So I did what I was supposed to do and asked around to see who was on Journolist, and here's a snapshot of what I've found so far (plus a couple of quotes from folks about the whole thing):
Who else should I ask? Do you even care who was on there (or what they said)? As I said before, I don't think there's anything discreditable about having participated on the list, or having opinions and insights on the topics that they cover.
I'm not willing to pay $100K for the archive -- and I don't think that there's any problem with journalists having opinions about things -- but I am pretty opposed to secrecy and to journalists getting too friendly with their sources and so I'm curious about which education types were on Ezra Klein's journolist, a closed listserv of wonks, pundits, and journalists that was exposed and then shut down last week when a Washington Post blogger named Dave Weigel was found to be not as conservative as the Washington Post thought he was or should be. So who was on there, do you think? Were you? I'm guessing that insiders like Rotherham and Yglesias were on there, along with maybe Ulrich Boser at CAP and Mike Dannenberg (now at the USDE). Maybe Nick Anderson at the Post - or Jay Mathews -- or both. Toppo? No. Dillon? Yes. Banchero? Maybe.
Now when someone (usually the most annoying person in the room) starts spouting off about Maslow's Pyramid you can strike back by mentioning they must be talking about the OLD pyramid not the new one. Via Miller-McCune.
No one but a handful of fanboys and wishful thinkers think that "Waiting For Superman" is going to make anything more than a big media splash but Randi Weingarten and her media people may have done the movie a big favor by going after it (and a review by a guy named Nutter). Creating controversy -- and sounding defensive -- only makes Guggenheim et al feel like they're on the right track.
June 30, 2010 | Posted At: 11:26 AM | Author: Alexander Russo
Here's George Miller's statement on the passing of civil rights veteran William Taylor:
“I am deeply saddened by the news of Bill Taylor’s passing. Today, we mourn the loss of a true pioneer in education. A friend, an ally, a trusted advocate and true hero, Bill’s steadfast commitment to helping all children shaped the way we educate children in this country. For more than half a century, Bill Taylor’s voice was synonymous with equality. He was not only a leading voice in the civil rights community, but also kept the drumbeat going to ensure a child’s plight never went unheard. His relentless pursuit of equality was evident in everything he did. He lived above reproach, always fighting for what was right, always doing more than most could ever think possible, always thinking of what was next. He served as a lawyer, an advocate, a civil servant – all with true tenacity and passion. Today, children across the country have lost a powerful voice, the education community has lost a hero. Bill will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Taylor family on this difficult day.”
UPDATE: Statements from others (including Duncan) are now added in comments below -- as well as information about services, etc. Feel free to add your remembrance if you happened to know him.There's a particularly nice one from Sandy Kress.
June 30, 2010 | Posted At: 09:00 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
"Half the words you now routinely use you did not know existed when you started: words like arterial-blood gas, nasogastric tube, microarray, logistic regression, NMDA receptor, velluvial matrix." - Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande in a recent commencement speech reprinted in the New Yorker
June 29, 2010 | Posted At: 03:17 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
Davis Guggenheim directed "Waiting For Superman" because "I couldn’t get past this feeling of driving my kids past three public schools on the way to their private school." Nothing had improved in the decade since his documentary, PBS’s "The First Year," so Guggenheim used "the conceit" of a lottery dooming some kids to schools of "barbaric cruelty." "No policy can do what Guggenheim has done (in "The First Year"); illuminate the deeply emotional bonds the best teachers form with students." "It cuts through the rhetoric of the national debate ... to remind us what is real: the powerful relationship between a teacher and a student." He did not address "the merits of countless school debates," how NCLB killed progress, and how a hero of his new movie, Michelle Rhee, has poisoned those relationships by turning children into test scores.
Labor’s New Critic - Allies in Elected Office NYT: Even with the resistance from public sector unions, some elected
officials are realizing that getting tough with the unions can be good
politics in down economic times. Last year, 51 percent of cities froze or reduced pay, while 25 percent laid off workers, 24 percent reduced health benefits
and 22 percent revised union contracts to reduce pay and benefits... School Uses Video Games To Teach Thinking Skills NPR: At
one New York City public school, students not only play in gamelike
environments, they also make video games. A Quest to Learn director
says the games are integral to 21st century literacy...Teacher Induction Found to Raise Student Scores EdWeek: The
student-achievement findings are in contrast to those from the first
two years of the study, which showed no effects on scores... Justices Rule Against Group That Excludes Gay Students NYT: The
majority said public institutions of higher learning were not required
to recognize student groups that did not accept all comers.
