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The Long Last Week Before School Starts

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This can be the hardest week of the year for parents and kids and educators who aren't enjoying a last week of vacation. For them, summer school and camp are over but school hasn't started yet, creating childcare woes for parents and "nothing to do" for kids. (Or, for those who live where the school year has already begun already (it seems to be creeping up every year) then there's the strange sensation of having started something while it's still summer and everyone else is on vacation.) Meanwhile, lots of teachers are stuck in professional development when they just want to get their rooms and lessons prepared. The blog will be back up and running at full tilt again next Tuesday. You can make it.

Sorry We're Closed

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I'll be away again for a couple of days this week at least, but in the meantime here are some great resources to help you keep up or avoid doing any real work: Early-morning education headlines from EdNews.org here. EdWeek's daily news roundup is here. The latest NCLB news via Google is here. Commentary and analysis on NCLB via the blogs is here. Child and family stories daily from the Casey Journalism Center you can sign up here. State-focused daily news here from Stateline.org. Keep track of EdSec Spellings' every move here.

Best Of The Week (August 13-19)

NCLB News
Conservative Scholar Opposes Multiple Measures

Bush Administration
NCLB "Coming Through," Says Departing Rove

Karl Rove Still Spinning The News On His Way Out The Door

Urban Education
Next Stop For Unionized Charter Schools Might Be Chicago

Media Watch
Reading Recovery Coverage: A Scandal Going On All Around Me

School Life
Exploding Playground Wood Chips ... And More

There's A Scandal Going On All Around Me

There's a scandal going on all around me. Or at least that's what Kevin DeRosa at D-Ed Reckoning says (Edweek Spins Reading Research). His post argues that EdWeek's story on the WWC report is way too pro-Reading Recovery, and that the requirements for WWC are substantially different from Reading First. And you think I'm too intense and argumentative sometimes. Check it out. Let me know what you think.

Next Stop For Unionized Charter Schools Might Be Chicago

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Though Chicago has far fewer charters than many districts and they are all authorized by the district as opposed to the state or a local university or nonprofit, opposition to charters is pretty strong and Mayor Daley's "Renaissance 2010" initiative raises the hackles of many folks who want to retain not only union schools but also local control. So it was an interesting event earlier this week featuring an unlikely trio: the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, the head of the Illinois Education Federation, and Steve Barr, who were all guests of National-Louis University, the Small Schools Workshop, and Catalyst Magazine. You can find audio of the event here. There's a local NPR segment on the meeting (and the current contract negotiations here. You can read some of the attendees' reactions here. Mike Klonsky recaps the event here. Unionized charters would likely meet the opposition of some reformers, and the contract that Green Dot offers would be a problem for some unions, but who knows.

School Life

School officials defend tapping e-mails Boston Globe
No crime was committed when e-mails between Ottoson Middle School principal Stavroula Bouris and technology teacher Chuck Coughlin were intercepted by a school district technician, Arlington officials say.

Do School Cafeterias Make the Grade? USNews
Third graders gobbling down footlong hot dogs and extra-large burgers?

Who decides which children will be tried as adults? Slate
Last week, two 15-year-olds were arrested in connection with the execution-style murders of three college students in a Newark, N.J., schoolyard. Local authorities want to prosecute them as adults. Who decides which minors will be tried as adults?

Porn date leads to teacher's resignation MSNBC
Biagini, who uses a wheelchair, was interviewed on the radio show after returning home, and told the Valley Independent in Monessen that he was ridiculed for his disability and offended by how he was portrayed on the show.

Still Spinning The News On His Way Out The Door

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Karl Rove is still pushing NCLB during his farewell tour, even though the stats he cites have been widely challenged and the political support for NCLB has shifted. “Rove said he believes history eventually will vindicate Bush. As one example of the reason, he cited improvements in reading and math scores since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act — a piece of legislation that even leading Republicans now view as flawed."

Meanwhile, Yahoo News dredges up this overview of where other Texans from the early Bush years have gone (Departures diminish Texas flavor at White House). Who's next?

