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Video: Former GA Superintendent Threatened State Official

Mathers: "So what are you saying -- don't look under the hood of the car?" 
Wilson: "No, I'm saying we should have fixed the car before you looked under it." 

WSBV TV via HuffPost

Quotes: Brill (Over)Praises Duncan

He's universally regarded as the single best performer in the president's cabinet.

-- "Education activist" Steve Brill  (via @gothamschools). GQ's own list names Clinton #5.

AM News: CA Governor Voices Testing Concerns

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Gov. Jerry Brown calls for less testing Washington Post: California’s Jerry Brown wants to reduce the number of standardized tests students take, give more authority to local school boards and design a system to measure education performance that is less test-centric than the one now in use.

Duncan: It's Time to Create Race to Top for Districts K12: Flush with $550 million in new Race to the Top money, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he intends to use the vast majority of it to design a new competition just for school districts.

Of Parrots, Paras and Time NYT: A principal considers a conundrum in education today: That even as more schools are expected to try to put children with all different abilities into an "integrated'' classroom, and teachers are expected to understand that all children learn.

Ed Dept. seeks ways to stem cheating on standardized tests Washington Post: The federal government has become concerned enough about repeated cheating scandals on standardized tests in school districts across the country that it is gathering information on how to prevent, detect and respond to irregularities on completed tests.

Whistle-blowing teachers to open a charter school LAT:  They lost their jobs during a cheating scandal at Crescendo schools. Former union chief and charter foe A.J. Duffy will lead them.


Continue reading "AM News: CA Governor Voices Testing Concerns" »

Video: Dan Rather Reports On Finland


Here's an extended trailer from Dan Rather's hour-long report on the Finnish education system, which I heard about via the indefatigable Larry Ferlazzo.

Five Best Blogs: A Day Without Wikipedia - For A Cause


Mark Zuckerberg Breaks His Silence on Anti-Piracy Laws Atlantic Wire: So far, the comment calling for a Facebook blackout has collected well over 3,000 Likes in about 30 minutes.

ED seeks ways to stem cheating on standardized tests Valerie Strauss: As long as high-stakes tests matter so much — and for many reasons, they shouldn’t — the chances that people will continue to try to cheat on them are high.

‘Intelligent Design’ in the ESEA? Title IDerland:  Will the next ESEA reauthorization contain a mandate to teach “intelligent design,” the creationist alternative to the theory of evolution.

The Burden of Mentoring Tom Hoffman: I don't think you actually need to pay teachers more to mentor peers. That is, you obviously have to give them time during the day, and pay them reasonably for additional out of school obligations, but overall mentoring, having student teachers, etc. is a reward in itself. 

Juked alwaysawildcat: This was definitely one of my proudest moments as a teacher. (Just kidding, TFA! But seriously).


Continue reading "Five Best Blogs: A Day Without Wikipedia - For A Cause" »

Update: Five Best Blogs Of All Time

Here are my nominees for Five Best Blog Posts Of All Time, a completely arbitrary list based on my faulty memory, the online hubbub they created, and subjective sense of real-world impact (ie, mainstream coverage):

Nominee 1: @kenmlibby "How'd Steve Barr Spend $50,866?"http://ow.ly/8syKI

Nominee 2: @garyrubinstein's "Why I did TFA, and why you shouldn’t" http://ow.ly/8szep

Nominee #3: @eduwonkette's "It's a Small World After All" http://ow.ly/8sBIs

Nominee #4: GFBrandenburg's "The Rhee Miracle Examined Again" http://ow.ly/8tAeT

Nominee #5: @dropoutnation's "The AFT's Real Feelings About Parent Power" http://ow.ly/8u5jp

What'd I miss?  What's wrong with this list? Where are the pro-reform examples?  What does it mean that I couldn't think of more examples of earth-shattering blog posts (besides my own, that is)?   

AM News: Hawaii Might Avert "Race" Meltdown

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Hawaii Teachers to Vote on New Contract TeacherBeat: Hawaii's teachers will vote Thursday on a new, six-year contract that would establish a new teacher-evaluation system, tie pay raises partly to evaluations, and end a 5 percent salary reduction that Gov. Neil Abercrombie enforced last July.

Gingrich's Plan to Turn Students Into City School Cleaners? Only in the Movies NYT: Here's a check of his facts, and reaction from the union, a high school custodian and students.

City's Unwanted Teachers Drift Through A Life In Limbo HuffPost: Hundreds of city teachers show up at schools they've never seen before every Monday morning.

Cuomo Ties State Aid to Teacher Evaluations NYT: The governor and mayor each took aim at the teachers unions at M.L.K. Day events and pressed for a more stringent teacher evaluation system. ALSO NEWS: Also in Cuomo’s budget: restored exams and other ed initiatives GothamSchools

State ed chief calls city’s evals position, turnaround plan kosher GothamSchools: Breaking his silence today on New York City’s simmering labor dispute, State Education Commissioner John King sided with the city on key issues.


Continue reading "AM News: Hawaii Might Avert "Race" Meltdown" »

Five Best Blogs: Are States Gaming NAEP Scores?

