Moderating offensive comments is key to growing and maintaining a vibrant online community, but apparently it's not just snarky comments about Arianna Huffington's recent cell phone airplane incident that are getting blocked at the Huffington Post. Caroline Grannan (aka SF Caroline) says that she's heard of education comments getting blocked -- and a handful of others report that it's happened to them (here). Do you care? Probably not. Are there other blogs or sites where comments are sifted for what they have to say rather than whether they're offensive? Maybe we can start a list.
In Alexandria, fight over additional class time mirrors national debate Washington Post: Many educators in the Washington area and across the nation are pushing for a seemingly simple solution to lagging student performance: Keep students in school longer... Plan Offered to Overhaul Discipline of Teachers NYT: A plan made at the request of the American Federation of Teachers calls for resolving misconduct within 100 days... Newark Schools Chief, Whose Contract Wasn’t Renewed, Will Step Down Next Month NYT: The announcement by Clifford B. Janey came four months after he was told his contract would not be renewed... More Americans Learn Their ABCs In Chinese NYT: The number of Americans studying Chinese is soaring, thanks in part to deeper economic ties with China. Kids from one Chinese-language immersion school met the U.S. and Chinese presidents on Wednesday, an example of the students from elementary schools to colleges who are signing up to learn what some have dubbed the "language of the future."...
"Democrats want a full overhaul of NCLB and insist it has to be done this year, before the 2012 campaign takes over the political agenda. Republicans, on the other hand, favor an incremental approach and insist they will not approve any new spending." (Slate)
The National Journal's discussion of local collaboration set off Lisa Graham Keegan. She asserts "First things first: I can't accept the premise that "getting along" in American education leads to progress." Keegan labeled collaboration as a "sinkhole." She wants to replace the stakeholders who have traditionally had seats at the tab le. Only reformers who demand "rapid progress" should have a say in school governance. According to Keegan, only people who seek radical and measurable change deserve to be heard, and only organizations that have "battled their way into existence" have the urgency to deserve respect. - JT (@drjohnthompson)
Much to the consternation of the centrist reformers who simply can't believe that they don't own every media outlet out there, Valerie Strauss has turned her Washington Post blog into an education version of the Huffington Post, filled with mostly progressive voices poking holes in the centrist belief system. Sure, the Huffington Post has an education page, too, but the emphasis there seems to be on feel-good stories and quantity. Once in a while, she posts things from me, too, as in this repost of my argument against reauthorization. But there are lots of other folks there, too -- and if Strauss included centrist and even right-wing voices The Answer Sheet could become less predictable and even more compelling.
The things people will do and say to win public office. In an effort to make himself more relatable during a forum of candidates for mayor of Chicago -- a place where school violence means getting shot or beaten going to or from school -- front-runner candidate Rahm Emanuel, raised in the leafy suburbs north of Chicago, claimed to have been physically bullied and the victim of racial slurs for his dark skin -- and had to bring in his taller brother Ari to defend him. Or maybe it was the tights? Seriously -- someone should check this story out. I'm not claiming there's no truth to it but still... it has all the trappings of being overblown. Either that or he needs to make an "It Gets Better" video.
"In Korea, they have this culture that focuses on always becoming better. Students are ranked one through 40 in their class and everyone knows where they stand. The adults are honest with kids about what they're not good at and how far they have to go until they are number one." -- Michelle Rhee on NPR's "Marketplace"
Bill would let Neb. teachers carry guns in schools AP: A Nebraska lawmaker has introduced a bill to allow school administrators, teachers and security staff to carry concealed handguns in schools... NJ school bus hit by gunfire; pedestrian injured AP: Police in Newark, N.J., say a school bus was hit by gunfire as it stopped to drop off students from an elementary school... School buses add cameras to catch drivers endangering kids USA Today: Districts in Dallas County, Texas, Montgomery and Frederick counties in Maryland and Cobb County, Ga., are among the latest to test the cameras on some school buses in their fleets... Too cold for recess? School policies vary as much as temps USA Today: When is it too cold for schoolchildren to go outside for recess? The answer depends on where a school is located and what the kids are used ... Christie Says 23 Schools Get Charters NYT: Gov. Chris Christie announced the approval of 23 charter schools across New Jersey, including ones with single-sex education or emphases like online learning and character-building... L.A. Unified looks at tightening campus security LA Times: At a meeting Tuesday night, district staff and school principals are set to begin looking at tightening the campus security net, possibly increasing the number of students screened per day, Deasy said... Atlanta Schools Are Placed on Probation: NYT: Atlanta’s public school system was warned on Tuesday that it could lose accreditation this year if feuding school board members do not resolve their differences.
