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Thompson: "Clock-Punchers Versus Cultural Tourists"

Fenty_Rhee Michelle Rhee and fellow "reformers" who claim to be civil rights champions have long discounted the experience of veteran teachers, as they have soft-pedaled the inconvenient truth that many of us are Black.  In their anger over the demise of the Rhee administration, the data-driven crowd is now questioning the abilities of the Black middle class to make wise political decisions regarding their children's education.  But Natalie Hopkinson notes that many veteran D.C. teachers who are Black "are dedicated educators who have held things together under unimaginable circumstances, earning them cultural capital in the communities they've served for generations."  Yes,  she wrote, "other of the DC teaching vets [including Blacks] ... treat their jobs like babysitters punching a clock." So Rhee has brought in predominantly White, young Teach for America recruits.  "So at worst you have clock-punchers versus cultural tourists ... changing one mixed-bag for another mixed-bag, giving benefit of the doubt to inexperienced white teachers." - JT

Continue reading "Thompson: "Clock-Punchers Versus Cultural Tourists"" »

Magazines: Remember "Advantage Charter Schools"?

ScreenHunter_76 Sep. 21 09.26 Here's an interesting look back at what the New Yorker thought of charters back in the day -- when Advantage Schools were all the rage (Uncharted Territory)  Advantage used Direct Instruction, planned on using 15 percent of its funding for support services and another 7 percent for back office fuctions.  The article's by Elizabeth Colbert, and was recommended to me in the comments by reader and former SF Examiner blogger Caroline in SF.  Based on a quick skim the piece seems fairly critical minded, at least as far as the instruction goes.  I wonder which of the current big-name charter providers will be curiosities (or embarassments) ten years from now.

 

Income: How K-12 Education Ruined America (& Benefitted You)

100915_GD_illoEX More reasons why college-educated Americans need to band together to prevent any real improvements in the US system of K12 education - before it's too late:

A big series of stories in Slate about increasing income equality in America it names the Great Divergence notes that the insufficiencies of K12 education helped boost incomes of college grads:

"At a time when the workforce needed to be smarter, Americans got dumber...That was great news for people with college diplomas or advanced degrees, whose limited supply bid up their salaries. It was terrible news for everyone else."

 

(How the Decline in K-12 Education Enriches College Graduates) Charts here: A visual guide to income inequality.

Video: Oprah Does Education

Thanks to Whitney Tilson's TIVO -- for as long as it lats on YouTube: 

Link is here.

Gotta say I still sort of love how brutally honest Rhee is, and still sort of think that Guggenheim's use of his own personal story about "driving by three public schools" every day raises more questions than he intends. 

AM News: Al Sharpton To Host A Weekly Education Show

News2 Al Sharpton to host new TV series on education AP:  The half-hour news and information magazine, called "Education SuperHighway," will target parents, educators and students... US looks to boost schools in 3 cities Boston Globe:  Three Massachusetts nonprofits will receive federal planning grants to transform distressed neighborhoods, the US Education Department announced yesterday... Study: Teacher Bonuses Don't Improve Test Scores NPR:  A three-year study found that students whose teachers were offered bonuses of up to $15,000 a year for improved test scores registered the same gains on standardized exams as those whose teachers were given no such incentives. The U.S. Education Department called the study too narrowly focused... In Poor Taste Colbert Report:  Stephen Colbert tells Mark Shriver he wants to "legalize poverty."

Rebuttal: Quality Education Unavailable To Too Many Kids

  Here's a great response to Nick Lemann's New Yorker piece from charter schools guru Greg Richmond originally posted on my Facebook page (why aren't we friends yet?): 

Post_full_1283259091school"This essay is pretty weak. When half of children in urban high schools drop out and many of the graduate have grade-school skill levels, this author wants us to take comfort in the fact that public education didn't really exist 100 years ago. So what? For many poor children of color, access to a quality public education still doesn't exist. I agree that the solutions are more complicated than the advocacy groups admit, but denying there is a problem is not the answer."

I like that last line of Richmond's especially, don't you?  The original post is here:  Waiting For Superman's "Overblown" Crisis Narrative.  My Facebook page is here.

