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Thompson: Neighborhood Schools Are Different

Dunbar Bill Turque of the Washington Post tells the story of George Leonard, who founded the selective Bedford Academy in New York, failing to turnaround D.C.'s Dunbar High School.   Bedford's incoming ninth-graders attended a mandatory month-long "summer bridge" program, but in a neighborhood school, attendance could not be compulsory and few students showed up.  Leonard required after-school tutoring for all struggling students, and mandatory test preparation on Saturdays.  Leonard assessed an automatic suspension of any male student who cursed or disrespected a female.  But did he really believe those policies could be enforced in a neighborhood school? Now the DCPS is assigning eight police officers to restore the school to the dysfunctional level of before.  It seems incomprehensible that Leonard would believe that policies that work in a selective academy would work in a neighborhood secondary school.  It is even harder to believe that "reformers" did not question their silly mantra that raising "expectations" can turnaround a school while keeping the same students in the same building.  - JT (@drthompson)

Jobs & Careers: Where You Going With That Education PhD?

Picture 47 There's a long, fascinating article in a print only magazine called n+1 about how MFA programs have grown into a viable and distinct career option for writers and literary lovers -- an alternative to the traditional world of publishing with its own career path, social centers, etc.  It's excerpted in Slate here.

This made me wonder if the same sort of divide has developed in the education world between traditional ed schools and all the think tanks / research firms (I'm including the labs and other research centers not linked to universities) that we see everywhere. It seems like the think tanks and freestanding research firms continue to proliferate despite all our questions about the quality of their work and that a freshly minted PhD might consider them a viable alternative, especially if there are no tenure track positions available when they enter the market (or when tenure isn't given despite all efforts).  There are a few prominent think tank refugees from the university world -- Loveless, Finn, Ravitch (for a time), and Hess.  Perhaps there are folks who've gone from think tanks to academia (at least a few, as you'll see).  Having no real sense of how these worlds work, I asked around and got some interesting thoughts on the subject and assembled them below.

Continue reading "Jobs & Careers: Where You Going With That Education PhD?" »

Research: 23 USDE-Funded Randomized Trials

My_documents_laptop_sleeve Thanks to a helpful reader for commenting on my post last week (The Rise Of Randomized Trials) to let us know that "the regional educational laboratory program (a network of 10 labs funded by the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education) is supporting many large-scale, carefully conducted scientifically based research studies. Over the next year or so, findings will be released from these studies (23 in all). Collectively, they should add a lot to the body of scientific education research." Click here to read more.


Science: Affect's Effect On Learning


Some interesting stuff from the past couple of weeks all about making the sciences (and other materials) more amenable to female students (and the rest of us): 

An easy way to boost women's scores in physics Slate

Go, Science!' NPR

The Insight Game NYT

Who knew?  How people (students) feel affects how well they learn (science!).  

Quote: "On The Other Side" Of Value Added

Quote-mark As a parent, I believe you would want to know if your child is being taught by someone who's at the bottom of the barrel. On the other side, you know, you're also dealing with someone's reputation, their professional opportunities. -- Incoming NYC chancellor Cathie Black on use of VAM

AM News: Public Blames Parents Most Of All

News2 Obama Signs Child Nutrition Bill Into Law:  The $4.5 billion measure increases the federal reimbursement for free school lunches by 6 cents a meal at a time when many school officials say they can't afford to provide the meals... RI ed chief: Closing troubled school an optionRhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says closing a troubled high school where the entire teaching staff was fired, and later rehired, is an option if things don't improve... Education fills big space on Brown's chalkboardAs the governor-elect prepares to take office, California's schools are confronted by a lack of funding that threatens to further harm pupils and a controversial reform movement that could dramatically reshape how classrooms are run... Parents Blamed Most Often For Failing Education System, Poll FindsAn Associated Press-Stanford University Poll on education found that 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what's wrong with the U.S. education system... Menino to focus solely on education in speech:  Mayor Thomas M. Menino will use his final major policy speech of the year today to push a contentious plan to close or merge 18 city schools... US sues school over denial of Muslim pilgrimage:  The federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district Monday for denying a Muslim middle school teacher unpaid leave to make a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a central part of her religion... More states let students opt out of P.E. classesDespite concerns about obesity among young people, the number of states that allow students to waive physical education classes has grown.

