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Why Academics Struggle With Politics

Switching from academics to politics and back again is no easy task -- as we know from last week's Samantha Power gaffe.   (The Obama advisor called Clinton a "monster" in an interview and had to resign.)  Closer to home and at a much smaller scale, Eduwonkette seems to miss the political point I was making about making NCLB seem more fair (and powerful) by calling for -- you guessed it -- better data.  She may be right, but politics doesn't wait for better data, and educators of all stripes are going to have to think more politically if they are ever going to get into the political debate where the policy decisions are made.  Most of the time, it should be noted, Eduwonkette gets this.  I blame the approaching AERA conference.

Gates Focuses On State Advocacy

There's been a slow but steady change in how Gates get things done.  At first, Gates focused just on schools, using intermediary organizations to dole out the money and get things done.  Then, realizing the importance of district systems, they started in on district-level efforts, working with district administrators.  Lately, the focus has turned to the state level, supporting -- or in this case creating -- state level capacity to push for school reform.  That's the focus in Illinois, where Gates and Joyce are creating a new state level organization to push for improvements.  I'm not sure if they've done this in other places. 

STDs & Childhood Obesity: Flaming Hots For Breakfast

Okun03196 The latest post from Will Okun is up  (Fifty Percent), focusing on the spread of STDs among high schoolers despite sex ed and -- Flaming Hots! -- the popularity of junk food among his students despite the spread of obesity. 

Here, an example. Yummm!

"Students! Pay no attention to the apostrophes on the side of your school bus."

Students! Pay no attention to the apostrophes on the side of your school bus
Change of Subject (Chicago Tribune)

Big Stories Of The Day (Besides NCLB)

Why good students don't reach college Christian Science Monitor
Support during the complex application process is key, a new Chicago study finds.

Schools embrace fingerprint scanning Stateline  
Schools across the country are scanning students’ fingerprints so that they can pay for meals or check out books at the touch of a finger. But a growing backlash from parents and civil libertarians has led some states to outlaw or limit the technology.

Authority Grab Eroding Stature of State Boards EdWeek
Lawmakers and governors are seeking to expand their authority over K-12 education and, in some cases, reverse policy set in motion by elected or appointed panels.

D.C. Takes Early Action To Help Those Failing Washington Post
Plan includes in-home substance-abuse counseling, solutions for public-aid problems and other programs for students' families.

Study Finds ‘Section 504’ Rules Source of Confusion for Schools EdWeek
Students with health or cognitive problems who aren’t eligible for services under the IDEA have protection under another federal law: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Triage For Failing Schools -- The Coverage

Take your pick -- there are mostly minor differences among stories on the announcement from yesterday:

U.S. Eases ‘No Child’ Law as Applied to Some States NYT
“This is something good, something we’ve been advocating,” said Reg Weaver, president of the NEA, the teachers union.

US Eases 'No Child' Sanctions Washington Post
Jeff Simering, legislative director for the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, said he worries that urban schools will continue to face sanctions while suburban schools will get a break.

States to Get Leeway  on School Sanctions AP
The new initiative will allow states to distinguish between "on-fire schools and those with a smolder," Spellings said in an interview Monday.

Spellings Offers Latitude on Poor-Performing Schools EdWeek
The pilot project will be open to a state if the U.S. Department of Education has approved its assessment system and its plan to provide “highly qualified” teachers in every classroom.

First, Kill All The Education Researchers?

A23d3da8c862a2bedfa89b67a7b793107fd A New Zealand education researcher headed towards the big AERA ed research conference in New York next week is going to make quite a splash, based on this article (Researcher to bite hand that feeds him).  Like others before him, he's questioning the relevance of education research that's being done.  To wit:  "Very little of the investment into research actually reaches the people it most needs, the average person and their family."  What makes him unusual is that he comes from inside the ed research community, oversees grants and research for the government, and is talking publicly.

Perimeter Rap

A little reminder about area and circumference to help make it through a dreary Tuesday: Via Teacher Tube.

Around The Blogs

$220 Billion for Bail Out, Zilch for Schools Education Notes
It's a good point.

Barack Obama On Race and Education Big Swifty
You can always tell when someone's just watched or heard an Obama speech.

Kids Count is first sanctioned charter sponsor Get On The Bus
The wild west atmosphere in Ohio charters is slowly changing

Clarification AFT Blog
In (faint) defense of the Ed Sector.

