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Weekend Reading: Best Stories You Might Have Missed


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#thisweekined

Charter Schools, the Cliffhanger Issue of the 2012 Election - Emily Chertoff - The Atlantic ow.ly/fc3yN

After a year on the beat KPCC's Tami Abdollah is leaving for AP/law enforcement ow.ly/fbAuZ

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson Expected To Release List Of Schools Targeted For Closureow.ly/fbsGD

From War Zone To The Classroom : NPR ow.ly/fbrvg

Blogger calls and asks schools to intervene when students sent out racist Tweets after Obama win  ow.ly/fbqQD

Guesses and Hopes for Early Education in Obama’s Second Term ow.ly/fbprx @NewAmerica

Finding good schools in average neighborhooods: In my 30 years writing about schools, one read... bit.ly/ZncAIm

 

Weekend Reading: Hechinger, NPR, EdWeek, NYT

Here are some of the stories from magazines and sites I don't check during the week: image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com 

Only about half of StudentsFirst's Missouri candidate won in the primary, notes @hechingerreport ow.ly/f0JQ1

Public employees insulated from earlier job losses now face layoffs NPR ow.ly/eZD95 

Show Me Your Badge - NYT ow.ly/f0liC@kevincarey1 

How Do You Raise a Prodigy? - NYT Magazineow.ly/eZCBv #thisweekined

[Also: Where Are the Gifted Minorities? Scientific Americanow.ly/eYXmz Co-written by my former colleague Rena Subotnik]

Uh, oh, @ncate: Minnesota Colleges Must Turn Over Education Syllabi ow.ly/eYVd5 @edweek

Jonathan Kozol interview in In These Timesow.ly/eZCdE [Does he ever talk about Ravitch, I wonder?]

Image via: Great Moments of Obama Talking on the Phone #thisweekined

 

Weekend Reading: Scary Stories From Weekly Mags & Sites

ScreenHunter_09 Oct. 24 10.02Will GA voters create a $430 million charter-school commission? ow.ly/eDdzg TAP @RaRapoport

Governor Patrick on Massachusetts Top Spot in Education (Audio) @BloombergEDU bit.ly/RMYoTT

How the national media "maligned" the Chicago teachers strike In These Times ow.ly/eDcGq

A sad attack on Advanced Placement: Nearly all of us are experts about something...  bit.ly/ScJQhb

Can an Online [Teaching] Degree Really Help You Get a [Teaching] Job? TIME ow.ly/eDYpM

Creating a "Democracy Index" and other ideas for promoting local decisionmaking - Boston Glob eow.ly/eDd61

Critique of Katherine Boo & others who write abt poverty w/o economic/political analysis TimesLitSupp ow.ly/eDcm2

Feature about Best Busy includes useful lessons about adaptation in large organizations ow.ly/eDdNF

Direct democracy - once a progressive reform - has been hijacked by wealthy conservatives ow.ly/eDdCO

Boys hitting puberty sooner according to new studyow.ly/eDYZH #thisweekined Researchers blame high-stakes testing.

You can follow my weekend reading recommendations via the #thisweekined hashtag on Twitter if you want to catch them all / in real time.

Weekend Reading: Three Don't-Miss Things To Read


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Three of the dozen or so stories I pointed folks to over the weekend:

We've already seen some pushback against the Tough book from the right, and here's some from the left: Paul Tough Is Way Off-Base. And Stop Saying “Grit”. « Katie Osgood @ the chalk face ow.ly/e6JZb

The Chicago Reader takes a look at a charter school teachers' firing:  Fighting for the right to fire bad teachers—and good ones too - Chicago Reader ow.ly/e6IgA

Ed tech enthusiasts were hoping that access to kids would be eased, but apparently that's not going to happen just yet:  F.T.C. Moves to Tighten Online Privacy Protections for Children -http://ow.ly/e4TRf  

Looking for things to read over the weekend?  Follow me on Twitter -- I post articles and commentary you might not otherwise see, from magazines and blogs outside the usual education list.

Thompson: Thin-Skinned Response From Gates

GatesDuring the Anthony Cody's five-part exchange with the Gates Foundation at Living in Dialogue, Cody presented a series of closely argued positions on school reform, while the foundation's representatives responded with sound bites. 

Even so,  I was flabbergasted by the response in Impatient Optimists by Irving Scott and Stacey Childress to Cody’s last post.  So, I reread their "The Role of the Marketplace in Education," and Cody’s post to see what I missed that made the foundation’s representatives so angry.   They seemed livid about his words regarding the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) and a contract involving the Wireless Generation. 

