About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Charts: More Black Males In College Than Prison, Actually

image from www.theroot.com
Contrary to what you may have heard (and the arguments you may have won or lost as a result) there are way more black men in college than in prison. Or at least that's what The American Prospect is telling me.

Media: What's Really "New" About The LAUSD School Board Race?

image from hechingered.orgI'm happy to see more media outlets paying attention to what's going on in Los Angeles -- it's a good story! -- and so it was nice to see this new Hechinger Report story (Local school districts are new target of education reformers).  

Written by Sarah Garland, the story has some interesting quotes and observations (including the strange path that school reform advocacy has followed starting from state and national efforts rather than from the ground up).  The possibility of a voter backlash against the reform advocacy fundraising is a good point and a real possibility (despite the reality that most of the funding is local).

Knowing that other outlets will likely (hopefully) follow up with coverage of the LAUSD story, however, I have to take issue with three of the story's main narrative points:  

* Outside funding coming into local races isn't really new unless you ignore labor unions.  State and national teacher unions have been helping out local affiliates -- giving and loaning each other funds to help out with political races and ballot initiatives -- for decades.   

*State and national reform advocates have been getting involved in local races for the last two or three election cycles. The Hechinger story acknowledges this further down in the piece but overplays the "newness" angle here, too.

* Campaign-focused reform advocacy at the local level isn't really all that new, either.  There aren't that many big city school systems with elected boards anymore, but in LA reform allies have been recruiting school board candidates and gathering up resources to make the races competitive going back roughly a decade. 

What's really new (or at least newish) is reformers out-raising and out-spending the other side  in a local race -- no longer just trying to level the playing field -- which has previously only happened once to my knowledge, last year in New orleans.  

What's also new is that reformers there are trying to emulate the vaunted union ground game with improved field operations (hiring an Obama field operative, etc).  

What's possibly new is that the AFT isn't riding to the rescue with a big infusion of cash -- either because it doesn't think LAUSD is that important, or winnable, or because it lacks the resources.  In 2010, the AFT reportedly gave the DC teachers $1 million to help defeat Adrien Fenty.  Three years later, all UTLA gets is a visit from Weingarten and a $75,000 check.  

Previous posts: What's *Really* Happening In LAReformers Try To Match Union "Ground Game"

Thompson: Edu-Philanthropy's Unintended Threat to Public Education

Sarah Reckhow's recent TWIE post, Philanthropy Critique Can Obscure Key Differences reviews her research findings on the growing "convergence" of edu-philanthropy and her concerns about the consequences of the coordination of their efforts.

Citizensunited

Among other things, Reckhow worries that "policy priorities of major philanthropists are not well supported by research." But she also warns against critiques of philanthropists that she believes verge on conspiracy theories and makes the important distinction between debating whether big donors are pursuing the wrong policies or whether their secrecy and money "pose threats to democracy."

I welcome a debate over the effectiveness of the "Billionaires Boys Club's" policies.  They've got the money, while their opponents have the preponderance of evidence.

I don't believe that today's philanthropists began with a plan to privatize schools.   But intentions don't matter much.  The "Best and the Brightest" did not have any intention of getting the United States trapped in the Vietnam quagmire. They did not rely on primitive and inaccurate "body count" metrics because they were evil.  The tragedy was primarily a result of hubris, rather than intent. That same sort of elite pridefulness poses a similar threat to public schools.   Intended or not, philanthropy-funded reform efforts pose a threat to democratic governance of schools. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.  

Charts: Gender Gap In Education Administration Among Highest

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 27 10.27
According to this chart from NPR, female education administrators make just 67 percent of what their male counterparts make -- among the highest gender gaps in the nation. 

Morning Video: Schleicher!

 

Don't believe a word this man is saying. He's obviously not from America. You can tell by his name (Andreas Schleicher), his accent, and his bright snug, colored shirt. And, he's talking about differences among nations in terms of education achievement, which, you know, is almost never a good thing to talk about.  People get mad.  (via Amanda Ripley).

AM News: Sequester Could Leave Special Ed, Title 1 Students Without Services

Sequester Could Leave Special Education Kids Without Important Services HuffPostEdu: Under sequestration, which is scheduled to go into effect Friday, federal education spending would be reduced significantly. Special-education students in particular would take a huge hit, with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding slated to lose $591 million over 10 years. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been barnstorming cable talk shows and White House press briefings, calling these blind cuts "dumb." And even though most of the school cuts wouldn't take place until the 2013-14 academic year, school districts have already been thrown into chaos as they budget for September.

AMNewsSequester Spells Uncertainty For Many Public Schools NPR: If Congress and the Obama administration can't agree on a budget deal by Friday, the federal government will be forced to cut $85 billion from just about every federally funded program. There is one bit of good news for schools: Because most federal aid to schools is forward-funded, the cuts triggered by sequestration would not hit classrooms until September at the earliest. But once they do hit, federal funding for education in some places will drop considerably.

Los Angeles school districts are new target of education reformers HechingerEd: The large amounts of outside money flowing into the Los Angeles Unified school board election represent a new front in the reform battles that have shaken up education politics over the last decade. Donations of $1 million by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and $250,000 by former District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, in particular, have sparked controversy.

House Education Panel Grapples With School Safety Concerns PoliticsK12: Some lawmakers on the Democratic side of the aisle, such as U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut, said they would like to see more resources for school safety and mental health. But the committee didn't engage in a robust debate over whether the federal government, or state and local governments, should be financing school safety efforts. Instead, members heard from witnesses about practices that are already in place, including ensuring that school resource officers develop close relationships with students, and continually updating school safety plans.

Among Philly teachers, anger and dismay at contract offer Inquirer: Teachers were shocked, worried, angry, she said - many senior teachers feel that they're being targeted, that the district wants less expensive and less experienced employees. Schools need a mix of veterans and rookies, Fried said, and it would be a blow to lose big numbers of veterans. The district is in financial distress, projecting a $1-billion-plus deficit over five years without corrective action. It plans to close 29 schools and give three more to charters, and officials have said they expect no teacher layoffs.

