In a recent post, blogger Kevin Carey digs into what makes educrats mess up so badly on NCLB:
As a rule, I don't like to speculate, because, how
would I know? Motivation isn't the issue, what matters is the policy. I
only have detailed knowledge of one state department of education, and
they're all good people, so generally I attribute avoidance of NCLB
provisions to a deeply-ingrained compliance mentality combined with
what Eduwonk likes to call the "dual client problem," whereby state
officials are charged with looking out for the interests of both adults
and children in the school children--interests which are often, but not
Then he dissects the rationalizations going on among those who say they are protecting kids when they "game" AYP:
This is a widely held--if seldom so clearly
stated--conceit, the idea that education officials who game the system
or break the law are engaging in some kind of virtuous civil
disobedience on behalf of the children. Others in the edublogosphere
have correctly taken issue with sloppy use of the "children vs. adults"
meme, but sometimes that is, in fact, the way it is. "Protecting"
schools is not always synonymous with protecting children.
Thanks to Lucy Gray and Vicki Davis, among others, for all their help in getting me up to speed for this Edutopia.org article that just came out: Global Education On a Dime. What I learned in reporting and writing the story is that it's really easy to get caught up in the technology part and really easy to lose the learning. The folks in this story aren't doing that, but I'm guessing lots others are.
Folks worried about performance pay will likely throw their hands up in the air when they take a look at this New Yorker article from last week about the perverse incentives of performance pay on Wall Street and Fortune 500 companies.
If performance pay caused the mortgage crisis, just imagine what it will do to schools?
November 19, 2007 | Posted At: 10:09 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
'No Child' Data on Violence Skewed Washington Post A little-publicized provision of the No Child Left Behind Act requiring
states to identify "persistently dangerous schools" is hampered by
widespread underreporting of violent incidents and by major differences
among the states in defining unsafe campuses, several audits say.
Americans close the book on recreational reading USA Today Despite rising education levels, a decade of Harry Potter and
the near-ubiquity of big-chain bookstores, Americans of every age are
reading less and less for pleasure these days, according to an analysis
being released today by the National Endowment for the Arts.
A new report card Washington Times (opinion)
When Congress considers reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, it
should hold schools accountable for the number of low-income students
achieving at advanced levels, not just proficiency.
November 19, 2007 | Posted At: 09:24 AM | Author: Alexander Russo
Education finally got some airtime last week in Las Vegas. In response to a question about union power blocking the removal of bad teachers, Dodd talks education funding and calls NCLB a disaster at about the 3:30 mark (or go here). Then Kucinich and HRC and Biden have at it.
It's no easy task to know everyone who's anyone in the education world -- especially when there's so much job-changing going on.
Some recent moves include Jason Kamras joining Michelle Rhee at the DC public schools, Bob Frahm leaving the Hartford Courant, and Jenny Medina covering education for the New York Times. I'm sure there are others.
Click here to see who's who in three main categories (so far) -- policy folks, writers, people who run organizations that actually do something, and (coming soon) funders.
The categories are over to the left. Click on whichever interests you most, read what's there, and then feel free to add, correct, or attach pretty much anything you want. All you have to do is click "Edit this page." Have fun!
November 16, 2007 | Posted At: 02:59 PM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Site News
Reader comment of the week goes again to "John Thompson," who describes in brutally honest terms how his school made clear political and practical calculations to deal with NCLB, including in some ways that he is no longer entirely comfortable with:
"Our logic was explicit: creating
loopholes to delay the damage until the Republican governors came to
our rescue...Where we crossed a moral line was when districts adopted tricks that
directly damaged children."
This includes consolidating poor kids into one school, making parents re-enroll, and boosting attendance by having kids pick up trash. Read Kevin Carey's thoughts on the notion of "protecting kids" here. Read the full description of what John's schools did here.
November 16, 2007 | Posted At: 02:49 PM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Site News
What do former Senator Bill Bradley and actress Claire Danes have in common? They love them some DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose -- an online "dating" service that matches up classroom teachers who need supplies and prospective donors who want to do something concrete and direct -- is going nationwide, up from eight states and four cities (A Socialite's Life).
