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Is School Reform Getting Too Corporate?

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US News raises questions about the growth of business-sponsored school reform efforts (Businesses Want To Build Better Employees) and the differences between what they want (trained and skilled employees) vs. what other reformers want (closing the achievement gap, etc.). It would be a big shift if federal policymaking focused more on competitiveness than equity -- Title I has always been more about that than anything else -- but it could happen. Whatever floats your boat, I say.

School-Level Control Still Under Attack -- Even As New Forms Take Shape

When elected officials talk about "local control," they usually mean states and districts. But in some places, local control means really local -- like at the school level. It's a messy business, however, and in Illinois the Board and the mayor are now pushing changes so that elected school councils have to have approval before not renewing a principal's four-year contract (Chicago school leaders seek to limit LSC power Tribune). In New York City, the once-powerful parent councils that used to run the city's community school districts can barely scare up enough folks to fill the vacant seats (A Lack of Interest in New System’s School Parent Councils NYT).

Interesting to note that, at the same time, some reformers are talking about a new form of local control -- autonomy zones and such that would give school buildings more control over how they spend their money. But without, it seems, the community and parent oversight of the old school models.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I'm always seeing interesting new approaches in housing and education policy -- this one (here) about giving hard-core homeless folks a place to stay (even if they're not clean and sober) is from the PBS NewsHour on Friday. What's the education equivalent, I wonder? Coming up with new alternatives for chronic truants rather than trying to bring them back into schools? Setting up special kinds of schools for kids with particular needs -- immigrants, high-mobility kids -- rather than trying to make everyone do everything the same way?

The Pros & Cons Of Video Games

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Why video games really are linked to violence Slate
Does the link between video games and violence hold up? Yes.

P.E. Classes Turn to Video Game That Works Legs NYT
Schools are deploying Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the battle against childhood obesity.

Drunken Pirate Sues Over Denial Of Education Degree

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'Drunken Pirate' sues school that nixed degree MSNBC A woman denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because of a MySpace photo has sued the university. Here's the photo. The Smoking Gun has the affadavit.

The Ideal Education Blog -- Multiple Voices, Interacting

Blogs written by groups rather than individual writers have been all the rage for a little while now -- combining as they do the pleasures of distinct voices with the diversity of multiple perspectives. Perhaps the best example of this has been the two year-old Huffington Post, which includes a wide range of voices, as well as predecessors like Daily Kos. Group blogs have been coming along in education, too, with the AFT Blog, the Quick and The Ed, and the Ravitch/Meier blog.

Now, that trend seems to be accelerating. There's The Pulse, run by District Administration, and now the EduStat blog, run by SchoolNet. Ideally, these blogs will create a sort of community discussion among bloggers that's convenient to readers and lively and pleasurable for everyone. Still, there needs to be more interactivity among the writers, and diversity of perspectives.

Big Stories Of The Day (Monday April 30)

Hillary Clinton Critical of NCLB Before State Teachers€™ Union EdWeek
Sen. Clinton voted in favor of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001. As a formal presidential candidate since January, she has yet to release any detailed proposals for overhauling the law, which is due for reauthorization this year.

No Child Left Behind foes fear $600M loss AZ Daily Star
Lawmakers agreed Wednesday that while it might be a good idea for Arizona to opt out of mandates required by the No Child Left Behind act, giving up more than half a billion dollars in federal funding is not a good idea.

Reports On School Crimes Are Rare Washington Post
In this era of heightened concern about school safety, few Washington area school systems regularly report school violence.

The Best Of The Week (April 23-29)

Site News
Now Appearing On The Huffington Post, Too

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Campaign 2008
Bill Clinton Reverses Himself On Annual Testing
Jerald Joins $60M "Stronger American Schools" Initiative
Saving American Schools, One Pint Of Ice Cream At A Time


NCLB News
The Fairfax Fandango: This Test Is Too Hard
Is "Proficient" Too Much To Ask For?
Looking Into VA Test Participation Rules

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On The Hill
Exclusive: Spellings Called To Testify
Has Chairman Miller Been Protecting Secretary Spellings?
Reading First Quotes: Criminal Or Civil Investigation?