"I thought driving around all day picking kids up and dropping them off, then waiting for them, would be more fulfilling." (From this week's New Yorker)
The best thing to come out of the Duncan Administration's turnaround campaign so far has been the shared structuring of schools in Providence, R.I. In a new report the Education Sector describes how the spector of a fiasco such as in Central Falls encouraged the administration and the union to share control of the turnaround process. The best passage in the report is “Will [the superintendent and the AFT local president] have the courage to keep it up when they want to kill each other?” Yes, "change gets complicated when it gets real … something will go wrong. It always does, and that’s the test.” We may learn that shared restructuring is the worst of all approaches - except for all of the rest. - JT (@drjohnthompson)
It's not so much that yesterday's paired NPR stories were so overwhelmingly stacked with reformy Gates-funded voices -- though others might find that worrisome -- but rather that the stories seemed simplistic and superficial rather than informative and thought-provoking. First, Larry Abramson featured a reformy lineup of Roza, Rhee, & Danner in his class size/layoffs story vs. a lonely Randi Weingarten. I'm a fan of Abramson's but a series of already-overexposed talking heads just doesn't cut it for me anymore. Then, Claudio Sanchez featured EdSector's Elena Silva on tenure reform (here). Silva's great but she's not exactly an expert and certainly not a neutral party; much-discussed clips of Chris Cristie don't add much value at this point, either. Only Beth Fertig's WNYC look into a turnaround effort in Manhattan gave us texture and depth we want, showing us real people making hard decisions and doing difficult work. Fertig took us there and showed us things going on in a school -- always a good ideas and especially so in a time when listeners are already Facebook friends with Michelle Rhee and Twitter buddies with folks at think tanks.
There was a nice and seemingly sincere shout-out for underpaid but critically important teachers from one of the producers of "Glee" at Sunday's somwhat snarky Golden Globes awards show (video, anyone?), along with an unintentional but seemingly sincere slam on public schools from honoree Robert Deniro:
"For the children you just hope that the movies do well enough that you can keep them in private schools.” IDLYTW
Ever notice that it's always Arne Duncan or the pointy-headed wonks talking about how bipartisan education is and how the conditions are (always) ripe for a speedy reauthorization -- but rarely the White House or the education groups or the savvy political operators who actually know what they're talking about? Truth is, there's no real consensus that now is a good time for a big push to redo the law and in fact it might be a particularly bad time that could lead to the dilution and erosion of the law's best elements. Ask the most experienced Washington insider you know if now's the time for a NCLB revamp and see what she or he says. (Then ask if they've worked on the Hill or ever done a major reauthorization.) Meantime, here are some of the best reasons to wait that I can think of:
Year ahead looms as toughest yet for state budgets AP: If 2011 is hinting at a national recovery, there is little sign of it in statehouses across the country... Florida Has Classes Without Teachers NYT: The state is using virtual classrooms, called e-learning labs, with online teachers. An amendment limits class size for classrooms with teachers, but not virtual labs... Bending Lessons to Make Math Inspire NYT: Vi Hart calls herself a full-time recreational mathemusician, and has an audacious career ambition: She wants to make math cool... N.J. Governor Puts Teacher Tenure In Hot Seat NPR: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has zeroed in on tenure as he aims to get rid of ineffective teachers and improve that state's schools. Teacher advocates say schools need to adopt a better evaluation process rather than eliminate tenure... Schools Tested By Budget Cuts Learn New Strategies NPR: Some schools are reducing costs by implementing computer-based instruction, creating teacher evaluation systems and increasing class sizes... State faces a moving target in implementing 'parent trigger' law LA Times: As the Board of Education continues to weigh the details of how parents will go about forcing overhauls of low-performing schools, debates over transparency, public input and special interests drag on.
