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Blog Roundup: A Little Ravitch Goes A Long Way

Business principles won't work for school reform, former supporter Ravitch says Washington Post:  She stoutly defends teachers unions, questions the value of standardized test data and calls the president's affinity for independently operated charter schools "puzzling." 261.x600.feat.essentials.illio9

Training teachers like ice skaters Uncle Jay:  Goldstein wondered if there were some way to more effectively teach them what they need to do in those classrooms before they start. He saw the worth of what we might call the ice skater model, in honor of the winter Olympics.

Charters Oversold as Labs of Innovation WPNL:  Even if a traditional school had the money to hire assistants for every teacher, Alan Coverstone says there’s no certainty it would be effective.

The hype of 'value-added' in teacher evaluation The Answer Sheet:  The fact is that your kids’ results will vary with teachers, just as they do with pills, diets and exercise regimens. Nonetheless, we all want our kids to have at least a few excellent teachers along the way, so it’s tempting to buy into hype about value-added

More Feats Than Team USA Politics Daily:  Duncan's prediction about our teachers is particularly ominous. We're at a point where we need to hire more good teachers -- not fewer -- and it's almost a given that states won't just skim off the bottom to give the bad teachers the pink slips.

Oh Manilla Folders...How Do I Love Thee? Not All Flowers :  Those are just a few ideas.  Perhaps you're rolling your eyes and thinking, "Uh, all of these ideas are so obvi." Perhaps you're taking copious notes.  Whatever.  But you know what?  It feels good to share.  I'd LOVE it if you shared your ideas, too.

Quote: The Lessons Of NCLB & Reading First

"Think back to the enormous popularity of NCLB and Reading First. Both programs were motivated by much that was sensible and desirable. Yet, today, NCLB is a poisoned brand and Reading First is a footnote."

- Rick Hess on RTTT

Obama: Controversial Statue Moved To Alma Mater

Obama statue jakarta "The 110-centimeter (3 foot, 6 inch) high statue, depicting a 10-year old Obama in T-shirt and shorts, wearing a Hawaiian ethnic necklace and standing with a butterfly perching on his hand, was first unveiled in December at Menteng Park by Central Jakarta mayor Sylviana Murni." (Obama statue moved to old school after Facebook complaints Bloomberg News)

Thompson: Autonomy for Change.

Autonomy If there is any organization that should understand the need for holistic, systemic reforms, it is Mass Insight, the organization responsible for the brilliant The Turnaround Challenge.  If one ingredient is left out, it is nearly impossible to turnaround the "complex ecosystems" of persistently failing schools. 

As Mass Insight seeks to "give school level leaders the freedom to make staffing, scheduling, curriculum and related decisions, in return for being held accountable for dramatic student achievement gains within two years," we should ask, however, whether they have neglected the single most important factor in their otherwise outstanding model.  Their turnaround project rightly promised balanced autonomy to school leaders. But what about the professional autonomy of teachers?

Continue reading "Thompson: Autonomy for Change." »

Quote: Lessons From LA?

“We think it’s a victory for students and the collaboration between teachers and parents and administrators.  The world is going to see what we’ve been saying all along: Give the authority to teachers and we will create quality schools.”

-- UTLA president AJ Duffy about the LAUSD Board vote earlier this week.

Sattler: So Much For "RTTT-Ing" NCLB Dollars

Sattler head shot 0209 Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was abundantly clear in response to House Budget Committee member inquiries at yesterday's hearing on the Education Department's budget proposal: Title I will never be competitively funded. (Duncan's opening statement, which he read word for word, is here.)

On the other hand, any additional funds *will* go into competitive grants. He said that Tom Skelton Jim Shelton, who is running the yet-to-be-announced Investing in Innovation grant competition, is currently wrestling with the key question of how to assist small and rural districts without grant writers. (By the way, that competition announcement seems WAY overdue.)

As noted in the Washington Post, Committee members seemed awfully touchy when Duncan referred to the funding for Teach for America as an "earmark." Since when is funding, requested by a Member of Congress, placed into an agency's budget for a specific company, and not requested by that agency, NOT an earmark?

Cheryl L. Sattler, Ph.D., is senior partner at Ethica, LLC. She writes and provides technical assistance about Federal education programs, and can be reached at www.ethicallc.com.

Trends: Charter Schools For Rich Kids, Part 2

Goldensolar-ed01 What to make of the fact that there are 79 low-poverty charter schools spread out among the 2800 "private" public schools cited in a recent Fordham Foundation report (here)? 

The Fordham report makes the point that a small but substantial number of public schools serve a narrow, well-off slice of the public -- as exclusive if not more so than many private schools and almost all charter schools. 

The existence of a small number of low-poverty / high wealth charter schools doesn't really undercut that observation.  And as Fordham's Mike Petrilli pointed out to me, many of these schools are located in states that were early entrants to charter schooling and may be remnants from the days when the focus wasn't on poor and/or academically disadvantaged children.

