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#EDgif Of The Day: 50 Years Ago Jonathan Kozol Taught A Langston Hughes Poem

Click here to read or listen to the story from NPR's Claudio Sanchez. It's pretty amazing whether you are new to education or if Kozol's book was something you read in school and motivated you to get involved.

Maps: Most States (43) Still On Board With Common Core - But What About Tests?

image from www.edweek.org

Big thanks to EdWeek for this handy dandy map of states and Common Core standards, which shows that most states are still participating in the Common Core state standards.  You might think otherwise from the overheated news coverage this past year.  The map of where states are on tests is the one I really want, though -- and where there's been much more action. Anyone seen a current version of that (or a timetable of when states start getting scores back in July and August)?

Quotes: A Performance Contract Version Of ESEA

Quotes2Does the education world have some kind of time-tested system–something could be brought to bear on ESEA reauthorization–for combining real accountability with real autonomy? Yes, we realized. That’s precisely what chartering is all about. - Andy Smarick (Ahead of the Heard)

Morning Video: Growing Up Trans

From tonight's PBS Frontline, Growing Up Trans: "It's much harder to be gender non-conforming than to be transgender," she says 11 year-old Ariel (born as Ian) about her experiences with bullying at school and her decision to go on hormone blockers.

Or, watch and listen about Swahili-speaking teens from Zanzibar who made a film about why they'll fail English (via NPR)

AM News: Christie's Ironic Campaign Kickoff Locale, Plus Court Cases (KS & CO)

Chris Christie Slashed Education Funding, But He's Announcing His Presidential Bid At A Public School HuffPost: Christie is expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday at the high school.But the venue may be an odd choice, given that the school's district has experienced significant cuts in state funding during Christie's time as governor.After coming to office in 2010, Christie cut about $1 billion in education spending, according to Politifact, to help close gaps in the state's budget. See also EdWeek: Newark to Regain Local Control of Its Schools.

Guide Shows Teachers How To Talk With Kids About Gay Marriage HuffPost: The educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the National Education Association on Friday released a guide for educators to talk with students about marriage equality. 

Kansas Court Orders Immediate Increase In School Funding AP: State officials and an attorney for four school districts challenging the law said the decision from the three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court would force the state to provide between $46 million and $54 million in extra aid next week, distributing the money under an old formula that legislators junked.

Colorado's high court blocks school voucher program AP: A school voucher program in suburban Denver violates the state constitution because it provides funding for students to attend religious schools, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.... See also Washington PostEdWeek.

Ohio Poised to Ditch PARCC Common-Core Test in Budget Sent to Gov. Kasich State EdWatch: House Bill 64, the biennial 2015-17 budget that lawmakers sent to Gov. John Kasich, prohibits the state from purchasing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam

What Should the Next Version of Accountability Look Like? PK12: Under one vision, states and the federal government would set goals for student achievement, but the states would be able to use any strategies they wanted to get there.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Christie's Ironic Campaign Kickoff Locale, Plus Court Cases (KS & CO)" »

Gay Marriage: On Equality, Education Has A Long Way To Go*

So you rainbowed your Facebook profile. Good for you. Now let's think a minute about where things actually stand in the education world when it comes to equal treatment of people who identify as LBGT:

ED gov rainbow (1)

1 -- Gay and trans principals and teachers still get beat up or mistreated in other ways in schools, as of course do too many students. A NC teacher recently resigned after reading a fairy tale about gay princes to his class of third graders. A Georgia superintendent came out as gay and had his computer and phone confiscated for possible "misuse" (using Grindr).

2 -- There are few district superintendents who are openly gay, and none to my knowledge who are openly partnered or married. Mayor Daley's final 2009 appointee at head of Chicago schools, Ron Haberman, was revealed to be gay only after his appointment had been finalized. As of 2009, I could find only one other openly gay superintendent (Portland's Carole Smith). Are there many more since then? 

3 -- AFT head Randi Weingarten is one of very few national education leaders (union heads, think tankers, advocates, pundits, researchers) who is out, though there are a few up-and-coming thinkers and doers who seem to be out. Ditto for education reporters, funders, etc.

*UPDATE: A few folks wrote in to remind me to add Diane Ravitch, NEA President Lily Eskelin's son, Nev. state superintendent Dale Erquiaga, a Jamestown NY superintendent, and Rep. Mark Takano.

This is just to say that education has a long way to go before it's as progressive and open as it might hope to be, and that the situation on the ground -- in schools, board meetings, at conferences, etc. -- still seems remarkably outdated and straight given all the progress that's being made in the courts and to some extent in media coverage. 

Related posts: Asteroids, Gay Dinosaurs, Extinction!; Gay Superintendent -- But No Gay High School (2009); Gay-Bashing Arkansas School Board Member Apologizes, Resigns (2010); Learning From The Gay Rights Movement (2012);  More Lessons From The 2012 Gay Equality Campaign (2013), Image via USDE.

Morning Video: Up Close With NYC's Chancellor Farina

 

She's not quite the national figure that Joel Klein was -- for better and worse -- but NYC's mayoral appointee Carmen Farina has just wrapped up the school year and was doing the rounds touting recent accomplishments and addressing top NYC issues.

Or, check out this MSNBC clip in which Melissa Harris-Perry expresses unease with President Obama's handling of a trans heckler, or Rachel Maddow warning that the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling doesn't mean as much as you may think it does. Both via Medialite.

AM News: Duncan Addresses Parent Priorities

Duncan: These Are The Things Parents Should Demand From Schools HuffPost: While speaking at the 2015 National Parent Teacher Association Convention and Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina, Duncan detailed a handful of rights he said all parents should be able to demand from their children's schools. The rights, which span preschool through college, include free quality preschool, affordable quality college and high, challenging standards in a well-resourced school. 

Obama Administration Further Dials Back College Rating Plan WSJ:  The Obama administration continues to dial back once-aggressive plans to rate colleges and draw off federal dollars from the weakest schools, saying instead they intend to present new information about performance to empower consumers.

Changes for teachers bring CPS contract talks to a halt Tribune: Emanuel has had regular and productive talks with Lewis in recent days, but the mayor and his team have been unwilling to bend on the district's teacher evaluation system, said a City Hall official familiar with the negotiations. The administration contends that its changes to how CPS grades teachers has led to improved academic performance.

Kansas Court Rules Against Parts of State School Funding Law AP: State officials and an attorney for four school districts challenging the law said the decision from the three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court would force the state to provide between $46 million and $54 million in extra aid next week, distributing the money under an old formula that legislators junked. See also EdWeek.