As some of you have already noticed, I'm posting tidbits after hours and on weekends on Facebook rather than here so you might want to friend me if you get bored on the weekends and evenings or just like FB better. One added bonus is that posts from my secret and sometimes NSFW "Hot For Education" Tumblr are posted there. Plus embarrassing New Year's Even pics, obv.
I mean, after all that Chinese prime ministerial nonsense in DC is completed (black tie!).
Crystal Lake Elementary School, prepare to have your world rocked.
Anyone else curious about whether the security and event protocols are being changed for field visits like this?
The tape don't show me landing on his head...I don't think I would try to purposely land on anyone's head. -- Third teen convicted in last year's videotaped beating murder of Derrion Albert
Four long years after Locke High School teachers signed petitions to convert their school (and three years into the Locke turnaround effort), charter operator Green Dot Public Schools is finally moving to expand its efforts on the turnaround front. This time around, however, it's not a teacher petition or even parent signatures that are triggering the process but rather an abbreviated district-level decision process. On Wednesday the district approved a plan for Green Dot and a second charter operator (Alliance for College Ready Public Schools) and Mayor Villaraigosa's Partnership for LA Schools to break Jordan up into three different schools. Read below for more details and links and commentary.
Rick Hess' guest blogger, Dan Goldhaber, is worried that the rush to implement RttT could backfire. As states race against the deadline, he said that stakeholders should be invited into a discussion of tradeoffs inherent in various value-added models. For instance, Goldhaber is worried that mobility rates in poor schools "would mean that high-stakes decisions could be made based on 20% of a teacher’s class." Goldhaber admitted "I'm not sure that VAM is the right evaluation tool," but then he got back on message, "I think we need to jump start change in education and it seems to have done the trick." Later, Goldhaber questioned an approach comparable to dumping new medicines on the market before testing is complete, and then issuing safety guidelines. Goldhaber urged discussions "before" policies are implemented, but then he backtracked "I'm not arguing to slow down change." - JT (@drjohnthompson)
-- Md. father uses robocall to get revenge on school officials (Washington Post)
College’s Policy on Troubled Students Raises Questions NYT: Some experts say the community college that suspended Jared L. Loughner could have done more to help him... State failed to oversee schools’ policies against hazing Boston Globe: For years, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education failed to monitor school districts’ compliance with Massachusetts’ antihazing laws, resulting in a checkered enforcement system across the state, according to a review by the state auditor’s office... Writing exercise said to prevent test anxiety Associated Press: A simple writing exercise can relieve students of test anxiety and may help them get better scores than their less anxious classmates, a study has found... Middle-School Friends Are Critical For Future Success Huffington Post: University of Oregon psychologists say the new friendships may directly influence a teenager's potential academic success or future challenges in high school and beyond...
Trying to get up to speed on this whole "abolish unions/ tenure/ striking/ pensions" thing that I was telling you about last week but you thought I was crazy? Check out this handy dandy roundup of recent commentary and coverage from the Atlantic Wire: Are Labor Unions Done-for?.
Or, if you're feeling brave and have a lot of time just go straight to the articles themselves: State of Unions James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, Class War William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, Day of Reckoning Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post, War Against Unions Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, What Replaces Unions? Felix Salmon, Reuters.
Observations are one thing, practically giving Gray his marching orders is another.