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Why Is Congress redlining our schools? Linda Darling-Hammond:  If passed, the long-awaited Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would build a bigger highway between low-performing schools serving high-need students — the so-called “bottom 5 percent”— and all other schools.

Matt Damon’s mother is wrong Jay Mathews:  Carlsson-Paige and Damon, my favorite actor, are entitled to their opinions. But objecting to our leading teachers union having anything to do with our leading post-college public service program doesn’t help our schools or our children.

Teacher Unions, Mac the Knife, and Dollar Power EdNext:  The recipients, big and small, help to build a broad, diverse coalition that can be called upon by a teacher union when help is needed.

Teachers Matter. Now What? Dana Goldstein:  Just because we know that teachers with high value-added ratings are better for children, it doesn't necessarily follow that we should pay such teachers more for good evaluation scores alone. 

States Excluding Too Many Students from NAEP EdWeek:  "This would ensure the validity of the reported results for the nation and for the participating states. States not meeting the minimum standards should face funding sanctions."

Contract in Hawaii, Conflict in New York EdSector:  The (statewide) district and union have been battling over teacher pay and evaluation provisions for more than a year... A [NY] state law, passed in the spring, required new teacher evaluations for all grades by the end of the next school year.


Continue reading "Five Best Blogs: Are States Gaming NAEP Scores?" »

Documentaries: World Peace And Other Fourth-Grade Acheivements

Here's the trailer for World Peace And Other Fourth-Grade Acheivements, the documentary Andy Rotherham was telling us about last week. Seems nice enough but nothing super-transformative. I must be missing something (as usual).


TV: What "Boardwalk Empire" Can Teach School Leaders

image from cdn.screenrant.com

In honor of this past weekend's Golden Globes, here's Mike McGalliard's Five Shows that Teach us About Running Schools, which finds guidance in unlikely shows including Kitchen Nightmares and Boardwalk Empire.  Its lesson?  "It’s business - It’s not personal."

Agree?  Disagree?  Let us know or share your favorite "education lessons from TV shows not about education" just as long as it's not something obvious, old, or overdone like The Wire. 

Bruno: The "Gotcha" Mentality Behind "Take the Test"


Paul Bruno is a California-based middle-school science teacher who can be found at @MrPABruno:

Critics of standardized testing have begun urging education officials to take the same tests they require of students and to make the results public.  This movement began back in early December when Valerie Strauss published the story of a school board member who struggled with the tests and a follow-up post revealing the school board member's identity and offering links to sample test questions. Testing critics have since taken up the cause on blogs and on Twitter because, in teacher-blogger Deven Black's words, "if the tests are adequate to judge teacher ability they must certainly be able to judge the ability of the people who hire the teachers, set curriculum and allocate assets to schools."

But why is that "certainly" the case? It's not obvious to me why we should care much about how most education officials do on, say, a test of 10th grade math or why their doing poorly would constitute evidence against the use of standardized tests generally.


Continue reading "Bruno: The "Gotcha" Mentality Behind "Take the Test"" »

Charts: One Percent Of Teachers Live In One Percent Households

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Roughly 59,000 K-12 teachers -- that's 0.9 percent of the total number of teachers in the US -- lives in a household with earnings high enough to qualify as the richest One Percent, according to the NYT. Married to hedge fund managers, obviously. The percentage is doubled for college and university professors (who really need to disclose their funders, BTW).  

AM News: Santorum Flip-Flops, Gingrich Deflects

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Santorum: I ‘shouldn’t have’ voted for No Child Left Behind Washington Post:  A decade after voting for the education reform legislation, he said in a debate on Monday night that he was sorry he had approved it.

Gingrich: My position should not offend blacks CBS: Newt Gingrich on Monday continued to stand by comments he has made suggesting that poor children should serve as janitors to earn money.

Teacher Effectiveness Study Is Off 1990s Data NYT: “It is a key limitation of the study,” Raj Chetty of Harvard, one of the three researchers, acknowledged in an interview.

Durbin queries USDA about school lunch abuses Chicago Tribune: Tribune analysis prompts letter on how department plans to balance accountability and students' access to meals 

In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise Washington Post: The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains.


Continue reading "AM News: Santorum Flip-Flops, Gingrich Deflects" »

Video: Homeless Senior Named Intel Science Finalist

She's a senior at a Long Island high school, homeless for about a year, and she's been named one of 300 semifinalists.   Via Jezebel & Gothamist

Funders: Education's Other, Better(?) Education Funder

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Though the Gates Foundation is much larger, the Broad Foundation has pursued a much more systems-focused approach to its grantmaking and might, it could be argued, be having as much or more impact on public education.  What do you think?  As you can see in their new report, they've helped train and place an awful lot of district leaders through the residency and superintendancy programs: "More than 250 Broad Residents have been placed in 39 school districts, 30 public charter school management organizations, seven state departments of education and the U.S. Department of Education.. 39 percent of all external superintendent openings in large urban districts from 2008–2010 were filled by Broad Superintendents Academy graduates." There's the annual Broad Prize for urban school districts, now its 10th year.  There's some grantmaking for charters and education technology but it's not their big focus.   They're not trying to work around the current education system as much as they are working to change it from the inside.  Agree with their priorities or not, the focus on human capital and school system leadership is a pretty stark contrast with Gates' focus on small schools, teacher quality, and most recently advocacy.  