The number may be growing, however, and in my mind that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Charter schools with enrichment programs and other offerings aimed at middle- and upper-middle class parents could bring private school parents back into the public sphere and reduce the unfamiliarity and hostility with which charters are discussed.   As long as they remain open to all and serve their fair share of challenged kids, that might help everyone move forward.

Previous Post:  Charter Schools For Rich Kids

Stimulus: AZ Districts On List Of Stimulus Scofflaws

ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 26 04.17 The Wall Street Journal notes that school districts are among those who are the list of stimulus scofflaws (Biggest Losers?). 

The full list of 389 entities who've failed to file reports during two quarters - most for relatively small amounts -- is here (PDF).

Arizona school districts, they're watching you!


News: Lawmakers Push Back Against Duncan Focus On Competitive Grants

Duncan questioned on move to cut funding for Teach for America Washington Post:  Education Secretary Arne Duncan faced unusually sharp questioning from House Democrats Thursday over the Obama administration's proposals to eliminate a grant for the Teach for America program and hold the line on new funding for many other education programs [Title I, IDEA, TRIO]. 11111111111news

Teachers to appeal mass firings at RI high school AP:  The entire staff of teachers fired in a radical attempt to improve one of the worst performing high schools in Rhode Island will appeal their dismissals to school authorities, the head of the teachers union said Thursday.

PLUS:Mass firings at R.I. school may signal a trend USA Today.

Chicago Schools CEO Projects $1 Billion Deficit WBBM:  Increasing class size would not be enough to close the budget gap. Boosting classes from 28 to 31 students would save $40 million, which is a fraction of what is needed, and would require layoffs of up to 600 teachers.

The charter school test case that didn't happen LA Times:  No charter received a high school and only one, Magnolia Science Academy, will run a middle school -- on a campus it will share with a separate teacher-run school. Functioning as a neighborhood school remains beyond the experience of nearly all charters except Green Dot, which broke ground by taking over low-performing Locke High in July 2008.

Expansions of State Voucher Programs Gain Momentum EdWeek:  Bipartisan support for Florida’s tax-credit voucher program and efforts in other states cheer choice advocates.

Thompson: Alternative Schools and School Turnarounds

Alternativeschools Much of the Gates Foundation's, This Works for Me series could have been written by teachers and their unions.  As urban teachers keep saying, usually to deaf ears, charters and other individual turnaround schools have the backing of a huge alternative school system - called neighborhood schools. Too many reforms require "creaming" of easier-to-educate students and the best educators, leaving a greater critical mass of challenges for neighborhood schools. Gates now recommends "Consider using different measures of success for off-track students" (emphasis theirs.) They also report "more than three fourths of teachers and principals supported what researchers described as alternative learning environments as a way to reduce the dropout rate.

Continue reading "Thompson: Alternative Schools and School Turnarounds" »

Blog Roundup: New Goals Just As Unrealistic As The Old Ones?

Is Obama’s college goal as unattainable as NCLB’s 100 percent proficiency? Educated Reporter:  I spent years as a math major but don’t need to multivariable calculus or abstract algebra to tell you that this does not compute. Scantron2

Kline: Voluntary Standards OK, But Federal Standards Aren't PK12 Alyson Klein: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, is one of the key lawmakers the administration is trying to court in its push to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with bipartisan support.

RTT and the Emperor's Pants Rick Hess:  These programs will only deliver on their promise if they rest on a credible foundation, are guided by an understanding of what Uncle Sam can and should do in our federal system, are designed for the long run, and if the process is able to benefit from observers speaking their piece without fear or favor.

The Power of “Touch” In The Classroom Larry Ferlazzo: Most teachers know that a quick supportive touch on most students’ shoulders can be helpful in a number of ways. Now, a study reported in the New York Times reinforces its importance.

Trends Eduwonk:  That whale in Florida killing people seems like a more common trend than schools firing all the teachers en masse.

Standards: 8 States Up, 11 States Down

ScreenHunter_86 Feb. 24 14.23 Have states really been racing to the bottom like Duncan says?  Not really.

The USDE cites a NAEP report as showing that 11 states made changes in math during 2005-2007 that resulted in a lowering of their AYP standards, as mapped onto the NAEP scale.*

From the chart:  "When states make significant changes in their state standards, they are more likely to make them less rigorous."

But the news is not all bad.  Eight states (GA, HI, ID, MT, MO, NY, NC, VA) increased their standards in math and/or reading.  Here's the press release (PDF) which includes reading and math.

Reform: Only First-Hand Experience Trumps Misperception

Crime__1266079730_8414 Maybe the real solution to America's education woes is to make more people actually spend some time inside school buildings, rather than reading and hearing about how bad things are from others.