Atonement: Apologies And Mistakes For The Year

_E5_9B_A7_E5_AD_97_E9_AB_94 I hope it's not too late for me to atone for all the mistakes and mischaracterizations I've made over the past year.  There are so many.  In general I'm too hard on people, and in particular too hard on people who are trying to do the right thing and getting attention for it.  (My betters, let's call them.) I shouldn't confuse success with excess (aka hype) and will try and be better about that in the future.  I'm also frequently wrong about particular things, as in predicting that there would be no stimulus setaside for schools that RTTT funding would go to many states rather than few, and that "edujobs" was dead.   Going  back a little more than a year, I never in a million years thought that Arne Duncan would become Education Secretary much less turn out to be such a media star.  I also thought EdSector would fall apart once its co-founders had departed. I let someone else post entries to my blog without reading them ahead of time; that was a mistake.  I thought Twitter was just another way of broadcasting my posts.  My typographical errors are legion.  What else? 

Thompson: Focus on Elementary Schools

Anacostia Is the current focus on fixing broken high schools going too far in the wrong direction?  That's what EWA's Linda Perlstein says:  "Anyone involved in schools would tell you that if we wait to tackle the problem of inadequate education until children are in high school, it’s too late." Elementary schools need desperate attention, too. We should agree that those schools can not counter the effects of severe poverty, and we must focus more on early education. - JT

Quote: In Praise Of Teachers' Unions

Quotes2 "The standard center-left critique of teacher’s unions is almost 100 percent off-base." -- Center-left blogger Matthew Yglesias

 

Edujobs: More Games With "Teacherpocalypse" Money

Mdd_horiz It's not just Ohio that doesn't need the edujobs money for laid off teachers, and the free-floating money is being swallowed up by governors as anyone might have expected would happen (States playing fast and loose with education jobs money).  The NEA is mad at the governors.  The governors (rightly) think that the schools are going to use the money for things other than rehiring teachers - -especially since whatever layoffs have already happened and most schools are set for the year. The USDE isn't fighting the moves, either:  We're urging them to keep the money for education spending, but there is some flexibility in the law," a federal Department of Education spokeswoman said.

AM News: "Promise Neighborhood" Grants Announced Today

News2 Lift a community, raise a school AP:  More than 300 communities, including Sunland Park, have applied to become a "Promise Neighborhood." The first 20 planning grants are expected to be announced Tuesday... Who Needs Edujobs? Ohio Weighs In EdWeek:  The Columbus Dispatch conducted a survey of 17 of Ohio's largest school districts and found that fewer than 500 of their collective school employees, including teachers, had lost their jobs this year. More than half of those districts had laid no one off...  Area school segregation called rife Boston Globe:  Public schools in the Boston and Springfield metropolitan areas are among the most segregated in the country, often isolating black and Latino students in low-performing schools, according to a report released today by Northeastern University... Education Department Panel to Explore Fiscal Fairness EdWeek:  The commission, which will be run by the department's Office of Civil Rights, is slated to work for about 15 months. It's unclear whether the panel will finish its recommendations in time for them to be incorporated into reauthorization of ESEA, which U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said he'd like to move early next year. But its deliberations may still be worth watching... Former teacher at Sidwell gets probation in sex abuse case Washington Post:  A longtime teacher at Sidwell Friends School was placed on five years of probation Monday for fondling a 15-year-old student, the result of an earlier plea agreement with prosecutors that spared the victim from having to testify in court.

Events: Assigned Seating At Daily Show / Colbert Report Rally

ScreenHunter_73 Sep. 20 08.27Important event update:  Word is out that seating atScreenHunter_74 Sep. 20 08.29 at the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally in DC will be assigned by the event organizers

In the "Million Moderates March" area will be Nick Lemann (see previous post), Jack Jennings, Matt Yglesias, and that's about it that I can think of.  

On the "Keep Fear Alive" side will be folks like Davis Guggenheim, Diane Ravitch, and Mike Klonsky. Whitney Tilson will definitely be assigned to this side (sorry, man -- I know you applied to be with Stewart).  

How about you?  Colbert or Stewart?  Let us know.

