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Blogs: Weingarten, Veterans Day, Homeroom, and More

Weingarten Playa Manchurian Candidate as She Brokers Deal in New Haven EdNotes
Weingarten is there to sell the as much as the ed deform program to teachers as she can get away with. The new Manchurian Candidate.

Custom_1240692072888_ninetynine_centsAttacks on Jennings intensify Political Animal
By all indications, the White House is ignoring the far-right cries, and Jennings' job is secure. Here's hoping it stays that way.

Test that makes U.S. look bad may not be so good Class Struggle (Jay Mathews)
There are other problems with PISA, such as an ideological bias and a tendency to assume cause-and-effect relationships. But the American results on those exams — we are below average in both math and science literacy — are often cited as a national disgrace.

Nonprofit EMOs Growing Even as For-Profit Sector Slows, Report Says Inside Research
A new report documents steady growth over the last school year in the number of nonprofit organizations hired to manage charters and other public schools.

Blowing Up Homeroom Voice of San Diego
A Clairemont middle school is using the first class of the day as academic triage, with extra help for struggling kids and opportunities for others.

Queen Bees, Wannabes & How Technology Has Changed Teens Forever Jezebel
Rosalind Wiseman is the author of Queen Bees & Wannabes, the 2002 book that inspired the movie Mean Girls. A new edition comes out today—and pretty much scares the shit out of me.

Quotes: Concerned About Schools Over-Promising

"What if these schools admitted they didn't have all the answers, and instead had to admit that...they haven't figured out how to get to a significant percentage of their population, despite Herculean efforts?"  (The Other Thirteen)

Reform-Land: Boston Teachers Fight TFA Deal - TFA Fights Back

Still think that things are all hunky dory in reform-land?  Benin-empireCheck out this recent Slate post from Chad Matlin (Teach for America Gets a Timeout) about the Boston Teachers Union's fight against a sweetheart deal for TFA members that apparently included "a fast-track toward being rehired if they get laid off."  Matlin writes for Slate's "Big Money" spinoff and he says he's going to focus on the business of education (one of my favorite under-used categories).  The union didn't like the disparate treatment and fought for equal treatment. Usually reluctant to comment in the press, TFA fired off a testy response on Friday that, it should be noted, doesn't argue Matlin's main points. 

DUNCAN: Schedule Speeches For The Week

Wildthings340 Let the wild rumpus begin!

A few days later than usual -- what's going on, USDE folks? -- here's the official media schedule for the USDE for this week.  In a word:  Speeches, speeches, speeches, speeches. 

As always, education reporters, do remember to report these events as if they contained real news. References to "dog and pony show" and use of the words "spin," "propaganda," "more hot air" and wishful thinking" are generally frowned upon.

Continue reading "DUNCAN: Schedule Speeches For The Week" »

Thompson: The Other Side of the Story

Factsstupid Eduwonk thought he was praising Michelle Rhee when he wrote that without her combativeness "I’m not sure a bunch of niceties would have attracted the notice of the Nick Kristofs and Steven Brills of the world."  Rhee had just claimed to be concerned solely with the welfare of D.C. children and not spreading the gospel of education "reform."  AFT president Randi Weingarten had just said that innovations such as Value Added Models (VAMs) can be used for evaluations in situations where the union and districts worked together in good faith.  But if there was any doubt that those growth models can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of zealous advocates who do not respect the rules of evidence, then the false statements of Kristof, Brill, and Rhee should settle the issue.  Even Jason Kamras is stretching the truth when he says that VAMs are being recognized as "the fairest and most sophisticated" method of evaluation.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Other Side of the Story" »

Photo Op: Read, Read, Read Read!

Here, the POTUS talks to some kids at Viers Mill Elementary School.  [Silver Spring, October 19. Image via Getty] Via Jezebel.

PRINCIPAL DEVAN: Viers Mill, what's our goal?
STUDENTS: Read! Read! Read!
PRINCIPAL DEVAN: Viers Mill, what's our goal?
STUDENTS: Read! Read! Read!
PRINCIPAL DEVAN: Because great readers have?
STUDENTS: Great choices!