This recent Boston Globe article (Imaginary fiends) notes that crime rates fell last year to "lows unseen since the 1960s."  And yet, three quarters of Americans think that crime is worse.  Apparently the factors that are to blame for this persistent, growing misunderstanding of reality include something called "pessimistic bias," the tendency to view the past as better than the present, the media's race to the tabloid bottom, changing demographics, and, yes, political partisanship.  

Only where people have firsthand experiences -- about their neighborhood, for example -- are they able to accurately assess crime rates, according to the article. 

Quote: Highways Without Safety Rails

“It’s as if the federal government had spent billions for new highway construction, but nothing to put up guardrails along the sides of those highways.”

-- Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, at a House education hearing on Wednesday

Reform: First, Fire All The Teachers

A roundup of news coverage about the Central Falls HS turnaround story and other related conflicts:

Plan to fire all its teachers roils poor RI city Washington Post: The blue-and-white banner exclaiming "anticipation" on the front of Central Falls High School seems like a cruel joke for an institution so chronically troubled that its leaders decided to fire every teacher by year's end. 340x_easybakesmall22310

A Jumble of Strong Feelings After Vote on a Troubled School NYT:  In hopes of a “turnaround,” all the faculty members at an underperforming high school in Rhode Island are fired.

L.A. Unified is sued over teacher layoffs at 3 low-performing schools LA TImes:  Suit seeks to prevent further teacher cuts at the campuses, already hard hit by budget-related layoffs, saying the students are not being well served.

Chicago Teachers Union sues Board of Ed over possible reassignments/layoffs Chicago Now:  The Chicago Teachers Union is suing the Chicago Board of Education to stop it from designating certain schools for "turnaround" and "consolidation" which the union argues would effectively lead to layoffs and be a violation of the TAP (Teacher Advancement) programs.

It's not a joke when reform reaches peoples' jobs, especially during tough economic times.  Failure to resolve any one of these high-profile cases would affect school reform efforts nationally.

News: LAUSD Board Snubs Charters, Cortines

L.A. School Board Snubs Charter School Operators Associated Press:  The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday voted to reject a number of applications from charter school operators, choosing instead to hand control of nearly 30 schools to nonprofit educational groups formed by teachers and administrators already employed by the district. 11111111111news

As U.S. Aid Grows, Oversight Is Urged for Charter Schools NYT: The president of one influential charter group told the House Education and Labor Committee that the federal government had spent $2 billion since the mid-1990s to finance new charter schools but less than $2 million, about one-tenth of 1 percent, to ensure that they were held to high standards.

School Laptop Spying Allegations Raise Privacy Questions NPR:  A high school student in suburban Philadelphia is suing his school district for allegedly spying on him through the webcam of a school-issued laptop. Are such practices are widespread in schools and corporations? (Plus:  Pa. educator says she didn't watch student webcams)

Obama Official Applauds Rhode Island Teacher Firings CBS News:  "This is hard work and these are tough decisions, but students only have one chance for an education," Duncan said, adding that "when schools continue to struggle we have a collective obligation to take action." [see next post above for more]

Blog Roundup: Slouching Towards Spring Break

Crawling toward national tests Uncle Jay Mathews:  I think we are in a better place now, in terms of what our children are learning, than we were then. It has been mostly marginal improvement, but as time passes, small steps grow into big ones. 

24teacher-map-articleInline

 Testing... Testing... Claus Von Zastrow:  Every reform, every innovation, every old or new practice seems to rise or fall on the results of state tests. We make sweeping judgments about what works on the basis of tests, and we often use anemic (though "significant") gains in scores to proclaim one reform better than another.

Prepare to define: “college-ready” Education Reporter Linda Perlstein:  The phrase of the moment! You know you should hyphenate it—but you, and the policymakers you love, are probably less clear on how to define it.

A graphic account of South Philly violence Philly Notebook:  A retired federal judge's report, released on Tuesday, provides a lurid and troubling, almost blow-by-blow account of the violent attacks on Asian students at South Philadelphia High school on December 3.

Groups Sign Reform Compact for L.A. Schools District Dossier:  Modeled after the Boston Compact, the agreement is aimed at preparing students for success in college. [wasn't the Boston Compact considered a failure?]

SAT Prep Gone Wild GOOD:  INAP targets low-income students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to college advice, online lessons, mentors, or 24/7 email support.

Turnarounds: Duncan Process Under Seige Siege In Chicago

Protests rarely work, it seems, and Arne Duncan rarely relented on the schools that were slated for closure or turnaround when he was in charge, but last week in Chicago Duncan's replacement Ron Huberman gave a reprieve to five of 19 Chicago schools slated for some sort of turnaround (or closing, or phaseout).  See here for a roundup of news coverage.

Extreme-makeoverCommunity protests raised concerns about neighborhood violence and gang boundaries.  Call it the Derrion Albert strategy (after the Chicago teen who was beaten to death on camera last fall.) Huberman pledged to improve the closing process to ensure that better information was gathered ahead of time and schools were given more opportunity to respond.