Schools: High School Programming Whizzes Compete

Photo: Michael Schmelling

The scene from the International Olympiad in Informatics: 315 computer prodigies at 315 workstations ripping into 315 gray envelopes in unison, including a Shanghai-born former Mathcounts champion from Baton Rouge Magnet High School named Neal Wu.  Via Wired.

Numbers: The NYT Week In Review Rubs It In

Screen shot 2010-12-12 at 4.13.01 PMFrom The New York Times Week In Review

Turnarounds: Reactions To The McKinley Parent Trigger

Picture 43 If early signs are any indication, the effort to fix (destroy?) McKinley Elementary is shaping up to be this month's Central Falls: a hotly debated, media-saturated free for all over how to fix struggling schools:

The Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley and David Feith (appearing on Fox) says that lawsuits are expected. Playing catch-up on a story in its own back yard, the LA Times reports that parents are rescinding their signatures (but doesn't seem to have any independent verification of its numbers).  The LA Weekly (not a conservative publication, FWIW) says that it didn't see parents being pressured into signing or deceived about the outcome of the petition during the runup to last week's events when it was embedded with the signature gatherers.  The school principal says many parents don't want the school turned over to an outside charter though parents say otherwise (Wave).  New America Media reminds us that charter schools don't guarantee success.  Political observers think it might be a big wedge issue among Democrats, which indeed it might be.  

Parents against parents! Media outlets against media outlets! The whole world is watching! Education reform depends on the outcome!

Thompson: Editorializing Galore In LA Times' VAM Coverage

JasonliesCan the LA Times be trusted to cover value-added measures of teacher effectiveness with suitable skepticism?  Over the weekend, Jason Felch of the LA Times  reported that a new Gates-funded report had found that "classroom effectiveness can be reliably estimated by gauging the students' progress on standardized tests" though in reality the report claimed no such thing. Then there was the obvious editorializing disguised as explanatory text including lines such as  'Value-added' is thought to bring objectivity to the process and, because it compares students to themselves over time, largely controls for influences outside teachers' control, such as poverty and parental involvement."  By comparison, the Washington Post contained a lot of spin but also included the very different words of the study and noted that the the research was funded "by a prominent advocate of data-driven analysis." (Just as importantly, the study did not find that teachers who do not raise test scores enough to meet growth targets are  ineffective.) The New York Times lede was accurate, reporting the main finding that preliminary indications show the use of student surveys is promising. JT (@drthompson)

Movies: Johnny Depp, Tongue-Tied Math Teacher

Jolie-deppHere's something you probably haven't heard about "The Tourist," the latest Angelina Jolie movie, which opened this weekend to lackluster reviews.  

In it, costar Johnny Depp plays a tongue-tied math teacher from Wisconsin who's confused for Jolie's spymaster criminal boyfriend.  

Mild-mannered teachers of the world, rejoice!  A beautiful criminal may soon approach you on a train and invite you to her hotel room.  

Books: What "Freedom" Says About Education, Parenting

image from www.fuelfriendsblog.com There's not anything explicitly school reform in Jonathan Franzen's latest book, Freedom.  But there are a handful of parent- and education-related points that come up in the book that are I hope worth mentioning: (a) the immense and often underestimated satisfactions of working with children as a teacher rather than as a parent, (b) the intense and generally tragic desire of parents to raise children to be like themselves (to escape their own childhoods), and (c) the ability of even the smartest, most well-intended people to become co-opted by the ideas and goals of wealthy businessmen.  There may be more there, too:  deeper messages for us to contemplate about freedom and responsibility and integrity, but I'll leave those to others.

New: "Billionaires For Educational Reform"

Picture 60
The new group Billionaires for Education Reform follows in the long tradition of the Pastafarian movement and Billionaires for Bush.  Join now, and help push for vouchers, tax exemptions for predatory for-profit private colleges, and other moneymaking ideas in education reform.  

