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Faith-based Education

I hate the mantra, "No Excuses." Paul Tough recounted the more modest, original intention of the slogan, and observed that it can be hard to distinguish between an excuse and an explanation. When theorists, however, can not tell the difference between an "excuse" and a "reason," they might as well proclaim, No Rationality. Since the research on "No Excuses" schools by the Right and "High Expectations" on the Left has been repudiated, I see the continued use of the term as basically a method of keeping hard truths from being expressed.

My favorite memory of this dynamic has probably been embellished by repeated retelling, but I recall the young administrator who had onlySlimpickens2_2 taught in suburban schools as he exhorted social studies teachers. "The high school excuse is to blame the middle school, which blames the elementary school, which blames the home, and then we are saying ..."

White teachers squirmed uncomfortably until a Black teacher said, "If you are blaming all these rednecks here, we’re cool, but ..."

The laughter temporarily slowed the administrator’s ardor, but he came back to the same old Education Trust message.

This time I derailed him with a joke, but the young idealist looked like characters in "Dr. Strangelove" as they struggled to keep their true feelings from bursting out.

Continue reading "Faith-based Education " »

A Colbert Bump For KIPP -- Who's Next?

51yvj3asyl_ss500_ KIPP co-founder David Levin will be on the Colbert Report tomorrow (Wednesday) night, according to Whitney Tilson.  If Jay Mathews is really lucky, they'll mention his KIPP book coming out in January.

As you may recall, Colbert had TFA founder Wendy Kopp on last year, and I think he (of maybe it was Jon Stewart) had Charles Best from DonorsChoose on the show.  I think Spellings may have been on both shows, but I could be wrong about that.  It's all blurring together -- someone should do a best of Colbert/Stewart education bits post. 

What education-related person or program will be on one of these shows next? My guess is that it'll be Geoffrey Canada (or Paul Tough), or maybe Peg Tyre. 

Class Pictures

More than a hundred grownups sent Jezebel.com school pictures from back when they were kids:  September Is For School Portraits.

School_pics

 

From Jezebel:  "So many shining faces, full of hope, innocence, curiosity — and in some cases, contempt! Looking through the pictures submitted, a few things stood out: A lot of people cut their own bangs. Many young ladies had very "interesting" clothing choices, from the fun (t-shirt with Snoopy playing tennis) to the professional (pink blazer with shoulder pads). After the jump, you'll see: Giant glasses, missing teeth, messy hair, neon laser backgrounds and plenty of pigtails. Oh, and one "tiny gay sailor." Hurry, before the bell rings!"

Around The Blogs

This NYT teacher blogger thinks accountability is overly "individualistic": Totems of Respect

Kevin Carey wants to know why universities can't measure their value added like everyone else: Candor.

The_culpritsEveryone's understandably worried about losing Elizabeth Green from the NY Sun (Say It Ain't So Elizabeth) but word is she'll be staying on the education beat in a new spot to be announced soon. 

What Linda Darling Hammond really thinks of TFA, according to S. Dorn: On Wendy Kopp, TFA, and Linda Darling-Hammond.

Debbie Meier has familiar questions about the Harlem Children's Zone school: The Promises That Count.

Eduwonkette warns against bad growth models: Looking Back, Looking Forward .

Pondisco with another accountability rigging scheme uncovered -- "recounting": What’s Yours Is Mine.

PS:  Apologies to those writers and think tanks left off the reader survey -- I was sleep deprived or drunk, I don't remember which.  Be assured that you can write in anyone you want -- and folks are doing so. 

Testing, Testing, Tested: Linda Perlstein On The Hotseat

TestedEducation writer Linda Perlstein has written two books, including last year's Tested, and is currently serving as an editor/coach for reporters through the Education Writers Association (of which I am a member).

While the book is serious, there are some hilarious  bits where Perlstein makes fun of education-ese that proliferates in education and the mad things that educators do.  At times, I felt like she should be doing standup comedy with this stuff. 

On the Hotseat, Perlstein tries to avoid taking sides on the Broader Bolder debate, describes the various responses to her book, explains why she wrote the book the way she did, and dishes on what she likes -- and doesn't like -- about what's written about schools.