June 28, 2010 | Posted At: 06:13 PM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Media Watch
Pretty disappointing to see the AP hype Chicago's Urban Prep after all that's been out there about kids dropping out of the school along the way from me and others (NPR Story Misses Charter Dropouts). It's great what's happening for the kids who applied to and got accepted from colleges, and all due credit to Tim King and the people of Urban Prep. But there's got to be a little bit of scrutiny and skepticism about these 100 percent claims.
I have never understood how "reformers" could admire "An Inconvenient Truth," and not understand the concept of ecology. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim is correct about "the barbaric cruelty" of our urban schools, but he clearly doesn’t understand that they are complex ecosystems. I have seen plenty of horrible teachers. I continually see hopelessly incompetent probationary teachers, who have no due process rights, but who are granted continuing contracts by principals who need a warm body for our toughest classrooms. I have seen unions fulfill their contractual obligation to represent bad teachers. But I have never seen the union undercut a legitimate termination process. I have seen the union continually offer to help remove ineffective teachers. Guggeheim should think globally and dramatize Linda Perlstein's Tested. He should think ecologically and ask how teaching talent can be recruited by tarring the entire profession and undercutting our ability to resist the educational malpractice of NCLB.
"Two weeks ago, NASA released an insanely beautiful video of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft exploding over the Australian Outback. Turns out the video was planned and shot by a couple of [Brookline, MA] high schoolers from a NASA DC-8 aircraft." (Gawker)
Journalists aren't the only ones being fired for the online candor these days. Private school teacher Elizabeth Collins (right) got the sack for an entry describing a student's class presentation, according to an article in the Philly Enquirer that I found via ASBJ's Leading Source. Apparently the kid's parents complained about the entry, which didn't name names but was apparently still identifiable. Let's give the last word to the perpetrator herself. Collins weighs in on what happened and what the newspapers have gotten right and wrong about her situation here.
June 28, 2010 | Posted At: 11:36 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: On Maryland Avenue
State budget cuts: across the board, and at cross-purposes Stateline: The cuts included a lot of blunt,
across-the-board tactics like California's furloughs because they could
be implemented quickly... Districts and unions settling earlier, for less Ed News Colorado: Colorado
school districts and their teachers’ unions are settling contract talks
earlier this year as record cuts in state education funding leave
little room for negotiations – or raises... Wis. Schools Chief Proposes Revamp of Funding System AP: The
state schools chief on Thursday launched a campaign to reform the way
public education is paid for in Wisconsin, offering to guarantee a
minimum level of state aid for every student, provide more money for
poor districts and reallocate about $900 million worth of property tax
credits to general school aid... At Some High Schools, Multiple Valedictorians NYT: The valedictorian is losing its meaning as administrators dispense the title to every straight-A high school student...The Principal’s Office NYT: Students
call Middle School 391 a “Lean on Me” school, but instead of a
principal with a bullhorn, they got one who deploys white office
curtains and even irons their shirts... How Should Schools Handle Cyberbullying? NYT: Affronted
by cyberspace’s escalation of adolescent viciousness, many parents are
looking to schools for justice, protection, even revenge.
Two quick thoughts about Sam Dillon's NYT story on Locke high school (about which I am writing a book). First off, it was interesting to watch as the headline for the story changed overnight from Cost of Progress at a Failing School to School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause. The newer headline seems slightly more favorable to Green Dot in that it establishes that Locke is much improved. The original headline hit lighter on the cost issue but might have made readers think Locke was still the same as before.
Speaking of the cost issue -- the only real news in Dillon's piece -- I'm sure the folks at Green Dot and elsewhere in the state would want it noted more prominently that California's spending on education has fallen to levels much lower than in other states, and that at least some of the extra funding required at Locke -- $1250 per kid, I'm told -- is a function of that low reimbursement rate rather than a real turnaround cost. (And, it should be noted, not all of the schools needing turnarounding are as large and surrounded by violence as Locke - many are substantially smaller and in somewhat less dangerous locations, requiring less by way of additional security.)