New Yorker: Waiting For Superman's "Overblown" Crisis Narrative

100927_talkcmmntillus_p233 I'm no apologist for the status quo -- but I'm no reformy over-enthusiast, either.  So it's amusing and informative to see how easily the New Yorker's Nick Lemann punches holes in much of the nonsense that's out there right now on the blogs and in the media (The overblown crisis in American education).  The crisis narrative is overheated, says Lemann.  The storyline is suspiciously pat.  The proposed solutions -- charters, eliminating tenure -- are much less certain than acknowledged.  "We would do well to appreciate what our country has built, and to try to fix what is undeniably wrong without declaring the entire system to be broken," he notes.  "One should treat any perception that something so large is so completely awry with suspicion, and consider that it might not be true—especially before acting on it."

 

Campaign 2010: How Obama & Duncan Abandoned Rhee

image from t0.gstatic.comThe big lesson from Fenty's defeat and Rhee's likely ouster isn't that the teachers union will oppose you or that extreme care and effort are needed in explaining reform to the public but rather that you may well find yourself abandoned by those who could save you.  The White House and the Duncan team left the one person arguably doing the most for their own cause out there on the battlefield alone.  In case you hadn't noticed, there was no big push, no signalling, nothing dropped into the news cycle.  Obama and Duncan were pretty much entirely absent -- suddenly shy and retiring on a local issue when they've weighed in on so many others.  Sure, the unions probably told the White House to stand down on this one or risk losing support in November.  Sure, Rhee was over the top on more than a few things.  Sure, Fenty looked like he was going to lose.  But that hasn't stopped the White House before.  And it's hard to argue that Obama in particular couldn't have tipped the scales here.  I think that the White House and the Duncan folks were tired of Rhee's criticisms and independence and aggressiveness -- an issue raised before here and by Richard Whitmire (Duncan Must Deal With Rhee, Union).  She slammed Dems on reform two years ago (Republicans Do Education Reform Better).  She accused Obama and others of pandering to teachers on NCLB (Rhee likes McCain's education plans).  (I think she even -- uncool! -- panned RTTT, though I can't find the link right now.)  And I think that the strongest voices of the reformy crowd -- DFER, Stand for Children, TFA -- still don't have the killer instinct or the oomph to push powerful Dems into action (or influence votes on their own), which is why their explainers and apologists are now left spinning recent events as a consequence of strategy or style rather than what it was -- what all this stuff is! -- politics.  

Magazines: NYT's Technology-Focused Education Issue

Here's some of the best links to the stories in the NYT Sunday Magazine's annual education issue, which is focused on learning and technology:

Enfeebling the Mind? If machines are to improve teaching, we must recognize their limits.
Tutors Made to Measure Can race- and sex-specific online teachers close achievement gaps? 
Dial-a-Class Cellphones are not the enemy.
Anytime, Anywhere Online courses have become a standard part of normal public education.
Learning by Playing: Can one middle school’s approach transform education?
Drill, Baby, Drill Is rote memorization really that bad?
The School of Hard Drives: Arne Duncan talks about the need for computers in the classroom.

How does it compare to previous years?  Here's last year's issue, which included a lot about self-control (ie, the marshallow test).  In 2008 there was a "college issue" in September (here) and the Paul Tough cover story about New Orleans (here) in August.

Twitter Friday: Blogs And Commentary

Links, news, commentary all in one place - because it's Friday and you're going to have to get used to this real time / social media thing sooner or later:Deniro meets popeye by dan schultz

    Hit "refresh" to get newer items, or click here to get older items.

    Ratings: Methods Aren't Magic (Or Even Consistent)

    Per the whole idea of ratings, here's a look at how different each of the major college rating systems come out depending on which variables they pick to include:

    image from flowingdata.com

     

    Various ways to rate a college via FlowingData. 

