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Corean_brothers I am proud of the Chicago students who tried to enroll in suburban schools. In my neighborhood, so many women in those pastel nurse's aides smocks make the daily commute to the suburbs, not returning home without all of the overtime they can get. At the same time they have to get some of their children to magnet or suburban schools in order to escape the chaos of city schools. They also have to find suburban or alternative schools who will accept their other children who have been removed from urban schools for contributing to the disorder. And some children need to be dropped off in the inner city because they could not function in the suburban environment.

Continue reading "Equity" »

Wishful Thinking About Obama

Ewatch_nyt It feels to me like there's at least a little bit of wishful thinking in Bruce Fuller's post about Barack Obama in the New York Times (Right About Education).  In particular, Fuller seems to think that Obama would abandon much of the accountability and testing regimen of NCLB in favor of new programs, controlled charter school expansion, and early childhood education.  Obama has become notoriously hard to read on issues that divide his supporters -- his campaign famously announced that Obama approves of both the Broader Bolder agenda AND the Education Equity Project.  But I don't think dismantling the "top-down" standards and accountability system  is what Obama wants to do -- or what's going to happen.  For starters, neither charter accountability, nor performance pay work without them.

Big Stories Of The Day

Dc_wp_3Educators Eye Exposure to U.S. Financial Turmoil EdWeek
School business officials are keeping a close watch on the markets—and on district investment portfolios and teacher-retirement funds—amid escalating upheaval on Wall Street.

Students at KIPP perform better, study finds San Francisco Chronicle
Since their founding in 1994, KIPP public charter schools have won high praise from educators and...

Omaha Public Schools tries controversial suicide screening program Associated Press
Last spring, 33 students at Omaha's Lewis & Clark Middle School took a test designed to save their lives.

Learning To Thrive With Attention Deficit Disorder NPR
Emily Algire earned good grades in elementary school. But by middle school, there were signs that something was wrong.

City to Give $14.2 Million in Bonuses NYT
Teachers at 89 elementary and middle schools will receive bonuses of several thousand dollars each, based on the progress their schools made on report cards released this week.

Statistical "Smoothing" In Illinois

Concerned about unexpectedly large fluctuations in last spring's test score results, Illinois went back to the statistical well and brought in a new, more robust "equating" method to smooth things out before releasing state test scores to the public.  The state tells me that scores are always equated from year to year, and that the fluctuations it was correcting for were not all in one direction or the otherBut the process, and the delay, and the reported improvements have all generated a certain amount of skepticism and confusion.  See my District299.com blog for the full explanation from the state, and teachers' and administrators' questions. (llinois test scores show split results Tribune).  How soon until someone blames this on NCLB?

DonorsChoose -- Simplified

Mustbetheshoes Don't have time to put together lesson projects, much less the money to pay for them?  The Generation Project feels you. 

Check out GothamSchool's profile of this new philanthropic effort, which, if I understand correctly, combines the Match.com aspects of DonorsChoose with prepackaged lessons and projects that don't require so much ahead of time effort from teachers.   

Big Stories Of The Day

Wall_street_woes_091708It’s Not Discipline, It’s a Teachable Moment NYT
The most effective discipline typically doesn’t involve any punishment at all, but instead focuses on positive reinforcement when children are being good.

Green Dot's biggest test yet LA Times
Meanwhile, because Green Dot has split Locke into seven separately run academies, the school will run up a deficit of $3 million to $6 million over the first four years, an expense also covered by benefactors.

Gut Instinct’s Surprising Role in Math NYT
New studies suggest that two number systems, one that is innate for many animals and one that is uniquely human, may be profoundly related.

How Do You Teach Economy Now? NPR
The recent financial upheaval on Wall Street has trickled down to the Bronx School of Law and Finance. We find out how finance teacher Lena Borst explains the economic lessons of the current crisis to her students.

.Student Told to Remove Rosary, Considered a Gang Symbol Fox News
A Dallas-area high school student says she's been forbidden from wearing her rosary to school because it's considered a gang symbol.