Different! Or Not? Eduwonk
Spellings announcement as a purely political move.

It's 3 AM and the White House Wants to Change Your Math Curriculum The Pulse
Best headline of the day.

Avoiding Crab-Bucket Culture ASCD Blog
Crabs are so dumb you don't need to keep them in the bucket.

Anything you research, I can research better Get Schooled
"At least once a day I get an email or piece of actual mail touting some new study. "

Tomorrow's NCLB Announcement -- Today

Stanley31408 My prediction for tomorrow's EdSec announcement in Minneapolis is that Spellings will -- finally -- unveil a more nuanced version of AYP ratings, so that it's clear which schools miss the mark by a mile and which miss it by an inch (not as many as you think, BTW).  She's already made SES changes.  There are only so many states that have the muscle to do growth models.  She's already talked about graduation rate uniformity and can't really do that on her own.  And everyone knows that the NCLB rating (and intervention) system need better differentiation.

UPDATE:  States to get leeway on school sanctions AP

PLUS:  USDE Press release and Spellings speech attached below.

ALSO:  My (bad) idea about a new school rating and evaluation system:    Divisional Matchups

FROM KENNEDY:  "Schools need more than new pilot programs to respond to No Child Left Behind’s challenges.  I commend Secretary Spellings for giving schools greater flexibility, but experience shows it won’t get us very far as long as the Bush Administration continues to shortchange its budget for school reform.”

Continue reading "Tomorrow's NCLB Announcement -- Today" »

Big Stories Of The Day

States to get leeway on school sanctions AP
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plans to announce Tuesday that she wants states to submit proposals for assigning different consequences to schools based on the degree to which they miss annual progress goals.

Philadelphia School Commission Delays Decision on Outside Managers Philly Inquirer
A decision on whether to oust six outside managers running nearly 40 Philadelphia public schools will be postponed until at least April, according to a top district official.

Virginia Lawmakers Enact Measure Taking Aim at NCLB EdWeek
The Virginia legislature has approved a bill that would direct the state board of education to decide whether to withdraw from participation in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

U.S. Border Schools Get Tough on Mexican Students NPR
The school district in Calexico, Calif., has hired a photographer to stand at the border crossing to take pictures of children as they enter the U.S. It is also requiring that parents provide proof of U.S. residency in order for their kids to attend its overcrowded schools.

March Madness: Divisional Matchups

7364779 Teachers often complain that it's not fair to compare their schools to other schools, based on differences in student demographics.  I'm not sure I agree with the notion -- and more than a few schools exceed or fail to meet demographic expectations. 

But what about creating NCAA-like divisions (I, II, III)  within public school systems based on student poverty, in order to help someone (educators) get past the poverty- achievement trap and help others (politicos) see that performance varies even with schools with similar demographics?

Under this format, schools in a district or state would match up against other similar schools, like in the NCAA tournament, where schools are organized by size.  Unlike in the NCAA tournament, however, divisions would have to be flexible so that schools would not be limited to certain achievement levels.   

Best Blog Posts Of The Day

AERA picks! ekette
"Weighing in at ~500 pages the AERA program is a good weapon, but a crappy guide to a professional meeting."

It's a Matter of Principal! eduflack
"Typically, though, we read, watch, or hear about problems in the schools -- budget shortfalls, disappointing test scores, and such. "

I Can't Learn from You If You Don't Respect Me ASCD Bloggers
""Aspiring to "color blindness"--that is, professing to not see or acknowledge the racial differences among your students--is doing no one any favors. "

Yes We Can! CKB
"Instructivism is en fuego!" 

States Now Shooting for 110% Highly Qualified AFT Blog
"Several states?  All core academic classes?  Yowza!  Universal proficiency should be right around the corner then. "

Controversial Obama Fundraiser Tied To Teacher Pension Fund

28il515 EdWeek's Mark Walsh has the education angle on the Rezko corruption trial in Illinois.  Rezko, an Obama supporter whose full role has only recently come to light, is on trial for, among other things, conspiring with someone on the Illinois teacher retirement pension board to direct contracts to friends.  Pictured is one of the pension board members who has already pleaded guilty.

"Big" Announcement From Spellings This Week

The EdSec is slated to make a "national policy announcement" tomorrow in Minnesota with the Gov. and the state chief. I wonder what it's going to be.