    Thompson: Don't Forget The Black Male Graduation Rate

    Not too long ago on NPR's All Things Considered, YesJohn Jackson of the Shott Foundation explained that American Black males have a graduation rate of 47% compared to a White male graduation rate of  78%.  Detroit had one of the worst Black male graduation rates, 27%.  Their graduation rate for young White males was even worse, at 19%, further illustrating the damage done to "relegated" minorities regardless of skin color.  It is not a coincidence that New York City has a Black male graduation rate of  28%,and a Black male unemployment rate of 50%.  But in New Jersey, the Black male graduation rate soared in five years from 48% to 75%, due to high-quality pre-school and a commitment to children reading for comprehension by 3rd grade.  The next day on NPR's Talk of the Nation's  "A Bleak Picture for Young Black Male Students" the callers enriched the  discussion by opposing curriculum narrowing and promoting interdisciplinary studies and diversity. - JT

    Movies: Distaste For Davis

    Why do I hate Davis Guggenheim so much (besides the obvious jealousy and self-loathing)?  Is it because he uses his middle name instead of his real name (Phillip) and he went to Sidwell Friends and Brown and we probably know (but don't like) people in common?  Is it because his PR people never get back to me (and I didn't get into Brown)?  image from upload.wikimedia.orgIs it because I hate pretty much everyone and his having directed "Deadwood" just isn't enough to get me over the smug / self-satisfied warning bells that clang in my head whenever I see his name or read anything about him or even think of him in the abstract?  Is it the hair?  Is it that I secretly don't want things to get better for American education, that deep down I want things to stay bad and am worried that WFS will actually create some sort of groundswell of public outrage (and consensus!) about fixing American schools?  Is it because from his perspective Michelle Rhee's looming departure is a good thing?  I don't know.  I don't know.  But I don't think I'm alone. I think he rubs a lot of people the wrong way and they're just too nice and well-adjusted to have to say it out loud.  That's why I'm here. 

    Books: The Phantom Tollbooth, 50 Years Later

    image from www.csmonitor.com"Roughly 50 years ago, Juster, apparently in a fit of procrastination, wrote “The Phantom Tollbooth,” about a bored boy named Milo and a Watchdog named Tock. It combines the kind of lunatic wordplay not often found outside “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” with a gentle push to get out there and engage with life."  Now, 50 years later, they're going to give it another try: ("Phantom Tollbooth" creators return with "The Odious Ogre"  "  This is better than Harry Potter 8 would be. This is like Bill Watterson deciding that he really missed being a cartoonist after all, causing Calvin & Hobbes fans to take to their sleds with joy. This is like George Lucas realizing that one trilogy wasn't enough to contain the Skywalker saga and… oh, wait."

    Thompson: Unrealistic And Ineffective

    Michelle-rhee As journalists and wonks speculate on the meaning of Michelle Rhee helping to bring down Mayor Fenty, the real message of Jay Mathew's endorsement should be remembered.  Mathews cited a teacher who supported Rhee's impatience because her personal intervention was necessary in order to fix his broken lock.  "Hallwalkers" who did not go to class would open the door to his classroom, walk in and yell threats at his students or him.  There were even assaults, and yet the principal just had three different staff members observe his class and make suggestions.  Although  Rhee had hired the principal, when conditions worsened Rhee fired her.  As Bill Turque explained in 2009, Rhee told principals to reduce suspensions.  Did she not know enough of the reality urban schools to recognize the inevitable result of her dictate? - JT

     

    Fenty/Rhee: Notable Absence Of Reformy Reflection [upd]

    ScreenHunter_51 Sep. 01 10.29 What did reformy types learn from the Fenty/Rhee loss in DC on Tuesday?  Not much, apparently - at least not that they're willing to tell to you.  A sampling:  The election wasn't really about Rhee (Sara Mead).  What Sara said (Rotherham).  It was the economy's fault (Yglesias).  It was the taxicab drivers' fault (Carey).  So much for insight, intellectual rigor, or honest reflection (though in fairness Yglesias does tag Rhee for arrogance).  What about those among us who aren't all past or current co-workers / romantic partners (but aren't rapid anti-reformers either)?    "Brash" reformers never last except for Klein (Perlstein). Winning over public school parents got left behind (Dana Goldstein). Back to the drawing board for reformers (Rick Hess).  UPDATE:  It was black voters' dislike of firings (Petrilli).

    Research: Who Does It Better-Think Tanks Or Academics (Or Me)?