Three Themes To The Current Education Debate

Two weeks into the school year and less than two months before the election, it seems like there's lots of blogging going on but no clear themes or coherence in the collective discussion.  Anyone else feel like that?

Picture_19 Education issues seem pretty dead as a campaign issue.  The only election game in town is guessing who will head education efforts of the next Obama/McCain administration.  But everyone's too busy checking their retirement investments -- and worrying about Palin -- to care. It was fun while it lasted, EDIN08.  It's gonna be extra super hard to squeeze education questions into the debate lineup. 

Picture_19The Broader Bolder Vs. Equity debate continues unabated, despite the discussion's diminishing usefulness (and my limited attention span).  I remember there was some blather not so long ago about the new bipartisanship on education reform?  Not so fast -- seems like the Democratic old guard still has some rhetorical fight left in it.  Bipartisanship will have to wait until the Democratic infighting is resolved.

Picture_19Last but not least, many are debating two new books about efforts to address students' nonacademic needs -- Whatever It Takes and Sweating The Small Stuff -- in or out of the school day.  But it's not really a fair fight, given Paul Tough's media contacts.  The author of Whatever It Takes already in the Times, on Slate, at TPM, and on NPR.  And he's got a ready-made protagonist in Geoffrey Canada.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him -- or Canada -- on the Colbert Report or 60 Minutes sometime soon.  Or did that already happen?

Around The Blogs

4 Little Girls
Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Teacher Autonomy Paradox
Only by relinquishing some autonomy will teachers finally be able to attain the true professional status they deserve.

Teachers we love...on movies and TV
Gabe Kotter from Welcome Back, Kotter (to which Tyler responded, "Who's Mr. Kotter?"), Arnold Schwarzenegger from Kindergarten Cop (a pretend pretend teacher), Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Bueller, Bueller),Mr. Garrison from South Park (also his colleague, Hm-Kay?), and Franki Valli from Grease (fantasy beauty school educator).

Hannah Upp
Hannah Upp, the 23-year-old school teacher who went missing in NYC on August 29 has turned up alive after an apparent suicide attempt.

Don't Forget Duncan

ArneduncanNothing's more difficult in Washington than admitting fault, and so Fordham's Mike Petrilli has determined that his omission of Chicago superintendent Arne Duncan in a recent roundup of top EdSec candidates wasn't a mistake.  Instead, Petrilli conjures up the argument that Duncan isn't a viable candidate because... he isn't as well known as Jim Hunt and can't help Obama win Southern states.  Well, last I looked, cabinet announcements are often made after elections and aren't usually called on to help win them.  No one in the real world has ever heard of Hunt or Duncan -- or knew Paige or Spellings before they were appointed.  The real reason Duncan won't ultimately get the nod is that he sounds like a goofball when he talks and is a follower rather than a leader.  But that doesn't mean he's not a contender.

Insert Blog Post Title [Here]

Call_center_bangaloreIn the education news of today, there are goodly numbers of items forthcoming. Neither alarming nor disturbing. 

Local and national import, plus attempts at humour.  Dismissive of other blogs item now -- hah! 

Please to read more here.

Thanking you. 

An "Unfair" Attack On Education Coverage

Letter_e2From Greg Toppo, longtime education reporter for USA Today:

"You beat us up a bit unfairly in your On The Media commentary, I thought. I think it's unfair to argue that the law kicked in all this money with little responsibility or accountability attached, and that we didn't report on how wonderful it all was. The coverage has pretty consistently reflected that more money is in play, saying that schools welcomed the money ... but had to spend it on new tests, accountability, etc. 

"And the idea that NCLB is a tarnished brand because of incomplete media coverage doesn't work for me. When Checker and Diane and those guys all say it isn't working, how do you paint that as some sort of media pile-on?

