR
A panel appointed by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, led by Tommy Thompson, is scheduled to release its recommendations for strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act.

Tougher Standards Urged for Federal Education Law NYT
A private bipartisan commission recommended to block chronically ineffective educators from working in high-poverty schools.

NCLB Panel Calls for Federal Role in Setting National Standards EdWeek
States could adopt the expectations or use them to improve current standards.

Of course, the blogosphere was on it yesterday (see below) -- faster if not perhaps as reflective as our journalistic betters.

UPDATE: Had Enough Top-Down Reform? WashPost Jay Mathews
Here comes another helpful report from a five-star, blue-ribbon, highly respected, serious-minded, no-nonsense, ground-breaking, cannot-be-ignored, significant national commission.

John Brittain: Lawyers' Committee Honcho On The HotSeat

JohnBrittain.gifAs Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy to the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, John Brittain is in a tremendously interesting and influential position when it comes to school reform, which many describe as the civil rights issue of our era.

On the HotSeat, Brittain praises NCLB (for its focus on the achievement gap), but admits that it took time for civil rights groups "to wrap our arms around" NCLB provisions like AYP. He says that the feds can meddle in teacher assignment issues (if warranted) and that states shouldn't cap charters (but should monitor their performance).

He reminds us that integration is still an important issue (and that racial integration is still preferable to economic integration despite the legal challenges that the former currently faces). Last but not least, he explains the difference between the Lawyers' Committee and the Citizen's Commission (one's a committee, the other's a commission) and describes the benefits of wearing a bow-tie (no food stains).

Click below to read all about it.

Continue reading "John Brittain: Lawyers' Committee Honcho On The HotSeat" »

Just How Right Wing Is USDE Nominee Bill Evers?

bill%20evers.jpgPlenty, according to Mike Klonsky's Small Talk Blog (Straight from Iraq to the DOE).

Evers has been nominated to the USDE, as described here.

Klonsky points out that Evers is from Hoover, was part of Paul Bremer's Provisional Authority in Iraq, and is an enemy of "social justice."

More On The Times Story On Graduation Rates

AdelmanCliff.jpgThere's probably no one who knows more about college graduation rates than longtime USDE data guru Cliff Adelman (now Senior Associate, Institute for Higher Education Policy).

While not criticizing Dillon directly or praising the University of Phoenix for its programs, Adelman says that data used prominently in the NYT story are extremely problematic. "I don't think one can even judge a Phoenix "graduation rate" in the traditional sense of beginning students completing degrees---not with our current formula."

Click below to read the full Adelman analysis.

Continue reading "More On The Times Story On Graduation Rates" »

Aspen Institute Report Release -- Watch It Live

beyond%20nclb.pngYou can watch the Aspen Institute NCLB report release event "live" on your PC right now. The key players are talking. They're on stools.

Or, you can read the report here. It includes 75 recommendations. There were 12 hearings and "over 10,000 emails, submissions of written testimony, meetings and letters from those with thoughts on how to improve the law." As previously reported, the Commission is planning a series of events through 2007.

The responses are already beginning. PEN is calling for more focus on improvements not just sanctions, and more focus on parent engagement, and more resources. PEN has a complete set of NCLB informational tools available at www.PublicEducation.org.

The EdSec says she likes it.

10:30 AM UPDATE: Now they're talking about highly qualified principals.... whaa?

10:33 AM UPDATE: Voluntary national standards and assessments? Oh nooo....!

10:50 AM UPDATE: Something about changing the ELL percentages.

10:54 AM UPDATE: Governor Barnes says "We have national standards....We already know what students are supposed to know."

10:59 AM UPDATE: Zut alors!! Cut off from ze webcast!

MORE RESPONSES:

Eduwonk says that NCLB haters won't like the report cuz it's relatively tough-minded but Petrillians will criticize it for not being big enough (even though it's got national standards in there).

The AFTies say that the report's highly qualified teacher proposal is "unrealistic, arbitrary, and unworkable, and say that TAP does it better.

EdWeek's David Hoff hashes out the implications of the data systems and national testing proposals that are part of the report recommendations.

Teachers Gone Wild... On YouTube

27797988.jpgThanks to DA Daily for this link to an LA Times story about angry teachers and other unauthorized school-based videos that are being put up on YouTube and other video sites.

Surf here for clips of angry teachers.