Click below to read the interview. 

Continue reading "Testing, Testing, Tested: Linda Perlstein On The Hotseat" »

20 Out Of 653

Eep_logo"Of 653 questions asked at the 30 debates, only 20 questions addressed education," according to a letter sent Monday (PDF) by EDIN08 top brass (including JC Watts). "Yet voters repeatedly rank education as one of their highest concerns, and for good reason. "

Big [EdWeek] Stories Of The Day

Stephencolbertportrait_l U.S. Education Budget Roiled by Financial Crisis EdWeek
A multi-billion-dollar federal plan to assist the financial markets may leave the next president with very little room for major increases for K-12 schools, perhaps for the foreseeable future. PLUS:  Nurturing The Nest Egg

New School Testing Plan Is Approved Salt Lake Tribune via ECS
The state will need permission from the U.S. Department of Education to exempt the pilot schools from No Child Left Behind requirements.

Salvaging Accountability EdWeek
Thomas Toch and Douglas N. Harris outline what the next president (and Congress) could do to save education reform.

Standards for Teacher Evaluation Mulled EdWeek
With the pressure on to increase student learning, Georgia and Idaho states are in the process of overhauling what analysts say is among the most neglected pieces of the teacher-quality continuum: evaluation.

Sam Sava, RIP

Sam_sava_naesp Sam Sava, who helped develop Head Start and was ED of NAESP for almost 20 years, passed away over the weekend at age 77.  Details and links below via the Fritzwire. 

Continue reading "Sam Sava, RIP" »

Dead-Tired Teachers

Sleepblog The best education blogger who doesn't have a blog, Greg Toppo, has a post today on his paper's Better Life blog about teachers who are nearly as sleep deprived as their students:
Land of the walking dead?

The survey of 109 teachers, administrators and school staff finds that nearly one in four teachers say the lack of sleep means their teaching skills "are significantly diminished." Half admit to "missing work or making errors due to a serious lack of sleep."

Welcome to the blogosphere, Toppo.  Tell them we think you should have your own blog.

Around The Blogs

Picture_7 I was already against it last week, but now some other education bloggers finally weigh in on the bailout:  What $700 Billion Could Also Buy...Bailing Out the Foes of Public Eduction.

MAZ channels the NYT Election Watch blog:  Criticism and Praise For Obama's View on Bilingual Education.

Sara Mead on the Friday debate (seems like years ago):  Shoutout for Early Education in Presidential Debate.

Robert Pondisco clearly has too much time on his hands:  Full Speed Ahead!

I Thought A [NSFW] Think:  If Your Elementary School Textbook Could Talk.

Teachers Who Rock doesn't hate her new kids after all:  All Right Everybody, Just Relax.

Silence Around The Boys Crisis

Danielday_lewisjpg Former Newsweek education writer is Peg Tyre is on a local NPR show talking about her book and about what she calls a taboo against talking about boys in crisis, and about the cross-cutting effects of the boys crisis on girls (School In Session).

Tyre debunks the notion that the boys crisis is only true for low-income boys, and talks about things that some educators iare doing to make schools work better for boys -- and girls. 

Calling Sara Mead! 

Sandra Tsing Loh: Mother On Fire

Mother_on_fire Sandra Tsing Loh, author of Mother On Fire ("A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting!") isn't the first person to riff on the perils and pitfalls of the bake sale economy that goes on at many schools, but she may be the funniest.

Here in the Times blog:   Candy Anyone?

Eagle-eyed readers may recall that Sandra is the one who coined the idea that all schools need for most problems is to "Spray On Some Bill Gates" on it.

Boy's Makeup Banned At School That Emphasizes Acceptance Of Others

Let the 2008-2009 school ban derby begin!

Matt Allsup, 13, was confronted by administrators at Garfield Middle School in Hamilton, Ohio, because he showed up for classes wearing black eye makeup, lipstick and fingernail polish.

The school has a rule against "extreme or distracting" makeup. Matt is now banned from wearing makeup to school

Boy's Makeup Gets Him Banned at Jezebel.