School Reform
Growing Pains For KIPP Schools
Teachers In NYC "Rubber Rooms"
The KIPP Breakups

Business Of Education
Gates Announces New Education Honcho
How To Read An Edu-Company Press Release
Who The Hell Is Whitney Tilson?

The News Fly Express: Reader's Digest Version

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There's good stuff in this week's PEN NewsBlast, as usual, including how Kentucky educators are trying to relieve test stress, a provocative piece about school violence, and a good catch on the topic of vouchers and suburban backlash. Ditto for The Gadfly, which this week includes some advice on Republican education strategy, some analysis of the Romer-led education campaign announced this week, and a slam on The Governator for his many education mis-steps. The Ed Trust's "Equity Express" (wish it was a blog or web-friendly) also has a slew of achievement gap stories (see messy email version below).

Continue reading "The News Fly Express: Reader's Digest Version" »

Big Stories Of The Day (Friday April 27)

Well, not so very big...

How to gauge a school's progress Christian Science Monitori
As Congress prepares to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, more educators want new definitions of achievement.

PCs Can Help Kids Pass NCLB Tests US News
Although the lion's share of U.S. schools still prepare students for achievement tests using the traditional paper-and-pen approach, some educators around the country are turning to high-tech programs designed to help students succeed in the testing-heavy educational environment created by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

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Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie NYT
The dean of admissions at M.I.T. admitted that she had lied about having an undergraduate degree.

Schools Banning iPods to Beat Cheaters NY Post
Banning baseball caps during tests was obvious - students were writing the answers under the brim. Then, schools started banning cell phones, realizing students could text message the answers to each other. Now, schools across the country are targeting digital media players as a potential cheating device.

Has Chairman Miller Been Protecting Secretary Spellings?

Don't be put off by the boring title that the Title Monitor gives to its Reading First story (OIG Refers Reading First To U.S. Justice Department). There's interesting stuff in there about witnesses like former assistant secretary Susan Neuman who might have been expected to have been called to testify and some impassioned remarks from Mike Petrilli questioning the Committee's treatment of former RF director Chris Doherty and insulation of EdSec Spellings from the fiasco.

Who The Hell Is Whitney Tilson?

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I've been scanning Whitney Tilson's education blog now and then for the past few months, but only just now looked up his bio, where I found that he was a charter member of TFA and is a honcho at KIPP New York and a money guy by day. Not only that, he's got three blogs, one of which is about school reform. Some recent posts include:

How To Read An Edu-Company Press Release

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The ever-instructive Marc Dean Millot explains here just how to read between the lines of an education company press release: The Press Release in Context. "So, in a sense, PLATO is saying to Wall Street that its products have underlying value and, in a market full of close substitutes, its core clients have not abandoned it."

Bill Clinton Reverses Himself On Annual Testing

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Perhaps in honor of his having proposed annual (national) tests a decade ago, Bill Clinton apparently reversed himself during a recent appearance in front of the NSBA and said that annual testing was too much (Clinton Criticizes Testing Required by NCLB EdWeek). Or perhaps he's just doing the pandering thing like his wife did a few weeks ago when she called NCLB tutoring "Halliburton all over again" in front of a teachers union crowd.

Big Stories Of The Day (Thursday April 26)

Report Undercuts Effects of Educational Software NPR
A new report from the Department of Education says that most education software does not boost test scores. But districts that have spent large amounts of money are not ready to give up on it.

Nutrition standards urged for foods sold in school CNN.com
The IOM recommendation covers items considered competitive with those foods, such as items sold in vending machines and other food and drinks sold in the school but not under the federal program, an area often profitable for the schools.

Cuomo: States Will Pursue Student Loan Fiasco NPR
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo told lawmakers that if the federal government doesn't step in to regulate the student loan industry, the states will. Cuomo has persuaded 4 major lenders and 16 colleges and universities to sign a code-of-conduct pact.