News Corp. Is Winding Down School Tablet Sales Bloomberg Business: The media company, whose executive chairman is billionaire Rupert Murdoch, is no longer ordering new tablets from its manufacturer in Asia, though it has stock on hand for existing school customers, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Have Millennials turned away from teaching profession? SI&A Cabinet Report: The U.S. Department of Education reports that the nation’s elementary and secondary schools employed close to 3.5 million full-time equivalent classroom teachers. Of that total, 44 percent were under age 40 in 2013 – which is why federal officials say schools will need to hire 1.6 million new teachers to replace baby-boomer educators that will retire over the next ten years. See also KPCC LA.

Favorite GOP Primary Game: Bashing Jeb Bush on Common Core PK12: The 2016 election season is just getting started, but there's already a favorite sport among GOP contenders: Hitting Jeb Bush for his support of the Common Core standards.

State Relaxes an Order Preventing Teachers From Discussing Standardized Tests NYT: Teachers who grade standardized tests, who are required to sign confidentiality agreements, can now discuss some test materials once they’ve been released by the state.

Marva Collins, Educator Who Aimed High, Dies at 78 NYT: At Westside Preparatory School in Chicago, which she opened in 1975, Ms. Collins set high academic standards, emphasized discipline and promoted a nurturing environment.

Report Criticizes Walton Foundation Funding Methods for Charter Schools EdWeek: Under accountability, for example, the AFT and In the Public Interest, a watchdog group that is skeptical of charters, call for requiring companies and organizations that run charter schools to make board meetings public in the same way that traditional public schools are required to do, release financial information on annual budgets and contracts, and allow regular state audits.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan Addresses Parent Priorities " »

Ideas: Turning Schools & Prisons Into a "Production Function"

Screenshot 2015-06-26 14.12.53
"The [schools/prison] problem is a “production function” that needs to be made more efficient, such that it can begin producing smart kids and rehabilitated ex-prisoners on the back end — no matter who comes in the front." -- Eli Hager in The Marshall Project (What Prisons Can Learn From Schools)

 

Quotes: AFT Pushes Progressive Issues (Where Are Reform Leaders?)

There are many other vendors and partners who provide the same services as Change.org, and that are also aligned with our values and goals. In this case, that allows us to keep our business with firms that aren’t working to undermine our members and the communities they serve. - Randi Weingarten in Think Progress (What’s Changing At Change.org?)

Numbers: Parents Average 2.4 Minutes Per Day Reading To Kids

"From 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day, and they read to their kids for 2.4 minutes per day (about one picture book’s worth)," according to FiveThirtyEight's look at the American Time Use Survey.

AM News: Clinton Hears About School Inequality On St. Louis Trip

St. Louis-Area School and Community Leaders Highlight Inequities for Clinton District Dossier: Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent in Jennings, Mo., appeared with other local leaders to talk frankly with the Democratic presidential candidate about racial and socioeconomic issues in their communities.

Panel recommends continuing districts’ waiver from NCLB EdSource Today: An oversight committee is recommending that the U.S. Department of Education again extend a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law to six California school districts, collectively known as CORE.

Senate Committee Approves Bill Cutting Ed. Dept. by $1.7 Billion in FY 2016 PK12: Democrats on the committee unsuccessfully attempted to restore funding for a host of education programs that were eliminated or gutted in the Senate appropriations bill.

Contract talks break down between Chicago teachers and city WBEZ Chicago: CTU President Karen Lewis said the union’s latest proposal was cost neutral—no annual raises, no cost-of-living increases—but did ask the Board to continue picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution. See also Sun Times.

California Lawmakers Vote To Remove Vaccine Exemptions For Schoolchildren NPR: A similar bill, which eliminates all but medical exemptions, has already passed the state Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he will sign it. See also WSJ.

Lost and Founds Overflow at the End of the School Year NYT: A single shoe. Underwear. By each June, as teachers and students prepare for summer, the detritus of the school year can reach impressive heights.

Guide to Albany’s final deal Chalkbeat: State lawmakers wrapped up last night, passing a bill that included a one-year extension of mayoral control, allows 25 additional charter schools to open in New York City, appoints a commission to review state test questions for grade-level appropriateness, and lets teachers talk about those questions — but only after the questions are released over the summer.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderruso.

Magazines: A New Policy Solutions Site To Consider

Screenshot 2015-06-25 13.52.15
There's a cool-seeming and newish "policy innovation" blog over at The Washington Monthly called Republic 3.0 that you might want to check out (or pitch).  

While not education-focused, it's got some education content:

Education reform's final chapter.
Reason triumphs over Common Core opponents.
 
And it promises "innovative, practical and progressive ideas to reimagine government, politics and society for the better.... You’ll find no partisan name-calling or cheap shots."

There's also lots of education news and commentary at The Grade, my media watch blog, and College Guide, the Washington Monthly's long-running series.

 

Thompson: A Different Take On The NYT's Common Core Coverage

I'm not about to reverse myself again and support Common Core, but my reaction to Kate Taylor's English Class in Common Core Era: "Tom Sawyer" and Court Opinions is somewhat different than that of many educators who I highly respect.

The NYT's Taylor wrote, "In the Common Core era, English class looks a little different." She described lessons where ninth graders study excerpts from “The Odyssey" along with sections of the G.I. Bill of Rights, and 10th graders read Catcher in the Rye along with articles on bipolar disorder and the adolescent brain.

Those lessons remind me of my old history classes where, for instance, we had multimedia lessons on Ralph Ellison and Oklahoma City's "Deep Deuce," and students learned how they inspired his classic novel The Invisible Man. The district used to encourage teachers to devise those sorts of multidisciplinary lessons in the name of "horizontal alignment." 

Then came NCLB, "vertical alignment," and paced instruction that often killed engaging and in-depth classwork, as teach-to-the-test was mandated. Common Core supposedly began as a way to turn the clock back to the days before bubble-in testing dummied school down. When stakes were attached to Common Core tests, however, much or most of the potential value of new standards was lost.

That being said, I agree with Diane Ravitch that "every English teacher should be free to decide what to teach. If he or she loves teaching literature, that’s her choice. If she loves teaching documents, essays, biographies, and other nonfiction, that’s her choice."

The slower approach of persuading and coaching teachers would have been much better. The impatience of Common Core advocates created the environment where test-driven accountability was used to force compliance. I suspect this is the prime cause of unintended negative effects, such as the one Taylor reported, where a fifth-grader had to do "painstakingly close reading of sections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" to the point where after only nine days of school the child "got into the car after school and started to sob."