"As I was listening to your interview, I was thinking about Stephanie Banchero's series on that Chicago transfer girl Rayola -- that pointed out both the difficulty of getting families to play along and the nuttiness of a system that thinks transfers work. In the end, I thought it was very fair, very revealing, very generous stuff. And there have been a lot of pieces that, to a lesser extent, tried to get behind the law. Why didn't you mention them?"

Used with permission.

Women Dominate The Boys Crisis

Peg_tyre Now that Sara Mead is gone, the men at the Ed Sector can finally reveal that they aren't all boys crisis deniers over there.  In this post, Tom Toch promos Peg Tyre's new book about the boys crisis.  She's an Ed Sector fellow and there's some panel or debate coming up (Hot Boys). 

Just remember that since-departed Mead and Tyre (pictured right) come at this from completely different angles.  And that women seem to dominate the debate over whether there is a boys crisis.  I rest my case.  Again. 

Not Impossible

Geoffrey_canadaJohn Thompson:  I don’t care for Paul Tough’s wording in the NPR Fresh Air interview, but he is correct that solving generational poverty is " a lot easier than it might seem." I agree, as long as we follow the genius of Geoffrey Canada. But we would also need to avoid some of the pitfalls of Canada’s hubris.

You have to admire Canada’s wisdom on the challenge of "disconnected youth" and the need to create the "critical mass" of a constructive "teenage culture." He recognizes the trauma that our poorest kids endure, and the need to be "loving and firm," "unafraid," and to set boundaries without hypocrisy. Canada’s discussion of corporal punishment was brilliant. Canada’s discussion of discipline was astute, and he did not deny that regular schools do not have the resources that his methods require.

Continue reading "Not Impossible" »

Big Stories Of The Day

Uscparking_01Shelby Schools employees worry over retirement funds DeSoto Appeal
The suburban district's supplemental retirement fund is separate from the primary pension plan for teachers under the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement...

District Won’t Fight Accreditation Loss EdWeek
Officials with the Clayton County, Ga., public schools have decided not to appeal the loss of the district’s accreditation.

To Remain Open, Catholic Schools Become Charters NPR
In Washington, D.C., the Archdiocese and city officials came up with an idea to keep seven religious schools open: convert them to public charter schools.

Teaching kids a financial lesson LA Times
See Sally. See Sally run from the bank. Run Sally run.

Did Post Story Fail To Call McCain Out On Sex Ed Lies?

Teamlift Folks on the Interwebs are increasingly fed up with some of the deceptive ads and talking points that McCain and Palin are using against Barack Obama -- and they're taking it out on Obama (calling on him to respond more forcefully) and on mainstream journalists (slamming them for not calling out Republican distortions at every step).

In this Media Matters post, for example, the Washington Post's Maria Glod is taken to task for her Monday story noting McCain's claim that Obama advocates sex ed for kindergartners as if that claim hadn't been thoroughly debunked in her own paper (here).

The attack is a little over the top but the point is well made and worth repeating.  Journalistic objectivity doesn't require the uncritical repetition of obvious falsehoods. 

Knucklehead: What To Call The "Bad" Kids?

Knucklehead_kids One of the things you hear most often in schools is some sort of creative, somewhat politically correct name for the "bad" kids -- defiant, troublesome, taxing kids who are ditching class (or being put out of class) all too often.  Some people call them "knuckleheads" -- which used to mean "dummy" but has since taken on a more pleasant-seeming connotation.  Some even (still) call them "bad apples" -- suggesting not just poor behavior but innate troublesomness. The habit, it seems to me, is to find a term that's inoffensive but still descriptive -- maybe intentionally anachronistic, or ironic.  But it occurs to me (having fallen into using the term knucklehead) that maybe these cuter terms aren't any better than some of the harsher ones that most adults refrain from using.  What do you hear kids being  called in the schools you know best, and what do you think about it?

Preventing The Next School Rampage?

Dawson_rampage A couple of weeks ago, I bummed everyone out with a reminder about the school massacre that took place in Beslan four years ago (Back To The School). 