News: A Presidential Photo Op and Jobs (Lost and Found)

In Hawaii, school's out for recession AP
As President Barack Obama  pushes for more classroom time, his home state has created the nation's shortest school year under a new union contract that closes schools on most Fridays.

Stimulus saved 6,000 education jobs in L.A., report says LA Times
According to the report, more than 6,000 education jobs in Los Angeles were saved by stimulus funds. New York City was able to retain 4,000 positions, while 7% of the teaching corps in Scottsbluff, Neb -- 18 people -- kept their jobs.

PH2009101902106L.A. Unified takes anti-truancy effort door-to-door LA Times
Los Angeles' top education official went door to door Monday to urge teens to return to school, netting about a dozen students with the effort and drawing attention to a growing problem.

Nevada to Sit Out 'Race to Top' Start EdWeek
Nevada schools chief Keith Rheault says that state won't apply for the first round of $4 billion in Race to the Top grants because of the state's firewall.

Findings: For Decades, Puzzling People With Mathematics NYT
Martin Gardner is the world’s best-known recreational mathematician, and has probably introduced more people to the joys of math than anyone in history.

Obama makes surprise visit to Silver Spring school Washington Post
President Obama paid a surprise lunchtime visit to Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring Monday.

Teachers: Not Your Average Career-Switcher

30637786To keep things interesting in a class that consists largely of reading drills, Mr. Dunn hands out award tickets that can be redeemed for prizes at the end of the week. He still wears his BlackBerry -- a tool of the legal tribe, but unusual in the school. Old habits die hard, he said. "In my old job, not answering an e-mail immediately could have implications"

NCLB: It's Waiver Time!

TheMonopolyMan-RichUnclePennybags1-thumbCheryl Sattler at Ethica LLC is reporting that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has "wasted no time" in approving states that have applied for NCLB waivers.

"Taken together, these waivers alone represent more than the total number of waivers granted during the Bush administration. States must report on waiver usage in September 2010."

State setaside waivers are most popular, followed by excluding ARRA grants from SES calculations, and carryover grants, SES provider eligibility, and parental notification.

Check the site for details on which states are getting which waivers.

UPDATE:  Apologies to all.  I spelled Cheryl's name with two Ls.  And the Ethica newsletter is $$ only.  

Thompson: To Each His Own Evidence

Payforperformance Claus von Zastrow, recoiling from educational know-nothingism of recent opinion pieces in the Washington Post and the New York Times, suggested "pay newspaper pundits for their performance. Pay them only for what they get right, or for judgments based on strong evidence"

What would such a grand bargain look like? Merit evaluations would lead to a quick exit of Jonathan Alter’s opinions.  Richard Whitmire might avoid burnout and only seeing the worst in educators as a mentor refreshed his memory about journalism's best practices.  Also with a little mentoring, Jay Mathews could assess the unhappy sides of stories as well as the uplifting, and I suspect he would rise into the top quintile. But if we evaluate on cold hard accuracy, the top bonuses would go to Gerald Bracey, and think of how blunt Bracey would be after receiving the full recognition he deserves.

Continue reading "Thompson: To Each His Own Evidence" »

Quotes: The "New" Federal Education Role

"When schools are doing really well, we want to get out of the way. When they are really struggling, we want to support them." Arne Duncan (WSJ.com)

Reform: Selling New Haven As A National Trend

I'm as happy as anyone else that things seemed to have worked out amicably in New Haven, but I'm not buying the notion (being sold by Duncan and AFT to the national press) that the outcome reflects some brave new era of union-management cooperation:

EggsObama Wins a Battle as a Teachers' Union Shows Flexibility WSJ
In New Haven, all sides agreed on the new contract after months of closed-door negotiations.

Teachers' unions uneasy with Obama Politico
Both the unions and Duncan are pointing to a contract vote in New Haven, Conn., this week where a local teachers union agreed to stricter job evaluations and new rules that lift protections for weaker teachers as an example of the new flexibility on the part of unions.

Just look at what happened to Terry Grier in San Diego for a reminder of where things stand in most districts around the country. 

News: Monday Morning Update

Superintendent spreads the gospel of 'value-added' teacher evaluations LA Times
In Tenn. and N.C., Terry Grier adopted and expanded a statistical method of tracking student progress. Union resistance scuttled more modest efforts in San Diego, mirroring a brewing national debate.