Quotes: "Not Supportable To Try And Explain Away [KIPP Effects]"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comAt this point, it’s simply not supportable to try and explain away the fact that KIPP schools -– at least KIPP middle schools –- increase testing outcomes more quickly than comparable district schools. -- Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the Albert Shanker Institute, in the Huffington Post

Update: What's *Really* Happening In LA

image from laschoolreport.comFor what may be the first time ever -- or perhaps just the most obvious example so far -- pro-charter, pro-accountability backers in Los Angeles are not just leveling the playing field with the teachers union in terms of funding candidates and campaigns but tilting it in their favor. 

Overall spending is already at $3.4 million (see here). There are some places where the spending is close to even -- such as in the race between former reform candidate Steve Zimmer, who's now being supported by the union, and newcomer Kate Anderson. But the majority of it going out from the reform side in the form of mailers and TV ads. 

Whether the money advantage turns into primary day wins is another question, however. There are two key issues to keep in mind, I argue in this new post over at LA School Report (Air War Vs. Boots On the Ground).

The first is that -- just like happens online -- the union and its allies have an enormous advantage when it comes to motivated campaign volunteers to help persuade neighbors and get out the vote.  

The second is that not all of the union's spending seems to be reported and accounted for. As good as the disclosure requirements are in LA, it's a self-reported system and there have been a handful of times where UTLA-PACE, the independent expenditure committee that funds the campaigns, hasn't reported things that seem like campaign activity, or has transferred funding between different IE accounts in ways that are hard to explain and may not match up as they should.

 

Books: New Book About New Orleans Schools Out Today

image from ecx.images-amazon.comToday's the day that Sarah Carr's new book, Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America's Children.  Check it out.  Buy it.  

Or you can start out with this Atlantic.com excerpt:  The Arcane Rules That Keep Low-Income Kids Out of College. "The labyrinth surrounding scholarships and admissions doesn't account for the messy realities of poor families' lives."

Carr is a longtime journalist who's covered New Orleans schools during a particularly tumultuous time.  She was also a Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship, and writes for the Hechinger Report at Columbia. 

Carr, Sarah Garland, Warren Simmons, and others are appearing at a panel at Teachers College on March 16th.  Register here.

 

Morning Video: What It Takes To "Prove" Something

 

Here's Malcolm Gladwell talking about how long it took for the public to understand and respond to the dangers of black-lung disease, which seem so obvious to us now. Via the New Yorker.

Bruno: Standardized Tests & Classroom Teacher Bias

I really liked Kathleen Porter-Magee's and Jennifer Borgioli'spost on "the four biggest myths of the anti-testing backlash", especially the part about "teachers' instincts" so I'll permit myself to briefly take issue with fellow This Week In Education contributor John Thompson's characterization of their argument.

800px-Blind_spot_(watercraft-2).svg

Admittedly, Kathleen and Jennifer may have sacrificed a bit of clarity in the pursuit of brevity, but unlike John I do not read them as claiming that standardized assessment results are "more valuable" than teacher-generated assessments. The key point - which I have not seen refuted - is that teacher assessments of students are often biased in ways that needlessly disadvantage students on the basis of their race (or gender, etc.) and standardized assessment data may be useful in mitigating those biases.

It's fair to say, as John does, that the way standardized assessment data are collected and used may reduce or eliminate their usefulness in practice. That, however, wasn't the "myth" to which Kathleen and Jennifer were referring. Instead, they were referring to the myth that teachers don't suffer from big,  important blind spots when it comes to assessing students. I doubt John labors under that misconception, but there are many reform critics who often speak as though they do.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I don't really mind my students taking their 8th grade state science test and actually look forward to receiving the results: I'm acutely aware of the limitations of my own judgment when it comes to my students and standardized tests are one important - albeit imperfect - way for me to fill in my blind spots. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Maps: Teacher Job Loss Map, Sequestration 2013

image from big.assets.huffingtonpost.com
Here's the map based on White House projections of how many teachers might (might!) lose their jobs if/when the sequester happens on Friday.  Via Huffington Post.  

AM News: Obama's New Competitive Grant Program for H.S. Improvement In Progress

Grant Contest to Aid High Schools Still Work in Progress EdWeek: Mr. Obama in his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech floated the idea of offering a new competitive-grant program for high school improvement that could help schools partner with businesses and postsecondary institutions. He has yet to put a price tag on the program or offer specifics, such as how large grants would be and for how many years. White House aides said such details would likely be released along with the president's budget plan in the coming weeks.

AMNewsSequestration and Education: 12 Frequently Asked Questions PoliticsK12: Sequestration is a series of across-the-board cuts to a broad range of federal programs, including those in the U.S. Department of Education, set to hit the government on Friday, March 1, unless Congress and the Obama administration make a last-ditch effort to stop them. Programs in the U.S. Department of Education would be cut by about 5.3 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Arcane Rules That Keep Low-Income Kids Out of College Atlantic: The communication barriers extend in all directions: The federal and state government bureaucrats little fathom the complexities of low-income students' home lives. But the students, most of them first-generation college aspirants, often do not understand what a "loan" or "interest rate" means--much less how to make sure they maximize their TOPS and Pell Grant payouts if they qualify for both.

Mathematica 2013 Study: KIPP Charter School Students Outperform Public School Peers HuffPostEdu: The study, conducted by independent research firm Mathematica, is the most rigorous research showing that the Knowledge Is Power Program, an acclaimed national chain of charter schools, provides a significant learning boost to middle school students in multiple subjects. It also found that while KIPP serves more low-income students than public school peers, it serves fewer special education students and English language learners.

Teachers Say They Are Unprepared for Common Core EdWeek: Even as the Common Core State Standards are being put into practice across most of the country, nearly half of teachers feel unprepared to teach them, especially to disadvantaged students, according to a new survey. The study by the EPE Research Center, an arm of Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week , found deep wells of concern among teachers about their readiness to meet the challenges posed by the common core Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader in English/language arts and mathematics.

Columbus State Education Department Program Probes Data "Scrubbing" By Schools ColumbusDispatch: The state department is releasing official district and school report cards for the 2011-12 school year today, about six months late, because of a statewide investigation into data-rigging. But for districts that cheated, report cards for the past two years could be re-calculated after the department reviews their data.

Columbus City Schools and eight other Ohio districts are now under investigation by the Ohio Department of Education for misrepresenting student enrollment data, meaning they could lose funding and educators who cheated could lose their licenses.

The department is releasing official district and school report cards for the 2011-12 school year today, about six months late, because of a statewide investigation into data rigging. But for districts that cheated, report cards for the past two years could be recalculated after the department reviews their data.

