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BLOGS: Today's Best Commentary

The Next Step Toward School Integration Dana Goldstein
"School choice" does not have to be code speak for privatizing public education.

Pr_UE_700_f'Union started sounding good....' Small Talk
A union started sounding good to Eric Levy about a year ago. That’s when he and other teachers at Chicago International Charter School’s Northtown campus were told they’d be teaching an additional class.

Philanthrocapitalists Speak, Duncan Listens Schools Matter
Markets are a great way to do some things - but not a way to provide equitable, high-quality public services to everyone.

55 Years Later, Doesn't Every Child Deserve a Quality Education? Politics Daily
What if we made, as our nation's 28th Constitutional Amendment, the guarantee of an equal opportunity to learn?

I Think Maybe It's Both Chad Adelman
Canada doesn't fit neatly into either camp. Let's keep arguing about it though.

Failure is not an option  Joanne Jacobs
In The Great Grade Bailout, Gently Hew Stone proposes federal action to ensure that failing students don’t fail.

DISTRICTS: Why Not Weigh In On Charter Unionization?

Picture 4 I was surprised to read at Progress Illinois that the Chicago Public Schools are staying so far out of the debate over recognizing charter school teachers at three CICS charter schools (An Update On The Charter School Union Drive).  Lawmakers who sent a letter to CPS chief ROn Huberman also noted the Board's strange silence on the issue.  (WBEZ's Linda Lutton has the letter here.)

I would have thought that districts like Chicago and New York would have actively and openly opposed charter unionization, since they've been trying to create more charters and contract schools under Ren10 and haven't generally been pro-union.  Especially in Chicago, where the teachers union is so weak.  Maybe they're fighting the unionization efforts behind the scenes, maybe they just haven't been asked about their position on the issue, or maybe there's some angle I haven't thought of yet. Ideas?

GROSS: Legacy Admissions Come To K12 Public Education

LegacyLogo As if the nation's inequitable system of district-based K12 education wasn't problematic enough, two affluent California districts are now offering legacy admissions priorities to the children of alumni who live outside the district:

Legacy enrollments offered in two top L.A.-area school districts
LA Times

Legacy admissions have long been common at some private schools and universities and colleges.  But, like affirmative action, they are extremely controversial. 

This seems pretty gross to me. 

THOMPSON: Whats Not To Like, Part II?

Choosecivility "Smart Options: Investing the Recovery Funds for Student Success" reveals the new kinder and gentler version of the Gates/Broad school of reform. There is barely a mention of proposals that would contradict Randi Weingarten’s ideas or the Broader Bolder approach. Proposals include a "learning stabilization" program for summer learning and extended school days for the lowest-performing students; incentives to bring the best teachers to the most challenged schools; a common core of fewer, clearer, and higher standards so that teachers can "teach to the standards" not the standardized tests; and they even counter-balance the word "accountability" with "autonomy." In contrast to the pre-Obama days, these (reborn?) accountability hawks retain an inflated belief in the potential benefits of renegotiating tenure and transfer language, but they drop no hints that existing contracts should be abrogated. They still believe that classroom instruction is the key to closing the achievement gap, but there was no implication that educators who want to address the full complexity of generational poverty are guilty of low expectations.

ChooseThe data systems recommendations are downright touchy feely, emphasizing their roles in evaluating professional development, directing resources to the most needy students, reducing the dropout rate, and signaling when students need additional help. The section on school turnarounds did not mention the wholesale removal of teachers, and the only mention of "value-added" models was in the context of helping struggling students. Only on pages 22 and 23 did the wording of the primitive, old test-driven accountability seem to intrude

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Whats Not To Like, Part II?" »

PHOTO: Arne Duncan Caption Contest

From the Eagle School in Martinsburg, W.V. earlier this month.

What do you think they're thinking?

EDSEC: The Return Of "The Week Ahead"

Pakistanbread050809 Last week, I lamented the absence of the weekly schedule of public events for the EdSec.  This week, the schedule is back.  Shazam!

As you can see below, this week's agenda include a CAP appearance, a charter school event, a House education committee brunch, and a voyage to San Francisco. 

Continue reading "EDSEC: The Return Of "The Week Ahead"" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Assistant principal is 1st NYC swine flu death Associated Press
A school assistant principal who was sick for several days with swine flu on Sunday became the city's first death linked to the virus.