I do not know enough to comment on their disagreement with Cody, so for all I know, they might have a point on the details that I don't understand.  For the life of me, however, I cannot see what the teacher/blogger wrote that drove the Gates people to lose their tempers in such a way. And, while I understand their pain if Cody hurt their feelings, I don’t understand why they do not feel the need to apologize for their foundation’s funding of so many baseless attacks on teachers and challenging our integrity. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Thin-Skinned Response From Gates" »

Weekend Reading: Tornadoes And Hipsters

All the best articles from magazines and other sites I don't check during the week, for your reading pleasure:

 

Weekend Reading: You Know You Can't Keep Away

Weekend Reading: Childcare, Like ECE In General, Forgotten Issue

Jonesbeach2012Childcare costs 2x as much as public college tuition via Slate ow.ly/cpvki #thisweekined

English teacher: I was wrong about “Hunger Games” - Salon ow.ly/cpvzu #t

10 Things in School That Should Be Obsoleteow.ly/cpvd7  @KQED @MindShift #thisweekined My favorite? The computer lab.

Three thousand education & health groups join together to oppose federal budget cuts Coalition for Health Funding ow.ly/cpq7M

Michelle Rhee on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning (nowish) msnbc.com.

I wonder which reform group will, like Nokia (WJS ow.ly/cppyt) focus so much on early success that eventually gets passed by?

Reporters (&bloggers) should say where they get their tidbits esp negative ones slipped by the other side CJR ow.ly/cpppD

US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960sow.ly/cpw2X 

Crime is at a 40y low but nervous parents are limiting their kids' freedom to roam & it hurts urban lifeow.ly/cpvBE 

The Long Slow Death Of NCLB @kevincarey1ow.ly/cpvNj [in case like me you still haven't read it]

Find more weekend reads at #thisweekined on Twitter throughout the weekend (or at least intermittently).  

Weekend Reading: "Breaking Bad" Will Not Teach You Chemistry

Here are some links to magazines and sites I don't check during the week, in Twitter form (#thisweekined), plus whatever else I come across along the way or missed during the week.  Good stuff, worth the click:

Come across something I've missed? Put it in comments or tweet it out using #thisweekined and it will show up above. Links and retweets aren't necessarily endorsements, you ungrateful wretches, just an effort to give you a range of interesting news and opinion with which to challenge your knee-jerk view of the world.

Graduation: Ira Glass At Goucher

There haven't been any breakout commencement speeches this spring so far that I know of, but here's Ira Glass's speech at Goucher from over the weekend (his grandmother went there), which isn't bad if not quite viral:

Slate and Longform have combined forces to create a roundup of best speeches of all time (what's a commencement speech if not a long essay?).  My favorite speech in recent memory is Jonathan Franzen's speech at Kenyon last year, which prompted me to write Education Will Break Your Heart.

 

Events: Educate Texas

Educatetx


@educatetexas #edtxLF I'm doing a journalists' panel at a conference in Austin today -- if by any chance you're here at the event outside of Austin please come up and say hello or tweet me at @alexanderrusso.  Called the Education Leadership Forum, the event's being run by the Texas High School Project -- just renamed "Educate Texas" in light of its expansion into postsecondary and advocacy areas.  They're among other things a member of the PIE Network.  Some of the most familiar names on the agenda are Vicki Phillips (Gates), Bob Wise (Alliance), and Karen Hawley Miles (ERS), Sandy Kress (Akin Gump), and Arturo Vargas (NALEO).  The journo panel includes a broad range of folks -- Alberta Williams, Bill McKenzie, and Ross Ramsey-- Vargas is moderating.  Apparently this is the 3rd of these they've done.  Though Texas is not a waiver state and stayed out of previous rounds of Race To The Top, there's lots of other action going on here: turnarounds and charters, STEM high schools, funding and equity lawsuits, among other things, as well as a new assessment and accountability system and changes to how much weigh is going to be given to end of course exams that's raising lots of concerns among suburban districts especially. There's a CMO called IDEA that's expanding into Austin.  There's KIPP and Roland Fryer messing around in Houston.  There's a newish chapter of Stand For Children that's been set up.  

Pictures: Duncan Looks For The Easy Waiver Pass

image from latimesblogs.latimes.com

A trio of highlights from over the weekend include controversial remarks about the snobbery of wanting every kid to go to college from surging Rick Santorum, a Denver Post editorial noting that only 15 states are tracking how SIG money is being spent, a new paper about the coming national education system from the conspiracy-minded folks at PEPG.  