- See more at: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/02/27/ohio-department-probes-scrubbing.html#sthash.sDg7IRvH.dpuf
State education department probes data ‘scrubbing’ by schools - See more at: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/02/27/ohio-department-probes-scrubbing.html#sthash.sDg7IRvH.dpuf
State education department probes data ‘scrubbing’ by schools - See more at: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/02/27/ohio-department-probes-scrubbing.html#sthash.sDg7IRvH.dpuf

Media: This ELL Teacher Has Way More Klout Than You

image from a0.twimg.comPerhaps the most influential but unheard of education blogger out there is California high school teacher Larry Ferlazzo, who teaches and blogs and Tweets up a storm most days of the week, making everyone else look pretty lazy and slow.

He's got a blog at EdWeek (Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo).  He's been in the New York Times (here) and the Washington Post (here). He lets his students grade him.  He's a former community organizer.  Oh yeah, he writes books, too.  But that's not all.   He teaches at a 75 percent free and reduced lunch, 44 percent ELL high school.  

Other than perhaps Atlantic Wire, which is staffed by a thousand recent Ivy League graduates, Ferlazzo might be the site/Twitter feed I use most often. (One of his regular features I love the most is called something like "Things I Should Have Blogged About But Didn't.") I'm not the only one. At last check, @larryferlazzo he had 23+K followers, a Klout score of 72. 

Photo: Duncan Shows Them How It's Done

image from cdn.memegenerator.net

That's the EdSec at Harbor HS in NYC doing the vo-tech thing last week.  Think you can do better?  Sure you can.  Take your turn here.  Image via USDE.

Continue reading "Photo: Duncan Shows Them How It's Done " »

Media: Toppo Moves Back Into Third Place On Muckrack

ScreenHunter_03 Feb. 25 19.55
ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 25 19.56
Take a look at the most recent Muckrack Top Ten education writers and you'll see a small but key change:  USA Today's Greg Toppo has narrowly passed freelancer Dana Goldstein. Of course, the Muckrack list leaves all sorts of folks out -- EdWeek bloggers, for some reason, among others. And there are other measures besides raw follower counts.  

Previous posts: Close Race Between Goldstein, Toppo, & RichMuckrack's Top 15 Edu-Journalists, According To Twitter,  MuckRack Ranks Education Journos Muck Rack Writer Ranking Dominated By Brits

 

Morning Video: First Lady Vs. "Serious" Education Policy

 

Serious education policy types and DPC staffers might hate to consider it, but First Lady Michelle Obama's child obesity prevention efforts might end up having more beneficial impact on kids' lives than Race to the Top, NCLB waivers, and the Common Core. Here she is doing a bit with Jimmy Fallon last week.  

AM News: Federal Grant Will Place 650 AmeriCorps Volunteers in Low-Performing Schools

New AmeriCorps Program to Put Volunteers in Low-Performing Schools PoliticsK12: Arne Duncan told participants at the Building a Grad Nation Summit today that a $15 million grant over three years will place AmeriCorps volunteers in persistently underachieving schools around the country. AmeriCorps is managed by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, which in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education plans to place 650 volunteers each year in 60 rural and urban schools.

AMNewsAll Chicago Public Schools will offer full-day kindergarten ChicagoSun-Times: All Chicago Public Schools will provide full-day kindergarten under an initiative Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will announce Monday. Currently, the city’s public schools have the option of offering full-day kindergarten — rather than the minimum half-day required by state law — and most do. Next school year, they will be required to provide the full-day program, according to the mayor’s office.

More Mergers for NEA, AFT Affiliates Joining N. Dakota and Wisconsin EdWeek: The movement is notable not only as the latest sign of attempts by the teachers' unions to marshal their forces during a period of uncertainty in the profession and, indeed, the labor movement, but also for the different contexts in which the mergers are occurring. North Dakota's merger took place in a state that has been relatively unscathed by the recent recession or anti-union legislation. In Wisconsin, membership has fallen in the wake of laws passed in 2011 curbing collective bargaining for most public employees.

High School Drop-Outs Cost 1.8 Billion Every Year  AP: High school dropouts are costing some $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue every year, education advocates said in a report released Monday.If states were to increase their graduation rates, state and federal lawmakers could be plugging their budgets with workers' taxes instead of furloughing teachers, closing drivers-license offices and cutting unemployment benefits.

Capitol Hill education consultant helps parents navigate D.C. school choice WashingtonPost: When Capitol Hill mom E.V. Downey went into business as an education consultant, she thought she’d cater to parents angling for advice on admission to private schools. Instead, almost all of her clients are clamoring for help getting their children into a good D.C. public school. It’s a sign of the times in the District, where a thriving charter-school movement and a commitment to public pre-kindergarten have given rise to more education options — and more parental angst and competition — than ever before.

Story Follows Chicago High School Where 29 Students Were Shot Last Year ThisAmericanLife: We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances.

Bruno: The Soft Bigotry Of High Expectations (For Reform)

6717604035_6895962e6b_nI usually appreciate Kevin Drum's skepticism when it comes to education reform, but I don't understand his pessimism about the infamous Chetty/Friedman/Rockoff study.

Chetty et al, you'll recall, found that using value-added measures to identify weaker teachers and replace them with better teachers could increase students' long-term earnings by about 1%.

There are lots of reasons to doubt that we really could reap that 1% gain by broadly implementing VAM-based hiring and firing. What's puzzling to me, though, is Drum's disappointment with the "shockingly low" 1% figure, which he seems to think is hardly worth bothering about.

But why is 1% too small of a gain to care about? That 1% figure is for one teacher in one year of school, but if we're considering an education reform like this we're presumably imagining implementing it in multiple grades so that each student would benefit from it over multiple years.

I doubt I'm the only person who would be excited if my 13 years in the K-12 system had been able - cumulatively and hypothetically - to increase my future earnings by an additional 10% or more.  And I'd need some pretty good reasons to deny those gains to other people.

While education policy skepticism can be healthy we shouldn't get carried away with unreasonably high expectations for proposed reforms. Education pundits are typically privileged adults, so benefits that we might dismiss as insignificant may seem quite valuable to many students (or their future selves) -- especially on a cumulative basis.