    157618-5The blowhards over at the National Journal education experts blog are debating who does research better -- think tanks or academics -- and I, blowhard of all blowhards, stepped in to tell them that they all were wrong:

    Yes, ed schools can be dogmatic and social science research can be shoddy and obscure (though it's getting better, as Rick noted). Yes, education think tanks have turned into shiny-shoed PR operations (or, better yet, journalists!). But what's really going on here is ed schoolers and think tankers trying to discredit each other so as to soothe egoes, win research dollars, and prevail politically (or at least ideologically). And the real issue is that even quality research is regularly ignored by lawmakers, the press, and the public. (Is Education Research Not Measuring Up?)

    And with that comment I have done (or tried to do) all of the things that I just criticized.

    Magazines: NYT Mag Touts Video Game School

    image from www.supermariogames.biz Get an early start on your weekend reading with this interesting (if slightly overblown) article on "Quest To Learn," the school designed by a videogamer  (Video Games Win a Beachhead in the Classroom):

     "During an era in which just about everything is downloadable and remixable, when children are frequently more digitally savvy than the adults around them, it’s perhaps not so crazy to think that schools — or at least one school, anyway [Quest To Learn] — might try to remix our assumptions about how to reach and educate those children."   

    You've seen this before -- the curiosity about games and learning and the attempt to make something sound newer and bigger and more definitive than it really is.  But that's the editor's fault -- get past the nut graf and there's an interesting story.   

    Foundations: Gates Hired Kane To Prevent Small Schools Mistake

    image from www.marginalrevolution.com "Did Bill Gates waste a billion dollars because he failed to understand the formula for the standard deviation of the mean? " asks the much-loved blog called Marginal Revolution. "Howard Wainer makes the case in the entertaining Picturing the Uncertain World.  The Gates Foundation certainly spent a lot of money... and a lot of the push came because people jumped to the wrong conclusion when they discovered that the smallest schools were consistently among the best performing schools." (The Small Schools Myth)

    AM News: Chicago Mayor Slams "Race To The Top"

    News2 Daley blasts education plan pushed by Obama, Duncan Chicago Tribune:  Mayor Richard Daley today called for an end to a high-profile federal education program that was the brainchild of the Obama administration and his own former Chicago Public Schools chief.... Mayors May Pass On School Reform NPR:  Other cities' leaders will take note, particularly if politicians decide that a hard-charging attack against the educational status quo is a political loser... Civil Rights Group Seeks a 'National Conversation' EdWeek:  Shunned by some mainstream civil rights leaders, the status of the Republican-led U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is unclear under President Obama... Castle Loss to Remove Bipartisan K-12 Policy Voice EdWeek:  The Delaware congressman, defeated in the GOP senatorial primary, has longtime expertise in education issues... Pa. school district settles 'sexting' lawsuit AP:  A northeastern Pennsylvania school district has settled a lawsuit alleging that a principal illegally search a student's cell phone, found nude pictures she had taken of herself and turned it over to prosecutors.

    Media: Crowd-Funded Education Coverage

    ScreenHunter_66 Sep. 14 01.52 I'm late in telling you about Spot.us, one of several nontraditional (ie, micro-donation) approaches to funding journalism out there right now, which has included a handful of education stories.  The one that first caught my eye was John Sakata's look into  the dysfunctions of Centinela Valley School District (Student suspensions, low performance, struggles).  But there are lots more -- some of them quite good.  

    Graphs: The College Tuition Bubble

    image from consumerist.comIs college tuition experiencing a speculative bubble like housing was?  That's what the Consumerist (and others) are saying (When Will The College Tuition Bubble Burst?). 

    Only difference is that the federal government provides the loans for college, not private banks.  Right? 

    The red line is housing prices.  The blue line is inflation.  The maroon one -- going crazy headed towards the sky -- is college tuition. 
     

    Books: Charters, New Orleans, & America's Future

    Ko3LqKPvh62ma0kidLzFAh3e_500 Used to be that Spencer Fellows were considered lucky (or admirable) to get a book deal AFTER they finished their yearlong fellowship -- in my case, more than a year after -- but this year Sarah Carr (Spencer '11) got an agent and has a book deal aready in hand  BEFORE the first week of classes.  Her book, “Charter Revolution,” focuses on New Orleans and will explore the impact of the charter concept on the national education reform scene.  (Or, as the Publishers Marketplace announcement lists the subtitle:  "New Orleans Schools, Katrina’s Aftermath, and the Future of Education in America.")  It will be published by Bloomsbury. Via the Spencer Fellows page at Columbia. 