What Do You Think? First Ever Reader Survey

Debate_resized Wednesday Update:  Thanks to everyone who's done the survey -- especially those who are writing in their own answers! Two days in, the leaders include Eduwonkette, budget cuts, Jay Mathews, and the Ed Sector.  But the races are still close. Click Here to take survey

The Big Sort

Big_sort When the electricity failed, our school had the first opportunity for a scene similar to the chaos in Locke High School in Los Angeles which was described in the opening chapter of Relentless Pursuit. During previous systems failures, my juniors and seniors kept working, but the younger students went into a frenzy. This year when the electricity failed, all of our classes continued working.

The first hint that something was different was when a dozen athletes from the neighboring suburbs, a magnet school, and from the all-black school system next to us, enrolled in our school. The young men ranged between 200 to 320 pounds of chiseled muscle that was testimony to a strong work ethic. The young women moved with the grace of the All American track stars our school used to produce. The newcomers had been taught "how to be students." They look you in the eye when they shake your hand, pick up other people’s trash, and address adults as "Sir" and "Ma’am." I am thrilled with their knowledge of African-American history and the confident way that they challenge the teachers’ opinions and lead class discussions to a higher level.

Continue reading "The Big Sort" »

Big Stories Of The Day

Dc_wpSchool staff failed to act on alleged sexual assault Seattle PI
Some Rainier Beach High School staff members seriously erred last year by failing to call police after a student alleged that she had been sexually assaulted on campus, according to a recently released Seattle Public Schools report.

Urban superintendents hard to retain MSNBC
St. Louis is looking for its eighth school superintendent since 2003. Kansas City is on its 25th superintendent in 39 years.

Detroit Schools Take Hit as the City’s Population Shrinks NYT
The public school system in Detroit stand sto lose tens of millions of dollars in state financing due to a large drop in the number of students it serves.

How a Football Game Became a Racial Scrimmage Washington Post
In the third quarter of a game against Fort Hill High School, a tearful defensive end from Dunbar High threw his helmet to the ground and kicked it.

Helping kids break stereotypes Christian Science Monitor
First-graders learn firsthand about disabilities – and respect.

Embattled Education Reporter Quits Job

Miami_sex_scandal No one else seems to be covering this unfortunate saga, but the Tania deLuzuriaga saga lurched forward today, according to the Miami Herald: Ex-Herald reporter quits Boston Globe.

I'm not sure how I feel about the young female reporter taking the fall while the older male administrator remains in place -- so far.  (No word yet on what happens to his plans to replace Rudy Crew.)  I'm concerned that the Globe hasn't said anything about the situation.  And I'm convinced all the more that in this age of blogs and email journalists need to know that they're likely to be part of the story as any of their subjects.

Previous Posts:

Romance Rumors Roil Replacement
Hot Reporter-Educator Relationship Allegations In Miami

For Educators, Life Is Good

Lifesgoodogosjpgw300h303_3 Apparently, not all teachers are whiners, naysayers, and worryworts.  Maybe it's just me. 

According to this story from a couple of months ago, educators are among those most devoted to the popular line of t-shirts and hats known as Life Is Good.

It's Friday, and September is almost over.  So life must be good.

"Total Student Load" Makes All The Difference

Check out this interesting column (Beware of the Easy School Fix) from Jay Mathews about the idea that total student loads per teacher -- not class size -- might have a lot to do with raising student achievement (and making teachers happy) in middle and high schools especially:

Apparently, TSL is capped in some districts -- 170 in NYC, 225 in LA.  (Chicago?) The column  is based on a not-yet-published study of 442 schools including Chicago by a UCLA professor who advocates school-based budgeting that eliminates nonclassroom positions in favor of reducing teacher loads.

I'm going to try and get my hands on the report and will let you know more.

Cross-posted from District 299

Obama's Misleading Slam On Education Funding

2008_9_dogs_for_obama FactCheck's list of Whoppers of 2008 (so far) includes this item about Obama that I haven't seen much about in the press or on other blogs:

"Obama has misrepresented some of McCain's votes on school funding as votes for cutting education spending. In fact, of the five votes the Obama ad lists, one was for an increase in school funding (just a smaller one than Democrats wanted) and four others were against increases and not for spending cuts."