Update: School Reform, Chicago Style

image from www.chicagonow.com

Chicagoans like to brag / express shame about just how awful things can get in city government when money and power are involved.  Education is no exception.  School board discussions are nearly always held behind closed doors, and the votes are almost always unanimous.  Until recently, kids of powerful families could get "clouted" into the best schools no matter how many others wanted to get in.  The latest examples include pretty eye-opening free-and reduced cost lunch fraud -- 20, 40, and even 60 percent more families signed up for FRL than for welfare, according to the Tribune.  Then there are the halfway house residents paid $25 to show up at a school closing hearing and protest in favor of the district's plan.  Last but not least, check out the map and story from Chicago magazine which describes an uncomfortably close relationship between candidates and elected officials and gang members. Want to run for city council and have any chance of winning?  You have to meet with a panel of gang members first.  Only in Chicago?  We like to think so, but of course it's not true.  

AM News: Teacher Contracts Under Political Attack

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Unions adapt to new rules, even as they fight to reverse them Stateline:  The most controversial state issue of 2011 — the fight over collective bargaining and other rights for public-sector employees — isn’t going away in 2012. ALSO:  The education of Florida governor Rick Scott Fortune. 

Bloomberg, in State of the City Address, Focuses on Education NYT: In his State of the City address, the mayor hit a nerve by proposing a merit-pay system for teachers and not shying away from other controversial education topics. 

U.S. Attorney activates ‘school corruption hotline’ Washington Post: The United States Attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania has activated a hotline where citizens can report “suspected possible corruption in public education.

State clears 28 in cheating probe; no Philly SD schools cleared Inquirer: The Pennsylvania Department of Education has cleared 28 schools and districts in its statewide probe into possible improprieties on the 2009 PSSAs.

CPS releases guidelines for longer school day Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools released guidelines Thursday on how the district would like elementary and high schools to implement the longer school day next year. SEE OTHER CHICAGO STORIES ABOVE

Christie signs urban private school bill AP via NJ.com: As many as 12 schools built by nonprofit groups and funded largely with tax dollars will be allowed to take root in three of New Jersey's struggling cities under a new law Gov. Chris Christie signed Thursday, a move he says is a step toward bigger school reforms.


Continue reading "AM News: Teacher Contracts Under Political Attack" »

Five Best Blogs: Cowardly States Offer To Do As Little As Possible


The cowardly lion phenomenon NCTQ:  Only the District Columbia, Maryland,Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island have indicated that they plan to actually use the data for decision-making. 

Now let’s make a deal. Michael J. Petrilli:  Not only does the Alexander package represent smart policy, it also serves as a sort of mid-point between the Senate bill that passed out of committee and the House GOP bill that is likely to do the same. 

Santorum’s good but hated education idea Jay Mathews: I won’t say who is getting my vote for president. But I confess a nonpartisan desire that former senator Rick Santorum (R) remain in the race long enough to focus attention on an intriguing, if deeply controversial, educational issue. ALSO:  What it feels like to fire people teacherken

In the Nation’s Service The Epicurean DealmakerThe nature of investment banking—and, dare I say it, management consulting, too—is not one that demands deep thinkers, brilliantly inventive innovators, or even virtuoso synthesizers of disparate intellectual strands. 

All These Shitty Parents Mr. Teachbad:  At a certain level, it makes no difference whether parents are willfully negligent, stupid, or genuinely incapable of being good parents due to forces beyond their control. At the end of the day, you’re just a shitty parent and other people have to deal with your kids. 


Continue reading "Five Best Blogs: Cowardly States Offer To Do As Little As Possible" »

Charts: Education Graduates Have Lowest Unemployment Rates

image from 25.media.tumblr.comThree years into the Great Recession, unemployment rates for recently graduated education majors are just 5.4 percent, compared to 9.4 percent for liberal arts majors.  

Via The Daily Feed

Quotes: "I Hate Having Tenure"

Quotes2I hate having tenure. I want to be evaluated— and in a genuine way.-- High school English teacher at Driving Barefoot

Blogs: "Things My Hipster Teacher Says"

image from 29.media.tumblr.com"I just threw down a rhyme! Do you see how Eminem I am?"

From "Things My Hipster Teacher Says"

"Just two high school kids documenting the funny things our sort-of-hipster teacher says on a day-to-day basis... (:"

 Also tagged #education on Tumblr: Bored kids, stressed-out student teacher trainees, earnest classroom teachers.

AM News: Parent Trigger Rebounds In CA & NY

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Parents Rebel Against California School WSJ:  The unions note that, in California at least, the effort has been coordinated by Parent Revolution, a nonprofit funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. ALSO:  Parent Trigger's Second Try LA Weekly

New advocacy group with city roots enters state’s reform fray GothamSchools: The new nationally-backed group, New York Campaign for Achievement Now, or NYCAN, plans to push for a law that would enable parents to vote on ways to improve their struggling district schools.