Boarding Schools, Extreme Violence, 'Taj Mahal' Construction

Reporters still find newsworthy things going on in Chicago, even though the city isn't considered as cutting-edge as it was a decade ago.  Some recent examples:

'A suicide bombing mentality' Sun Times
Blockaded streets, security guards, cops, cameras can't keep a lid on tensions fueled by decades of gang rivalry at Crane High School.

No small plan: Public boarding schools for Chicago Tribune
But residential schools are a bolder -- and far more expensive -- proposition. Long an option for the affluent, boarding schools are virtually unheard of for the disadvantaged.

City may try public boarding schools Sun Times
For her entire freshman year at North Lawndale College Prep, Tinesheia Howard commuted to school from a homeless shelter, where privacy was almost nonexistent, theft was a constant concern, and studying couldn't begin until 9 p.m., after the din around her settled down for the night.

Experts debate benefits of Taj Mahal' high schools Arizona Star
Throughout the country, including in Chicago, the modern high school is evolving into an expensive institution. In the past four years, at least 36 high schools in 10 states have been constructed or are being planned at the $100 million-plus price, according to federal and state officials.

Junior bulls and bears Baltimore Sun
Like their peers elsewhere, the students at a one-of-a-kind public elementary school on the South Side of Chicago are dazzled by pop-culture stars -- Beyonce and Common, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Stuff White People Like (About Kids & School Reform)

From the blog, Stuff White People Like: 

Gifted Children:  "White people love “gifted” children, do you know why? Because an astounding 100% of their kids are gifted!  Isn’t that amazing?"

Foreign Languages: "Generally, white people prefer their children to speak French. Languages such as German, Spanish, Swedish, or Italian are also acceptable, but are considered to be poor substitutes (especially Spanish)."

Non-Profit Organizations: "They like working there for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it gives them a sense of self importance."

Knowing What’s Best for Poor People: "It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education that all poor people would be EXACTLY like them."

Previous politically incorrect posts: Only Gringos Call Gringos 'Gringos' -- Gabacho!, Pesky Civil Rights Laws Blocking My Plans For All-Black Boys Schools, [White] Kids Too Cool For Coats, ¡Ask a Mexican! and -- everyone's favorite --  "Nice White Lady".

Big Stories Of The Day

Law Opens Opportunities for Disabled Washington Post
As Montgomery County ninth-grader Stephen Sabia reads "Romeo and Juliet" and studies the Holocaust and World War II for honors history and English, his mother credits an important ally in her years-long drive to secure the best education possible for her son with Down syndrome: the federal No Child... PLUS:  In the Mainstream but Isolated.

In a Time of Distracted Ears, Teachers Ensure They’re Loud and Clear NYT
In an era of chronic ear infections, widespread iPod use and rampant attention-deficit disorders, school officials have embraced the microphones for mainstream classrooms.

Spellings, on Tour, Aims to Promote NCLB EdWeek
In the 15th stop on her intermittent national tour to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, Secretary Spellings found both defenders and critics of the law here in West Virginia this month. And they turned out to be the same people.

Teacher Ed. Community Striving to Interpret Candidate ‘Dispositions’ EdWeek
A position paper from the leading advocacy group for the nation’s teacher colleges is calling for an open and critical conversation on the meaning and uses of the controversial term.

Best Of The Week (March 10-14)

Best Of The Week
Spitzer Fave Was Homeschooled TFA Alum
Spitzer En Route To EDINO8 Event When Called For "Special" Company

Campaign 2008
Nobama Left Behind
Hillary: The "ChangeMaker"
Kindergarten Cop For EdSec?
Obama Envoy Visits Reformistan To Reassure On Change Agenda
State Standards Vague -- And Repetitive

Foundation Follies
Fordham Foundation Finally Does What I Tell Them To

Teachers and Teaching
Dukie And Prez: What To Do When A Student Asks For Help?
Read This Before You Move The Faculty Lounge

The Obama-Kennedy-Miller Club
Spellings Still Rejecting Rove 30 Years Later
State Standards Vague -- And Repetitive
My Flying Carpet To National Standards

Teachers & Teaching
Fractions, Algebra -- And Effort
Read It To Me Aloud -- I'm A Boy

Foundation Follies
New Leaders Pats Itself On The Back -- Again
How Many Billionaires Does It Take to Fix a School System?

Media Watch
Where's The Press On Obama's "These Kids" Anecdote

Daily:  Morning News
Daily:  Best of the Blogs

Best Blog Posts That Aren't Mine

Statistical Illiteracy
D-ED slams researcher for focusing on poverty instead of other, bigger factors.

