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HUBERMAN: The Next Michelle Rhee? Sort Of.

Picture 6rh Find yourself a copy of the new Chicago Magazine* and you'll see a long profile of Arne Duncan's successor, Ron Huberman. 

He's 37.

He's half-Israeli. 

He's gay. 

He's a former cop.

And he's just as brusque and results oriented, we're told, in a way that may remind you of Michelle Rhee.  (Except, well, the part where she takes on the teachers union.)

*Not online, alas -- though there is a PDF going around I hear. 

COLBERT: "No Excuses? At Least Let Us Have Lead Poisoning."

ScreenHunter_03 Jul. 21 10.17 Geoffrey Canada on The Colbert Report again, this time talking about the President's NAACP speech last week.  Yawn.  What is Canada now, an all-purpose pundit? Skip Gates would have been a lot more fun, don't you think?

Best line of the night came from just before Canada came on, when Colbert reacts angrily to the President's fiery "no excuses" language: "No excuses?  No excuses?  At least let us have lead poisoning."[video here]

Click here to see Canada's December 2008 appearance: 
Harlem Children's Zone Founder On Colbert

THOMPSON: The Big Picture

17 The purpose of education reform is not raising test scores, but increasing student performance so our kids can succeed in high school and beyond.  That's why the big story in the recent NAEP report was the stagnation of 8th grade Reading performance and our failure to close the achievement gap in that all-important indicator.  (Algebra skills, though important, are not a make or break issue like reading comprehension.)  From 1992 to 2003, African-American middle school Reading scores increased by eight points, but they have been flat since then.  Neither has there been much progress since 2003 with students on reduced or free lunch. 

At the same time we learned that the $80 million school turnaround effort in Chicago is broke, and that the lesson is "As Education Secretary Arne Duncan goes around the country touting Chicago’s turnarounds as a model for improving the nation’s worst performing schools, he may want to warn districts that it is no quick fix.  And that there is yet no evidence that they can fix high schools at all."

Continue reading "THOMPSON: The Big Picture" »

STANDARDS: Accountability Goes Both Ways, Right?

Over at the National Journal education blog., it seems clear from the first few posts that there's not many who trust states to maintain the rigor of their assessments and report scores faithfully on there own.  But there's less agreement about who's to blame for states being the way they are, and what's needed to limit their tendency to game the system. Some sound bites to give you a sense of how folks are answering:

OB-EB981_oj_1ch_D_20090717201859"School administrators cannot be trusted to present their own results any more than AIG."

"Secretary Duncan knew that Illinois was lying."

"All states did not lower standards, in fact the standards statements were by and large untouched." 

"We already have independent auditors. They're called the press."

"Our schools will not improve unless we have accurate information. Nor will they improve if Congress and the administration insist on imposing unreachable goals that invite--nay, demand--lowered standards and lying."

My view on this is well known -- it's the press's responsibility to shine light on this in ways that very few reports and watchdog agencies manage, and the press should be focusing in on what Secretary Duncan did and didn't do when he was in Chicago and the juked numbers started coming out. Maybe someone will ask him about it at the Baltimore school event this afternoon.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Check out the Economist with all its new education stories:

2909US4Fenty Cuts Funding for Independent Evaluator Washington Post
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has eliminated funding for an independent evaluator assigned to assess the progress of public school reform.

A chance for charters Economist
After years of dancing around the issue, Tom Menino, Boston’s long-serving mayor, submitted legislation on July 7th that would convert his city’s worst performing schools into charters.

Raising Alabama Economist
In 2003, according to the College Board, just 4.5% of Alabama’s successful AP students (those who passed the subject exam) were black. In 2008 the number was up to 7.1%.

Think you have food allergies? Think again LA Times
"Only about 25% of people who think they have a food allergy will actually have one."

BLOGS: Best Of The Bunch

Lots of good stuff from today and over the weekend, esp. the WSJ editorial about Duncan and test scores.

Second City Ruse WSJScreenHunter_02 Jul. 20 12.02
Duncan wasn't responsible for the new lower standards, which were authorized by state education officials.

Our Catastrophic Failure EJ Dionne
It's the silent education crisis, the one we don't talk about much because its existence undermines the story we like to tell about our country.

Why America is flunking science Salon
Don't just blame poor education for our nation's scientific illiteracy -- but our politics and pop culture.

Think Tank Thoughts For Sale Gawker
Here's a story that reports something you sort of suspect but never expect to see spelled out so explicitly: the opinions of think tanks are for sale to the highest bidder.

'Bad boy’ baby namesNew parents may balk at naming their newborn boys such tried-and-true but yawn-inducing names as Michael or David — but a new study shows that if they play it safe, they may be doing their babies a favor. 

It's refreshing to see that some troubled youth are still taking work home with them and focusing on their studies.

PUNCH LINE: Weingarten Gets The Shanker Treatment

090720_r18645_p233 "I am Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Abaddon, Baal, Old Nick, Mr. Blackburn, Randi Weingarten, or whatever name I’m being given these days."  (The Temperature of Hell New Yorker -- thanks, RR!)