Project Wants More Talk About Education Wash Post
Two of the world's wealthiest charitable foundations are bankrolling a $60 million initiative aimed at making education an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Teen to graduate college after just 1 year MSNBC
As a student at Lahser High School, Matisse had exhausted the curriculum by her junior year. Between the exams she passed on eight advanced placement courses and the eight classes she took at Oakland Community College, she had amassed enough credits to enter the university last fall as a junior.

Survivors of Shootings Face Long Road to Normalcy PBS
As classes resumed at Virginia Tech this week, survivors of the shootings had to try to get back into a normal routine, which has proven difficult for past communities affected by shootings, such as Columbine High School.

The KIPP Breakups

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Thanks to KIPP's Mike Feinberg for walking the walk when it comes to transparency. He shared the little-known list of six KIPP "breakups" referred to in Jay Mathews' column this week, and his partner Steve Mancini added a seventh. As with the other kind of breakups, what exactly happened (who broke up with whom, and why) is in some cases at least open to different interpretation by the parties involved. My interpretations are in parenthesese: KIPP PATH in DeKalb County, GA and KIPP Sac Prep in Sacramento ("it was mutual")...KIPP Chicago Youth Village and KIPP Asheville Youth Academy (“never got that prenup signed")...KIPP Achieve in Atlanta and KIPP Sankofa in Buffalo ("it's not me, it's you")... KIPP Cole in Denver (never made it past the third date).

Gates Announces New Education Honcho

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Late on Wednesday, the Gates Foundation announced who would replace the long-departed Tom Vander Ark as chief of the education operation: Vicki Phillips, currently supe of the Portland public schools, starting in August. OK, great. Now what?

Exclusive: Spellings Called To Testify On Lending & Reading First

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House education committee chair George Miller has requested that EdSec Spellings appear to explain the whole student lending / Reading First mess (see PDF here) -- and she has (reportedly) agreed to show up on the 10th. It seemed like it was bound to happen eventually, given all that's going on. But it isn't going to be pretty, given the mood of things and recent performances by other Cabinet members. Thanks to a friend for letting me know. Exclusive, I think.

Looking Into VA Test Participation Rules

Over at Learning the Language, M.A. Zehr follows up on the whole Fairfax thing and looks into VA's test participation rules. What she finds (Virginia's Definition of Test Participation) is pretty amazing -- namely that any kid, ELL or not, can decline to complete an exam, and that the scores still count even if fewer than five items have been attempted. Check it out.

Teachers In NYC "Rubber Rooms"

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Mike Antonucci links to a great if horrifying article in the Village Voice about 662 New York City teachers who are in administrative limbo and go each day to one of 13 "administrative reassignment centers (aka "rubber rooms") pending the disposition of their cases -- and suggests that their forced inactivity could be the making of a great reality show (Rubber Rooms Could Be a Gold Mine). From what I read, the Voice piece (Class Dismissed) sounds more like a nightmarish episode of Big Brother than American Idol. Not that I ever watch those shows.

Growing Pains For KIPP Schools -- Not Just The Press To Blame

In this week's column (Looking at KIPP, Coolly and Carefully), Mathews tries to get ahead of the news trend that's slowly leaking out about KIPP's dropout rates and spate of breakups (now numbering six). He rightly points out that the media are the ones doing most of the hyping -- desperate for success stories and things that seem new and different. But Mathews struggles to hide his enthusiasm even in the role of cool critic, and in reality it's more than that -- it's foundations pouring money into the KIPP approach and think tanks touting them as miracle solutions. I'm not against KIPP, but I have been warning against all the hype surrounding the rapidly-expanding network of KIPP schools for weeks and months now.

Related Posts: The Return Of The Hype Warning System, Jay Mathews On The HotSeat, KIPP Co-Founder Mike Feinberg On The HotSeat, NYT Magazine's Paul Tough On The HotSeat.