Still, that wasn't enough. Last night, in the aftermath of a raucous city council meeting on Monday, two more schools were taken off the original list.  Opponents are calling for a moratorium on turnarounds and closings.  The Board is slated to vote on the remaining schools today.

Sattler: Making CCR Standards A Precondition For Title I?

Sattler As a Title I wonk it makes me a little nervous when Title I makes it to the headlines, by name. There I was, waking up to the news the other day when I heard that President Obama told the governors at a meeting of the National Governors' Association that he was proposing to make Title I funding contingent on state adoption of college/career-ready standards (fact sheet here). 

Conditions on Title I funding are themselves nothing new. What sounded different - and it's hard to tell based on a sound bite and a bullet point - was that states might have to adopt these standards right now, as a precondition for getting any more Title I funds.

Click below for more about CCR standards, state assessments, and the rest.

Continue reading "Sattler: Making CCR Standards A Precondition For Title I?" »

Media: Times' Stylish New Education Reporter

07gabriel Word is that Trip (Bertram) Gabriel, longtime editor of the Times' Styles section, is becoming an education writer for the paper. 

No details yet -- just that he's going to be writing a “series of education-related projects.”  Ideas?  Suggestions?  

The Observer debates whether this is a demotion or just the latest hot trend.

Whatever the topics, there might be some rust.  It's been a while. Gabriel's most recent Times byline comes from 2003. 

Congrats, condolences, as usual.

AM News: All Eyes On Central Falls High School

Teachers fired, labor outraged Providence Journal:  The state’s tiniest, poorest city has become the center of a national battle over dramatic school reform.

A Vote to Fire All Teachers at a Failing High School NYT:  Central Falls High is one of six of the state’s lowest-achieving — the only one not in Providence — and has a four-year graduation rate of 48 percent. It has 800 students.

Kansas City considers closing 31 of 61 schools USA Today:  Faced with declining enrollment and a $50 million budget shortfall, the Kansas City, Mo., schools chief wants the school board to close as many as 31 of the city's 61 schools and lay off one-fourth of its employees — including 285 teachers.

Maryland schools get a break on making up snow days Washington Post:  Spring break is in significantly less peril for public schools in Maryland after the State Board of Education decided Tuesday to allow schools to request waivers for the minimum number of days they must be in session this year.

2 teens injured in Colorado middle school shooting AP:  A teacher tackled a man armed with a high-powered rifle just after two teenage students were shot Tuesday at a suburban Denver middle school that's just miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the nation's deadliest school shootings, authorities said. 

Roundup: All The Blog's A [Snarky] Stage

Duncan: Governors Have Been Receptive to ESEA PK12
So far, governors appear open to the administration's proposal to make receipt of Title I funds contingent on states adopting higher, more uniform college- and career-readiness standards, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today. [I'll believe it when the Govs say it themselves, thanks]

Moving Toward National Education Standards. TAPPED
I don't see how someone can read the Common Core Standards, which include things like knowing how to use fractions and percentages, and think these are skills that students in any community need not know.

Constants And Variables GothamSchools
A thunder storm or snow can produce plenty of excitement. A change in the day’s schedule — a substitute in the classroom in place of an absent gym teacher — can get kids pretty worked up too.Then there’s major disappointments like today, when we learned that tomorrow’s field trip was postponed.

Harlem Children's Zone: Hope or Hype? GOOD
We asked Helen Zelon, a freelance writer from Brooklyn, who spent the better part of a year reporting and writing the story, to answer a few of our questions. [I'll post my own somewhat jucier Q and A with Zelon later today or tomorrow.]

A “Social Agenda Trojan Horse?” Robert Pondiscio
An Obama Administration education official wants school safety measurements – ”a data system so parents know what kind of environment a kid will encounter in a school” — included in the Common Core State Standards. 

Cartoon: "Mom Said You Were Supposed To Take Me."

ScreenHunter_80 Feb. 22 13.36
From this week's New Yorker.

Thompson: The CEP's Wisdom

Saveourschool The Center for Education Policy's series of outstanding reports confirm that "we still know painfully little about some key questions in education reform" such as "what makes an effective teacher," and it concludes "the current drive to improve elementary and secondary education cannot be fulfilled solely within the present structure of public schools."  "With greater consequences attached to test results, the testing aspect of standards-based reform has become the main driver of accountability, overshadowing the standards themselves." ... "It would be foolish to abandon it (standards) now.  Research has not revealed any better framework ..."  So, the CEP recommends that we eliminate federal sanctions for not meeting NCLB targets.  (emphasis mine)

Continue reading "Thompson: The CEP's Wisdom" »

Turnarounds: New Providers Organizations Appear

I'm told that a handful of new turnaround provider organizations are coming online, including ones in Massachusetts, New York City, and New Orleans.

Dodds_cropIn Massachusetts, the former principal of Excel, the top performing middle school in the state, is forming a new turnaround organization. In New York City, a charter school provider called Explore is planning to expand its work to include turnarounds.  In New Orleans, an organization called Renew Schools set to go for this fall.  (No confirmation yet.) 