First Lady for Teachers TIME
Michelle Obama pens Thursday op-ed calling for "a new generation of leaders... in our nation's schools."

Scaled.0830_met_duncan05_t651Grants aplenty, but can matching funding be found?
Las Vegas Sun
If Clark County teamed up with another district on the grant application with the intent of sharing best practices, it might improve the odds of getting the requisite matching funding.

Money No Longer a Motivator for CPS Students Chicago Talks
A controversial program that paid over $2 million to students for good grades has been quietly scrapped due to lack of funding, said Michael Scott, president of the Chicago Board of Education.

Lesbian student fights for tuxedo photo MSNBC
Everyone at Wesson Attendance Center knows 17-year-old Ceara Sturgis is gay because she's never tried to hide it.

Teen Arrested for Creating Website to Bully Other Teen Wired
A Missouri ninth-grader has been arrested for creating a website that disparaged another teen, the most recent arrest in a series of crackdowns by Missouri authorities on so-called cyberbullying.

Cafeteria: Talking Bird Wants To Trade Lunches


New Yorker October 19th, 2009

Blogs: Everyone Is Wrong About Everything (Today)

Nick Kristof Strikes Again, and Gets It Wrong Again ed notes online 
Not the first time Kristof has ventured into territory he knows nothing about.

Assault on Online Learning? Not Really Bill Tucker
If it’s done well, the $500 million courseware project could actually be used to address many of the market failures that Hess outlines.

500x_japan-ranges2_01Has the Dismal Science Cast a Pall Over Education? LFA
According to two articles published yesterday, the answer so far has been yes and no.

Alt. routes to teaching.... Amy Fagan
This NY Times article highlights some folks who took alternative routes to become teachers, leaving their primary careers or retirement to complete fast-track programs into the classroom.

The Pros and Cons of Squelching Gifted Students Uncle Jay Mathews
Some of the many people who wrote to me about my Oct. 5 column on Howard County’s reluctance to accelerate a gifted student shocked the heck out of me.

Police Escort, The Rodeo, and Screamer Boy Bus Driver
Screamer Boy is an obnoxious middle schooler who insists on making every bus drivers life a living hell.

Streaking Is All Fun And Games Until Someone Commits A Felony Deadspin
One high school student is facing criminal sexual conduct charges after his streaking across the field caused a near-riot.

If You See ED's AYP Amendment, Tell It I Say Hi.

This week's discussion of lifting AYP for i3 districts is almost over (National Journal Online).  Of course, I'm winning the debate.  Lisa Keegan is totes on my side.  Sandy Kress, too.  This despite the fact that none of us has ANY idea what we're talking about, since the USDE won't / hasn't released the appropriations language it's proposed and the reporters covering the USDE don't seem to know or care about what's really going on.

Cartoon: Raising The Bar For Everyone...But Parents (& Kids)

Download (25)

Chicago Modifies Duncan Plan For High Schools

539wg In a surprising about-face, Chicago schools chief Ron Huberman announced yesterday afternoon that students attending Fenger high school on Chicago's far South Side would be allowed to transfer back to schools closer to home rather than continuing to attend Fenger, the scene of neighborhood conflicts and recent violence.  (Stories here here and here.) Last week as you may recall, former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan vigorously denied that changes in attendance areas were to blame for the increased youth violence in Chicago and specifically the death of Darrion Albert, the honors student who was murdered after school in September. The Mayor derided the notion of making changes that would conform to gang or neighborhood boundaries. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

53 House Republicans Seek Removal of Obama Schools Official NYT
The administration has stood by Mr. Jennings, whom Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called “uniquely qualified for his job.” Mr. Jennings has expressed regret over one episode that has enraged his critics.

Chicago gives Fenger students option to transfer ABC7
"The day when the city of Chicago decides to divide schools by gang territory, that's a day when we have given up the city," said Daley last week.

Report Suggests Bloomberg’s School Promotion Policy Works NY Times
The RAND report, released Thursday, found that students who were kept in the fifth grade for an additional year showed significant improvement in standardized tests over the next three years compared with low-performing students before the policy went into effect.