87447851-1Stimulus funds begins a slow trickle to local schools The Virginian-Pilot
"If we have even a thread of justice in our hearts, we should change these conditions immediately," Arne Duncan said about outmoded schools at a meeting..

Something Gingrich, Sharpton Can Agree
Washington Post
Some held signs for vouchers; others were anti-voucher. Some were pro-charter school. Or pro-teacher merit pay. Others vehemently opposed both.

No evidence of abuse in Fla. reform school deaths AP
The questions had lingered for decades - who was buried under 31 white crosses at a Florida reform school, and how did they die?...


To Report or Repeat? Columbia Journalism Review
The researchers’ intent—presumably—was to warn the public of shortcomings in these med-center missives to the media.

Biden Grilled by Fifth-Graders Daily Beast
Under normal circumstances, a politician being grilled by fifth-graders is hackneyed political theater.

The Promise Academy’s Real Lesson Pedro Noguera
Schools like the Promise Academy are derived from the combination of quality education and a focus on their social and emotional needs.


Small big education rally on the Ellipse
Knowledge Alliance
Under threatening skies on Saturday we participated in this highly publcized but sparsely attended gathering next to the White House organized by the EEP.

What we've learned so far about President Obama. Jacob Weisberg
He sees the middle ground as high ground. He's the decider for real. He likes it hot. He's ruthless.

Meet The 1,400 Jobless Teachers Still Getting Paid The New Republic
Two hundred and five of them have been without full-time work for three years.

Kindergarten Admissions Tests Go Missing on the Upper West Side. Everybody Freak Out! Gawker
Not quoted, but certainly existent: Parents who know their kids aren't that talented or that gifted.

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Merit Pay does NOT work teacherken

Perhaps in light of the release of a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, the administration can persuaded not to go down this track. 

SnaketailWeingarten Wants TIF Grants to Be Bargained  Stephen Sawchuk
AFT leader Randi Weingarten is calling the bluff of President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan, who say incentive-pay programs should be developed with teachers.

Put an End to In-School Fundraising EdWeek (commentary)
What I was doing was coercive, exploitative, and economically discriminating, to the children and their families. Not to mention the fact that it was blatantly commercial.

Catcher in the Rye Sequel Gawker
The sequel, horribly titled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, was written by Swedish-American first time writer John David California.

Mom arrested after assaulting Sims Elementary teacher DetentionSlip
A good rule of thumb is that anytime a parent/teacher conference ends with a pregnant mom punching a teacher in the side of the head, you can usually bet some follow-up communication needs to occur.

GIRLS: Poisoned To Prevent Their Education

"In the past two weeks, there have been three separate attacks using poison, sending over 100 girls to the hospital." (Jezebel)

EQUITY: Keegan Invites EEP Supporters To Call Male Stripper

A friend kindly passed along this amusing email from Lisa Graham Keegan:

Picture 3

Got a funny or mistaken email from an edu-celebrity?  Send it along to thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

MARSHMALLOWS: Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points

090518_r18425_p233"The children who rang the bell quickly seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home," according to this New Yorker article (Don’t!). 

"They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships.

"The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds."

Via Whitney Tilson, who it turns out has a personal connection to this whole thing. (see the rest of his latest fascinating and rambling email below).

Continue reading "MARSHMALLOWS: Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

8th Graders’ Exam Is Delayed NYT
The College Board said schools’ finances led it to put off the unveiling of a new standardized test intended to help eighth graders prepare for rigorous high school courses and college.

DPS asks for federal disaster funding Detroit News
... by the administration's redirection of additional resources into school improvement," Bobb said in a letter to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Textbooks Det. schools chief requests emergency declaration Chicago Tribune
Robert Bobb has asked US Education Secretary Arne Duncan to help get the troubled public school system "placed under a special presidential emergency ...

House Approves 'Green Schools' Bill AP
The House on Thursday passed a multiyear school construction bill with the ambitious goals of producing hundreds of thousands of jobs, reducing energy consumption and creating healthier, cleaner environments for the nation's schoolchildren.

Report Points to Risks of Merit Pay for Teachers EdWeek
Such compensation plans are rarely used in the private sector and can sometimes bring about unintended negative consequences, the analysis argues.

Chess making comeback in U.S. schools USA Today
Over the past few years scholastic chess, or chess for educational purposes, has taken U.S. schools by storm.

MEDIA: Coincidence Or Conspiracy?