-- Washington DC's City Paper
In Detroit, A Fight Over Iconic School's Future NPR: For 90 years, as many as 4,000 students at a time attended Cass Technical High School. But it was closed six years ago after a new school was built next-door and is perilously close to demolition...Officials plan to split low-performing Jordan High into 3 campuses: All current employees will have to reapply for their jobs or work elsewhere... Chris Christie Eyeing Ending Teacher Tenure WSJ: To do so, Mr. Christie would need the support of the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which appears to be a possibility. A Senate education committee is working on tenure legislation, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, said he believes there is a problem but worries about returning political discretion to the process... Charter School Cries Foul Over a Decision to Close It NYT: The Ross Global Academy is claiming that it was ordered closed so that another charter school, Girls Pres, can have its space. [New York closes the Ross Global Academy : The New Yorker] ... Maine school board member wants less college talk AP: A Lewiston school committee member says she wants educators in the Maine city to stop using the word college when they are talking about the futures of students... Random Drug Testing for Middle Schoolers? CBS: School officials said it was important to note that if a student tested positive, they would not be suspended or have the results sent to the police... New guidelines would make school lunches healthier AP: School cafeterias would have to hold the fries - and serve kids more whole grains, fruits and vegetables - under the government's plans for the first major nutritional overhaul of students' meals in 15 years....
The Hechinger Report's Justin Snider captures the great truth of Rick Hess' call for transformational change -- and corrects Hess' biggest error: cherry-picking a key quote from former New York Times reporter Fred Hechinger. In making the case against tenure, Hess omits Hechinger's full quote on the topic, which includes "The perennial problem with a lack of tenure is that it exposes teachers to such dangers as dismissal for holding unpopular political views.” Hechinger adds that “even when actual dismissal is not involved, the tendency of unprotected teachers, insecure in their jobs, often is to knuckle under and to adjust not only their personal opinions but their teaching to the prevailing political climate.” Given Hess' wonderful indictments of "reformers," he should know that in this time of faddish, abusive educational politics, it is doubly true that educators need the buffer of tenure before they can dare to innovate along the lines that Hess advocates.- JT (@drjohnthompson)
I would like to have school reformers pledge to read Stephen Jay Gould’s classic The Mismeasure of Man or just about anything by Canadian philosopher of science Ian Hacking to remind them of the logical fallacies and scientific follies involved in trying to find a single measure for a complex human phenomenon. -- UCLA ed school prof Mike Rose
[*Update below the fold click "read more"] Less than two years into the launch of the "new" Hechinger, head honcho Richard Lee Colvin (pictured) is leaving his post and heading to DC think Tank Education Sector. Ed Sector was founded by journalist Tom Toch (along with Andy Rotherham) but both have since left the organization. Over the past couple of years Hechinger has funded coverage of education news and brokered placement in newspapers including regional and national editions of the New York Times -- quite successfully, it seemed. For a time I thought that Richard Whitmire, former USA Today editorial writer, would replace Toch, but that never happened. I've put a call in to talk to Colvin, a longtime LA TImes education writer, and will report back when I know more. I'm sure there's a rationale to the move that I will soon understand. (Now maybe finally Hechinger can move over to the Journalism School, which is where it really belongs.)
The Maryland Avenue wing of the Obama administration keeps making it sound like they're finally going to get NCLB reauthorized -- begging, practically -- and the Washington Post (and Education Week) keep reporting it as if it's going to happen. The most recent example is Nick Anderson's Obama aims to revise No Child Left Behind, which begins with the line "President Obama will mount a fresh attempt this year to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law, a top administration official said this week, and key congressional Republicans said they are ready to deal." Hmm. Who might that top administration official be? How many times is this desire going to be reported as if wanting it will make it so? Education is presented somehow a special issue, which may have been the case long ago but isn't any longer. It's conveniently left out that Duncan and Obama pushed for NCLB reauthorization last year at just about this time of year.