Too many reformers want it both ways. They mandate aligned and paced, skin-deep instruction to high stakes tests. But, they supposedly do so as a stepping stone to a system where schools select their own materials and teachers are freed to teach for multidisciplinary mastery - as long as the do so within the constraints of high stakes Common Core testing. After imposing these mutually exclusive dictates, reformers ask why educators don't trust their promises to, some day over the rainbow, stop their micromanaging and allow innovation back into schools. -JT (@drjohnthompson) 

TBT: In 2009, Jeb Bush Proposed Unbundling College Tuition

 

Here's a fun #TBT item from The Atlantic's Derek Thompson in 2009 titled 10 Crazy Ideas for Fixing Our Education System. Most of them haven't happened (yet), but versions of several of them are still being discussed:

1_123125_2187228_2187577_2187578_fixiteducation.jpg.CROP.original-original

1) Eliminate summer vacation.

2) Extend the School Day. 

3) Expand Bilingual Education. 

4) Raise Compulsory Education Age

5) Kill the SAT. 

6) End tenure. 

7) Pay for Your Major. 

8) Smart Loans to Make College Affordable. 

9) Smart Certificates to Make College Non-Essential.

10) Rank Everything

Yep it was Jeb Bush who reportedly proposed #7 making college tuition related to course of study. 

Want more? Here's another To Do list from that era, via Slate, which predicts the push to streamline testing.

Morning Video: Fox News Sunday Features Common Core's Laura Slover

PARCC's Laura Slover on Fox News Sunday. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly. Via Diane Ravitch.

AM News: Tenn. Test Scores, Vergara Counter-Claims, AFT Walton Report

Five things to know about Tennessee’s 2015 test scores, out today Chalkbeat: Tennessee officials’ annual test-score announcement on Thursday will mark the end of an era. This year’s scores are the last for the multiple-choice tests known as TCAP that the state has administered for more than two decades. Next year, students are set to take a new exam that officials say will be a better measure of students’ skills. 

Respondents File Brief Countering Unions' Claims in Vergara Appeal TeacherBeat: The most interesting new wrinkle here concerns a new Calif. law, AB 215, that was approved shortly after the verdict. Unions have claimed that the legislation renders the entire suit moot, since it aims to slim the amount of time for a dismissal hearing. But the plaintiffs contend that the law potentially makes dismissal even harder. It doesn't state what happens if the deadlines are ignored, for instance, leaving open the possibility that any such hearing would have to be relitigated from scratch.

Report Criticizes Walton Foundation Support for Charter School Expansion District Dossier: The American Federation of Teachers and In the Public Interest argue that the Walton Family Foundation's ideology has led to rapid expansion of a charter sector that lacks transparency and accountability and is undermining traditional public schools.

How Can States Cut Tests Without Losing Crucial Information? State EdWatch: "Some states don't even know what tests they're giving next year," CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich told attendees at a conference about student assessment on June 23.

Nearly 200 schools are named for Confederate leaders. Is it time to rename them? Washington Post: The backlash against public use of Confederate flags has built quickly since nine parishioners were gunned down inside a South Carolina church last week. Alabama removed the flag from its state capitol grounds Wednesday, and political leaders in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina have moved to remove Confederate flag symbols from their state license plates. Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears and eBay all have said they will stop selling the Confederate battle flag, viewed by many people as a symbol of racism and slavery. 

More than a day after ‘framework’ agreement, questions remain on education issues ChalkbeatNY: Chief among those for Assembly Democrats is the strengthening of rent regulations, although changes to the charter-school law were also being discussed. “There’s nothing closed down. Everything is still open,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said after emerging from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Wednesday evening. See also NY Mag.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Tenn. Test Scores, Vergara Counter-Claims, AFT Walton Report" »

Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?

Let’s recall the excitement in 2007 when Bruce Fuller, Katheryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, and Joseph Wright published Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working?  Fuller et. al showed that NAEP test score growth had largely declined after NCLB took effect, but states reported huge gains on their standardized tests. Oklahoma, for instance, posted a 48 point gap between its 4th grade reading NCLB scores and its NAEP results. After NCLB, the state’s 4th grade reading scores increased 2.3% per year while its NAEP results dropped by .3 per year.

Fuller’s blockbuster was a definitive indictment of the reliability of state NCLB test scores; it even got the test-loving Education Trust to question whether bubble-in accountability was working. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before testing received a unanimous verdict as guilty of being a hopelessly misleading metric. I thought the idea that state test score growth, during an age of test-driven accountability, could stand alone as evidence of increased learning would soon be discredited. 

While I must emphasize how much I admire the work of Douglas Harris, I’m dismayed by one passage in his report on the New Orleans model of reform, The Urban Education of the Future?. I’ve got no problem with Harris et. al reporting that New Orleans increased student performance, as measured by Louisiana’s embarrassingly primitive state tests, by .2 to .45 std. It is a scholar’s responsibility to report such data. However, why would Harris speak as if he assumes that those numbers mean anything? They might mean something or they might not, but certainly they don’t provide evidence that New Orleans portfolio model has increased student performance more than early education would have. 

Even when they are valid, test scores measure a narrow band of skills and knowledge.  They rarely or never reveal what information was retained by a student, or what went into one of a student’s ears and out the other. Neither are NCLB-type test scores likely to say much about whether any alleged learning was meaningful. So, I have been searching for a metaphor to illustrate why test scores, alone, during a time of test-driven accountability, can’t be used to argue that a pedagogy that focuses on raising objective outputs is more effective than early education or any other approach to holistic learning. 

NFL running backs share a lot of athletic skills with their counterparts in rugby. So, what would we say about a quantitative analysis estimating that football halfbacks are .2 to .45 std more effective in racking up the metrics (yardage, scoring etc.) on NFL fields than Australian rugby runners would be in competing in the American game under our rules and referees? Wouldn’t the response be, Well Duh!?

Continue reading "Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?" »

Quotes: Anderson Laments Inadequate Response To Misinformation

Quotes2We were constantly having to repair and undo and clarify facts... It is incredible to me how misinformation gets spread so effectively. Our response to combat that could have been better. We underestimated that.

- Cami Anderson in the NYT (Schools Chief in Newark Says Debate Lost Its Focus)

Morning Videos: Transgendered Swimmer, St. Louis Educator, Jeb Bush Update

 

Watch this Washington Post interview with a college student who was recruited by Harvard to swim on the women's swim team but has transitioned and will now swim (and live) as a man. Or watch St. Louis area educator Tiffany Anderson who will be meeting with Hillary Clinton later today to talk education (via EdWeek). Or watch CNN Politics folks talk about Jeb Bush's swipes at Clinton and de Blasio over education.

AM News: Test Streamlining Guidance, NCLB Waivers, Anderson Reflects

State Chiefs Group Offers Guidance on Reducing Testing EdWeek: Several states and districts are using Achieve's assessment inventory to get a more accurate look at the amount of time students spend on tests, the CCSSO paper said. Ohio surveyed its districts to build a detailed picture of what tests are given and how long they take. Connecticut is awarding grants to districts to support their work in evaluating their own assessment routines.