Md. ranked no. 1 in schools again Baltimore Sun: For the fourth year in a row Education Week gives state its top grade.

New reward for smart use of longer school day Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools, which has handed out more than $7 million in incentives to teachers and schools willing to lengthen their school days this year, will distribute another $3 million in grants to schools showing ingenuity in how they use the extra 90 minutes.

New York City Plans to Close a Charter School for Mediocrity NYT: For the first time, New York City is closing a charter school for the offense of simply being mediocre, and the action could have widespread implications.

Tucson students confront loss of their Chicano studies class LA Times: A day after the Tucson Unified School District board votes to suspend Mexican American studies classes to avoid losing state aid, students are angry, sad and confused, a teacher says.

Some moving out of troubled Chester Upland district Inquirer: With Delaware County's beleaguered Chester Upland School District nearing insolvency, some parents are moving out of the city or placing their children in other schools.


Continue reading "AM News: Parent Trigger Rebounds In CA & NY" »

Events: TED2012 Session Features Classroom Teachers

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TED2012: Program Guide via @ClassroomSooth @mr_reedy

Quotes: "These Disgusting Laws"

Quotes2Those of us on the ground see daily the effect of the failed, racist, neoliberal educational policies that are set to tear down our public education system... The policies I am standing against are not theoretical abstractions to me.  I see names and faces of people being hurt and damaged by these disgusting laws.  - Chicago-based teacher Katie O.

Video Interlude: "Decomposition Lab"

@teachforus Kids watch things rot and learn science along the way.  From the Teach For Us blog called Science Never Sucks.

Bruno: Include Science Testing In The NCLB Rewrite

This is a guest commentary from middle school science teacher Paul Bruno, who tweets at @MrPABruno:

Map-of-Science-954x907It's easy for wishes to get out of hand, so as NCLB reauthorization makes its way ever so gradually through the halls of government in Washington I've been keeping my hopes modest.  

Given that President Barack Obama, likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the House GOP , and both parties in the Senate all support the use of standardized tests in math and reading for accountability purposes, it seems very likely that, for better or for worse, the eventual legislation will continue to require them.

Meanwhile, reform critics have long argued that NCLB's math and reading requirements for making Adequate Yearly Progress encourage schools to narrow their curriculum to focus on those subjects at the expense of others like science, history, and art.  (NCLB does require states to test students periodically in science, but those scores are not factored into AYP calculations.)

With all of that in mind, I had been holding out hope that the "new" NCLB legislation would expand accountability requirements to include, at a minimum, science and history.  Indeed, the Obama administration had made some gestures in that direction in the past.  

Lo and behold, however, the draft legislation released by House Republicans last week dropped NCLB's science testing requirement altogether, leaving math and reading as the only subjects with federally-mandated tests.


Continue reading "Bruno: Include Science Testing In The NCLB Rewrite" »

AM News: "Race" Blame Focuses On States, Unions

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States Backtracked On Reform Commitments AP via HuffPost: Several states that won a slice of the U.S. Department of Education's $4.3 billion Race to the Top competition have had to delay plans to implement ambitious reforms and two could possibly lose money if they don't get back on track. 

Advocates, Policymakers Give Mixed Early Reviews to ESEA Draft Politics K12: So what do folks inside the Beltway think of Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.'s draft bills to replace the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Child Left Behind)? That depends on whom you talk to.

D.C. schools’ new ‘scorecards’ go beyond testing Washington Post: The revamped profiles offer rates of student growth on standardized tests along with information on attendance, discipline and retention of teachers who received top annual evaluations. High school scorecards also list rates of graduation and college enrollment.

Japanese Strategy For Improving Teachers Catches On In U.S. Hechinger Report via HuffPost: In the sunlit library at Jorge Prieto Elementary on Chicago's northwest side, an experiment is under way.

Negotiators Selected for Teacher Prep Regulatory Overhaul Teacher Beat: The U.S. Department of Education has selected the panelists who will write new regulations for the reporting requirements for teacher preparation programs.


Continue reading "AM News: "Race" Blame Focuses On States, Unions" »

Five Best Blogs: A Little Heat, A Little Light

image from 28.media.tumblr.comThe ‘three great teacher’ study — finally laid to rest Gary Rubinstein: This study continues to be quoted, especially the M5 example that was my first example.  It is in Whitney Tilson’s powerpoint slides (shown below).  It is in The New Teacher Project’s Denver report (shown below the Tilson slide).  I don’t think that Michelle Rhee has ever given a talk where she has not quoted this study.

Why is this N.J. charter app being approved? Mike Klonsky; Charters are the darlings of  "an education establishment that includes Democrats (President Obama) and Republicans (Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey) with strong financial backing (the Gates, Broad and Walton foundations)."

Understanding the economics of online learning Bill Tucker Ed Sector:  This paper is a helpful start, not only for its content, but also for highlighting the ongoing need to better understand the student outcomes that result from these public expenditures.

Which Side Are You On? Getting Schooled:  Profiteers on one side, with the ruin of public schooling the capitalist’s playground; and on the other, self-proclaimed social justice educators who carry digital copies of Pedagogy of the Oppressed in their Che Guevara encased iPads.