Did The NYT Get It Wrong On The University Of Phoenix?

Yesterday, I told you how a NYT story about the University of Phoenix might have been just a wee bit too comfortably critical of nontraditional (for-profit) education compared to traditional education.

Today the University of Phoenix fired back, describing the NYT story as unfair, misleading, and "symptomatic of a prevailing bias against non-traditional higher education." The U of P not liking the story and writing an angry letter is one thing. But did the Times get the story wrong or present it misleadingly? Based on a very preliminary scan, it may have.

Continue reading "Did The NYT Get It Wrong On The University Of Phoenix?" »

Bloggers Coming Clean

freeferrari.jpgI was not one of the big time bloggers who got sent a new laptop from Microsoft earlier this year, but maybe that's a good thing considering all the hell they're getting for taking and not all disclosing the corporate freebie (Bloggers Need to Come Clean NPR).

But it is a good reminder that bloggers, like journalists and lawmakers and researchers, often have complicated and sometimes conflicting relationships with the people and issues that they're discussing. In this regard, my only saving grace is that I write for lots of different folks, rely on none of them particularly, and take aim at nearly all of them fairly regularly.

Morning Round-up February 13, 2007

Phone Ban Sought for School Bus Drivers AP
The American School Bus Council plans to issue guidelines Tuesday calling for a ban on drivers using cell phones when the bus is moving or when students are getting on or off.

Md. 'Gum Game' Used for 9 Years
WaPo
Rockville Pregnancy Center, a faith-based organization that offers counseling and support to pregnant women as an alternative to abortion, was expelled from the schools in January after a parent alerted school officials that a speaker had asked students to take turns chewing a piece of gum.

Time for Daylight Savings patches eSchool News
Schools, businesses, and other organizations aren't properly prepared for the new start of Daylight Savings Time, says a new report from technology research firm Gartner Inc.

If SEIU and Wal-Mart Can Do It, Education Can, Too

Once again, the ideas and movement on the health care front seem to be far outpacing whatever atrophied and occasional movement we see the education front.

Two weeks ago, it was the President proposing a new $100B health care tax credit in place of the current employer based two-tiered system (Health Care Big, Education Small).

Last week, longstanding opponents Wal-Mart and the unions proposed a joint health care initiative (Wal-Mart, Union Leaders Collaborate on Health Care PBS).

What would the rough equivalent of that be in education? An NEA-Alliance For School Choice deal on vouchers? I don't know of anyone thinking big ideas out there, much less making progress on them. Wish that it were so. Let me know if I'm missing anything.

UPDATE: The ever-helpful Sherman Dorn suggests that there are grand compromises possible in education: more charters and and more union recognition.

UPDATE 2: AFT Ed is much less optimistic, based on recent experiences where folks have tried to organize charter school teachers: "It's just this sort of practice that makes me doubtful that a compromise on charter expansion and union rights is within our reach... at least for the moment."

What Will Be In Tomorrow's Aspen Institute Report On NCLB? Everything.

The long-awaited Aspen Institute report on NCLB is coming out tomorrow (Webcast here), but there's no telling if there' going to be anything new or interesting in it compared to everything else that's already been said and laid on the table. Will it break new ground or rehash what most of us already know? My guess is that the report will tend more towards kitchen-sink inclusiveness than depth or focus. More importantly, will it have any impact on the upcoming reauthorization debate -- speeding it up, slowing it down, nudging it this way or that? The Commission will continue to put out reports and admonish Congress through the rest of the year, but few of these reports have much shelf life. Still, there's hoping. A lot of folks have done a lot of work on NCLB, maybe something good will come out of all that thinking.

Resistance To Weighted Student Funding In Chicago

Changing the way districts give out funding to schools so that the funds are more equitable and better targeted is a technocrat's dream, especially if it leads to a better distribution of highly qualified teachers and ends the hidden subsidy to schools with all-star faculties that has long plagued urban education. But, as this post from Chicago shows, changing funding schemes is no easy task. As reported in the February Catalyst Magazine, the district tried to pilot a change last year, only to be fought off, and is trying again this year. And as you can see in the reader responses on the issue the opposition is going to be intense. (See here).

Obama Panders, Then Pushes, On NCLB

This weekend in Des Moines, Barack Obama first pandered, then pushed in response to a teachers' question about NCLB, according to this story in the the Des Moines Register. Specifically, he called for more money for the law and for teachers. But then called for more accountability for achievement. Will this candor hurt Obama's chances of winning the nomination?