    Jobs: Forum For Education & Democracy Loses Another ED

    160x120_0721facebookignore Adrien Fenty isn't the only person who's moving on from a previous post.  Word is that Sam Chaltain has left the Forum For Education and Democracy and is off doing other things. Too bad -- things seemed like they were going pretty well for the Forum for a little while there, but I guess it's not easy working for a bunch of big-name "conveners."  I wrote about the Forum's seeming rise last year (here).  A couple of years before that, I wrote about Kevin Franck's arrival there (here and here). 

     

    Thompson: Experimenting On The DC Public Schools

    Lab_rat In January of 2001 Colbert King's "The Federal Lab Rat" described how President Nixon used D.C. as an example for the war on crime, Drug Czar William Bennet used the city as a test case for the War on Drugs, and President Clinton used the District as a model for fighting homelessness.  Colbert had recently discussed with Rhee her $75 million per year pledge from philanthropists that was contingent on ratifying her experimental teacher contract.  He doubted that the new theories would be more successful than conservatives making D.C. a guinea pig for vouchers. King wrote "Nixon, Bennett and Clinton left office -- and the city -- with the same problems they pledged to conquer. The incoming Obama administration should pause and observe this homegrown test -- including whether Rhee will see hers through."  King hoped the president-elect would understand the "wariness of a city" about becoming another federal demonstration project.  - JT

    AM News: Fenty, Castle Out In Primaries

    News2 Castle Loses Senate Primary in Delaware EdWeek:  Coons also has a record on education issues; he serves on the board of the Rodel Foundation, which helped craft Delaware's winning application in the federal Race to the Top competition... 2 D.C. Council members to push Gray and Rhee to compromise on contract extension Washington Post:  Two D.C. Council members said Tuesday that they will press mayoral primary winner Vincent C. Gray and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to negotiate an "extended transition" that could keep her in the job until the end of the 2011-12 school year... State Tests and NAEP Gains Seen on Same Trajectory EdWeek:  A study shows progress on state tests is running more parallel to gains on NAEP, a possible indication of real student progress...  California Online School Seeks Students, Tax Dollars NPR:  Elk Grove Unified near Sacramento has opened a Virtual Academy offering online curricula for kindergarten through 12th grade. Officials hope to attract home-school students and children from other districts. But critics question using public tax dollars to fund a private school's curriculum.

     

    Quotes: "When The Administration Runs Out Of Money"

    "The real ticking clock... [is] when the administration runs out of the stimulus money and follow-on appropriations needed to fuel  its reform agenda, and has to sit down and negotiate a more permanent shift in the nature of education federalism with Congress." - Ed Sector's Kevin Carey

    Magazines: New Atlantic Covers Autism, "Hacker" Education

    ScreenHunter_67 Sep. 14 10.28 Ever wonder who was the first person diagnosed with autism, and what happened to him?  Check out this Atlantic magazine article about the autism explosion and more.  Or, check out this short piece about the benefits of DIY "hacker" education.

    Hot Seat: Test Security Expert Tells All

    image from caveon_sd.s3.amazonaws.com On the Hot Seat, test security expert John Fremer talks about how big, how complicated, how dangerous cheating prevention efforts can be (people have been killed!), who cheats (everyone but state agencies, apparently),  and high-tech tactics that might  be used to prevent cheating on the "common core" assessments" (can you say "Linear On The Fly Testing"?). A 35-year ETS veteran who's now Executive Vice President of Caveon Testing Security, Fremer is an increasingly familiar name in news coverage of the testing industry -- including most recently the hotly disputed instances of cheating in the Atlanta Public School system, in which Governor Sonny Perdue and others believe that cheating was much more widespread than Caveon and other have found it to be  (see AJC's Get Schooled for some background).  Caveon works with 15 states and the DoD.