Sure, the Obama claim isn't as bad (or incindiery) as some of those made by McCain (ie, sex ed for kindergartners), and sure, some Obama supporters are urging him to mix it up with McCain rather than gently let accusations go unanswered. 

But this longstanding line of argument comes up with NCLB funding, too, and is pretty pathetic and unfair.

NY Times Replaces Education Coverage With Education Blog

Lessonplans_main_2The Times may have lost its education page, its education column, Will Okun, and several of its education reporters, but it's got a newish group blog called Lesson Plans that you might want to check out.

In it, several teachers -- including well-known blogger teacherken (bernstein) -- post about their start-of-year experiences.  And, because it's the Times, each post generates a ton of responses.  In a somewhat similar move, The LA Times several months ago replaced its reporter-run education blog (School Me) with a new blog (The Homeroom) that's populated by reporters and a group of teachers and students.

Big Stories Of The Day

Soccergun$4.5 billion pledged to send kids to school MSNBC
A coalition of governments, charities and U.N. agencies pledged $4.5 billion on Thursday in an effort to get all the world's children in school by 2015.

Districts' Borrowing May Face Hit From Continued Financial Crisis EdWeek
The situation could have its biggest long-term impact on districts’ capital projects, as the upheaval in the credit and stock markets threatens to drive up the cost of borrowing money.

DPS sees record drop in students Detroit News
Detroit Public Schools posted its lowest enrollment since World War I, constituting a massive and unexpected decline, according to early figures circulated by the district administration following Wednesday's statewide pupil count.

Selling Teenagers on Benefits of Milk NYT
Classes at three high schools in California will be spending the next six or seven weeks developing ideas for the “Got milk?” campaign.

Toting gun at soccer costs mom her permit Wilkes-Barre News
Youth soccer coach Charlie Jones said he approached Hain at the Sept. 11 game and asked her to move to the other side of the field, away from the sideline where the children were standing, after hearing that some parents were upset at seeing her gun.

Barone Challenges Ed School Testing Critics To A Duel

Simduel

"Everyone knows that the MCAS system, like its counterparts in other states, has room for improvement," writes bad boy Charlie Barone (Tea Time). "But as usual, the academics raise all kinds of problems and offer no concrete solutions, and the Globe (unlike most news outfits) has the cojones to call them on it."

Pay Discrimination & The Performance Pay Debate

080915_r17730_p233 There's been lots of discussion over the past few months about how attitudes towards performance pay differ between generations, and about how delicate and complex it can be to develop a performance model that measures student achievement accurately and fairly. 

But this New Yorker column from last week (Equal Before Mammon) reminds us that there's also a long and important history behind seniority-based pay and the much-maligned single salary schedule that dominates the education field. At the heart of that history is equal pay for women, which is -- yes -- still a problem. 

Selling pay schemes to folks concerned about fundamental pay equity is a double challenge.  Those who wish to change how teachers are paid would do well to address deep-seated (and not entirely outdated) fears about pay discrimination -- as well as addressing technical, financial, and political issues.

The Big Education Bailout [Updated]

Eed1568e70bc4fcab63d12a13f561b0fIt's hard not to watch this current round of convulsions surrounding the bailout of the financial sector without worrying -- and without wondering whether there are any useful equivalents in the education space. 

Obviously there's nothing that's quite as critical going on at this very moment.  But the issues being discussed  -- accountability, government regulation, individual vs. group benefit -- are many of the them the same.  And you could argue that, year after year, the government (in all its forms) "bails out" low- or non-performing educational institutions by continuing to fund them.  No, it's nothing like the $700B that's proposed for the current financial bailout.  But if education is a $500B a year industry as is said, then it's not nothing, either.

Let's bail out the kids and their parents, not the schools and institutions who are clamoring for more money.  Let's focus on making taxpayers whole and getting a decent return on the government investment. Let's not reward those who have mis-spent millions in public funds already, or credulously accept their assurances that they will change moving forward.

UPDATE:  I was writing somewhat metaphorically, but it turns out there IS new student lending bailout plan in the proposal before Congress, and Stephen Burd of New America says it's a terriblel idea.

18 Community Journos Get Education Fellowship

692_1 More and more foundation folks seem to understand the importance of quality education journalism, it seems. 