Also, EdSEc Arne ("Jeremy Who?") Duncan excelled in the NBA All-Star Weekend celebrity game.  

Most weekends I try and catch up on interesting stories on Twitter at #thisweekined and on the blog (see latest example here).

Video: A School ID Is All It Took To Take The SAT 16 Times

"A school ID is what? Like what is that? It's like, it's some colors with literally a name and picture on it."  That's the kid kid who took all the tests -- and his description of how pathetic the security process was. And so far at least ETS is resisting calls for better security or for notifying colleges of even confirmed cases of cheating on the test.  From the most recent "60 Minutes" aired this past weekend.  Yes, of course, it's NCLB's fault.  

Update: "Occupy" Movement Gets Active On K12 In Chicago

image from www.chicagonow.comUnhappy with proposed school closings and the creation of 12 more charters (among other things), protesters in Chicago shouted down schools head Jean-Claude Brizard and forced the Board of Education to retreat into private session for three hours -- during which speakers who'd signed up to address the board spoke to empty chairs.  The effort was coordinated in part with Occupy Chicago, the local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has addressed student lending and international trade but not really K12 education thus far. The protest might not change the Board's mind but it was a pretty vivid demonstration of community dissatisfaction and apparently -- this surprised me -- a first in nearly 20 years for Chicago. You'd have thought that opponents would have given the Daley-era school chiefs (Vallas, Duncan, and Huberman) the same kind of treatment but apparently not.  [Cross posted from D299]

Reformageddon: Reform's "Rich Republican Job-Loss" Problem

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Why are low-income minority communities, classroom teachers, middle-class parents and the public so indifferent if not outright hostile to school reform efforts?  That's the question reformer Whitney Tilson tries to address in his latest email (copied below -- it usually takes him a few days to post them on his blog). Best known as a reform fanatic whose emails (along with this blog) were primary resources for Steve Brill's book, acknowledges what few of the blowhards and finger-waggers out there seem willing to do.  It's not just the unions' fault, or even Stockholm Syndrome. Reform has problems, despite its progress, and ignoring them won't make them go away.  These include (a) the practical and political obstacles that any job-threatening reforms create, (b) the realities of poverty and the resources that will be required to bring people out of it, (c) race and class issues that arise when reformers are rich and white and reformees are not, and (d) how what was once a strength -- bipartisanship -- is now toxic to the Democratic base.  Or at least that's what I think he's saying.  Check it out and let me know. It's not something you've never thought or read before, but perhaps not from someone in Tilson's camp.  

Continue reading "Reformageddon: Reform's "Rich Republican Job-Loss" Problem" »

Weekend Reading: Stop Freaking Out Over Class Size

A few education-related articles and columns from magazines and websites I don't check every day:

ElmerJohnston on Education Reforms Bloomberg EDU (audio):Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston discusses education reforms in teaching, leadership and funding for students with special needs.

Does class size really matter? Salon (Peg Tyre):  Parents are dying to get their kids into smaller classes. But research shows they may be panicking over nothing.

Public school budgets will rise in next few years SCPR: About a thousand public school teachers finished a one week union boot camp at UCLA Friday. After losing thousands of members to teacher layoffs, the California Teachers Association conference is training its remaining teachers in negotiating and organizing skills. 

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade Virginia Heffernan (NYT): Chances are just that good that, in spite of anything you do, little Oliver or Abigail won’t end up a doctor or lawyer — or, indeed, anything else you’ve ever heard of.

Study Links Decline of Unions to Rising of Income Inequality: Western and co-author Jake Rosenfeld, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, looked at the period between 1973 and 2007, when inequality in hourly wages spiked by 40 percent. 

Student Sues School Over Homecoming Week "Wigger Day" Gawker:  Rather than going along with the student council-approved theme in 2008 and 2009, Red Wing High School students at the predominantly white school held "Wednesday Wigger Day," which involved wearing clothes that, "from their perspective, mimicked black culture." 

Events: Saving The SOS March [UPDATE]

image from upload.wikimedia.orgThe upcoming Save Our Schools march in DC this week needs something more than angry frustration and sanctimonious scolds if it's going to attract cameras, new followers, and make itself a widespread movement rather than one that seems mostly made up of older upper-middle class white teachers and parents. Inspiration would be great -- but so would humor. And, looking at the lineup of speakers (and assuming Jon Stewart isn't available*) I'm thinking that the humor might have to come from the audience.  It's not too late.  The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (depicted right) helped get the anti-creationism argument across. Billionaires For Bush did the same during the Bush administrations. How about Duncan lookalikes dressed up as Margaret Spellings?  Or Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and Jonah Edelman masks for everyone to wear? Or Richie Rich Reformers all dressed in top hats and long gloves? 