This week, Salon goes back into the black hole of school violence with this piece about what we know -- and don't know -- about the 13 American kids who in recent history have killed more than two people on school grounds: When kids become mass murderers

Uplifting stuff, I   Makes you glad you read this blog. 

In the meantime, school shootings have become "almost commonplace," says the author.  An August 21 school killing went almost unnoticed in the national press despite the usual back-to-school flurry of education coverage (16-Year-Old Dies in Tenn. School ShootingABC News).

The Outsourced District

Snapshot_20080904_212058It used to be that outside education organizations like New Leaders, TFA and The New Teacher Project had to beg districts to let them in.  Now it's the districts that are doing the begging. 

This according to Amanda Millner-Fairbanks' new Administrator article about the "outsourced" district.  The Outsourced Districtcame to seek outside help like that of its sister district, Memphis -- and how the "new" outsourcing differs from old-school kind (transpo, food, payroll).

Tall 12 Year-Old Kicked Off Boys Team For Being Too Good

She's a girl.  She likes to play basketball.  She was on the boys team.  That is, until she got too good. Via Deadspin (Twelve-Year-Old Girl Kicked Off Boys' Basketball Team For Being Too Good).   Yes, I consider this more evidence of the boys crisis. 

Deranged Mom Takes "Back To School" A Little Too Literally

Wendybrown091508 Brown allegedly attended cheerleading practices before school started, received a cheerleader's locker and went to a pool party at the cheerleading coach's house.

Mom allegedly uses daughter's ID to be cheerleader

Tuesday Extras

Girl Talk Has Its Limits NYT
Sharing is good, but researchers discuss if it can spin out of control for teenagers.

Club Penguin Anonymous Freakonomics
My son Nicholas, age 5, recently discovered the internet. Last week I got him an account at Club Penguin, a website for kids. Since then, he has spent hours at a time on Club Penguin. He refuses to come to meals. He throws tantrums if forced to stop. PLUS:  Note on Freakonomics Student and Teacher Guides.

Game Enables Users to Guide Evolution on Screen EdWeek
A much-anticipated commercial computer game about evolution is getting a favorable response from some scholars, even though a few of its features sacrifice strict scientific accuracy to fun. PLUS:  Is Spore about evolution or intelligent design? Slate.

In Tangle of Young Lips, a Sex Rebellion in Chile NYT
Chile’s youths are living in a period of sexual exploration that, academics and government officials say, is like nothing the country has witnessed before.


Big Stories Of The Day

Overhaul for schools Baltimore Sun
Of the five states that the center has studied in depth - Georgia, Michigan, California, Ohio and Maryland - only Georgia appears to be making progress in improving the worst schools, Jennings said.

SpellingsBush Official Seeks Renewed Support for 'No Child'
Washington Post
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings today sought to reinvigorate support for the No Child Left Behind law even as the two major-party presidential candidates have distanced themselves from it. She contended the law has helped improve public education and should be strengthened.

District raising scores The Wichita Eagle
For all the pain it's caused schools and districts, the No Child Left Behind law is resulting in undeniable academic gains in Wichita and around the state.

Canada: 'Whatever It Takes' To Teach Kids NPR
Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, and New York Times journalist Paul Tough discuss the project, an audacious integrated poverty-eradication effort in New York City.

Surprise in the Lilies

Spider This year we in Oklahoma City had a wonderful crop of "Surprise Lilies." A student who was admiring her bouquet, screamed that there was a spider in them. When I explained that a big name educator named Michelle Rhee had once eaten a bee for her students, the kids shouted, "No!" "Don’t eat it!" "You might get AIDs or something!"

That night I read the kids’ essays about their personal "rear view mirror" and "headlights." As usual, there were poignant stories of drugs, incarceration, abuse, and health crises. As usual, there were proclamations of hope. Though written with elementary school skills, real poetry often emerged. I was not prepared for the conclusion of one guy’s essay, however. After seeing me eat a spider, he still asked me for advice regarding his girlfriend.