Troubled For-Profit University Raises Questions About University Self-Regulation

univ%20of%20phoenix.jpgThis weekend's NYT story about the questionable quality of the University of Phoenix (Nation's Largest Private University Faces Economic, Institutional Woes via Huffington Post) might seem on the surface to be good news for traditional colleges and foes of for-profit education.

The graduation rate from the school is miserably low, especially among traditional-age students. Some of the recruitment practices are questionable.

But at least some of the concerns aired in the piece cut both ways. How could things have gotten so bad at the University of Phoenix if the current postsecondary system of regional accreditation and self-governance was effective?

Fake Snow Day

42714_snowday.jpg"Two teenage girls posted a fake announcement on their school district's Web site that said school was closed for the day due to winter weather, police said," according to this CNN.com story (Police: Students posted fake snow-day notice on school's Web site - CNN.com). "The notice, posted Monday, confused many parents -- snow was not in the forecast -- and persuaded some students to stay home."

Morning Round-up February 12, 2007

In a historic first, Harvard chooses woman president CSM
The Ivy League has reached a milestone in gender equality: Half of the eight schools are now run by women. Drew Gilpin Faust emerged from the weekend as Harvard University's first female president. A current Harvard dean, she will not only sit at the pinnacle of higher education, but will oversee a budget on a par with top corporations.

Broad Voucher Plan Is Approved in Utah
NYT
The Utah State Legislature approved one of the broadest school voucher programs in the nation on Friday, allotting up to $3,000 for any public school student to put toward private school tuition.

No Tests, No Homework WaPo
Free schools, popular decades ago, operate on the belief that kids are naturally curious and learn best when they want to, not when forced. That old idea is getting a new look from parents tired of the required tests, homework and rigid schedules in public schools.

Week In Review February 5 -11

Best Of The Week
Carnival 105th: The Over-Scheduled Carnival Kid
Dropouts In Baghdad (Kerry Was Right)
Private Schools & The Poor

The USDE
Security Checks For USDE Researchers
Mesecar (& Others) On The Move
Keeping Talent At The USDE
"Scoundrels" At The USDE?

NCLB News
When NCLB Opponents Make You Wince
Few Mysteries At Thursday's Hearing NCLB Hearing

Teachers & Teaching
When Performance Pay Goes Public
What To Do About Teacher Quality?
Advanced Placement To The Rescue

Media Watch
Kopp Survives Colbert
The Gad-Blast: Best Of The Gadfly & The NewsBlast
Catching Up With NPR
More Newspapers With Education Blogs - Finally
EdWeek's Latest Blog

School Life
MySpace For Educators
Hooters Saves The Children
Friday News: Where's Teacher?

Site News
A One-Month Anniversary At My New "Home"

Security Checks For USDE Researchers: You Heard It Here First

private.gifHalfway through January, I wrote about how researchers were being asked to go through unnecessary-seeming security clearances to work on USDE projects (see here).

Less than a month later, the NYT runs a piece about the situation (Critics Question Education Department’s Screening), which has since ballooned into a mini-uprising on the part of researchers who refuse to participate. Thanks to the researcher who originally brought this to my attention. If someone has a copy of the letter to Spellings, please share it.

MySpace For Educators

LinkEd.logo_with.Tagline.jpg It's not just teens, college kids, and business types who want to connect. If you combined LinkedIn, the professional networking site, with Teach For America, Wendy Kopp's effort to get elite college grads to teach in low income schools and take over the world, then you'd have LinkEd, a new organization based in New York and started by a couple of TFAers. They're having an event in NY on Tuesday, and they're already hooked up with DonorsChoose.

Mesecar (& Others) On The Move

mesecar.jpgAfter two years heading Edison's DC outpost, Doug Mesecar is headed back to the USDE for more punishment. Previously, he was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. He's going to be Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation to work for recent nominee Bill Evers. (Eduwonk on Evers here: It's Official, It's Evers.)

In other Edison news, current deputy New York City schools chancellor and former Edison president Chris Serf is coming under fire in the Times: Schools Official Deflects Query About Stocks NYT

Meanwhile, the FritzWire reports that Bob Stonehill who managed 21st Century Communities Schools will be retiring from the Department next month and is heading to Learning Points. Fritz calls him "Another difficult person to replace given his experience and historical knowledge."

