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The Best Of The Week

Read These First
Needed: Better NCLB Politics -- Not More Policy
Why Teach For America?
Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses

NCLB News
Who Knew NCLB Was So Well-Liked?
Better Politics -- Not More Policy
Renaming NCLB
Critic Explains Internal Union Dynamics

Teachers & Teaching
Why Teach For America?
A Teacher's Thoughts In The New York Times

Campaign 2008
What Happens On Education When Hillary Wins The Nomination?
Edwards Turns To Education To Try And Get Traction
Plural Speech Gaffes For Bush

Think Tanks and Foundations
Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses
Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius"

Urban Education
Dallas Officials Enjoy Junket While Others Get Fired
Bringing Back Dunce Caps In New Orleans
Is It Time For "Differentiated" Discipline Policies?

Media Watch
"Godsend" Journalism In The NYT
New Face (To Me) Covering Education At The Post
LA Times Revamps, Relaunches Education Blog
Media Ignoring Universal Preschool For NCLB?

School Life
The Cupcake Wars
Spider-Man Vs. Moses
Stephen Colbert Is The Perfect Teach For America Candidate

Why Teach For America?

Remember the headline about Teach For America that came out in The Onion a couple of years ago (TFA Chews Up, Spits Out Another Ethnic-Studies Major)? Well, TFA’s come a long way since then, but it is no less frustratingly problematic.

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According to a new article (Why Teach For America) in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, the original TFA was small and marked by its idealism and its focus on getting bright people into classrooms and doing some immediate good for poor children. The “new” TFA is much much larger and features corporate-style recruiting efforts and a hyper-aggressive PR operation.Folks from the early years probably couldn’t get accepted to TFA if they applied today, and it’s not clear that many of them would want to.

More important, TFA now wants to be judged both as a short-term intervention and as a broad-based reform movement whose scope includes everything from KIPP to Michelle Rhee to scores of alums in elected office.This was either part of the plan all along or a slick “re-engineering” of TFA’s original mission to address widespread concerns that putting smart newbies in front of poor kids for two years wasn’t going to solve any real problems.

One big question is whether or not this two-pronged approach is fair or not to TFA teachers and the kids and colleagues they work with during their brief teaching stints.Another is whether TFA should have been focusing on expanding its members’ longevity and impact in the classroom rather than on increasing its numbers of districts and candidates.Last but not least – the verdict is out here – is whether TFA alums are more powerfully involved in school reform than they would have been anyway, and what good comes of it.

Get Ready For "The Month In Review"

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September has come and almost gone in a flurry. As last year, I'm doing a monthly audio roundtable with education reporters on the big stories of the month, etc. We just taped it earlier today, and I'll post it on Monday. In the meantime, start thinking what you think the biggest story of the month was -- Miller's NCLB proposal or the NAEP results or something else? -- or who you think this month's biggest winners and losers were -- Kozol, Shanker, New York City? And then tune in Monday to see what veteran reporters from the Washington Post, USA Today, and Chicago Tribune have to say. Been hidden under a rock all month? Click here for a month's worth of news and commentary.

New Sunday New York Times Magazine Articles On TFA & College

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Want to get a jump start on your weekend reading? Check out the new NYT Sunday Magazine -- out a little early online -- that includes an article on TFA (Why Teach For America) and a James Traub article on the Collegiate Learning Assessment pilot to measure the effects of college on student learning (here). Traub used to write about education all the time and he is much missed. Still, I wish there was some more hard-hitting stuff -- this looks from first glance like a glossy version of the Education Life section -- but that's just because I don't like higher ed stuff as much (and I haven't read any of the articles yet).

What Happens On Education When Hillary Wins The Nomination?

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Earlier this week columnist David Brooks suggested in a much-discussed (and free) New York Times column that the liberal (progressive) end of the Democratic party -- that means you and all your NCLB-hating friends -- could once again hurt Democratic chances for victory -- if Hillary Clinton wasn't already trouncing everyone else (The Center Holds). In that context -- what do I know? -- some of the current NCLB tactics by the teachers and others -- might be seen as pre-primary theatrics intended to bring the Democratic candidates as far left as possible before the inevitable and pragmatic slide towards the middle (and Democratic victory) begins. Not that everyone involved is pragmatic.