Big Stories Of The Day

Teachers Grapple with Attaining Education Law's Goals PBS NewsHour
John Merrow's series looks at how some of the country's best teachers are dealing with the No Child Left Behind law.

Reading Curricula Don'™t Make Cut for Federal Review EdWeek
None of the most popular commercial reading programs on the market had sufficiently rigorous studies to be included in the review by the clearinghouse. [Reading Recovery did.]

ACT participation hits record USA Today
Most striking, perhaps, is the sharp increase in the number of minority students who take the ACT: 17.6 percent more black students and 23.4 percent more Hispanics than in 2003.

Conservative Scholar Opposes Multiple Measures

Not that letters from academics usually make much difference, especially when they're on the other side ideologically from the folks making the decisions, but here's a letter from Hoover Institute researcher Erik Hanushek from last week that was sent along to me, in which he tells Chairman Miller what a bad idea multiple measures, writ large, are for school improvement. PDF here. Keep sending those letters and secret memos in.

Exploding Playground Wood Chips ... And More

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Catching up on the education blogs:

Mike Antonucci thinks that that the NEA may be censoring its own blog (The Mystery of the Missing Link).

Scott Elliott addresses the age-old achievement gap question: Is it racist to track minority group scores?.

The BoardBuzz likes the ACT news: Good news for American high schools.

Eduwonk reminds us that there's a good NYT column to read today: Dillon On Barber.

The AFT Blog derides the notion that the Newark kids might have been saved by vouchers: And vouchers will cure the common cold, too.

Joe Williams has pennant fever: Baseball and Education Reform.

Ed Sector's Elena Silva goes long: School Time Update.

Sherman Dorn slices and dices reauthorization: Multiple issues in multiple measures.

The Hall Monitor tells us about exploding wood chips: Something new to worry about.

NCLB "Coming Through," Says Departing Rove

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One of departing Bush advisor Karl Rove's most recent interviews includes the claim that NCLB is "coming through" (Roundtable with Karl Rove Seattle Times). No big surprise there that he'd say that, but it does make you wonder if Rove's departure will have any impact on NCLB reauthorization. Rove had a soft spot for EdSec Spellings, if the rumors are true, and was certainly part of the first administration folks who are likely to be most loyal to the law. Maybe others have already addressed this.

Big Stories Of The Day

Forced to Pick a Major in High School NYT
A high school in New Jersey is requiring students to declare a major as freshmen.

School Districts Find Loopholes in No Child Left Behind Law PBS
School districts are getting around certain requirements of the No Child Left Behind law by setting the bar measuring student progress low in the beginning. PLUS: Failing San Diego Schools Work to Meet Standards PBS

Grants Given for Nonexistent Students Washington Post
The D.C. school system received almost $4 million in federal funds for educating migrant children when it did not have any, city and federal officials said yesterday.

Colleges rant, rail against magazine rankings MSNBC
Colleges are having a hard time quitting the magazine’s annual beauty contest.

Gone Fishing

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I'm taking a couple of days off, so there's no morning roundup or obscure links to current events for you here right now. I'm sure you'll do fine without me. I tried to get Brad Pitt and Paris Hilton to cover for me, but they were busy. See you Wednesday Thursday!

More Departures: McLane Out At USDE Press Office

Today is Katherine McLane's last day as Press Secretary for the EdSec, she says. Heading back to Austin to work for the Lance Armstrong Foundation is the given reason. Time to go may be the implicit one. Interim press secty will be Samara Yudof. Mclane was in the job just over a year, according to this press release. Want to know more? Check out her astrology reading from Capitol Weekly. Congrats, condolences to McLane and Yudof.

Wall Street Journal Questions Hype & Foundation's Role In Pushing Universal Preschool

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First off, don't think you have to pay good money to read yesterday's big Wall Street Journal article on universal preschool. It's all here for free (As States Tackle Poverty, Preschool Gets High Marks).