Alternative Teacher Training Programs Better at Attracting Male and Minority Trainees Jennifer Cohen New America: Can traditional programs replicate this success and bring more male and minority teachers into classrooms? After all, traditional programs still make up the bulk of teacher training and likely will in the future -- only 11 percent of prospective teachers are currently enrolled in alternative training programs.

Disclose Your Funders Sara Goldrick-Rab: It's very common, for example, to see the Gates Foundation listed as a funder of education research-- but the role the Foundation plays in each piece varies tremendously, according to both authors and program officers. 

Chart via I Love Charts.

Charts: Concerned Parents Dominate StudentsFirst Membership

image from www.studentsfirst.orgFriday afternoon #StudentsFirst announced that it had reached its goal of signing up a million members -- a pretty impressive feat it would seem.  

But a quick look at the breakdown shows that the Rhee organization is dominated by parents, concerned citizens, and others -- not by current K-12 classroom teachers in district schools.  

Twelve percent are teachers, but only 53 percent of those are currently in classrooms and only about half of those are in traditional schools. 

There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, given how important it is to balance the voices of classroom teachers with the voices of others. 

Obviously, there are a lot of concerned parents out there -- but not so many teachers who agree with the diagnosis or the treatment Rhee is proposing.

People: But Will They Name A School After You?

image from www.rjgeib.comThere weren't a ton of folks at Stanford during the mid 1980's who were deeply interested in public policy or international affairs (though Susan Rice & Mike McFall went on to do some impressive things).  One you may not have heard of was a bubbly diver named Amy Biehle, who graduated a year after me and ended up in Washington DC a decade later when I was there working for Dianne Feinstein. She won a Fullbright, went to South Africa, and was murdered in what became a very high- profile case of mob violence and post-apartheid reconciliation.  What's all this got to do with education and why am I bumming you out on a Tuesday afternoon?  Well I was very pleased to find out that thare are at least two schools named after her, a high school in Albuquerque and an elementary school in Santa Fe.  It seems like they might even be decent places.  So there.  Still, I guess I wonder if there are many other people I know or write about who will deserve to have schools named after them.  OK, now I've really done it.  

People: The Return Of Tom Toch

image from www.edweek.orgOne of the few people I know who generally speaks his mind regardless of friendships or funding relationships (and usually knows what he's talking about), the irascible Tom Toch is back fulltime in the education policy game. I tweeted the news yesterday.  Now read the press release below. Toch was an education journalist for many years, then co-founded Education Sector and ran a DC-area independent schools association.  Now we just need to get him blogging, Twittering, and wasting his time like the rest of us.  He'll be a senior fellow with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  

Continue reading "People: The Return Of Tom Toch" »

Video: What The Nation's "Best" Teachers Have To Say

As part of my continuing search for authentic teacher voices from across a wide sprectrum, here's video and bloggery from Dan Brown about the meeting between Duncan and the NBCT all-stars that you might have missed from before the break (Sitting Next to Arne Duncan). Not newsy, and NBCT teachers are a highly self-selected bunch, but a relatively natural setting by Washington standards.  

Thompson: Building On Disaggregation

JjenningsNCLB supporters have been celebrating the law's tenth anniversary by savaging the educators who had the temerity to challenge the self-evident righteousness of data-driven accountability.  Opponents have been citing NCLB's failure to improve student performance, while recounting the damage it did to the children it was supposed to help. Jack Jennings's  take on NCLB in Education Week best exemplifies the retrospectives by pragmatists, who cannot afford to say aloud that NCLB has been a disaster. After all, he has to work with "reformers" who saw the law as a crusade and who demanded a pound (or more) of educators' flesh. Jennings asks us to imagine a world without NCLB. "We would not know ... the specific achievement gaps between various groups of students." Also, we "would not have made as many efforts to reduce those gaps." Without NCLB, we would not "have focused as intensively on improving the lowest-performing schools," and "teachers would not have available extensive data on student academic performance." Finally, "Improving student achievement would not have been such an intense subject of public debate." Jennings is diplomatically silent about the lack of results from all of that focus, effort, data, and intensity.  I wish he would be more explicit, however, in calling for a new reform that builds on NCLB's strength - disaggregated data. - J T (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

AM News: Trouble For "Race" States, Head Start Programs

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U.S. Faults New York State on Race to the Top Goals NYT:  New York is one of three states on the federal government’s watch list because it has not yet complied with the goals it set when applying for financial assistance through the federal Race to the Top program.

Head Start programs could face disruptions in funding, operations LAT: Federal reforms to address quality and accountability concerns are forcing more than 130 Head Start agencies, including the one overseeing L.A. County, to compete for funding.

The Hunt for the Missing Millions NYT: How much should the city be receiving from the the state and federal government as reimbursements for services it provides to special needs students?

New sex education standards released AP via Boston.com: Young elementary school students should use the proper names for body parts and, by the end of fifth grade, know that sexual orientation is "the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender," according to new sexual education guidelines released Monday by a coalition of health and education groups.