We Like Mike!
The Core Knowledge blog slips Petrilli some tongue.

 Obama on Education
Kevin Carey tries to defend Clinton's school reform credentials.

They're for the children... or the adults.
Sherman Dorn on black politicans and vouchers.

Erin Go Bragh
Charlie Barone's St. Patrick's Day jig about Bloomberg's testing factories.

"I Blame the NY Times"
Ed Notes wonders why the Times is so anti-union.

Chief Teacher's Jeopardy! Lesson
Washington Whispers crushes on the EdSec's geeky hotness.

No Cash Left Behind
Core Knowledge on commercialism in the classroom, and those who oppose it.

A U.S. Senate Race to Watch
EdWeek's Alyson Klein on the Minnesota campaign.

Publishing Power, Persuasion and Propaganda
Edbizzbuzz tackles the media machine.

Trusting Elizabeth, Not the NY Times
NY Sun reporter Elizabeth Green gets a late Valentine's Day note from her fans, even though her paper is pretty conservative.

Paying Charters To Take NCLB Kids

I'm not against choice or charters, but there's something wrong here.  Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel wants to create a $300 million program to let kids in NCLB restructuring schools transfer to charter schools that would include paying charters "supplemental funding" to handle any influx.  Promoting the program or providing transportation I get, but don't charters already get public funding for kids they serve?  Giving charters a bounty for NCLB kids seems like an unnecessary and unfair way to go.  Via KY News and Commentary

PLUS:  The Hoff agrees that it's hard to figure out how the Emanuel proposal would work (or why it's really necessary) and then ruins the whole thing with gratuitous Rotherwonk quote. You really need him to tell you Emanuel isn't a policy guy?  You're really asking one Clinton guy about another Clinton guy?

Obama's Real Education Funding Priorities

Want to know what education programs Obama really cares about?  Check out his education earmark requests -- priorities that he gives to Senate leaders hoping they'll get funded.  You usually never see these things, but Obama released his today under pressure from Clinton and McCain and the press. 

There's a $1M request for the Urban Teaching and Leadership Center at UIC. Two point five mil for ISU's Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs and Partnerships Program.  Another two mil for the Reading Initiative. (What, no love for math and science?)  Some money for Christo Rey.  Nothing for AUSL -- but this is from FY06 so maybe there's something more recent. 

Click below.  Via Lynn Sweet.   Continue Reading Obama Education Funding Requests »

Cross-posted from the D299 blog.

This Man Will Pay You $125,000

14lives_650 This guy, Zeke Vanderhoek, will pay teachers $125K at a new school being set up in a Dominican part of Manhattan.

Yes, a charter.  Yes, New York City.  Yes, a tough gig to get (hundreds of applications so far).   Yes, the guy made his money creating a successful test prep and tutoring company -- and never even went to public school (me neither, BTW). 

Yes, a media darling in the making.

Big [Friday!] Stories Of The Day

Hard to walk away from the money Roanake Times Virginia lawmakers are frustrated with the inflexibility of No Child Left Behind. But pulling out of the federal program would cost too much. ...

Reading, Writing ... And Engineering WSJ
In Room 10 at Odyssey Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Colo., teacher Erik Russell leads a class of 27 fourth-graders in a lesson not on reading or writing -- but engineering. Chemical engineering, actually.

Heads of schools to gain power (& Ruling issued on teachers' planning time) Baltimore Sun
Principals in Baltimore schools are about to see their jobs radically altered as the city's troubled educational system prepares to undergo its biggest restructuring in years.  (Alonso has pushed for principals at all schools to be able to require teachers to spend 45 minutes of their existing planning time each week collaborating with colleagues. The arbitrator's opinion allows for that at most schools.)

Georgia students ponder future as schools court disaster LA Times
District would be the first in the U.S. since the '60s to lose its accreditation. Students are frustrated and residents of the predominantly black county are embarrassed.

Sherwood investigates teacher who wrote play Oregon Live
Three days before the play was to open, the school principal read it for the first time and said she found it inappropriate for middle school students. She said it needed to be revised and scheduled for a later date.

 School backs off Skittles suspension MSNBC
An eighth-grade student who was suspended , barred from an honors dinner and stripped of class office after he was caught with contraband candy will get his post back, school officials said.