Once there, you'll see that the piece deals more forthrightly than most with questions about the hype surrounding UPK, and brings up the often-ignored issue of Head Start.
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(If UPK is such a great and transformative idea -- so much so that Hillary Clinton wants to nationalize it -- how come Head Start hasn't done the trick and is being bypassed?)

The article also highlights the role of the Pew Charitable Trust, which is paying for programs, research, and advocacy efforts that include NIEER, the Hechinger Institute's work on early education, etc. (Think Gates and small schools seven years ago and you get the idea of what Pew is trying to do here -- and can probably imagine some of the questions that should come up.)
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Take note also of how the piece ends with a warning: "There's a great danger here that people are going to rush out and with blind enthusiasm endorse very superficial programs," says one economist who has studied the impact of preschool programs.

A Better Education For Poor Kids, Or An Ideal One?

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I still haven't read Linda Perlstein's new book, Tested, but USA Today's Greg Toppo has, and he asks Perlstein a few questions here ('Tested' examines difficult choices). In the interview, Perlstein decries the current school environment, in which there is "one world where students pass the test as a matter of course and get to write poems, and another where children write paragraphs about poems." But she doesn't really explain why a rudimentary education is such a bad thing, compared to not being able to read and write. This is the fundamental question for those judging NCLB: do we compare it to the ideal education, or the education that really existed in schools before NCLB came along? And Perlstein doesn't think there are many counter-examples of schools with a rich, creative curriculum, though my understanding is that there are (see the USA Today editorial on this from last week). So I'm not sure I'm going to like or agree with Tested, but that doesn't mean you won't.

UPDATE: This guy doesn't like the sound of the book at all.

Big Stories Of The Day

As States Tackle Poverty, Preschool Gets High Marks WSJ
It took a well-orchestrated campaign to put pre-K on the top of political agendas -- and new tactics that didn't rely on do-gooder rhetoric.

Dodd Outlines K-12 Education Plan EdWeek
Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd planned to unveil his ideas Thursday morning at the National Education Association of New Hampshire meeting in Bartlett, N.H.

Same-Gender Cleveland Schools Slow to Get Applicants Cleveland.com
The highly touted single-gender academies opening later this month in Cleveland haven't made much of a splash yet with parents.

District's Ex-Charter Schools Chief Admits Fraud Washington Post
Brenda Belton had some gall, by her own admission.

Friday Video Snippet ("Test The Kids!") & A New Blog

The irrepressible David Denis Doyle is now blogging (The Doyle Report) and it's already clear that one of his strengths is finding and posting video snippets like this music video whose refrain is "Test The Kids!":

Catchy. Welcome to the blogosphere, Denis.

Three Lessons From Newark

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The shooting of three Newark teenagers against the wall at a local elementary school playground earlier this week doesn't have much to do with education but may have a lot to do with education reform. First, it has put reform-minded Newark mayor Cory Booker on the defensive, potentially disrupting his efforts to revamp the state's largest urban school system. Second, as The Gadfly reminds us, it highlights the utter uselessness of NCLB's unsafe schools option. That's also a timely reminder of what happens when states and districts are allowed to come up with their own definitions (in this case, for "persistently dangerous"). Congressman Miller may say he wants a law that's fair and flexible, but we should all worry about what happens if he gets his wish.

Looking For More "Paying Kids" Examples, Good Or Bad

Joanne Jacobs points to another district, in Arizona, that's trying something similar to what they're planning in NYC (see "Paying Kids..." below). Are there any places that have tried this and it hasn't worked, I wonder? Or where it's worked but they've run out of money for it like with teacher bonuses?

Lessons From A Select School?

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US News interviews author Alec Klein about what lessons there might be from super-selective schools like New York City's Stuyvesant High School, which admits just 3 percent of the kids who take the entrance exam (Lessons From a Select High School). He says parents, many of them poor immigrants, are remarkably involved in the school, and that the school makes itself a home away from home for the students.

More Tests! Can States & Testing Industry Handle "Multiple Measures"?