Lack of turnaround providers has been a big problem for turnaround advocates. The obvious choices -- charter networks -- turn out not to be so obvious.  Districts and state agencies don't want or can't do the job.  But all the public attention and new dollars out there seem to be attracting some attention.  Crossed fingers this turns out OK.

Previous posts: The Supplemental Turnaround Market

AM News: Budget Cuts Vs. New Ideas

For school districts on the edge, busing halt considered Detroit Free press: Some districts are asking parents to dig deeper to pay for athletic uniforms or to purchase classroom supplies. Class sizes are rising. And many school boards are involved in heated discussions about closing schools.

Computerized state assessments to save time, money Wichita Eagle:  The Wichita district spent $1.9 million on Netbooks and $20,400 on updating Internet connections this year to help students practice for and take assessments outside of computer labs. Most schools only have one lab.6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

Math Wiz Adds Web Tools to Take Education to New Limits PBS NewsHour:  From a bedroom in the San Francisco Bay area, Salman Khan is using the Web to teach math and science to millions. 

Obama Pitches Education Proposal to Governors NYT:  The president praised efforts by 48 states — all but Alaska and Texas — to develop common standards in math and reading, coordinated by the National Governors Association. The collaboration was a bipartisan project at variance with the highly polarized political mood in Washington that has frustrated many of Mr. Obama’s top priorities in Congress.

Disabled kids could get more access to charter schools Houston Chronicle:  Encouraging a crop of charters for special-needs students won't be easy. Current funding structures and accountability laws for Texas charter schools are prohibitive, said Houston advocate Louis Geigerman, who abandoned a plan several years ago to open a charter for children with Asperger's syndrome.

Boston gets an F in teacher appraisals Boston Globe:  A new state law that bolsters a superintendent’s ability to fire teachers at underperforming schools could be undermined in Boston because administrators routinely neglect a basic task: evaluating teachers.

Media: Flawed Journalism On Laptop Spying Story

Details emerging since Friday suggest that the media jumped on the juicy cyber-spying story without bothering to get the full story (ie, the available facts, context).  I thought reporting was what differentiated journalists from bloggers, but maybe these days journalists are just overpaid bloggers.

Picture-6Things we now know:  The spyware was intended only to be used in cases of theft rather than as some sort of ongoing monitoring program and was only used in "a handful" of cases by two authorized IT officials, according to the district. The district says it recovered about half of 42 computers reported lost or stolen using the software over a 14 month period.  It's also defending the AP who's accusing of misusing the program (here).  

Blake Robbin the kid whose parents filed the lawsuit was apparently accused of selling drugs and photographed doing what he described as eating candles (here). His parents say his computer was never reported lost.  Legal filing here (PDF).  Family lawyers are now suggesting that the district will "wipe" computers. The local paper seems amazed that a well-regarded district could be turned into a punch line overnight.

Blog Roundup: Questioning Obama Commencement Contest

The problem with Obama’s commencement speech contest Answer Sheet:  It’s not the idea of a contest that gives me pause. It’s the way this one is being run.

Expect Several-Billion-Dollar School ‘Stimulus’ Soon Andy Smarick AEI:  I’m not sure when, but expect a significant push for a schools stimulus soon—and its several-billion-dollar price tag.500x_snowglobe

5 questions for Eva Moskowitz EdNews Colorado:  The New York politician-turned-charter CEO talks about the enduring controversy surrounding charter schools, co-location and segregation. 

Eight essential life skills that schools can teach our kids Jay Mathews WPost: I learned at an early age from my mother that there was more to school than reading, writing, arithmetic and lunch.

No (Tenured) Teacher Left Behind WSJ Editorial:  One of the biggest obstacles to putting a good instructor in every classroom is a tenure system that forces principals to hire and retain teachers based on seniority instead of performance.

Thompson: The Equality Trust

The Spirit Level provides more social science documenting the obvious. Just as out-of-school effects trump schools’ and teachers’ contributions to learning, equality and inequality trumps economic wealth in creating a livable society. Americans living in more equal states live around 4 years longer than those living in more unequal states.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Equality Trust" »

USDE: Duncan's Weekly Media Schedule

Screen_shot_2010-01-18_at_07.37.33Here's a look at Arne Duncan's weekly media, schedule, including his Sunday talk to the National Governors Association in Atlanta, a Tuesday talk at the National Press Club with Unavision, a Thursday appearance before the House Budget Committee, and a talk at Harvard's Ed School.  None of those jump out at me as big events, though I'm sure I and others will end up writing about them anyway.

For the first time that I can recall the schedule also notes media appearances by others besides Duncan, including Ruslyn Ali and Juan Sepulveda. Check out the details below.