The folks at Gawker struggle to figure out how the headline and the picture placement could be unintentional:

"Somebody at the WashTimes thought it made perfect sense to insert the image of the underage White House occupants into a story about murdered kids in Chicago."  (Gawker)

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

Musical Chairs in Colorado Politicks K12
Michael Johnston, a charter school principal and a former education adviser for the Obama campaign, will fill the Colorado State Senate seat vacated by Peter Groff, who has a new job with the feds.

ScrubbbbbbbbbbsThe Pointless DC Voucher Debate Matt Yglesias
The DC voucher program does not represent serious public policy.

Gates ed chief says less is more when it comes to national standards GothamSchools
She said a strong set of national standards would bear little resemblance to the ever-expanding lists of skills and content that most states require students to master:

Administration's NCLB Goal: A Framework by Early Fall Politics K12
The goal is for Arne Duncan and President Obama to be able to outline their plans in early fall for overhauling federal education policy.

"Okay, let me have it." School Of Blog
I would have definitely given him detention.

MEDIA: Baltimore Sun Reporter Heads out

Sara neufeldBaltimore  Sun education reporter Sara  Neufeld is  leaving the paper to pursue  other options. 

Read her goodby blog post here

Via GothamSchools.

MONEY: Exploding Dye Packs Could Help Track Stimulus Funding

  Seems like everyone wants to help track the stimulus money pouring out of DC these days  --do-gooders and money-makers alike. 

2761119178_4cb438bf93 Ever helpful, I've thought up some low-cost ways to help track the money, so we know where it's going (and can get there first):

1.  Exploding dye packs (like in bank heist flicks)

2.  Sequential serial numbers (on most forms of US currency).

3.  "Stimulus" stamp on designated bills.

4.  Call-in 800 number or website for taxpayers to note stimulus sightings.

See any stimulus money on your way to work today?

THOMPSON: What Causes Burnout? All of the Above

Ets Debra Viadero’s new blog presents a wake-up call that should force us to stop the blame game, "... In 2007 more than half of African-American 8th graders, compared with a fifth of white 8th graders, had a teacher who left before the end of the school year? Among students poor enough to qualify for federal free-lunch programs, two-thirds had teachers who failed to finish out that year."

Viadero's source, the ETS’ "Parsing the Achievement Gap" is the un-McKinsey report - full of data illustrating the complexity of our challenges. ETS shows that 82% of Whites but only 57% of Black and 58% of low-income 4th graders attend schools where the same teachers started and ended the year. In comparison to Whites, more than twice as many low-income students, Black and Hispanic 12th graders attend schools where 6 to 10% of teachers are absent on an average day. Of course, plenty of those absences are "mental health days" by burned out teachers, but they also are the result of conditions that would defeat the most dedicated of educators, and students, and drive younger teachers from the schools. (When my school's teachers were mostly forty-somethings we had the best attendance rate in the district, but now we're nearly ten years older....)  

ETS shows the interconnectedness of conditions that produce the achievement gap.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: What Causes Burnout? All of the Above" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan and cunningham Detroit schools 'ground zero' AP
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday that Detroit's troubled public schools are "ground zero" for education in the U.S. and promised federal help if leaders are willing to make necessary changes....

US education chief touts mayoral control Detroit News
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today advocated for Detroit's new mayor to take over the city school system, saying strong change happens ...

Crist expresses gratitude for stimulus waiver Miami Herald
Crist thanked US Education Secretary Arne Duncan for the waiver in a statement to the media Wednesday. The decision Monday to grant the waiver means Florida ...

School board members acknowledge swifter firings are needed LA Times
A majority of Los Angeles school board members said Tuesday that they believe state laws governing teacher discipline need to be revised to allow more swift and effective removal of substandard teachers and other employees, although they acknowledged that changes appear unlikely this year.

Students sue over missed inauguration MSNBC
A lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of more than 15,000 students who paid thousands to attend President Barack Obama's inauguration but reportedly were left out in the cold.

BLOGS: Best Posts Of The Day

Never Let The Facts Get In the Way Of A Good Story TCKB 
I can’t help but wonder what the New York Times’ Paul Tough thinks of his colleague David Brooks’ column about the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Cat-hat-bookJust How Gullible Is David Brooks? GothamSchools
It would be embarrassing to admit that students didn’t take some aspect of their schoolwork and school accountability plan seriously.