AM News: What Next For Atlanta's Public Schools?


Atlanta Public Schools Under Fire NPR:  This week the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools sent in a team to evaluate the board and determine whether the district is doing enough to keep its accreditation. PLUS: Atlanta Schools Face Scandal While Searching for Leader NYT ... Alumni, NAACP in Winchester, Va., fighting over spelling of Douglas School's name:  For decades during segregation, the Douglas School was a bulwark in the push to educate black Virginians - the one-story brick schoolhouse shielded students from some of the state's most insidious racism... Rural New York School Recruits Overseas StudentsAs hundreds of districts consolidate their schools, some remote communities are fighting back by recruiting international students to fill their empty classrooms...

Continue reading "AM News: What Next For Atlanta's Public Schools?" »

Charters: Ten Things Charters Won't Tell You

From the Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney series, no less:

1. We're no better than public schools.

2. Our teachers aren’t certified.

3. Plus, they keep quitting.

4. Students with disabilities need not apply.

5. Separation of church and state? We found a loophole.

6. We don’t need to tell you where your tax dollars are going.

7. We’ll do anything to recruit more kids…

8. …but we’ll push them out if they don’t perform.

9. Success can be bought.

10. Even great teachers can only do so much.

Thompson: The Link Between Bathroom Breaks & Tasers

Murryb When a student asks for a bathroom pass, I always told my kids, the proper answer is "of course."   If there was a reason why I could not issue a pass at a certain time, I owed the students a respectful explanation.  Because the system could not assess disciplinary consequences on chronically disruptive students, I would acknowledge, the entire school remained in perpetual lockdown, and we were all tired of that.  I never taught in a school with 3000 students, but I have seen plenty of riots.  The Gotham School account of the meltdown of Murry Bergtraum H.S., that was prompted by the denial of restroom privileges, reminds me of the time when I was the only adult near the office, helping a student wash tear gas out of his eyes.  The big fights were in the gym. Mothers, who had been summoned by cell phones, arrived and directed their children into battle.  I had no option but to urge them to stop inflaming the violence.  Then a line of huge cops jogged in, took one look, and pulled out tasers.  There must be a common sense middle ground between treating students as widgets and letting them run wild.  - JT (@drthompson)

Turnarounds: More Than 730 Schools Doing School Improvement

 [UPDATE:  List of SIG schools here PDF thanks to DGB]

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Report: Many officials willing to replace half of staff to turn around schools Washington Post: Thursday's report on the school improvement grant program shows that despite protests this year over proposals to fire large numbers of teachers in Central Falls, R.I., and elsewhere, many state and local officials are willing to replace half or more of a school's faculty in an effort to turn it around... 730 US Schools Reinvent Themselves AP:  The federal government has enticed 730 schools across the nation to reinvent themselves this school year, and nearly a third have chosen the most difficult paths to get a piece of the more than $500 million set aside for transforming schools where too many children are failing to learn... Duncan Open to Additional School Improvement Models EdWeek:  In fact, only 53 percent of the schools receiving SIG money are urban, while 23 percent are rural, and 24 percent are suburban.

Quote: Hess's Reform Dilemma

Quotes2 Hess is caught in a common dilemma at the end, having argued on the one hand that reformers typically overpromise and deliver weak tea and then on the other hand wanting to propose radical reform that looks like it would fall to the same dynamic. -- Sherman Dorn 

Research: The Rise Of Randomized Trials

500x_syrup Once considered impractical, unhelpful, and unethical, randomized trials are being used a little bit more than in the past among housing, health, and -- yes -- education researchers.  This NYT article describes a controversial homelessness prevention study, and mentions several other examples (including a cute one suggesting that classroom webcams increased teacher attendance in rural Indian schools).  In education, Roland Fryer's education lab at Harvard is conducting a bunch of these, albeit on a pretty small scale.  There are probably others.  Maybe the spread of economics in education research, and the pressure to measure program efficacy, are finally moving the research community off of its duff.  