Does More Money Mean Better Education? Huffington Post: Amid major slashes to public funding, political leaders have cited assertions that money doesn't affect student learning to sometimes justify cutting ...


Continue reading "AM News: Trouble For "Race" States, Head Start Programs" »

Five Best Blogs: "Race" Threats, Waiver Responses, Research Coverage



Race to the Top states fail to deliver Chicago Tribune (editorial page): Give money to states that had solid reform plans but finished out of the running because a Hawaii or a Rhode Island promised things it couldn't deliver. Otherwise, the Obama administration is going to look like it got chumped. 
Two Things to Watch in 2012 Tom Hoffman:  Threats by the feds or a state to take away a state/district's RttT money make news almost daily now. The question is how many times can you pull on this slender lever before it snaps.
Whose Race to the Top? Education Optimists:  Is this an entirely disinterested reform effort? Many others have raised concerns about the neoliberalism inherent in RTTT, which shapes the dominance of private business interests over common public goods. 
How 'Public' is NCLB Waiver Judging? Politics K12:  The Education Department is refusing to make details of the letters available, at least for now. Officials have indicated they will make the letters public once some sort of decision has been reached on the waivers


When reporters use (s)extrapolation as sound bites Sherman Dorn: I don’t think Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff wrote the paper to attract reporters’ interest by section 5 — if so, it wouldn’t really be section 5. But Friedman certainly went there in the interview, and Lowrey used it. 

Continue reading "Five Best Blogs: "Race" Threats, Waiver Responses, Research Coverage" »

Media: Replacing The NYT's National Education Writer

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It's not yet clear if and when Sam Dillon will be formally replaced, or even whether an external search will be conducted... but let's speculate anyway.

In recent times, the paper has made do with various internal names -- Trip Gabriel, Alan Shwarz -- and regional coverage. Fernanda Santos has done a lot of work covering NYC schools, Jenny Anderson has been on the private schools / cheating beat, and Winnie Hu has been on the state beat. 

A national education reporter spot rarely comes open for an outside search (WSJ Banchero is the most recent I can think of),  and those that do come open aren't necessarily replaced by anyone in particular (think Associated Press) or are filled internally (think WP's Layton).

It's hard to think of anyone outside the paper who might want or be considered ready for the job.  The Nation's Dana Goldstein is more of a magazine writer and might be considered too voice-y for a traditional spot in a traditional newsroom.  GothamSchools' Elizabeth Green has that great NYT Sunday Magazine story but doesn't have a ton of news clips over the past couple of years and would have to extricate herself from the online site she co-founded.  Other names to consider?  Hechinger's Sarah Garland.  TIME's Amanda Ripley.  I'm sure I'm missing someone.  

Previous posts:  The Dillon Era (& What Happens Next)

Washington: Playing Catch-Up On What Used To Be Called Think Tanks

image from www.cartoonstock.comDebate about the nonprofits once known as "think tanks" continued in Washington with last week's announced creation of a new Republican effort and a National Journal article noting that nonprofits are doing more lobbying than in the past rather than letting the political process pass it by.The new Republican think tank (a partisan media outlet, really) is an attempt to catch up with the Democratic tanks created during the 1990s, which were themselves a response to the Republican think tanks created during the 1980s.  (It's been a bad couple of decades for right-leaning think tanks, in case you hadn't noticed.  Cato, AEI, and Heritage are shadows of their previous selves.  Left-leaning tanks like New America and CAP have grown massively in budget and reach, along with media outlets like TPM and Media Matters.) As is the current style, the new initiative will spend more time involved in advocacy and infighting and relatively less time producing dispassionate reports and providing unbiased information. No word yet on how much if any time the new Republican operation will spend on education, or how AEI and Heritage and Cato will respond (if at all). Previous posts: Value-Added Ratings -- For Think TanksWill Reformers Ever Broaden Their Agenda?. Image via

Reform: Matt Damon Hates Teach For America*

image from 3.bp.blogspot.com*Or at least his mom does.  How much?  Enough to turn down an NEA award over an oped the organization's head penned with TFA head Wendy Kopp.  Enough to let word get out about the decision.
This is the second instance of counter-reformers declining opportunities to meet with or be recognized by those in power.  As you may recall, SOS organizers declined a last-minute chance to meet with Arne Duncan last summer.   
Did the opinion piece warrant this kind of response?  I'm going to say no, not really.  Veteran classroom teachers may be deeply opposed to the TFA model (of which I've been pretty critical as well), but I'm not sure the letter represented any big change in NEA policy.  It was a publicity stunt as much as anything else.  
But the incident seems like a good indication of the black-and-white behavior going on within the education debate these days.  Either you're with us or against us.  Past history and context don't really matter.
Reform critics might think that this was a big win for them -- coverage in the NYT for one of their champions, a defensive response from the NEA -- but I'm not so sure about that, either.
The news distracts from the NCLB anniversary -- the vilification of which has to be one of counter-reformers' biggest victories, pushes the NEA into a reactionary mode rather than a proactive one, and pretty much ensures that someone's going to have to do the same kind of thing to AFT head Randi Weingarten, who is much more collaboration-minded of the two union leaders.