Since the students are so open hearted, why can’t educators bury their differences? Bug eaters of the world, Unite!

Around The Blogs

Classroom_reading_mooBlow ‘em up Good? Jennifer Jennings (aka eduwonkette)
It’s the neutron bomb theory of school reform!

Shared responsibilities III: The next ESEA Sherman Dorn
Over the summer, Charles Barone challenged me to put up or shut up on NCLB/ESEA.

Reckless Driving Charlie Barone
During a week when education assumed its most prominent role yet in the 2008 Presidential race, the McCain campaign took an ugly and tragic turn.
Rudy Giuliani Uses EdWeek to Lash Out at Obama EdWeek
The McCain campaign and its supporters continue to cherry-pick a quote and take it out of context.

The Pre-K dilemma: Quality or Access? BoardBuzz
That's the question many states are asking when it comes to funding preschool programs.

Hedge Fund Guy Single-Handedly E-Mails Obama To Victory

Picture_14_2If Barack Obama wins election in November he may have to credit school reform hedge fund guy Whitney Tilson for putting him over the top.  Not with campaign donations, however.  With emails.

In the past few weeks especially, Tilson has worked night and day sending what seems like hundreds of emails (each of which contains multiple items), which no doubt translate directly into Obama votes.

Want to help the cause and receive Tilson's emails?  You can sign up here (WTilson@T2PartnersLLC.com).  Previous Posts:

Who The Hell Is Whitney Tilson?
Reformista Attacks Linda Darling-Hammond
Somewhat Annoying Latecomers Try New School Reform Strategy:  Campaign Giving

Back To School For The Aspen Institute

Skl It's a cavalcade of stars.  Apparently Al Sharpton is going to be keynoting the dinner portion of today's big Aspen event, and Secretary Rice is at about 4:30.  See updated agenda here. Watch it all from the comfort of your own desk here. Check out the issue paper, too. 

As always, the question has got to be:  how are they going to accomplish the things they want to accomplish, and what if anything is going to come from the event?

Can The "New" Locke Stick Together? So Far, So Good.

Marquee_locke_2 Twelve months ago, the LAUSD board of education finally approved the handoff of Locke High School to Green Dot. 

But instead of things getting better at the school, things got even worse last year.   Much worse. 

Last week, however, the new year finally started for the "new" Locke, and from what I could see it was a strong if occasionally bumpy start. 

Click below to read more. 

Continue reading "Can The "New" Locke Stick Together? So Far, So Good." »

Big Stories Of The Day


Elementary, middle school kids make gains AP
Last year, tests showed 33 percent could read and do math at grade level, compared with 25 percent in 2000, according to Education Department data.

Foreign teachers easing U.S. shortage MSNBC
The school system in coastal Baldwin County — 60 miles by 25 miles of Alabama farmland framed on two sides by waterfront towns — was short on teachers, especially in courses such as math and science.

In Rush to White House, 'No Child' Is Left Behind
Washington Post
Education experts say the candidates have offered, at best, a fuzzy vision for the future of the No Child Left Behind law. Obama pledges to "fix the failures" of the law, while McCain seeks to avoid mention of it.

 Chicago Charter School Network Defies Expectation NPR
The Noble Network of Charter Schools takes poor and immigrant students who are often two to four years behind grade level. Through an intensive learning environment, nearly all the students graduate and some go on to the country's top colleges.

 The Bipolar Puzzle NYT
What does it mean to be a manic-depressive child?

Nancy Solomon & The Achievement Gap

07awareness600 Check out the radio segment that NPR's Nancy Solomon did a few years ago for All Thinks Considered (Probing the Minority Achievement Gap).  She's one of the other Spencer Fellows at Columbia this year and is working on an expanded/enhanced/updated story about the achievement gap that will come out sometime in 2009.  I'm guessing it's gonna be good.  She's going to kill me for saying that. 

