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Quotes: SEIU Could Play Decisive Role In Chicago (As It Has In LA)

Quotes2Now that we have a runoff, we are going to take a very close, serious look at the race. The neutrality vote we took was a vote in the first round. This is now a different election.

--  SEIU Local 1 political operative Jerry Morrison in the Sun-Times (SEIU may join mayor race).

In Chicago's case, SEIU would likely join CTU in opposing Mayor Emanuel. In LA, SEIU Local 99 has been an independent player on education issues, joining with and splitting from UTLA depending on the issue and/or candidate.

Advocacy: 50CAN Does Reformy Things (Somewhat) Differently

2015 Policy Goals   50CANAs you may recall, 50CAN launched in 2010 at roughly the same time as StudentsFirst, but has followed an interesting and somewhat distinct path in the intervening five years compared to other national networks of reform-minded advocacy groups like StudentsFirst and Stand For Children and DFER that all seemed to sprout up around the same time.  

Check out the organization's new state-by-state goals Policy Goals, which are largely state-developed rather than predetermined by the national or its funders, and you'll get a sense for what I mean.  I'm also told that the organization doesn't pick states to go into anymore, but rather gives out planning grants to folks who think they might be interested in putting something together -- 80 in 28 states last year -- and go from there.  Call it an advocacy incubator. They're also running a Policy 101 course (there's still time to sign up), and advocacy workshops.

Related posts: AEI Philanthropy/Advocacy Event (HotSeat Interview: 50CAN Creator Marc Porter Magee50CAN Action Fund Focuses On RI & MNWinn Leaving 50CAN To Head New TFA InitiativeWhere The Shiny New Advocacy Groups Are* [were].

 

 

Journalism: Let's Focus On What Actually Happens -- Not What *Might* Happen*

As Politico recently noted, statehouse efforts to turn the Common Core and its assessments back seem to have peaked since last year. The number of states with repeal efforts repeated this year is down from 22 to 19.  "So far, they’ve fared poorly," notes Stephanie Simon.

But you wouldn't necessarily know this from reading national education news stories, which tend to focus on the handful of rollbacks that have taken back and the slew of proposed rollbacks that have been proposed, or passed out of committee, or made it out of a legislative chamber.  In other words, proposals that *might* happen, but haven't yet become reality -- and probably won't, given the way these things usually pan out. 

I have yet to see an AP, Washington Post*, New York Times, or NPR story about this -- or for that matter anything along these lines from Huffington Post, Reuters, Hechinger, etc. (Please let me know if I've missed anything relevant.*) The issue might have been discussed at yesterday's #EWAcore media training in Denver but the focus there seemed to be on the substance of the standards and tests rather than the national trends and coverage thereof. 

None of this is to say that repeal and slowdown efforts are gone: NSCL says that there are roughly 450 CCSS-related proposals in the works this session. "Total number of bills that would halt implementation of Common Core State Standards: 39 bills (in 19 states) Total number of bills that would halt use of Common Core State Standards-related assessments, i.e., PARCC or Smarter Balanced: 36 bills (in 17 states)."

But if this year is like last year, these new efforts will fare just as badly as last year's.  And if this year is like last year, most newspaper and news site readers will hear mostly about the proposals and what they would do, rather than the actual track record of these proposals and their actual chances of enactment.  

Proposals are great, people -- easy to sell to editors and full of hope or fear for those involved -- but enactment (or at least a realistic chance at passage)  is what counts.  We do readers and ourselves a disservice when we lose track of the larger storyline, creating an impression (in this case, of widespread rollbacks) that doesn't match reality.

NCSL's CCSS tracker is here. There's a spreadsheet showing what's been proposed and whether it's moved here.

*UPDATE: Earlier this week, the Washington Post's GovBeat page (never heard of it!) had a story about failed Common Core repeal efforts.

Listen: President Obama Tells Teen He Has "This Strength" Inside Himself

 

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As you might have heard on NPR this morning, President Obama and a teen named Noah McQueen did a StoryCorps interview.  

 

AM News: Newark Supe. Renewal, LA Teachers Rally, Chicago Testing Standoff

Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson Gets Contract Renewal District Dossier: Anderson and the state signed a three-year contract last year, but it required both parties to agree to an extension each year.

LA Teachers, Union Leaders Rally Amid Stalled Talks AP: The Los Angeles standoff has focused mostly on teacher salaries, class sizes and increasing the number of support staff members like nurses and counselors. The union notes that teachers have gone eight years without a salary increase or cost-of-living adjustment. See also LA Daily News: Teachers rally in downtown Los Angeles.

Standoff over new state school test continues Chicago Public Radio: Suburban parents gathered downtown Thursday to express their own concerns with the test. They want state lawmakers to approve an opt-out bill that would give parents the right to refuse to have their children tested. As it stands now, by law, the only way to refuse the test is for students to verbally state they won't take it.  

In Dig at De Blasio, Cuomo Defends His Plan for Failing Schools WNYC: Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a vigorous defense of his plan to turnaround failing schools, one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio went to Albany and argued for an alternative. See also NYDN: De Blasio warns of flaws in Cuomo's education agenda

More teachers writing their own curricula under Common Core, says new report Hechinger Report via PBS NewsHour: The Center on Education Policy (CEP), a nonpartisan research group, reports that in roughly two-thirds of districts in Common Core states, teachers have developed or are developing their own curricular materials in math (66 percent) and English Language Arts (65 percent). In more than 80 percent of districts, the CEP found that at least one source for curriculum materials was local — from teachers, the district itself or other districts in the state. See also Washington Post: The Republican curriculum on Common Core.