In the pictures accompanying this Fast Company profile (here), Rhee looks off wistfully in a fall forest scene, wears stylish shoes that any fashionista would admire, and -- amazing! -- isn't swathed in an all-black outfit. Coverage of Michelle Rhee has often swung wildly between stories that feature her as a demon witch and items suggesting she's the romantic lead in a Harlequin Romance -- especially when it comes to visual representations. Believable or not, the message here is clear: softer, gentler, etc.
Deasy is seemingly a man of contradictions LA Times: L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy has ties to the Gates Foundation, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Eli Broad, but his career displays an independent streak... Ohio School Board Fires Teacher For Pushing Christian Agenda In Science Class AP: An Ohio science teacher accused of burning the image of a cross on students' arms said Tuesday that he's disappointed school officials voted to fire him... Obama aims to revise No Child Left Behind Washington Post: President Obama will mount a fresh attempt this year to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law, a top administration official said this week, and key congressional Republicans said they are ready to deal... Republican school board in N.C. backed by tea party abolishes integration policy AP: Pledging to "say no to the social engineers!" it has abolished the policy behind one of the nation's most celebrated integration efforts... Can't Spell Oregon? No Worries, Spell Check Allowed AP: The Oregon Department of Education will allow students to use spell check during standardized writing exams for the first time. But only one-quarter of the state's students will have access to the online writing assessment. Critics worry that using spell check gives some students a crutch... MORE NEWS BELOW.
"In Singapore, which recently came second in an international ranking of 15-year-olds’ skill in maths (America was 31st), the teacher-training programme accepts only students in the top 30% of their academic cohort. In America, most teachers were mediocre students. Only 23% of new teachers were in the top third of college graduates." (Improving teachers Economist)
You might remember seeing the fun history teacher music videos here a few weeks back but now they're being featured on the New Yorker's website, which is pretty cool:
The New Yorker via Green & Cramer.
"Meanwhile, increases in the size of the teaching force more than doubled increases in student enrollment. And the US Department of Education and the teachers unions (and bend-over-backwards education writers) all say that there's some sort of teacherpocalypse already upon us. It's impressive, and shameless, and it's sort of working.... Long live the teaching bubble. May it never pop. Because teachers unions aren't on their last legs. They're the industry that's still too big to fail."
See the entire list here.
Florida provides a dramatic example of the nation’s experience, where growth in student performance slowed after NCLB and traditional reforms showed themselves to be more effective than the test-driven, market-driven, panaceas that Bush is peddling today. Arizona School Board Association's researcher Mike Martin reminds us of 1999, when "W" was a relatively moderate, compassionate conservative, and Jeb Bush took office as Florida governor. The state had started a balanced effort to reform education. For eight years, Sherman Dorn adds, per student spending increased by 19%, and an additional $390,000 was invested in each of the 64 poorest schools. This allowed class size reductions, and even better, intensive efforts to teach reading were funded. Consequently, from 1998 to 2002, Florida's NAEP Reading scores grew by almost 10 points. Growth slowed from 2002 to 2005, but the state still posted a five point gain. During Bush's last years in office, increases dropped to three points, and from 2007 to 2009 the Florida's scores only increased by two points. Improvements for the lowest-performing students of color were even greater during the flush years, and they also declined as the state's real estate boom slowed. - JT (@drjohnthompson)
Maybe the danger of digital culture to young people is not that they have hummingbird attention spans but that they are going deaf. - Virginia Heffernan in the NYT Magazine
It's not plagiarism or fabrications we should worry about when reading media accounts of education reform, argues Dissent writer Joanne Barkan but rather a growing web of foundation influence behind the scenes (Got Dough?). "Every day, dozens of reporters and bloggers cover the Big Three’s reform campaign, but critical in-depth investigations have been scarce." Barkan recounts how foundations are pushing out on support of media coverage in education just like they've already done on health care and science, and finds a strong influence. I'm not sure I buy the whole argument but it's an issue I've written about before and is certainly worth pondering. Lack of appropriate skepticism is a big problem for reasons that also include journalists' desire to get their stories assigned and placed prominently. Were we better off when advertising and subscription paid for news? At least then we knew where the conflicts were and what the interests were all on the table.