AFT Affiliates, Districts Do "Mad Men" Teacher Beat
Various AFT affiliates, as well as districts, are investing in advertising their services these days, especially in big cities where union and management alike have had their fair share of critics.

Rethinking 'Restructuring'
In schools that raised student achievement enough to exit restructuring, district and school staff members reported using multiple, coordinated restructuring strategies over many years...Some were official NCLB strategies; others were not.

Lori Drew Might Have To Finally Listen To Her Victims (Or Not) Jezebel
The prosecutors who successfully convicted Lori Drew under an anti-hacking law are arguing that the parents of Megan Meier should be allowed to give a victim impact statement at Drew's sentencing next week.

DUNCAN: Summer Tour (Without A Summer Tour Schedule)

Arne Duncan portrait-thumb-360x243 Under the previous administration, there used to be a weekly schedule for the Secretary so that media and others could know where the boss was going to be.  No such luck with the new guys, so far at least, though I hope that DC education reporters are bugging the USDE to get back to it.  So much for transparency.  We don't even know where Duncan's "listening tour" is going to be next week.  Meantime, there are just these one-off press advisories about upcoming events.  He's going to Vermont.  He's giving a commencement speech.  He's visiting a couple of schools.  Click below.

Continue reading "DUNCAN: Summer Tour (Without A Summer Tour Schedule)" »

MONEY: Obama Staffers' Disclosure Forms Online

Picture 9

ProPublica has posted disclosure forms for lots of Obama education folks, including:

Melody Barnes
Russlyn Ali
Peter Cunningham
Arne Duncan
Carmel Martin
Charles Rose

THOMPSON: Fear Strikes Out

FearPress coverage for recently released NAEP data ranged from describing the results as "mixed" to recognizing the report as an indictment and virtual conviction of NCLB-type accountability. Seventeen year olds, who have spent most of their educational lives under the law have not increased their reading comprehension or even their math scores. Who cares if State tests scores, or even NAEP scores, increase in the elementary years if the gains do not persist into high school? As predicted, NCLB may have increased decoding skills, but not reading comprehension or numeracy, while narrowing the curriculum, destroying recess and the values of free play time, overemphasizing destructive test prep, and perverting the principles of public education.

When the Boston All Star, Jimmy Piersall, had his nervous breakdown at Yankee Stadium, the moral was not lost on my generation. We began to discuss the ethics of a pitching coach ruining a kid’s arm by throwing curve balls for a Little League championship. Now rules prevent a wrestling coach from requiring excessive weight-pulling to win an 8th grade championship or a football coach from denying water to players during August two-a-days. Even if a coach believes that "putting points on the board" is the highest value in life, imposing such an ethic in high school sports is no longer sanctioned.

So, why do we allow the same sort of instructional malpractice in our classrooms?

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Fear Strikes Out" »

KINDLE: Will Electronic Readers Make It Big In K12?

The latest version of the Kindle seems to be aimed in part at the education textbook market, which may be quaking in its boots like everyone else in publishing about what happens if and when e-books take over:Textbooks

Fully Equipped CNET News
and Even before the Kindle 2 launched, there was talk of an even newer, larger Amazon digital reader that would be geared more toward reading textbooks...

Amazon to Launch Kindle for Textbooks Wall Street Journal (May 4)
Five other universities are involved in the Kindle project, according to people briefed on the matter. 

Amazon To Target $5.5B Textbook Market Tech Crunch
Most publishers now offer electronic versions of their textbooks...But there is no compelling device to read them on.

Sure, there's been a lot of hardware hype in education before -- from desktops to laptops to iPods and iPhones.  Is the Kindle and its kind any different? 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

More black lawmakers open to school vouchers USA Today
The group includes Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Washington, D.C., mayor Anthony Williams.

10 growing jobs in education CNN.com
If you're looking for a career in education, here are 10 jobs to consider, along with their projected employment growth and mean annual wages, according to the BLS.

Picture 1Testing Faces Ups and Downs Amid Recession EdWeek
Amid the recession, many assessments are getting cut back, though districts are trying to spare those that diagnose problems.

 Bing to discuss education with Granholm, feds Detroit News
Detroit -- New Mayor Dave Bing will meet with the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, Wednesday in a meeting at Cody High School.

PLUS:  29 Detroit schools to be closed in the fall AP

Obama at ASU: low on controversy MSNBC
President Barack Obama's invitation to speak at Arizona State University's commencement next week isn't drawing as much attention and controversy as his invite to Notre Dame.