So if we demand that a proposed reform meet pundits' arbitrarily high expectations to be deemed worth implementing, we may unjustifiably write off potentially worthwhile projects and policies. The fact that an education reform is "not good enough" to excite and entertain adults who are done with the K-college system doesn't necessarily mean it's not good enough to benefit lots of kids who have yet to finish their educations. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Afternoon Audio: What Happens When Harper's SIG Ends?

ScreenHunter_06 Feb. 24 18.22
If you haven't checked it out, you can listen to Part Two here. Or, you can read the transcript here. Or you can donate to the school here. It's not all about street gangs and violence this time -- it's also about SIG Turnaround funding, and Cheerios, and chocolate milk. 

Media: Education News Network Hires Managing Editor*

News from the world of nonprofit education media is that Education News Network - -the new entity created by EdNews Colorado and Gothamschools a little while back -- has found and hired a new ME, Maura Walz, a former GothamSchools writer who's most recently been at Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Southern Education Desk, to serve as ME for EdNews Colorado.  

Walz replaces Nancy Mitchell, the EdNews CO editor who left in December.  Other personnell changes include the departure of Rachel Cromidas from GothamSchools, who's been replaced by Emma Sokoloff-Rubin.  "We hope to add another reporter here in Colorado some time this year, depending on how the fundraising goes," says ENN Publisher Alan Gottlieb.

As part of creating ENN, GothamSchools and EdNewsCO have both left their original nonprofit homes  -- the OpenPlans Society and the Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC) -- and are in the approval process for securing a new 501c(3) designation. "ENN will operate under the fiscal sponsorship of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center while it waits for the Internal Revenue Service to finalize its 501(c)(3) status," according to a news release going out today.

Previous posts about the merger here, and here. No word yet on where ENN aims to set up shop next.

*Corrections: Walz is going to be ME for EdNews, not ENN overall, and it's OpenPlans not Open Society who was GothamSchools' original fiscal agent.

Quotes: "The Union May Not Like It, But They Should Get Used To It"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comMike Bloomberg is proud to help level the playing field on behalf of children and their families. The union may not like it, but they should get used to it because he is just getting started. -- Bloomberg spokesman in LA Times Steve Lopez column (that's critical of Bloomberg's involvement)

Weekend Reading: Why The School Bus Is Always Yellow

Here are some of the best things I found over the weekend -- commentary, news, long features, etc.  Take a look, enjoy, let me know what I missed:

NRA Is Grading Schools - The Atlantic Wire ow.ly/hYXju

Update on former LAUSD board member Caprice Young, now a VP at Texas' Arnold Foundation ow.ly/hYWj1

Firing Bad Teachers Has Surprisingly Meager Effects, says @KevinDrum ow.ly/i0jfl Commenters beg to disagree

Iowa SDE and USDA won't let Iowa city use free reduced lunch data for school integration plan, says @RickKahlenberg ow.ly/i0n4k

Bullying's "bystander problem" -- few take responsibility in large group situations ow.ly/i0mQd

A resurgence for arts education -- or a problem with neighborhood-based schools? @mattyglesias ow.ly/i0lbf

Founder of Wishbone writes about the power of finding kids' inspiration - @TakePart Beth Schmidt ow.ly/i0b39

How charters have forced many Chicago schools to close ow.ly/hZYCU [Despite being just 10 percent of enrollment?] @KenzoShibata

What Data Can't Do - The Browser ow.ly/hZlh8

Revamped GED Faces First Big Challenge - WSJ.comow.ly/hZfpS @lisafleisher

Why the School Bus Never Comes in Red or Green -NYTimes.com ow.ly/hYV2k

Morning Video: Bullying On "The Colbert Report"

I am being bullied by Emily Bazelon to show this video of her interview with Steven Colbert:

Interesting thing about Bazelon's book is that she is simultaneously reminding us that bullying isn't as new or growing a problem as it may seem (media hype! fear of technology!) but at the same time she's, well, talking about bullying.

AM News: White House Prepares States for Across-the-Board Federal Cuts

White House Estimates Impact of Across-the-Board Cuts by State PoliticsK12: School districts all around the country are bracing for an across-the-board cut in federal funds, set to go into effect on Friday, unless lawmakers and the Obama administration are able to come to some kind of agreement to head them off. The cuts would impact just about every federal program under the sun, from the U.S. Department of Education to the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

AMNews

Watchdog Gnaws On Foundation With Jeb Bush Ties EdWeek: Correspondence between former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's K-12 advocacy organization and state education leaders—obtained and publicized by a privatization-watchdog group—has renewed debate over the extent to which the private sector can benefit by gaining access to government officials, and markets, through nonprofit advocacy groups.

Arne Duncan urges NYC officials and union bosses to reach deal on teacher evaluations NYPost: President Obama’s education czar personally urged New York officials and union bosses to break their stalemate and adopt a more rigorous teacher-evaluation system. “I just think it’s important for all the adults to work together,” US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said during a visit to a high school on Governors Island yesterday. “Everyone’s got to compromise. Everyone’s got to find common ground — and I really hope that’s where New York will get.”

Powell Foundation Report: High School Graduation Rate In U.S. On Pace To Reach 90 Percent By 2020 HuffPostEdu: Despite the constantly gloomy rhetoric about the state of America's schools, U.S. students are steadily improving by at least one metric -- for the first time, the nation is making enough progress in graduating from high school to reach the goal of 90 percent graduation by 2020, according to a new report to be released Monday.

Lessons from pre-k that works: Will Mississippi’s children finally move ahead? HechingerReport: Before Quitman County Elementary School in this rural Delta community started a pre-k program three years ago, only 38 percent of the school’s students were scoring at grade level on a national reading test.  Last year, nearly 60 percent of students were at or above the national average. The pre-k program, which serves about 40 children a year, is funded through a combination of private grants and federal money given to the school district.

Los Angeles: Reformers Try To Match Union "Ground Game"

This is a story by LA School Report contributor Hillel Aron:

image from laschoolreport.com

The Coalition for School Reform has been running TV ads and hitting voters with a blizzard of glossy flyers.  

But — having closely lost 2011′s big-money campaign between Bennett Kayser and Luis Sanchez — the reform-oriented campaign committee is also taking its field organization very seriously.

Field organizing — also sometimes called a campaign “ground game” — is the mundane but essential process of finding, creating, and then motivating supporters to vote for a candidate on election day.