And the celebrity route is their chosen vehicle. They even got Zac Efron to show up in LA. (If you don't know who that is I can't help you. You're doomed.)
November 16, 2007 | Posted At: 11:47 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Urban Ed
Charter schools targeting wealthy (or at least middle class) kids aren't as new as you'd think, reading about the newly-proposed charter school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Four years ago in Los Angeles, two relatively affluent high schools -- Pacific Palisades and Granada Hills -- converted into charter schools and essentially left the district. A school outside Madison, Wisconsin did much the same, according to this USA Today article. Since then, the idea seems to have died down a bit -- independence, like condo ownership, has its burdens as well as its benefits. Some
districts have given high-performing schools official as well as unofficial leeway to do things their own way without having to leave the nest. Tactically, charter schools already have enough enemies and obstacles.
November 16, 2007 | Posted At: 10:41 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Media Watch
"[Blog owner] Tetley
received a letter Monday from the district’s law firm demanding she
remove what it termed libelous statements and other “legally offensive”
statements posted by her or anonymous users, and refrain from allowing
such postings in the future. If she refuses, the district plans to sue
her, the demand letter states," according to this The Galveston County Daily News article. "The
postings accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and
administrators of lying, manipulation, falsifying budget numbers, using
their positions for “personal gain,” violating the Open Meetings Act
and spying on employees, among other things."
November 16, 2007 | Posted At: 09:30 AM | Author: Alexander Russo
New York City's New Effort to Remove Bad Teachers NYT
The Bloomberg administration is beginning a drive to remove
unsatisfactory teachers, hiring new teams of lawyers and consultants
who will help principals build cases against tenured teachers who they
believe are not up to the job.
Year-Round Tutors Guide Kids DM Register
No longer just called upon for a summer brush-up, Waukee's 40 tutors
are personalizing education and building confidence in young learners.
November 16, 2007 | Posted At: 09:01 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Bush Administration
He still hasn't announced his big education plan, but now he's got a big education ad. Whaddya think?
The script: My parents weren't rich. My father left me when I was very young. The one thing I was able to get was a great education. We should give every child the same chances that I had. By investing in early childhood education and recruiting a whole new generation of teachers. But government alone is not going to solve the problem. We need parents to turn off the television and instill in our children a sense of excellence. We've got to ask more of ourselves if we want the kind of world class education that they need.
Thanks to a friend for letting me know about this.
So a guy named Steve Barr is quoted here from a 2001 article about the Screen Actor's Guild strike (a precursor to the screenwriters strike that's currently underway). Hmmm. I'm not sure if it's Green Dot Steve or just some other guy , but who knows? Green Dot Steve certainly has stage presence, is pro-labor, and sounds like this guy. Here he is describing disruptive but apparently legal strike tactics, for example: ""We can make noise, we can pound on pots
and pans, use drums, radios, bullhorns. That's all legal."
Again, I have no idea if it's the same Steve Barr. But I choose to believe that it is.
Over at Daily Kos, high school teacher Victor Harbison describes a candidate's visit to his school the other day (Mark Pera Came To My High School). Eduwonkette rebuts Jim Horn's anti-KIPP post (Comment on "Lies My KIPP Teacher Told Me"). High on too many episodes of "The Wire" at one sitting, AFT Michele thinks that there's nothing surprising or wrong about gaming NCLB (Play or get played ). The AFTies also say that Charlie and Joe make too much of teachers unions crowing over the demise of the Miller bill, but not Sherman (On Crowing). Speaking of Charlie, he says that Fairfax, VA is a "can-do"
district (weren't they the ones that almost refused to do NCLB last
year?). The feisty ASBJ bloggers tell voucher advocates to give up. The Wonks remind us that this week's carnival of education blogs is up (Carnivalicious!). Last but not least, from The Onion: Overfunded Public School Forced To Add Jazz Band The Onion
November 15, 2007 | Posted At: 11:41 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Media Watch
The only thing wrong with the last week's Slate article about the cash and cell phone incentives program that is being tried in New York City (Why not give cell phones to students?) is that says everyone hates the program. Most people do, sure. But not me. I've made fun of it for being poorly designed (selection bias) and politically naive (cell phones!), but am otherwise inclined to support it -- as those of you who actually read this blog already know (here, here, and here).