Farmington teacher on paid leave after giving state testing opt-out forms to students Farmington Daily Times: Sharon Yocum, an Esperanza Elementary School fifth-grade teacher, was informed by a member of the Farmington Municipal School District administration Thursday morning that she would be placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation for alleged unprofessional conduct.

Continue reading "AM News: Newark Supe. Renewal, LA Teachers Rally, Chicago Testing Standoff" »

Afternoon Video: That "Humans Of New York" Principal Was Thinking Of Quitting

"Just earlier this year, Nadia Lopez was ready to quit her job at Mott Hall Bridges Academy" -- a school she'd founded in 2010 in the poorest neighborhood in New York City. "Four years later, though, she worried her work wasn't influencing the community." (via The Atlantic: Meet Ms. Lopez of Mott Hall Bridges Academy)

 

#TBT: A Look At This Mythical 2010 Seating Chart Shows Big Turnover In Ed Media

Take a look at this 2010 chart -- a made-up seating chart for a nonexistent USDE briefing room setup and you'll get a pretty vivid idea of how much has changed in national education coverage over the past five years (A Map To Coverage Of National Education News): 

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

So much has changed, I know! USA Today's Toppo is splitting duties on other issues (like demographics). The WSJ's Banchero is gone (to Joyce), replaced by Brody. PK12's McNeil is gone (to the College Board), replaced by Klein and Camera. The NYT's Dillon is gone (to retirement, I think), replaced by Rich. Winerip is gone (to other beats), and the column has sat empty since he left. At the Washington Post, Mathews is gone (to LA, at least), though he's still columnizing from there. AP has changed over. Colbert is gone (as we know him), replaced by... nothing so far as I can tell.  Sanchez has been joined by Kamenetz and Turner. Politico's education page didn't exist back then. Huffington Post's education page wasn't launched yet, either, I guess (come back soon, Joy!).

Quotes: Chicago Illustrates Dangers Of Hasty Discipline Changes

Quotes2It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)

Events: Journalists Discuss Common Core (Coverage?) In Denver (Plus Map)

Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, JournosCan Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please? 

 

States: Few States Ban Or Freely Permit Testing Opt-Outs, Says ECS Roundup

Www.ecs.org clearinghouse 01 17 68 11768.pdf

ECS Rounds up state opt out rules: "Laws in some states — such as Arkansas and Texas — clearly prohibit opt-outs, while the law is less clear in other states. Legislation introduced in New Jersey would allow opt-outs. Similar legislation in Mississippi failed to progress. State laws in California and Utah allow parents to opt their children out of state assessments for any reason." Image used with permission.
 

AM News: Common Core Sabotage, Chicago Standoff, & ESEA Veto Threat

Unable to repeal Common Core, foes try sabotage Politico: Conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright.. See also NJEA launches ad campaign against PARCC.

White House Issues Veto Threat Against House GOP NCLB Rewrite PK12: Why doesn't the administration like this bill? For one thing, they're not happy about what they see as a big step on back on accountability, particularly for the poor and minority kids that NCLB was designed to help. See also AP,  Obama threatens veto of House education billWhite House threatens veto of GOP bill to fix No Child Left BehindNo Child Reauthorization Has No Shot.

CPS in a bind over snub of state-mandated test, official says Tribune: Chicago school board President David Vitale said during Wednesday's board meeting that the district's effort to administer the exam to just 66 of its more than 600 schools has been "clear and consistent." But, he acknowledged, "The response we've gotten from other authorities is also clear." See also Sun-Times: Which CPS schools will be tested in 2 weeks still unknown.

De Blasio calls for permanent mayoral control of schools ChalkbeatNY: Before mayoral control, the city’s school system was balkanized,” de Blasio said. “School boards exerted great authority with little accountability and we saw far too many instances of mismanagement, waste and corruption.” See also The Atlantic: NYC's Tale of Two Pre-Ks.

Rift escalates between Los Angeles teachers, district AP: Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district are in an escalating rift with Los Angeles Unified officials over higher wages. See also LATimes: Charter school group is political force in L.A. Unified board election, LA Weekly Charter Schools Take on Charter-Hating LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser

 More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Former Montgomery schools chief Joshua Starr sets up business to open way for consulting Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former superintendent, Joshua P. Starr, has established a new consulting business, according to Maryland state records and a statement relayed through the school district.The limited liability company, called Education Solutions LLC, was registered with the state Feb. 17, a day after Starr’s resignation took effect, according to online records from the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation.

'Call Out Cuomo' teachers' rally at Massena High Saturday urging residents to ... North Country Now: Carlisto said the “Call Out Cuomo” events are expected to feature American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and others

Arne Duncan talks early childhood education at Alexandria school Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday got a first-hand glimpse of early childhood education in a busy Alexandria preschool classroom, where he got down on the rug with youngsters playing with blocks, chatted up students building a “neighborhood” with sand and talked to a young girl about her writing.

5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014 NPR: Lessons from a handful of the most viewed papers from the American Education Research Association last year.

Dissecting A Frog: A Middle School Rite Of Passage NPR: In science classrooms across the country, middle-schoolers will take part in an iconic activity this year: frog dissection.

Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy Tribune: A CPS spokesman said the district makes training available to all schools on subjects including restorative practices and classroom management. Roughly 100 (of 600) schools have "restorative practices coaches" in the building weekly, and behavioral health teams work at 66 schools. Those resources are allocated to schools based on behavioral data, the district said.