    Continue reading "Hot Seat: Test Security Expert Tells All" »

    AM News: Los Angeles Schools Post Strong Gains

    News2 Obama to urge U.S. students to 'dream big' in his second back-to-school speech  Washington Post:  President Obama plans to urge the nation's students to "dream big" and "stay focused" on education Tuesday in a low-key speech in Philadelphia described as a nonpolitical event...  Obama to students: Work hard, focus on educationAssociated Press:  In a pep talk to the nation's students as they settle back into school, President Barack Obama will tell them that nothing is beyond their reach as long as they're willing to dream big, work hard and stay focused on learning... Racial Disparity in School Suspensions NYT:  A study looked at punishment and race in more than 9,000 middle schools... L.A. schools doing better LA TImes:  Los Angeles schools have shown marked improvement in their students' test scores, with gains so strong at five campuses that officials have removed them from a list of schools that could have been taken over because of poor performance... Publishing giant makes $400M education investment AP:  Publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is making a $400 million investment to back up the company's increasing emphasis on putting more technology into classrooms.... Breakfast in class: Fight against kids' hunger starts at school AP:  States such as Colorado and Florida, anti-hunger groups and lawmakers are pushing schools to help combat hunger among children in tough times.

    Oprah: Annual Education Show Airing Monday

    image from www.24masti.com Every year of late Oprah does a show about education and the world is transfixed -- momentarily -- and then promptly forgets. 

    This year's episode is coming up --airing the 20th, I'm told -- and will feature lots of predictable Waiting For Superman stuff, along with Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, Geoffrey Canada, etc.  The show apparently taped last week.  The DC mayoral primary is Tuesday. 

    In addition to screening part of the documentary, audience members received the companion book and viewer's guide. 

    Washington Post has some details here.

    Thompson: Disheartening Reality Of NYC School Progress

    New-York-Jan2005

    On NPR the other day, Mike Bloomberg correctly noted that New York City's increases in state test scores over the last eight years was "a  great compliment to the teachers, and to the principals, and to the parents, and most importantly to our students."  But it does not follow that supposed increases in learning were "for real." It was sad to hear Joel Klein brag about the Big Apple being almost average, especially during a period where New York City was undergoing a miraculous economic boom.    The BloomKlein's spin on the decline of the city's test scores is an insult to the genius and dynamism of New York, New York. - JT

    Media: Former LA Times Journo Bashes LATVAM

    image from 2.bp.blogspot.com Most journalists are distressingly reluctant to criticize each other but there are, luckily, a few brave folks willing to police their own.  Here, former LA Times guy Bill Boyarsky destroys his old paper's decision to publish teachers' performance ratings and its justifications for doing so:  "From the powerful first story featuring two “least effective” teachers to the posted data base of the elementary teachers’ scores, the package suggests that that value-added was the decisive factor in the Times evaluation of teachers. In fact, the construction and play of the stories and the charts told readers that this was THE evaluation." (Accuracy and disclosure: the issues in values-added dispute LA Observed).  At heart, it's really that simple.

    Media: How Will TIME Deal With Rotherham Conflicts?

    Picture 9 Andy Rotherham has left the board of DFER, as first reported by Kenneth Libby last week.  One reason may be that Rotherham has a new, weekly gig writing an online column for Time called School Of Thought (described here), giving Rotherham a prominent perch from which to share his thoughts (probably only behind only Mathews, Strauss, and Winerip in terms of mainstream exposure). I'm not sure how Time will deal with all of Rotherham's OTHER conflicts and disclosures -- he's been a member of numerous boards and is a co-founder of a nonprofit consulting group -- though many will not notice or care.  Here's an early Rotherham effort, about common state standards.

    People: Mike Piscal, LA's "Other" Charter Schools Guru

    image from mt0.google.com Mike Piscal, head of the ICEF network of charter schools, gets a nice writeup from Atlantic writer Caitlin Flanagan in the NY Daily News, with an especially colorful (and apt) description of Piscal's hard-headed personality.  Piscal, Flanagan, and I all overlapped as English teachers at Harvard-Westlake 20 years ago.  Now he's got 15 schools in South Central LA, serving 4,500 kids, and they're apparently doing pretty impressive things. If only the district's Public School Choice program, or RTTT, or SIG, or i3, could help him do more now that the private money has dried up.