Gerald Bracey points out in this Huffington Post post (Nothing Will Happen with NCLB) that adding more tests (ie, multiple measures) is no guaranteed solution because it could well overwhelm the testing infrastructure. It's an interesting argument, in part because I hadn't heard it before and mostly because it puts Bracey in the position of arguing against multiple measures.

Childhood Rebellion -- And Phonics? -- The Cat In The Hat Turns 50

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"In the 50 years since The Cat in the Hat exploded onto the children's book scene, Theodor Seuss Geisel—pen name "Dr. Seuss"—has become a central character in the American literary mythology, sharing the pantheon with the likes of Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald," according to this US News story (The Birth of a Famous Feline). "The particular endurance of Cat, many critics say, is owed partly to its origins in an emerging philosophy of phonetic learning. Most of the 236 individual words in the book were taken from a list of beginner words for new readers, and only a few are more than one syllable."

UPDATE: I'm not the only one who took note of this piece. D-Ed Reckoning says US News got it all wrong on the phonics thing.

Big Stories Of The Day

12th Graders Show Better Grasp of Market Forces Than Expected NYT
The nation’s high school seniors performed significantly better on the first nationwide economics test than they did on other recent national exams in history and science.

State Colleges Prepare To Measure Their Own Performance WSJ
Participating schools will use one of three tests to gauge the performance of students with similar entering SAT scores at tasks that any college grad ought to be able to handle.

NCSL Declares Opposition to National Standards Ed Week
The NCSL today took a hard-line against any form of national academic standards, declaring that any attempt to unite school curricula across states would be unacceptable until perceived flaws in the federal No Child Left Behind Act are fixed.

Dade Schools Chief Crew on Guard after Threats Miami Herald
Threatening phone calls and voice-mail messages are prompting Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Rudy Crew to take extra precautions with his safety as police investigate the intimidation, officials said Tuesday.

Principal Tried ‘Magic' To Cure School NY Sun
A principal who took an unusual approach to improve her TriBeCa high school — allegedly hiring a "black magic" practitioner to cleanse evil spirits through a ceremony involving sprinkled chicken blood — is being forced out a month before the school year starts.

Paying Kids & Parents To Do Better In School - What's The Difference?

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Though it's not my favorite thing in the world, I'm not nearly as opposed as some are to the idea of paying poor kids and their parents for doing things like going to school and doing well there. And it's not just because a young Harvard professor named Roland Fryer (pictured) says it's a good idea, or because it's worked in Mexico.

Lots of parents already pay their kids for chores and good grades. And lots of educators already reward kids with pizza parties and pencils and field trips for behaving well and doing good work. Fair or not, people get paid more or less depending on how well they do at school and at work (except in education, of course). So I don't see much difference in encouraging kids and their parents to do right in the short term, especially if it helps all of us in the long term.

But at least a few others don't like the idea much, as this Joseph Berger column from the NY Times relates (Some Wonder if Cash for Good Test Scores Is the Wrong Kind of Lesson). Or maybe they just don't like anything Chancellor Klein proposes these days. In the piece, Berger finds a mom who says she doesn't want the cash payments that New York is planning on doling out -- but then reveals that the woman's children won't be eligible since they're not considered poor. No problem. Now she doesn't like the program because it only goes to poor kids. Doh! It's not a very convincing column -- to me, at least, though whether NYC and Fyer (who now works for the district) can or will implement the program well is another question.

The Left Slaps Down The Center During Primary Season

Hard times for centrist Democrats when NCLB reauthorization is lurching left and all the candidates go to YearlyKos in Chicago and no one shows at the DLC confab. So much for claims that left-right politics were a thing of the past -- during primary season at least.

So last night everyone continued to work hard to seek union endorsement. Forbes quotes HRC with this gem: "We need growth models for students. We need broader curriculum. We need to make sure that when we look at our children, we don't just see a little walking test. We've got to have a total change in No Child Left Behind." There's an overview from the Washington Post here.