Fractions, Algebra -- And Effort

Some familiar findings, a slew of coverage, but not much on getting these ideas into classrooms that I can find: 

Panel Finds Faults in America's Math System Washington Post
A presidential panel today said America's math education system is "broken" and called on schools to focus lessons to ensure children from preschool to middle school master key skills.

Panel: Schools Should Focus on Fractions Seattle Times
Schools could improve students' sluggish math scores by hammering home the basics, such as addition and multiplication, and then increasing the focus on fractions and geometry, a presidential panel recommended Thursday.

Report Urges Changes in Teaching Math NYT
American students’ math achievement is “at a mediocre level” compared with that of their peers worldwide, according to a new report by a federal panel.

New focus urged for math education AP
A major goal for students should be mastery of fractions because that is a "severely underdeveloped" area and one that's important to later algebra success, the report states.

Focus on algebra, U.S. panel tells schools Christian Science Monitor
Beyond curriculum concerns, the panel points out that educators and the public at large need to recognize that "effort, not          just inherent talent, counts in mathematical achievement."

Are there districts or states that have actually made this happen?

The Obama-Kennedy-Miller Club

"So while it's far from clear that either would-be president would, in practice, do anything noteworthy on K-12 education, an Obama administration would create a situation in which all the White House and the main legislative players regard each other as allies." (Link: Matthew Yglesias: Clinton and Obama on Education).

Previously:   Obama Envoy Visits Reformistan To Reassure On Change Agenda (perhaps my worst headline ever).

My Flying Carpet To National Standards

I don't know what I'm more sick of -- pointy-headed pundits gushing over The Wire or gibbering all over each other about nationalizing public education (Nationalize the Schools (...A Little)!  And I'm not even against national standards.  I just can't believe that, after Clinton failed, and Dodd flopped, and Fordham et al got NOWHERE, that anyone thinks Matt Miller's latest foray is going anywhere.  Sure, national standards might help.  But so would flying carpets.  Neither ain't going to happen anytime soon.  Or if it does, it'll be by accident.  Just how are we going to get there, boys? 

State Standards Vague -- And Repetitive

Aespring08 The new American Educator is up, full of ideas and information about how to make state standards better.  (I knew they were vague, but didn't know they were repetitive, too.  No wonder they're such tough reading.) 

There's also a new look to the mag, and a new editor (though not an unfamiliar name):  former ME Lisa Hansel.  Ruth Wattenberg is going to work for Antonia Cortese.  Congrats, condolences.   

You're know they're smart people since they've never let me write anything for them.  Not that I've given up. 

Fordham Foundation Finally Does What I Tell Them To

The folks at Fordham are going for that scorched-earth approach to things these days, it seems.  Just like I told them to.  They're suing the USDE and Congress for "scandalous" attacks on Reading First.  Video here.   This is either brilliant or incredibly  disreputable.  I wonder if anyone's told Checker.   

Nobama Left Behind

"Neither Obama nor Clinton has injected education into the race in a deeper way than occasionally criticizing No Child Left Behind and promising to overhaul it. Supporting new ideas in white papers doesn't necessarily equal a commitment to pushing them through Congress."

Link: TAPPED Archive | The American Prospect.

Spitzer Fave Was Homeschooled TFA Alum

Medium_2330221904_5ece18c135_o According to her MySpace page, Ashley Alexander Dupre has a fascinating education and work background.  Homeschooled through 8th grade, she went to an IB-focused charter high school and joined TFA when she was just out of college.  She was interning in Roland Fryer's academic incentives shop until the end of last week.  Fryer could not be reached for comment. 

Best Of The Blogs -- Special AM Edition

Fighting the Man EIA
"What's next? Education Sector and Democrats for Education Reform teaming up for NCLB political street theater?"

Bermanology AFT Blog
"A rolling set of links back to other blogs' reactions to Richard Berman’s attack on teachers and their unions. "

PLUS:  SFA's Slavin Replies

Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Web Watch
Teachers vs. parents, part 2.

Groups Aim for Internationally Tested Standards The Hoff
This time, with honey instead of vinegar.

No Child Left Ahead American Spectator "You have high academic standards compared to other states, and it's making you look bad under the No Child Left Behind Act. It's time to get on the ball, ..."

"Roland Fryer says learning is cool."

Big Stories Of The Day

California Resists Home School Ruling CNN
In the wake of a surprise court decision, the state says that its home schoolers are "legal" pending appeal

Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls NYT
Rates are particularly high among young African-Americans, according to new federal data.