UPDATE:  Rumor is that Stewart is addressing the crowd via videotape.

Events: Live From The AFT "Teach" Conference

#tch11 I'm at the biannial AFT training conference (formerly QUEST) moderating a panel on charters and unions (and talking about my book) later this afternoon.  Here's the livestream of Twitter updates from and about the conference, assuming I've picked the correct hashtag:

Let me know if there are other good sources of information about the event, and be sure and come up and say hi if you see me (I'm in the lobby wifi area now, bearded with glasses and earbuds).

Five Best Blogs: Slow, Hot Monday (Debt Ceiling Looms!)

10CNCTEACHERS-popup Of Jonah Edelman and other braggarts Sherman Dorn:No one should be so naive to think this stuff doesn't happen behind closed doors. No one should be so naive to think this stuff is helpful to productive negotiations. 

Charter School Sends Message Mike Winerip (NYT):  It was not a natural fit for the Success charters, which are known for discipline and long school days. From Day 1 of kindergarten, Ms. Sprowal said, he was punished for acting out. ALSO:  Success Wins EdNext.

Business moves to center of school policy debate  Stateline:  Long counted on mainly as a funder and promoter of K-12 education, corporate America is immersing itself in discussion about the way school systems should be organized and operated. 

Math And Literacy Are Vocational Skills Yglesias:  It’s not about everyone needing to have basic reading and math competency so they can go to college; it’s about everyone needing to have basic reading and math skills so that they know who to read and do basic math.

Why parents love a lower-rated school - Class Struggle Jay Mathews:  The Wakefield Chapel parents are angrily demanding that their children be allowed to stay with the poor kids.

Summer Camp Just as Unbearable as College Now Gawker: You don't want just any old collection of log cabins around a lake filled with children's bodies. No: You need a place with evidence-based instruction and measurable skill-development! 

Duncan: Which Broadway Show Will Arne See?

image from www.concierge.com There's not much of note on the EdSec's media schedule next week, though he is coming to New York City for an ed tech event in the middle of the week.  

Maybe he should take a page out of Palin's playbook and do that whole unscheduled summer bus trip thing.  

Or maybe he should just get one of his lackeys to find him some "Book of Mormon" or "Spider Man" tix.

PS:  I'll be in DC on Tuesday for the AFT conference, moderating a panel on charter schools, then heading to the beach for the rest of the week. 

Continue reading "Duncan: Which Broadway Show Will Arne See?" »

Five Best Blogs: Add Supports To Reform Agenda

Ben franklin daily schedule

Reforming the School Reformers Paul Tough:  These are excuses. (In fact, they are the very same excuses for failure that the education-reform movement was founded to oppose.) 

Axe Public Programs That Don't Yield Results Joe Klein:  We can no longer afford to be sloppy about dispensing cash to programs that do not produce a return. 

The Math Problem Grantland:  Sports teams are seeking out the safety of math, trying to make extremely complicated personnel decisions by fixating on statistics.

Richard Dreyfuss on Civics, Public Education SOS:  Teachers are not the problem. Teachers are the solution. 

The Education of LAUSD’s Steve Zimmer Jewish Journal:  The teachers’ union, his most ardent supporter in the last election, has told him it will consider endorsing an opponent, which could prove a blow to his campaign. 

Managing the Teacher Workforce  Education Next:  If the RIF-notified teachers made the average salary in their district, it would only be necessary to lay off roughly 20 percent less than actual number of teachers who received layoff notices. 

NSVF 2011: Reformy Summit Returns To Silicon Valley

Last night's NSVF summit reception featured Target-branded cocktails and bass-heavy lounge music provided by a live DJ. Today the  San Francisco (adjacent) hotel where the event is being held will be swarming with sharply-dressed reformers and funders (but usually very few teachers or administrators).  Fill your day with long-distance scorn or envy by following along.  Send me email or tweets to let me know what I'm missing or what sessions I should go to:

Best 5 Blogs: The Fury Of Middle-Class Parents

20101218_xwd001A drastic break with failure LAT (column):  The students were trying to save an entrenched regime, one that shackles them to failure... High Pay Leads to Layoffs NYT (Winerip):  An audit found that the Henry Viscardi School, one of 11 schools of its kind in New York, paid its top executive $1.25 million over two years... Closing more bad charters sooner Jay Mathews:  The D.C. Public Charter School Board may soon close the Ideal Academy Public Charter School, more than a year and a half after I told it to... Gates' Education Buying Spree - For What? American Thinker:  Buying a group of number crunchers to determine what our children may be taught in the classroom has little connection to equipping children to better themselves in order to better society... Are gifted education programs a waste of money? WCI:  Hell hath no fury like the middle class in defence of its privileges... Teacher Quality In Finland Matthew Yglesias: Whatever approach you favor you’re necessarily having a conversation about how to get different people into the profession than the ones who are currently there... Farewell to Anchovy Sherman Dorn:  I will very much appreciate not having to work with colleagues to figure out how to write a brand-new dilemma every year for Orlando Quieto and his colleagues at Anchovy Middle School...Newt Gingrich and "the food stamp president" Salon:  He didn't call Obama a "strapping young buck," but his slur is coded racism (and not very Catholic) just the same...

Weekend Reading: How Academia Got Rid Of Rick Hess

image from media.nj.com

Weekend reading from Slate, Salon, and some of the other magazines -- tell me what I missed: Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, to See Here, Folks Rick Hess:  David Imig, the then-president of the AACTE, suggested that the University of Virginia (my then-employer) really ought to consider whether, given my skepticism about teacher education, I deserved to be employed at its School of Education... The secret sex lives of teachers Salon:  The revelation that Judy Buranich, the same woman teaching classics like "Catcher in the Rye" to high school students, also writes erotic novels with names like "Rednecks 'n' Romance" shocked a small group of parents in the town of Middleburg, Penn... I.R.S. Moves to Tax Gifts to Groups Active in Politics NYT:  Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics... State ignores teacher licensing violations Star Tribune:  More than 900 Minnesota teachers over the past five years have violated licensing rules aimed at making sure that children get a proper education, including 62 instructors who taught with no license at all...New Autism Findings  WBUR On Point: A new study finds 1 in 38 children have traits of autism. We'll ask how that can be. And what it means... Death to high school English Salon: I lived for English, for reading. I spent so much of my adolescence feeling different and awkward, and those first canonical books I read, those first discoveries of Joyce, of Keats, of Sylvia Plath and Fitzgerald, were a revelation... Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation New Yorker:  In late 1979, a twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur paid a visit to a research center in Silicon Valley called Xerox PARC. He was the co-founder of a small computer startup down the road, in Cupertino... What happened to the "Huxtable Effect"?  Salon: Now, new data from both politics and pop culture raises the possibility that we're suddenly headed back to the pre-"Cosby Show" days...The longest 40 minutes Slate:  What makes some minutes feel longer than others?... PS22 chorus covers the Smiths, owns this town Salon:  Staten Island's public school system is sitting on a gold mine, what with PS22 having the best known elementary school chorus on the planet."

Quote: "Reformers" & "True Progressives" Both Wrong

Quotes2 On the one hand we have “reformers” who don’t really care if tests are accurate as long as “reformers” are in charge of school systems. Then on the other hand we have people who’ve decided that the one true progressive pro-teacher position is to insist that schooling doesn’t matter and educational attainment can’t be measured. -- Matthew Yglesias

Events: Notes From Yale SOM 2011

Picture 19 #somELC It was something of an "off" year for the Yale SOM education conference – not in terms of attendance or quality of the program but rather in terms of VIPs and the atmosphere of self-congratulation. Faced with charter quality problems and political setbacks and all the rest, could reformers have finally learned humility to go along with their urgency?  It wouldn't be a bad thing. In any case, there was no video greeting from Arne Duncan or even any high level USDE officials in attendance.  [Andy Rotherham complained that the USDE’s Brad Jupp had to conference into the morning session because the Administration was being “run like a Central American country."] There was no Wendy Kopp, Jon Schnur, Jonah Edelman, or even Michelle Rhee. There weren’t any other reporters or bloggers there (that I know of).   Some sort of fall-off was inevitable, considering that the previous two events took place shortly after Obama was elected and right when the hullabaloo surrounding the competition for Race To The Top was in full force. Plus a recession and all of that. 

In a positive development for a community that can be pretty insular, there were not one but two sessions focused on unions and contracts – one morning session with the AFT’s Joan Devlin and New Haven’s Garth Harries, among others, plus a lunchtime session with the superintendents for New Haven and Baltimore plus Randi Weingarten.  My small but growing list of school reform “amphibians” (those few who’ve switched from school, district, or state work to nonprofit or private sector work, or switched from labor to management):  Andy Smarick, Chris Cerf,  Garth Harries, Kevin Huffman, Sandra Scandera (NM state supe), Mike Johnston, Jon Schnur, Andy Rotherham (sort of), Brad Jupp, John King, Jo Anderson, Michelle Rhee.  