Controversial Schools Tech Contract Wins NYC Approval WNYC: A contract to expand internet access in New York City schools as well as proposals for sharing school space moved forward despite concerns. Oh, and the cell phone ban was lifted.

Employee sues LAUSD superintendent third time alleging sexual harassment KPCC: The latest suit alleges Cortines made sexual advances to Graham in 2000 soon after Cortines helped Graham get a job with the school district’s real estate leasing operations. Cortines left the school district that same year and Graham didn’t report what allegedly happened, according to the suit.

The rise of Chicago's Casimir Pulaski Day WBEZ: The story behind this most “Illinois” of holidays involves Casimir, of course, but it’s more of a story about a strong community that was willing to spend political capital to honor him.

One District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days ABC News: A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren't too happy. The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its web site.

Charts: Gentrification & Suburban Poverty Dominate Education Demographics

Screenshot 2015-02-25 15.32.16"In 1990, the highest level of education was found in the suburbs, seven to eight miles distant from the heart of Charlotte. By 2012, the Charlotte city center itself had the highest percentage of residents with college degrees." Thomas Edsall in the NYT, citing UVA research (The Gentrification Effect).

Media: So-Called "Experts" Not All That Expert (Say Experts)

Screenshot 2015-02-25 14.39.55
A new study out suggests that education 'experts' may lack expertise, in terms of academic qualifications.  The study, authored by the UofIllinois' Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, suggests that media prominence and academic qualifications aren't closely related.

However, it's no big surprise that education policy has turned away from academic expertise (and academic research, for that matter).  That's been going on for quite a while.

More importantly, the study doesn't name names, and it seems to include more individuals from the more conservative think tank experts -- AEI, Cato -- and fewer liberal or moderate ones.  For reasons I'm not quite clear on (though I'm sure others could understand), EPI is included, but not CAP or New America, or Brookings (or Fordham).  

For a list of institutional affiliations, look here. For MMFA's writeup, look here. The issue has been addressed before -- last winter in InsideHigher Ed, for example. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Image courtesy EPAA. 

Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing

The Shanker Institute's Matt DiCarlo, in The Debate and Evidence on the Impact of NCLB,  issues a typically nuanced, precise and (I'd say overly) cautious summary of what quantitative researchers may have proved about the meager positive effects of NCLB, as he overlooks the extreme "mis-naepery" of non-educators who support test-driven accountability.  

DiCarlo correctly asserts that it is invalid to "use simple, unadjusted NAEP changes to prove or disprove any policy argument." But, he ignores a more meaningful and relevant reality. It is possible to use NAEP scores to disprove disingenuous claims that NAEP shows that NCLB worked. 

DiCarlo concludes that "(test-based) school accountability in general" (emphasis in the original) "tends to have moderate positive estimated effects on short-term testing outcomes in math, and typically smaller (and sometimes nil) effects in reading. (emphasis mine)

The quantitative researcher then concludes, "There is scarce evidence that test-based accountability policies have a negative impact on short-term student testing outcomes." Such a narrowly worded statement is not false.

But, DiCarlo then states that "the vast majority of evaluations of test-based accountability policies suffer from an unavoidable but nonetheless important limitation: It is very difficult to isolate, and there is mixed evidence regarding, the policies and practices that led to the outcomes." That conclusion ignores the vast body of qualitative evidence by journalists and scholars who do not limit themselves to regression studies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing" »

AM News: Teachers Force Mayoral Runoff In Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into April runoff election WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote Tuesday in his bid for a second term, an embarrassment for the former White House chief of staff who now faces a runoff this spring against CTU-endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

In Anti-Testing Push, Unions Turn to Polls, Ads TeacherBeat: The New Jersey and Connecticut state affiliates of the National Education Association are mounting aggressive campaigns.

Los Angeles Unified's teachers union faces test of organizing strength LA Daily News: The print shop below United Teachers Los Angeles' headquarters cranked out 7,500 signs for protestors to carry when they descend on downtown Thursday, demanding higher pay, fewer students per classroom and better working conditions.

The Great U.S. History Battle NPR: The College Board redesigned the framework for its Advanced Placement U.S. history course, and many conservative lawmakers aren't happy about it.

Feds Find Discrimination Against Female Athletes in NYC Schools WNYC: New York City denies violating federal law, but agrees to changes to expand high school sports options for girls.

Taylor Swift Gives $50,000 in Song Proceeds to NYC Schools AP: Global ambassador' Taylor Swift donates $50,000 in song proceeds to NYC public schools

Feds support transgender teen in civil rights suit against schools Washington Post: Federal officials have offered their support for a teen who has accused four Michigan school districts of discriminating against him because he is transgender.U.S. civil rights laws protect “all individuals from sex discrimination, including transgender individuals,” lawyers for the Justice and Education departments wrote in a statement filed in federal district court.

L.A. Schools Reboot Plan to Give Every Student a Computer District Dossier: The Los Angeles Unified district doesn't have the money to continue with plans to provide all students with a tech device, superintendent Ramon Cortines said.

D.C. Defends Plan For School That Would Serve Only Minority Boys WAMU: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to open up an all-boys high school for minority students is facing new questions from the ACLU.

Photos Of School Lunches From Around The World Will Make American Kids Want To Study Abroad HuffPost: Parents could model better eating habits and stock their crispers with fresh fruit and vegetables, but a viable starter solution might begin at lunchtime. Sweetgreen, a healthy quick-serve restaurant that values local and organic ingredients, clarified disparity between American student lunches and those of other countries by photographing typical school lunches from around the world. The visuals are eye-opening.