Continue reading "USDE: Duncan's Weekly Media Schedule" »

NCLB: Obama Pushing Standards At NGA

Obama wants students prepared for college, careers AP:  In a release Sunday night, the administration took a swipe at the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, declaring that "between 2005 and 2007, various states have lowered their standards in reading and math."500x_sharpies

Obama wants education benchmarks to meet higher standard Washington Post:  White House and Education Department officials said a state could show that its benchmarks meet the expected level two ways: by adopting standards developed through a consortium of states or by certifying, in a process to be developed with universities, that their existing standards are high enough.

Obama to Propose New Reading and Math Standards NYT:  How successful or quickly the governors, legislatures, state boards of education and other authorities in other states will be in agreeing on adoption of the new standards is not clear.

Quote: Looming Layoffs Like A Month From Now

"I am very, very concerned about layoffs going into the next school year starting in September. Good superintendents are going to start sending out pink slips in March and April, like a month from now, as they start to plan for their budgets."

-Arne Duncan, speaking before the NGA this weekend

News: Disputes, Conflicts, Cuts

Pennsylvania: School District Denies Claim That It Spied AP:  The Lower Merion School District in suburban Philadelphia says it remotely activated Webcams 42 times to find missing student laptops, but never did so to spy on students, as a lawsuit filed this week claims. 6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

New Plan on School Selection, but Still Discontent NYT:  The San Francisco school board is trying to revamp its byzantine student-assignment system, but complaints persist.

Superintendent returns to court on charges AP:  The attorney for Milford's superintendent of schools says his client will plead not guilty to sexual assault charges involving two female school principals.

Politics: St. Helena’s Version of Hatfields vs. McCoys NYT:  A special election on recalling four of the five school board members in St. Helena has deeply split the town.

Georgia schools switching to 4-day weeks USA Today:  With budget cuts looming, more Georgia school systems are considering switching to four-day school weeks.

Weekend Reading: Child Care Subsidy As School Reform

5 Problems with an Early High School Graduation Policy Atlantic:  One can see these tests as a dangerous incentive for kids to bolt from high school, or as a prudent warning system that teaches kids the skills they will need to graduate.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic Jezebel:  The children being cared for (pictured) at SOS are called 'unaccompanied' because many of them are earthquake orp500x_haiti21910 hans while others may still have family that have yet to be located.  

Does Obesity Rehab Help Overweight Teens Enough? TIME:  Wellspring Academy houses about 75 students in grades 8 through 12, all at various stages of weight loss. Students can enroll at any time and must stay at least four months. They live together in dorms, just like at traditional boarding schools. 

A review of Obama's child care proposals Slate:  Across the country, the cost of care for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old, in the example calculated by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies) is now ranked either first or second as the largest category of expenses facing families, including mortgage, health care, and transportation expenses.

Ultra cool conference delivers hype, delusions Salon:  Inside TED, where there's no recession, Sarah Silverman is tame and all we need is "mindshift."

Steven Kazmierczak and School Shootings Esquire:  We were told that Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five students and then himself at NIU one year ago, was a sweet, unassuming, overachieving grad student who inexplicably snapped. He was not. Originally published in the August 2008 issue

Media: More Awesomeness!

ViralNote to self: Find and share more awesome articles. Researchers from Penn examined the New York Times “Most E-Mailed” list and found that readers share stories for many reasons including not only the element of surprise but also the stories’ capacity to inspire awe (It's Awesome). Square watermelons are surprising. An interstellar view of the Grand Canyon is awesome (assuming such a thing is possible). An-awe inspiring story changes the way a reader thinks or sees things, or opens the reader into a previously unknown world.

ViralThis is especially useful information for someone like me, who shares information for a living, and perhaps also for teachers. It’s relatively easy to find stories that elicit surprise or fear or amusement. (I have a particular affinity for stories that are critical-minded.) But some of my favorite blogs are almost entirely about finding and sharing what’s best and most inspiring about the world, or about solutions  – Kottke and Lifehacker come to mind, strangely enough.

Video: Racing To Commencement

The President wants your school to compete to have him appear at your commencement.  Cute idea.  But this "racing" thing is getting old and overused, no?  I blame Cunningham. 

Numbers: Test Scores Not Alone In Being Repurposed

Picture_31.4h6a5uwlo884s880k8wgo8css.22qwr5zijcckg48go4wowg88o.th Test scores and test score data aren't the only numbers that end up being used for purposes other than those for which they were originally intended.  This recent post from In These Times (Gross Inaccuracies) notes that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is another. 

News: Spying, Coaching, Cheating

Pennsylvania: Schools Accused of Spying AP:  A suburban Philadelphia school district used school-issued laptop Webcams to spy on students at home, a family claims in a federal lawsuit.6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

St. Paul schools rev up for test season Star Tribune: The district initiative calls for about 55 of its "coaches" to focus specifically on helping targeted students in targeted schools to perform better on the exams.

U.S. education chief praises Georgia inquiry AJC:  The state school board ordered local officials to investigate 191 schools with the most classrooms exhibiting suspicious erasures.