THOMPSON: The New Accountability

AlamoBattle "‘Improving teachers and teaching’ is replacing ‘accountability’ as the theme for improvement," writes Joe Graba and Ted Kolderie. Before reading my more argumentative post, click over to Eduwonk for their perceptive suggestions about stimulating motivation in students and teachers. After all, that’s what we teachers are fighting for - replacing education's civil war sparked by NCLB with a system where teachers and students learn from each other in a data-informed, respectful learning culture.

As the more extreme accountability hawks juice themselves up for the battle of Armageddon (or the Alamo), I am not worried by Secretary Duncan summoning his inner "warrior."  His statements always have multiple interpretations, but he has also brought real change.  No longer do rightwingers inside the Department of Education oppose preschool as a distraction from their agenda of undermining public education. Gone is the leftwing argument that advocacy for early education is an excuse to avoid accountability, as when the Education Trust ridiculed Education Week for issuing "Quality Counts." Comparable arguments by both extremes against community colleges are now muted as the Obama administration invests in them, as well as preschool and community schools.

In Oklahoma we say, "if there had been a backdoor to the Alamo, there would be no San Antonio today."  Now that we no longer remember the battle as "good guys" versus "bad guys," having an exit strategy now seems smarter. This suggests a solution for Secretary Duncan. Rather than fight endlessly for data-driven accountability, embrace data-informed accountability.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: The New Accountability" »

REFORM: How To Limit "Juiced" Test Scores

"The only thing that's going to limit the practice [of juiced test score stats] is if lawmakers and bureaucrats are at least occasionally held accountable. And that's why the Civic Committee report presents such an important opportunity." (Do Schools Need Independent Auditors?)

DUNCAN: The Secretary's Schedule July 20-24

PH2008121503432 The big event of next week's schedule is a Tuesday White House event focused on the arts and -- yes -- country music.

Mystery event is an appearance at Abbottston Elementary in Balto -- anyone know why he's going there in particular?

Left over -- ADA event, NASTID event.

More TK about my request for more information about the Secty's non-press events.  

Continue reading "DUNCAN: The Secretary's Schedule July 20-24" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Back to work, you -- and be sure to read the Frank McCourt obituary at the bottom, too.

With key role, John Kline ready to roll back No Child Left Behind law Pioneer Press
Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan paid Kline a visit on Capitol Hill. "He feels the same sense of urgency I do, that we need to get dramatically ...

504x_89104551_01Duncan leads the chargeBoston Globe
NO ONE, and especially no teachers, should underestimate the significance of the presence of US Education Secretary Arne Duncan during Governor Patrick's ...

Should parents weigh in on kids' teachers? USA Today
With parents becoming increasingly involved in their children's lives and educations, forays into their children's classroom placement process ...

D.C. Chancellor Gains Ground With Aggressive Agenda Washington Post
Rhee discusses her work, which includes recently narrowing an achievement gap between white and minority students.

Arne Duncan's push to change teacher laws posts Hoosier victory GothamSchools
"We had a clear message from the secretary [Arne Duncan] that we were putting our ability to compete for the Race to the Top Funds at risk,” a spokesman for ...

Frank McCourt, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ Author, Dies at 78 NYT
Mr. McCourt was a former New York City teacher who turned his miserable Irish childhood into a Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir.

BLOGS: Best Of The Day

Not a bad group for a summertime Friday afternoon:

No Excuses Robert Pondiscio 
One of the biggest applause line in President Obama’s speech to the NAACP Thursday wasn’t in his prepared remarks–it came when he exhorted parents and children to take full advantage of their educational opportunities and make “no excuses.”

A_lsummer_0727Surf's Up. Charlie Barone
With more states taking Race to the Top action, Duncan’s team working on stimulus implementation, Congress trying to take care of business before August recess, and state test scores coming out, it looks to be a virtually endless summer of action on education issues.

Dave Eggers Confident that America's Youth Will Save Print Gawker
Dave Eggers, we like you, we really do, but your staggering genius has failed you and you are horribly, horribly wrong.

A Federal Policy of Activating State Lawmaking? Renee Rybak
There’s a critical if little-noticed fork in the road for “national education policy” and it looks now as if the Obama administration, to its credit, is going to take both paths.

Tilting at Windmills Washington Monthly
Why is the only senator to have served as a superintendent of schools not on the Senate Education Committee?

550 Layoffs at McGraw-Hill - Layoffs Gawker
The McGraw-Hill Companies Creates Achievement-Focused PreK-12 Education Group to Help Students Develop 21st Century Skills." That restructuring=layoffs.

JOURNALISM: The Russo Seminar For Reporters New To The Education Beat

The Hechinger Institute is having a fancy seminar for education reporters New to the Education Beat, complete with a trip to New York City, appearances from fancy East Coast journalists, and ground-level propaganda presentations from reformy types like Charlie Barone, Cornelia Grumman, and Rick Hess. 

230294741_2a03d92debOh, and there will be some actual educators there at the end, too. 

I got nothing like that, but I do have some advice -- serious and otherwise.  Maybe you can read it during one of the panels or something.  Good luck, and welcome!