Jerald Joins $60M "Stronger American Schools" Initiative

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Left out of today's NYT coverage of the new $60 million "Stronger American Schools" initiative (Billionaires Start $60 Million Schools Effort) is that Craig Jerald, formerly of EdWeek and the Ed Trust, is going to be policy director for the effort. Kudos and condolences.

Don't Forget Virginia Tech

Aid Providers, Some Invited and Some Not, Arrive En Masse Wash Post
As thousands of students returned to class Monday at Virginia Tech, they were greeted by legions of people who came to help.

Schools Revisit Gun Policies After Va. Tech Rampage NPR
Last week's deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech shattered the image of college campuses as idyllic sanctuaries of safety. Virginia Tech -- like most American universities -- forbids students from carrying guns on campus. Now many schools are re-evaluating their gun policies.

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Violence all around us, and we're numb SF Chronicle It's impossible to think about those events, just as it was with Columbine eight Aprils ago, and not wonder about the culture's routine and thoroughgoing saturation in violence.

Is "Proficient" Too Much To Ask For?

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"Outside of a handful of Asian nations, the typical 8th grader in many foreign countries would not meet “proficient” levels on U.S. tests of mathematics and science, according to a reanalysis of international achievement data being published today," begins this EdWeek story (Most Nations Fall Short of NAEP Proficiency, Analysis Finds). "Then again, the study also shows, neither do most American students."

Big Stories Of The Day (Wednesday)

Billionaires Start $60 Million Schools Effort NYT
Eli Broad and Bill Gates are joining forces for a $60 million foray into politics in an effort to vault education high onto the agenda of the 2008 presidential race.

House passes bill to increase math and science teachers CNN.com
The bill, which passed 389-22, would authorize more than $600 million through 2012 for scholarships and stipends for college students studying math and science in preparation for teaching careers.

Wash. music teacher is top of her class USA Today
Peterson's selection is a victory for advocates of traditional teacher certification — she is the second National Board Certified teacher in a row to become Teacher of the Year, and the fourth in seven years.

Bush Presses Schools Plan During Trip to New York NYT
President Bush traveled to Harlem to seek common cause with the rival party, on its home turf, on his signature education initiative, “No Child Left Behind.”

Saving American Schools, One Pint Of Ice Cream At A Time

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I never did get that invite to the Stronger American Schools lunch today (was it any good?), and may not make it to the big kickoff event tomorrow (take pics and email them if you feel like it). Even worse, I can't tell you who's working on the effort along with Romer (though many of you already know). What can I tell you? Well, I've figured out their strategy for making education a prominent and specific part of the 2008 presidential campaign: the Stephen Colbert spokesperson strategy. Yeah, that'll work.

Now Appearing On The Huffington Post, Too

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Hard to believe that the Huffington Post -- Arianna Huffington's crazy effort to gather a somewhat diverse set of thinkers together on a single website -- is almost two years old, and wildly successful (60 million page views a month). Harder still to believe that they'd want little old me to join their ranks and cross-post things from here over there. But it's true -- a slightly expanded version of The Fairfax Fandango (see below) is going up later today. Clearly, they'll let just about anybody blog. One more sign of the coming Apocalypse.

UPDATE: Now it's up -- you can see it here.

The Fairfax Fandango: This Test Is Too Hard

For a time, Fairfax County educators were thinking about -- some would say threatening to -- give up $17 million in NCLB funds rather than give a test to ELL kids that they thought was too hard. Well, of course it is. Everyone knows that.

But threatening to give up NCLB funding -- resolutions, protests -- how 2003.

At the last minute, however, Fairfax figured out what everyone else has: take the money, comply nominally, and find a way to do what you want. In Fairfax's case, nominal compliance means making sure that teachers and ELL kids know that they can -- yes -- stop taking the test if it's too hard. All it takes is a shake of the head.