AM News: Geoff Canada Turned Down NYC Schools Job

News2 Geoffrey Canada Said to Have Rejected Chancellor Job NYT:  Mr. Bloomberg tried to persuade Geoffrey Canada, the prominent Harlem education leader and a friend of the mayor, to be chancellor... Poll: Education backed, but not new school taxes AP: The public verdict is in and overwhelming: The better the education people get, the stronger the U.S. economy will be, a poll shows. But don't count on folks to support higher taxes to improve schools... Villaraigosa takes on teachers union LA Times: With a hard-hitting speech that branded the city's teachers union as an unyielding obstruction to education reforms, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa set the stage this week for a new battle over control of the troubled Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest... Report Picks Apart Race to Top Scoring EdWeek:  One state they focus on is Illinois, which received 35 out of 45 points in the category of local education agency commitment, four fewer points than it received in round one. Other states, such as California, Ohio, and Maryland, appeared to be treated more leniently by their reviewers in that category, despite varying degrees of buy in... Comparing Teacher Effectiveness in High- and Low-Poverty Schools EdWeek:  Simply attempting to import teachers with great credentials into high-poverty schools probably won't make a long-term difference. Instead, "measures that induce highly effective teachers to move to high-poverty schools and which promote an environment in which teachers' skills will improve over time are more likely to be successful."... 

Cartoon: The Year In Education Cartoons

A late-night collection of some of the best education-related cartoons of  2010 -- feel free to mention others if I've missed something good.

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Continue reading "Cartoon: The Year In Education Cartoons" »

Parents: When "Little Enclaves" Of Success Get In The Way

image from www.chicagotribune.com It's not just turf-conscious educators and misguided low-income parents who sometimes get in the way of trying to make schools better, in case you were wondering.  Just as often it's misguided working-, middle-, and upper-class parents standing in the way.  Case in point is Chicago's Jackson Elementary, whose mostly affluent parents have blocked several proposals to expand the successful school so that it serves more kids (Tribune).  Little enclaves of affluent parents and successful programs can block reform efforts even more readily than others, as Bill Gates once noted in a speech.  

Teachers: "Glee", "Mad Men" Names Soon To Be In Kindergarten

ScreenHunter_12 Dec. 08 12.54 In five years, every kindergarten classroom will have at least two Sophias, probably an Isabella, and perhaps four boys whose name rhymes with the Gulf of Aden. BabyCenter reports that 2010's most popular names for girls were Sophia, Isabella (No. 1 last year), Olivia, Emma, and Chloe. Aiden is the top pick for boys (again) and is joined in the top 10 by Jayden (No. 5) and Caden (No. 8).

New moms and dads seem to like old names for girls (Abigail, Ava, Lily) and Old Testment names for boys (Jacob, Noah). They also love their TV families; Shine says characters from Glee (Quinn), Mad Men (Don, Betty, Roger), and 16 and Pregnant (Maci, Farrah) all got a baby bump. Sarah is on the way down, but Bristol, Willow, and Piper are increasingly popular.

From the Atlantic Wire (or maybe the Slatest).


Reform: Rhee, Dunbar High, & California's Parent Trigger

2hrpldy What a strange week it's been for education -- from the announcement of Michelle Rhee's new advocacy organization (joining SFC and DFER among others), the first use of California's parent trigger at a Compton elementary school, and the news that the turnaround at Dunbar high school in DC has fallen apart . What are the connections? They all revolve around political organizing, for starters. Rhee's new organization is said to focus on the power of activated parents and community members (which is sort of ironic since relating to parents and rallying them behind her cause didn't seem to be a strength). The California trigger is all about direct democracy - organic or astroturf depending on whom you talk to. The Dunbar situation could be understood as the pushback against top-down reform efforts of former DC chancellor Rhee.  It's a stretch, I know -- someone else may do a better job of connecting the dots.  But in my addled mind there's something going on around grassroots / faux grassroots activism and turnarounds -- not quite a trend, more like a coincidence.  Certainly reformers have learned that it takes more than smart ideas to fix school systems, and are increasingly interested in entering the advocacy / political realm they formerly disdained.  And the most obvious focus for engaging parents are broken schools.  