AM News: Happy Anniversary, NCLB - Now Go Away

News imageHouse Republicans release No Child Left Behind draft legislation CNN:  House Republicans released draft legislation on Friday that they claim will address some of the weaknesses in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. PLUS House GOP NCLB Proposal Would Scale Back Federal Role EdWeek.

Number Of Homeless Students Surges, Putting Strain On Schools Chicago Sun-Times: Jarvis, like thousands of other students in Chicago Public Schools, is homeless. He is just one of more than 10,660 students who were homeless at the beginning of the school year. 

Updated teacher observations key to improvement, report says LA Times: A Gates Foundation study lauds a new system in which instructors are watched in the classroom up to six times annually by certified evaluators.

The Texas Tribune: Texas School Budget Cuts Also Hit Cultural Institutions Texas Tribune via NYT: Education cuts in Texas mean fewer field trips, and the places those students go feel the pinch, too.


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Thompson: The Benefits and Costs of Graduation Exams

DropoutsAfter reading  Sarah Butrymowicz's  Hechinger Ed analysis of Oklahoma’s new graduation law, I  remain agnostic on whether students should be required to pass four End of Instruction tests to earn a diploma. About 16% of the state’s seniors began the year needing to pass one or more of their exit examinations. A law has been filed to delay the graduation requirement because the lack of a degree, for instance, would exclude young people from joining the military. Butrymowicz notes, however, that nearly a quarter of applicants also fail their armed forces entry exam, thus implying the short term pain might be worthwhile if Oklahoma stays the course. The problem is that the law is holding the students of our poorest districts accountable in order to hold the adults in those systems accountable. When today’s seniors were freshman, in 2009, the Oklahoma City School System became accountable for 1,524 "Full Academic Year" 9thgraders. At the beginning of this year, their class was down to around 1,300 seniors. About 780, had passed all four tests. The district has made heroic efforts to offer remediation to about 40% of the seniors who need to retake their test(s). But no mention is made of the rest of their class who do not count against their schools because they were "highly mobile." We cannot create a greater good for more students until we remember that a total of 3,376 kids were OKCPS freshmen in 2009, meaning the best case scenario is that a third of them will graduate  from that system.- J T (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Pictures: Taking It Off For Education

image from www.washingtonian.comUSDE advance guy Frankie Martinez-Blanco bravely appears shirtless in Washingtonian magazine as part of a story on, well, I'm not exactly sure -- work/life balance, I guess.  

He doesn't really need to lose all that much weight.  He just needs to tone it up.  (I should talk).  Bet he's getting some ribbing in the office for this.

Give him credit for going public with his desire to live a more healthy life.  Advance jobs, like campaign work, can wreck people's eating and excercise habits.

I got this via GothamSchools' excellent afternoon roundup.  They got it from their vigilant monitoring of the Twittersphere.  

Video: Nothing Miraculous About School Improvement

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Online gradebooks, master teachers, weekly PD, credit and attendance recovery -- there's nothing miraculous about what's being done at this Louisiana school profiled in a recent NBC Nightly News segment. Just a lot of hard work, and a willingness to change things up.    

NCLB: Signing Ceremony Kids - Where Are They Now?

image from georgemiller.house.govI wonder what's happened to the kids who were onstage with Bush, Miller, Boehner, etc. that day ten years ago.

Who are they, what was their experience like, how did they experience school before and after NCLB was signed into law?  Far as I know no one's ever tracked these kids down.   Maybe someone's doing that in honor of the NCLB anniversary.  

What I remember best about that time is that the ink was hardly dry before Democrats started complaining about the Bush funding levels -- an understandable but disappointing flip-flop that didn't really do much good in the 2004 campaign and heralded a regressive period in Democratic education politics.  

AM News: Teachers' Impact, Management's Expansion

News imageBig Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain NYT:  Effects on students’ lives beyond academics, in areas as varied as teenage-pregnancy and adult earnings, are cited.

Report: Education management sector expanding AP:  A new report finds that even in a tough economy, companies that are contracted to manage charter schools and other public schools are expanding.
Students of Virtual Schools Are Lagging in Proficiency NYT:  Far fewer of them are proving proficient on standardized tests compared with their peers in other privately managed charter schools and in traditional public schools.
After Texas school shooting, many questions loom Associated Press: On a doorstep outside a family home, a father wondered why police had to shoot his son in the hall of the boy's middle school. In an office across town, a police chief insisted that his officers had no choice.

House to Release Teacher, Accountability Bills This Week Politics K12: The House education committee will put out draft bills this week that address the issues at the heart of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act—teacher quality and accountability, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said this morning on Bill Bennett's radio show "Morning in America." ALSO:  CCSSO to Congress, Obama: Write a Bipartisan NCLB Bill


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Reform: Value-Added Ratings -- For Think Tanks

Picture 4Everyone gets rated and ranked these days -- teachers, schools, districts, states -- some of these ratings are quite elaborate.  But not think tanks, or at least not education think tanks.  

This seems interesting and unfair to me -- and an opportunity for someone to step in make a name for herself.  After all, just this week AEI's Rick Hess named his top edu-scholar (Linda Darling-Hammond) of the year, and the Washington Post's Ezra Klein named its all-purpose think tank of the year (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).  