Angie Does Global Education

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Speaking of saving the world, Angelina Jolie is getting into the act. She announced a $148 million initiative to help educate children in conflict areas at the Clinton Global Initiative on Wednesday in New York City — the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. The partnership will include commitments to improve educational opportunities for 1+ million conflict-affected children including 350,000 out-of-school children in conflict-affected regions and improving the learning environment for another 690,0000 children in conflict affected regions. The commitments will assist 200,000 Iraqi refugee children and aid than 300,000 children affected by the Darfur genocide. Then she went on to criticize the war in Iraq.

UPDATE: Here's the big quote: ""The entire appeal equals about eight hours of current spending in Iraq. So just a few hours would send 150,000 children to school..."

Dallas Officials Enjoy Junket While Others Get Fired

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"At the same time 169 jobs are being cut at DISD central administration, nearly that same number of employees decided to jet off to Canada for the International Reading Conference. Now, after a News 8 investigation into their expenses, school administrators are revising their travel policy." (Dallas Morning News.)

Big Stories Of The Day

Teen Gets Perfect Scores on SAT, ACT USA Today
During the 2006-07 school year, more than 2.2 million ACT tests were administered. Only 177 came back with a 36. And of the nearly 2.6 million SAT exams taken, only 335 came back with a 2400.

Bill Clinton's bid to save the world LA Times
The former president's Clinton Global Initiative draws an array of leaders and activists, and plenty of money for their causes.

Prospective Principals Groomed Through TFA-District Partnerships EdWeek
TFA aims to have more than 800 alumni leading their own schools or districts by 2010, as part of a school leadership initiative launched last year.

Texting, Facebook used to alert students MSNBC.com
As the school year starts, colleges around the country are applying the lessons of Virginia Tech and using high technology to get the word out fast in a crisis.

Book Asks How Bad Schools Happen to Good Suburbs NY Sun
To write their book, "Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice," Ms. Murray and two other researchers at the San Franciscobased Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy studied California public schools.

Charter Schools For Rich Kids

Charter schools aren't just for poor kids, anymore. This week's Education Gadfly digs out an interesting story from the San Jose Mercury about parents in affluent Palo Alto, Cal. successfully threatening to start a Mandarin immersion charter school if the district didn't create one on its own. Some folks in the article think this isn't what charters are "for." Not surprisingly, the Gadfly thinks differently (All in). If you don't give parents -- especially affluent ones -- what they want, then they simply exit the system. Which, as with health insurance risk pools, just makes things worse for those kids and teachers left behind.

A Teacher's Thoughts In The New York Times

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I've been remiss in not posting something earlier about Chicago teacher Will Okun, whose writing and photography is being posted on the New York Times website as part of Nick Kristof's "On The Ground" series. How nice to see a real teacher's voice on the pages of the New York Times, plus all the comments that follow. In his most recent posting, Okun describes the inverse relationship between parents who come to parent-teacher conferences and parents who need to come to them, and what if anything should and can be done to address the problem. In his previous post, Okun decries the "miracle worker" notion of teaching, for teachers as well as reformers, and the process of teaching in a more sustainable way - even if it means "giving up" on some of the most disinterested kids.

How Papers Cover NAEP

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Recently retired Rocky Mountain News reporter Linda Seebach is blogging more and more these days, and has some interesting things to say about how newspapers cover the NAEP results that just came out.

Speaking of NAEP, Pauline Vu's Stateline story has some nice observations and graphics (pictured), including a special note about the increases in special populations taking the tests and the variations in state exemption rates (12 percent in NM). Check it out here.

Falling TV Carts & Principals In Despair

The Biz Of Knowledge has two "news of the weird" items this week -- or, rather, news of the tragic. One is about what happened at one Illinois school when the teacher asked a student to help move the TV cart into the classroom (19 million reasons to not let little Mariano help you move the television in the classroom), the other about a principal's drastic response to things going awry at work (Suicide ruled work-related). Yikes.