A Hit in School, Maggots and All NYT
Think kids dislike science? Forensics proves otherwise.

BLOGS: Best Of The Blogosphere (So Far Today)

Tell Mama  Nancy Flanagan 
My cumulative student roster, after 30 years in the classroom, includes more than 4000 students.

090508_Tech_VMtnRoland Fryer Makes Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential List Freakonomics
Some first-grade classrooms perform "Acknowledgments," wherein children sit in a circle and take turns publicly praising a classmate for some good or wise act. Bloggers can do this too.

No turnarounds; close and start new Andy Smarick
’m convinced that turnarounds are not a scalable strategy for fixing America’s struggling urban school systems. PLUS: Closures, con’t

T-shaped people  Joanne Jacobs
This means people with a great depth of knowledge in at least one discipline, like chemical engineering or biology, and a breadth of knowledge across many skills.

What 'The Harlem Miracle' Really Teaches  Diane Ravitch
There are lessons for American education, but not necessarily the ones that Brooks points to.

A Plan for Parents to Shut Down Schools US News
L.A. charter school operators launch a parent campaign to improve L.A.'s worst schools.

Obama Aide Melody Barnes on the Sex Talk Washington Whispers
The White House domestic policy adviser admitted to reading Oprah's O magazine.

Pragmatists and ideologues Small Talk
Newark's Mayor Cory Booker has drunk some of David Brooks' "Harlem Miracle" kool-Aid. But here at Huffington he sounds more like a small-schools pragmatist than he does a neocon ideologue:

THOMPSON: "So, I Won't Be Graduating"

Child Standardized testing season has closed and everyone feels horrible. Its time to comfort and energize discouraged students, especially the freshmen who must pass four End of Instruction (EOI) tests in order to graduate.

The adults in the school, however, are equally demoralized. The EOI teachers have given their all. Some claim their students gave in to test anxiety and would have done better had the teacher been allowed to provide encouragement. Others beat themselves up over their failure to cover more of the "scope and sequence" guide. Several are already adjusting next year’s lesson plans. This time of year, though, even our most fervent believers in "high expectations" have to recognize the damage done by NCLB testing. You would have to be a stone to have shared the building with our teenagers for the last three weeks and not recognize the self-defeating nature of test-driven accountability and the real harm it inflicts on children.

The students and the adults in our building have all been shamed. The kids react to the humiliation in predictably inappropriate and self-destructive ways. Most of the adults, however, are already discussing plans for next year. As hard as it is for some to admit it, we all recognize the need for reinforcements. We are now united in asking for more people to help with the social and emotional needs of our children. We need a restoration of electives. We need help from the community. - John Thompson

MEDIA: Free Hechinger Seminar For New Education Reporters

Hechlogo Stuck covering the education beat?  Absolutely no idea what people are talking about?  Stop complaining.  At least you have a job.  And they want you in New York City:  "The Hechinger Institute is seeking reporters new to the education beat (three years or fewer) for a weekend seminar in New York City; airfare, hotel and meals covered!"

VIDEO: Unlikely Duo -- Plus Gingrich & Duncan

Nearly a week later, it's still jarring to see Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton, and Joel Klein together talking up their weekend event at the White House (with a glimpse of Arne Duncan thrown in for good measure).

REALITY: Reality TV Homewrecker Is A 23 Year-Old Teacher

Picture 8 As you may know, the totally nice-seeming husband on the reality show Jon & Kate Plus Eight (about a family with 8 kids) turns out to be having an affair. 

What you may not know is the woman he's having this affair with is a 23 year-old third grade teacher, Deanna Hummel. 

Or that Hummel has has a sex tape. 

Can't show it all to you.  Not making it up. 

US Weekly has the affair part:  Affair Confirmed

Perez Hilton has the other part:  Alleged Mistress Has A Sex Tape!!!

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Obama wants to turn around 5,000 failing schools KC Star
Obama doesn't have authority to close and reopen schools himself. That power rests with local school districts and states. But he has an incentive in the economic stimulus law, which requires states to help failing schools improve.

Drop7-apple-lg-73481538Waiver means millions for local schools Daytona Beach Post
Education Secretary Arne Duncan had to approve Florida's application to waive a "Maintenance of Effort" requirement that education spending be at 2006 ...

Mexican children return to school LA Times
With a quick health check and a dollop of hand sanitizer, millions of Mexican schoolchildren returned to fresh-scrubbed classrooms Monday after more than two weeks of closures caused by the swine flu outbreak.