"A memo from the Virginia Department of Education on Thursday said students can "indicate to the test examiner either verbally, or non-verbally by shaking his/her head 'no'," according to the Post article (Va. Schools Yield, Yet May Shape 'No Child' Wash Post)..."that he or she is not able to complete any more items."

Sympathetic as I am to the plight of ELL kids and the anxieties of teachers about how their schools are going to be rated -- yes, that's part of this -- I can't imagine how this new policy is going to work out in practice.

In fact, all this thinking is making my head hurt even though I haven't finished this post. Teacher, I want to stop now.

Life At The High End

Power Trips for Tots WSJ (free)
Adventure vacations around the globe are becoming a status symbol for parents seeking an edge for their kids. Some families are heading to sub-Saharan Africa or Asia, while others are packing itineraries with extreme experiences, sending their children to the jungle or bicycling through rice paddies in Thailand.

He's going to Harvard (or Yale, or Princeton, or …) Houston Chronicle
These days, competition to get into a brand-name institution is so intense that desperate students apply to 10, 12 and even 20 schools. Twelve percent of students entering college last fall applied to seven or more schools, according to a survey by the University of California at Los Angeles.

Teaching Roundup

Thanks to contributor Regina Matthews for digging up these interesting articles about teachers and teaching:

Teachers: The Next Generation PEN NewsBlast
Generation Y, the 40 million people born between 1977 and 1986, is dramatically changing the composition of today's teaching staffs.

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Union Influence on NCLB EdWeek
A Q&A with Joel Packer, chief NCLB lobbyist for the NEA and Antonia Cortese, EVP for the AFT, with moderator Kevin Bushweller

Teacher Contracts: Restoring the Balance PEN NewsBlast
Teacher contracts reflect an earlier era in America: the age of the rise of industrial unions, according to The Education Partnership.

Degree Drought Indianapolis Business Journal
Why can’t two-year public institutions turn out more students?

Obit: Marie Clay, Proponent of Early Reading Help, Dies at 81 Canton Repository
Clay's methods eventually became known as “Reading Recovery” and spread to other countries.

Reading First Quotes: Criminal Or Civil Investigation?

While it remains unclear whether the referrals to the Justice Department are going to be criminal or civil -- or result in any charges -- everyone's got a good quote or two in their Reading First coverage:

House Panel Grills Witnesses On Reading First EdWeek
In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Miller said: “This hearing made it pretty clear that there was a very incestuous relationship among a small group of people in the Education Department and among contractors. They were very clearly using this program … for profit.

Reading program to get Justice review USA Today
It wasn't immediately clear on Friday who the subject of the investigation might be, or whether John Higgins, who led the Education Department's investigation, asked Justice to pursue criminal charges or a civil complaint.But Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee and is investigating the program on his own, told Higgins: "I think when we put the evidence together we may join you in those criminal referrals."

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Justice Dept. Is Asked to Investigate Reading Plan NYT
The civil division of the Justice Department is looking into his findings, but has not decided whether to begin an investigation, a spokesman said....“Reading First was and probably will remain the highlight of my professional career,” Mr. Doherty said.

Key Initiative Of 'No Child' Under Federal Investigation Wash Post
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who declined to comment yesterday, has said management problems with Reading First "reflect individual mistakes." But Doherty said nearly every aspect of the program was carefully monitored by the department and the White House, where Spelling was Bush's top education adviser."This program was always firmly under the watch and control of the highest levels of the government," Doherty said.

Virginia Tech: The First Day Back

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Virginia Tech copes with returning to class CSM
Virginia Tech history professor Woody Farrar is usually able to lecture for hours, but this time he worried about what he would say – if he could even get the words out – when his students returned to his class Monday, a week after the worst shooting in US history took place on campus.

Crime In The Quad US News
While murder on campus is exceedingly rare, its continued occurrence, along with the far more frequent incidence of sexual assault, has only increased calls for heightened security, improved alert systems, and more thorough crime reporting.

