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Budgets: "Lay Us Off And The Kids Will Die"

Picture 10 That's the message from some public employee groups fighting against looming budget cuts, according to this USA Today story and the accompanying photo (from law enforcement in Sacramento).  Seen any examples of teachers or aides doing this?  Pass them along. 

Class Size: Impact Of Layoffs Smaller Than You Might Think

340x_cigar61210 "300,000 teacher layoffs would increase the national student-teacher ratio in public schools from 15.3 to 1, to 16.6 to 1 – roughly where it was in 1997... 100,000 teacher layoffs would increase it to 15.6 to 1 – the 2005 level.

-- Myths about the teacher layoff crisis

Pop Culture: Maddox's Mom Attends School Fair

Picture 11
Here's Angelina Jolie at her son Maddox's school fair, via PopSugar.

Foundations: Gates, Buffett, & Broad Giving It All Away

Ck.homeGiving most of your money away sooner rather than later is the latest trend for the uber-wealthy, following a Gates/Buffett campaign to get others to follow in their footsteps, says Businesweek:  "Four wealthy couples have already announced their pledges, including Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest of Philadelphia, John and Ann Doerr of Menlo Park, Calif., and John and Tasha Mortgridge of San Jose, Calif." (Gates, Buffett lobby the rich for donation pledges).   Get your grant proposals ready. 

AM News: College Enrollment Jumps (But Will They Graduate?)

6a00e54f8c25c988340133ef5f8fd8970b-200wi Jump in US college enrollment largest in 40 years AP:  The nation's colleges are attracting record numbers of new students as more Hispanics finish high school and more young adults opt to pursue a higher education than languish in a weak job market... Freshman Enrollment Climbed in 2008 NYT:  Freshman enrollment at the nation’s colleges and trade schools set records in 2008, the first year of the recession, according to a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday...  Reading the Tea Leaves as 'Big 8' Meet on ESEA EdWeek:  The department and the White House called the meeting, congressional sources told me, to gauge progress on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act... Seattle teacher retires after 50 years at same job Seattle PI:  Bill Herber, 74, started at Bishop Blanchet High School in 1959. He had his last regular day Friday after more than half a century in the same job.Are you smarter than a fifth-grader at stock trades? USA Today:  There are no gnomes, swords or magic potions, but it's shot through with layered, thorny challenges at every turn.

Thompson: Scaling Up Worst Practices

Med040 "You can evaluate heart surgeons on any criteria you want - just not patient survival rates! You really can’t make this up!" - Mayor Mike Bloomberg, on evaluating teachers through test scores.

"The most disturbing example of Campbell's Law (on why high stakes corrupt data) was reported in the New York Times ... 'An overwhelming majority of cardiologists in New York say that, in certain instances, they do not operate on patients who might benefit from heart surgery, because they are worried about hurting their rankings on physician scorecards issued by the state.'" - Daniel Koretz, who added that 79% of those cardiologists' own decisions had been influenced by by the knowledge that mortality statistics would be made public. 

Tests: Too Many Tough Tests -- Or Too Few?

Post_full_127474113107_EducationMicrolending I asked FairTest's Bob Schaeffer what percentage of tests he thought qualified as high stakes in the sense that they directly affected students' or teachers' lives.  My guess was 10 percent.  He came up with an interesting back of the envelope calculation of 30-50 percent (see below).  It's an interesting rundown, though I think that overstates the case by quite a lot.  For me, the problem isn't that there are too many high stakes tests but rather that there are too many low-quality / low rigor tests that are too easy for most kids and schools to pass, and then too little done for the relatively few kids and schools that can't pass muster.  Many if not most tests are not high stakes in the way people might think. 

Continue reading "Tests: Too Many Tough Tests -- Or Too Few?" »

Teachers: To Retire, Or To Stay On Another Year?