The best session I saw focused on the reform movement’s inattention to (hostility toward?) community engagement and featured some powerful insights about why reformers often find themselves fighting against (and losing to) the people they think they are trying to help. Derrell Bradford, Danielle Smith, Ref Rodriguez, and Michala English lit up the room, IMO. Ellen Winn moderated.  I wish Michelle Rhee and Jonah Edelman and others who are hoping to beef up this part of the reform effort had been there to listen because I worry that they are about to make some preventable mistakes.  Reformers are beginning to understand the need for stakeholder involvement but only as an afterthought not from the start (Danielle Smith/ BAEO Connecticut)

Other things I heard, thought, saw below the jump. TLDR?  Twitter feed here.

Continue reading "Events: Notes From Yale SOM 2011" »

Video Interlude: Old School Missy Elliott "Gossip Folks"

It's set in a school (anyone know which one?) and is a tirade against gossip:

via The Awl 

Wisconsin: So, Do "Reformers" Support Collective Bargaining?

image from images.betterworldbooks.comThe President's been waffling.  Secretary Duncan's been silent since his bland equivocations in Denver. What about reformy types?  It's been hard to tell.  Michelle Rhee announced a campaign against "last in first out" earlier this week (here) but hasn't made any statements about Wisconsin that I've seen or responded to my emails so far.  (My guess is she'll be OK with strike bans and bargaining limits.) No response yet from Stand For Children, either, though Jonah Edelman's organization did support an Illinois reform package that included strike ban legislation last month so obviously it's not a deal-breaker for them, either. Andy Rotherham claims he's not against unions -- just the laws they help get passed (here).  Only DFER says it straight-out opposes Walker's budget bill (see the email below). Of course, the seeming disarray is all very amusing for long-standing union critics like Checker Finn, who mocks reformers for waffling and ducking (here), or Mike Antonucci, who says he's ready for an end to the "fog of bipartisanship" (here). In reality it's not an easy call for reformistas, who risk losing support and funding if they go too far to the right or losing face (and funding) if they soften their critique or limit their attack. So mostly they're just keeping quiet and hoping no one notices too much.  Image via

Continue reading "Wisconsin: So, Do "Reformers" Support Collective Bargaining?" »

OHIO: Education's Own Small Facebook Revolution


image from change-production.s3.amazonaws.com
Over 165,000 folks have signed a petition to have the state reconsider the conviction of an Akron Ohio mother who faked her child's address to get them enrolled in a better school, according to Change.org (Pardon Kelley Williams-Bolar).  "That's 9,606 pages and approximately 40 pounds, delivered to Kasich's 30th-floor office and into the hands of Brad Reynolds, Gov. Kasich's Director of Constituent Affairs, earlier today." That's not the same as the nearly half million who signed the Facebook fan page that kicked off the ongoing protests in Egypt, but it's already showing some results. Kasich has agreed to investigate the case. 

Quote: Parent's Revenge On Annoying Robocalls

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com This is a Prince George's County School District parent, calling to thank you for the robocall yesterday at 4:30 in the morning.

-- Md. father uses robocall to get revenge on school officials (Washington Post)

Thompson: If The Gates Report Met Research Standards

Readexplore I wonder how the Gates Foundation's "Learning About Teaching" would be different if  the report was required to meet the standards of traditional social science before being peddled to reporters and the public.  It would begin with an introduction that objectively provided background information.  An early paragraph in the report would explain something like this:  "Youth (in grades one through three) are improving their reading comprehension MORE during the months they are in school. However, beginning in the fourth grade, that is no longer true! The above pattern implies that schooling in itself may have little impact on standardized assessments after 3rd grade."  Moreover,  the "common interpretation is that families have more profound effects on children's reading and verbal performance than teachers."'  Also, "state English test scores actually reflect the reading comprehension skills that the student brought to class, and they are insensitive to teacher effects.".... - JT (@drthompson)

Schools: High School Programming Whizzes Compete

Photo: Michael Schmelling

The scene from the International Olympiad in Informatics: 315 computer prodigies at 315 workstations ripping into 315 gray envelopes in unison, including a Shanghai-born former Mathcounts champion from Baton Rouge Magnet High School named Neal Wu.  Via Wired.