“These campaigns are, in many instances, won and lost in the field,” said Sean Clegg, the Coalition’s political consultant. “And the Coalition for School Reform has put together a state-of-the-art field program that is really zeroing in on our voters with pinpoint accuracy.”

To run its 2013 field campaign, the Coalition has hired a firm called 50+1 Strategies, headed by former Obama campaign operative Adissu Demissie, who’s bringing some high-tech tools and techniques to the familiar process of walking streets, knocking on doors, and making phone calls.

“We’re really running a very data-driven, metrics-based, technologically advanced field campaign,” said Demissie, who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 “get-out-the-vote” campaign in Ohio. ”We’re trying to talk to the right people in the right way.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Afternoon Audio: Biding Our Time Until "This American Life"

Can't wait for tonight's This American Life Part Two? Check out this Bloomberg EDU interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and reporters Alex Kotlowitz and Linda Lutton. No Ira Glass, though I did seem him attempt to dance at a benefit last night.

Reckhow: Philanthropy Critique Can Obscure Key Differences

image from farm4.static.flickr.comSince Diane Ravitch popularized the phrase “Billionaire Boys’ Club,” the chorus of skepticism and outright disapproval of education philanthropy has been growing.  

Much of the criticism is aimed at coordination and shared agenda priorities among major education philanthropists and federal officials on issues such as Common Core and school choice.

Liberals and conservatives have converged on some of these issues, creating strange bedfellows, such as Michelle Malkin and Susan Ohanian.

Skepticism of education philanthropy is also emerging from unexpected sources. Recent commentary on education philanthropy in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (arguably a more “philanthropy friendly” venue) by Stanley N. Katz concludes with the following:

“I find the brazenness, arrogance, and disregard for public decision making of current philanthropic attempts to influence federal policy just as dangerous to democracy as the critics of the original foundations contended so vociferously 100 years ago.”

And yet...

Continue reading "Reckhow: Philanthropy Critique Can Obscure Key Differences" »

Thompson: The Line Separating Reformers from "Reformers"

A light went on while reading Alexander Russo's Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting. It illuminates the fundamental difference between school reform and "reform."

The dividing line is not evidence-based disagreements over charters, competition, collective bargaining or teachers' due process.  The issue is how do "reformers" deal with inconvenient truths. 

image from farm6.staticflickr.comStephanie Simon's Class Struggle - How Charter Schools Get Students They Want explains that "charters and traditional public schools are locked in fierce competition - for students, for funding and for their very survival, with outcomes often hinging on student test scores." Simon then punches holes in the hype of "reformers" who claim that this is a "fair fight" and that charters get better results with the same types of students. 

Conservative reformers like Mike Petrilli and Frederick Hess acknowledge that charter students come from more motivated families.  Hess says that charters' supposedly open access policies make for popular talking points, but "there's just one problem: It's not true."  He adds, "There's a level of institutional hypocrisy here which is actually unhealthy."

The real issue is not the fate of individual charters. A bigger problem is that the proliferation of charters has become a drain on traditional public schools. As Simon explains, even some staunch fans of charters agree that "the charter sector as a whole may be skimming the most motivated, disciplined students and leaving the hardest-to-reach behind."

Continue reading "Thompson: The Line Separating Reformers from "Reformers"" »

AM News: Arne Duncan Speaks on Waivers, Sequestration, and Armed Teachers

Arne Duncan On NCLB Waivers, Sequestration, Common Core PoliticsK12: In a wide-ranging, hourlong interview today with a small group of national reporters, Duncan said he met with some of the "CORE" California superintendents yesterday to discuss their waiver request—as my colleague Lesli Maxwell reported yesterday. The CORE is a group of 10 districts, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that are moving ahead with reforms their state is slow to embrace (such as the common core and new teacher evaluations).

AMNews

Arne Duncan: Armed Teachers Proposals Are 'A Marketing Opportunity' For Gun Industry HuffPostEdu: People who say that teachers want to carry weapons are just pushing "a marketing opportunity," according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The vast majority of teachers have spoken pretty loudly and said they're not interested in being armed, so that's a red herring," Duncan said at a small Thursday morning meeting with reporters at the U.S. Education Department. "It's an opportunity to sell more guns, that's a marketing opportunity, it's not serious."

In California, thousands of teachers missing needed credentials HechingerReport: Every year in California, public school administrators assign thousands of teachers to classes for which they lack the credentials or legal authorization to teach. Untrained teachers have been assigned to a variety of difficult classes, including those filled with English-language learners and others with special intellectual and physical needs. Or, in Parker’s case, to teach social studies when they’re credentialed for biology.

Survey: Washington 'Insiders' Pessimistic About Common Tests CurriculumMatters: Since it isn't nationally representative, the survey is notable less as a reflection of general sentiment than for the way it tracks those "Washington insiders'" views across time. And the latest findings show a downward trend in warm-and-fuzzy vibes about the two federally funded test-design groups, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Test Scores of Hispanics Vary Widely Across 5 Most Populous States, Analysis Shows NYT: Of all the changes sweeping through the American public education system, one of the most significant is simply demographic: the growing population of Hispanic students. A new analysis released Thursday of nationwide test results in the five most populous states — California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas — shows that depending on where they live, Hispanic students’ academic performance varies widely.

Weighing Prospect of Changes in Graduation Requirements TexasTribune: Following backlash over the rocky institution of a new student assessment system last spring, Texas lawmakers are scrambling to scale back the requirements they passed four years ago. As the Legislature tackles such reform, attention is also focused on another area of education policy: high school graduation requirements.

Quotes: "Higher Ed Will Go Jihadi" [Against Accountability]

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comIf you think teacher prep negotiated rulemaking was a nightmare, just wait for [higher ed accountability]. Higher ed will go jihadi.  - Anonymous "insider" from Bellwether Partners

Chicago: Mayor Emanuel, President Lewis Both Under Fire

image from b.vimeocdn.comTwo notable items from Chicago for you to ponder:

While as many as 8 current or recent CPS students may have been killed since the start of 2013, Chicago Public Radio is reporting that Mayor Emmanuel has reversed a longstanding practice of allowing Chicago Public Schools to tell reporters what school, if any, homicide victims come from. "For years, school officials deliberately collected and shared information about whether or not homicide victims also attended a public school in the city. But CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said they’re trying to protect parents and students privacy. She said the district’s legal team advises the district not to tell reporters whether shooting victims attend public schools in the city... It’s a practice they say they’ve followed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office."