Thompson: The "Earned Autonomy" Fallacy

Respect The original sin of data-driven "reform" was the concept of earned respect "earned autonomy."  In New York City,  for instance, an "inspectorate" determined which schools had earned the right to provide holistic, respectful, and engaging instruction.  Annointed schools were showered with resources and the power to govern themselves. The students in schools that were found wanting were thus condemned to more rote instruction.  Even the advocates of earned autonomy, such as the Center on Reinventing Education, acknowledged that the key to their theory was a reliable system of evaluating the effectiveness of schools.  They just believed Klein's promise to create such a system.  In the meantime, schools facing tougher challenges had to listen to Joel Klein's pontificating about overcoming the legacy of poverty with the attitude "whatever it takes."  Marc Epstein explains in the Huffington Post how Klein's "reforms" created "educational apartheid" at Jamaica High School. When the district needed to place students just released from prsion at Rikers Island, I wonder why they landed in Epstein's school, and not the new small school in his building? - JT (@drthompson)


Quote: What Unions Are (And Aren't) To Education

Quotes2 The teachers unions aren't the biggest or the only problem facing our schools, but for many years now, they have been the most consistent, most powerful defenders of the unacceptable status quo.

-- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (via Eduwonk)

AM News: "Edujobs" Snags; "Race" 2.0 Lives

News2 S. Carolina Lawmakers Clash Over Funds To Prevent Teacher Layoffs McClatchy:  The most powerful members of the South Carolina congressional delegation are unable or unwilling to take the steps necessary to secure emergency funding to save the jobs of 2,600 public school teachers in the state... House Dems Include Money for Race to the Top 2.0 in Giant Spending Bill EdWeek:  Leaders in the Democratic-for-now House of Representatives have included $550 million to extend the Race to the Top program in a giant spending bill that finances most government programs (including those in the department) at last year's levels until Sept. 30... More schools join Minn. teacher reform program Associated Press: Seven school districts and 23 charter schools are joining Minnesota's alternative system for evaluating and paying teachers -- the signature education initiative under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who leaves office next month... La Habra, Calif., teachers strike over salary cuts:  Teachers in the Southern California community of La Habra are on strike over salary cuts, and substitutes are manning the district's nine campuses... Chris Christie Pay Cap Irks Some in GOP WSJ:  The governor has imposed a pay cap based on student enrollment. For example, districts of fewer than 10,000 students are barred from paying more than $175,000, under the governor's new rule... Praise for Ackerman, scorn for Inquirer Philly.com:  On Nov. 28, The Inquirer, citing unnamed sources with extensive business experience with the school district, reported that the superintendent had interceded to remove a contractor that had begun surveying 19 persistently dangerous schools for the installation of surveillance cameras (via GothamSchools).

Quote: The War On Teaches, Continued

  Quote-mark Blaming us, the teachers, absolves all others of their complicity in the failure to educate our students and relieves them of all responsibility for solving the problem. - Junia Yearwood, retired Boston public school teacher, in the Globe

Politics: Angry, Ideal-Less Progressives

Tumblr_lc34d1O7C61qcokc4o1_500Wow, there are some mightily peeved progressives out there right now, chewing on the White House for going along with hundreds of billions in tax cut extensions for a measly unemployment insurance extension. CAP's Matt Miller weighs in with a Washington Post column noting that the money would have been better spent on better teachers (Tax cuts for the rich, or better teachers in schools?): "The showdown could have been between "the new generation of teachers America needs to compete" vs. "lower taxes for the top," says Miller.  Alas, we just spent more than $100 billion on school reform (Stimulus plus SIG plus edujobs) and nothing like that seems likely to come along again anytime soon -- especially if the money we just spent ends up seeming like it went down the drain.  