Media: States Fare Badly In International Comparisons

image from assets.theatlantic.com

It's not just the US education system as a whole that sucks in comparison to other countries -- individual states even some of the most highly touted ones look bad by comparison, too:

"Even if we treat each state as its own country, not a single one makes it into the top dozen contenders on the list. The best performer is Massachusetts, ringing in at No. 17...  On a percentage basis, New York state has fewer high performers among white kids than Poland has among kids overall. In Illinois, the percentage of kids with a college-educated parent who are highly skilled at math is lower than the percentage of such kids among all students in Iceland, France, Estonia, and Sweden." (The Atlantic "How Your State Rates")

I don't know if this is really all that new information, but here it is anyway.

Roundup: Bullying Damages Kids' Brains

Nelson-simpsons-bully Hurtful Words Damage Brain Psychology Today:  Taunting and other verbal abuse experienced by middle school children from their peers leaves a structural imprint on the developing brain, according to a new study published on-line in advance of print in the American Journal of Psychiatry... The Empathy Deficit Boston Globe:  Even as they become more connected, young people are caring less about others... Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?.. Cafeteria manager fired from Oklahoma Centennial High School NewsOK:  A principal testified Monday night in a seven-hour employment hearing that the Oklahoma City School District employee was rude and demeaning to students for the past six years...Twitter and the Dunbar Number Robert Pattison's Blog:  So for all of you who wish that your schools not have bullying, that your organization would be more functional, that your church would be better, that your twitter experience itself would be more satisfying, that as a entrepreneur you could see see the perils in store as you grow - here is Rob's Coles Notes...

Weekend Reading: Law Schools Join Career Colleges Under Fire

ScreenHunter_05 Oct. 30 13.02 Law schools manufacturing more lawyers than America needs Slate:  The demand for lawyers has fallen off a cliff...at the same time, universities seeking revenue have tacked on law schools... Prime Number NYT:  11: The percentage decline in private donations to the nation’s biggest charities last year — the steepest one-year drop in 20 years... Is the best way to fix the American classroom to improve the furniture? Slate: Are you comfortable? If so, chances are you are not an American schoolchild... Creeper! Rando! Sketchball! NYT:  Student slang points to an increased need to patrol social boundaries... Coming Out Illegal NYT:  What happens when college students without papers reveal their status in public and put themselves on the line? ... Researchers Tackle the ‘Hipster’ Phenomenon Miller-McCune:  Researchers tap the indie marketplace to learn more about hipsters, who don't think of themselves as hipsters despite their obvious hipsterness...What's the Use of Experts? Why are American conservatives climate-change skeptics, while European conservatives are not?... Pushing against daylight savings:  Daylight saving doesn't just make winter more depressing, it also wastes energy, makes us less inclined to exercise, and generates excess pollution by forcing people to use more electricity... Rutgers students drop out after roommate suicide:  The two have been charged with invasion of privacy and may face possible bias charges because of Clementi's sexuality...How the Republican Congress will abandon Tea Party ideas Slate:  How the Republican Congress will abandon Tea Party ideas and legislate toward the center... "A" In Lady Gaga:  Beginning in the spring, Gaga uber-fan and University of South Carolina professor Mathieu Deflem will offer students a course on "Lady Gaga and the sociology of fame."...

Weekend Reading: New Yorker On Bullying, Reform™, Etc.


261.x600.feat.essentials.illio9 The New Yorker on bullying, drug sniffing dogs for rent, Reform™, and more to come:  Behind the anti-gay bullying New Yorker:  The problem is a culture of exposure that is far more advanced than any efforts to combat online cruelty. Bullying feeds on weakness, anger, and, lately, the systematic undervaluing of privacy. There’s such a thing as violating your own privacy, too... Wanna be a School Reformer? You Better do Your Homework! Gary Stager:  In public education today, unqualified is the new qualified. The celebration of inexperience and lack of preparation is particularly disconcerting when it comes to education policy. When you allow billionaires, ideologues, pop singers and movie viewers to define reform, you get Reform™... Company Renting Drug-Sniffing Dogs to Insane Parents [Parenting] Gawker:  A Maryland company is renting out trained drug-sniffing dogs for $200 an hour. The target customer: Parents who want to find their kids' drugs. And a bonus: The dogs can find guns and explosives, too!..  Radio: Reading, Rockets, and 'Rithmetic Freakonomics: We ask Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, where the idea came from — and whether it was a tough sell, and what kind of results he’s seen so far... Once-fired Oklahoma City teacher retains job on appeal News OK:  He appealed the decision to district court, arguing he did not neglect his duties, but had been singled out for termination because of his outspoken advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights... 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers Online College Courses:  For every participant liberally dishing out misspelled racist, sexist and homophobic talking points, there is at least one whose channel genuinely offers something provocative and educational...  Teacher  Found Guilty of Murdering Her Romantic Rival Via Skydiving Sabotage Medialite:  Yesterday a Belgium court sentenced schoolteacher Els Clottemans to 30 years for murdering her romantic rival by sabotaging her parachute, ending a bizarre and fascinating saga of love, murder, and skydiving... America’s High Schools Still Top Producers of Violent YouTube Content [video] The Awl:  Do you think school administrators, like, ever search for their high school’s names on YouTube? Because students actually prefer to name their schools in the videos. It gets… better?