The 'Class Of Katrina' Moves Past Emotional Chapter NPR
Four years later, Holloman, a newly-minted college graduate reflects on the powerful storm as she moves on with hopes of starting yet a new chapter in life

STIMULUS: "TARP For Public Schools"

"If the education community doesn't deliver change with this money, this becomes 'TARP for Public Schools.'"

Amy Wilkins of the Ed Trust, quoted in USA Today: :Stimulus funds up the ante for public schools

VIOLENCE: Did Duncan Exacerbate Youth Violence In Chicago?

Forget swine flu. Forget what Pelosi knew about waterboarding. Forget that not an education week.  What did Arne Duncan know (and do) about growing rates of youth violence in Chicago while he was there? Thirty-four Chicago teens have been killed this year -- up from 27 and 31 the previous years.

Sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh suggests that changes in housing patterns are to blame (What’s fueling Chicago’s violence?). Others would suggest that forcing students to change high schools for two years under Renaissance 2010 only exacerbated the problem.

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

Dianne Piche to be Ed. Dept. Civil Rights Deputy Politics K12
Dianne Piche the executive director of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights who has represented students in desegregation cases, will be the deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Civil Rights.

Does Duncan need a program-closing commission? Sherman Dorn
I suspect that the like the F-22, most of the dozen education programs Obama is trying to kill...will instead survive.

The Economist Needs To Learn More About Arne Duncan The New Ledger
I like the Economist, and while I am shamefully behind in reading it, it remains one of my favorite magazines. But its profile of Arne Duncan is just awful.

St_cheatcodes7_fI Was Mere Seconds From Poking Myself In The Eye When... Flowers and Sausages
...I got the most lovely and thoughtful gift I have ever received as a teacher.

Massachusetts Mojo Eduwonk
Arne Duncan once tried out for the Boston Celtics. Didn’t make it. But he’s got a chance to sink a clutch shut for us Bostonians.

A $100 Billion Question: How Best to Fix the Nation's Schools? Jay Mathews
A surprisingly smart list of suggestions for the education portion of the federal stimulus money is circulating in the education policy world.

Education Critic to Obama: Tell the Truth Jay Mathews
Bracey added to his list of non-truthtellers President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Pa. high school orders shot glasses as prom favors Detention Slip
The school says the class didn't have the funds to buy picture frames or money clips like in year past.

COMEDY: Teacher Salaries Make White House Roast

Wanda Sykes at the 7:45 mark at the White House Correspondents Dinner: "Our teachers are grossly underpaid. That's right...Pay the teachers more.  Then maybe then they'll stop sleeping with the students."

GRADING: The Government's New "Pass Pass" Grading System

Picture 12 The opening of Saturday Night Live this weekend mocked the Treasury Department's watered-down standards on so-called "stress tests" for banks:

A ten-point grading system gets changed into a pass/fail system.  Then pass/fail becomes pass/pass* (with an asterisk).  The last and final version is -- you guessed it -- "pass/pass."

Sound familiar? 

Click below to watch the clip.

Continue reading "GRADING: The Government's New "Pass Pass" Grading System" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

H.S. Reformers Seize on NAEP Scores to Help Make Case EdWeek
Reform advocates seize on results to bolster their goal of toughening NCLB accountability at the high school level.

Grading Ideas for Fixing the Schools Washington Post Jay Mathews
If you had $100 billion to fix our schools, what would you do? A surprisingly smart list of suggestions for the education portion of the federal stimulus money is circulating in the education policy world.

School Violence Declining, but Bullying, Theft and Gang Presence Persist Washignton Post
Even though spasms of intense violence erupt on campuses occasionally and linger in the social consciousness, violence at schools across the country has been decreasing for a number of years.

Econ Exams: Are The Correct Answers Still Right? NPR
This Thursday, high school students across the country will be filling in tiny bubbles on the macroeconomics Advanced Placement test. But how do you grade a test on economics when the answers in real life are changing every day?

Minority youngsters dying weekly on Chicago's streets CNN
In 2007, after the city recorded 31 murdered children during the school year, Arne Duncan, then-CEO of public schools, expressed similar disappointment. Watch why the violence seems worse now.


Search Lobbying Reports on the Stimulus ProPublica
Over 2,500 associations, cities, counties and corporations have already shelled out for lobbyists to talk stimulus with the feds.