Race, class — and new school map Seattle Times
The Seattle School District's transition to a neighborhood-based enrollment plan and away from a system of multiple choice raises issues raises issues for most constituencies.

Obama & Duncan: Whirlwind Tour Of New Orleans

Arne-duncanjpg-c8e8ed3168293385_largeMcDonogh students tell Duncan what it's like NOLA.com
Duncan chose John McDonogh, a non-charter school in the state-run Recovery School District, partly because he had heard of the school's sharp turnaround over the last two years.

Obama in New Orleans: 'It's clear how far we have to go'  LA Times
Paul Vallas, the head of the city's Recovery School District, spoke of the hundreds of millions in rebuilding funds he was still hoping to receive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

PLUS:  Obama Speaks to Students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School
Courtesy of CQ Transcripts Wire

Executive Function: I Just Can't Resist.

NurtureShock4 Executive function is everywhere.  First there was the article about the Marshmallow Test in The New Yorker.  Then the video.  Then there was Paul Tough's recent article about Tools of the Mind in the NYT Magazine. 

But they may not have been the first.  There is a whole chapter on executive function in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's newest book, NurtureShock, which was recently reviewed (somewhat critically) in the New York Times.

The differences in the research behind emotional intelligence and executive function are discussed by the authors in this recent blog post (NurtureShock Blog):  "The fact that executive function and emotional intelligence can both be referred to with a pithy abbreviation beginning with "E," does not mean that they are on equally shaky scientific ground."

Roundup: A Daily Look At The Best Blog Posts & Articles

Not to be confused with the morning roundup of education news:

The Invisible Hand in Education Policy Harvard Education Letter
Although economists are by no means unified in their positions on education reform, their influence is broad and growing.

More, better care Philly Notebook
The city and District still largely operate in parallel worlds, rarely working across agencies to direct services where they are most needed.

FrontHow a Controversial Rule Played Out in Other Schools
Voice Of SD
The teachers union is pulling for a new rule to limit workloads. Principals say it will handcuff them. How did it work elsewhere?

Obama in LA public schools  Joanne Jacobs
At two of LA’s lowest scoring high schools, Crenshaw and Dorsey, a former Obama campaign manager has organized the Barack Obama Digital Media Team and the Obama Chefs, reports NBC Los Angeles.

Reinventing the Wheel Rick Hess
While seeking to make college more accessible, the Obama administration has launched a largely unnoticed assault upon the nation's vibrant market in online learning.

Artsy Smartsy  Nancy Flanagan
First, read this--Claus von Zastrow's brilliant, poignantly hilarious treatise on why public schools and teachers just can't win, posted last week on the Public School Insights blog. It encompasses the entire range of criticisms--building yurts with tongue depressors

Charters: Not Enough Bad Ones Closed

"We should let a thousand flowers bloom and then kill 20-30 percent of them if they turn out to look ugly." Blogger Matt Yglesias (Gotta Close the Bad Charter Schools)

Pop: Scientologist Actor Sending Cute Daughter To Catholic School

Little Suri Cruise, daughter of Scientologist actor Tom Cruise, is reportedly going to be enrolled in a Roman Catholic preschool in Boston (National Enquirer).  This changes everything.  (No, not really.)

Media Watch: Who Wins The 2009 NAEP Math Coverage Contest?

As always, coverage of NAEP scores is rated on a ten-point "must" scale including (a) colorfulness of reaction quotes, (b) visual appeal of accompanying graphics, and (c) grabby headlines. Accuracy and clarity are tolerated but not considered as part of the judging process.

61_1_blue-ribbon-perfect-logoVVIt's a close call this year.  Duncan uses the word "stuff" to describe test score results in Nick Anderson's WP story.  (He'll never get a live interview with Duncan again.)  Tom Loveless goes with a polling analogy in Libby Quaid's AP story. (A little bit off cycle but I like it.)  Amy Wilkins tries a strong if politically incorrect gasoline metaphor in the Christian Science Monitor.  But it's almost not even fair including Checker, quoted in Sam Dillon's NYT coverage, who makes test score results sound directional and vaguely existential.  That guy is the LazR swimsuit of sound bites.  Plus I like "sluggish" in the hed. So I give it to the Times.