Bringing Back Dunce Caps In New Orleans

Even if you don't care much what's happening in New Orleans, this USA Today update details some of the more hard-to-watch tactics that some schools there (and elsewhere) are employing to create a culture of high expectations (New Orleans school system re-educated):

"After breakfast and roll call, reading teacher Anne Felter walks through the aisles and distributes 26 large, laminated "YET" signs to selected students — those deemed "not there yet." The students wear the signs around their necks for three days, can't talk to other students and must eat lunch alone."

I'm not as opposed to this as some are, but I can appreciate how tough it is to contemplate.

Plural Speech Gaffes For Bush

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As if the President's mis-statement ("Childrens learn") yesterday wasn't enough, a draft of President Bush's speech to the U.N. General Assembly was posted online with phonetic spellings and other markings that weren't supposed to be seen by anyone outside the administration (Thanks to Bush, bloggers are hooked on phonics USA Today).

Big Stories Of The Day

College Dwellers Outnumber the Imprisoned New York Times
In a reversal from 2000, more Americans over all now live in college dormitories than in prisons.

School crimes under wraps Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Some serious crimes reported in the Seattle's public schools last school year -- including cases of assaults and strong-arm robberies -- weren't reported to police, the P-I has found.

Few Students Switching Schools Under 'No Child' Law Washington Post
This fall, about 170 Northern Virginia children left elementary schools that fell short of academic goals for schools with better math and reading test scores. Most of their classmates stayed put.

For Shanker, education was a labor union of love USA Today
Albert Shanker organized his first labor strike in 1945 at age 17, when he rallied his fellow New York City bike messengers for a $1-a-week raise.

"Childrens Do Learn," Says President In Latest Education-Related "Bushism"

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The Washington Post would probably not have written about the Bush education event today in New York if Bush hadn't yet again mangled the English language. During the event, he reportedly said "Childrens do learn" -- a reworking of his famous 2002 Bushism "is our children learning?" ( No Child Left Behind Is Working). Via Eduwonk.

Chaos In The Classroom, Celebrity Edition

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The daily arrival and departure of Brad and/or Angelina at the Lycee Francaise on Manhattan's Upper East Side has photographers and parents going a little crazy it seems. The school is blaming the parents and asking them to refrain themselves. At the same time, they're apparently relenting after two weeks and letting Brangelina's kid come in the side door. Don't ask me how I know this stuff.

Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses

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Once again living up to its "post-partisan" claims, the New America Foundation has snagged itself another real, live Republican education guy to help Michael Dannenberg, Sara Mead, and all the rest in the education shop. (Justin King moved over to another part of the foundation.) The new guy's name is Jason Delisle, and he's a former Senate budget committee guy for Judd Gregg (R-NH) and before that an education LA for Tom Petri (R-WI). He's going to be research director. Far as I know, that makes New America the only "nonpartisan" think tank / advocacy outfit to have both D and R folks on education staff, though of course there are always rumors swirling around about Petrilli. Cool glasses, man. Welcome.

Stephen Colbert Is The Perfect Teach For America Candidate

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Check out this week's Carnival Of Education at Global Citizenship, a roundup of education blogs that includes tasty posts of all kinds. Some favorites: Education Notes Online doubts that teacher quality is really the single most important factor in education. Learn Me Good recounts a student who claimed to have temporary blindness, brought on by a science assignment. Joanne Jacobs tells us the disturbing story of a cheating ring, and the reactions of parents and educators, at Hanover High in New Hampshire. Shrewdness of Apes finds that some people use co-teaching as a cover for slacking off. Last but not least, Blog and Deliver thinks Stephen Colbert might be the perfect candidate for a Teach for America post.

In Depth With Rhee and Vallas On PBS Tomorrow

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I had the chance to peek at the first installments of the year-long series on DC's Michelle Rhee and NOLA's Paul Vallas the other day. What you get from seeing them in action as they start the school year is this visceral mix of expectations and hesitancy that surrounds their arrivals. What will be even more interesting to watch is how they look later this fall when we'll catch up with them again and see whether they're making progress. Produced by Learning Matters (ie, John Merrow), they are airing tomorrow and Friday nights on the PBS NewsHour, which is going to air follow-up reports on the pair throughout the year.