Artifacts: School Dance Guidelines From South Carolina

Prom Memories via The Hairpin

Thompson: Digital Learning As A Trojan Horse

Trojanhorse  I wish I had tried harder to integrate technology into my teacher-centered lessons. Our schools need more "techno-centrists" who seek to integrate digital learning into their student-centric classrooms. But as Larry Cuban explains, we do not need the dogmatists who want to use high-tech tools as a "Trojan Horse" against teacher-centered instruction. Since students have various interests, aptitudes, and ways of learning, we need the full diversity of teachers who embrace the instructional styles that best fit their own personalities and preferences. I also wish I had been more explicit in protesting the "pedagogical dogmatism" and resisting the "curse of a one best way of teaching" mentality that teachers find so irritating.- JT (@drthompson)

TV: More Think Tankers On Game Shows

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

Apparently education wonks like to get themselves on game shows.  Sandy at Achieve wrote in responding to a previous post about a wonky Jeopardy! participant to say that Program Associate Morgan Saxby has been on the show:  "This past summer he was a three day champion with total winnings of 68K. We all knew Morgan was smart, but we had no idea that he had such a deep reservoir of totally useless (unless you are on Jeopardy!) knowledge."  Impressive.  Anyone else been on a game show (or a reality show for that matter), or are we done here?  

Turnarounds: Parents Pull The Trigger On South Central School

image from www.newlaunches.com Those crazy Californians, letting the little people vote on everything (legalizing gay marriage, tax policy, pot legalization) directly rather than relying on politicians to make decisions for them.  And now it's spreading to the schools.  It was bad enough when  they let teachers have a say in how their schools were going to be run, but now they're letting parents in on the decisionmaking process which is just so messy and uncertain.  Here's lots of coverage to look at -- from the LA Times (Parents present signatures to take over a Compton school) and the LA Weekly (California's Parent Trigger), the NYT (In Compton, Calif., Parents Force School Overhaul) and AP (Compton Parents Use New 'Trigger Law' To Demand Charter School).  Of course the main question is whether the trigger will work, here or in other places, and whether it will encourage principals and districts to respond to parent input more promptly and robustly than they usually tend to.  


Politics: Rahm Residency, Schooling Decisions Unclear

Rahm_teaser His eligibility to be a mayoral candidate remains up in the air, but former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel still won't commit to sending his kids to public schools if elected mayor of Chicago: Emanuel won't commit to public school for his kids:  Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wants to increase teacher training programs but says he won't commit to sending his kids to public schools if he's elected mayor of Chicago... Rahm Emanuel Undecided On Whether Kids Will Attend Public Schools AP:  Emanuel said Tuesday that's a decision he and his wife will make. His comments came after a news conference where he talked about doubling the number of teacher training academies.  [Word in Chicago is that he's planning on sending his kids to Latin.]

AM News: White House Wants "Race 2.0" Funding


White House Pushes for Race to Top 2.0 in Budget EdWeek: The administration also wants to see the Race to the Top competition opened up to districts... N.Y. Teachers Fight Effort To Make Ratings Public NPR:  The union representing New York City's teachers goes to court Wednesday to try to stop the release to the media of a database of teacher effectiveness ratings... Gates Foundation forges education partnerships Seattle PI:  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping traditional school districts in nine cities form partnerships with charter school organizations, to help both kinds of schools learn from each other and improve student learning... Report: Tough times far from over for states AP:  Lawmakers have reduced spending for parks, health care for low-income children and some state-funded medical transplants. Still, the tough times are far from over.

Video Interlude: Using Lady Gaga To Teach La Revolución

This isn't the first nor necessarily the best example of teachers using pop culture to engage kids, but it's going around the Internet so... (History As Popular Music). 

Books: Next Paul Tough Book Not Out Until Fall 2012

New America has a Q and A with Paul Tough up on its website, including some tidbits about Tough's much-anticipated followup to Whatever It Takes:  

1464_light dark keyboard
Q:  One of your New York Times Magazine stories was about Tools of the Mind, a pedagogical approach and curriculum for teachers in pre-k and kindergarten that focuses on improving children’s executive function skills by providing outlets for role-play. Is this new book tackling programs like that?
A:  Yes. Tools of the Mind is one of the examples of programs that is being explicit about non-cognitive pathways. I was just out in Cape Cod talking with a researcher who is doing a much more ambitious study of Tools of the Mind than has ever been done before. But that’s just one part of it. Another part is at the high school level, where people talk about these issues without necessarily calling it “executive function.” 