How Twitter is shaping the #CommonCore debate Hechinger Report: Supovitz says that ordinary citizens and grassroots groups have used Twitter to gain the type of influence – both with politicians and the mainstream media – that has traditionally been enjoyed by more established groups.

TV: Oh, No! Girls' Lena Dunham Is Going To Be A Teacher

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I'm equally horrified and fascinated with the latest plot development on the HBO show Girls, in which Lena Dunham's character Hannah drops out of her MFA writing program and decides she's going to be a teacher. Specifically, she decides she wants to help people (despite her friends' observation that she's selfish) and that she's not good at writing, and -- yes -- that "those who can't teach." (Those words are actually uttered, with an unclear amount of irony.)

In a perfect/nightmare world, she'd do TFA or something, but to Hannah even that takes too long so she's apparently just going to substitute at a private girls' school. (The episode ends with her printing out a resume and walking up to a building with the name St. Justine's on the front.)

What to think, folks? Read more here: Girls Close-Up Episode Review for some guesses as to how well/poorly she'll do, and watch the clip below for a preview of next week. Or check out Twitter, where folks seem fascinated and appalled.

Note that one of the characters on High Anxiety also doesn't know what to do and tries teaching. It doesn't go well. Plus there's the charter school/adultery thing on Togetherness, and the charter school thing on Parenthood (RIP). And let's not forget The New Girl. This may be Peak Education On TV.

 

 Image via @tvtagGirls

Social Media: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 10.38.29 AM
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:

*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.

*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)

*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.  

Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.

But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.

Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others.   Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.

Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.

AM News: Ramping Up For Friday's House ESEA Reauthorization Effort

More Conflict Over Cutting Federal Role in Education NYT: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday produced data that he said showed that poorer districts would suffer under a Republican plan expected to clear the House of Representatives this week.

As House Prepares to Vote on NCLB, Advocates Push for Preschool Funding U.S. News & World Report: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, noted the first bill, passed in 1965, was a bipartisan effort, as was its reauthorization in 1994. "It would be a very good signal to America if something that has bipartisan support ...

How Would the House NCLB Rewrite Affect Funding for Minority Students? PK12: The White House report, released Tuesday, warns of cuts of more than $1.3 billion over 6 years to more than ten districts that serve high concentrations of African-American students. But, these top-line estimates, while powerful, are essentially a worst-case scenario that's highly unlikely to play out in real life, especially if you consider them over six years. There are a number of reasons why.

Schools using new tools to make teachers better Seattle Times: How to help teachers improve? A new system of in-depth observation by trained evaluators and principals, soon to be required in schools across Washington, shows what can help. See also: Seattle ranks high in suspending elementary-school students with special needs.

Suspended students lose millions of days of instruction while out of school Washington Post: Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts — including some in the Washington region — but U.S. students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year, according to research released Monday.

Suspensions at city charter schools far outpace those at district schools, data show ChalkbeatNY: One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.

Chicago sets early voting record in last weekend before mayoral election WBEZ: About 90,000 Chicago voters cast their ballots during early voting, including more than 21,500 votes on Saturday, which set a single-day record for a municipal election.

Christie’s Truce With Teachers Could Pay Dividends in ’16 NYT: Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Education Association are cooperating to grapple with the state’s crippling pension costs, and that may help the governor’s presidential ambitions.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Ramping Up For Friday's House ESEA Reauthorization Effort" »

Update: School Breakfast Struggles In NY & LA - But Not Chicago

School breakfasts for low income students -- especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms -- can be controversial, even though it's not that new.  (The newer thing is school dinner.)

Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn't been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here). 

Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).

One place school breakfast hasn't been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.  

The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS.  Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn't as big as the school lunch program but it's much newer.  Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools. This is Chicago's first year as part of the USDA's Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.

Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don't Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor KidsLunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.

Movies: Best Education/Oscars2015 Tweet (That I Saw)

It's from Morgan Polikoff: "Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen." Any other good #Oscars2015 mashups that I might have missed?

Morning Video: "Imitation Game" Writer Urges Kids To Stay Weird

“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and different and I didn’t belong." Inspiring message that was sadly too late for Draven Rodriguez (the Laser Cat Yearbook kid). Or, watch the Moral March from North Carolina (via AFT). Got something better? Send it to me at @alexanderrusso@

Quotes: Edu-Related Movie Lines From Last Night's Oscars

Quotes2Who do you want to be, Mason? What do you want to do? What can you bring to it that nobody else can?

-- Art teacher from "Boyhood," challenging unfocused protagonist to set some goals.  See my tweets from last night for other tidbits (or try @mpolikoff or @smarick for edwonk #oscars2015 punditry).

AM News: Tennessee Common Core Review Could Cost $4 Million

Tennessee's Common Core review comes with uncommon costs Times Free Press: A bill requiring Tennessee's State Board of Education to drop Common Core education standards and develop new requirements has a math problem: It's projected to cost $4.14 million over a three-year period.

State not joining revolt against Common Core learning model Seattle Times: Despite backlash in other states over new learning standards known as the Common Core, little serious opposition has surfaced in Washington.

Is your child’s personal data safe at school? PBS NewsHour: In Miami, a man was arrested with students’ names, social security numbers and birthdays — more than enough personal information to steal their identities. Parents in D.C. learned that information on student enrollment in special education services — including names and passwords for online mailboxes — has for years been easily accessible to anyone online, due to a security breach.

YouTube launches kids app Marketplace: YouTube launches a kids app on Monday. It comes with a filter for content, kid friendly design, and a parental timer for how long kids can play. It’s just one of several new media platforms targeting kids.