I'm not saying turnarounds are cheap or that Green Dot hasn't spent a lot of outside money, just that the state per pupil and the size of the school and the extreme dangers of Watts should probably be taken into account a little bit better than they were in this particular story.
June 25, 2010 | Posted At: 11:01 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: On Capitol Hill
There are other vehicles and approaches to providing relief to school districts but the Senate jobs/economic relief bill has died an ugly death this week, it's finally being acknowledged: Senate Democrats pull jobs bill - David Rogers Politico: A Democratic-backed jobs and economic relief bill collapsed in the Senate on Thursday after failing for the third time to break through a wall of Republicans who rejected repeated entreaties to join in advancing the $100 billion-plus package, including aid for cash- strapped states and the unemployed...Senate again rejects expanded spending package Washington Post: Senate Democrats abandoned on Thursday efforts to provide fresh aid to cash-strapped state governments.
Diane Ravitch complains "The Obama administration's answer to the problem that I pose—the shrinking time for non-tested subjects in an environment of high-stakes testing—is this: Test everything." Ravitch notes that the craze in Value Added Models will double standardized testing. It doesn't take a statistical model to calculate the minutes in a school year, and the number of tests, and realize that schools that "win" the Race to the Top will have time for little but test prep. A rebellion by students, parents, and teachers is coming. Will occur in time for the fall elections?
June 24, 2010 | Posted At: 12:13 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
Here's a video from Chicago in which teacher/activist/reporter John Kugler asks schools chief Ron Huberman with a question about firing master literacy teachers -- a question that prompts Huberman's handlers to question Kugler's right to ask a question and the abrupt ending of the press conference. Ambush journalism, or a reasonable question? You be the judge. Via Kugler at DailyKos
June 24, 2010 | Posted At: 12:10 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
According to the Consortium on Chicago School Research, we "should turn to teachers themselves to have the best shot at weeding out poor performers and helping lackluster teachers improve." Under a Chicago pilot study using Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching, 8% of teachers received at least one Unsatisfactory, while 37% were rated Proficient and Distinquished. The current system determined .3% to be Unsatisfactory and ranked 91% in the top two categories. Fifty-seven percent of principals "had positive attitudes about the framework and said they saw changes in instruction as a result of using it." The big difference between evaluations by teachers and principals is that "teachers themselves are the toughest judge when it comes to identifying high-quality instruction." The study did not mention The Grand Bargain, but it provides more evidence that peer review informed with test score data could provide an exit strategy from the civil war over "teacher quality" that threatens the soul of the profession.
June 24, 2010 | Posted At: 09:00 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
A teacher falls asleep complaining about union dues and wakes up to discover that the union has disappeared at his school. He has entered.... The School Zone. Via Randy at the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation.
June 23, 2010 | Posted At: 01:14 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
Someone sent me this link about "chasers" hired by one school to help make sure at risk kids graduate. These seem like more than truant officers -- though they perform a similar function (as well as social workers, probation officers, and the like). I wonder what the chasers' success rates are, and whether the cost is worth it. I know a lot of schools are trying to figure out what to do with chronic absenteeism.
June 23, 2010 | Posted At: 12:25 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
Principals in Chicago suggest a reform model, create humane capacities for addressing "problem students," and fair, efficient methods of removing ineffective teachers, and #1, address "pressure to raise test scores." Policy can not solve the other two main problems faced by those principals, "social problems in the community" and "parent apathy," but we could at least lift the gag rule, which prevents educators from speaking truth to the powers above them about these realities. From 2003 to 2007, the turnover rate for Chicago principals was 73%, meaning that 61% of the lowest performing elementary schools have had three or more principals since 2000. Newcomers are more likely to give the job their all for a short time, rather than commit for an entire career. They also have less teaching experience. As paperwork grows worse, principals do not have the time to learn how to become educational leaders. "Experts are unclear" about the amount of classroom experience that is necessary to lead schools, but Chicagoans can't ask whether all this testing is needed.
I haven't heard about this happening in elementary or high schools, but word's now out that at least 10 law schools have made their grading systems easier as the economy has worsened (In Law Schools, Grades
Go Up, Just Like That).