8 Education Waivers Granted AP: The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia continued flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. See also Washington Post.

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: At first, many English teachers and other defenders of literature feared that schools would respond by cutting the classics. That has happened, to some extent. But most districts have managed to preserve much of the classroom canon while adding news articles, textbook passages, documentaries, maps and other material that students read or watch alongside the literature, sometimes in strained pairings.

Years Into Common Core, Teachers Lament Lack of Materials AP: Schmidt's analysis of 34 widely used math textbook series found that those released after 2011 were, predictably, better aligned to Common Core than older ones but still left out about 20 percent of the standards. Such findings have given rise to a nonprofit website funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdReports.org, which reviews materials for alignment and quality.

Dispute Over Union Fees Could Return to Supreme Court AP: Half the states currently require state workers represented by a union to pay "fair share" fees that cover bargaining costs, even if they are not members. The justices could decide as early as next week whether to take up the case.

Schools Chief in Newark Says Debate Lost Its Focus NYT: Cami Anderson, in an interview one day after she resigned as schools superintendent, lamented that the fight over education reform had become “personalized.”

Testing Opt-Out Bill Signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown; Delaware Next? State EdWatch: The Oregon measure makes districts send notices to parents twice a year about their right to opt out of state exams, and about the purpose of the tests.

More Minority Students Should Be In Special Ed, Study Says HuffPost: A study released Wednesday, led by Penn State education professor Paul Morgan, suggests that's the case. Schools have been identifying too few minority students for placement in special education, he claims -- in some cases, by a margin as large as 60 percent.

National, state teachers' unions split on East Ramapo Capital New York: The state teachers' union and its national sibling appear to be at odds over a proposal for state oversight in Rockland County's troubled East Ramapo school district. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Test Streamlining Guidance, NCLB Waivers, Anderson Reflects" »

Quotes: Ravitch Explains Her 2012 Vote For Obama Over Romney

Quotes2I don’t regret voting for him on 2012. He made great choices for the Supreme Court. On education, however, his administration is hardly different from that of any Republican, including Romney... Their only difference was vouchers, yet even here both Obama and Duncan have done nothing and said nothing to stop the proliferation of vouchers. - Ravitch on Obama administration from earlier this month (Stop Defaming Teachers!)

Morning Video: Campbell Brown's EdNews Site Launch Video

The Seventy Four, Campbell Brown's much-anticipated new education site, went live last night with a tweet and the above somewhat Shining-like video, and will start pumping out original commentary and content in a couple of weeks. Contributors to @The74 will include New America's Conor Williams and AJC's Cynthia Tucker. Funders include Walton & Bloomberg. Read all about it in the WSJ or the intro email below.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Campbell Brown's EdNews Site Launch Video" »

AM News: Newark's Cami Anderson Steps Down

Cami Anderson, Picked by Christie, Is Out as Newark Schools Superintendent NYT: Ms. Anderson, who oversaw the New Jersey city’s troubled public school system, had feuded openly with the mayor, teachers and many parents. See also NJ.com, WSJDistrict DossierWashington Post.

Teacher Rafe Esquith files claim against L.A. Unified, blames controversy on joke LA Times: From his modest classroom at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Koreatown, Rafe Esquith became an education superstar. His teaching techniques brought him worldwide recognition, and his books became models for how to engage young students. See also LA School Report, KPCC LA.

Grading the Common Core: No Teaching Experience Required NYT: Pearson, which operates 21 scoring centers around the country, hired 14,500 temporary scorers throughout the scoring season, which began in April and will continue through July. About three-quarters of the scorers work from home

Despite progress, D.C. students are still not up to par, report says Washington Post: The District’s education leaders emphasized the progress that they have made in reforming the city’s schools in recent years but acknowledged Monday that they must increase efforts to improve prospects for thousands of underperforming students.

School Scrambles To Preserve Newly Discovered Chalkboards From 1917 NPR: Behind the walls at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City, construction workers found old chalkboards with drawings and class lessons, written almost a century ago and in remarkable condition.

Fariña, de Blasio and Mulgrew aim to fire up principals at Renewal event ChalkbeatNY: A private event for the 94 low-performing schools on Monday featured words of encouragement from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, along with time for schools to refine their improvement plans for next year. Principals said the event was part pep rally, part professional development session, and was designed to energize those who will be on the front lines as the city tries to prove it can improve those schools with a combination of academic help and resources to meet students’ non-academic needs.

Innovative teacher-training program spreads to the Tri-Cities Seattle Times: Heritage University is expanding a teacher-training program that gives students up to two years in on-the-job training.

No drama, little fanfare as MPS and teachers begin talks MinnPost: Goar is adept at managing divergent constituencies, but is thought to be unlikely to rock the boat with any of them while on an extended tryout. He reports to a board that boasts three new members (four if you count nonvoting student member Noah Branch) that is still something of a cipher politically.

Quotes: A Call For Blending Kids & Dollars In NYC

Quotes2Unfortunately, in cobbling together different funding sources and different types of preschools, the city has unintentionally reinforced barriers that keep rich and poor children apart, even in economically mixed neighborhoods. -- Clara Hemphill & Halley Potter in the NYT (Let Rich and Poor Learn Together)

Morning Video: Howard Fuller Reflects On #NOLAed

"Some attendees were opponents who questioned the reforms. But far louder was the self-questioning by the very people who championed the changes." (Success at what cost? New Orleans education reformers discuss the revolution via Times Picayune).  Click the link if the video doesn't load. 

Or watch and read all about Icahn Charter in NYC -- second to Success Academy but rarely in the press. Reason via ChalkbeatNY.

AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools

Teachers allege problems at California virtual schools run by Va.-based company K12 Inc. Washington Post: A group of teachers at a network of California virtual schools has alleged a number of problems with the online operator, including inflated enrollment to increase per-pupil funding; violation of student privacy laws; misuse of federal funds meant to serve poor children; and inadequate services for children with disabilities. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Virginia Online High School Pilot Is Ahead of the Curve US News: Come this fall, 100 students from across Virginia will have the chance to participate in the commonwealth's first fully online high school through a pilot program recently announced by state officials. And if the program comes to full fruition after the pilot, it would be the first of its kind in Virginia, and only the second of its kind in the country.

Texas Law Decriminalizes School Truancy AP: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect.

Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States State EdWatch: A Smarter Balanced testing vendor has released completion rates in three states that had serious challenges giving the common-core aligned exam.

When Research Projects Replace State Tests WNYC: ICE is one of 48 [consortium schools] with a waiver from the state to offer alternatives to most of the five Regents tests required to graduate. Students still must take the English exam but for the others they can provide portfolios or special projects. 

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.