A One-Month Anniversary At My New "Home"

It's been roughly a month now since I've been here on EdWeek.org, and so far, so good, it seems. Thanks to everyone who's bravely checked out the site for the first time -- and all of you longtime readers, thanks for making the move.

Thanks also to the EdWeek.org folks for putting up with my incessant demands -- if I was a real employee you'd have fired me by now. Aren't you glad I'm not?

To register any complaints, questions, or compliments, email me at thisweekineducation at gmail.com. Or, slap a comment in the comments section. Remember, you can sign up for a weekly email in the box to the right.

Friday News: Where's Teacher?

Teacher-Leave.jpg"Students at Adams Middle School have been feverishly speculating about the true circumstances surrounding seventh grade history teacher Mr. Benson's unannounced second-semester leave of absence—now approaching one month—raising the mysterious disappearance well into the status of legend among the student body at large," according to this article from, yes, The Onion (Teacher's Leave Of Absence Shrouded In Legend). "I heard he was a pot addict, and he went mental, and they took him away to a mental institution," said Gregory Oswald, 13, a student of Benson's, adding that he remembered noticing a growing impatience in Mr. Benson in the weeks before Christmas break. "Someone told me that the first night he was there, they shocked his brain. Now he can't remember anything about the Civil War."

The Gad-Blast: Best Of The Gadfly & The NewsBlast

If you've been reading along this week, you've already seen most of what the weekly newsletters have to say.  But there are some new things, too.

At the PEN NewsBlast, there are posts about financial inequalities in Illinois, more about the FY08 budget, some things from the TC Record (which I never seem to get to), an English-only pledge of allegiance, more about NCLB and gifted students, and a fascinating little article about just how hard school boards (and board members) are to contact.

Over at The Gadfly, they're looking for fellows, fighting against fatalism, railing against What Works, and... I got nothing.  Oh, they pick up the item I highlighted earlier this week about what happens when teachers' performance bonuses go public. 

Morning Round-up February 9, 2007

A little bit of Enron in all of us? JS Online
Lynn Brewer, the former Enron Corp. executive who blew the whistle on corrupt practices at the energy giant, delivered a chilling message about wrongdoing in corporate America to the 800 students, faculty and members of the public who came to hear her speech Thursday at Marquette University.

Schools Picked to Pilot Sex-Ed Lessons WaPo
Should the pilot program go forward, it would mark the first time sexual orientation has been addressed directly in eighth- and 10th-grade county health classes.

Gender Gap in GPAs Seen as Linked to Self-Discipline EdWeek
What may have gotten lost in the conversation, suggests Angela Lee Duckworth, a research associate in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, are gender differences in an area that has attracted little research attention over the years: the old-fashioned attribute of self-discipline.

Dropouts In Baghdad

"When Senator John Kerry said last fall that students who didn’t do well in school were more likely to “get stuck in Iraq,” he was immediately attacked for insulting the intelligence of U.S. troops," according to this Harper's Magazine article (Kerry Was Right). "Of course, Kerry’s comment was entirely accurate—not because American soldiers in Iraq are dumb, but because the Pentagon, in seeking to overcome serious recruiting shortfalls, has enlisted growing numbers of high school dropouts."

Felons, too, according to CNN's Paris Hilton Anderson Cooper -- but of course that's someone else's problem.

What To Do About Teacher Quality?

The teacher quality provisions of NCLB are some of the most important -- and least effectively implemented -- provisions of the law, and there's more than enough blame to go around for all the delays, gimmicks, and obfuscation that's taken place.

However, the Center on Education Policy has some answers, based on meetings held in the fall, about what to do the next time around. They include encouraging states to develop performance-based certification measures and more nuance in the definitions of HQT, incentives to address equity, and better data systems.

It's core, achievable stuff -- some of it too tame, but none of it unimportant. There's lots that can be done short of undoing collective bargaining agreements.

UPDATE: AFT Michele suggests that there's less consensus there than meets the eye. She sees a big divide between those who want to improve working conditions generally and those who want to focus on incentives for hard to staff schools. Working conditions? Seriously? Sometimes I think the AFTies flip a coin every day to decide whether they're going to be progressive or reactionary. Either that, or the AFT bigwigs have no idea what Michele and John et al are up to (which would be sorta great).