The contenders and their top quotes are below. Who do YOU think did it best?

Continue reading "Media Watch: Who Wins The 2009 NAEP Math Coverage Contest?" »

NCLB: Precedent Cited For Lengthy Health Debate

"Last Congress we spent four weeks on a farm bill. Within this decade we spent seven weeks on No Child Left Behind and eight weeks on an energy bill."

(Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on the upcoming health care debate.)

Blogs: The Best Posts Of The Day

The comparability fly in the Ouchi/principal-autonomy ointment Sherman Dorn
We may not want principals to have complete autonomy in a task where they have relatively weak skills: knowing which novice teachers are going to be great teachers.

Course outline for the LAUSD Richard Riordan
The Public School Choice Resolution is a big step in the right direction. Past experience, however, makes me skeptical as to whether the LAUSD will take full advantage of this window for change.

Xin_35205063010257962110217When I Wish Upon A Star… Eduwonk
Richard Rothstein lays out all the reasons Ed Sec. Arne Duncan is really poised to radically change the direction of federal education policy and throw-out the No Child Left Behind policy.

California too Focused on the Canary in the Coal Mine Quick And The Ed
Here is the problem. That linkage is largely meaningless.

Tween Summit Reveals The Kids Are (Mostly) Alright Jezebel
When Monica Hesse from WaPo asked about sexting, a 14-year-old named Angelique Gaston said, "Ew," and then proclaimed: "That isn't what we're doing. The media bases ev-er-y-thing on sexuality."

Why D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee Has to Play Tough Richard Whitmire
Running a hurry-up education offense is the only way Rhee can maintain a viable-sized school district that has dwindled to a mere 44,000 students, while the city's charter school population is expected to grow to 28,000 this year.

Video Game-Crazed Kids Reach New Levels of Violence Gawker
Kids these days sure know how to keep us horrified. Just when we think the little bastards can't get any more psychotic, five middle school boys have been arrested for setting a classmate alight.  Why?

Rhee Gets The Braveheart Joan Of Arc Treatment (& A Cute New Haircut)

Ednext_20101_28_homeimg "Rhee seems irked that policymakers see Washington as the laboratory of the education-reform agenda. 'That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,' she said, at the same spring meeting at which she bemoaned the lack of proper sockets. What matters is Washington’s kids, not a national agenda, she insisted.In fact, both are at stake."

D.C.’s Braveheart EdNext (June Krumholz)

PS:  You can also check out Rhee's short new bob here.  We won't tell.

Dangerous Minds: Great Scenes From Not So Great Movies

This is the scene from the 1995 masterpiece "Dangerous Minds" where hero teacher Michele Pfeiffer goes to see what's happening with the kids who aren't coming to school anymore and gets told off in no uncertain terms:

Best line: "I saw what they were bringing home – poetry and shit. A waste of time. They got more important things to worry about."

Cleveland: Former Security Guard Starts Successful Charter

11academy.4.650This is a great story even though, like many other charters, there are the nagging issues  of self-selection of students and families, small size, replicability, cost.

"Ginn, who has never taken a college class, was a coach and full-time high school security guard in 2006 when he proposed to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District an academy based on his brand of mentoring."

Self-Made Educator Fulfills a Vision  (NYT)

Thompson: Career Changers

172442__fivepieces_l I wish the Tim Daly who was interviewed by NPR could meet my mentor, Hal Olinger, and together they could talk some sense into the Tim Daly who is the president of the New Teacher Project.

Following a report on career-changing teachers, Daly said "the professions that are hardest to learn are the best preparation for teaching, because nobody learns to teach easily. You have to be prepared to fail repeatedly."

Hal Olinger’s preparation included Golden Glove boxing, slingin’ iron in the oil patch, and a career as a well-paid geologist. His first project was representing a small company recruiting "Wahoo" McDaniel out of Texas for the University of Oklahoma football team. Hal had decades of hilarious anecdotes by the time he switched careers. And he also had a mind of his own. Hal quickly transformed the local NEA into an organization with teeth and introduced the concept of democracy into our school system. Hal would have never conformed to the "culture of compliance" and the second-class status that many teachers simply accept.