It's no real surprise, despite the fact that they have in the past toyed with some not-so-labor-friendly ideas. Kerry did the same thing, as this Boston Globe article points out. Time magazine has a nice explainer on why the unions are holding off on endorsing anyone. Clinton seems like the frontrunner when it comes to NCLB-bashing (and in the polls), but who knows what happens in the next few months.

Serve Breakfast In Class, In A McDonald's Wrapper -- But Not Too Much Of It

Serve Breakfast in Class, Advocates for Poor Urge NYT
Advocates said that the practice of serving breakfast in cafeterias failed to attract most of the children who need it.

Marketing Tricks Tots' Taste Buds EdWeek
Anything in a McDonald's wrapper tastes better, youngsters said in a recent study.

Foundation Gives $20 Million to Fight Obesity in Schools EdWeek
The program is designed to promote healthy eating and exercise in schools in 17 states.

Indigo Kids -- And More

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Tucked into the corner of a fancy-looking website funded by Knight and others is this story about so-called "indigo" children: Indigo Children. "Some parents believe their children are the vanguard of a new generation of gifted kids sent to save the world — but many doctors say these kids may need medical help." But that's barely the start of it, according to this review (Students produce the future of newsgathering). "These student presentations are better than anything I've seen from "real" news agencies and could serve as a model for the future of interactive/online journalism."

Big Stories Of The Day

Quotes From the Democratic Debate Forbes
On NCLB: "It was an unfunded mandate. And part of it is that the Department of Education under President Bush did not absolutely enforce it..."

Schools losing Texas teacher bonuses Dallas Morning News
More than half of the 1,150 Texas schools rewarded in the first year of the landmark teacher pay-for-performance plan have fallen out of the program this year. Via EdNews.org.

Shuttle Endeavor to Carry Teacher into Space PBS
Teacher Barbara Morgan joins the Endeavor crew for a planned Wednesday launch. She was selected as the backup candidate to Christa McAuliffe in the ill-fated 1986 Challenger mission. Idaho Public Television reports on her story.

Sparse Foreign Language Instruction Cincinnati.com
Despite the increasing demand, foreign language instruction before seventh or eighth grade remains sparse, available in less than one-third of U.S. elementary schools, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics. Via DA Daily.

High school reading lists get a modern makeover Christian Science Monitor
Find out what recent bestsellers are taking their place next to classics at schools across the U.S.

Gym Homework, Spellings' Reading List, & Club Penguin

Mom, I’m at the Gym Doing Homework (Really!) NYT
The latest hangouts for teenagers are health clubs that cater to them.

Margaret Spellings' Summer Reading List NPR
Spellings says that she just finished this novel, which she found "reflective and thought provoking." Gibert's spiritual memoir follows her recovery from a messy divorce as she battles depression and loneliness.

Disney Acquires Web Site for Children
Racing to solidify its dominant position in children’s entertainment on the Internet, the Walt Disney Company said Wednesday that it had acquired a subscription Web site aimed at preteenagers, Club Penguin, in a deal that could total $700 million.

Civil Rights Groups Divided On How To Rate School Performance

A letter signed by dozens of civil rights groups -- but not by the Education Trust, Citizen's Commission On Civil Rights -- shows just how divided the broader civil rights community is on whether to include other tests and evidence of performance in the AYP school rating system of NCLB.

"Today's letter -- signed by many more organizations, several with large grassroots membership bases -- demonstrates, among other things, that those two groups [Ed Trust and CCCR] do not represent the views of the broader civil rights community on NCLB," says Bob Schaeffer of the FEA.

There's nothing particularly new about this divide. See below for the press release from the pro-multiple measures umbrella group known as the Forum on Education Accountability. See herefor the Ed Trust's statement, which calls these changes a giant step backwards.