Continue reading "JOURNALISM: The Russo Seminar For Reporters New To The Education Beat" »

ONLINE: "Pants Go Down. Pictures Are Sent."

Sextortion kid "A boy chats with a girl he's never met. Pants go down. Pictures are sent."

This feature from GQ (SEXTORTION AT EISENHOWER HIGH) is worth a read not so much for the scandal or the vilification of the confused and creepy kid who extorts shis classmates -- 39 of whom sent at least partially undressed pictures, seven of whom allegedly had sex with him. 

It's the other, more unexpected elements:  the use of Facebook, which many consider safe and tame, the stunning obliviousness of the DA's office to mask victims' identities effectively, the victims' decision to continue at the school, and -- most of all -- the strange world in which we live in, where naked pictures among teens are a normal thing.

Previous Posts:
Watch Out For Teachers (& Student Profiles). Not Internet Pervs
New Stats On Internet Dangers Dispell Many Myths

REFORM: Obama Touts Sharpton At NAACP Event

"If Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve it, then all of us can agree on that. All of us can agree that we need to offer every child in this country the best education the world has to offer from the cradle through a career." (Full Text: Obama remarks to NAACP)

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

 A big week for charter supporters in MA:

504x_fencing071509Patrick denies US aid changed his view on charter schools Boston Globe
For years, Governor Deval Patrick had expressed skepticism, if not downright opposition, to expanding the number of charter schools allowed in Massachusetts.

Charter Schools Advance in Stimulus Scramble WSJ
The most striking example may be in Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino -- both Democrats with histories of strong labor support -- are proposing new state laws that would give them broader power to overhaul troubled schools, open more charter schools and revamp collective-bargaining agreements.

More of this morning's news below.

Continue reading "NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day" »

BLOGS: For A Hazy Thursday

You know what Thursday is, don't you? It's almost Friday.

Achievement Gap or Proficiency Gap? Robert Pondiscio 
Lots of coverage of the latest NAEP scores and what it means for efforts to close the achievement gap.

ScreenHunter_46 May. 29 19l;l;Ed. Dept. to Arizona on Stimulus: Not So Fast PK12
A fraud alert triggered by Arizona prompted federal education officials to start asking questions about how the state planned to spend its stimulus money.

The Study That Should Make Milwaukee Famous EdNotes Online
Suddenly, parental choice is not the panacea.

Should you evict tenants if a child skips school? Megan Cottrell
Charlotte's housing authority will issue a 30 day eviction notice if the children living there miss more than 10 days of school.

Stop Paying Attention Discover Magazine
Researchers say a wandering mind may be important to setting goals, making discoveries, and living a balanced life.

Charter school company is criticized Dallas Morning News
"It's a direct conduit to public funds. The school [property] is paid off with public funds," said Gary Horton, who oversees charter school funding for the Nevada Department of Education.

Teens Don’t Tweet Pondiscio [again]
According to the much-discussed report by bank intern Matthew Robson, teens don’t tweet.

Police say officer left handgun in school bathroom DetentionSlip
This is how easy it is to get a handgun into a Chicago school?!

DUNCAN: In Search Of The Secretary's Schedule

43899385 In my never-ending effort to annoy others and entertain inform myself and others, I asked the nice folks at the USDE for access to Arne Duncan's weekly schedule.  Not the press stuff that we already know about.  Not the truly private or personal stuff related to his family or health.  But the day-in, day-out stuff that his scheduler keeps on Outlook.  Meetings, visitors, call logs, events.  

I figure that he's doing the public's business, am curious about how he spends his time and who he's talking to.  I know that the information is easily available.  There's probably a daily schedule sent out to top staff so that they can know where he is.  And there's all this talk about transparency and accountability. 

What do you think?  Should reporters and the public know who Arne met with last week, or should that be kept behind closed doors?  You make the call. I just wanna know.

REFORM: The Charter Expansion Challenge

"At the moment where you can't touch and feel all of your schools on an everyday basis, it becomes harder to sustain and maintain the culture," [Mitchell] said.

NewSchools Venture Fund honcho Ted Mitchell, as quoted in a recent newspaper article (Poor Economy, Poor Student Achievement Threaten Charter Schools)

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

I think everyone's still tuckered out after yesterday's achievement gap report:

Gov. Deval Patrick to unveil new funding bills for charter schools Boston Herald
US Education Secretary Arne Duncan will join Patrick at the Museum of Science as he announces the bills today. The funding increase could mean 37000 seats ...

California Approaches a Deal on Budget Cuts NYT
California lawmakers neared a deal to close the state’s $26 billion budget gap in ways that will profoundly alter the state’s relationship with its cities and citizens.

Autistic girl arrested; parents sue school MSNBC
The family of an 8-year-old autistic girl who was arrested at school wants the school district and county to pay more than $500,000 in damages.

BA14449Recession wallops after-school budgets as enrollments rise USA Today
After-school programs across the nation are struggling with recession-related budget shortfalls and enrollment increases.