Continue reading "Thompson: Career Changers" »

Cutting Class, Getting Impaled On Fence

“I was in a lot of pain but I didn’t call for help at first because I didn’t want to get into trouble for missing school.” (Girl Cuts Class, Gets Impaled)

“I was in a lot of pain but I didn’t call for help at first because I didn’t want to get into trouble for missing school.” Hot For Education.

On The Move: Miller Staffer Heads To TFA

Unknown-user Former Clinton campaign educationista Catherine Brown has left her spot working for George Miller and is now at TFA, I'm told.  She arrived in Miller's office last year (see Hill profile here).

Her official title was Senior Education Policy adviser, House Committee on Education and Labor.  Her new title is VP for Strategy & Operations, Public Affairs.  Congrats, condolences.

Anyone else making a move?  Let me know (thisweekineducation at gmail dot com).

Hi, Hater

ObamatfrontA T-shirt with President Barack Obama's picture on it didn't go over too well with a school teacher on Monday. But it was the wording on the shirt and not the president's photo that might have broken rules. Those words were "Hi Haters."

Calif. student told to remove Obama shirt AP

News: Wed-Nes-Day

Teachers benefit from job-saving stimulus spending AP
Teachers appear to have benefited most from the effort to save jobs with the $787 billion recovery package, which sent billions of dollars to states that were on the verge of ordering heavy layoffs in education.

091009_LH_ToDoListTNOdd couple join forces for schools Politico
Former Virginia Gov. and Sen. George Allen, a Republican, and former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman are this week launching a campaign to broaden the federal rehabilitation tax credit, which offers businesses and individuals a 20 percent tax credit for purchasing and restoring aging buildings.

Boy suspended over utensil gets reprieve AP
The school board voted Tuesday night to reduce the punishment for kindergartners and first-graders. PLUS: After Uproar on Suspension, District Will Rewrite Rules

Alexandria Boy Put on School Bus by Mistake, Then Left Alone Washington Post
A 5-year-old boy was mistakenly put on a bus at his Alexandria school last week and dropped off at an unfamiliar stop, where he wandered the streets crying before he was returned to his parents unharmed.

UCLA's Lab School expansion is postponed LA Times
In a sign of challenging economic times, UCLA has put on hold indefinitely plans to open a second campus of its experimental laboratory school, a project that had been touted as a major effort to expand its mission to low-income communities beyond Westwood.

NBC vs. Glee: Battle of the Network Stars
What with all the singing and dancing and costumes, you would think that the cast of Glee and a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float would go together like turkey and cranberries.

Dana Goldstein: From The American Prospect To The Daily Beast

IMG_1031 The American Prospect's Dana Goldstein (pictured here with Washington Post blogger Ezra Kelein) is on the move from DC to New York City, where she's got a new gig at The Daily Beast.

Goldstein made frequent appearances on my daily blog roundup and wrote a bunch of features during her stint at the magazine that I found interesting and well-reported whether I agreed with them or not (The Selling of School Reform, Testing Testing, The Education Wars). 

Alas, she'll be focusing in her new job on women's issues and international policy not education.  But I've got my fingers crossed she'll feel the pull of the school reform beat sometime again in the future.  In the meantime, congrats, condolences. 

Blogs: A Quick Search For Interesting Blog Posts

Zero Tolerance: Texas Style Transparent Christina
Texas sees the light. Modifications are beginning to ease the constraints put upon the nation as a result of the tragedy of Columbine.

Kevin Jennings Is Not Roman Polanski Seyward Darby
One could argue that Jennings should have done more to protect the student, by asking him more questions, calling the police, involving his school's administration, or even telling the student to discuss the health risks of unprotected sex with a doctor. But linking Jennings with Polanski is nothing short of ridiculous.

Suri Cruise is going to Catholic school? The Superficial [warning: may be NSFW]
In Boston, apparently.

Dylan Klebold's Mother "Haunted By Horror And Anguish" Her Son Caused Jezebel
In an essay written about her son Dylan and his role in the Columbine massacre that will appear in next month's Oprah magazine, Susan Klebold admits that she had "no inkling of the battle Dylan was waging in his mind."