L.A. Unified says it can't afford 'computer for all' plan LA Times: Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said Friday that the district cannot afford to provide a computer to every student, signaling a major reversal of his predecessor's ill-fated $1.3-billion effort to distribute iPads to all students, teachers and school administrators.

When a Wildlife Rehab Center Regulates Charter Schools ProPublica: Nestled in the woods of central Minnesota, near a large lake, is a nature sanctuary called the Audubon Center of the North Woods. It’s also Minnesota’s largest regulator of charter schools, overseeing 32 of them. As a group, the schools overseen by the center fall below the state average on test scores.

Cuomo Plan Diminishes Principals' Authority on Evaluations WNYC: New York City principals challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his plan to increase the role of outside evaluators in reviewing teacher performance.

Report Recommends Elected School Board for Chicago District Dossier: A new report from the Collaborative for Justice and Equity in Education recommends an elected school board for the city that would prioritize "equitable educational opportunities and outcomes" in its decisionmaking.

At New York Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside NYT: In a new type of diversity initiative at elite institutions, students explore privilege and power and are encouraged to think about social justice in a personal way.

A safety net for dropouts catches others WBEZ: Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park is one of the district’s 20 new alternative schools opened in the last two years. It’s a joint venture between the NBA-star-turned-businessman, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and EdisonLearning, a for-profit education company. Students come for half the day and do most of their work online. Many can finish a full credit in a matter of weeks.

Expelled in preschool Hechinger Report: An after-school program run by Chicago Youth Centers has seen significant improvement in children’s behaviors since staff began working with Lauren Wiley, an early childhood mental health consultant. 

Chicago's Mayor Emanuel spends heavily to avoid run-off  Reuters: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hoping his warm hug with President Barack Obama in the last days of his re-election campaign will help him avoid a run-off in the race to lead the financially troubled, third largest city in the country.

Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"

Anya Kamenetz’s The Test is an awesome analysis of how “the test obsession is making public schools … into unhappy places.” But Kamenetz’s great work doesn't stop there.  In the second part of the book, she presents alternative approaches to high-stakes testing:
 
Team Robot tests conventional subjects (math, reading, writing) in unconventional ways (invisible, integrated, electronic).
 
Team Monkey tests unconventional qualities (mindset, grit) in conventional ways (multiple –choice surveys).
 
Team Butterfly, which Kamenetz would use as the basis for a new system, integrates learning with assessment and covers twenty-first-century skills without quantifying the outcomes in a way that’s familiar or easily comparable …
 
Team Unicorn, which is still emerging, relies heavily on video games. She offers an intriguing distinction between Team Unicorn and Team Robot: “the former understands the limitations of what they are doing.” (Sign me up for the more adventurous approach, whose metrics also should be the most incompatible with stakes being assessed.)

The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"" »

Flashback Friday (#FBF): "Keep Calm & Continue Testing"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

"A test season riff on the WWII poster "Keep Calm And Carry On" via @mikeklonsky.  Is this for real, or even new?  I have no idea but would love to know.  There's an ACT logo and they're getting back to me about whether it's official or not.  If this was done by ACT rather than bootlegged it would be all the better.  Other versions of the same idea are here." (2012: "Keep Calm And Continue Testing")

Media: NYT Fills Labor Beat Spot With TNR Alum Noam Scheiber

Politico reported yesterday that the NYT will be filling the spot once held by Steven Greenhouse with TNR alum Noam Scheiber.

I'm no expert on Schieber and his work on politics and labor, but a quick Google Search shows up stories and Tweets about Cory Booker, Karen Lewis, and New Jersey politics that suggest that he's going to provide different coverage than his predecessor.

There are precious few reporters assigned to cover the labor beat, including folks at BuzzFeed and EdWeek and indie bloggers like Mike (EIA) Antonucci, and perhaps depending on how you view his work Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle. I don't think there's anyone covering labor for the Washington Post or NPR. 

Related posts: So Long, NYT Labor Reporter Steven GreenhouseWe Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?;  Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesCharts: Teachers = Teamsters?

Morning Video: Charter Advocate Says Critics Are Rooting For Failures

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Charter advocates and critics debated their role in Chicago earlier this week, including a few moments when INCS president Andrew Broy (far left) claimed that charter critics want Chicago schools to fail. Click here if the video doesn't load. Click here for the Sun-Times coverage.

AM News: Frigid Temperatures, GOP's Common Core Divide

Frigid temperatures trigger school closures, delays across region Friday Washington Post: As extremely cold temperatures descended on the Washington region Thursday night, area school officials made early decisions to cancel Friday classes or delay school openings as they weighed student safety, bus operations and facility concerns.

Could Common Core cause a Republican civil war in 2016? CBS: A Gallup poll last August found 76 percent of Republican voters nationwide are opposed to Common Core, and only 17 percent in favor. See also US News: 5 things to watch as governors meet in Washington.

Charter groups top unions in lobbying, campaign spending Capital New York: Charter school groups and their supporters spent $16 million on lobbying, campaign contributions to state-level candidates and parties and independent expenditure campaigns last year. Charter schools spent nearly $700,000 on lobbying. Education unions and labor-funded advocates spent $11.77 million, according to the analysis. See also North Country Now: State teachers' union to lead rally in Massena Saturday against Gov. Cuomo.

Tough slog ahead in Congress for No Child rewrite Seattle Times: Murray believes the federal government — which put up $61 billion, or 10 percent, of the cost of educating public elementary and secondary students in fiscal 2012 — has the right to demand accountability from local schools. The federal government, she said recently, “has an important and unique role to play” to ensure quality education, particularly for lower-achieving students. See also EdWeek: House Set to Pass NCLB Rewrite Next Friday.