November 15, 2007 | Posted At: 10:42 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Site News
I'm not so worried about the map getting populated with more icons -- I just moved it to Catalyst so there's no archive yet. The most obvious problem is that you have to click three or four times to get to the latest comments, going to the map first and then coming back. Anyone know how to solve that?
Think money's been falling off the trees for test prep companies during the NCLB era? Not all of them. According to this Forbes article (Boost Your Score), the 26 year-old Princeton Review faltered mightily during what could have been a golden time. "It proved much tougher to make money putting
together multiple-choice assessments specifically tailored to a
locality's curriculum, as opposed to staging one-size-fits-all prep
courses," according to Forbes.
November 15, 2007 | Posted At: 10:29 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Urban Ed
Should NAEP scores, which were reported for 11 urban school districts today, give credit for growth (progress), not just just absolute achievement levels? That's what big-city advocate Mike Casserly seems to be suggesting in this EdWeek story (Scores on Urban NAEP Inch Up): "Mr. Casserly noted that several districts saw decreases in the
proportion of students in the below-basic category and increases in
those scoring at the basic and proficient levels. He said he was also
pleased by the improved performance of minority students in some
categories." Hey, if it's good enough for NCLB... Meanwhile, Atlanta did great but everyone's still way behind their state scores. Plus, accommodation and exclusion rates vary, so caveat emptor when comparing City A to City B. Click here for the latest stories on this throughout the day.
Now for some really sad news. A teenage girl hanged herself last year when her MySpace friend "Josh" turned on her. Only thing is, "Josh" was the creation of a classmate's parents, who used it to spy on her. They also shared the password with others who apparently wrote cruel things to her as "Josh." It's not clear whether the cruel emails, finding out she'd been duped, or other factors caused the suicide. [A Real Person, A Real Death St. Charles Journal]
What's the world coming to when a classroom teacher in Gilbert, Arizona can't do a little cheerleading routine in class?
Maybe if there weren't so many stories out there of [young, white, female] teachers running off with their students of late.
NOTE: YouTube is apparently full of teachers cheerleading in class. Shouldn't this teacher get fired, too? Or this one? But again, they're not young, or white, or female.
November 15, 2007 | Posted At: 08:37 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Bush Administration
The new urban NAEP scores aren't supposed to be out until later this morning, but there's at least one story out already on the new results:
City Students Stalled on National Education Tests NY Sun In the city, 41% of
eighth-graders cannot perform basic reading, up from 38% in 2003, the
first year scores were reported, and above the percentages in Houston
and Chicago, 37% and 39% respectively. On the math test, 43% of
eighth-graders scored below basic, compared with 46% in 2003.
The full results for 11 districts will be out later, and the EdSec is doing an event in Atlanta.
No, that's not a depiction of her in the poster.
*Apparently the embargo wasn't broken. Under the somewhat made-up sounding rules of journalism, an embargo is only good if both sides agree to it ahead of time. (That is, if you send me something under embargo but I haven't agreed ahead of time, the embargo is no good.) Not it!
November 15, 2007 | Posted At: 08:33 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
Bill to Expand Head Start
Is Approved Washington Post With
two overwhelming votes, Congress approved a bill yesterday that would
boost teacher qualifications in federally funded Head Start preschools,
expand access to the program for children from low-income families and
scrap a controversial system for testing 4-year-olds.
Three years into it, I was a pretty decent teacher. Six years in, I was an effective if entirely cynical Senate aide. Nearly eight years into being a writer, however, I'm still a blundering fool.
But at least I'm not alone in my struggles and complaints. Here's a great send-up of the freelance writing game, including this astute item from near the bottom: "Don't ever ask an editor what an assignment is going to pay until
you've gotten to the point where you can afford to turn it down.
Editors get embarrassed when asked about money, because they make a lot
more than you (but a lot less than the CEOs you interview). If you bring
up the topic again, they'll quietly drop you."