Poverty's enduring hold on school success WBEZ Chicago: Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty--2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty—where nearly every child in the school is low-income— has ballooned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools" »

Afternoon Reading: Charters, Unionization, & The Annenberg Standards

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Kudos to Rachel M. Cohen [@rmc031] for her American Prospect piece about charter school unionization (When Charters Go Union), which is a timely update on a small but important issue no matter which side of the reform/critic divide you happen to occupy.

As Cohen lays them out, the challenges to both unions and charter advocates are pretty clear:

Traditional unions are grappling with how they can both organize charter teachers and still work politically to curb charter expansion. Charter school backers and funders are trying to figure out how to hold an anti-union line, while continuing to market charters as vehicles for social justice. 

The piece also helpfully explains the teachers unions' recent turn towards a dual strategy of critiquing low-performing charters (especially for-profit ones) via the Annenberg Standards while also embarking on a series of organizing efforts:

Beginning in 2007 and 2008, the AFT set up a national charter-organizing division, and today has organizers in seven cities: L.A., Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, and Philadelphia. 

Like me, you have heard a bit about the Annenberg Standards for charter schools but not really known what they are or how they were being advanced. You may be surprised to learn that NACSA -- the association of authorizers comes out as more critical of them than NAPCS, the association of charter operators.  (Usually it's the other way around when it comes to quality and accountability issues.)  

And Cohen addresses the awkwardness for some teachers thinking about being represented by an organization that has previously seemed to deride their work and impact. She quotes on LA charter school teacher opposed to unionization:

How could I support a union that for the last ten years spent a good portion of their time attacking our right to exist?... They’ve spent the last ten years both supporting anti-charter school board members and fighting in Sacramento against what we do.

This tension remains or even grows with the unions' interest in promoting new legislation that would limit charter expansion.  And Cohen addresses that too. 

There's even a nice mention for Green Dot's unionized network of charters and the evolution of the relationship between UTLA and AMU -- gotta love that (especially if you wrote a book about Locke High School).

That's not to say that there aren't issues with the piece, however:

For starters, the evidence for the impact of unionization on student achievement (what little there is) is pushed to the bottom of the story when ideally it would have been touched on at the top (at least, right?). Readers should know early on that unionization or its absence doesn't seem to make a dramatic difference when it comes to student outcomes. 

Depth-wise, there aren't very many voices from principals and administrators who've worked with unionized charter teachers -- really just one at the end -- or really from teachers who've been at unionized charters for a long while. So we hear from lots of charter teachers talking about organizing (generally in positive terms) but get very little sense of what it's like working with unionized staff over the long haul.

It's perhaps a minor complaint but there's little or nothing until the very end of the piece about the difficulties that organizers have encountered in New York City when it comes to unionized charters (and no mention at all of the a well-publicized situation in which teachers at KIPP AMP voted to join the union then changed their minds). I'd be interested to learn more about organizing efforts that haven't panned out, and why.

Last but not least, Cohen resorts to speculation when it comes to describing the non-academic benefits of unionization, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining effective teachers.  If unionization doesn't dramatically affect student achievement one way or the other, does it at least attract more qualified teachers or increase retention? It's not clear.  Cohen speculates that it does but I could imagine it working both ways.

Still, it's a fascinating and helpful piece, over all, and I recommend it highly. 

Back & Forth: Reformy Researcher's Mind Boggled By Thompson, NOLA, Me

USC's Morgan Polikoff has a blog post you might want to read, in which he takes on contributor John Thompson's recent critique of the New Orleans school reform model and a recent Washington Monthly article about the last 10 years there.

In large part, Polikoff takes issue with various claims and observations made by Thompson about, for example CREDO as a pro-charter organization: 

Unless by “pro-charter” he means “uses advanced statistical methods and concludes that charters marginally outperform traditional public schools in recent reports but not in earlier reports,” this characterization of CREDO is absurd.

On Thompson's claim that there is no evidence to support claims of progress:

You might argue with those statistics–that they’re based on creaming, or that the poorest of the poor have been driven out of NOLA, or some other critique (though my read of the evidence on this is pretty clear). But they’re not no evidence. They’re actually quite a bit of evidence.... Perhaps it wouldn’t work elsewhere, but it’s not nothing.

On the idea of "withholding judgement" pending further evidence:

If the facts come back that charters are outperforming traditional public schools in New Orleans, you can bet your bottom dollar there won’t be a followup post about how the reforms were right all along.

Last but not least, Polikoff takes aim at the perceived disconnect between Thompson, whose writing according to Polikoff betrays "an agenda that will not change with any amount of research evidence," and my writing here and at The Grade.

Morning Video: Live From New Orleans

 Here's the livestream from #NOLAed conference going on now. Or click here if the link doesn't work -- I couldn't find real embed codes. The schedule for the day is here. Or watch PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifil deliver a Newark commencement speech here.

AM News: Proposed New Funding Formula For Worst-In-Nation Pennsylvania

Pa. Lawmakers Propose New School Funding Formula, as Tax Hikes Loom State EdWatch: The formula would provide additional funding for individual students from low-income backgrounds, as well as for students in districts with large concentrations of poverty. See also WashPost: Pa. proposes new school funding formula to help low-income students.

How Much Learning Actually Happens in June? WNYC: The grades are in. Brains are fried (young and old). The number of days left in the school year can almost be counted on one hand. With summer break so close, students and teachers are in a different mode. And that requires different activities.

Civil Rights Groups Demand More Accountability in Senate ESEA Bill PK12: A coalition of 36 organizations say in a letter to senators that without changes, the bipartisan ESEA measure "will not fulfill its functions as a civil rights law."

Teachers Union Leader Weighs In On Democratic Contenders For President HuffPost: García separately interviewed the former Maryland governor and the current Vermont senator Thursday as part of the NEA's endorsement process for the 2016 presidential election. O'Malley emphasized the importance of educating the "whole child," according to excerpts of the meeting released by the NEA.

What Happened After New Orleans Fired All of Its Teachers—and Why It Still Matters to Diversity in the Classroom Slate: A better understanding of why, and how, it matters for children, particularly the most disenfranchised, could help New Orleans teachers and schools become more effective in the wake of a 10-year-old tragedy. And it could help all educators, everywhere, in their bid to reach and teach a rapidly diversifying student population whose needs and backgrounds are more varied and complex than ever.

Kids' Art Show Takes Over 2 Billboards In Times Square NPR: Through the weekend, art by 23 public school students will be seen on two large billboards in the heart of New York City.

'Freedom' fries: Texas repeals ban on deep fryers in schools AP: It's about freedom, not the fries. So says new Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who announced Thursday that the state is repealing a decade-old ban on deep fryers in public schools - an unappetizing reversal to national health advocates, school nutritionists and even his predecessor in the post.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Proposed New Funding Formula For Worst-In-Nation Pennsylvania" »

Charleston: What's The Education Community Got To Say?