L.A. Unified head quits board of Scholastic Inc. LA Times: Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines resigned Thursday from the board of Scholastic Inc. after increased scrutiny of his relationship with the school-district vendor that paid him compensation worth more than $150,000 last year.

Media: Learning The Business From EdWeek's Edwards

GinedIt’s easy to think of EdWeek* as a sleepy nonprofit trade publication producing bland follow-the-leader coverage.  Indeed, I have criticized its journalism many times in the past for being too bland, slow, and beholding to powerful sources.  But there’s a awful lot of innovation and business savvy going on behind the scenes -- a fact that was recognized in a recent invitation for EdWeek chief Virginia Edwards to speak at the American Press Institute

I had a chance to speak with Edwards on the phone recently and learned a lot.  EdWeek is a $13 million a year nonprofit but it’s run like a business.  It’s a survivor, and an innovator.  It's way out ahead of many other much more highly-touted journalistic enterprises.   It’s learned a lot of tough lessons that newbies and latecomers should consider digesting.   It's got some pretty impressive readership numbers for a wonky education outlet.

“I’m frustrated that a lot of these folks burst onto the scene and literally sound like they think they had discovered online news,” she says. “I would beg to differ.”

Continue reading "Media: Learning The Business From EdWeek's Edwards" »

Blogs: Did You Go To A "Private" Public School?

It's Back to the Drawing Board for Draft N.C. Standards Erik Robelen EdWeek: Amid strong opposition, state education officials are apparently backing off a recent proposal to rewrite social studies standards.

The New Child-Testing Craze Daily Beast Ashley Merryman:  Alternatives to IQ tests are suddenly all the rage. But they’re even worse at predicting kids’ futures.

Is NCLB Reauthorization moving? Andy Smarick:  No one should think that this announcement guarantees a reauthorization bill any time soon.

Private public schools Mike Petrilli:  A new report from Fordham today, authored by yours truly and our research assistant Janie Scull, identifies some 2,800 “private public schools” nationwide—public schools that serve virtually no poor students.4288986922_085fef02b5_o.85n8hoehz484kgwwgw8wgs00o.22qwr5zijcckg48go4wowg88o.th

Race to the Top: States tout plans for collaborative PD ASCD David Snyder:  As we look through the many Race to the Top applications submitted by states from around the country, we’re encouraged by the multitude of plans for collaborative professional development.

Detroit bans social promotion Joanne Jacobs: Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager of Detroit Public Schools, has banned social promotion “to the outrage of Detroit school board members who called it a political ploy in the midst of a court battle between Bobb and the board over academic control of the district,” reports the Detroit News.

Wearing Pajamas to School Lisa Belkin NYT:  What do you wear to school? I mean your child's school.

Why do times tables matter - and how should they be taught? The Gate:  The question above is half asked by me, and half by my 8-year-old daughter.

Media: Another Know-It-All Joins The Blogosphere

Blog-StraightUp

There's no shortage of online chatter about education these days.  But you could do worse than adding Rick Hess, the American Enterprise Institute's mad scientist of school reform.  And that's what EdWeek has done, bringing Hess on board.  Hess is reliably interesting without -- most of the time -- going over into angry man mode.  He's not as afraid as others to take on Petrilli and Rotherham.  The Mad Men logo is fun, as is the booze-soaked blog name. 

Quote: Modeling Racial Tolerance Is Not Enough

"Talk to your kids about race...Simply 'being a role model' is apparently not having the effect we think it does."

How to Raise Racist Kids GeekDad (Wired)

Thompson: "Slowly, Slowly We’ll Obtain a Balance."

Eco Douglass Rushkoff’s brilliant "Digital Nation" should be required viewing for reformers committed to "disruptive innovation." 

In terms of specifics, I don’t know how much he adds to the insights of Umburto Eco’s The Name of the Rose  and Travels in Hyperreality. The novelist had long ago persuaded me that the digital age will cause short-term damage to the younger generation, not unlike the way that the rise of literacy damaged memory and other aspects of the human imagination. In the long run, as is also true of data-driven accountability, humans will learn to control the technology, create art, and produce real gains. In the short run, however, who would trade an increase in math skills for an acceleration in the decline of delayed gratification?

Secretary Duncan is 1/2 right about the transition of the next five years as up to a million Baby Boomers retire.  He is dead wrong in implying that we do not need to be afraid of technology. A technology enthusiast described digital gaming "as a lens for the entire learning experience." I support investments in those more engaging technologies, but I really agree with Todd Oppenheimer who wrote, "we’ve got to slow down and stop. And schools are one of the few institutions we have where you can have a sustained conversation."