Hot Reporter-Educator Relationship Allegations In Miami

Miami_sex_scandal Forget those randy Interior Department folks in Denver.  There's a rumored sex scandal that was going on in Miami between the incoming superintendent (Crew's replacement) and a former Miami Herald education reporter who's now at the Boston Globe (Carvalho claims 'relationship' e-mails were doctored).

From the Miami Herald:  "Just a day after he was selected to lead Miami-Dade public schools, Alberto Carvalho said he was the target of a ''smear campaign'' suggesting he had an improper relationship with a former Miami Herald education reporter and that he tried to undermine outgoing superintendent Rudy Crew."


Thanks to PBGT for the heads up.

Homeschool Parents Spread Measles

Measles5 Those bad, bad homeschool parents:

Illinois had more cases of measles than any other state this year, and according to the CDC, most of the people infected were unvaccinated children who are homeschooled.

Illinois Measles On The Rise Chicagoist

Remembering TFA AOL

Aol_cd_install More and more, I'm thinking that alt cert programs like TFA might be turning out the AOL of teacher preparation programs -- once innovative, and for a time dominant, but now increasingly outmoded. 

One reason for this is that the cutting edge of teacher prep now seems to be the residency model popularized in Boston and other places, and heralded in a recent report cited by EdWeek (Urban Teacher Residencies Touted).

The other reason is that people like Barack Obama are talking about residency programs, not alt cert.  TFA has grown tremendously in recent years, and had a lot of Republican support.  I'm not sure it will have a similarly privileged position in an Obama administration.

Big Stories Of The Day

No Child Left Behind Award-Winning Teacher Arrested on Allegations FOX
Fanjul was beginning his fourth year at West. He was the recipient of Utah's 2007 No Child Left Behind American Star of Teaching Award.

School_hallwayTeachers lured from struggling states Stateline
Michigan is one of 31 states facing a multi-million budget gap this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That makes Michigan’s teachers prime poaching targets of out-of-state recruiters from states like Texas, Georgia, Nevada and Wyoming where school-age populations are growing.

Too Much Homework? NPR
Homework expert Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, discusses the issue with Madeleine Brand, as part of a series of reports on education. We hear from listeners, too.

McCain, Obama Advisers Spar on Education Reform PBS
Education advisers for McCain and Obama detail the candidates' plans.

High School Journalism, Web 2.0 Advice?

Barackandmom082808 Question:  A friend of mine is starting a high school newspaper from scratch -- they haven't had a paper for years -- and wants to know what the best way to go is in terms of software to use. 

Should she use Quark or End Design to lay out her paper and then transfer that online, or work from an online program -- even blogging software -- and then transfer that to print when it's time to hand something out?   

Any ideas or leads on what is a good but not overly complicated way to go would be much appreciated.

Big Stories Of The Day

Dc_wpTeachers union initiates school reform plan
Education reformers have long criticized the big teachers unions for blocking efforts to shake up public school bureaucracies, but a new, $1 million campaign from one of the largest may help put some of that criticism to rest.

After Complaints, McCain Moves Rally From School EdWeek
Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Tuesday moved a campaign rally from a Fairfax County high school following complaints that the school was hosting a partisan political event during classroom hours.

Thousands of DeKalb Students May Lose Bus Service AJC
DeKalb County school officials may end the practice of busing students beyond their neighborhood campus — a controversial decision that would end decades of service to magnet and other choice schools that began with desegregation.

Most Kansas schools reached No Child Left Behind targets this year Kansas City Star
Nine in 10 Kansas schools hit their No Child Left Behind targets this year, a slight improvement over last year, even as the goals ...

What Happened To Head Start Could Happen To Obama's NFP Expansion

Louis_vuitton_pigs Interested in learning a little more about the nurse-family partnership program that's been mentioned several time of late as part of Barack Obama's early childhood plan?  Check out Swamp Nurse, Kate Boo's 2006 New Yorker article about the real-life prenatal family care nurses that make housecalls in places like Louisiana. 