New Face (To Me) Covering Education At The Post

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Wondering who's been covering education stories for the Washington Post along with Valerie Strauss and Jay Mathews ever since Amit Paley left? For now, at least, Michael Alison Chandler (pictured) seems to be filling in. She's been at the paper since 2005, covering Loudoun County schools for the most part. But lately -- see recent stories about NAEP, performance pay, and NCLB -- she seems to be doing more national work. Click here to read up on Chandler's most recent stories. I'll try and find out if it's a permanent or temporary thing.

UPDATE: The permanent replacement for Paley was just announced today, I'm told, a Fairfax County reporter named Maria Glod. Check out her past work here. I'll try and dig up a picture.

Media Ignoring Universal Preschool For NCLB?

Over at the Education Writers blog, USA Today's Richard Whitmire reminds us that universal preschool might end up being just as "big" an education issue as NCLB (Will preschool outpull NCLB?). It's not that UPK is being ignored by the candidates -- HRC and Edwards both have preschool plans -- but, as Whitmire points out, the press still hasn't caught on. In part, I'd argue, because preschool issues include a whole set of other players and dynamics that most K-12 folks (reporters included) don't know much about.

Is It Time For "Differentiated" Discipline Policies?

Lost in the hubbub surrounding the release and interpretation of this year's NAEP scores (yawn) is a fascinating and powerful story in the Chicago Tribune about what happens when researchers analyze another kind of performance -- suspension rates -- by race and poverty groups.

The fact that black kids --especially boys -- are disproportionately affected is vivid but not surprising. (Even though the suspension rates are double and even triple what they should be.) The fact that black middle class kids are suspended at higher rates, too, is a little more eye-opening. (Black students are no more likely to misbehave than other students from the same SES background.) And the reactions of schools with these different outcomes is perhaps the most interesting of all. (Many defend the differences because they are applying a uniform discipline standard.)

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Are discipline codes being applied uniformly in schools? Does it make sense to use them if their real-world results are so skewed? What about some "differentiated" discipline to go along with all the adjustments and tailoring that is being done on the instructional side? We know that kids don't all benefit from uniform instruction. Check it out here.

NAEP Roundup

'Nation's Report Card' Shows Improvement Wash Post
The nation's fourth- and eighth-graders continue to improve steadily in mathematics, and fourth-grade reading achievement is on the rise, according to test scores released yesterday.

NAEP Reading and Math Scores Rise EdWeek
The gains continued an overall upward trend in math scores that dates to the early 1990s, while reading scores have been more stagnant.

US students score sweeping gains on tests CSM
Elementary and middle-school students are making significant improvements in math skills, while their gains in reading are more modest, according to national test results.

Schoolkids Post Modest Gains Wall Street Journal
US schoolchildren won higher marks on a national report card, intensifying the battle over the renewal of NCLB.

Grade-schoolers raise math, reading scores USA Today
When it comes to math and reading skills, new test results show the USA's youngsters are improving steadily but slowly.

Math Scores Rise, but Reading Is Mixed NYT
The results also showed that the nation had made only incremental progress in narrowing historic gaps in achievement between white and minority students.

U.S. Test Results Show Growth in Math, Not Reading NPR
The Education Department's highly anticipated national test scores for 4th- and 8th-graders show modest improvements in math, but flat scores in reading.

LA Times Revamps, Relaunches Education Blog

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The LA TImes has revamped and relaunched its education site, now called HOMEROOM, and brought in a handful of new teachers, students, and others to blog about their school- and classroom-level experiences. I'm all for group blogs, and ones that include real, live educators. And it's good that the LAT has an education blog (unlike the NYT, the Washington Post, USA Today, etc.). So there.

Remember When?

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Hard to believe it, but the pocket calculator is 40 years old today according to Texas Instruments. I don't remember quite back that far, but I do remember fondly the faux denim case that my middle school calculator came in.