“I wanted to stay, selfishly, for me. That would not have been the best decision for everyone else concerned. It wouldn’t have been the best for the younger teachers who got pink-slipped, it wouldn’t have been good for my family, financially.” Teachers torn as retirement looms (MLive.com)

AM News: Edujobs Stalled, USDE Rules Delayed

Aid to states, the jobless faces Senate hurdles AP:  A bill providing jobless benefits and tens of billions of dollars in new aid for states and Medicare payments for doctors hangs by a thread in Congress despite lingering worries of another recession without it... Jobs-Bill Backers Searching For Strategy to Win Passage EdWeek: Supporters of a federal education jobs bill were still searching for a legislative vehicle late last week... 6a00e54f8c25c988340133ef5f8fd8970b-200wiEducation Dept. Delays Rules on For-Profit Colleges NYT:  The Education Department split off a decision on the treatment of for-profit college programs whose graduates do not earn enough to repay their loans... White House Proposes Tighter Rules for Recruiting Students WSJ:  The rules, slated to take effect July 2011, would apply to the more than 600 colleges and universities supported by federal student aid. But some of the regulations take aim directly at for-profit higher education, a growing sector that federal officials want to rein in... Some for-profit schools face tougher recruiting restrictions under Obama plan Washington Post:  The Obama administration proposed to tighten oversight of the booming for-profit sector of higher education on Tuesday, with rules that aim to curtail aggressive recruiting practices and that require schools to disclose graduation and job-placement rates to prospective students...

Media: California Ed News Blog Joins Slew Of Others

Resized_Telephone_Receiver_1 A newish blog called The Educated Guess has joined a crowded field of nonprofit funded education news blogs, according to this roundup that notes that education coverage is following the path of foundation-funded health care reform sites which have long been around. Written by a former San Jose Mercury News journalist named John Fensterwald, Educated Guess is funded by the Hewlett Foundation and housed at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. Is it any good?  No idea.  Will it last?  Who knows.  But maybe you do.  I won't bore you with my thoughts about the nonprofit model.

Tests: No Way To Be Certain About Cheating "Explosion"

Retro-Mario-in-3D-flavor "As always when we talk with journalists about this controversial issue, I was careful to note that there is no way to be certain that the actual volume of cheating cases has grown rather than the percentage that has been reported," writes FairTest's Bob Schaeffer in an email today.  "The language I typically use is 'We can't be sure what portion of 'the iceberg' we are looking at.'"

"However, based on the number of cases that have been investigated, confirmed, and covered in the media, there has been an "explosion" in the past several years, at least a tripling and probably much more in the annual rate. Based on the anecdotal material FairTest has collected, Gabriel's story was consistent with the available evidence."

So:  more coverage, but not necessarily more actual cheating.  And no real case for causality, either, since so many of the tests kids take have little or no effect on their lives (or, I would argue, the lives and careers of most teachers and educators).

Crunchtime: What Schools Are REALLY Doing To Save Money

Despite what you may have heard, there are lots of other things that schools can (and are) doing to save money besides laying teachers off:

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Four day weeks are the least common strategy from the look of it.  Some are raising revenue from new, private sources, as this WSJ article describes. 

Thompson: The Growing Culture Of Dishonesty

Cheat2 A-Russ, "a hard man to please," wasn't satisfied with the six investigations listed by the New York Times of the pattern of cheating that always grows during test-driven accountability regimes.  Valerie Strauss cites a seventh, where an assistant principal who was hired at the turned around Central Falls High School, misstated test growth at his old school in his resume. Rather than use the word "cheating," I would describe the growing culture of dishonesty, and here's why.  Educational politics are different than other politics because we do it in front of the students, and kids have a fine tuned B.S. meter sensitivity to dishonesty.  

Quote: "It's The Teachers' Turn"

Quotes2 "You could argue that it’s the teachers’ turn to absorb some of the pain that they have been spared to date." -- Charles Lane, Washington Post

Pictures: Talk To The Hand (In Chicago)

Meet Karen Lewis, the feisty science teacher who just won the race to head the Chicago Teachers Union. 

Lewis defeated Marilyn Stewart, who ran the union during most of the Duncan era and infamously (to many of her members) allowed the Board to implement a performance pay pilot program that was recently found not to have worked.  Read below for coverage of Lewis' win and what it might or might not mean for the Windy City.