Thompson: First, Create the Conditions that Allow Effective Instruction

Stand "No administrator can raise test scores by first attacking the delivery of instruction," explains Henry Gradillas, who Jay Mathews considers the best principal who he has known. The first step must be insuring that instruction is not interrupted. Gradillas, who made "Stand and Deliver" possible, was serious about tardy sweeps where teachers locked their doors at the bell, and latecomers were assessed consequences. Most teachers would welcome Gradillas’ approach which "first focused on fixing procedures, not teachers, but some of his teachers did not like the new procedures." One teacher refused to comply with those procedures because "These Latino kids have had enough doors slammed in their faces. I don't want to slam my door on them." But Gradillas correctly responds, "19-year-old high school graduates should not lose jobs because they have not figured out that they have to show up for work on time." - JT (@drthompson)

Online Now: PBS Education Town Hall

The NewsHour is taking part in a special town hall meeting this morning on education and innovation. Gwen Ifill and Hari Sreenivasan are moderating the event, which includes an interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. You can watch it live here:

Click here if the video doesn't play.

AM News: China Debut - Shanghai Shocker


International test score data show U.S. firmly mid-pack Washington Post:  After a decade of intensive efforts to improve its schools, the United States posted these results in a new global survey of 15-year-old student achievement: average in reading, average in science and slightly below average in math... PLUS: Top Scores From Shanghai Stun Experts NYT: With China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam... Rhee to Head New Ed. Reform Group EdWeek:  "I don't think the unions can or should change. The purpose of the teachers' union is to protect the privileges, priorities, and pay of their members. And they're doing a great job of that."...Congress confronts year-end budget decisions AP:  Democrats controlling the House are proposing to freeze the Pentagon's budget in a massive $1 trillion-plus measure that would wrap most of Congress' unfinished budget business into a single catchall spending bill... Parents hope to force sweeping changes at Compton school LA Times:  In the first test of a new law, they want to have a charter company take over McKinley Elementary... States that lost school money face reform dilemmas AP:  In Colorado, for example, lawmakers had the prize in mind earlier this year when they adopted a contentious plan to pay teachers based on student performance. Now, state educators are obligated to some up with a new evaluation for teachers – with no new money to pay for it... Homeschooling On The Rise In Minority Communities CNN: Homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular among minority communities, who feel that their cultural perspective is lacking from American classrooms.

Teachers: This Test Is Too Hard For Us!?

3233338485_8153b79571_o_a70f People are, well, freaking out a little bit in Chicago that the state has raised the cutoff for the basic skills test for teaching candidates from 35 to 75 percent, and the minority pass rate has plummeted: Fewer teacher candidates pass basic skills test Catalyst: Overall, the number of candidates who passed the exam dropped from 85 percent in previous years to 22 percent in September. Three percent of black test takers passed, down from 56 percent, and 7 percent of Latinos, down from 68 percent... Community group argues new teacher entrance exam is bad for minorities WBEZ: Students used to be able to squeak by with getting 35 percent of the math questions right. Now they have to get 75 percent of those questions right. Via D299 [where there are commenters debating the issue in extremely polite terms].

Television: Education Wonk Appears On Jeopardy!

Allie Hagan

Allie Hagan was playing for all of education-land when she showed up on Jeopardy! a couple of days ago.  Hagan is a staffer at Policy Strategies and Solutions (think Danica Petroshius) and before that worked for the Girl Scouts of the USA.  I don't know if she won or lost, or why I happen to be watching TV at that particular moment when she was introduced.  She seems to have done OK, at first glance.  Have any other education types appeared on game shows (or reality TV)? 

Schools: The Loneliness Of Long-Distance Test Scorer

500x_rodolex Though I'm not sure I agree with all of its conclusions, I want more like this description of what it's like to be one of the seasonal workers who grade and score kids' essays and short responses from their homes and in temporary cubicles without having any idea who the kids are or what happens to the scores you give them (The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer).  That is, I want more firsthand accounts of what's going on in and around schools from the perspectives of those who are usually left out of the discussion (clerks, guards, lunchroom workers, crossing guards, secretaries, temporary substitutes, interim principals, test scorers, etc.  I want details and honest reflection and complications.  You?