Continue reading "Civil Rights Groups Divided On How To Rate School Performance" »

Chairman Miller Needs An iPhone

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This post from Washington Whispers about just how tech-crazy Congressman G. Miller is sounds like a thinly-veiled invitation to some lobbyist out there to get him an iPhone (YouTube Not Just for White House Hopefuls). He's got just about everything else -- a Second Life avatar, a video podcast, a Blackberry, etc. Maybe if some of the civil rights groups get him one they can get back in his good graces. Or maybe they should buy them for the committee freshmen instead.

More Editorial Pages Oppose "Retreat" On NCLB

What happens next with NCLB won't be determined by what position editorial pages take on the issue of multiple measures, but it's interesting to note that several, including at least two more today, have decided that it's worth taking a moment to talk about what direction the law is going to go and warning against a retreat on NCLB:

A Vote for 'No Child' Washington Post
To let states wriggle out of accountability on the basics would betray the mission of No Child Left Behind.

No Retreat From No Child Dallas Morning News
The last thing that students need is for Washington to turn school accountability into the educational equivalent of mashed potatoes.

If there are editorial pages out there coming out in favor of multiple measures, I'd be happy to show them, but so far at least I haven't come across any.

Spellings For President

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...University of Houston president, that is. From an eagle-eyed reader I learn that the Houston Chronicle is trying to draft her into the search for a new head of the school (Margaret Spellings our nominee for UH chancellor-president). "The Chronicle's editorial board, which includes four UH alumni, thinks the best qualified potential candidate is a University of Houston graduate, as well as the highest ranking federal education official..." She is "well-respected by both Republicans and Democrats, public school officials and teacher union leaders. She understands the full spectrum of public education, from preschool to graduate study, and recently proposed the administration's Plan for Higher Education, which aims to improve accessibility and affordability of college education."

Big Stories Of The Day

Bridge Hero Gets Offer: Paid Tuition NYT
A full scholarship has been offered to Jeremy Hernandez, a struggling former student who kicked open the back door of a tipping school bus with 50 children.

NCSL Panel Fails to Reach Consensus on National Standards EdWeek
The committee had been poised today to endorse a policy taking a firm stand against any national standards.

Numbers Not Adding up for Prospective Teachers in New Jersey AP
The state Board of Education is considering raising the minimum passing score on tests for new teachers, despite knowing it might cause even more to fail, The Press of Atlantic City reported in Thursday's newspapers.

Your Own Personal Blackboard Jungle Village Voice
Fresh from the frontlines, New York Teaching Fellows tell all. Via EdNews.org.

No Contractor Left Behind? Or No NEA Credibility Left Behind?

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Here's the flyer that's got the edblogs buzzing -- apparently handed out at the liberal blogging convention known as YearlyKos, at which the Democratic presidential candidates appeared (more on this later). Sherman Dorn calls the flyer sloppy and sensationalistic. The Quick and the Ed says that moves like this make it hard to take the NEA seriously.

Curriculum Narrowing Not A Reality In Many Schools -- And Not A Requirement For Any

"If your child attends a successful school in a well-to-do neighborhood, chances are the curriculum hasn't narrowed," points out this excellent USA Today editorial that the USDE ever so kindly sent out an email about (An illusion gains credibility)."And if your child attends a school in a high-poverty neighborhood, chances are the school needs to zero in on basics." Most importantly, the editorial acknowledges that some schools have gone too far, but there are well-respected programs being used around the country that don't require the exclusion of other subjects. Like the editorial says, "it doesn't have to be that way."

What To Do With Summer Doldrums? Re-Enact Michael Jackson Videos

Bored out of your mind at an interminable summer workshop? Not sure what to do with your kids between summer camp and the start of school? Students complaining that school is "just like jail?" Do what these Phillipino (filipino?) prisoners did -- stage a full-scale re-enactment of Michael Jackson's famous video, Thriller, in the prison yard, featuring a cast of 100s.

If they can do it, so can you. Remember to tape it, though, and send it in.

Big Stories Of The Day (Monday August 6)

Anti-Bureaucrat Charter Schools Get Centralized NY Sun
A funny thing is happening with some anti-bureaucrats: They are bureaucratizing, building central offices that function like miniature school districts overseeing between four and 40 schools.