Continue reading "Pictures: Talk To The Hand (In Chicago)" »

AM News: Budget Cuts, Lackluster Performance

6a00e54f8c25c988340133ef5f8fd8970b-200wi Schools Hit by Deep Budget Cuts Face a Tough New Math Wall Street Journal:  As the school year winds down, educators are grasping for new ways to do more with less, and to remedy an embarrassing reality: Despite spending more per student than the average developed country, U.S. schools perform below average in core subjects such as math and reading... Duncan Courts State Lawmakers on Reform Agenda EdWeek:  "Performance pay for teachers didn't fly at all with this group," said Ms. King, who is a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "But it's good the department met with us.".. DPS chief donates bonuses, raise Ed News Colorado: Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg has donated his raise and bonuses – worth $47,707 – to the DPS foundation to launch an employee-giving campaign... Race to Top Buy-In Level Examined EdWeek:  States increased the amount of support from local teachers' unions in their applications for the second round of stimulus grants, but made far less progress in enlisting districts or expanding the number of students affected by the education reform plans... Papers Hint at High Court Nominee's Policy Thinking EdWeek:  As one of President Clinton's domestic policy advisers, Elena Kagan sometimes weighed in on education issues.

Accountability: Gimmicky Acceptance Rate Claims

33_100-print11 More and more, it seems, schools are touting high graduation and college acceptance rates -- and the media are by and large passing them along as truth.  But should we believe them?  What about about schools and districts that require seniors to apply to schools as part of their graduation requirements, no matter whether they plan to attend?  What about college acceptance rates padded with community colleges that take pretty much anyone?  What about all the kids who may have dropped out along the way, including since the beginning of senior year?  Graduation rates have always been a problem, which is why those in the know always push for four-year cohort rates rather than single year statistics.  But it seems like there should be a more standardized and rigorous way of reporting graduation rates -- and news outlets should refrain from passing along glowing self-reported data that may not reflect the complete reality of a school or a district.

Thompson: Reviewing My Inactive Roll Sheet

Lostchildren When I began teaching at an alternative school for felons, the mental health counselors said that I would be witnessing the results of child abuse and kidnapping cases that make the headlines and then are forgotten. Now I see the same stories as I review my "Inactive Rolls" at the end of the year.  Every year I see on the Inactive list a full case load for a mental health professional, as well as a load for one or more teachers. Some Inactive students are deceased, while others transferred to better schools. My Inactive Roll averages around 75, and most of the kids end up on the streets. Four years ago when our school became The Wire, it topped 150. I wish that decision-makers, who follow the conventional wisdom and starve alternative services for fear of warehousing troubled kids, could know the horrific stories of my most vulnerable students. Why do liberals want the cut these types of schools?  And if we need a data-driven rationale for alternative slots, we could always say that they are needed to boost the graduation rate.

PDF: Obama $50B Letter

ScreenHunter_20 Jun. 14 10.27 Here's a PDF copy of Obama's $50 billion letter for all of you who love to read the details.  Via Wonkbook. POTUS001

EdSec: Four Days Of "Closed Press Meetings"

4283_1157872667549_1249737466_417751_6663569_n After a Monday afternoon meeting with the State Legislators Conference, the Education Secretary doesn't have much on his public media calendar until Friday.  But -- in a new development -- his calendar lists four straight days of "closed press meetings."  Not sure what that means -- the Department has for the last year or so declined to provide information about the Secretary's non-media calendar but perhaps this is a start.  Maybe in another year or two we'll get some actual specifics. 

Continue reading "EdSec: Four Days Of "Closed Press Meetings"" »

Photo: First Lady At DC High School Commencement

First Lady Michelle 
Obama during the Anacostia Senior High School commencement ceremony
First Lady Michelle Obama sits with class valedictorian Jordan Smiley during the Anacostia Senior High School commencement ceremony at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. June 11, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) ("The President of the United States of America believes in you.")