Worth noting is that, while successful, the family-nurse program has not previously been rolled out nationally in large part because of its developer's concerns about what happened to Head Start:  "A rapid, politically driven expansion inflated public expectation while diluting program standards."

Just so you know. 

What's In The Latest ASBJ?

07liboxlarge1Lots of good stuff to check out in the latest ASBJ:

 Safe Haven
Working in a state with some of the nation's toughest immigration policies, this school district navigates political pressures with aplomb.

 Racing Against Time
A growing suburban district grapples with the challenge of educating large numbers of ELL students

 A Town Unified by Schools
Schools provide a caring bridge for a town with a sudden influx of refugees.

Teaching & Teachers

Jacksparrow090208Educators Concerned By Segregated Classrooms NPR
Many American children are learning in schools that do not reflect America's increasing racial diversity. Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum is author of the book Can We Talk About Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation.

Black teachers in Phila. schools: A vanishing breed Philadelphia Daily News
As the school year begins, Philadelphia School District officials face a seldom-discussed dilemma: The percentage of African-American teachers is declining, and now stands at its lowest point in decades.

Who wants to be a teacher? A whole lot of people CSM
Forty-two percent of college-educated adults would consider teaching as a career.

Totally gratuitous picture of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Big Stories Of The Day

test scriptBoard of Ed sued over eighth-grade algebra testing Sacramento Bee
A controversial decision that requires all California eighth-graders to be tested in algebra has started a court fight between groups representing local schools and the State Board of Education

Candidates Grade Each Other on Education New York Sun
The presidential candidates are trading blows over education, with each senator declaring the other unequipped for the task of improving America's schools.

Sats firm apologises for problems British Broadcasting Corporation ETS - the company behind the "Sats shambles" - apologises, but puts much of the blame on the exams body which employed it.

Obama Vows To Double Charter-School Funding NPR
Sen. Barack Obama promised to double funding for charter schools and pay teachers based on performance. At an event in Riverside, Ohio, he also criticized President Bush's plan to withdraw 8,000 troops from Iraq.

"Diplomatic Immunity" For Journalists No Longer

07liboxlarge1"When you’re a journalist, cataloging the words and actions of others, you believe you are granted a writer’s type of diplomatic immunity — inured to being written about, reported on and critiqued yourself," it says in the most recent NYT Modern Love. "Well, that’s how it used to be, before the Internet."

Not Much New News In Times Obama Article

There's not much new news in this NYT piece on Obama's education DNA (If Elected) beyond (a) a great Obama education timeline (below), (b) news that Obama and early childhood economist James Heckman (think Swamp Nurse) live near each other, and what sounds like better documentation of the Obama-Ayers overlap working on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (Ayers developed the plan, Obama served as board chair).  No mention of Obama's role in the local control debate which I continue believe is the most substantive thing Obama has done on education.  No new information on what specifically Obama did to influence the Annenberg Challenge -- where his fingerprints are, if anywhere.  No real discussion of his interest in the residency-based teacher prep model that some Chicago and Boston schools use.  Oh well.


McCain Attacks Obama's Education Accomplishments

Via Sam Stein at the HuffPo.

Big Obama Speech

Trying to get the conversation back on more advantageous ground, Obama gave a speech today on education:

Obama education speech in Ohio. Transcript. Chicago Sun Times
Obama dishes out tough talk on education CNN
Obama Goes to Bat  Over Education Record Washington Post

It's a much better -- and easier -- topic for Obama to deal with than the Fannie Mae bailout.

Risk-Adjusted Accountability? No Thanks.

Eduwonkette thinks that the percentages of schools not making AYP this year seem high and wants to consider some sort of risk adjusted model like the one used in rating hospitals and doctors (here).  It's a familiar type of argument at this point -- but I'm not sure about its usefulness.  Risk adjusting school (or student) performance might make accountability more palatable to some but effectively lowers expectations and -- just as important -- complexifies the process in ways that create political problems.  Not that AYP couldn't be improved a hundred ways.  But it's already squishy and varied enough, thank you very much (state variations, n-size variations, etc.) By the end of her post, the 'Kette seems to realize the corner she's in. Let's get all the states on the same page first before we start refining accountability into oblivion.