June 23, 2010 | Posted At: 09:34 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: On Maryland Avenue
L.A. Unified hires Gates Foundation official as deputy
LA Times: The appointment raises speculation that John Deasy
could replace Supt. Ramon C. Cortines within two years...Parents In Santa Monica Raise Money For Schools NPR: In wealthy Santa Monica, Calif., parents will
be spending the summer trying to raise $7 million to keep class sizes
the same, teachers employed and school nurses and librarians on the job... Wisc. School's Losses Examined By SEC Bloomberg: Five Wisconsin school districts’ $190 million in
losses on collateralized-debt obligations are being examined by the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a lawyer for the
districts...Fountain of 'i3' Data Now Online Politics K12: You can examine the data by geography, and figure out where the
biggest—or smallest—concentrations of potential winners are located.
You can see who applied for each tier of grants, how much money they
want, and who their budget partners are. You can examine the
applications by type of applicant, which allows you to see which school
districts, nonprofits, and others are vying for this money...Colo. nonprofit helps build Afghan school for deaf AP: A Colorado nonprofit is partnering with
an Afghan organization to build a school in Kabul for deaf children, who
often face a bleak future with no communication skills or education.
For a long time I was focused on how Diane Ravitch -- whom I like and admire -- had switched sides without anyone noticing until her book came out. It just amazed me that her positions had evolved so dramatically but no one noticed until book time, and frankly made me sort of skeptical about her changed views. (Ditto for Ravitch's seeming lack of sufficient humility about having been so "wrong" for so long. Now all of a sudden she was right and everyone else was wrong.) These days, I'm mostly focused on the striking lack of political thinking Ravitch is showing. Maybe that was never her strong suit, but in article after article (see this Q and A with Valerie Strauss) she seems to think that some sort of light switch is going to to go off if she keeps saying the same thing over and over again. Who knows - she may be right. But it would be a lot more helpful -- and persuasive -- to me if she had some viable ideas about how the public and politicians should proceed without undercutting support for public education. Confidence in the current system is low enough that politicos on both sides champion changes that may or may not work. I don't see how, barring a massive testing scandal, reformers step away from accountability -- flawed as it obviously is. Ditto for charters and choice. And I'm not sure where the new money for education would come from if it wasn't attached to "new" ideas. Do Ravitch et al really prefer a world in which testing and charters are de-emphasized, but public spending on education is flat or even declines? Does she even consider it her job to reflect on how to affect the political and other forces that got us where we are, or is she just Wellstone/Kozoling?
June 22, 2010 | Posted At: 09:30 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
Report reveals GED recipients fare little better than
dropouts Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A report by University of Chicago economists questions
whether GED-based programs are the right way to make sure students
complete high school. Looking at studies of GED recipients, the report
concludes that people who receive GEDs fare little better economically
than high school dropouts when factors such as their greater academic
abilities are considered... Ed board in Mass. to set anti-bullying guidelines Boston Globe: School principals in Massachusetts would be required to
report any incidents of bullying to the parents of those involved and
-- if necessary -- to law enforcement under rules proposed by the state
Board of Education... Prep Classes for College Are Latest in Perks NYT: Discounted or even free advice on applying to college
was dangled by a cable company in a bid to attract subscribers and
offered by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to union members... 4 charged in Texas videotaped school beating AP: A teacher and three other educators at a Houston
charter school were charged Monday in connection with the videotaped
beating of a 13-year-old...
June 21, 2010 | Posted At: 01:54 PM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Site News
It is hard to conceive of a pattern where online education for public schools does not follow online higher education's similarly destructive path. Clearly, many K-12 and college students benefit from those innovations, but it is equally obvious that many young people are sold a bill of goods. Isn't that always the case with the Market where some win and some lose, and where we split the difference for many in the middle? And that should be the lesson for "reformers." What parent would agree to a competition where one of his children is greatly benefited, while another is greatly harmed? Adults can choose to gamble on the creative destruction of the Market, but children deserve our protection. When dealing with public education, we should fore-swear the risks of "transformative" change, where great benefits always entail great risks, and commit to more incremental "win win" reforms as described by Diane Ravitch.