AM News: Don't Call It A Stimulus

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Obama pleads for $50 billion in state, local aid Washington Post:  President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments... Don't call it a stimulus package: Obama wants another $50 billion CS Monitor:  The Obama administration argues that 300,000 teachers could be laid off without $50 billion in federal help. But it is shying away from calling it a stimulus package... In bold move, Colorado alters teacher tenure rules AP:  Colorado is changing the rules for how teachers earn and keep the sweeping job protections known as tenure, linking student performance to job security despite outcry from teacher unions that have steadfastly defended the system for decades... Many Schools Teach Engineering in Early Grades NYT:  To compete in a global economy, some school districts are offering engineering lessons to students in kindergarten... D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee says New York must learn from her groundbreaking union deal:  Despite some real improvements achieved over the past few years, New York continues to operate under a contract that is much more focused on arcane rules, seniority and job protections than about how to promote better learning outcomes for kids. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein must change this.

Cartoon: "It's A Great School But Not My First Choice"

image from www.newyorker.com
One fish to another:  It's a great school but it wasn't my first choice."

Media: The Education Equivalent Of Jumping Into An Oil Slick

image from cache.gawkerassets.comSure, it's stunt journalism for a reporter to jump into an oil slick  -- but effective and informative, too. 

What would the education equivalent be?  I'm not sure.  Most of the obvious contenders have already been done:  Subbing for a year.  Taking a high school math class. Eating the lunchroom food every day.  Wearing the school uniform.  

Some possibilities:  Infecting yourself with Swine flu.  Getting hired to work at a turnaround school.  Getting picked to read RTTT applications. Working at a teachers' union local.  

Media: "Race" Money Won't Solve School Budgets/ Prevent Mass Layoffs

6a00e54ef9645388340134827bf354970c-150wi In the middle of a critical look at merit pay, Mother Jones' Jessica Calefati makes the following understandable but inaccurate connection between Race to the Top funding and states trying to maintain education funding and save jobs:  "To get some of the money—which states need desperately to fill gaping holes in their education budgets and save hundreds of thousands of teachers from scheduled layoffs—applicants must play by Duncan's rules."  RTTT isn't big enough to do any such thing, and  hundreds of thousands of teachers are going to be laid off anytime soon. 

Quote: "The New Stupidity"

Quotes2  "Young people today are not stupid, they are bright and ambitious, but they are horribly cursed with a breathtakingly narrow frame of reference." -- NY Observer columnist Simon Doonan (The New Stupidity)

Thompson: Ignoring Poverty At Our Own Peril

500x_ebola_virus_em It's the current fashion among so-called reformers to say we shouldn't define poverty as the problem because society doesn't have answers for problems of that magnitude and because the War on Poverty was criticized as social engineering.  So the Duncan Administration mandates the turnaround of 10% of low-performing schools, dictating untested strategies (and that is not social engineering)? 

But think of the advantage of defining the 17% of schools with poverty rates above 76% as the problem.  Read the following as a Rorschach Test. "The reading achievement gap between eighth-grade students in low-poverty vs. high-poverty schools was 34 points."  If the enemy is "the achievement gap," then coercive federal micromanaging may or may not make sense, but if the opponent is poverty, we don't need to single out villains.

We can continue the "reform" strategy of fighting a two front war against "the status quo" and against educational failure. But the claim that that is a more manageable crusade is an insult to our intelligence.  Or we can return to the maxim of "You are not the problem; I am not the problem; the problem is the problem."  We only have about 720 or so high-poverty schools with more than 1000 students, and ameliorating the effects of poverty in those schools is a solvable problem. 

Teaching: Remembrance Of Cheating Past

ScreenHunter_05 Jun. 09 11.03A former teacher reflects on his first time catching a student cheating -- and goes back and interviews her about what happened years later (Cheater Cheater).

All these years later, the event seems to have affected the teacher as much as the student.