New York City schools can release ratings of 12,000 teachers, judge rules NYT: The New York City school system can publicly release performance ratings for more than 12,000 teachers based on their students' test scores, in what would be the largest such disclosure in the country... Mo. officials dissuade funding requests Boston Globe: For the 2011-2012 academic year, the $3 billion school formula would need to be increased by $230 million to $255 million to fulfill the law... Budget to put Texan self-sufficiency to the test AP: Texans have consistently elected lawmakers who will add to the public safety net only when threatened with a federal lawsuit... Publisher to replace faulted textbooks at no cost to Va. schools Washington Post: The publisher of textbooks found to contain dozens of errors has announced that it will replace thousands of copies of the texts in Virginia elementary and middle schools at no cost to the districts... MORE BELOW
The Michelle Rhee/Jeb Bush/Rick Scott/Tea Party, /Chris Christie/Joel Klein school of reform are showing their true colors. Their true love - battling other adults - is now unmistakable. These "reformers'" common denominator is sharing the values of the patriarch’s Klein’s boss, Rupert Murdoch. Now that the axis of accountability has formed an united front, it will be easier to ask parents if they trust these people with their children. Now that their alliance has been formalized, Arne Duncan has been handed a golden opportunity. He could reject scorched earth politics, and seek compromises with reality-based adults - previously known as "adult interests."- JT (@drjohnthompson)
"The tragedy in Tucson leaves me sick with grief and sadness. A dedicated Congresswoman, a respected federal Judge, and a curious nine-year-old girl interested in public service are among the victims not only of a deranged madman but also of a society that too often shirks responsibility for our collective safety. My heart goes out to the victims and their families." -- Arne Duncan
It’s very hard as a teacher to teach all the kids, but software has the possibility to help them get to their next level. -- Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Schools to adopt national academic standards Washington Post: It will take at least a few years before such measures generate notable change in the classroom... Gov. Jerry Brown's shakeup of California Board of Education LA Times: He sacked the majority of the state Board of Education, replacing several vocal proponents of charter schools, parent empowerment and teacher accountability... Ex DC school chief takes reform message nationwide AP Thus far, she's raised $1.4 million and attracted 140,000 members, she said. The goal: Raise $1 billion in a year and organize 1 million members... Hunt on for new school chiefs Boston Globe: Because of the state turnover rate of almost 25 percent of superintendents each year since 2003, the month also marks the beginning of the school chief search season for districts... MORE BELOW
Would it make sense to fire a wide receiver because the team lost its quarterback and the replacement could not get him the ball? Teaching also is a team effort, and research has shown that a quarter of teacher value-added can be explained by the quality of the teachers' peers in the past. That is why "reformers" should consider the NBER paper "Match Quality" by C. Kirabo Jackson. (hat tip to Matt Dicarlo) It also shows that the peer effects, of having fellow teachers who are a good match for each other, can explain 25% of a teachers' value-added to student performance. There is no evidence that an effective teacher in a high-performing school would be equally effective in the very different world of low-income neighborhood schools. Common sense indicates that it takes different personalities to succeed in different types of educational environments. Jackson shows that it would make more sense to create environments in poor schools so that they can retain teaching talent. - JT (@drjohnthompson)
Some teachers just don’t give an F. For example, there’s Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz). She’s foul-mouthed, ruthless, and inappropriate. She drinks, she gets high, and she can’t wait to marry her meal ticket and get out of her bogus day job. When she’s dumped by her fiancé, she sets her plan in motion to win over a rich, handsome substitute (Justin Timberlake) – competing for his affections with an overly energetic colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch). When Elizabeth also finds herself fighting off the advances of a sarcastic, irreverent gym teacher (Jason Segel), the consequences of her wild and outrageous schemes give her students, her coworkers, and even herself an education like no other."