A daily spin around the education blogs: Charlie B asks Whither Senator and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton On NCLB? It ain't pretty: "there
is little evidence that Senator Clinton has had any real involvement in
bringng about the fixes she says that the law urgently needs...It’s hard to claim the high ground on “fixing” NCLB when
one’s seat on the Senate Education Committee grows cold and when one’s
key supporters (the AFT who has endorsed Candidate Clinton, and the NEA
who already considers her President-elect) have done all they can to
bring legislative action to a halt."
There's also Mike Klonsky railing against Expelling kids for opposing the war. Philip at the Ed Policy Blog reminds us that there are many other "gaps" besides the achievement one (Gaps).
Indeed, there are, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the
school-based ones. Meanwhile, over at TQ&E, Kevin C. posts about
his recent report (Leaving Birmingham Behind),
which updates us on how states game NCLB. Something to hold onto until
January when we're back at all this, I guess. Or 2009. Meanwhile,
Wisconsin wins the booby prize. The AFTies talk about the recent
Haycock-Rothstein cage match (A Debate Upstate?). ASBJ's blog describes an eye-opening poverty game (Life in a low-income family).
Looking for a new communications job? Ever heard of ASCD? Well they're looking for someone like you, and they're willing to pay $100K or so for your services. Sounds like a lot to me, but DC has gotten really expensive I hear, and I'm sure you're worth it. "Requires a minimum of five years experience in writing/communications/media relations. Three years experience working with education and association issues is also required.
The McCormick Group
703-841-1700 ext 223
It seems like there are two different conversations going on around entrepreneurship in education. The first kind is probably best illustrated by the recent AEI event (The Future Of Education Entrepreneurship), and focuses mostly on public- and foundation-funded efforts. The second, much less sexy kind, is best illustrated by publications like industry analyst Trace Urdan's monthly report on the education sector (Education Signals). This conversation is about real-live private sector folks who are already in the education space, either as part of large publicly traded companies or smaller ventures. Do these conversations ever overlap, or are they as separate as it seems?
November 14, 2007 | Posted At: 09:11 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Urban Ed
Nonprofit Groups May Run Failing D.C. Schools Washington Post
Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is considering bringing in national
nonprofit charter school operators to manage at least two dozen of the
city's lowest-performing schools.
One easy way to tell when reporters lack time or inspiration is when they pad their stories with quotes from all-purpose pundits instead of finding real experts or digging for hidden nuggets. This is the case in two of three stories on yesterday's AIR study. The NYT (Study Compares States’ Math and Science Scores With Other Countries’ ) has a helpful chart (left) but mystifyingly wraps up with bland observations from the Ed Sector's Tom Toch, no particular expert in international education. USA Today (US students 'middle of the pack' compared with world ) gives the study's co-author space to interpret the study ("Being in the middle of the pack is really a mediocre place to be.") but then -- you guessed it -- wraps up with platitudes from the easiest quote in town, Andy Rotherham (also from Ed Sector). EdWeek plays it pretty straight (Top-Achieving Nations Beat U.S. States in Math and Science), wrapping up with some reasonably juicy quotes from a researcher: "We don’t want our children to be
subjected to the rote learning that is common in countries like China
and India. We want to do what we do better.”
November 14, 2007 | Posted At: 08:28 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
Preschool Expansion Gets Mixed Reviews Washington Post
in Virginia's state-funded preschool have made strong gains in
literacy, and most show up ready for kindergarten, but there are
concerns that plans to expand the program do not fully address a lack
of classroom space, limited local funding and the rising costs of
educating a child.
Despite all efforts, this blog came in 3rd in the Weblog awards contest from last week, with a paltry 5 percent of the votes. The big winner was the James Logan Courier, with IvyGate in 2nd. Thanks to all who voted for me, and congrats to the winners.
Teachers that I talk to and read about consistently chafe at how little trust they are given -- by parents, administrators, policymakers, etc. It's understandably frustrating for them. But this New York Times article (about car mechanics, of all things) goes a long way to explaining the dynamic, which economists apparently call the "expert service" problem (When Trust in an Expert Is Unwise). In short, when the person you go to for expertise on a complex issue (say, education) is the SAME person that will provide the service, there's a (perceived) conflict of interest that makes non-experts wary about the diagnosis being offered. It's not that teachers aren't trustworthy or knowledgeable, but rather that they should understood how hard it is for non-educators to take what they're saying as gospel.