Media: The New York Times' Made-Up Cheating Story

340x_a_plus_chalkboardAnyone else notice that there are no real numbers in Trip Gabriel's cheating story in the NYT today -- that he can't say whether cheating is up or not, blames the "trend" on NCLB and merit pay without any real evidence of a connection, and that one of his main experts is a notorious anti-testing advocate?  It's a familiar refrain -- accountability causes cheating -- usually used to suggest that accountability is the culprit (not the cheaters).   But it's pretty weak journalism. Under Pressure, Educators Tamper With Test Scores).   Come on, Trip.  We need you to do better than this. 

EdSec: A Good Time For Friends Of Arne

He helped broker the decision to hire the basketball team's new coach (Duncan put in good word for Thibodeau).   His alma mater, the University of Chicago Lab School, sees a boom in popularity and needs to expand (Lab School seeks expansion). Next thing you know someone will give him credit for the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup, or Lebron James coming to Chicago. 

Media: Blogger / ELL Teacher Makes The New York Times

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Kudos to Larry Ferlazzo and the NYT learning network for this collaboration on teaching ELL kids (The Power of Personal Stories).  Plus I learned Larry was a once a community organizer.

AM News: Grad Rates Fall-- Again

Graduation rate for US high-schoolers falls for second straight year CSM:  The percent of students earning a standard diploma in four years shifted from 69.2 percent in 2006 to 68.8 percent in 2007, according to an analysis of the most recent data in “Diplomas Count 2010.”.6a00e54f8c25c988340133ef5f8fd8970b-200wi. Under Pressure, Educators Tamper With Test Scores NYT:  Experts say that cases of teachers manipulating test scores have risen along with the stakes involved in testing. Little kids, big problems Boston Globe:  Extreme behavior in very young children – not your garden-variety tantrums, but aggression, paralyzing anxiety, and other severe problems – is increasingly being addressed by researchers, educators, and lawmakers... Archipelago Learning buys Educationcity for $87M Boston Globe:  Online education company Archipelago Learning Inc. said Thursday that it has bought Educationcity Ltd., a privately held company providing online teaching tools, for about $87 million in cash and stock... US senators help Seattle college remove red tape:  U.S. Sen. Patty Murray says she and fellow Sen. Maria Cantwell have overcome some very expensive red tape on behalf of Seattle Central Community College...New Teacher Distribution Methods Hold Promise EdWeek:  Districts, non-profits, and the federal government are looking at more sophisticated strategies to fix one of K-12 education’s most intractable problems. 

RTTT: Weiss Leaves To Make Room For Hess [updated]

image from www2.ed.gov Here are some completely speculative but reasonable interpretations of Joanne Weiss's sudden move from RTTT guru to chief of staff for Duncan (EdWeek):  Captain jumping ship from dead-end job (there will be no RTTT round three).  First of many shakeups within USDE to come (as second half of Obama administration approaches).  Sucks to be Margot Rogers (who's being replaced by Weiss as chief of staff).  Clearing out the job for Hess (or Ravitch).

UPDATE/CORRECTION:  Off with my head! I have it from several folks that Rogers (pictured) is leaving of her own volition rather than as the result of being overworked by Duncan or as part of a nefarious plot to move her out and make Rick Hess the head of RTTT.  Next time I'll be clearer about what I know and what I'm guessing, and remember to tag things like this under Made Up News.

Thompson: Tale of Two Schools and One Union

Ch Except for a cheap shot against the union, the Wall Street Journal’s story of Ivan Cantera and Laura Corro in south Oklahoma City was not bad. Ivan described middle school where, "‘every single morning on our way to school we'd smoke weed,’ and he frequently slipped into class after 10 a.m. and snuck liquor into school." Ivan turned around at Santa Fe South Charter School "which had a firm policy of expelling students who fought or carried drugs on campus." Laura attended Capitol Hill High School "which was once featured on the History Channel series ‘Gangland’ and where two police officers are assigned to the school." "’We play by different rules,’" said the Capitol Hill principal, not mentioning that the neighborhood school had 962 suspensions and expulsions in 2008 while the charter had seven. Laura worked nights, her brother went to a reform school, she moved in with her grandmother, and she suffered through the deaths of her grandmother, grandfather, and uncle.