June 21, 2010 | Posted At: 11:27 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Campaign 2010
Opinions on why the edujobs bill failed last week include concerns about unemployment spending, lost interest in job creation, high defense spending, and lack of offsets. And, of course, politics. Via the Atlantic (Why
the Jobs Bills Failed)
June 21, 2010 | Posted At: 08:54 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
Teachers, city reach extra-hour agreement Boston Globe: Boston school officials announced yesterday that they
had reached a tentative agreement with the teachers’ union on a plan to
overhaul the city’s 12 underperforming schools, in a new state
negotiating process that attempted to resolve a divisive battle over
compensating teachers for working extra hours... Schools Struggle Over How to Teach Severely Disabled People NYT: There are 132,000 such students in the United States, out of more than 6.5 million now receiving some kind of special education service at an estimated cost of $74 billion a year... Schools
struggle to meet new race labeling rules AP: Washington
school districts are struggling with a new federal requirement to
gather more specific information on the ethnicity of their students, a
policy that encourages officials to guess when parents don't supply race
information. MORE BELOW
Detroit Board president Otis Mathis (above left) resigned -- and then attempted to rescind his resignation -- over allegations from the district superintendent Teresa Gueyser (above right) that he fondled himself (among other things) during their meetings. Detroit News coverage here. Letter describing the unsavory event here. Letter of resignation here.
Breaking news; President Obama is sending Education Secretary Arne Duncan to South Africa in an effort to bolster United States chances in the World Cup.
No, not really. But here's the schedule for next week. Nothing nearly as interesting on tap, at least as far as public media events that they want us to know about and hope will be covered by the press.
My school is the lowest performing in the state, but before blaming educators or parents we should check Newsweek'srankings of top high schools. Our poor neighborhood sends kids to five schools on Jay Mathews' elite list and to several other equally excellent schools. When we still had Advanced Placement, I often felt like I was back teaching at Rutgers as I taught students who were more advanced than anyone from my generation. Now, I chat daily with the students, parents, and teachers at Harding Prep (ranking #69), which is a block from my house. Though listed as 77% low-income, it is not in the same world as the old Harding where gang-members and their Rotweillers stood vigil every day. When I judged History Contests at Classen (#39), the students and I would philosophize for hours afterward. The conversations were graduate-school quality.
percent of Washington's 12th graders passed the statewide reading and
writing tests before graduating, but state officials said Wednesday
that math results show that subject is going to be a major obstacle to
graduation for future classes." (Seattle PI: 90 pct. of seniors passed Wash. graduation exams)
Just when you think universal preschool (UPK) is finally dead, it comes back again. This time its return comes in the form of a massive cover package in The American Prospect featuring scads of pro-early childhood education articles by the likes of Sara Mead and Cornelia Grumman. Don't they know that there's a recession on, and no one has time or money to think about the little kids?
CORRECTION: Apologies to all. As many of you have already noticed, these stories are not about UPK, which is indeed dead for now. They're about early learning K-3, which was apparently close to a BIG payday in the healthcare bill and is in motion to benefit from a "Race To The Top for early ed."
June 18, 2010 | Posted At: 09:48 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Campaign 2010
Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Kirk is being accused of puffing up a part-time work-study stint at a nursery school in a story in the New York Times. Failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner was accused of doing so by none other than This American Life's Ira Glass (see previous post here). Used to be, political candidates seemed to pad their military records or
business accomplishments. These days, it's their teaching experience.
June 18, 2010 | Posted At: 09:17 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Daily News
target 'pay-for-delay' Politico: administration
and House Democratic officials told POLITICO that it’s being actively
discussed now in a new effort to come up with $10 billion in spending
cuts and savings to offset emergency assistance to local school boards
this summer... Major Foundation Gets Set to Open a Charter School EdWeek: With plans to open a charter school next year in its
Kansas City hometown, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation breaks new
ground...N.Va. Community College offers career switchers quick
path to teaching Washington Post: As part of a statewide effort to fill a shortage of
public schoolteachers, Northern Virginia Community College offers a
program that promises to move people from other careers into the
classroom in 16 weeks... What's Life Like For Gay Kids In Public Schols? NPR: High school is a challenging time for most teens. It
can be even more so for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
students. Judy Chiasson of the Los Angeles Unified School District and
Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight
Education Network talk about being openly LGBT in school.
June 17, 2010 | Posted At: 02:25 PM | Author: Alexander Russo
a country that has been at war for nearly nine years, principals and
students at highly regarded suburban schools say that interest has been
growing in the military — and not just in West Point and the other
academies that traditionally attract top students." From the NYT: Graduates Who’ll Be Saluting Soon