Merit pay plan's unintended lesson St. Petersburg Times In its first year, a teacher performance pay plan has proved so unpopular that 60 of Florida's 67 school districts have walked away from the $147.5-million pot of money.

Intel Prize Winner: Meet the Next Nobel! NPR
Previously named for Westinghouse, the 66-year-old Science Talent Search is the premiere high-school-level science fair. This year's winner -- out of 1,600 contestants nationwide and 14 finalists -- is Shivani Sud, who earned a $100,000 scholarship.

A solution to how to teach math: Subtract USA Today
Wondering why your child isn't learning enough math in school? Her textbook may be too thick. ...

No thanks, we'll keep kids in the schools they're in now Las Vegas Sun
The Clark County School District’s experiment in open enrollment, which allows families to send their children to a school other than their assigned campus, is off to a slow start. Just 45 applications have been filed from among 50,000 eligible students, with the Friday deadline

Massachusetts Makes Strides in Math Curriculum NPR
The "fuzzy" math lessons that kids come home with drive parents crazy and confuse even teachers. Two years ago, the Bush administration asked a panel of experts to bring more coherence and depth to the math curriculum. But only one state has even come close to doing what the panel envisions: Massachusetts.

Dukie And Prez: What To Do When A Student Asks For Help?

This should be a Will Okun post, but I'll give it a try:

There's a scene in the HBO drama "The Wire" where a former student comes back to his old elementary student to see a favorite teacher and ask for help.  The student had been one of the teacher's favorites, and had done better academically than his friends despite severe disadvantages.  However, he's dropped out of high school and shown up after school, asking the teacher for money to get a place and get off the street.  After hesitating, the teacher says he'll help.  Turns out the money was for drugs.

What do you do when students -- current or former -- ask you for help, financially or otherwise?  Do you help?  Do you not? 

Cross-posted from District 299, where a reader first suggested the topic.

Read This Before You Move The Faculty Lounge

Can school reformers make good use of behavioral economics?  I don't know.  But they should at least understand how predictably irrational human decisionmaking is.   My favorite of these patterns, described in this New Yorker article (What Was I Thinking?), is called the "endowment effect." But there are many others -- some with obvious policy implications.  Check it out before you roll out your next big idea, whether it's moving the faculty lounge or ending teacher tenure. People don't respond like you think they will, or even how they "should."

Where's The Press On Obama's "These Kids" Anecdote?

The press is having a field day looking into Hillary Clinton's "red phone" 3 am ad -- first finding out that the little girl (now teenager) who is pictured in the ad is an Obama supporter, and now pointing out that some of Clinton's "experience" wasn't all that substantive (“Red Phone Moments” In Bosnia). 

This makes me wonder whether anyone's bothered to investigate Obama claims -- in particular the speech he gives about going to Dodge Elementary School in Chicago and hearing from a teacher that some teachers talk about the mostly-minority, mostly-poor students as "these kids."

Has anyone found the teacher and talked to her?  Did this really happen the way Obama tells it?  Does she feel comfortable being an Obama show pony?

Kindergarten Cop For EdSec?

The LA Times posts about how that Governor Arnold might be a good cabinet member for a McCain administration (Can Arnold aid McCain?):  "John Mercurio at the National Journal mused recently on what John McCain might gain by making an early play for Arnold Schwarzenegger as a member of his Cabinet. In a word, California....Imagine the "Terminator" as secretary of Homeland Security. Or the "Kindergarten Cop" in charge of Education."  Seems doubtful, but I thought I'd pass it on.

Read It To Me Aloud -- I'm A Boy

"Although linguistic information goes directly to the seat of language processing in the female brain, males use sensory machinery to do a great deal of the work in untangling the data," according to this Scientific American article (Are Women Really Better at Language?). "In a classroom setting, it implies that boys need to be taught language both visually  with a textbook  and orally  through a lecture  to get a full grasp of the subject, whereas a girl may be able to pick up the concepts by either method."

Big [Not Spitzer] Stories Of The Day, Pt. 2

Analysis Defends 'Reading First' EdWeek
The controversy surrounding the implementation of Reading First was more the result of political games and unsubstantiated complaints than any wrongdoing, a paper concludes.

Georgia brawl over single-sex school plan CSM
Greene County is poised to divide public schools by gender, but a court challenge is likely.

Survey Finds Principals’ Pay Gains Outpacing Consumer Price Index EdWeek
Principals of high schools and middle schools got “a little financial breathing room” this school year, according to a new survey.