Also: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and her leadership team are facing a challenge from a slate of teachers who believe that Lewis et al did not go far enough -- or get enough -- during the past two years: “'We did our part. We spent weeks on the street, rallied and gave Lewis all the power she needed,' said Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, potential candidate for union president. 'What did we get? Firings, closings, lower pay.'" (Karen Lewis to face opposition in May CTU election Sun Times, Chicago Teachers Union members to run against CTU President Karen Lewis' leadership team Tribune).  Though it may be hard to imagine a more hard-charging local union leader, remember that Lewis was lambasted for allowing SB7 to pass and has so far been unable to stop the school closing juggernaut that City Hall says is necessary because of dwindling enrollment.

You can read more about this -- and teachers' reactions -- at my Chicago blog.

 

Morning Video: Celebrity Endorsement & $250K From Rhee

Yep, that's Hollywood actress and longtime Obama supporter Eva Longoria stumping for LAUSD school board challenger Kate Anderson -- something the actress is said in the report to have decided to do with the encouragement of EdSec Arne Duncan.  (No word on whether Duncan told Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst to contribute $250,000 to the reform slate of candidates.)

AM News: Nationwide AP Scores Up, Reversing Stagnation

AP Scores Up, Reversing Stagnation WSJ: The average score on Advanced Placement exams increased last year for the first time in a decade, according to data released Wednesday by the College Board. The rise was slight—the nation's public-school graduating class of 2012 posted an average score of 2.83 out of 5, compared with 2.80 for 2011. However, it marked a change from years of declining or stagnating scores, which educators have attributed to the growing number of students taking the tests, many of them less well prepared. 

AMNews

Teacher Survey Shows Record Low Job Satisfaction In 2012 HuffPostEdu:  As school districts continued to cut budgets, increase class sizes, and implement teacher performance evaluations, teachers' job satisfaction plummeted in 2012, reaching an all-time low, according to a survey released Thursday. 

Florida Contemplates 'Backup' Tests for Common Core CurriculumMatters: One of the most visible cheerleaders for the common standards and assessments says that his state needs a contingency plan in case the tests are not ready. At his first meeting with the state board of education since becoming commissioner of education in Florida, Tony Bennett told panelists that he will develop a plan for a statewide testing system for 2014-15 in case the common assessments being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, aren't ready as promised.

Survey Finds Rising Job Frustration Among Principals EdWeek: A new national survey finds that three out of four K-12 public school principals, regardless of the types of schools they work in, believe the job has become “too complex,” and about a third say they are likely to go into a different occupation within next five years.

New York Times Wants High Schoolers to Document Their Experiences NYT: Well, just as the Farm Security Administration unleashed a team of photographers to chronicle the United States in the 1930s, Lens is beginning a new interactive project called “My Hometown.” In the coming months, we are asking high school students to help create a 21st century portrait of America, turning their cameras on their neighborhoods, families, friends and schools. 

New: ProPublica Vs. Sitegeist

image from www.knightfoundation.orgCheck out ProPublica's new, improved Opportunity Gap tool, which lets you find out different schools' achievement gaps and other things.  The new version includes info on a school's Advanced Placement exam passing rates and sports participation, and can be viewed via Foursquare. Want something more mobile (if not necessarily more granular)?  Try the Sunlight Foundation's Sitegeist, which will tell you the demographics of the neighborhood you're in.  Then come back and tell me which is better, or if there's something else that's best of all.  

 

Afternoon Video: "High Quality Charter Schools Are Great"

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

First off:  Who let pro-charter, pro-voucher Derrell Bradford on MSNBC's Up With Chris?  Plus: Amusing comment from host Chris at the 3:15 mark ("I feel like the deal with charter schools is, 'Yeah, high-quality charter schools are great.' You know what I mean?  Yeah, awesome!  When they're high quality!") Via DFER

Campaign 2013:: Two-Week Countdown In Los Angeles

Two weeks to go before primary election day, and the teachers union and the reform coalition in LA have already spent $2.2M on flyers, mailers, and TV ads -- and already raised more than double that.  

Vznndxtys0l0dkwgi1ql

AFT head Ranid Weingarten slammed NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg for putting $1M into the race -- but state and AFT are considering contribuing to the UTLA campaign fund themselves.

The LA Times editorial page endorsed two out of three reform candidates -- but in such harsh terms that the pull quotes will be worth more to their opposition than the endorsements themselves.  

Celebrity endorsements are all the rage -- Eva Longoria is backing one reform challenger (and might be dating LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa).

Superintendent John Deasy issued a teacher evaluation guidance on Friday telling principals to make student achievement 30 percent of the teacher evaluation -- a reasonable figure given what's being done in other states and districts -- but the district neglected to tell the teachers union ahead of time, and the underlying union-district agreement lacked any specific percentage.  

Last but not least, it's not all campaign battles and conflict in LA.  The school board recently approved 12 new "pilot" schools -- an in-district alternative to autonomous charters and parent triggers.  It's union's least favorite of the three autonomy models that have been negotiated, but appears to be popular among teachers.

All this and more at LA School Report

Thompson: The Anti-Testing Backlash Reaches a Crescendo

Questiontheanswers

Kathleen Porter-McGee’s Fordham Flypaper post (The Four Biggest Myths of the Anti-Testing Movement) is right on one thing: the backlash against bubble-in accountability has reached a crescendo. 

But, Porter-McGee seems to assume that these primitive metrics are more valuable for poor children than teachers’ "instincts" because educators are contaminated by “low expectations.”

Does that mean that imposing rote instruction on poor children represents “high expectations?”

Porter-McGee recalls that “drill-and-kill” was popular in the era of mimeograph machines, but she provides no evidence for her claim that basic skills instruction is due to something she calls "excessive within-class achievement variability," as opposed to overzealous accountability.

Yes, worksheet-driven instruction is “a function of low teacher capacity,” but it is also due to failed schools and systems.  Often, it is the way that teachers in chaotic inner city schools create some order in systems that refuse to address discipline.  Rather than imposing the lowest-common-denominator of standardized testing on teachers and our students, the better response would have be to invest in capacity-building so that instruction could be improved.