Emmanuel professor fired over Virginia Tech lecture Boston Globe
An adjunct professor at Emmanuel College was fired last week following a classroom discussion about the Virginia Tech shootings that included him pointing a marker at some students and saying "pow."

The Week In Review (April 16-22)

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Best Of The Week
What Do Fairfax County And Sanjaya Have In Common?
Power Couples In Education, The Update

Campaign 2008
Reading First Heats Up: Criminal Investigation, DI Wife
Making Education A Top Issue For 2008 -- Somehow


NCLB News
It's All About The Bill Language
Thirty-One Pending NCLB Proposals
Tutoring Myths & Realities
What It Takes To Be An Effective Legislative Staffer

Policy Watch
A Reality Check For Education Rhetoric
FairTest Vs. TestingFacts
Voucher Rollback In Ohio?
Finding The Right Big-City Superintendent

Media & Blogs
How Community Colleges Story Won A Pulitzer
School Reform Vs. Global Outsourcing

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School Life
Virginia Tech Update & Implications
Spellings Talks Safety On Sunday
Collective Hysteria Diagnosed For Mystery School Illness

Reading First Heats Up: Criminal Investigation, DI Wife

I guess I dozed off a little too early during Friday's Reading First hearings, since this Washington Post story suggests that things have heated up -- a lot.

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Some of the best nuggets include: (1) Justice Department officials are conducting their own interviews, (2) former RF head Chris Doherty repeatedly failed to disclose that wife has been a paid consultant for Direct Instruction (now that's a power couple), (3) Voyager, one of the favored programs is a company owned by Randy Best (a big Bush financial supporter), (4) Reid Lyon now says things seem much worse than he "was told," and (5) Doherty continues to insist that the program was closely managed from the start (ie, by Spellings).

It's still hard to imagine this story breaking through to the political or massive media coverage level, given everything else that's going on. But the comparisons to Gonzalez-gate continue to emerge, and the Post story did make it to the Huffington Post.

Spellings Talks Safety On Sunday

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According to her press schedule (see below), EdSec Spellings is going to be on Sunday's "Meet The Press" (NBC) to talk about school safety issues.I wonder if they'll get in some questions about student lending, Reading First, or this whole NCLB thing. Do you think she's worried about coming in 2nd, like she did (to Squiggy Lenny) on "Jeopardy" last summer?

Continue reading "Spellings Talks Safety On Sunday" »

Voucher Rollback In Ohio?

This NPR segment (NPR : New Ohio Governor Targets School Vouchers) reminds us that while 12 states plus Utah now have voucher programs, new Ohio governor Ted Strickland is trying to roll back one of the original voucher initiatives to its previous form. For the past year, Ohio's new statewide voucher program has been running, serving roughly 3,000 kids. Arguing that the program costs too much ($13 million) and serves the few rather than the many, Strickland wants to roll the program back to its original Cleveland-only size. He is opposed by, among other things, crying parents and kids who don't want to go back where they came from. Meanwhile, other states -- Utah, say -- watch and see which direction this voucher thing is going.

My take, for what it's worth, is that voucher programs will continue to spread, regardless of what happens in Ohio and Utah in the short term.

Power Couples In Education, The Update

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People really seem to loving the power couples thing, and here are some more that have come in over the transom:

Chris Edley (Former Clinton Civil Rights, now at UC Berkeley) and Maria Echaveste (Former Clinton Labor, now at UC Berkeley). Howard Fuller (Marquette University) and Deborah McGriff (former Milwaukee deputy super, now at Edison Schools). Goodwin Liu (former Clinton National Service) and Ann O’Leary (9th circuit?). Carolyn Henrich (UC lobbyist former National PTA) and Joel Packer (NEA).

Warning -- I haven't verified these, so they may be wrong or outdated.

Previously noted (here): Former Heritage and USDE Nina Rees and journalist husband Matt (the one with the glasses). TFA founder Wendy Kopp (with bonus school pic) and KIPP CEO Richard Barth.