Who Knew NCLB Was So Well-Liked?

The run of major newspaper editorial pages supporting the current NCLB over some of the proposed fixes has been a surprisingly long and consistent one, including most recently the Christian Science Monitor (Let NCLB do its work), and the Chicago Tribune (The next NCLB). Of course, dry editorials aren't going to make much difference to the process, which as I've pointed out is in a particularly political phase right now. But who knew that NCLB was so popular among editorial page writers?

Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius"

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It isn't every year that there's an educator who gets one of these MacArthur "genius" grants ($500k just for being excellent), and so it seems worth noting that this year's awards out today include one for Deborah Bial, who founded the Posse Foundation. Congrats, condolences.

Big Releases Of The Day: NAEP & Halo 3

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Forget Hillary Clinton's seemingly-insurmountable lead, the collapse of the mortgage industry, the visit of the Iranian president, or the arrival of the video game Halo 3. It's NAEP release day. Woo hoo! Let the spin begin. Copies of The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2007 and The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2007, plus extensive information from the 2007 NAEP mathematics and reading assessments, will be available online at http://nationsreportcard.gov at 10 a.m. EDT. Click here for all the latest Google News stories.

NAEP Scores Vs. Little Rock

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It's a tough call, I guess -- stay in town and spin the news about the latest NAEP scores that are out today, or go to Little Rock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of school integration? Well, Spellings is staying in town, and Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon is going to Arkansas. Not that the EdSec doesn't like herself some travel, of course. Later this fall she's scheduled to go to Shanghai for a Special Olympics shindig.

Big Stories Of The Day

MacArthur Foundation awards 24 grants Associated Press
A woman who helps students go to college with their "posse," a psychiatrist who treats combat veterans and a museum director on Alaska's Kodiak Island are among the 24 winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants."

Schools still rise close to freeways LA Times
L.A. Unified continues to build near roads that spew pollution despite a state law and evidence of health hazards.

Buy a Laptop for a Child, Get Another Laptop Free NYT
One Laptop Per Child, an ambitious project to bring computing to the developing world’s children, is reaching out to the public through an interesting marketing campaign. PLUS: Still Waiting for That $100 Laptop?

In growing cities, a loss of students Christian Science Monitor
Public school officials in several districts in Arizona, California, and Texas – particularly those with a high share of Hispanic students – are seeing a drop in enrollment this school year over last, and many are at a loss to explain it.

What NCLB Reauthorize Requires Is Better Politics, Not More Policy

Everyone says they know how to fix NCLB -- what should be done -- but no one seems to know how to get the politics right to get there. Former New York City education guy Robert Gordon's piece in Slate does much the same, unfortunately. Titled with supreme confidence (How to fix the No Child Left Behind Act), the Gordon piece rehashes the obstacles we all know about and then proposes -- yes -- national standards as a solution. Politically speaking, NCLB proponents need to do something along these lines: buy off the teachers by softening the mandatory merit pay language, win back the testing hawks by dumping local assessments, and make the multiple measures language tight enough that Spellings and the business groups can live with it. Give it a new name, let everyone say that it's not NCLB anymore, and declare victory. Pretty? No. Perfect? No. But that's not what this is really all about. Via Eduwonk.

The Cupcake Wars

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Forget the Jena Six. The anti-0besity push against cupcakes in schools is facing new resistance, according to this NYT story (here), based in part upon the treat's renewed popularity among hipsters and yuppies as well as on the sometimes heavy-handed ways in which pro-health advocates have shaped their message. Plus which, cupcakes are tasty.

"While the merits of banning goodie bags filled with Reese’s and Skittles seem obvious — especially at a time when the risk of childhood diabetes is high for American children — many parents draw the line at cupcakes."

"Godsend" Journalism In The NYT

Though I'm more familiar with the Chicago story than Philly, I tend to agree with Dana Goldstein's assessment of the NYT story on Paul Vallas (Can Urban Schools Be "Tamed"?) that Vallas' record is mixed in previous districts and that the notion that superstar superintendents can transform districts is a misleading one. They can bring energy and get things organized, to be sure. (Vallas did the textbooks in the warehouse thing in 1995, and DC's Michelle Rhee did the same bit last week.) But they can't always make things change in the classroom, and often get pulled in so many directions and start so many programs that it all gets watered down over time.