Judge: No New Assignment Plan Needed For Ky. Schools EdWeek
A federal judge told the Louisville school district it can use whatever method it likes to assign students to schools—as long as race isn't considered.

Ironing out policies on school uniforms USA Today
As the new school year approaches, more schools are requiring students to wear uniforms or otherwise restricting what they may wear — and parents are objecting. Lawsuits! Via EdNews.org.

Wisconsin: Sentence in Shooting of Principal AP
A 16-year-old was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the shooting death of his high school principal.

Best Of The Week (July 30-August 3)

NCLB News
More Folks Like NCLB Than Like Their Local Schools, Says New Poll
Putting Freshmen In The Spotlight, Putting NCLB Under
Is Miller Breaking Up With Pro-NCLB Groups?
What Testing Guru Bill Sanders Really Meant About Multiple Measures

Teachers And Teaching
Report Praises Chicago Transfer Policy, Slams Evaluation
"Tough Liberal" --Friday Reading For Steve Barr & Others
Unions & Teachers & School Improvement

Urban Education
The War Within The Charter Movement: Quality Vs. Choice
Schoolchildren Narrowly Escape Bridge Collapse
Parents, Pedophiles, & Places For Their Kids

Media Watch
Job Opening In Dallas
Inane "I Like Turtles" Video Goes National
Scribbled Notes On A Cocktail Napkin: DFER Happy Hour

What Testing Guru Bill Sanders Really Meant About Multiple Measures

Once in a while, I actually do some reporting, and today I happened to talk Prof. William Sanders, the testing guru whose recent letter to Congressman Miller was leaked to the press and seemed (according to an Ed Daily story) to put Sanders squarely against Miller's proposed use of multiple measures in AYP.

Well, it turns out that Sanders is against the use of portfolios and classroom observations that are often called multiple measures, but not against end of course tests, college entrance tests, and the like that he thinks Miller is talking about. "Those things have a place," says Sanders, who points out that they are already part of the growth model projections that he has developed and are being used in some pilot states.

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To those who are concerned about the complexity and transparency of both the current AYP and proposed changes, Sanders says such intricacies are the price of a nuanced and reliable rating system. "A simple system could be developed," he says, noting that some states are going that direction, "but it would be less reliable and more biased [than a more complex one]."

His main accountability concern, however, is not so much that the current AYP relies on "a single test" (a description he says irks him and ignores the fact that there are three years of tests and hundreds if not thousands of test item responses that go into each year's AYP calculations), but rather that it encourages too much focus on lower-performing kids rather than "early high-achieving kids" who get ignored. He proposes a rating system that evaluates schools not only on reducing the achievement gap but also on helping already-proficient kids do even better -- apparently a part of the Tennessee pilot and perhaps what Nevada is trying to do here.

Job Opening In Dallas

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"The Dallas Morning News seeks a seasoned reporter to join its prize-winning education team. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated an ability to execute sophisticated enterprise, and he or she will have an eye for fresh, classroom-level topics that resonate with students and parents. Also a must: Investigative skills and the ability to look critically at education policies, practices and politics. This reporter must be a strong writer and be willing and able to juggle a variety of breaking news and longer-term stories. Computer-assisted reporting skills are crucial. Please contact Education Department Head Kamrhan Farwell at kfarwell@dallasnews.com or Education Enterprise Editor Kit Lively at klively@dallasnews.com."

"Tough Liberal" --Friday Reading For Steve Barr & Others

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After seven years of hard work, Richard Kahlenberg's long-awaited biography of AFT founder Al Shanker is finally coming out, and -- according to small schools guru Mike Klonsky -- it's got things for both Shanker admirers and detractors to like. As Klonsky writes, Shanker foreshadows things like the Green Dot charters that are now on everyone's minds -- and reminds us how progressive ideas (small schools, charters) can get hijacked by even the most well-intended. Officially out in September, you can order it here.