Urban Schools Roundup

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Some more urban school news and trends -- and one last picture of Sanjaya:

Language Gap Mars Parent-Teacher Chats NPR
Federal law requires school districts to provide interpreters for parent-teacher conferences. But demand far outstrips the state and federal funds provided. How are schools adapting?

Mayor Revises Some Points of School Budget Proposal NYT
It will be harder for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to redistribute senior teachers more evenly across the school system.

Trouble Even in Choice Paradise Urban Institute
We explore the reasoning behind these low take up rates and utilize school transfer data provided by the district to suggest that, in the case of the school transfer option, the low participation is due to a restrictive timeline for choice and the inadequate signaling power of the AYP designations.

L.A. charter school sues radio station LA Times
A year-long feud between a talk radio personality and an L.A. charter school is ending up in an unusual court case.

Reading First Hearing Survival Guide

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Start out with Greg Toppo's update on where things stand (here). USA Today.

Speaking of the hearing, you can watch the live webcast (video, audio plays on your screen) here. Good background listening.

Getting antsy? You can read Reid Lyon's explanation of his role and what Reading First was supposed to do here. No apologies there, that's for sure. Why isn't he at the hearing?

Speaking of who is and isn't at the hearing -- where's Spellings? If Gonzalez can come up and explain himself, why can't she?

Virginia Tech Update & Implications

Some California Schools Close After Threat NYT
The police in Northern California were searching on Thursday for a man who they said was planning an attack that would “make Virginia Tech look mild.”

After Columbine, School Shootings Proliferate US News
The number, frequency, and death toll for shootings at schools has increased dramatically since the attack at Colorado's Columbine High School eight years ago this Friday.

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English Department Tried To Intervene HuffPo Trying to balance the freedom needed to be creative against the warning signs of psychosis, as many as eight of his teachers in the last 18 months had formed what one called a "task force" to discuss how to handle him, gathering twice on the subject and frequently communicating among themselves.

NBC Under Fire Over "Exploitative," "Insensitive" Airing Of Gunman Video HuffPo
Families of some of the victims, some law enforcement officials and executives from competing television news organizations have accused NBC of being insensitive or exploitative in the way it presented the materials on the air.

School Reform Vs. Global Outsourcing

"While the Congress deliberates over the Business Roundtable's and the Aspen Institute's Great Domestic Diversion, NCLB, American corporations continue their off-shoring of American jobs, both service jobs and highly-skilled professional jobs," begins this blistering post Fiddling With Test Scores While America Burns. "And while the U. S. Chamber of Commerce polishes its plans to transform American high schools into science and math camps, Boeing and Cisco continue to funnel science and engineering jobs to cheap labor markets overseas."

Power Couple Pics

I'm still working on getting more paparazzi pics, but the power couple pics I've come up with so far include former USDEr Nina Rees and journalist husband Matt (there are a couple -- she's married to one of these guys):




Also, TFA founder Wendy Kopp (with bonus school pic) and KIPP CEO Richard Barth:








Other amusing nominations I've received: Miller and Kennedy, Petrilli and Finn, Spellings and Paige.

No, I don't have anything better to do.

Getting Ready For A Reading First Let-Down

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After all the hoopla (and given all the other things going on), tomorrow's Reading First hearing is likely to turn out to be pretty anticlimactic. (Plus which, they're holding it on a Friday, and the program's alleged mismanagement is offset by its apparent effectiveness.)

Reading First Paying Off, Education Dept. Says Washington Post
"That's the irony," said John F. Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy. "The program was poorly -- even unethically -- administered at the federal level, yet it seems to be having a positive effect in schools."

Hooked On Hysterics National Review Online (Petrilli)
If you enjoy political theater of the absurd, tune in to a House Education and Labor committee hearing Friday on “Mismanagement and Conflicts of Interest in the Reading First Program.”

School Shooting Roundup

Spate of threats plagues schools MSNBC
A series of bomb threats and other security alerts rattled U.S. schools and universities Wednesday.