    Obama: Late Announcement Of President's Back To School Speech

    image from www.blnotary.com With very late notice this year, districts find themselves with an even shorter window to prepare and make accommodations. Arlene Ackerman, Philadelphia's superintendent, told the Inquirer she got the call just yesterday that Masterman would host the president's speech. (Obama's Back-to-School Speech Coming Tuesday EdWeek)

    AM News: LAUSD Proposes New Teacher Evaluations

    News2 Black Male Grad Rates: Despair, And A Ray Of Hope NPR:  A new study reports that only 47 percent of black male students entering high school in the fall of 2003 graduated in 2008. For white males, the graduation rate was 78 percent. But one state, New Jersey, managed to raise its black male graduation rate by nearly 30 points... Testing, the Chinese Way NYT:  American education’s “no test” philosophy for young children has come under assault as government programs strongly promote the practice, which is widespread in Asia... Los Angeles Unveils Teacher Evaluation Plan EdWeek:  The proposal also would mandate that teachers work longer than two years before becoming permanent employees and that evaluations be used to guide all hiring and firing decisions.

    USDE: Duncan Goes International

    Our man Arne Duncan is headed out of the country for a media event next week -- all the way to Toronto -- then back on Tuesday for the President's back to school thingamajig and a lackluster set of media events the rest of the week.  Where do you think he should go next, or do you think he should stay in country for the duration?

    Continue reading "USDE: Duncan Goes International" »

    Research: Tattooed Teachers Rated Higher

    image from t2.gstatic.comA whopping 40 percent of young adults has a tattoo, according to the Freakonomics blog, and students tend to rate tattooed teachers as better than teachers without such markings (college students, at least).  Therefore, tattooed teachers are better teachers, and that's why younger teachers are so often preferred by students (and their parents).  Thus explaining the whole TFA thing.  Solution:  Get a tattoo, keep your job -- maybe.  (No word yet on what school administrators think of teachers with tattoos.)  On a more serious note, why so little from Freakonomics on the LA Times value-added mess?  You'd think they'd have been all over this.  

    Video: NJ Gov. Refutes Claim He Cut School Spending

    Ignore the theatrics at the start and end and isntead listen to NJ Governor Chris Cristie describe his version of the the situation he (and many other governors) find themselves in now that the stimulus money is gone and tax revenues are declining (Chris Christie vs. the Teachers' Union). 

    Economics: Heckman Questions Harlem Children's Zone

    127990813296 Highly regarded economist James Heckman (you read about him in Paul Tough's book, among other places), recently questioned the research behind the Harlem Children's Zone, which he says has "gripped the administration" even though it "hasn’t really been evaluated in any serious way yet and it’s not clear that’s the answer."

    ('It’s just a question of using the same dollars wisely' Washington Post)

    Accountability: "Waistline" Vs. Actual Waistline

    ScreenHunter_62 Sep. 10 00.36
    If we needed any more evidence that people trust numbers too much -- or that numbers are infinitely manipulable, check out this little story from Esquire about the differences between the listed waist sizes of men's pants and the actual sizes. Too many report cards, studies, and, ahem, newspaper stories over-rely on (or actively manipulate) numbers -- and too many lawmakers and readers take numbers for granted as truth. 

    Media: National Journal's New Education Reporter

    image from www.pbs.org Fawn Johnson (pictured) is replacing Eliza Krigman as National Journal's education reporter and blog moderator.  Krigaman is off to bigger, better things (the telecommunications beat, I think).  Strange since Johnson was the telecom correspondent at the WSJ before NJ hired her.  But I don't really care that much.  Congrats, condolences. Welcome to the beat. 

    Bans: 17 Strange Things Schools Have Banned

    Idealbookshelf16_jm "In general, our schools tended to ban anything cool, for fear that kids would fight over it. But kids will always find something to fight over, as our ball-free rugby games attest. And while it obviously makes sense to keep kids physically safe, schools' herculean efforts to keep them from bickering over the latest fad are pretty much doomed to end in failure."  (The 17 Weirdest Things Schools Have Banned [Huffington Post])

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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.