Continue reading "Thompson: "Slowly, Slowly We’ll Obtain a Balance."" »

News: House Committee Leaders Join On NCLB Rewrite

Lawmakers to launch bipartisan effort to rewrite No Child Left Behind Washington Post:  Senior House Republicans and Democrats plan to announce Thursday that they will team up to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law, a rare show of bipartisanship in the polarized Congress. 6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

Courtney says state unlikely to get federal school money The Day:  Despite a frantic last-minute drive to Washington last month to submit Connecticut's application for $192.7 million in federal education funding, the state is unlikely to get a dime of the new money this spring, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Wednesday.

Arne Duncan Pushes Plan to Overhaul Student Lending NYT:  The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to bolster support for its plan to overhaul student lending, attacking banks that oppose it for enjoying “a free ride from taxpayers for too long.”

Districts refusing reforms could hurt California's chances LA Times: A majority of California school districts and about three-quarters of its teachers unions, as well as some charter schools and other education agencies, have declined to sign agreements that require them to abide by those changes.

Funds sought for school takeovers Detroit Free Press:  State Superintendent Mike Flanagan on Wednesday requested a $500,000 supplemental payment by April 1 for the Michigan Department of Education to set up a reform office as prescribed by the Legislature in December.

Blog Roundup: Mid-February, Mid-Week Blues

Clipping Duncan's sails? Mike Petrilli:  It’s hard to imagine Congress embracing another Washington-knows-best, let’s-fix-our-schools-from-the-shores-of-the-Potomac approach to ESEA like it did with the No Child Left Behind Act (or even with last year’s stimulus).

Charter Scams Will One Day Make Extinct Community Control Scandals Look Clean Ed Notes Online:  Even my wife, who is generally sick of 40 years of ed talk was outraged at today's NY Times story.

Books

Voucher Bill Would Help At-Risk Kids, Extend Civil Rights Florida Thinks:  The Tax Credit Scholarship is not a solution for every child, but it is one tool to aid public educators in their efforts to reach at-risk children.

Teacher Quality Means Some Must Go Tom Vander Ark:  The only people this system serves well are teachers no parent would willingly allow to educate their kids.

Boston Globe: Race to Top Funds to Boston Should Have Conditions Mary Ann Zehr:  A Boston Globe editorial today backs the view of a number of Latino advocacy groups that the U.S. Department of Education shouldn't give Race to the Top funds to the Boston school system unless it improves programs for English-language learners.

January 23rd SAT Results Educated Nation:  Prospective college students who have remained unaware of the fact that January 23rd’s SAT results are up at CollegeBoard.org are waaaaaay too relaxed.

Teachers: Don't Be Your School's John Mayer

John-john-mayer-53081_1024_768160210_0227 It seems like there's a John Mayer type on the faculty in pretty much every school I've been in lately -- usually but not always a guy, usually but not always coming from a position of privilege, usually pretty young but not necessarily a rookie. 

What am I talking about? Sensitive rocker John Mayer got himself in all sorts of trouble last week for a Playboy interview in which he, among several things, claimed to have a "hood pass" (ie, street credibility), and used the n-word. 

Anyway:  Don't be your school's John Mayer. 

Media: More Reporters Join Twitter

Looking for education reporters to follow (or bother) on Twitter? Here are a few recent entrants -- maybe you know others:

@BeachEdReporter: Lauren Roth Virginia Beach Education Reporter The Virginian-Pilot

@cathgrimes: Cathy Grimes Education team leader The Daily Press, Newport News, Va. 340x_swanlogo2210

@dorieturner: Dorie Turner The Associated Press Atlanta Georgia

@davidmckay41: David McKay Wilson Freelance

@reporterdmurray: Dave Murray Grand Rapids Press

@JasonWermers: Jason Wermers The Item Sumter, SC

@WatchdogDiva: McNelly Torres Independent Investigative Journalist

@SarahCarrtp: Sarah Carp Times Picayune

There's also that massive but now outdated list of 100+ ed reporters on Twitter from last summer, which you can find here.

Photo: Remembering The Little Rock Nine

ScreenHunter_67 Feb. 16 16.15
This gets sadder and sadder every year that passes.  The Little Rock Nine, from the latest New Yorker Magazine (slideshow and audio here)

Study: Light, Light, Baby

2813880293_d6a1253d72Study: Lack of early light upsets teen sleep clock:  Sit by the window in school? Lack of the right light each morning to reset the body's natural sleep clock might play a role in teenagers' out-of-whack sleep, a small but provocative school experiment suggests. AP.

Study sheds light on 'teenage night owl syndrome':  Students are going to sleep later and may be underperforming in class because they're not getting enough bright light in the morning, researchers say. Better school lighting may help. LA Times.

Obama: Jakarta School Erects Honorary Statue

image from www.beritajakarta.com

"As informed before, the installation of the statue with 30 kg of weight and 110 cm of height made by Edy Chaniago was done based on the request from the school and the school alumnae association. The statue will be a proof that an ex student of SDN 01 Menteng, Barrack Obama, is now a US President...Temporarily, the statue was saved in a locked room of English lab."

Obama statue set in previous school Jakarta Online News

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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.