 North Carolina Student Wins Science Award NYT
Shivani Sud, a high school senior in Durham, N.C., focused her research on colon cancer to won the Intel Science Talent Search.

Is a Vocab Battle the New Spelling Bee? NPR
High school junior Aliya Deri, from Pleasanton, Calif., has been crowned the National Vocabulary Champion in the second year of a contest that's already attracting more than 100,000 kids for a spot at the title and $40,000 in scholarship money.

Principal Sees Injustice, and Picks a Fight With It NYT
For one Arizona principal, a new illegal immigration law that caused some students at her school to drop out reminded her of divisiveness in her native Northern Ireland.

Spitzer En Route To EDINO8 Event When Called For "Special" Company

2324564734_777081e56fWas Spitzer en route to an EDINO8 event when he called for "special" company that eventually got him in such hot water?  No, not at all.  He did appear at a recent EDINO8 event in New York, however.  Check it out. 

Best Blog Posts Of The Day (That Aren't Mine)

Teaching about sex scandals The Hall Monitor
Asking around to see if teachers are going to be talking with their students about the news.

 McCain Gets More Education Policy Help... Campaign K12
...from Lisa Graham Keegan, a former Arizona state schools chief who will start devoting more time to Sen. John McCain's campaign as one of his education policy advisers, according to this Arizona Republic story.

 Miller's Big Plans for NCLB May Have to Wait The Hoff
At the Center for American Progress today, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., suggested that he has an expansive vision for the next version of NCLB.

House Democrats and educational policy TeacherKen
I had occasion to talk today with a House Democratic Congressman who told me that the House Democratic Caucus is meeting tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 on educational policy.  They have come to the conclusion that NCLB is going no where as a complete package for reauthorization, so some of them are looking to see if they can move parts they care about as separate bills.

VA's Gov. Kaine to recieve albatross NCLB Opt-Out Bill Circle Time
If there is one thing NCLB is good at it is being a dart board for politicians hoping to look good in the eyes of their constituents.

The victimization of Nicole Veltze Schools For Tomorrow
Nicole Veltze, principal of Denver’s Skinner Middle School, may have made an error in judgment when she suspended two seventh-grade boys who acknowledged groping a female [...]

Investing in Pre-K is a...."hidden subsidy to education" Early Stories
A group calling itself "Americans for Prosperity-Kansas" gets today's star sticker for one of the more creative anti-preschool arguments I've encountered.

New Leaders Pats Itself On The Back -- Again

I never got any response from New Leaders about their attrition rates (Nagging Questions About New Leaders Survival Rates) but that won't stop the New Leaders self-congratulation juggernaut.  They have a new report out about "the patterns and techniques evident in low-income, urban public schools making dramatic gains in student achievement."   Big surprise -- these things are all found in New Leaders schools.  The full report is available here (PDF). 

Obama Envoy Visits Reformistan To Reassure On Change Agenda

Barackeducation I read Josh Pasternak Patashnik's new article about Barack Obama's school reform credentials ( Reform School) with mixed feelings, not just because I'm working on my own Obama piece about his work in Chicago on education but also because I'm not sure Patashnik's analysis is altogether compelling. 

In essence, we're being told that Obama is reform-minded underneath it all and stands a strong chance to implement a reformist education agenda ("the best hope for real reform in decades").  About the first, there's no argument.  About the second -- whether Obama will be able to make change -- I'm not so sure.  No, check that.  I'm pretty doubtful.

Read on for a couple more grafs on this.

CORRECTION:  Sorry to have gotten Josh's name wrong -- twice. 

Continue reading "Obama Envoy Visits Reformistan To Reassure On Change Agenda" »

Hillary: The "ChangeMaker"

Mentos_box_w_cherryFormer president Bill Clinton described his wife as the "changemaker" in a weekend campaign appearance (Bill Clinton calls wife “changemaker”).  Just what would she change?  Well, NCLB for starters. "The idea behind No Child Left Behind is good, but the system doesn t work.  Hillary wants to  have the federal government pay more of the cost in recruiting and training teachers. Hillary says let s find 20  schools  in America where they re achieving standards now; let s figure out what they re doing right and pay to put that in every school in America.”

Big [Not Spitzer] Stories Of The Day

Group has severance plan for 'worst unionized teachers' USA Today
A Washington-based anti-union group hopes to "jump-start a conversation" about the difficulty schools face in getting rid of bad teachers — with a contest that sounds as if it were designed for reality TV.