While some might consider the Charleston shooting to be a non-education issue, EdSec Arne Dunca, AFT head Randi Weingarten and others in the education community have expressed condolences to the families of the Charleston shooting victims, or made points related to the shooting about racism, guns, and segregation.

Several folks pointed out something written and shared by Colorado state senator Mike Johnston, who says he drove to Shorter AME church last night, taped a letter to the door, and encourages "every other white person to do the same."

"By Sunday morning America could blanket these churches with such overwhelming expressions of love that no one could walk through the doors of an AME church without feeling a flood of love and support from white men whose names they don’t know, whose faces they cant place, but whose love they cant ignore."

I haven't seen a ton of organization-based expressions of concern or sympathy, and many organization leaders might well think that the killings have nothing to do with education.  

If there are other, better, or different expressions of feeling that come from education leaders or organizations that you'd like me to share, please tweet them at me (@alexanderrusso).

Table: Smaller, Lower-Scoring Districts Had Higher Opt-Out Rates In NY

image from www.brookings.eduSo Brookings' Matt Chingos took a look at the available opt-out data for New York State, and then combined it with demographic information and 2014 test score results (Who opts out of state tests?).

What he found includes both the obvious ("relatively affluent districts tend to have higher opt-out rates," and "larger districts tend to have lower opt-out rates.") and the more surprising ("districts with lower test scores have higher opt-out rates after taking socioeconomic status into account.")

Why would lower-scoring districts have higher opt out rates, controlling for demographics?

According to Chingos, it might be "district administrators encouraging opt-outs in order to cover up poor performance, districts focusing on non-tested subjects to satisfy parents who care less about standardized tests, and parents becoming more skeptical of the value of tests when their children do not score well."

However, there's not enough data to determine whether lower- or higher-scoring students tended to opt out at higher or lower rates, notes Chingos. "It could be the higher-scoring students in those districts that are doing the opting out."

Thompson: Washington Monthly Spins NOLA School Reform Impact

The safest summary of evidence on the effectiveness of New Orleans school reforms is Politico's Caitlin Emma.  Emma's The New Orleans Model: Praised but Unproven explains that "mayors and governors from Nevada to Tennessee have sought to replicate the New Orleans model by converting struggling public schools into privately run charters and giving principals unprecedented autonomy to run their own staffs, budgets and curricula — as long as they deliver better test scores." But, she adds, "behind all the enthusiasm is an unsettling truth: There’s no proof it works."

Emma further notes that there have been "similarly mixed signals in other places where the New Orleans model has been tried." As we wait for better evidence, a newcomer to education, such as the Washington Monthly's David Osborne, could have contributed to the discussion on the lessons of New Orleans, but he would have had to have written an article that was far different than his How New Orleans Made Charters Work.

Osborne starts with the dubious claim by the pro-charter CREDO that charters receive less per student funding, but he did not mention the additional $3,500 per student funding provided for post-Katrina schools. He cites the objective researcher, Douglas Harris, who says that NOLA undertook “the most radical overhaul of any type in any school district in at least a century.” 

But, Osborne cites no evidence by Harris or anyone else that the New Orleans radicalism can work in a sustainable manner or that it could be scaled up. Instead, he devotes almost all of his article to praising true believers in unproven theories on school improvement.

Had Osborne dug deeper into Harris's research, he would have seen that the scholar's first report on NOLA strikes at the heart of reformers' claims that high-performing charters serve the same students as lower-performing neighborhood schools.  Neither does Osborne ask whether the test score evidence he cites is meaningful or not. But, Osborne's greatest failing was ducking an opportunity to consider his daughter's experience as a lens for evaluating policy issues. 

Osborne's daughter was a Teach for America teacher at a charter that faced closure if it did not raise scores dramatically. The school "pulled out all the stops on remediation and test prep. Its scores soared, the state raised its grade from an F to a C, and BESE renewed its charter. But the school continued to struggle with student discipline, and the next year it fell back to a D."

Continue reading "Thompson: Washington Monthly Spins NOLA School Reform Impact " »

Quotes: Former Labor Secretary Supports Charters That Do Right By Kids

Quotes2I don’t have anything against charter schools if they adhere to minimum public standards, and if they don’t select their students — skimming the cream off in advance — and don’t kick students out who don’t meet the grade. I mean those kinds of charter schools who really are taking on public responsibilities by accepting all students, or at least selecting on a random selection basis and keeping students who are difficult to teach, but keeping them in the classroom and doing the best for their students, then all power to them.

- Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich in the Huffington Post (How America Has Failed Its Students)

Morning Video: Pondiscio's "Complicated Relationship" With Testing

"Education reform runs on data, so to speak, and data is testing and when you opt out of testing you're basically robbing the system of the data it needs to make decisions," the Fordham senior fellow explained on NewsMax earlier this week (the show host is hilarious/awful). "You show me a kid who's being pressured on testing and I'll show you a teacher who's pressuring him." However, Pondiscio also admits that he's got "a complicated relationship" with testing. 

Click the link if the video doesn't load properly. There's also a new Oyler Elementary video from PBS but I can't find it -- help me out?

AM News: Jindal Loses Common Core Appeal

Jindal loses appeal on Common Core lawsuit in state court AP: A Louisiana appeals court Wednesday upheld a judge's ruling that barred Gov. Bobby Jindal from suspending testing contracts tied to Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards.

House Appropriators Prepare Fiscal 2016 Education Spending Bill for Markup PK12: The subcommittee markup is the first to occur in more than three years, as Congress has been dysfunctional in its ability to draft fiscal year spending bills.

Tough Tests for Teachers, With Question of Bias NYT: Minority candidates have been lagging whites in passing the tests, jeopardizing a goal of diversifying the teaching force so it more closely resembles the makeup of the country’s student body.

Elements of 'Portfolio' Strategy Taking Root in Some Districts District Dossier: A new snapshot from the Center on Reinvention Public Education (CRPE) looks at the progress school districts have made in implementing components of the portfolio model strategy.

10 Years After Katrina, the Education System in New Orleans is Still Evolving District Dossier: The annual "State of Public Education in New Orleans" report, which is published by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, examines the education reforms in the city's public schools since 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

Johnny on the Spot: Ohio Gov. Kasich, Common Core, and the 2016 Campaign State EdWatch: Unlike fellow Republican Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is a sitting public official and common-core supporter who has parried a variety of attacks on the standards.