Should Everyone Go To College? NPR
President Obama has been urging Americans to pursue at least one year of education beyond high school. He and others say most new jobs being created require at least a two-year college degree. But that notion is being challenged by those who say formal schooling might not be the answer for everyone.

The Children at the Judge’s Bronx School NYT
Where the uniquely American journey of a Supreme Court nominee started, children set out anew to pursue their own dreams.

BLOGS: The Best Of The Day

Why do some folks insist on all-caps email subject lines and headers? So rude.

TEACHING AND THE MIRACLE IDEOLOGY. TAPPED
Just because some teachers are successful at turning around the lives of a small number of impoverished children, the thinking goes, it doesn't mean that it's fair to ask all "good" teachers to perform such "miracles."

09medium.xlarge1Teacher Incentive Fund. Yglesias
Some Senators represent states that just basically don’t have the kind of high-poverty schools with high concentrations of minorities that are the intended beneficiaries of these sorts of reforms.

Fat Kids Also Dumb Gawker
Studentswho score higher on physical fitness tests also reliably score higher on math and reading tests, disproving the fat kid's standard "dumb jocks are dumb" defense.

Give Each Student a Kindle Bits Blog
The paper proposes a year-long pilot program, during which some 400,000 students would receive reading devices. If judged a success, the program would be gradually scaled up to include the entire student population within four years. They estimate such a project would cost about $9 billion more than the amount spent to acquire print textbooks.

GOING OFF RECORD: "I Find The Whole Thing Icky..."

Nunchuck_decorative_groovedSome insights from the EWA listserve about the issue of whether the public is well-served when journalists go off record (used with permission):

"If your reporting is solid, your sources grow, over time, to respect you and tell you things – on the record...I think in a way it strengthens the professional relationship and doesn’t open the door to misunderstandings."

-- Jennifer Jordan, Providence Journal

"I find the whole thing icky, icky, icky. Basically, it's acknowledging, "We won't say the truth when we can be held to it publicly. Then we will only speak in soundbites."...I do think there are some instances for sources to go off the record. Whistleblowers are the most obvious. But the idea this should apply in the same way to the big policy conversations? Puke."

-- Linda Perlstein, EWA public editor

Staying on the record 100 percent of the time doesn't apply to all situations (ie, with kids, teachers, parents),  Not all journalists feel this way, and some don't seem to feel they can get the job done without going off record.  But they can, and I hope they will.

THOMPSON: Getting the Facts Straight About the Realities of Urban Education

Face_facts2I’ve always respected the work of Robin Chait and Raegen Miller, so I’m dismayed by their report "Getting the Facts Straight on the Teacher Incentive Fund." They admit that the "TIF requires that compensation systems consider gains in student achievement ... and that their grants "are explicitly structured to help schools transform their compensation ..."

Is it any reassurance that TIF’s efforts to stimulate NATIONWIDE, SYSTEMIC change do not allow test scores as the "sole" method of evaluation? 

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Getting the Facts Straight About the Realities of Urban Education" »

ACHIEVEMENT: Best Coverage Of The Black-White Gap Report

AP_ACHIEVEMENT_GAP Best lines and stats from the achievement gap report coverage: 

Black-white education gap persists AP
On average, the gap narrowed by about 7 points from 1992 to 2007, so that black students scored about 28 points behind white students on a 500-point scale.

Regional Shift Seen in Education Gap NYT
The nation’s widest black-white gaps are no longer seen in Southern states like Alabama or Mississippi, but rather in Northern and Midwestern states like Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to the federal data.

Gap Students Smaller in Va. Than Md. Washington Post
In the District, black fourth-graders trailed their white peers by 54 points in math and 67 points in reading in 2007.

Black students gain on tests, fail to close gap SF Chronicle Black fourth-graders in West Virginia, for example, scored just 14 points below their white peers. But as was the case in other states, the small gap relied upon a below-average performance from the white students rather than high achievement among black students.

Generally a good job keeping the demagogues and opportunists out of there, newspeople, in addition to making reasonably nuanced points and talking to real-world folks. 

Complaints?  Comments?.

TECHNOLOGY: Genealogy Of The Pencil

Lead_pencil_19691_lg "I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write."

I, Pencil | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Presidential first pitches and Supreme Court nunchuks:

L.A. Unified delays bids on schools LA Times
The Los Angeles Board of Education put on hold Tuesday a proposal that would have allowed charter operators and other outside groups to bid for control of 50 new schools scheduled to open over the next four years.

48066624Back-to-school spending likely to drop Chicago Sun-Times
Total spending on back-to-school is expected to be $17.42 billion.

Accountability Looms as Charter Proponents Mull Future EdWeek
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says charters' goal "should be quality, not quantity."

Obama: Community colleges can help boost ailing economy CNN.com
Community colleges are only two-year institutions, but the Obama administration says they could play a key role in helping boost the ailing economy for years to come.

How much homework is too much? US News
A grassroots parents movement has taken hold in recent years calling for less — or at least better — homework. Many school officials are taking note.

BLOGS: Best Comments & Catches Of The Day

Is there any pen better than an inky, slim, retractable Pilot V7 RT? No, there is not. (Though the stainless steel retractable Sharpie looks cool, too.)