Video Interlude: Radio Controlled Airplane Buzzes NYC Skyline

Show this video to your students or kids and watch their eyes light up.  (Show it to pretty much anyone and you'll get the same effect.)  Via Arstechnica. You're welcome.

Quote: How Much Can TFA Do?

Quotes2TFA is a piece of the answer. 

-- Duncan on whether TFA can close the achievement gap (via Valerie Strauss)

Coaching: Whispering Into New Teachers' Earpieces

Coaching is nothing new -- and is likely going the way of the dodo during the next couple of years of budget cuts -- but the technology is changing.  Here, a coach whispers instructions into the ear of a rookie teacher in a Chicago elementary school classroom (Schools pair new teachers with mentors, coaches and consultants Tribune)

AM News: Rhee Joins Florida Transition Team

News2Tough road for Obama's education reform Redlands Daily:  Politicians and experts say the big Republican gains in Congress will serve as a roadblock to further Democrat-led education reform efforts... Feds say changes could affect Ohio's schools grant:  A spokeswoman for Duncan says whether Ohio gets all the Race to the Top money it narrowly won in a national competition will depend on whether state officials significantly change their plans for using it... Michelle Rhee Named to Florida Gov.-Elect's Transition Team EdWeek:  Rhee, the hard-charging former chancellor of the District of Columbia school system, was selected by the Republican governor-in-waiting to join a transition team that Scott says will help him "find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy... D.C.'s Dunbar High School getting new administrators, more security to quell violence  Washington Post:  Dunbar Senior High School will get new administrators and extra security this week to quell violence and disorder, two years after the school was placed under a private management team by former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee... Feds Reviewing States' Work on Race to Top EdWeek:  Some states, such as Florida, Ohio, and Massachusetts, had anywhere between a couple of dozen local schools or districts drop out of their plans. How many local participants could beg out of a plan before it jeopardizes a state's multi-million dollar award?... Quality-Blind Layoffs In L.A. Schools Hit Poor Areas Hardest LA Times:  After the budget ax fell, hundreds of the district's most promising new instructors were laid off. Campuses in poorer areas -- such as Liechty Middle School in the Westlake neighborhood -- were disproportionately hurt... Ruby Bridges Talks Racism In Education NPR:  In our occasional "Wisdom Watch" series, host Michel Martin speaks with Bridges about her experience and about her spearheading of the launch of New Orleans’ first-ever children's book festival this weekend.

Media: Fact-Checking Urban Prep's "100 Percent" Grad Rate Claim

image from www.voiceofsandiego.org

At long last and after much prodding, a mainstream journalist has found a way to let readers know that Urban Prep's 100 percent graduation rate is based on the percentage of seniors finishing the year (107 of 107), not the percentage of entering freshmen (150) who've made it through to the end. 

Teachers: Can Being Videotaped Make Teachers Better?

image from farm3.static.flickr.com The NYT's Sam Dillon tells us that videotaping is "unfolding on a scale never undertaken in educational research" (Teacher Evaluations May Get a Video Assist) and presents the use of videotaped review and scoring as an alternative or complement to value-added measures and real-life classroom observations. Of course, the effort is being funded in part by the Gates Foundation (the alternate headline for the Times article is "Teacher Ratings Get New Look, Pushed by a Rich Watcher"), and it'd take an awful lot of time and technology to tape and score classroom performance nationwide.  Still, sounds fun.  Let's do it. 

Events: Duncan Heading To Gotham City

image from upload.wikimedia.org Maybe it's just the holiday season at my throat but I can't find much to get excited about in next week's media schedule.  (That's just me, of course.  You PISA junkies and AASA types are getting your suits pressed now, I'm sure.)  That being said, Arne's going to be in NYC on Thursday and Friday, and that might be interesting or fun for those of us who are up here.  I wonder what show he's going to see on Thursday night.  The Heights?  The new Spider-Man musical? 

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