Last week, a New York City nonprofit announced that it had named 18 journalists to its Education Reporting Fellowship.  The fellowship includes $6,000 for each participant, and a 10-month training program. 

Gates, Rockefeller Brothers, and DBA Foundation are the funders.  Click below for the presser.

Continue reading "18 Community Journos Get Education Fellowship" »

Science After School: Sizzle or Steak? [Guest Post]

Chicago journalist Maureen Kelleher writes in with her take on after school science:

In terms of buzz and grant money, efforts to keep kids learning outside the regular school day are hot. Efforts to build a pipeline of future American engineers, scientists and mathematicians are even hotter. Last week in Chicago, these two trends converged in the first national conference on science and technology in out-of-school time. "We think it's a crisis when we have to use all of our visas to get engineers," Motorola's  Eileen Sweeney told the crowd of 250 at the opening reception. "We think you're part of the solution to that crisis."

A 2006 study published in the journal Science showed students with an interest in science before high school were two to three times more likely to earn a bachelor's degree in science or engineering. So far, however, spending on out-of-school time science is small.  EdWeek reported that in fiscal 2006, the feds spent $173 million on informal STEM education compared to  $574 million on K-12 STEM programs.   

What do you think? Are kids more likely to get hooked on science inside or outside the classroom?

Controversial Principal Minding NYC's Rubber Room

766 "Rubber rooms" apparently aren't just for teachers. A controversial former NYC principal -- product of the DOE's much-touted Leadership Academy --has now been assigned to supervise the district's rubber room in Staten Island.  Jolanta Rohloff, the notorious former principal of Lafayette High School, is apparently creating just as much havoc in her new assignment as in her old -- just not around kids. Read here to get a taste of her work. The DOE points out that Rohloff has not been accused of any impropriety and is there in a supervisory position. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Ga_ajcNew Effort Aims to Test Theories of Education NYT
A $44 million program called the Educational Innovation Laboratory is intended to infuse education with the data-driven approach that is common in science and business.

Unions Are Alive and Well in Many Charter Schools NY Teacher
Contrary to conventional wisdom, unions and charter schools are not mutually exclusive. In fact, unions are increasingly cropping up — and thriving — in charter schools around the nation. Via edspresso.

Weird science: Area students behind nation Brattleboro Reformer
Science tests are required under the federal No Child Left Behind law, but the results are not used to determine adequate yearly progress.

With a Wish and a Click, Web Site Helps Supply Schools Washington Post
To review nouns with her students, Amanda King, a 10th-grade English teacher at Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, purchased yellow highlighters so her students could mark the words in sentences.

Schools fail to meet No Child Left Behind goals AP
The study, released today, found that the number of schools failing to meet achievement goals nationwide under No Child Left Behind jumped by 50 percent since last year - with California leading the way.

Socio-economic Integration

Centennial_high_school Rick Kahlenberg is probably too hopeful in regard to socio-economic integration, but this is the reason why I would hate to give up on it. During the 90s, my old school was a classic inner ring suburban school. There was "no there there;" not even any Black churches were in the area. Our neighborhood had a huge incarceration rate, but we did not have a critical mass of extreme poverty. Once, 1/5th of the starters in the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament were our graduates. Back then, the majority of our "skill players" came from two parent families, and the majority of the rest had been coached in Little League by those fathers. With the proliferation of magnet and charter schools, our student leaders were creamed off, and by the time the school was closed we were as hardcore as big city schools. We were a school with no social fabric in a community with no social fabric.

Continue reading "Socio-economic Integration" »

What Ed Blogs Need: Eye Candy, Relationship Drama

You may already know this, but I finally figured out what education blogs need to compete with technology, political, and other kinds of blogs:

Ana_marie_coxWe need some high-profile sex objects (male or female) like some other blog sectors have (Hot Female Bloggers). I'm guessing that Eduwonkette has her share of fanboys out there, but as of yet there's no Ana Marie Cox (pictured) or Anderson Cooper (not a blogger, I know). 

We also need hookups, flirtations, or a failed romance or two among education bloggers -- like they have in other kinds of blogs (How Xeni and Violet's Boing Boing affair went sour). Nothing boosts readership like drama. 