Experts ponder patterns in school shootings USA Today
To most of us, tomorrow is just another Friday. But to educators, it's one of the bigger nail-biters on the calendar.

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Laws Limit Options When a Student Is Mentally IllNYT For the most part, universities cannot tell parents about their children’s problems without the student’s consent.

Colleges seek faster ways to warn studentsCNN.com
"There is no one magic communication system that we can press a button and let everyone know what is going on," says Chris Meyer, assistant vice president for safety and security at Texas A&M University.

McCain Says He Favors "No Gun Control" After Shootings HuffPo
The Arizona senator said in Summerville, S.C., that the country needs better ways to identify dangerous people like the gunman who killed 32 people and himself in the Blacksburg, Va., rampage.

What Do Fairfax County And American Idol's Sanjaya Have In Common?

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What do Fairfax County (Va) schools and American Idol's Sanjaya have in common? Yesterday, they both went down:

Fairfax Schools Concede On Testing Washington Post

Sanjaya's run on "Idol" ends MTV.com

FairTest Vs. TestingFacts

The new FairTest Examiner is out, and full of the usual news and commentary (and the announcement of a new co-director named, of all things, Earle M. Test). I kid you not.

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But there's another outfit out there, TestingFacts.org, which also gathers testing-related news and information, but from a different point of view. It's run by the test publishing companies.

Making Education A Top Issue For 2008 -- Somehow

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Looking for something to do next week? Get yourself invited to the official Tuesday April 24 pre-launch of "Strong American Schools," the Gates and Broad funded public awareness campaign that -- as I broke in January -- is going to be headed by former Governor and LAUSD superintendent Roy Romer. The project is going to be run through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, headed by Melissa Berman formerly of the Conference Board (see profile PDF here).

No news as of yet on just how the effort plans to bring education to the front burner or who they've got to do their policy or political work, though I know they've been talking to some good people.

A Reality Check For Education Rhetoric

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One of my favorite sites, FactCheck.org, is up for a Webby and has a new look, which reminds me that what education really needs is an education version of FactCheck.org -- a nonpartisan, trustworthy filter to help sift through the rhetoric, the reports, and all the rest.

What about the Think Tank Research Project? My sense is the project, while well intended, is problematically located at an ed school and seems to take aim exclusively at right-leaning reports rather than an even mix. We need something that's situated independently, staffed with knowledgeable individuals, and takes on bad research wherever it might show up -- at think tanks left and right, at universities, or from research firms.

Related Posts: Think Tank "Truthiness", ‘Truthiness in Education’ (Letters)

Virginia Tech Update: Sorrow, And Questions

Victims remembered with 'hearts full of sorrow' CNN.com
Families and friends of the 32 victims of Monday's shootings on the Virginia Tech campus joined thousands of students clad in maroon and orange in chanting "Let's go Hokies!" to end an emotional convocation on campus.

Threats Rattle Schools Across the U.S. Washington Post
Bomb threats and menacing notes sent to several colleges and universities across the country a day after the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech led officials to temporarily evacuate buildings, shutter campuses and see weapons where there were none.

Texting When There's Trouble Wall Street Journal (free)
More communities and schools are using automated electronic-alert systems that can send voice, email or text messages in case of emergency.

Two-Hour Delay Is Linked to Bad Lead NYT
Virginia Tech officials were pursuing what appears to have been a fruitless lead after the first shooting when the second began.

University Campuses Face Security Challenges PBS
Monday's deadly shootings at Virginia Tech University have sparked concern over security at many colleges and universities around the country.

Power Couples In Education -- Are There Any?

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Power couples crop up not just in the world of pop culture but also in politics, as this Washington Monthly story reminds us: journalists married to campaign staff, judges married to lobbyists, etc.

But are there any power couples in education? Not that I know of. I met Heather Podesta at an education event in DC earlier this year, married to Tony Podesta, brother of John. They're on the WMonthly list. Any others?

UPDATE: Readers share their nominations below. Got any to add?

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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.