Continue reading "Thompson: Tale of Two Schools and One Union" »

Funding: Fewer States Cutting Education Than Last Year (So Far)

500x_emergency It's actually not as bad as last year -- at least not so far:  "Last year, 34 states reduced K-12 education funding in their budgets, according to the National Governors' Association. Another six had to make cuts later, after their budgets were enacted. This year, 31 states made cuts." Via Stateline

AM News: States Wait & Hope For Federal Funds

6a00e54f8c25c988340133ef5f8fd8970b-200wiStates and schools: A race against time Statline:  The federal government is preparing to provide $4 billion in money to help state and local school systems. But some cash-starved systems may not be able to wait... State Superintendent Delisle "glad" Ohio lost the first round of Race to the Top Catalyst Ohio:  Could losing Round 1 of the Race to the Top sweepstakes be the best thing that ever happened to Ohio?... Sen. Durbin Takes Ill. School's Spending Issue to Ed. Dept. EdWeek:  Durbin takes school's spending to DC: Senator calls on the secretary of education to look into 'serious allegations' in East St. Louis... One-room Northern California schoolhouse to close AP:   A 157-year tradition in a small Northern California community is coming to an end with the closure of its one-room schoolhouse.... Asking more of preschool Boston Globe:  To help teachers meet the new academic rigor and to reduce socioeconomic achievement gaps that start before kindergarten, the state wants more teachers to earn bachelor’s degrees.

Campaign 2010: Candidates Lie About Teaching Experience, Too

ScreenHunter_07 Jun. 09 11.19Steve Poizner lost the Republican primary to Meg Whitman last night, setting up a general election between Whitman and Jerry Brown.  Earlier this spring, This American Life did a segment about Poizner that focused on his attempt to portray a school where he taught government class one semester as tougher and more dysfunctional than it really seems to have been.  In the segment, host Ira Glass confronts Poizner about his version of what happened, and the impact of the book on the school in question.  That's not why he lost the election, but it's as good a reason as any to revisit the TAL segment and remember that politicians can stumble on their education claims as well as their claims of military or other glory.  Here's the background.  Here's a transcript of the story (PDF).

AM News: Schieffer Replaces Thomas At Whitman High Graduation

11111111111newsEducation Reform Takes Center Stage in Fight for Suburban State Senate Seat PubliCola:  It’s a Republican candidate for the state Senate, investor and consultant Gregg Bennett, who’s running on Democratic President Barack Obama’s education reform platform in the 48th Legislative District (Bellevue, Redmond) this year... Global firm to pay Montgomery, Md., schools millions for elementary curriculum Washington Post:  Montgomery County Public Schools could soon become a global brand..Pa. district teachers set to strike for 2nd time Boston Globe:  Teachers in the McGuffey School District in southwestern Pennsylvania plan to strike for the second time this school year because the school board has rejected their latest contract proposal... Fla. District Puts 1,305 on Layoff List EdWeek:  The Broward school district delivered pink slips to 568 teachers and 737 noninstructional employees in an effort to close a $130 million budget shortfall... For-Profit Colleges Fight Limits On Student Loans NPR:  For-profit colleges are lobbying to kill new regulations designed to hold down student debt loads... CBS's Bob Schieffer replacing Helen Thomas as Whitman High graduation speaker Washington Post:  Walt Whitman High School has chosen veteran CBS journalist Bob Schieffer to replace Helen Thomas as its commencement speaker next week after the longtime White House correspondent-columnist bowed out of the engagement amid controversy over inflammatory comments she made about Israel and Palestine... Durbin wans DC probe on misuse of federal money BND.com:   The district also spent that at least $200,000 on airline tickets and hotels, as well as $10,000 for original artwork, including $4,000 for a "historical quilt."

Video: Student Falls Asleep At Obama RTTT Event

Watch this Kalamazoo high school junior choir member* fall asleep while President Obama speaks at commencement:

Talk about bad advance work.  Don't they know to make them chug Red Bull before they go onstage?  Let's all hope that the Race To the Top Commencement Challenge isn't a harbinger of how things are going to go for RTTT over all. [*Not to worry -- the kid (aka "the guy sleeping behind obama at kalamazoo graduation") got lots of friends on the Facebook page named after him.]