Some of the key measures would have to be original research, media mentions, and political influence. Research quality.  Cost-per-report.  Some of the obvious contenders would be Fordham, Education Sector, AEI, CAP, New America, the Education Trust.  Heritage? The Alliance?  EPI?  I'm not sure.  I'm not even sure I could say what constitutes a think tank these days, given how many have sprawled out into space once occupied by newspaper columnists (the "flipped" think tank).  Maybe some Gates Foundation program officer has already created such a ratings system and I just haven't heard about it yet.

I know and like people at all of these places but in recent months, I've found the detailed New America blog postings to be the most interesting and informative.  And I remain stubbornly convinced that the Education Trust is the most influential in terms of real-world impact though it lacks a (c)4 Action Fund like CAP and I haven't seen a report from them in what seems like years. 

Charts: Where Are All These Infographics Coming From?

image from www.mnn.comJust because it's presented as an infographic doesn't mean it's right and good, notes The Atlantic's Megan McCardle in a post titled Ending the Infographic Plague.  She' s declaring war on "terrible, lying infographics" which she notes are often made by sites with little experience in the field about which they are infographic-ing and are usually just trying to get links from mush-brained bloggers who pass them along because they look cool and the day has been slow.  

For example, I picked this infographic for its bold graphics without even looking at who made it or any of its sources. I get sent one or two of these a day by random people -- and must admit having posted more than a few of them without doing any real checking.  I'll add it to my resolutions list to look first or at least to warn you in the future.  

Got any favorite awful infographics to share?  

Time: Chicago Rebrands Extended School Day Campaign

Image001 (3)Speaking of (re)branding, Chicago Public Schools is attempting to rebrand the push for more student class time.  The initiative, previously called "extended" day, is now being described as "full" day.  Check out this post from District 299 for all the details.  

Reform: What To Call "Anti-Reformers"?

Picture 2Going back as far as 2007, I've been debating with reform critics about just what to call them -- an issue that is either completely superficial and unimportant or a key factor in shaping how people think and act around education issues.  My suggestions (poverty racers, reform opponents, traditional educators, infidels) have been unsatisfactor from their point of view. Their suggestions (real reformers, context-based reformers) seemed not to convey much meaning or have any chance of widespread adoption. (They really want the reform mantle to be theirs, or to recast reformers as corporate reformers but I don't see either of those things happening.)  I'm not sure how this has been handled in other eras or areas -- what the group opposed to reform is usually called (loyal opposition?).  My latest idea -- sure to be shot down almost immediately -- is for everyone so inclined to rally around the "broader, bolder" theme, which came into use in 2008 as part of the fight against EEP and continues to be used by EPI but seems to have fallen out of favor for some reason in recent years. It's short, punchy, positive, and conveys enough meaning for a reader or reporter to grasp its intent easily.  

AM News: Traditional Teacher Prep Still Dominates

News image

New Data on Teacher Education Begins to Flow Teacher Beat:  A total of about 724,000 [teaching candidates] were enrolled in teacher-preparation programs in 2008-09, with 89 percent at traditional programs, 6 percent at university-based alternative routes, and 5 percent at nonuniversity-based alternative routes.

Student With Pellet Gun Is Killed by Police NYT: A 15-year-old student at a Brownsville middle school was shot and killed by police officers on Wednesday after he displayed a gun in the school’s main hallway, the authorities said

Philadelphia Mayor Taking Aim at Low-Performing Schools Inquirer via Philly.com: The city and the Philadelphia School District will move aggressively on a pledge to eliminate 50,000 seats in the lowest-performing city schools, promises Mayor Nutter.

African American students suspended and expelled two to five times as often as whites Washington Post: Across the Washington area, black students are suspended and expelled two to five times as often as white students, creating disparities in discipline that experts say reflect a growing national problem.

Cuomo Vows New Push to Improve Schools NYT:  The governor plans to create a commission that aims to enhance teacher accountability and student achievement. ALSO: NY's Cuomo: 2010 Teacher-Evaluation Law Not Working State Ed Watch, New faces expected to make up Cuomo’s reform task force GothamSchools


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Reform: Will Reformers Ever Broaden Their Agenda?

image from www.esquire.comGeoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone was their front.  They might have loved "The Wire" but they didn't incorporate any of its lessons into their agenda. Skyrocketing child poverty rates didn't persuade them to pay more than lip service to broader social issues. Even universal preschool was too broad a challenge for them to take on in any meaningful way.  

You might think that  the last few months of awareness-raising around class would finally change all that -- would finally make poverty and other social issues a stronger part of the reform agenda.  But it won't be a quick or  easy shift, and it won't necessarily be popular even if it's adopted. It's hard to change the way you think, harder still to admit it publicly and operationalize new thinking.  

This recent Esquire article notes that while the US has less social mobility than all the other OECD countries besides Italy and Britain class issues can still be hard for people to see and respond to because they're so entrenched and so at odds with self-perception: "The emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it's the result of hard work and talent. The permanent working poor refuse to accept that their poverty is permanent. The class system is clandestine."



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.