Four of seven turnarounds see progress, high schools now on deck Catalyst
Half to 75 percent of the teachers in the AUSL turnarounds come from AUSL’s yearlong training academy and are used to working collaboratively with a common purpose.

Does This Make Me A School Supplies Pimp?? Flowers and Sausages
As I casually sipped my coffee and flipped back and forth between the opening banter on Regis and Kelly and the Golden Girls...I caught a commercial for something called the Expo Click Retractable Dry Erase Marker.

TextbooksShould High Schools Bar Average Students From College-Level Courses and Tests? Uncle Jay
Fifteen years ago, when I discovered that many good high schools prevented average students from taking demanding courses, I thought it was a fluke, a mistake that would soon be rectified.

And the Livin' is Easy... Nancy Flanagan
It's time for the annual round of teachers-in-summer blogs.

Getting the Facts Straight on the Teacher Incentive Fund  CAP
Robin Chait and Raegen Miller debunk myths about the Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems in high-needs schools.

Education Reform and the Freedom to Mod Learning Now
Dear Blogger:  We have received 473 nominations for the top 100 language blog 2009 competition.

It’s a Mega “Free For All!” Jim Moulton
Wow.  Microsoft has announced that in 2010 it will begin giving away a version of its flagship Office productivity suite as an online toolset.

LIBRARIANS: Twitter Scandals At Chicago ALA Conference

 Maybe this Twitter thing is getting out of hand. (Or maybe it's finally getting interesting.)

Picture-53Last week's ALA conference in Chicago included an unofficial (and somewhat hook-up oriented) Twitter hashtag (#ALA2009) so that participants could share their insights about things other than the panels.  (Hashtags let folks search by very specific topics rather than just by name or word.)

I pity conference organizers and classroom teachers who have to deal with this.

There was also a shared/anonymous thread that was -- get this -- apparently censored and shut down by one of the ALA's own.  Yes:  hot librarian self-censorship.  Read all about it here.

SOFTWARE: A New Search Engine To Play With

 Maybe you've tried one of those newfangled Internet browsers (like Firefox, Flock, Camino, or Chrome). 

Pogue.600Maybe you've tried Feedly or one of the other new RSS feed readers that are competing with Bloglines and Google Reader.  But the changes never stop coming. 

Now the New York Times' David Pogue is encouraging you to try Bing, a new search engine on the scene.

Not quite ready to go for it?  I don't blame you.  But you can get a taste of the new arrival by trying out this side by side Google Vs. Bing page where you can enter terms and see how each site responds. Fun!

THOMPSON: The Schools Teachers Leave

Elephant-in-the-Room-Harrison(2) The Consortium on Chicago School Research has another "must read" report on teacher mobility. About 100 Chicago schools suffer from chronically high rates of turnover and the reasons are hiding in plain sight. Thirteen high schools and 84 elementary schools lose more than 30% of their teachers every year. "Most important for teacher stability is the degree to which teachers feel they have an influence over school decisions," wrote the Consortium. "Teachers are more likely to stay where the environment is conducive to teaching," and particularly for high schools, "teachers are more likely to stay at schools where students feel safe, and where students report that their classroom peers engage in appropriate academic behavior."

There has been a lot of discussion about teachers fleeing African-American schools, but in high schools it is classroom behavior that explains ½ of this mobility. Please excuse the social scientific phrasing, but the following is representative of the care in which this invaluable report explains these sensitive issues. "In fact, once we consider teachers’ reports of the climate and organization of the work at their school, only a quarter of the variation in teacher stability rates among elementary schools remains to be explained (24%), and almost no variation remains among high schools." - John Thompson

JOURNALISM: Better Off Record?

In this recent post (Just Between Us...), Eduwonk Andy Rotherham makes the case against "on the record" conversations.  Going off the record more often would make for better journalism and a better-informed public, says professor Rotherham. 

ScreenHunter_05 Jul. 13 22.13From where I sit, the problem isn't that policymakers and advocates can't talk with candor or nuance on the record, in groups or solo; it's that some of them are getting out of the habit.  They aren't made to.  They don't like to.  Why should they?  It makes it so much harder to control what gets reported.  It puts the reporter on equal footing with the (often powerful) source.  It's convenient self-interest disguised as a favor.

The solution isn't to dummy down what gets reported with more off-the-record conversations.  Instead, let's get sources back in the habit of knowing that if they don't want to talk for attribution a journalist will find someone else who will. There's no shortage of knowledgeable sources out there. [And let's make sure reporters are held accountable for getting the full meaning of a source's statement, not just the sound bite.]

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

AFT conference, or NAEP scores? You be the judge about which is newsier:

6a00e54f8c25c98834010536fa9db8970b-150wi cccStudent success still a mixed bag USA Today
Since the early 1990s, schools have helped minority elementary schoolers close the achievement gap...But by the time they get to middle school, it seems, their progress all but vanishes.