Understanding Title I Funding Distributions Jennifer Cohen
Why Long Beach gets $3k per poor pupil and Spencerport gets $1200.

Nevada Says No Dice to Race to the Top Funding Politics K12
As California moves to eliminate its data firewall, Nevada isn't budging.

Newly-Liberated Tom Toch Takes On Reformy Favorite

"Done right, performance pay may contribute to a more professional culture in public school teaching. But it surely isn't going to transform the profession by itself." (Five myths about paying good teachers more)

Sidwell Admissions Director Makes "Most Powerful" List

50-most-powerful-in-dc-50 Sidwell admissions director Josh Wolman makes it onto GQ's new "most powerful in DC" list, albeit at number 50 (out of 50). 

Acceptance rate:
"14 percent."

Increase in applicants since Obama girls enrolled:
"25 percent."

Types of people who write recommendations on behalf of applicants: babysitters, Hebrew-school teachers, music instructors, Little League coaches, Clintons.

Number of teary parents he consoles:
"Oh, I can't even put a number on that."

The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C.

Innovations: Making A Mess Of AYP

Wbbm0907tosseddesks Little noted in all the mind-numbing coverage surrounding the rollout of the i3 "innovations" grant program was the revelation that the USDE not only wanted to make districts that hadn't made AYP eligible for the awards but had already gotten language that would effectively lift AYP for i3 into appropriations language.  I haven't seen the language but this seems like a bad idea to me -- or at least a bad precedent.  Details below.

Continue reading "Innovations: Making A Mess Of AYP" »

Thompson: The Future of Now

Futurism Today’s self-segregation is moving beyond "the Big Sort" and charters, magnets, and selectivity in schools to "radical choice--not just school choice but choice to the lesson level." Students who chose their parents well are already assembling "multiple provider transcripts" being able to virtually tour the British Museum, coordinate their iPhone and iTunes, and their a la carte choices from the Open Courseware Consortium.

The Education Sector's excellent discussion exemplified the maxim "The future is already here – it is just unevenly distributed." While "computers typically sit quietly, unused, in computer labs and in the back of classrooms, and "most learning takes place now outside school," and "kids report in surveys that they have to go to school to 'watch teachers work.'" as we maintain a school "culture that is really based upon an early 20th century authoritative model." "Progress will be wildly uneven for a decade" and perhaps it is too much to ask people who have not witnessed the disruption caused by videos of the morning’s gang fights being distributed by cell phone to understand "no electronic device" policies. "Disrupting class" is less romantic of a value in the chaos of the inner city, but it is no less real and no more stopable. 

Continue reading "Thompson: The Future of Now" »

White House: Back-To-School Controversy Crystallized Issues For Gibbs


The White House Takes on the Press TIME

News: Big News Of The Day

Tuesday that feels like a Monday:

Students Paid to Go to Class and Get Good Grades TIME
France is launching a controversial pilot program: students at severalschools in Paris's disadvantaged suburbs will be paid -- handsomely -- for attending class and getting good grades.

Obama song video prompts school protests APCustom_1247807824836_typewriter
It's an elementary school where students were seen in a video from earlier this year, singing a song in praise of President Barack Obama.

School goes from worst to among best AP
Nationally, Native American and low-income fourth graders score lower than their peers in reading and math. But one New Mexico school is making gains using praise and pizza.

States Stung By Criticism on Use of Stimulus Aid EdWeek
Singled out by the Education Department’s inspector general, states defend use of the money for plugging budget holes rather than reform.

Catholic Schools: How to Fix Parochial Schools' Decline TIME
A new generation of Catholic leaders hopes to bring a halt to decades of parochial school closures.

Is Columbus Day Sailing Off the Calendar? WSJ
Twenty-two states don't give their employees the day off, according to the Council of State Governments.

Blogs: Around The Blogosphere & Then Some

Columbus would definitely have blogged, no?:

Another Misleading Report About High School Dropouts and Income  Aaron Schutz
Reports like these simply feed the "Education Gospel" in America, the myth that education is a solution for economic and social problems. There is little or no evidence that this is the case. BBP2

Early hybrids show the way: the PLC story Tom Vander Ark
Neil Shorthouse co-founded Communities in Schools, the most respected dropout prevention network in America.  After three decades of working in and with public schools in Atlanta, Neil identified the need for an alternative setting and approach and created Performance Learning Centers.