 Porter-McGee is half-right on one point. Testing could put a spotlight on achievement gaps and struggling students and schools.  If assessments were diagnostic, they could drive critical conversations about policies and instruction.  As long as there are stakes attached to those metrics, however, they will remain inaccurate and they will continue to be a barrier to getting struggling students on the path to success.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Bruno: Why I May Not Keep My Teaching Position

828809613_5691a89319As you may or may not recall, last summer my family moved from the Bay Area to Southern California and I was fortunate enough to find a new job teaching science in a district middle school that I began in August. It turns out, however, that that job may be short-lived.

Last week I received a letter from human resources informing me that I cannot count on having a job for the 2013-2014 school year. Though the details may vary somewhat from district to district, the general reason for this job insecurity will be familiar to many teachers.

As my letter from HR helpfully explains, districts are often unable to predict with certainty exactly how many teaching positions they will have to fill in the following school year. Some teachers may retire or resign, but positions may also be cut for various reasons and in that event teachers with more seniority in the district can have "first pick" of the positions that remain. (My previous tenure in the Oakland Unified School District grants me no job security here.)

Such seniority-based dismissal decisions have their justifications. They certainly provide a relatively objective criterion by which staffing decisions can be made and it is entirely possible that this reduces other sorts of unfair or inefficient bias. Discrimination on the basis of age, gender, and other characteristics are undoubtedly real problems.

Still, the upshot for me is that at least for the time being I am back on the job market with my principal's sympathies. This, in turn, means that even if the district is eventually able to offer me a job for the next school year, I may no longer be available to take it.

Indeed, the uncertainty and convoluted calendars usually associated with school hiring mean that it is entirely possible I will leave the teaching profession altogether. This isn't just a problem for me and I don't think I'm so exceptional that our institutions should be arranged to my convenience. It is, however, a new teacher retention problem for the whole system.

It is conceivable that these problems could be ameliorated even in a system that heavily rewards seniority - say, with higher starting salaries - but I don't sense much urgency on this issue from people on either "side" of the reform debates.

So for now I'm going to start looking for a new job. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Charts: Charters Up 191 Pct In Chicago (But Still Only 11 Pct Of Kids)

image from www.chicagomag.com
That's a pretty impressive enrollment surge for Chicago -- also St. Louis and Atlanta -- but Chicago's charter enrollment remains 11 percent (Atlanta is at 10 percent).  At 31 percent, only St. Louis is both growing quickly and making it anywhere near the Washington DC, NOLA, and Detroit crowd. Via Chicago Magazine.

AM News: Federal Education-Equity Commission Urges Swift State & Federal Action

Education panel: To close achievement gap, urgent state, federal action needed WashingtonPost: While the federal government pays about 10 percent of the cost of public education, about half comes from states and 40 percent comes from local communities. The commission urged states and the federal government to send more tax dollars to high-poverty schools to compensate for the imbalance in local funding. But it stopped short of recommending a new way to fund schools that does not rely so heavily on property taxes.

AMNews

Federal Commission Urges Bold Steps to Boost Education Equity PoliticsK12: A federally appointed education-equity commission is proposing a five-pronged agenda for states and the federal government to help the 22 percent of children living in poverty and eliminate what the commission calls a "staggering" achievement gap. Three years in the making, the new report released today stems from a 2010 congressional directive to the U.S. Department of Education, which created the Equity and Excellence Commission

Charter Schools' Discipline Policies Face Scrutiny EdWeek: As the number of charter schools continues to grow, one facet of their autonomy—the ability to set and enforce independent disciplinary standards—has raised difficult questions about whether those schools are pushing out students who pose behavior or academic challenges and how their policies affect regular public schools.

Teachers training teachers: It works in California school district NBCNews: Jandella Faulkner is a teaching coach in the Long Beach, Calif., school district. Her job is to train a select group of teachers at Edison Elementary, including Jennifer Larsen, in a new literacy curriculum called Write From The Beginning.  It’s part of a district-wide training system that relies on teachers working with each other to improve classroom practices. 

'Warnings From the Trenches' InsideHigherEd: Part swan song, part favor for a friend, Ken Bernstein’s letter to college professors upon his retirement from teaching high school government is generating buzz in higher education. Called “Warnings From the Trenches," the piece alerts professors to the generation of No-Child-Left-Behinders they’ve begun to inherit in their classrooms and what standardized test-driven K-12 educations will mean for college-level teaching and learning.

Update: Reuters Reporter Rebuts Critics Of Charter Story

On Monday, I posted a handful of responses to Stephanie Simon's charter school story from charter school advocates (see Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting).

My own thought about the piece was that its thesis --  "across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law" -- was overly broad and needed to be quantified or qualified in some way in order to give readers context. 

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comSimon kindly took the time to respond in an email this morning, the gist of which was that the problems she found seemed more common among standalone charters and that while she didn't find a lot of schools with 20-age applications she did find "hundreds that ask for social security numbers or original social security cards (illegal under federal law); that ask for birth certificates (also illegal); that request documentation of special education needs up front in the application process," etc.  

She also points out that she indicates in her story that the practices are more common in standalone charters rather than networks, and quantified the prevalence of problems where possible (ie, Philadelphia).

Bruno: Does Education Major GPA Matter?

4875964527_d2e67653f2I'm not the biggest defender of conventional teacher preparation in this country, but I think Dick Startz is misidentifying the problem when he complains that education schools seem to be grading their undergraduates too generously.

As he points out, education majors tend to have higher-than-average GPAs but only average GPAs in their STEM courses. This does probably indicate that education courses are easier than STEM courses at most colleges.

Does this mean our teachers are embarrassingly weak academically? Probably not.

First, it always helps to distinguish elementary and secondary teachers. Education majors that go into teaching are overwhelmingly taking elementary-level jobs; secondary teachers typically have bachelor's degrees related to the subjects they teach. Frankly, elementary teachers probably don't need as advanced of an understanding of any particular subject as their secondary counterparts.

Second, even if we assume STEM courses are more rigorous than education courses Startz's data - which come from here - indicate that education majors are still roughly average in terms of their academic competence.

Average, that is, among college students. Most people, however, don't have a college degree at all, which means that simply by earning a BA education majors enter the top third of American adults in terms of educational attainment.

That doesn't mean education majors are all well-prepared to teach, but as far as academic credentials go they're not bad. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Quotes: "Unproductive Extremes.... As Hostile To Reform As Ever"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comAt times, the reform movement is given to its own unproductive extremes... Meanwhile, the close allies of United Teachers Los Angeles are as hostile to reform as ever. -- LA Times editorial page (Friday)

 

Media: HuffPost Education Page, 2010-2013?