How do we get there?  Well, if there's ever another education bloggers summit, they'll have to feature more drinking games.  Or maybe there's already some inter-blog romance going on that I don't know about. 

Previous Posts:
PDA In The Edusphere
Hot...For Education

Another Day, Another Education Splinter Group

I guess the Bigger, Bolder Alliance wasn't big or bold enough for Randi Weingarten.  She is today rolling out the Community Agenda for America's Public Schools, a 120-member strong alliance to promote community schooling.  Details below.

Continue reading "Another Day, Another Education Splinter Group" »

Principal Turns In Rival Principal For Alleged Cheating

The most interesting part of this story (SC probes award-winning, inner-city school) isn't that the cheating went on or that the state finally figured it out.  (I blame NCLB.) It's that one of the folks who dropped a dime on her was a principal at a nearby school who had read about the test scores but wasn't impressed by the abilities of the kids who transferred into his school. Teacher Magazine Via The Core Knowledge Blog.

Big Stories Of The Day

Dc_wp_2Detroit Public Schools braces for lower count Detroit News
The drop means the district stands to lose its first-class status, which indicates more charter schools could open in the city, the make-up of the school board could be affected and the way the district issues contracts could change.

Teachers' Union Chief Cites Mistrust Washington Post
Senior D.C. teachers' fear and mistrust of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's intentions are a major obstacle to approval of her potentially lucrative salary proposal, Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker said last night after a three-hour membership meeting.

Bonuses Given at Schools That Failed NY Times
Teachers and principals at five failed schools earned cash bonuses for their successes on standardized tests, which officials explained largely as a question of short-term versus long-term goals.

Schools fail to meet No Child Left Behind goals San Francisco Chronicle
If the system mandated by No Child Left Behind to fix thousands of failing schools were subjected to its own rigorous standards, it too could fail. That's the conclusion of the first large study examining whether school-restructuring programs required by the federal No Child Left Behind education act are actually working. 

Anti-Obama shirt riles school Denver Post
A sixth-grader will be back in class today, three school days after he was suspended for causing a disruption for wearing a T-shirt that said Barack Obama was terrorist-friendly.

The Head Start Problem

American Public Media's Emily Hanford does a good job in this radio segment updating us all on business-based effort to support early childhood investments, noting the reportedly high rate of return on early childhood spending and quoting the widely-held belief that test scores are used to project prison populations. 

But no one in Hanford's piece -- indeed, no one in the entire early childhood community has explained how any such investments that might be made on a large scale don't end up turning out like Head Start.   Whether it's preschool for all, or Obama's Promise Neighborhoods, I still haven't heard much of anything about implementation quality, capacity, and all the rest that's required.

Transcript here.
Previous Posts:
Ducking Head Start
NCLB + UPK = A Mess, Or A Great Opportunity?
Hype & Foundation's Role In Pushing Universal Preschool
What Happened To Head Start Could Happen To Obama's NFP Expansion

Heresy Watch

Bridgetonowhere

I don’t know Kenneth Hartman, except that he is a school board member who won the University of Pennsylvania 2007 Educator of the Year Award, and he has the nerve to express this sort of common sense:

"Stop reinventing the wheel. An ever-changing curriculum is costly and has resulted in teachers being confused and suspicious of the "latest" new direction. As a result, most teachers in America pretty much teach what they want.

The cost-benefit ratio of implementing a new curriculum every five to six years should be questioned by local school boards. Moreover, do we really need 15,000 curriculum departments across the country?"

Continue reading "Heresy Watch" »

Having Saved Education Reporting, Benton Now Saving Online Journalism

Picture_6Josh Benton, for many years the enfant terrible of the education journalism world, has moved on to the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and by the looks of this headshot seems  like he's all growed up.

Clean-shaven.  A collared shirt and a jacket.  There's almost a choirboy thing going on. 

If Benton can do for online journalism what he did for education writing, we're all in for... a lot of fun. 

Dade County Update: Romance Rumors Roil Replacement

Miami_sex_scandal EdWeek follows up on the Miami-Dade County superintendent scandal, noting that:

"the board has delayed a vote to approve the contract of its newly chosen superintendent, as questions swirled about the process used to select him and about the nature of his relationship with a reporter who covered the schools."