Usher’s curriculum with ‘swag’ could help D.C. students find their passion Washington Post: The day started with a simple question: What’s your “spark”? The dozen teens, all students at Cardozo High School in Columbia Heights, shared their interests: Hip-hop, football, music, singing and pottery.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Jindal Loses Common Core Appeal" »

Quotes: And Now, A Word From President Clinton's Education Secretary

Quotes2We’re kind of in a testing era in the United States... If you have a problem, throw a test at it.

- Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond in the NY Times (Tougher Teacher Licensing Exams and a Question of Racial Discrimination)

Update: Deray McKesson Invited To Clinton Campaign Event

Last week's post about Deray McKesson ended with a question: "Which public official or candidate for office will try and get in a photo with him next? 

Sure enough, the Clinton campaign invited the TFA alum/social activist to her event over the weekend: 

McKesson supporters -- and perhaps TFA-hating Clinton allies, too -- might be reassured that the speech didn't wow him:

"I heard a lot of things. And nothing directly about black folk. Coded language won't cut it."

Related posts: Conservatives Critique/Elevate AFT Alum/Activist.

Campaign 2016: Like Obama, Clinton Writes Excuse Notes

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"If you have to miss school, make sure you have a note." Hillary Clinton Facebook page via Jenn Bluestein.

This will soon get old, but not yet. There were some Obama examples of the "candidate excuse note" way back in 2008, longtime readers will recall -- and to be sure examples before that we don't know about because there was no Twitter. 

Related posts: Excuse Note From Obama Doesn't Convince School Officials (2008); Obama Writes Excuse Note -- Again (2008); Another Obama School Excuse Note (2102).

Morning Video: Hillary Clinton Talks Early Education In NH

"Two days after a campaign launch in New York City, Hillary Clinton returns to New Hampshire to participate in a forum on early childhood education. Duration: 97:26" Via MSNBC

AM News: Tulane Report Says 2005-2015 New Orleans Changes Working

New Orleans school changes worked, Cowen Institute says NOLA.com: Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, have New Orleans' massive education changes worked? Tulane's Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives issued its answer in a Wednesday (June 17) report:

Ed. Policy Irony: Union Pushes Back on D.C. Plan to Shield Evaluation Data Teacher Beat: In a reversal of roles, the union says that the district is trying to hide crucial information on the controversial educator-evaluation system.

Schools official mistakenly leaks student data in PowerPoint document Washington Post: When the chief technology officer for Montgomery County schools gave a talk at a conference in Missouri a few years ago, he used a PowerPoint presentation that mistakenly included the names and photos of 16 Bethesda kindergartners, along with phone numbers.

Decriminalizing truancy while focusing on family engagement SI&A Cabinet Report: A landmark revision of truancy laws in Texas would give schools and the courts more options for dealing with scofflaw students other than sending them into the criminal justice system.

A Vision For Teacher Training At MIT: West Point Meets Bell Labs NPR: Arthur Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, is launching a $30 million project that he says will shake teacher education to its core.

A Soft Eraser Won't Fix This SAT Mistake NPR: The College Board won't score two of 10 test sections after a printing error on the instructions for the exam given earlier this month.

After years of reform, a sign of hope for a rural Mississippi school Hechinger Report:The number of Mississippi third graders moving on to the fourth grade has jumped from 85 percent to 90 percent, according to third-grade reading test retake scores released last week by the Mississippi Department of Education. Still, 3,400 third graders could be held back a year. Jackie Mader went to one of the poorest areas of the state in the Delta to see how third-grade testing went where kids are most behind.

LAUSD summer school enrollment jumps 20 percent as graduate requirements get tougher KPCC LA: In years past, the college-prep course load was an option that L.A. Unified's academically inclined students could elect to take, but now the school board is requiring all students to complete the so-called A-G classes that are necessary for University of California or California State University entry.

Missouri Schools and Parents Are Divided on Proposed Fixes to School Transfer Law District Dossier: Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed the legislature's attempt last year to fix the controversial 1993 school transfer law, has until mid-July to act on this year's version.

Teacher Resigns After Reading Students Book About Gay Couple AP: NC teacher resigns amid outcry over reading 3rd-graders story of princes who marry each other.

Where's All The Ed-Related Conversation About #RachelDolezal?

Has someone prominent been revealed to have been "passing" as black in education? Not that I know of. But I can't believe it hasn't happened -- and even if it hasn't, race and privilege are everywhere in education. 

And so I'm sad to note that there's surprisingly little being said so far about Rachel Dolezal among the education folks I follow on Twitter and Facebook, and via Feedly.

That seems like a shame. It's an opportunity, right?  Let's not have it pass us by just because Dolezal headed a NAACP local rather than a school district.

Below are a few comments by education-related people that I've found via Twitter, just to get things started:

Nekima Levy-Pounds:

Deray McKesson:

Morgan Polikoff:

Liz Dwyer:

Laura McKenna:

Motoko Rich:

Camika Royal:

Some of the folks I'd love to hear from (more) on this issue include Karen Lewis, Cami Anderson, Michelle Rhee, @TheJLV, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chris Stewart, Ray Salazar, RiShawn Biddle, Xian Barrett, Sabrina Stevens, Deray McKesson, someone from TFA, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Agree or disagree with you, we need more voices here. 

Related posts: Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, TooRace, Reconstruction, & The Nation"Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"Sports Are What City Schools "Do Best".

Teacher Prep: Former TC Head Launches New "Competency-Based" Ed School

There are at least a couple of cool-sounding new things about the grad school / research lab that's just been announced by the folks at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation:

They've been working the past few years to upgrade existing ed school programs around the country, but now they're showing how they think it should be done by creating their own  new grad school (dubbed the Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning).

In so doing they're creating what they describe as the "first fully competency based school." 

What's that mean?  According to Arthur Levine, "The WW Academy will ‘throw out the clock,’ shifting the focus of certification from ‘hours in class’ to proven competency in the skills and knowledge every teacher and education leader needs to succeed."

Why not partner with nearby Princeton University?  "MIT is doing incredible work on the science of learning, and has 125 different projects on campus already focused on the topic," Chief Communications and Strategy Officer Patrick Riccards explained via email. "So the ability of working with the entire MIT team, particularly in the development of the Ed research lab side, was a dream come true." 

Longtime readers will recall that Levine was for many years the head of Teachers College at Columbia University, wrote a series of scathing reports about teacher prep, and has in recent years been helping a number of states and universities revamp their programs (to what overall effect, I'm not sure).

Early this year, Levine put TFA on blast in the NYT

[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. 

In Education Next, Levine had this to say about the innovative Relay GSE teacher prep system:

For innovation to survive, it has to be self-sustaining. If something’s not self-sustaining, it’s not serious.

According to the WSJ (Teacher-Training Initiative Aims to Reinvigorate Profession), Levine et al plan to make this "like West Point & Bell Labs for educators."