U.S. Education Secretary Urges Teachers' Union to Join Reform Effort Washington Post
To them, and about 2,000 others gathered at a Washington hotel yesterday for the American Federation of Teachers conference, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered variations on the same answer: Trust us; we'll work with you.

Union challenges Obama work with teachers AP
A teachers' union challenged the Obama administration Monday to live up to its promise of working with teachers and not against them.

Congress Investigates Radio Programming on School Buses US News
Do radio shows on school buses turn students into captive audiences?

MEDIA: Tweeting The AFT Quest Event

4283_1157872667549_1249737466_417751_6663569_n Wish you were at the AFT Quest conference? 

Bored? 

Both?

Check out the small but growing set of Tweets at #AFTQ

Or just search AF and Quest

Even better, add your own Tweets from inside the conference. 

What's everyone saying, wearing, doing, thinking? 

Help us get through the afternoon.

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

Another beautiful day in Brooklyn.  Plus blog posts.

Those evil union supporters who denigrate objective measures... Sherman Dorn
Quick: who said the following recently? We do see the incredible power of setting stretch goals. But if you set a goal that's really not within reach, people will just give up on it and you really don't have a goal.

10 Questions I Didn’t Hear (But Wish I Had) GothamSchools
Without further ado, ten questions, in no particular order, that I wish I had a chance to answer:

BucketLiberals turn on teachers’ unions Joanne Jacobs
Everybody Hates The Teachers’ Unions Now, writes Mickey Kaus.

Scientists Are Democrats and Independents, Almost Exclusively, Really TFT
When 94% of an entire class of well-educated professionals has summarily rejected your party, you're in big, big trouble.

CTA Defends Minimum Education Funding Law Stephen Sawchuk
The California Teachers Association is going all out to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to waive Prop. 98, the minimum school funding law, to make up part of the state's $24 billion budget shortfall.

Anarchist Maniacs Burn Dollar Sign Into East Hampton High Football Field Gawker
Prey tell, what it is?! Or who? Maybe the Greasers, trying to mess with the Socs!


THOMPSON: Mr. Duncan, Rebuild That Wall

BennetSenator Michael Bennet writes that "the accountability system we have ought to be a way to check right direction/wrong direction. The idea that from Washington we're going to be able to materially inform people's instruction is a little bit of an illusion, and I'm not sure we should be trying to do it anyway. And I think there's usefulness to having some distance between the accountability framework and the tools that people use every day to (give) quality instruction to our kids."  (emphasis mine)

That essential "distance" has traditionally been protected by due process, collective bargaining, and tenure. Bennet’s Denver Plan for performance pay, like the Toledo Plan and other methods of peer review, are great examples of negotiating improved systems for the 21st century.

The next steps should be a "no-brainer" for President Obama. We can tear down the "firewalls" between teacher identifiers that link test scores to individual teachers when we have a firewall that prevents that data from being used for evaluations or tenure. The rationale should be obvious. We have Value Added Models that are valid enough for incentives or for rough "right direction/wrong direction" judgments regarding schools. But results from primitive growth models are not reliable enough to destroy a teacher’s career.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Mr. Duncan, Rebuild That Wall" »

DUNCAN: Why Did Duncan (& Obama) Hype Inflated Test Scores?

The report's findings are "reminiscent of revelations from Houston in 2003, when state investigators found that 15 high schools had underreported dropout rates under former superintendent Rod Paige, who by then was George W. Bush's Education secretary."

Chicago schools report contradicts Obama and Duncan USA Today

AFT EVENT: Duncan Goes "Unscreened"

Snaketail If I weren't stuck in New York I would probably make it down to the AFT confab going on in DC this week, which will reportedly include charter school teachers who are unionizing (Civitas in Chicago, KIPP AMP in NYC, Accelerated in LA), as well as the usual suspects (Randi Weingarten, Arne Duncan, Hilda Solis, Steve Barr). 

Apparently Duncan is going to answer unscreened questions from attendees (as opposed to screened or scripted ones, I assume). How about asking Duncan why he touted Chicago's ever-increasing state test scores if he knew they were inflated? [There's a new USA Today story about this.] 

See the advance below.  I'm sure there's a Twitter hashtag, but I don't know what it is yet. 

Continue reading "AFT EVENT: Duncan Goes "Unscreened"" »

WEEK AHEAD: The EdSec's Schedule

Duncanx-large After a mysterious weeklong absence, the EdSec's schedule is back - -with a vengeance.

By which I mean an AFT event, some unfortunate trip to Boston, and a few DC appearances. 

Caption at your own risk.

Continue reading "WEEK AHEAD: The EdSec's Schedule" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Mid-July but there's still lots going on:

Key Republican Ready to Roll Back Testing Mandates Washington Post
"I'm not looking to tweak No Child Left Behind," Kline said. "As far as I'm concerned, we ought to go in and look at the whole thing."

4981_95094261559_685221559_2510207_6726767_nChicago schools report contradicts Obama and Duncan USA Today
New research from a Chicago civic group takes direct aim at the city's "abysmal" public high school performance and puts a new spin on the academic gains made during the seven years that Arne Duncan led the Chicago schools before he was named U.S. Education secretary.