November 13, 2007 | Posted At: 01:21 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
Amazing that Head Start is being (has been) reauthorized almost entirely separately from the ever-growing chorus of universal preschool proposals. The conference report (House Conference Report 110-439) has been filed, which is the second to last step of the process before final passage. I'm not against UPK, or Head Start for that matter. But at some point
along the way UPK advocates are going to have to explain how UPK is
different from Head Start, and how it is going to be any better.
Efforts to revamp Head Start have generally fallen apart due to Head
Start's strong lobby and public concerns about the appropriateness of
including academic skills and measurements in a program for young
children. Via FritzWire.
November 13, 2007 | Posted At: 10:21 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Bush Administration
Officially, it's International Education Week. But as this official schedule shows (see below), it's really Ray Simon week. The deputy secretary must've drawn the short straw to get roped into all these events. Or maybe Spellings does that "heads, I win -- tails you lose" thing.
Uncle Charley at Schools For Tomorrow riffs off of my post from last week about who might be HRC's Ed Secretary" to ponder who that might be if, egads, a Republican wins the White House (here). Fun! He guesses Finn, Klein, or Yecke. I guess Ravitch, that guy from Indianapolis who just lost City Hall (an R, right?), or one of the Cheneys (Lynn or Dick). Who do you guess?
Jade Floyd (pictured), communications maven for AACTE and a big friend of this blog, is moving on to a fancy
new gig for the public affairs firm Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates, where she will be a senior associate. No word on who's going to be the new communications manager. Congrats, condolences to Jade, and remember everyone to send in news of any education folks changing jobs. Cent'Anni!
Being around the KIPP enthusiasm is like being love-bombed, and so I'm still recovering from some time spent yesterday morning at a relatively new KIPP school in Brooklyn. Below are some notes and observations from the visit.
Nelson Smith from NAPCS reminds me via email that one of the EdTrust's awardees (see recent post) is .... yes ... a charter school. The surprise here isn't that a charter school could be high-performing, just that EdTrust would choose one to honor. Not many folks mix the two together; they're either for one or the other.
November 12, 2007 | Posted At: 02:04 PM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Campaign '08
Charlie Barone reminds us that policy differences may well have little to do with what's going on with NCLB reauthorization (Dispatches From Capitol Hill).
The teachers killed the Miller bill because they think that they can do
better under HRC. A "bad" NCLB gives Dem candidates more
to run on, and an easy win early in 2009. Barone says it's bad stuff, and worse than ever. Same as it ever was, far as
I remember. But a good reminder that NCLB is just a chit
in a much larger political game. Or at least it is this close to the primaries.
Not everyone's blogging today, but there are some posts worth clicking: Like everyone else, InsideSchools blogger Philissa Cramer is pretty much entirely against New York's cash incentive effort (Cash-for-kids plan starting to pay out). But the real problem with the plan is that it doesn't target the lowest-income families. I am pretty sick of Al Shanker biographer Rick Kahlenberg's never-ending media blitz -- let us finish the book, Rick! -- but Joanne Jacobs recounts an interesting KahlenShanker notion (Let teachers fire teachers). And I'm plugging it. This is the last time, however. Joe Williams says Free Al Wolting!!! Andywonk asks if this the Most Obvious Headline Ever?. Ouch. What did The Hoff ever do to you? Last but not least, Kanye West's mom, a longtime Chicago educator, passed away over the weekend at age 58.
There is surprisingly little coverage of veterans in the classroom, or students whose parents are veterans. Here's one piece about Iraq vets replacing Vietnam and WWII vets in classroom visits (Veterans from today Minnesota Star Tribune). Down in Florida, there's been a kerfluffle over including conscientious observers in one teacher's veterans day observance (Controversy surrounds school’s Veteran’s Day celebrationTampa Bay's 10). Meanwhile, there are all these homeless and unemployed vets -- whatever happened to Troops To Teachers?