Cartoon: "Just Give Me The Broad Strokes"

image from www.newyorker.com
A son to his dad at bedtime reading:  "Just give me the broad strokes."

Media: The Perils Of Nonprofit Education Journalism

You think for-profit "corporate" journalism is flawed when it comes to covering education issues?  I'd agree.  But perhaps tax status isn't the real issue.  As the Community Media Cooperative's Curtis Black documents in a new Huffington Post column (here), nonprofit (foundation-funded) journalism has challenges, too -- perhaps nowhere as much as in its coverage of controversial education issues like school turnarounds and performance pay. The backstory here is that  Chicago News Cooperative, which provides coverage for the Midwest edition of the New York Times has experienced some struggles disclosing its conflicts and reporting Chicago news in a balanced way for the New York Times.  This problem has been widely discussed in Chicago and was written up in the Columbia Journalism review (here).  A large part of the debate has to do with CNC/NYT's coverage of school turnarounds, and the role CNC board member Mike Koldyke plays.  It's not just a Chicago issue, given that the Times has contracted out with other nonprofit outfits to provide content in other parts of the country.  

Thompson: Editing Suggestions for Jay Mathews

Showtrialfordummies Jay Mathews writes that if the new D.C. contract doesn't work "it will be leaders like Rhee who get the blame. ... Tests are flawed measures, but they are pretty much all we have." [insert] Diagnostic assessments would better serve students, but they do not have the political cache.  "That is why the new breed of teachers takes them seriously. ... If [insert] When "scores don’t continue to improve, the headlines will say Rhee failed." But "the teachers driving schools in these new directions will blame themselves and" [insert] many will become discouraged and abandon the profession but they shouldn't.  Rejecting the blame game would be "a useful habit if we want urban schools to work." "One crucial element in all this can’t be easily measured — attitude, both in teachers and students. Leaders like Rhee have insisted on hiring only teachers who believe that they can make big gains despite the drag on learning that comes from poverty" [insert] pass her ideological litmus tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: Editing Suggestions for Jay Mathews " »

Media: Atlantic Magazine Does Familiar Education Ideas

The latest issue of Atlantic magazine includes a(nother) praise-filled profile of School of One (The Littlest Schoolhouse) plus some (more) commentary from David Brooks on teachers and political power (Teachers Are Fair Game).

From Brooks:  "The battle is not over, not by a long shot. Although the environment for change is more fertile now than ever before, we have yet to see what it can yield. An education reformer sent me an e-mail a few months ago saying he had never been so optimistic about the state of education reform—and yet never so pessimistic about the government’s ability to solve fundamental problems."

RTTT: Testing Companies "Streamline" Scoring, Oversight

image from www.nypost.comMonday was a big day in standardized testing, although it probably wasn’t the sort of big day the testing industry wants you to hear about as we scurry from NCLB to RTTT. 

First, the NY Post told of an “outraged Brooklyn teacher” who turned whistle blower after being hired to score open-ended student responses on the New York state math test (NY passes students who get wrong answers on tests). That teacher was aghast to discover students were being given credit for partial or incorrect answers. In other words, wrong answers were being credited for being sorta’ right. Those scores were recorded and counted towards the students’ final test results.

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reported on the failures of NCS Pearson to both administer the state’s FCAT test and to return the scores on time (Glitches delay FCAT scores). The story also revealed that NCS Pearson changed a decades long policy of having two scorers read each student essay and instead are having just one temporary employee read them, eliminating any scoring oversight from the process. 

Interested in reading more about the testing industry?  Check out this interview with Todd Farley, a testing insider who wrote a funny, scathing book about life inside the testing machine. 