Providence schools implement new approach to hiringProvidence Journal
Under orders from the state education commissioner, the district this fall will begin filling vacancies in six schools based not on seniority, but on whether that teacher is a good match for the job -- and the school.

Fiscal Deadline, Thorny Deficits Bedevil States EdWeek
Education funding is imperiled as lawmakers, governors push to agreement on overdue budgets.

Makeup Work Allows Students to Slide by, Critics Say New York Times
In some New York City schools, worksheets and cram sessions have been enough for failing students to earn the credits they need to graduate. [not just NYC!]

WEEKEND READING: July 11-12

Work hard. Be nice The Economist
Charter schools are a mixed bag, but the best of them are achieving results most board-run schools can only dream of and are heavily oversubscribed.

For their own good St. Petersberg Times
They were screwed-up kids, sent to the reform school in Marianna for smoking, fighting, stealing cars or worse. The Florida School for Boys -- that'd straighten them out.

SlurpThe Female Discount for Sexual Predators Nashville Scene
The evidence seems mounted against Sandy Binkley as she heads for a trial on seven counts of statutory rape and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.

Wrong about the stimulus package. Slate
A mere five months later, it's being declared a failure across the political spectrum.

Trying to stop the spread of swine flu at summer camp. Slate
The counselors were taking children's temperatures before letting them onboard.

Staten Island Teen Ends Up In Manhole Gawker
She was walking on the sidewalk. She was texting.

Should New York Be Allowed To Close Public Schools On Muslim Holidays? TNR
Last week, the New York City Council passed a resolution to close public schools on two Muslim holidays.

MEDIA: 115 Education Reporters Who Twitter

Cherries022009 Sepaking of Twitter, there's no section devoted to education reporters on Muckrack but there's a great list of education Twitters from Meranda Watling, a young Midwestern reporter who took the time to put together a list of 115 names and share it with all of us. 

Check it out and see if your local scribes are on the list.  Let her know if you or anyone you know should be on the list.  Still TBD:  which if any of the education Twitters are any good.  (Via the EWA list-serve.)

BLOGS: On Fridays, Noon Signals The Start Of Happy Hour

See you in the park / at the beach / in the cafe:

Trying to do charters without doing charters Stafford Palmieri
What is going on in Massachusetts? There are so many kinds of charter-lite options up there my head’s spinning.

ScreenHunter_08 Jul. 08 21.10Labor-HHS Approps: Round 1Charlie Barone
The Obama Administration did pretty well, in dollar terms, on key priorities in the House subcommittee bill that was swiftly approved this morning.

Vallas on TFA in New Orleans Joanne Jacobs
Paul Vallas, now running New Orleans schools, talks about the Teach for America Effect on Learning Matters TV.

Crystal Ball Busting Charlie Barone
Sherman Dorn apparently needs Windex, a clean chamois rag, and a refund on his degree.

10 essential high school comedies Metromix Baltimore
The best of the bunch use witty dialogue and recognizable characters to explore the pressures, anxities, frustrations and occasional triumphs of high school life. And because of that more than a few have proven themselves essential viewing for movie fans.

MEDIA: I Ruined Blogging. You Helped.

Vintage_computers_13 Speaking of blogs, there's a lot of conversation going on around the Internet about how blogs have changed over the past few years -- most of it for the worse.

See for example:  The Decline of Blogging, The Blogosphere 2.0, Outrage Blogging, Blogospheric Navel-Gazing.

Blogging has lost much of its charm, it's true.  I blame myself. And you.

Continue reading "MEDIA: I Ruined Blogging. You Helped." »

REFORM: Cabinet Might Work Better With Performance Pay, Says WSJ

"Maybe Mr. Obama will turn next to measuring the performance of Washington officials so they, too, can be paid for quality."

White House Rethinks How to Pay Pros Wall Street Journal

THOMPSON: Cultivating Narrow-mindedness or Open-mindedness

407 My students know the drill when Roger Wilkins speaks during documentaries like PBS's LBJ or The Kennedys.  The students' job is to explain the filmmaker's main idea in order to answer the course's Standards.  Since Wilkins' statements are always extra perceptive and quotable, the students know to listen carefully, and after I rewind they are required to write and discuss Wilkin's main ideas and how they fit into the filmmaker's story.  Or, when Wilkins makes statements so compelling that the students can't wait, we discuss his words and then write.

Wilkins, as a board member of the Citizen's Commission on Civil Rights, presumably supports NCLB, but does he know that that law is robbing many students of the right to learn from his story and from PBS, C-Span, and other fantastic sources of knowledge?  Typically, when children are denied the opportunity to study contemporary or African-American history, or multiculturalism, art, music, and PE, it is called "Curriculum Narrowing."  I call it the Narrowing of the American Mind.    When my Black History students arrive in high school without ever studying their own history, that is called an "opportunity cost," as a rich and engaging curriculum was sacrificed for test prep.  I call it the narrowing of my kids' horizons.  Given his wonderful powers of communication, and the learning he shared with his daughter, I wonder what Roger Wilkins could accomplish if he would talk directly to neighborhood school students, cross examine the authors of the Commission's latest attacks on unions, and open up the Commission's discussion beyond their narrow focus of seeking scapegoats - I mean people to hold accountable. - John Thompson     

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

TGIF!