So far they've gotten "about $10 million" from Gates, Amgen, Carnegie Corp -- and need $20 million more. 

Related posts: The Levine Method For Revamping Teacher PrepLevine Is Wrong About Teachers & Unions (Thompson); Levine Announces New Effort (2007); "Fix The System Rather Than Applying A Patch".

Thompson: What's the Real Harm in the Wasting of Post-Test Time?

In Do Lazy June Days Include Too Many Parties and Movies?, The Washington Post's Jay Mathews says that June 1 is "the traditional beginning of parental complaints about how little work is done as the school year nears an end." He cites an Arlington parent who complains, “Every year the standardized tests come and go, and after that the education stops.”

Well duh! The suburban dad should remember that education often stops when the annual test prep season begins. Moreover, this testing teaches lessons about life that I bet most parents would reject.

After further inquiry into what was happening at his son's suburban school after testing finished, the father discovered that more opportunities for learning were still being offered than many would have anticipated. But, he concludes, “Nearly this entire week seems like a waste of time to me.”  I believe Mathews reached a wiser conclusion, "He (the dad) has a point, but given the depth of what his sons have been learning during the year, I’d let it go."

I'd also ask whether schools today have too few parties and movies during their entire year. It is especially worrisome that films and videos aren't used enough to teach cultural literacy. My biggest concern, however, is that accountability pressures are teaching value systems that are disgusting.

My first principal said she could never figure me out - a liberal who held students to high behavioral standards. She wasn't surprised that a former academic's second rule was "work smart," "focus," and "learn how to learn." She couldn't wrap her mind around a free thinker, who taught "creative insubordination," but whose first rule was "work steady from bell to bell."  There were important academic reasons (like avoiding classroom distractions) why I insisted on a rigorous work ethic. The big reason, however, was the real-world need for teens to develop "inner-directedness" and self-control.

Continue reading "Thompson: What's the Real Harm in the Wasting of Post-Test Time?" »

Morning Video: A Different Kind Of (Charter) School Model

"Right away, when visitors walk into an Intrinsic Schools classroom, they notice its size. Each classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students." (A Charter School Model Different from Most WTTW Chicago)

AM News: Common Core Reporting Slowdown, SAT Misprint, UPK For Hillary

State can’t explain slowdown on scoring of new Common Core tests Seattle Times: Scoring the new Common Core-based tests is taking longer than anticipated in Washington state, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction doesn't know why.

Test Scores Trickling in after Statewide Delay Idaho Times News: Students across Idaho began taking new standardized tests months ago, but two weeks into summer break and most still don’t know how they performed.

Advocates Hope Common Core Will Rub Off on Special-Needs Students Education Week: As nearly all states adopted college- and career-ready standards in the past five years, many advocates in the special education community crossed their fingers, hoping that the trend would press the K-12 world to extend those higher expectations to students with special needs, too. But whether high schools are doing a better job building those expectations into their postsecondary-transition plans for students remains an open question.

After SAT Misprint, Two Sections Won’t Be Scored NYT: The College Board also says it will waive its fees for students who want to take the test again, afte, Ur an error regarding the allotted time for a reading section on June 6.

Inside Obama's Stealth Startup [18F] Fast Company: President Obama has quietly recruited top tech talent from the likes of Google and Facebook. Their mission: to reboot how government works. [Featuring USDE's "digital services" officer]

Teen shot and killed on Dorchester street was making gains in school Boston Globe: Hours before he was fatally shot while riding his bicycle to his aunt’s house in Dorchester on Wednesday, Jonathan “Jo Jo” Dos Santos enjoyed a special school outing that he had worked all year to earn.

Hillary Clinton Calls for Universal Prekindergarten PK12: The Democratic presidential candidate wants to give every 4-year-old in America access to high-quality preschool over the next decade. [what about universal kindergarten, too?] See also AP.

Big K-12 Dog Off the Porch: Jeb Bush Enters 2016 Race With Long Policy C.V. State EdWatch: Bush, who served two terms as Florida governor before leaving the office in 2007, has perhaps the most extensive and complicated track record in education among all the Republican candidates.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Reporting Slowdown, SAT Misprint, UPK For Hillary" »

Will Common Core Results Generate A New Wave Of Lawsuits?

In case you hadn’t noticed, most of today’s education debate takes place inside a very small, seemingly unchangeable stone box. But there are a few examples of advocates thinking big, going at fundamental problems that aren't just workarounds to the current situation:

In 2008, Matt Miller proposed ending local control of schools in an Atlantic Magazine article (First, Kill All the School Boards). He admitted that reducing the over-emphasis on local control “goes against every cultural tradition we have, save the one that matters most: our capacity to renew ourselves to meet new challenges.”

In 2012, former NYC chancellor Joel Klein (and Michelle Rhee, and Warren Buffett) half-jokingly floated the idea of “banning” private schools and assigning children to schools randomly (rather than by neighborhood or test score). I was annoyed at this spread of this "thought experiment" at the time and it still seems legally and politically unworkable but it expands the mind, suggesting other, possibly more achievable changes. It's apparently been discussed in other countries.

In the past few years, folks like Nikole Hannah-Jones (formerly of ProPublica, now headed to the New York Times) or Ta-Nehesi Coates of The Atlantic have reminded us of things like resegregation of schools in the South and the policy decisions that created the American ghetto

The most recent example I've come across is the notion of undoing the 1973 Rodriguez case that has seemed to have blocked progress on school funding issues for over 40 years now. Recently, civil rights leader Wade Henderson described the law as “a triumph of states’ rights over human rights.” Educator and activist Sam Chaltain wrote not too long ago that Rodriguez was arguably as important as the 1954 Brown decision may be and called for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing “an equal opportunity to learn.” 

Perhaps the most exciting (and terrifying) idea I've heard of in recent months is someone suing states based on their failure to achieve reasonable student proficiency percentages under the new Common Core assessments.  "All of a sudden the standards and test results [could] become something that state courts can refer to as a reasonable representation of states' Constitutional requirements," notes to school funding expert Bruce Baker (who's not particularly optimistic about this happening or working out well).

The point is simple: There are elements to the current education system that can seem so permanent, so intractable as to make them seem not work talking about. But that's a shame -- and a bit of an embarrassment.  What's the biggest, scariest, most fascinating education idea you've heard or thought of lately?

NB: This is a version of a post that was first published over at The Grade.  

Quotes: Clinton Echoes Union Rhetoric On Economic Equality

Quotes2While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined.  And, often paying a lower tax rate.

- Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in her weekend campaign kickoff speech, via the Washington Post

Live Event: Atlantic Media Education Summit Right Now In DC

Atlantic_LIVE #AtlanticEdu Click here if the video doesn't load (and to see the agenda, etc.)

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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.