Renaming NCLB

If anything is certain, it's that NCLB will get a new name when it's reauthorized points out this Washington Post article. It's been that way in the past, and will all but certainly happen again due to the law and President Bush's current unpopularity (Education Law Could Leave Behind Its Name). Check out some of the names that are being proposed -- it's easier to make fun the current name than make up a catchy new one.

Critic Explains Internal Union Dynamics

Many may have missed the EIA Communique's analysis of the internal politics surrounding NCLB reauthorization, which came out late last week (EIA Communique). Others may have better explanations (EIA is a union critic), but this one describes some of the history behind the TEACH Act, suggesting that Miller should have known that it would be a problem, reminds us that Miller and the NEA went at it "hammer and tongs" in the runup to NCLB 1.0, and reminds us that the CTA and NEA aren't always on the same page. Most important, it reminds us of the internal dynamics going on within the union (any union) that require rallying the troops on broad issues but holding a smaller set of issues as key "gets."

Edwards Turns To Education To Try And Get Traction

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I still don't think he has much chance, but John Edwards looks like he hasn't given up on bashing NCLB and wooing teachers (and others) who might be swayed by that. According to The Caucus, he even pulled out the old "you don't fatten a pig by weighing it" line. Now if that isn't commitment. (Edwards Talks Education and Livestock). A following article points out that Edwards is trying to use NCLB to distract from all the Clinton attention for her health care plan, and that Edwards' education plan focuses on better, not necessarily fewer, tests.

If Editorial Boards Were In Charge...

Joe Williams notes that another couple of editorial boards (the Detroit News and Chicago Tribune) have joined the rest in denouncing teacher- and school board-led efforts to bring in multiple measures and local assessments (here). Meanwhile, the AFTies seem to be focusing on the pay for performance issue, not the rest of the bill, which seems relatively reasonable whether you agree with them or not. I still don't know if there's any space between them and the NEA on this, but I'm hoping there might be.

The Week Ahead In DC

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There's not much on the Secretary's public schedule, but tomorrow the NAEP reading and math scores come out -- so much fun -- and it's rumored that a Kennedy discussion draft might come out soon. Less likely for this week, but something to look for, is the next iteration of the Miller reauthorization proposal. I read that there were 3,000 comments submitted on the draft, most of them negative.

Spider-Man Vs. Moses

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WalMart is going to be selling toy religious figures this fall, according to an article from In These Times, a product line that may bring up interesting but difficult discussions for parents like "who would win in a fight -- Spider-Man or Moses?" Spider-Man, apparently.

Convoluted History Of Student Free Speech On School Grounds

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When Clothes Speak to More Than Fashion NYT
A controversy over two fifth graders sporting buttons featuring Hitler Youth members highlights the difficulty that schools face when confronting free speech cases.

Big Stories Of The Day

Education and Schools Are a Focus for Edwards NYT
John Edwards laid out a proposal to overhaul the education system on Friday, saying that poor children attend schools that are “separate and unequal.”

New York Just Says No to Abstinence Funding NYT
The decision puts New York in line with at least 10 other states that have decided to forgo the federal money in recent years.

School options urged for parents Washington Times
Top federal education officials have released a new handbook urging state and local administrators to explain more effectively to parents that they can transfer their children among schools or access free tutoring services if their child's school is consistently subpar.

Fresh Faces Tackle Woes in New Orleans Schools NYT
A new superintendent is vowing to transform the battered public school system in New Orleans.

Best Of The Week (September 17-23)

Big Story Of The Week
How Al Shanker Blew Up NCLB

Campaign 2008
Education Staffers, Democratic Presidential Campaigns
Will Not Fixing NCLB Help Dems Win The White House? No.
Spotted: Clinton Cruising For An Endorsement?