Obama is Spock Jeff Greenwald 
Our president bears a striking resemblance to the rational "Star Trek" Vulcan whose mixed race made him cultural translator to the universe.

Stop worrying about your children!  Katharine Mieszkowski
Kids today are just as safe as they were in the '70s, says "Free-Range Kids" author Lenore Skenazy, and what's really distressing is an alarmist culture that refuses to let them grow up.

Custom_1241814339662_AF1_photo1How David Beats Goliath: Reporting & Essays Malcolm Gladwell
A non-stop full-court press gives weak basketball teams a chance against far stronger teams. Why have so few adopted it?

Constitution May Guarantee Right To Not Pull Up Your Pants Jezebel
The Tennessee attorney general has advised state legislators that their proposed Saggy Pants bill, which bans low-riding pants, may be unconstitutional, as it "arguably interferes with a liberty interest to dress as one chooses."

1990 MCREL
What things were like in 1990.

Christian School Threatens To Expel Student For Taking Girlfriend To Secular Prom Jezebel
Most 17-year-olds head into the final months of their senior year looking forward to two major events: the Senior Prom and Graduation. But if Tyler Frost attends a prom , he can kiss his graduation goodbye.

BLOGS: A Quick Spin

The Unions and the Teacher Incentive Fund Stephen Sawchuk 
I keep bugging Duncan's peeps about whether they're going to require these incentive-pay plans to be collectively bargained.

BucketArne Duncan's Hot Date Politics K12
Katie Couric is taking the education world's big celebrity as her date.

Journalism Associations Forced to Re-examine Role as Membership Declines Poynter
It's not enough to be a fraternity of people with similar jobs who get together once a year to trade war stories at a hotel bar.

Obama leaves door open to endorsing Bloomberg GothamSchools
Barack Obama is not endorsing Bloomberg for mayor — not yet, anyway.

REFORM: Green Dot Reactions Vary Widely

Reactions to the Green Dot article range widely, as you can see:

Green Dot Rising Kevin Carey 

The article doesn't paint Barr as a miracle worker, or Green Dot as a source of fantastic new pedagogy and world-beating teaching.

NewYorkerAAcoverLA Story Fordham
For free-market types, and even for charter school devotees, though, the narrative will disappoint, as Barr makes it clear that charters and choice are hardly the answer.

Could There Really Be a Green Dot America? Witness LA
As we talk about the issues of layoffs and teacher tenure, this story about the Green Dot charter model seems particularly timely.

A New Kind Of School Huffington Post (mine)
If and when the expansion of Green Dot happens, the New Yorker article will have helped Barr conjure it up.

Susan Ohanian's Testing Outrages
Steve Barr, head of Green Dot, the first charter-school-management organization in the country to seize a high school, is profiled/fawned over in the May 11 New Yorker.

Linda Darling-Hammond Didn’t Play Basketball Perimeter Primate
Luckily for him, Steve Barr played basketball in high school and playing hoops is still one of his main hobbies.

Sunday is the one-year anniversary of the "riot" at Locke.

DUNCAN: Which Commencement Will The EdSec Attend?

GRADUATION CAP_ There are lots of places that the EdSec might go and give a little commencement speech this month or next: Favorite Chicago charter schools or turnarounds.  District of Columbia schools, charter or otherwise.  Brand-name schools like the Harlem Children's Zone schools in New York, or a KIPP school.  I'm sure that there's lots of behind the scenes lobbying going on around this. 

GRADUATION CAP_In the end, however, the decision could likely be influenced by political necessities.  For example, there's a junior senator from Colorado who could probably use some help getting re-elected.  There's a mayor in New York City who is up for re-election and whose school reform efforts are under attack. Or it could be a matter of travel logistics and scheduling.

GRADUATION CAP_Perhaps it's wishful thinking -- a good scene for my book -- but my bet is that Duncan ends up going out to LA and doing the Locke High School commencement.  It's newish, and non-ideological, and it's something that won't offend the teachers unions.  But I don't have any real idea.

Where do you think that the Secretary is going to go? 

A hundred Internets to the person (or persons) who get it right. 

SCHOOL LIFE: Famous Ditch Day Crimes, Enumerated

Ferris_bueller 720 ILCS 5/32-5.1: False Personation of a Peace Officer.