Don't worry, all of you who like to have your education commentary appear on Huffington Post.  In that regard, at least, the Huffington Post Education page seems unchanged.  The HuffPost's education reporter, Joy Resmovits, is still pumping out stories.  Her blog, Ed Today, is here.   When it comes to other features, however, Huffington Post Education seems subtly but substantially different.  

Continue reading "Media: HuffPost Education Page, 2010-2013?" »

Morning Video: AFT Goes To Austin Polytechnic

Let's start the work week off with a feel-good video from Chicago's Austin Polytechnic HS:

 

AM News: Wisconsin Governor's Voucher Plan Even Divides Republicans

Wisconsin Governor's voucher plan angers public school backers AP: Gov. Scott Walker's plan to expand the private school voucher program statewide, while not allowing public school spending to increase, drew a raft of angry responses Monday from those who fear his budget leaves public school students behind. The debate over Walker's public education funding proposal and desire to grow alternatives such as private school vouchers is likely to be one of the fiercest in the Statehouse this year, even dividing Republicans who control the Legislature.

AMNews

In Mississippi, private money and strong principals boost struggling schools HechingerReport: Quitman County Elementary is one of four Mississippi schools participating in the Barksdale Reading Institute’s latest effort to improve literacy in the state. Three years ago, it reached agreements with Quitman, Crenshaw Elementary in Panola County, Williams-Sullivan in Holmes County and Hazlehurst. It would find and fund top-tier principals for those schools and provide various staff and materials. The schools would provide autonomy to their new leaders.

Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore NYT: Spurred by an intensifying focus on student test scores in math and English as well as a desire to incorporate more health and fitness information, more school districts are pushing physical education teachers to move beyond soccer, kickball and tennis to include reading, writing and arithmetic as well.

Cyber-Bullying Law Shields Teachers From Student Tormentors NPR: Ganging up on classmates online can get students suspended. But sometimes teachers are the target of cyber-bullying and in North Carolina, educators have said enough is enough. State officials have now made it a crime to "intimidate or torment" teachers online. "It's the first statute that exposes 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds to potential criminal sanctions for a dumb mistake they make, something stupid they say," says Chris Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina, who adds the law is too broad.

Special Report: How charter schools get students they want Reuters: Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.

Schools wrangle with tolerance for kids faking gunplay USAToday: Kids with active imaginations? Or potential threats to school safety? Some school officials are taking the latter view, suspending or threatening to suspend small children over behavior their parents consider perfectly normal and age-appropriate — even now, with schools in a state of heightened sensitivity following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December.

Media: Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting*

Late last week, Reuters' Stephanie Simon came out with a big story documenting a now-familiar set of complaints about charter schools: burdensome applications, parent volunteer requirements and pushouts.  Some of the examples -- a 23 page application, kids left out of the lottery -- are pretty vivid.

However, NAPCS head Nina Rees took the somewhat unusual step of putting out a weekend response that, essentially, questions Simon's focus on a handful of schools rather than the overall charter environment. Rees notes that there are over 600,000 students on charter waiting lists,  that charters enroll higher percentages of low-income and minority students than traditional public schools. "Perhaps unwittingly, the Reuters article underscores the popularity of charter schools and why more are needed."

Via email, CER's Jeanne Allen added that Simon's story ignored that charter applications are comparable to district school waiting lists and other paperwork procedures that districts require and ommitted the fact that most charter schools feed kids even if they don't apply for the federal funding.

 

Neither Rees nor Allen dispute the specific examples Simon cites.  Rees' contention that charters education a more disadvantaged population than district schools doesn't comport with my reading of the data on urban charters.
However, it's also worth noting that Simon makes an extremely broad-sounding claim - "across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law" -- without quantifying the extent of the problem.  The suggestion is being made that the problems are widespread, but at least on the screening practices there are no data.
*UPDATE:  NACSA's Greg Richmond, who represents charter authorizers, emailed that the examples in the Reuters story were troubling. "This story cited examples of authorizers that were ignorant of charter school actions, ignorant of the law, or both." He called for state legislators to improve charter authorization requirements.

 

Weekend Reading: Happy Presidents Day!

Here are the best items from magazine sites, long-form blogs, and weekend news items that you may have missed over the weekend:

Chicago Teenager Shot and Killed Hours After Her Sister Sat Behind Obama at Speech About Gun Control ow.ly/hNDjz

Venture Capital's Massive, Terrible Idea For The Future Of College | The Awl ow.ly/hMBVf

Head start evaluations: As pre-K it's bad but as child care it's good. ow.ly/hMDyC

His "UPK" plan might not fly but these pics of him at an ATL kindergarten with the magnifying glass are hard to resist ow.ly/hN7L1

My h.s. science teacher retired after 32 years. His departure q&a is amazingly evocative: bit.ly/XQ3DYv @Atul_Gawande

Some schools use military-style "After Action Response" debriefings in the wake of violent incidentsow.ly/hMa2J

Book: Solutions elusive for New Orleans schools USA Today @gtoppo ow.ly/hNc3h

New life for Hollywood flop as education reformers push #parenttrigger in state capitals apne.ws/Vp0TAK#WontBackDown via @azagier

PLNs Are Returning Classrooms to Teachersow.ly/hNkIX Will Richardson, Lynne Schrum, Jason Flom

From Jay Mathews: More high school may be bad for this student: Is Laura Linder’s son Chris being pushed out of ... bit.ly/UwaEOt

Nothing New Under the Wingnut Sun: 'Textbook Wars' | The Nation ow.ly/hMYIr via @gtoppo

Suit against ex-LAUSD boss Ramon Cortines tossed shout.lt/glWg @ladailynews

A Hazmat crew was summoned to Seminole High School in Florida after a science student brought in a mercury thermometer. ow.ly/hMDic

Just three years into blogging, that slacker Rick Hess is taking a sabbatical ow.ly/hLwwp

Morning Video: The History Of Universal Preschool - Plus Heckman!

 

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

Here's Rachel Maddow's 12-minute segment recounting Walter Mondale's attempt to provide preschool to everyone (and Nixon's veto) 40 years ago, complete with the story about Oklahoma's UPK program that you probably already know from This American Life. Plus James Heckman.

Advertisement

Advertisement

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.