Time To Update High School Book Lists (Again)?

Once again, something interesting from Jezebel about kids and schools: 

Specifically, a post about a recent Minnesota public radio segment that examines what novels are being taught in American high schools -- and which ones might be replaced. 

Apparently The Grapes of Wrath isn't too popular these days.  But there are lots of nominations for new books. 

Not to worry, Catcher In The Rye is still pretty popular. 

The Enduring Allure Of Teen Angst

Big Stories Of The Day

Rudy_crew_miamiMiami Schools Chief to Leave Amid Discord NYT
Miami-Dade County School Board and Rudy Crew, the superintendent who came promising to overhaul education as he did in New York City, agreed to part ways.

Student sues Seattle Central for readmission after pot confession Seattle PI
A 16-year-old Running Start student is suing Seattle Central Community College claiming she was kicked out of school after being coerced into signing a statement related to marijuana possession.

For the Georgia Schools Chief, Geography and History Pay Off NYT
The Georgia state school superintendent, Kathy Cox, won $1 million on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”

Lunch-Tray Exit Irks Some Students NPR
Performance-Pay Plans Leave Teachers Divided NPR

More Trouble For "Boys Crisis" Deniers

Trouble_with_boysThanks to Newsweek reporter Peg Tyre for sending me news that her new book The Trouble With Boys is now out, and there's a new article about the issue in the magazine showing that nearly 20 percent of US parents asked their doctors about their son's emotional or behavior problems during a single year.  That's nearly double the rate for girls, says Tyre.

Can't wait to hear what all the boys crisis deniers (you know who you are) will have to say about this.

Previous Posts:

Boys Crisis, Undeniably Confirmed

Women's Group Says Boys Not In Crisis; Female Reporters Agree

Just Because It's A "Loser" Issue Doesn't Mean It's Not Real

Tucking In

Tuckin_black_and_white Driving up to Locke High School for the first day of school, I worried for a moment that they might make me tuck in. After all, tucking in shirts is a big part of the new Locke, run by Green Dot, along with uniforms and smaller schools.  All the kids were going to be tucking in.  Even the adults were going to be showing some belt. 

What should I do?  Tuck my shirt in ahead of time and risk my journalistic independence (not to speak of my vanity and illusions of rebelliousness)?  Wait and then comply if someone from Locke pulls me aside?  Point out how fashionable and common untucked shirts are these days?  Remind them that I not only tucked in but wore a suit for years?

In the end, it wasn't an issue.  I walked around untucked.  No one said anything.  Well, n0 adult said anything. During lunch, one of Locke's many observant and conversational students admonished me to tuck it in.  I thought about telling him that once you graduate high school you get to do what you want.  But then I thought better. 

Mosle Schoolhouse Disaster Book Coming Soon

Saramosle1996 Sara Mosle (pictured circa 1996) wrote frequently about education in the 1990's for the Times, New Yorker, and New York magazine. Now, after nearly a decade during which she's written the occasional review and gotten married, Mosle is wrapping up her long-awaited book about a schoolhouses disaster in Texas. A description of the original book proposal can be found in The New York Observer.  I'll try and get more information about the publication date etc. soon.

Another Week, Another National Summit

Aspen_urgent_call The good folks at the Aspen Institute are putting on a national education summit next Monday, the 15th, in DC, and you're invited (Agenda).  Everyone's invited.  I think. Some of the names you might not have heard before include journalists Juan Williams and Ron Brownstein, as well as some Brit (not John Oliver, unfortunately).  Looks very high quality.  The logo itself is a wonder to behold.  Wish I could be there.  Tell me what I miss.

CORRECTION:  You're not all invited -- sorry.  Everyone can watch the webcast, but it's invite only. 



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.