Think Tanks and Foundations
Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses
Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius"
Think Tanks and Foundations
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.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.
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..."
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)here.
'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.
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?
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
A controversy over two fifth graders sporting buttons featuring Hitler Youth members highlights the difficulty that schools face when confronting free speech cases.
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.
Big Story Of The Week
How Al Shanker Blew Up NCLB
Green Dot Goes National, Maybe
Teachers & Teaching
How Teachers Think
Where's The Children's Defense Fund On NCLB?
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.
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.
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.
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.