See more news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Frigid Temperatures, GOP's Common Core Divide" »

Movies: Follow Up To Documentary Criticizing School Reform

Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.

Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story

Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do. 

Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).

But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.  

There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide). 

The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.

By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments. 

But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.

Continue reading "Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story" »

Quotes: Former Montgomery County Supe Talks Testing Moratorium

Quotes2I think more and more people have come around to the point of view I expressed a few years ago. -- Starr in NPR talking about his 2012 call for a moratorium on high-stakes testing (Exit Interview With A Nationally Known School Leader)

 

Charts: School Board Members Average 5+ Years

Www.nsba.org sites default files SBcirca2010_WEB.pdf

"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics. 

Obama Weekly Address: Republicans Want to Gut Education Spending | Video | RealClearPolitics

ICYMI: Here's President Obama's speech on education spending  from over the weekend (via RealClear Politics). Click the link for a transcript.

AM News: Strike Maneuvers In LA, Cold Day Closing In Chicago

Teachers union takes first legal step towards strike that could close Los Angeles Unified schools LA Daily News: After seven months and 18 rounds of cantankerous contract talks, Los Angeles Unified administrators and leaders of the district's 35,000-member teachers union finally found common ground Wednesday when United Teachers Los Angeles made its first legally required step toward a strike.

Chicago cancels classes Thursday due to extreme cold WBEZ: According to Chicago Public Schools, its classes are cancelled on Thursday, Feb. 19, due to a forecast that is predicting extreme cold temperatures and winds. See also Washington Post: Anatomy of a school closing: How Fairfax County officials make the call on snow days.

New York Compels 20 School Districts to Lower Barriers to Immigrants NYT: The districts, which were found to be illegally blocking enrollment of undocumented immigrant children, will stop requests to prove residency and train enrollment officials.

Oklahoma May Scrap AP History For Focusing On America's 'Bad Parts' NPR: In Oklahoma, state lawmakers are debating a bill that would axe the teaching of Advanced Placement courses in U.S. history. The reason? Some believe the classes focus too much on what is "bad about America." The bill, which passed easily through a committee this week, outlines what should and shouldn't be taught in the classroom. See also HuffPost.

Same diploma, different school? WBEZ: A WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago analysis of that expansion has found that the district is on a troubling path toward its goal to re-enroll dropouts as it turns to new, largely unproven, mostly online alternative schools to educate more students.

Washington State Panel Mulls Bill to Trim Vaccine Exemptions AP: House committee considers measure to remove 'personal belief' vaccine exemption in Washington.

9 reasons Finland's schools are so much better than America's Vox: Finland might be a popular example because, no matter your general beliefs on education policy, you can find something to back them up. The result turns into a policy wonk buffet — nearly everybody can a policy lesson to learn from Finland's success, or a factor that explains why it isn't replicable in the US. Even if some of those lessons directly contradict each other.

Update: Sites & Blogs To Follow (Plus Twitter Advice)

Www.hanoverresearch.com media K12 Education Market Leadership Report 2014_final.pdfBig thanks to Hanover Research for including me (and several others) in its list of folks to follow in K-12 education.  You might find some names and sites you don't already know on this list. And always remember to tweet your story more than once.  Guy Kawasaki and others swear by it, and it's sort of fun.

Media: That 1,800-Student "Alcohol-Related" Deaths Figure Is Way Too High

"News articles and lawmakers frequently suggest that 1,800 college students die every year from binge drinking," notes the Washington Post's fact-checking page. "But there are no deaths directly linked to binge drinking in the calculation of this statistic." Wait, what?  "In terms of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, the actual number of deaths appears to be in the dozens."

Journalism: NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Programs

Chancellor Carmen Fariña Changes New York City Schools’ Course   NYTimes.com

Here's another distracting (and seemingly avoidable) correction on an otherwise-interesting education story: The NYT's Valentine's Day corrections included this addendum to its Sunday February 8th profile of Chancellor Farina, noting errors describing the demographic makeup of the district's gifted and talented program and and Joel Klein's correct middle initial.  NYC's gifted and talented programs are "largely white and Asian, not largely white," notes the correction.

Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"

Almost every paper presented at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, made me somewhat more hopeful that the Gates Foundation, at least, will learn and back off from insisting that stakes be attached to standardized tests, and start down more promising policy paths. The exception is Alexander Russo’s Inside Foundations: Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees on Education Giving

According to Russo’s astute article, the lessons of this new generation of philanthropy are:

1. Policy and advocacy are great tools—to a point.

2. New approaches complicate measurement/evaluation issues. 

3. Newly-created organizations bring focus and fidelity but can lack credibility and engagement.       

4. “Strategic” philanthropy is a powerful way to narrow priorities—unless it’s applied too rigidly.  

5. Setting clear metrics helps—until you take them too far.

6. Fail fast—but don’t overreact to bad news, either.

7. Don’t forget/underplay “the grind.”

8. Little more coordination, please (but not too much!)

In a rational world, this witty and insightful call for balance would contribute to better policy-making. In contrast to the statements made by other insiders to the other contributors, however, I fear that the several elites interviewed by Russo are concluding that, yes, we lose credibility with each of our risky policy gambles -- but we will make it up on volume.

Continue reading "Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"" »

Quotes: David Carr's View Of Teachers

Quotes2You will meet this schlumpy lifer who five minutes into the conference makes you just feel like killing yourself, and you think, ‘I leave my child with this kid?’ And the next person you meet will be this incredibly charismatic person who sees every young person before them as this unique piece of clay about to be molded.