On The Hill
The "Testing Hawks" Vs. Union "Special Interests"

NCLB News
California Teachers Go After Pelosi On NCLB

Urban Ed
Green Dot Goes National, Maybe

Media Watch
New Schools Venture Fund Hires A "Journalist In Residence"

Teachers & Teaching
How Teachers Think

Foundation Follies
Where's The Children's Defense Fund On NCLB?

School Life
Unimaginative Administrators Ban Form Of Dancing They Banned Three Years Ago

EdWeek NCLB Update

As September's End Nears, Legislative Action Awaits
It's looking as if Rep. Miller will miss his goal, and Sen. Kennedy still has a chance to meet his.

Edwards Promises NCLB Overhaul
John Edwards' presidential campaign said today that the former senator would "totally overhaul" NCLB.

On Senate Panel, a Different Dynamic for NCLB Renewal
Senator Edward M. Kennedy is hoping to get a bill reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act through Congress before the end of this year. But if that’s going to happen, he has some big stumbling blocks to overcome.

Daft Hands

If you see the kids in the hall doing some crazy thing with their hands covered in marker, they might not be flashing gang signs. The "Daft Hands" video on YouTube has been watched over 3 million times, and done "live" on the Ellen Degeneres show.

Check it out - you can be the first in your teacher's lounge / office / cubicle to master the whole thing.

Andy Rotherham's Tony Soprano Moment

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So I got a phone call today from Andy. It wasn't social. He said things would "get ugly" if I wrote more about his brief stint at the White House (as I have in the past). And he wasn't just talking about writing a nasty blog post. He said he'd try and get me fired from EdWeek and blacklisted from other writing projects. Who knows -- he might succeed. The guy knows a lot of people. And not everything I've worked on has been 100 percent successful. (Most especially an ill-fated charter schools report I did for Andy at PPI.) Funny thing is, I was thinking about taking the day off writing about him before I got the call. He's not fun to spar with like he used to be. After that, however, I didn't really have a choice.

TAPPED In

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Welcome to all the readers from TAPPED, The American Prospect's blog, who read about that whole Hillary-at-the-NEA building thing (and wonders whether Edwards is still hoping). Look around, there's lots more tidbits and treasures to be found.

How Teachers Think

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I wish there was an education version of Jerome Groopman's new book, How Doctors Think, to help us understand how teachers make decisions about students' learning difficulties. The Groopman book examines the thought processes of various doctors, focusing especially on how -- and why -- even the best of them tend to get things wrong when diagnosing patients. As Groopman shows, the errors (up to 24 percent in some studies) have common causes: doctors aren't listening carefully, they're thinking of their previous patients, or they rely on experience rather than using statistical guidelines. Are teachers any better or worse at making tough decisions with little time and lots of uncertainty? More important, what are the error patterns in their decisionmaking?

Erase, Rewrite, & Reauthorize NCLB, Says CTA

Teachers to Pelosi: Say no to 'No Child Left Behind SF Examiner
Leaders of the CTA brought a giant postcard signed by nearly 1,000 teachers to San Francisco today to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to withdraw her support of a proposed reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

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Click on the picture to see the giant postcard that was used at yesterday's press event. Click the link to find out more on the CTA campaign to "erase, rewrite, and reauthorize" NCLB.

Big Stories Of The Day

Thousands Protest in Support of Jena Six PBS
Thousands marched in Jena, La. Thursday to protest charges against six black students accused of beating a white classmate. PLUS: Segregation Growing in American Schools NPR.

Reading, writing, and rebellion Boston Globe
Jonathan Kozol appeared shrunken in his chair at Harvard's Memorial Church, his blazer tossed aside, the sleeves of his pinstriped shirt rolled up to the elbows to expose bony arms. His thin ankles, swathed in black socks, disappeared into his signature navy blue Keds.

U.S. Set to Offer Math Grants Modeled on Reading First Ed Week
Like Reading First, the math program requires the federal Department of Education to make competitive grants available to states, which can then make awards to school districts.

Judge OKs 'Hitler Youth' Buttons Washington Post
Two students in northern New Jersey can wear buttons featuring a picture of Hitler youth to protest a school uniform policy, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

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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.