Still no comment from the reporter, who now works at the Boston Globe.

Miami Puts Off Vote on New Leader

Obama, Ayers, & "Radical" Education Reform

Bill_ayers_wsjA piece in today's Wall Street Journal digs deep into the history of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to try and figure out how close was the association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, and indeed unearths some new documentation that no one else has gotten to (ie, minutes and records from CAC board meetings). 

But the paper's findings don't seem to me to be so startling or upsetting as the paper would make it seem  (Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools).  We already know that Obama and Ayers overlapped  working on the project.  We already know what the CAC did:  hand money out to community and education groups. 

Sure, the Obama campaign may have downplayed the association.  Shame on them.  But nothing "radical" came of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.  The Challenge gave money to education and community groups but failed to transform CPS in any wide or lasting way.  For my 2001 chapter on how the Challenge evolved in Chicago, click here: From Frontline Leader to Rearguard Action (Fordham Foundation).

Big Stories Of The Day

Georgia math tests that students failed were not flawed Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An independent audit of Georgia's math tests has found that questions on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test strongly matched what the state says students should learn, supporting the state's position that...

Soda Ban in Schools Has Little Impact NYT
A new study suggests that banning soft drink sales in elementary schools only slightly reduces how much soda children drink.

Obama_classroomObama stresses investment, McCain parental choice CSM
A growing chorus of business and education-reform advocates hope that whoever becomes the next president will help create the educational equivalent of the “Sputnik moment” – when America reached for the moon.

Stand-up desks provide a firm footing for fidgety students Milwaukee Journal Sentine
“As a teacher, I never sit down,” said Seekel, who works in the School District of Somerset, near the Minnesota border. “I started to think: Why should I make the kids sit down?”

Consensus on Learning Time Builds EdWeek
Under enormous pressure to prepare students for a successful future—and fearful that standard school hours don’t offer enough time to do so—educators, policymakers, and community activists are adding more learning time to children’s lives.

KIPP Study Finds High Student Attrition Amid Big Learning Gains EdWeek
The study concludes that the middle schools run by KIPP, which stands for the Knowledge Is Power Program, have posted “strong achievement gains,” especially in the 5th and 6th grades, and points to signs that the schools are not simply drawing better students.

More Proof That Parental Involvement Makes A Difference

Header_main10"A four-year effort to improve student learning has earned national recognition for a charter school in the polygamous community of Centennial Park."

(Polygamous community school gets NCLB honors Salt Lake City Tribune Via The Gadfly)

Ten Year-Old Delivers Dallas Back To School Speech

Dallas_back_to_schoolIs this back to school speech inspiring, or creepy, or -- none of the above?

A couple of folks have sent it to me.

Pretty brave of the folks at DISD to put a kid in front of everyone.

Note to self:  Must ask Kent Fischer how the school year is going down there.

Of course, he's already on it.

I guess I'm the only one who thought it was a little JonBenet. 

Not Every Book Klein Reads Gets Turned Into Reality

Confederacyofduncesexleydef70327801It seemed to me that last week's New York Sun article about Joel Klein's reading and reforming habits (Klein Goes by the Books ) left out at least one key bit of information.

Not all of the ideas that Klein reads about and then proposes actually succeed in getting implemented. 

Most notably, this includes the weighted student funding plan, which was substantially watered down. 

Meanwhile, Klein protegee Michell Rhee has eliminated WSF for District schools, according to this EdWeek article.

New Teacher Project Calls Out NYC, UFT -- Again

18blog600You don't have to care a whit about New York City or union contracts to take note that the New Teacher Project has, twice now, stepped up and called out the city's powerful education leadership about the wasteful situation that is taking place around excessed teachers. 

Most groups that work with districts don't utter a peep in public no matter what they see, for fear of repercussions.  But not TNTP.  No matter that their efforts haven't shamed those in charge to take action -- yet.  It's an impressive example that I wish other groups -- TFA, NLNS, KIPP, etc. -- would take when necessary rather than just burrowing into districts or staying out of what's going on in the larger education landscape. 