- Recently-deceased NYT media critic David Carr in The Answer Sheet (What David Carr told me

Morning Video: The Heroin-Dealing Principal (& Other Options)

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

From NBC News: "Missouri police seek a former elementary school principal, they now believe was running a heroin trafficking ring. " Click here if the video doesn't load properly. Or watch AFT video of UTLA event last week here, or Scott Walker's critique of going to college as a requirement for being President here, or Fordham's lavender-shirted Petrilli talking about the same topic over the weekend here.

AM News: NJ Gov. Christie Joins Brigade Of Common Core Position-Changers

Christie goes from Common Core supporter to critic, blames Obama Washington Post: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is no longer the only GOP presidential hopeful to undergo an election season conversion from Common Core booster to critic.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told conservative Republicans in Iowa — the site of the first 2016 GOP caucus about a year from now — that he has “grave concerns” about the Common Core, the K-12 academic standards in reading and math adopted by 43 states and D.C.  See also WNYC: 'Grave Concerns' with Common Core.

Garcia suggests teachers will strike again if Emanuel re-elected Chicago Tribune: Mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said Feb. 17, 2015, that he expects teachers to strike again if Rahm Emanuel is re-elected. Mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said Feb. 17, 2015, that he expects teachers to strike again if Rahm Emanuel is re-elected. See also NYT: Rahm Emanuel's Campaign Worries How He Will Fare With Black Voters

As education rises in mayoral politics, teachers organize Philly.com: National teachers' union president Randi Weingarten, who spent significant time in Philadelphia last fall, hailed PFT's "incredible political program." "Obviously, that hard work paid off big in the end," Weingarten said in a statement.

New Mexico lawmakers confirm Jeb Bush protégé as education secretary Washington Post: The New Mexico Senate voted Monday to confirm Jeb Bush protégé Hanna Skandera as the state’s secretary of public education, handing a defeat to Democrats and teacher unions in what had become a four-year political fight. See also EdWeek: Hanna Skandera Confirmed as New Mexico K-12 Chief After Four Years in Limbo.

Report Highlights Features of Districts' Differentiated-Pay Systems Teacher Beat: The 10 districts now tie teacher raises to performance measures; most offer better overall pay, too.

Sharp Rise in Occupational Therapy Cases at New York’s Schools NYT: Nearly 42,000 public school students have been referred to the treatments, designed to help with things like managing sensitivities to noise or improving fine motor skills.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: NJ Gov. Christie Joins Brigade Of Common Core Position-Changers" »

Media: The Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County Coverage

Friday was Josh Starr's last day as head of the Montgomery County public schools.  He granted an interview to NPR -- but not to the Washington Post.   This forced the Post to run a bloggy writeup of the NPR interview over the weekend. You and I may not care, but in most cases a traditional news outlet like the Post would normally avoid publishing something like this on its regular news page, and would generally be loath to "follow" another news outlet with essentially duplicative coverage.

There's nothing really out of the ordinary about a district superintendent giving the cold shoulder to an outlet he or she perceives as having provided rough coverage of a tough situation.  Former DCPS head Michelle Rhee declined to give much help to the Washington Post during the last few months of her tenure, feeling that the coverage there had gone overboard with its criticism.  At a certain point, relations between beat reporters covering elected or appointed officials can get toxic even under the best of circumstances.  

But this is just the latest incident surrounding the Post's coverage of Montgomery County and Starr.  On January 27th, the paper's editorial page wrote about Starr's departure on the same day that the news came out on the education page.

That means the editorial page -- normally given to thoughtful analysis and commentary on news that's already been reported -- essentially scooped its own newsroom. I've heard estimates that there was a 12-hour gap, but I can't document such a thing.  There's no timestamp on Washington Post stories, however, the earliest comments I can find on the editorial page story come from that evening, around 8 pm and the earliest comments on the education version of the story come in a few hours later, just after midnight on the 28th. According to the Post's Bill Turque, the newsroom was only about 90 minutes behind, largely due to the newsroom's more stringent sourcing requirements.  

How does that happen, when the Post has both Donna St. George and Turque helping cover Montgomery County public schools? I have no idea.  Yes, nearly everyone seems to have been caught by surprise.  Sure, Twitter and the blogosphere beat newspapers to the punch all the time -- no fact-checking required on social media! -- but usually editorial pages don't beat their own newsrooms (or anyone else's really). They're usually not even close.  And ideally beat reporters hear and report things first, well before everyone else.  That's the whole point of beat reporting, or at least one of the main points. 

Anyway, I've asked some Post folks about the timing of the breaking news and will be happy to learn and share more about how it unfolded.  Anyone else have thoughts or insight into how the Post covered Starr, or the news of his departure, or whether any of it really matters?  Did this story in Bethesda Magazine precipitate or suggest what was to come, well in advance of the news breaking? Feel free to share information, theories, and insights here or on twitter. 

Related posts: Washington Post Doubles Down In National CoverageAbout That Front-Page Washington Post Story"Draft Sharing" Spreads At Washington Post Education TeamMichelle Rhee Vs. The Washington Post.

Charts: An Education U-Turn For Third-Generation Latinos?

Www.urban.org UploadedPDF 413239 Immigrant Youth Outcomes.pdf

"After progress from first to second generation, there are retreats in outcomes, such as voter participation, school attendance, educational attainment, trust in institutions, trust and interchanges with neighbors, and disconnectedness from work and school." Urban Institute via Vox.