Chino school district loses its gamble LA Times
School board forged ahead with a summer makeup session for inadvertent short days during the regular year, hoping the state would approve the scheme. It didn't.

School bullying grows from silent battle to crime USA Today
Proactive parents aren't afraid to confront school officials or take the matter to court, and schools are training students and teachers alike to spot and report bullying.

Obama Administration Pushes Merit Pay NPR
The union's leadership says it's willing to talk, but most of its rank and file want no part of it. As more and more Democrats in Congress line up behind the idea, they may have no choice.

Scientist shortage? Maybe not USA Today
It's the coming shortage of US scientists and engineers, foretold for decades by corporate, government and ...

The Wait for the National Research Council Rankings Continues US News
Why has it taken so long, and will the information still be relevant when the rankings arrive?

At 84, man gets high school diploma MSNBC
There's at least one guy with a new high school diploma who's not worrying about getting into college or finding a job.

HOUSE: Fancy New Staff Director For Committee Republicans

Picture 4 The new Republican head of the House education committee John Kline has named Barrett Karr as staff director to head his committee work. 

Click below for the announcement. 

Click the thumbnail to see what she looks like.  (That's a White House staff pic, I think. Showoff!)

Feel free to let us know what you think of the choice, or anything about her past work on the Hill or in the previous Administration. Feel free to pass along embarrassing party pics from TCU days as well. 

Continue reading "HOUSE: Fancy New Staff Director For Committee Republicans" »

BLOGS: Because They Won't Let You Watch TV At Work

Some good stuff out there today:

Gimme Three Steps... Knowledge Alliance
As the national debate for common standards among states heats up, one state is already taking a few steps ahead.

Et tu, Arne? Robert Pondiscio
The Secretary of Education thinks schools should be encouraging cell phone use in class?

30maxlargeA word to the wise on accountability Sherman Dorn
Borg-like rhetoric is not likely to convince anyone that they're wrong and you're right.

Innovation! Claus von Zastrow
I'm beginning to wonder if we should start using the word “improvement” instead of innovation. This strategy might help us counter the tendency of some innovation zealots to value novelty over quality.

The Politics Of Academic Merit Jezebel
Another argument, less often openly articulated but perhaps even more broadly believed, says that good education is a scarce resource, and that we should allocate it to "good" students — because they may make better use of it, but also because they may in some way deserve it more.

NEA follow-up Small Talk
Looking back and looking ahead, a lot of us can't help wondering how different things might be had Obama chosen Linda Darling Hammond rather than Arne Duncan as his ed secretary.

Do We Love To Hate Kids? Jezebel
The scary child genre is especially disturbing because of what it does to us as an audience, and perhaps especially as women.

MEDIA: Where Are All The Education Micro-Blogs?

 The education section of the blogosphere is falling behind, if you judge it by whether it's got many of the fun (mean) new single-topic micro-blogs that are everyone's favorites in the rest of the Internet ("This Is Why You're Fat" and other great single-topic blogs). 

ScreenHunter_37 May. 22 22.52Our only real education entry that I know of is DetentionSlip, which focuses in narrowly -- obsessively -- on misdeeds and mayhem at schools. 

But it only takes two minutes to start a new Tumblr blog, and there are lots of possible topics that might be intereting or entertaining:  F-- Yeah, Education (This is why I teach); GatesWatch (The ever-changing machinations of America's biggest education philanthropy); Worst Yearbook Picture Ever (Everyone has a horrible school picture hidden out there somewhere; Stupid Education Pundit (The obvious, self-serving, and ridiculously wrong things pundits say); and my current favorite, Arne Face (The many strange expressions of the education secretary).

Know of any good micro-blogs focused on education?  Let us know.  Got your own ideas about what would be fun?  Now's your chance to shine. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Strange strategies and lots of job-changing in today's edition:

Duncan urges greater use of cell phones in classrooms SmartBrief
US schools should do more to incorporate cell phones into classroom learning, says Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

EuropapersAdministration Focuses on Swine Flu Preparedness Washington Post
The all-day gathering in Bethesda will also be led by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Homeland Security ...

Chief Accountability Officer for City Schools ResignsNYT
James S. Liebman focused on student testing, achievement measures and report cards for schools.

Portland Public Schools hires new chief academic officer OregonLive
Superintendent Carole Smith today announced that Xavier Botana of Chicago Public Schools has been hired as chief academic ...

MPS to hire more private buses after transit system refuses greater discountsMJS
Milwaukee Public Schools will hire more private buses because the Milwaukee County Transit System has rejected an MPS request for bigger discounts on student bus passes, a school spokeswoman said.

Struggling Schools Turn to Top Grads for Teaching Boost NewsHour
In the latest installment in a series about education reform, John Merrow reports on how public school systems struggling to close the achievement gap are increasingly turning to the Teach for America program for help.

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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.