Pictures: Boy Disappears After Science Project

Oregon Second-Grader Vanishes After 
Stepmother Drops Him Off At School

The last time anyone saw 7 year-old Kyron Horman, he was walking down the hall of his Portland, Oregon elementary school to a classroom 150 feet away. Four days later, nobody knows where he's gone, or why. (Oregon Second-Grader Vanishes After Stepmother Drops Him Off At School)

AM News: Graduation Day

image from media3.washingtonpost.com

Obama Gives Students a Principle to Guide Them NYT:  Speaking at Kalamazoo Central High School, President Obama offered a theme of personal responsibility... Harry Reid lays out huge Senate agenda Politico:  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) laid out an daunting summer agenda for the Senate on Monday afternoon... Pushing a Liberal Agenda, With Democrats as Target NYT:  Liberals say the president has prematurely encouraged the Democratic deficit hawks in Congress by his own anti-deficit rhetoric... 32 Detroit schools expected to close this year AP:  The financial manager for Detroit's public schools says he will close 32 schools this year as part of his plan to address declining enrollment and reduce the district's deficit... The gowns are green — at least philosophically LA Times:  Animo Venice Charter High School is among a number of campuses that are adopting environmentally friendly graduation garb made from either renewable wood fibers or recycled plastic bottles. 

Tumblr: Halfway Between A Blog Entry & A Twitter Update

I'm pretty sure that perfection lies somewhere between a blog post and a Twitter update, and have been experimenting with this Tumblr called Hot For Education for a little while now trying to get a feel for a platform that's lighter and more interactive than a blog entry with static comments but longer (and more flexible) than a Twitter update. Some recent posts:

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The Psychic Substitute:  I've been sent to cover a grade 6 class for the last session. I decide to have fun because I came in and played strict teacher... Student Exam Answers:  There are days where I wish I was a bad student and came up with stuff like this on tests... TV: Laura Linney plays teacher with a mouthy student (Gabby (Precious) Sidube) who’s got The Big C in this new show from Showtime... Dance Contracts:  ”Bodily fluids” reported after dances led one PA high school to make students sign a contract to attend dances... Celebrity Dyslexia: Orlando Bloom reveals early learning difficulties in school, replaces Tom Cruise as most famous actor / dyslexic... 3rd Grade Google Doodler Wins $25K For School:  A Missouri third-grader’s doodle topped 33,000 entries in this year’s Google Doodle contest... The Dirty Yearbook:  K.C. Salter, an English teacher at Knightstown High School in Indiana, was fired for trying to add a “pregnant girls” section to the school’s yearbook.

The topic is different, obviously, and so's the length and look. But the real difference is that comments and shares are so much easier than with a regular blog, in which comments are hidden and interactivity is limited.  I'm not sure I've got it yet, but am curious about other education-related Tumblr experiments. Are there any out there I should know about or learn from?

Thompson: A Teacher's Real Evaluation Isn't Scored

Admit_One I feel so bad for our school’s top young teachers who threw everything they had into raising scores, and now they are so deflated as they search for clues how their students did on the End of Instruction tests. My real evaluation always comes later while reflecting on last conversations with students. When I belatedly learn of the family crisis that disrupted a student’s education, I’m accountable for whether I could have asked one more question and made a timely intervention. Was I correct in drawing a line in the sand with this guy, regardless of whether I did it skillfully or not. Did I give that girl too much space? Have I been reading body language as well as I thought? In recent years, as my class load has become increasingly impossible, the number of end of the year celebrations has continued to rise, as have the number of "Ineffective" grades that I give myself. Where I’m different than the young teachers is that I don’t beat myself up over defeats.

Quotes: Weingarten Schools Brill On Flawed NYT Article

"Like many observers with a newfound interest in education, Brill espouses the ideas that public schools are hopelessly broken and that alternatives to public schools are silver bullets." -- AFT president Randi Weingarten in the NYT

Teacherpocalypse 2010: The Coming Swine Flu Teacher Layoff Epidemic

Image.php (1) With long-term unemployment nearing 50 percent and 6 million Americans already out of work, it's hard to think of teacher layoffs as any kind of epidemic, but that's what The New Republic's Seyward Darby seems to think (The Layoff Epidemic). Then again, what do journalists know about epidemics?  They all went along with the swin flu epidemic story, which turns out to have been fed to them by the pharmaceutical industry

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