The War Within The Charter Movement: Quality Vs. Choice

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Charter opponents tend to think of charter school folks as one big happy family, while in reality they are anything but that. One of the key dividing lines among charter advocates has to do with quality and accountability -- one side emphasizing it, the other more focused on choice and competition. Following up on yesterday's announcement of the strong test scores in New Orleans, NACSA's Greg Richmond -- strongly on the side of quality and accountability -- sent out an email touting the city's accomplishments.

Continue reading "The War Within The Charter Movement: Quality Vs. Choice" »

Leaving Special Ed Kids Behind: What Happens When You Start Mixing Measures

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This post from edspresso about a school that fails to make AYP -- but gets rated highly by Newsweek -- gives us a good preview of just how confusing things can get when there's more than one way of measuring school success (edspresso.com: Exposing an Ugly Paradox). The school misses AYP due to special ed kids, but Newsweek is only looking at AP and IP scores. The district of course likes Newsweek's rating better. Who wouldn't? Of course, nothing quite this simplistic is likely to get into NCLB, but it's a good reminder that we already have competing -- and confusing --ratings systems, and most (all?) of them are less rigorous than NCLB's.

Schoolchildren Narrowly Escape Bridge Collapse

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Schoolchildren Struggled to Escape NYT
They all said the same thing: It was as if they were suddenly in a movie...One of the scariest sights of all was a yellow school bus sitting atop the rubble. Inside were 50 small children — some as young as 4 years old — who had been on their way to a swimming pool, but now were screaming and crying.

Spellings Off To UNESCO

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"The President intends to nominate Margaret Spellings, of Texas, to be a Representative of the United States to the 34th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, for the duration of the conference." (Personnel Announcement)

Big Stories Of The Day

For Schools, What Does Progress Mean? Las Vegas Sun via DA Daily
None [of the 8 growth model states] is going as far as Nevada is proposing: to add points for schools where already-proficient students improve.

Tennessee Steps in at 17 Memphis Schools Commercial Appeal
The Tennessee Department of Education is playing a stronger role in the operation of 17 Memphis schools that have not met state performance standards for the past six years. PLUS: Stricter Standards Cause Drops in Hundreds of Texas' School Ratings Houston Chronicle.

In Alaska, school equality elusive Christian Science Monitor
The state must improve education in rural areas before requiring students to pass the state exit exam, a judge recently ruled. Via EdNews.org.

Mayor spent millions on school board races LA Times
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent $3.5 million on behalf of three candidates who recently won seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, breaking the record set eight years ago by then-Mayor Richard Riordan, another politician who installed a board majority, according to reports filed Tuesday.

Multiple Measures: Foxes Guarding The Henhouse?

Over at The Quick And The Ed, Kevin Carey points out that one of the main concerns about multiple measures isn't just that it would take the focus off of core subjects like reading and math but also that it would put accountability back in the hands of schools and teachers whose performance is being measured (and who, previous to NCLB, often declined to publish achievement gaps or rate schools rigorously). Carey also asks "What's the law going to look like if there's one version for each of the nation's 14,000 school districts, or 90,000 schools? A lot like having no accountability at all."

Meanwhile over at The Gadfly, Mike Petrilli has a new post that calls Miller's speech a lurch to the left that could could delay reauthorization.

What no one's figured out -- or said out loud at least -- is how far Miller is going to go with these alternatives, or what it will take (if anything) to get new Democrats on board with a NCLB that is any better than the old one.

How Student Achievement Is Like Global Warming 10 Years Ago

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Ten years ago there was lots of debate about whether global warming was real or not, and it often seems like that's where we are these days when it comes to research on overall student achievement in the US. This week, a new Bruce Fuller study came out that suggests a falloff in testing gains since NCLB was implemented (Education Week). But a few weeks ago another study from the Center on Education Policy said differently. So where's the consensus? There isn't one. And until there is -- which may never happen -- it's going to be mighty hard for anyone to push for, much less take, bold action towards improving schools.

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