What Are the Best Moves Your Schools Ever Made? Jay Mathews
I am suggesting we take a short break from our usual (but always useful) wallowing in what is wrong with our schools and their leaders, and briefly accentuate the positive. I pick the eight best moves I have ever seen Virginia educators make.

Some Good Can Come From Swine Flu Freakonomics
The H1N1 virus has created a positive externality in Korea.

School Policy: The Balance Between Discretion & Discrimination


It’s a Fork, It’s a Spoon, It’s a ... Weapon? NYT [Free Zachary Christie!]

Play & Academics: Preschoolers Can Have It All

27tools.2-190"We don’t need to choose between play and academics or socialization and cognitive development; good curriculums* provide both." (Steven Barnett NYT Letter to the editor)

*Whatever happened to "curricula"?

Thompson: The Grand Bargain

391_lg I was reading The Grand Bargain, wishing I could be more enthusiastically supportive of it, when the This American Life special that NPR had been promoting on health care grabbed my attention. Excessive testing is one of the reasons why NPR estimates that 30% of medical procedures are unnecessary. In health care and education, the costs of tests are just the tip of the iceberg because they prompt full batteries of procedures that are useless or even harmful. I then returned to the only overtly silly passage in The Grand Bargain where William Sanders proscribed more testing not because of any conceivable educational benefit but because they would allow for better Value Added Models (VAMs).

It is a shame that educators, of all people, can not converse with each other, and evaluate evidence in a timely manner, except under the auspices of some data-driven rationale. But teachers must play the cards they are dealt and if the price of a system of peer review and collaboration is the funding of VAMs, then Theodore Hershberg and his all-star cast of contributors make a lot of sense.

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Week Ahead: The Secretary's Public Media Schedule

ScreenHunter_83 Oct. 06 09.43 Watch out!  Arne's got you covered.

Here's the Secretary's schedule of official public media events, including a trip to New Orleans on Wednesday with the President. 

Continue reading "Week Ahead: The Secretary's Public Media Schedule" »

How Duncan Responded To Undeserved Recognition

Duncan_obama_onpage Politicians and political appointees often seek (or are offered) accolades that are not yet deserved. This doesn't usually stop them from accepting.  On Friday, President Obama was awarded a prize that many seemed to think he didn't yet warrant. So it seems worth noting now that almost exactly a year ago, when he was still just the head of the Chicago schools, Arne Duncan turned down an award from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence because, well, he felt like he didn't deserve it. 

Past recipients had included President Clinton, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate. But Duncan turned the award down -- as he should have.  Youth violence had been on the upswing for several years in Chicago. Eight school-aged children had already been killed in the first month of the year.  So Duncan gave an emotional speech, received a standing ovation from the audience, and left the award behind.  

It's a response that I wish Duncan -- and the President -- would employ more often.

News: Big News Of The Day

Schwarzenegger OKs school bill required by US law AP
California is removing a legal ban on using the results of student achievement tests to evaluate teachers, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger....

Columbus' darker side emerges in classrooms APTypewriter_TR
Columbus' stature in U.S. classrooms has declined somewhat through the years, and many districts will not observe his namesake holiday on Monday.

U.S. Standards Initiative Seeks to Equalize Benchmarks Washington Post
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, as it is known, is an attempt to fashion de facto national standards for math and English without calling them that.

'Striving Readers' Tough to Measure EdWeek
Striving Readers, which the Obama administration wants to expand, has not shown impressive student-achievement results so far.

NM school goes from worst to among best in 3 years AP
Fifth grader Darius Yazzie's after-school chores include hauling water for horses and feeding chickens, while his classmate, Shanika Begay, rides a bus 15 miles each way through the rolling hills of this impoverished corner of the Navajo Nation....

Inner-City School Founder: No Miracle, Just Teaching NPR
For the last 30 years, Providence St. Mel, a parochial school in Chicago's inner city, has sent each of its graduates off to college. A new documentary called The Providence Effect profiles the school and its founder, Paul J. Adams, who says there's no magic formula to St. Mel's success. It's all about teaching.



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.