Odometer fraud (tampering): 49 U.S.C. § 32703(2) Odometer fraud (conspiracy): 49 U.S.C. § 32703(4)

720 ILCS 5/Art. 16D - 3 - Computer tampering

720 ILCS 130/2a, contributing to the delinquency of children.

Save Ferris campaign might be liable for soliciting under the 740 ILCS 128 Predator Accountability Act.

Crimes Perpetrated by Ferris Bueller (and Accomplices) During His Day Off Mental Floss

FUNDING: Obama's Wish List

Cut from Obama's budget: U.S. education attache to UNESCO LA Times
A $77,000 line item for an apartment in the City of Lights gave at least the appearance of the kind of government excess that the Obama administration said it was eager to stamp out in its 2010 spending plan.

GoldObama Budget Would Kill Abstinence-Only Funding CQ
President Obama plans to eliminate funding for abstinence-only sex education programs and replace it with money for more inclusive forms of teen pregnancy prevention.

Budget Outlines Funding for Teacher Merit Pay Programs Washington Post
President Obama is seeking to add hundreds of millions for teacher merit pay programs, an investment in a reform that has often drawn criticism from teachers unions.

Whaling education spared budget harpoon MSNBC
In his budget proposal for 2010, Obama seeks several education cuts but spares a $9 million program to promote the history of whaling and trade in Massachusetts.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

The golden boy and the blob IT IS hard to find anybody with a bad word to say about Arne Duncan, Barack Obama's young education secretary.

Gingrich, Bloomberg and Sharpton Pay Obama a VisitWashington Post
Education Secretary Arne Duncan will also be attending today's meeting. As a result of the stimulus plan that Congress approved in February, ...

Child Spelling Prodigy Takes To World Stage NPR
A native Spanish speaker, Valdez moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States less than four years ago and has since mastered the English language.

Why do millions of Americans struggle with reading and writing? CSM
A new government study looks at factors like income and identifies specific skills that could be challenging.

MEDIA: "Way Up There Is Where I'm Going," Says Dallas Reporter

ScreenHunter_28 May. 05 07.09 Uber-reporter Kent Fischer, formerly of the Dallas Morning News (and the much-loved Dallas ISD education blog), points in the general direction of where he's going now that he's left the paper. 

He describes his new employer as "a respected consulting firm that works with non-profits and philanthropists around the world." Hmm.  I wonder who that could be?

REFORM: Fact-Checking The New Yorker

"Barr doesn't drop F-bombs left and right -- except in front of print reporters. Assistant principal Zeus Cubias is more than just a poster boy for Green Dot. The nationwide expansion of Green Dot isn't a done deal - yet. And what's going on at Locke goes far beyond just turning around failing schools."

Promo from my upcoming latest piece at the Huffington Post.

MEDIA: EdWeek Staffer Gets Knight-Wallace Fellowship

Logo-level2 Speaking of fellowships, Christina Samuels from EdWeek was recently named to be receive the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan.  Congrats!

PAUL TOUGH: NYT Mag Editor Updates On Harlem Children's Zone

Thanks to Bill Schulz from NAPC for the video.

THOMPSON: The Enron School of Educational Reform

Enron Wikipedia has an excellent debate over the McKinsey group’s allegedly "Thug-like habits," such as its system to prevent insurance payments after Hurricane Katrina through the "tactics of deny, delay, and defend." An English civil servant described McKinsey as "people who come in and use Power Point to state the bleeding obvious." McKinsey supposedly suffers from "Groupthink" or the tendency "to simply offer whatever the latest fashionable ‘management theory’ is as their reasoned and expensive ‘analysis.’"

In "The Talent Myth," Malcolm Gladwell predicted almost exactly the educational reform strategies that McKinsey would be offering seven years later. Gladwell described how "the talent mind-set" which disregards "relevant experience" and "common sense" was essential to the collapse of Enron. The McKinsey/Enron focus on I.Q. undercut their ability to work with people in real-world environments.

McKinsey’s problem is that "an employer really wants to assess not potential but performance," so it invariably ends up with "performance evaluations that aren't based on performance."

Continue reading "THOMPSON: The Enron School of Educational Reform" »

BLOGS: Credit Where Credit Might Be Due

HuffingtonPost-Logo The Huffington Post has a bad rap for scraping other peoples' content and putting it on their own site.  But the other day it did me right.  It credited me for finding and posting a ProPublica article about Arne Duncan's disclosures, promises, and possible conflicts of interest, instead of just pretending to have found the article on its own. 



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.