UPDATE 2: Apparently it's working conditions in hard to staff schools that Michele is talking about, not in general. OK, that helps. But I still don't see such a big disagreement as she does.

Advanced Placement To The Rescue

Long ago and far away, I helped NM Senator Jeff Bingaman get the federal AP incentive fund funded -- the first national effort at subsidizing the costs of AP exams for low-income kids. But things have changed a lot since then, and it's interesting to compare everyone's coverage of the annual Advanced Placement report. Everyone covers it differently, as you'll see.

UPDATE:

Continue reading "Advanced Placement To The Rescue" »

Hooters Saves The Children

Pretty much every company out there has some do-gooder initiative going on these days, whether it's VH1's "Save The Music" campaign or Wal-Mart's "We Really Care" (I made that one up). But who knew that Hooters had one, too? Thanks to eagle-eyed Howie Schaffer from the PEN Newsblast, now we do:

cookbook_web.jpg"Hooters Restaurants "Wings for Children" program is underway once again at all Chicago area locations, raising money for the Holy Family Lutheran School through proceeds from the sales of their world famous chicken wings. In 2005, Hooters raised $33,000 for the school. Almost $170,000 total has been raised since the program's inception in 1995."

Keeping Talent At The USDE

"Out of thirty-six federal agencies surveyed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ranked dead last on job satisfaction," according to this article in Slate (Department of Homeland Dissatisfaction). DHS also ranked "dead last on being "results-oriented"; second to last on "leadership and knowledge management"; and among the bottom five on "talent management." No word on where the USDE ranked, but I'm eager to find out.

Morning Round-up February 8, 2007

Rural Colleges Seek New Edge and Urbanize NYT
At the same time, officials have realized that a more urbanized version of the ideal campus could attract a population well past its college years — working people and retiring baby boomers — if there is housing to suit them.

Overachieving Students Hear a New Message: Lighten Up WaPo
In a region where the high school experience has evolved into an advanced placement-fueled academic arms race, parents and school officials are starting to do the unthinkable: They're saying no to adolescents who want to load up on AP courses, schedule eight-period days and join the school newspaper, track team and high school band at the same time.

ISTE releases draft of new tech standards eSchool News
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has just completed a draft of its National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students--a groundbreaking paradigm for what young people should know about technology and what they should be able to do with it before graduating.

Catching Up With NPR

logo_npr_125.gifKnowing that many of you like to listen to things while sitting at your desk, I'm trying to keep track of what's going on at NPR and other stations about education.

This latest roundup includes audio segments about the Bush budget proposal, extended time, college diversity, and school safety. Oh, and one about schools over-reacting to lice.

Check it out -- and if I've missed anything, let me know.

Continue reading "Catching Up With NPR" »

EdWeek's Latest Blog

mary%20ann%20zehr.jpgWell, it took less than a month for This Week In Education to lose its standing as EdWeek's newest blog.

But the newbie isn't the Ravitch-Meiers confab that many of us have been expecting. Instead, its a blog focused on ELL called Learning the Language, written by EdWeek assistant editor Mary Ann Zehr.

Congrats, condolences, and welcome.

"Scoundrels" At The USDE?

Eric_Andell.jpgThanks to a friendly reader for passing along this list of Bush administration "scoundrels", which includes an Eric Andell from the USDE who apparently did something wrong related to Safe and Drug Free Schools. Read all about it.

Private Schools & The Poor

200703_feature.jpgOnce again, The Atlantic Monthly ($) has a thought-provoking article about education. Last month, it was about New Orleans. The latest is about private schools in other countries that have been set up to educate the very poor -- and the mixed feelings of international aid organizations and others about a private approach to a public problem.

"Cheap private schools are educating poor children across the developing world," begins the piece. "But without much encouragement from the international aid establishment."

In some ways, it reminds me of the Cristo Rey schools here in the US, about which I've written several times -- private schools set up to charge little tuition and aimed at educating first generation and other disadvantaged students. Find a friend or read it at the dentist's office.

When NCLB Opponents Make You Wince

Once in a while, Sherman Dorn and I agree about something, and this is one of those times. "There are plenty of ways I can criticize NCLB and its implementation," writes Dorn in this post (Ugly arguments against NCLB), "but to whine that it drains resources for the gifted is one of the more disturbing arguments I've read (and today's story by Joseph Berger isn't the first time it's appeared in the New York Times)."

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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.