City Teacher Pay Practice Comes in for Fresh Criticism NYT
Report: Absent Teacher Reserve Draining City of $74M in 2008 NY Sun

Schnur Leaves New Leaders To Join Obama Campaign

Jon Schnur, one of the cofounders of New Leaders for New Schools, is taking a leave of absence from the organization to work on the Obama campaign between now and election day, according to an email from Schnur that someone passed on to me over the weekend (thanks!).

Jon_schnurEven before this, Schnur had been actively involved in setting up events during the Denver contention and developing Obama's education speech earlier this month.  In the email, Schnur says he's going to co-chair the Obama education policy committee.  No word yet on who the other co-chair is, or Schnur's plans for after the election.  It is not uncommon for those involved in campaigns to take these kinds of leaves of absence. 

New Leaders currently has 550 residents in 9 different cities. Click below to read the entire email.

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Big Stories Of The Day

Usat Disability Act Changes Offer Protections EdWeek
A bill headed to the White House clarifies the federal Americans With Disabilities Act in ways expected to help K-12 students.

Study: Kids misplaced in algebra MSNBC
More kids than ever are taking algebra in eighth grade but not n ecessarily learning more math, private researchers report.  PLUS: System Tries to Up Subject Appeal Washington Post.

D.C. School Chancellor Targets Teachers, Angering Union PBS
Chancellor Michelle Rhee's mission to reform D.C.'s troubled schools has met resistance from the teachers' union.

Author tracks one man's quest to fix Harlem USA Today
"Sure, schools can go overboard with test prep. But if you do it right, preparing a kid for a standardized test basically just means expanding his vocabulary and math skills and ability to read."

As Text Messages Fly, Danger Lurks NYT
There is anecdotal evidence that texting while doing something else is starting to cause fatal accidents.

Parents Battle Over School Mergers NPR
Pennsylvania is planning to combine two districts for the first time in 20 years and merger battles are underway in Georgia, Maine, North Dakota, among other states.

Spencer, Columbia, & Me

Spencer_logoJournalism_schoolSo far, at least, this Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship gig at Columbia is pretty amazing.  I don't think I've ever been treated this well or been given so much support.  Except by mom, of course.  Well, it's close.

Read below to read all the fawning details.

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Why People Facebook

Still utterly mystified why your students, children, and even grownups are spending so much time hanging out on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter?  You're not alone. 

But this Times Magazine article (I’m So Totally, Digitally Close to You) from a couple of weeks ago does a really good job of explaining the allure.  The piece says that the desire for constant contact boils down to a few key things:  a new, looser definition of friendship than the traditional one, the addictive, accumulative process by which Facebook updates and Twitter tweets are delivered automatically to the user, the struggle to keep up with friends and family, and -- most interesting -- a sensation called "ambient awareness," which gives people a comforting if vague sense of what's going on in the online world around them. 

TFA, National Service, & The Residency Model

Over at the Core Knowledge Blog, Robert Pondisco writes that TFA is in great shape, what with a recent McCain mention, an Obama universal national service proposal, and zillions of retiring boomers and TFA applicants (TFA=AOL? OMG!).  As you may recall, I hold that the TFA model -- alt cert straight into a solo classroom experience -- is losing prominence as folks move towards residency models instead.  That doesn't mean TFA disappears overnight.  I think AOL is still around, too. 

Classroom Blogs Influence Reporters -- And Policy

Education writer Eddy Ramirez has a nice article about classroom bloggers that's just out in US News this morning (Teachers Seek Influence, Risk Trouble). 

IminurinternetclogingurtubesAs Ramirez and I discussed last week when he was working on the piece, classroom blogs can be an amazing tool for letting the media and policymakers know what's going on in the real world.  A few -- the now-defunct "Fast Times At Regnef" among them -- have already influenced real-world events.  More example of concrete effects will follow.  In the meantime, many classroom blogs are frontline tools for reporters covering the beat (though too many reporters fail to credit where they're getting their leads). 

Still, classroom blogs have to be funny or insightful to  win readers, I'd argue.  Honest and observant helps, too.  That's one of the things that John Thompson,  a contributor here who is unfortunately not mentioned in the article, brings.   

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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.