Parent- teacher talks can get heated LA Times
They share a common goal but don't always agree on how best to achieve it. Experts say mutual respect is key.

 Full day for kindergarten gets pluses, minuses Detroit Free Press
In Kathy Maczko's kindergarten classroom in Farmington Hills, the kids don't just celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday by reading one of his famous stories.

 Benchmarks Momentum on Increase EdWeek
Governors and state schools chiefs are eyeing international yardsticks as a way to better prepare students for a competitive global economy.

 Home Schooling Sparks Credential Debate NPR
Parents who home-school their children need a teaching credential, according to a recent appellate court ruling in California. What does the ruling mean for those who home-school more than 1 million American children?

Spellings Still Rejecting Rove 30 Years Later

EdSec Spellings finally won on NPR's Wait, Wait--Don't Tell Me -- perhaps the easiest game show out there -- but she can't stop talking about rejecting Karl Rove back in the day (Let's Just Be Friends). 

This & That

Deal in an Autism Case Fuels Debate on Vaccine NYT
Despite the failure of studies to show any link between vaccines and autism, skeptics say a settlement in the case of 9-year-old Hannah Poling shows that they have been right.

Do You Teach Your Kids About Darwin? Wired
Parents of homeschooled children are often criticized for not giving their children enough exposure to evolutionary theory. But public school students are just as likely never to have heard of the subject.

Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK) NYT
Children increasingly rely on personal technological devices to create social circles apart from their families, changing the way they communicate with their parents.

Two new reality shows about high school Slate
Failing to realize high ambitions, High School Confidential (WE, Mondays at 10 p.m. ET) skims across the lives of 12 teenage girls growing up in placid Kansas.

Advanced Placement New Yorker
Von Ziegesar writes in the language of contemporary youth—things are cool or hot or they so totally suck. But the language is a decoy. The heartlessness of youth is von Ziegesar’s double-edged theme, the object of her mockery—and sympathy.

Best Of The Blogs

Was John McCain Vaccinated Against Logic? Wonkette
John McCain hopped into the autism/thimerosal debate last week.

Throw Me the Money edspresso
In today's New York Times, interesting articles on teachers unions' disproportional influence in politics and straight-jacketing effect on teachers in the classroom.

Secretary Spellings and Dungeons and Dragons TQATE
Can't get enough bad NCLB puns? Check out Secretary Spellings on NPR's Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me.

West Virginia Takes Aim At NCLB Curricula Narrowing Big Charlie
But will it fire?

Candid camera in class Joanne Jacobs
Classroom blowups go viral.

Money Matters Eduwonk
The usual Rotherham suck up.

How Many Billionaires Does It Take to Fix a School System?

09iconeducation190I should probably be more appreciative of the fact that there was an education article in this weekend's Times Magazine again this week (How Many Billionaires Does It Take to Fix a School System?) -- or at least more careful of what I say about education funders and magazines I'd like to write for -- but appreciative and careful that's just not me.

Continue reading "How Many Billionaires Does It Take to Fix a School System?" »

Big Stories Of The Day

New York charter school tests whether teacher quality is paramount Houston Chronicle
Teachers swamped the Web site of a new charter school in New York last week, eager to join a spectacular experiment: a school that pays teachers $125,000 a year, more than double the national average. PLUS:  Many Texas school districts reject merit pay for teachers Dallas Morning News.

Smaller Classes Don't Close Learning Gap, Study Finds Washington Post
For 20 years, a large study of class size in Tennessee, known as Project STAR, has raised hopes that reducing the number of children in inner-city classrooms to 17 or fewer would yield significant increases in achievement.

A Science Prodigy in an Unlikely Place NYT
A growing number of schools across the region, including schools in less affluent communities, have been putting extra resources into developing research programs to nurture their academic stars.
Directors of ‘Reading First’ Plagued by Anxiety Over Budget Cuts EdWeek
The federal Reading First initiative is not likely to survive if massive funding cuts are not reversed, several state directors for the program told federal officials at a meeting here last week.

Assembly Passes Bill to Allow 'No Child' Opt-Out Washington DC
Virginia's Board of Education would be directed to recommend whether the state should pull out of a federal school accountability system under legislation that cleared the General Assembly Saturday. It now awaits consideration by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).  PLUS:  Utah school board urges vetoes by Huntsman Deseret News.



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.