Morning Video: None Of The 10 Best Teachers In The World Is From Finland

Check out this video via Forbes' Jordan Shapiro, featuring the USA's own Stephen Ritz, who's apparently well known in the U.S.A for a TED Talk and classroom food production program in NYC.

AM News: Common Core Testing Begins In Ohio (Also: Chicago Reconsiders Holdout)

New Computerized Tests Debut This Week, Starting in Ohio AP: Her state on Tuesday will be the first to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the school year, about 12 million children in 29 states and the District of Columbia will take them, using computers or electronic tablets. See also: Statewide testing begins without proficiency mark SI&A Cabinet Report.

Chicago Schools Reconsider Snub of PARCC Test Tribune: Chicago Public Schools officials are reconsidering their snub of a new, mandatory state exam after being threatened with potentially crippling financial sanctions. See also: Education at Heart of Chicago Mayor's Race Politico.

White House pushes back against GOP on funds for poor school children Washington Post: “The White House is using scare tactics and budget gimmicks to kill K-12 education reform, because they know a new law will lead to less control in the hands ofWashington bureaucrats and more control in the hands of parents and education leaders.” See also Politics K12: Title I Portability Sticky Wicket in NCLB Rewrite.

Gov. Christie Flip-Flops on Common Core WNYC: Governor Christie previously supported common core but now says he has "grave doubts" about the standards. NJ Spotlight's John Mooney explains what this means for education in NJ. See also EdWeek: Jeb Bush's 2005 Emails Show Thinking on Standards

A federal judge just put the brakes on Obama’s immigration actions Vox: The ruling comes right before the administration was going to open up applications for immigrants older than 30 who came the US as children to apply for protection from deportation and work permits. It also affects a program that was supposed to open later this spring, for parents of US citizens and permanent residents.

Amid measles outbreak, few rules on teacher vaccinations AP: In Vermont, Democratic Rep. George Till says legislators will try this year to eliminate philosophical exemptions for students and require that teachers be up to date on the same vaccines students must receive. In Colorado, pro-vaccination groups have been pushing the Department of Human Services to require vaccinations for workers at child care facilities, another area with uneven employee immunization standards. 

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Testing Begins In Ohio (Also: Chicago Reconsiders Holdout)" »

#EdGif Of The Day: The President's Day #SelfieStick Demonstration

Things Everybody Does But Doesn't Talk About, Featuring President Obama

What better way to celebrate President's Day than a Presidential demonstration of the #selfiestick (devices that have already been banned at several museums and soccer stadiums but not yet at any schools that I know of)? See more Obama gifs here - they're all part of a video he did for Buzzfeed on behalf of the Obamacare signup. See you tomorrow!

Update: 3 More Avenues To Great Information From Scholastic

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Good news from the folks at Scholastic Administrator (who kindly sponsor this blog) is that there are now two more blogs on the site: The first is edu@scholastic, run by Tyler Reed (@tylerbreed) with voices from all over Scholastic-land). The second blog is Down the Hall from Rod Berger (@drrodberger), who covers trends and people in the ed tech/leadership space, through videos, posts, and audio interviews. Check them out, and also take a look at the Edu Pulse for a mix of daily stories from staff and outside contributors. 

Congress: The (Seeming) Demise Of The Congressional Research Service

image from wamo.s3.amazonaws.comGot a minute? Check out Kevin Kosar's Washington Monthly article (Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service) for a depressing but informative look at what's happened to CRS, the in-house think tank for Congress that used to be such a useful and timely source of information and advice that few Congressional staffers and members could imagine living without it.  

Back in the day, folks like Wayne Riddle and Kosar (@kevinkosar) were invaluable sources of information.  But of course, back in the day Congress passed legislation and spending bills, too, and working on the Hill was considered one of the best jobs you could have.

Much has happened to CRS since then, according to Kosar's telling of the story. And Riddle is a private consultant.  Two folks who seem to have picked up the work seem to be Rebecca Skinner and Kyrie E. Dragoo (great name!).

Kosar's now at a think tank, appropriately enough. Think tanks have replaced CRS in many ways.  The information's not nearly as expert or neutral but it's faster, and more easily tailored to each side's arguments, and it's public, too.  

The Andy Smaricks and Anne Hyslops and Connor Williamses of the world can opine in public in real time -- they have communications help! CRS reports are infamously not publicly available.  An effort to make them public, OpenCRS, closed up shop last year. Wikileaks posted a bunch of CRS reports, but I'm not sure how extensive the collection is (Secret Congressional reports).

Kosar and I have known each other via email for almost a decade now.  He contributed some great pieces to this site while he was still at CRS -- back when such things were still allowed.  For example: Muddled AYP FixesDo National Standards Have A Chance?; He also penned a 2005 book: Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards.  Image used with permission.

Quotes: Chicago Teachers Union Blames Mayor For Jackie Robinson Little League Scandal

Quotes2Mayor Rahm closed half a dozen schools in Jackie Robinson West’s part of the city, and tried to close the school where the founder of JRW worked. Then CPS cut funding for high school freshman sports, laid off a thousand teachers.

-- CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey in The Nation (Gentrification Is the Real Scandal). Quote slightly edited for clarity.

Charts: No, There Aren't Really More Black Men In Jail Than In College

The myth that there are more black men in prison than in college  debunked in one chart   Vox

According to Vox, it's not even close.  But people keep saying it anyway, probably because it vividly captures concerns about mass incarceration and African-American education achievement. Click the link for an explanation. Image used with permission.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.