Magazines: Weekend Reading (Cortines Didn't Quit)

100927_TheHive_desks1 L.A. schools chief threatens to retire, then backs off LA Times:  To save money, the district is planning to instead rely on teams of lower-salaried cleaners who move from school to school at night...Schools confront gay suicide surge, minus specifics AP:  A spate of teen suicides linked to anti-gay harassment is prompting school officials nationwide to rethink their efforts against bullying -- and in the process, risk entanglement in a bitter ideological debate... Students and teachers photograph the best—and worst—places in their schools Slate:  The "Through Your Lens" exhibit features an awful lot of peeling paint and broken windows—the kind of environment you wouldn't want your kid in for an hour, much less a childhood... How Performance Pay Works TNR: The point of performance pay isn't to wring better results out of the same teaching pool. It's to change the composition of the teaching pool... New research shows precisely how the prison-to-poverty cycle does its damage  Slate:  Much of that growing inequality, which Slate's Timothy Noah has chronicled, is linked to the increasingly widespread use of prisons and jails.

Roundup: Obama Appoints An Autistic 22 Year Old

500x_fbmapbig A late-night roundup of some of the best I've found:The 15 Best #MyFavoriteTeacher Tweets The Huffington Post News Team: Below are 15 of the most inspiring, hilarious and otherwise awesome #MyFavoriteTeacher tweets... NEA Commits Cash, Manpower to Tight Races Politics K12:  The NEA is also supporting a number of vulnerable Democratic senators, including Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Barbara Boxer of California, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Patty Murray of Washington, and Harry Reid of Nevada (the majority leader)... Houston Story, Part 3 of 3  Michael Goldstein:  School turnarounds are hard.I’ve had a small role in observing a whale of a new effort in Houston, called Apollo 20. It’s a collaboration between the district and Roland Fryer’s outfit called EdLabs... “The Lottery Of Life” Larry Ferlazzo:  This is a neat site from Save The Children. It gives you a chance to see how your life might have looked if you had been born in another country... First Autistic Presidential Appointee:  Ari Ne'eman is not your typical presidential appointee. He's one of the youngest at 22, and he's the first that is autistic. President Obama nominated him to the National Council on Disability... The Ultimate Map of Internet Hangouts:  Online web comic XKCD created this awesome map of online communities, scaled to relative user activity. It's got many more websites than the 2007 original; the embedded caption indicates loads of research went into this thing... Speed Dating For Teaching Jobs:  There were over 200 schools represented inside but based on the length of the lines behind each table, I calculated that I could visit only about 10 of them. I would get five minutes at most to make a good impression and hopefully land a job offer or at least a longer follow-up interview. It was teacher-school speed dating. Via GothamSchools.

Chart: Taxpayers' $50 Tab For Federal K-12 Education

A taxpayer earning $34,000 paid $38 towards compensatory education for poor children (ie, Title I) in 2009, according to this report (Your 2009 Tax Receipt).  Add $11 more for Head Start and you're almost at $50 whole dollars.

38bucks
NB the tax rules and spending dollars are somewhat different each year.  

ACT 2010 Roundup: Who Covered It Best?

12ol-style-dating_3_518996a The 2010 ACT scores are out -- which newspaper covered the results best (or worst)? Scores Stagnate at High Schools WSJ:  Fewer than 25% of 2010 graduates who took the ACT college-entrance exam possessed the academic skills necessary to pass entry-level courses, despite modest gains in college-readiness among U.S high-school students in the last few years... ACT Scores Dip, But More Students College-Ready NPR:  Average scores on the ACT college entrance exam have inched downward this year, yet slightly more students who took the test proved to be prepared for college, a report out Wednesday says... ACT scores dip, but more students meet college benchmarks USAT:  Average scores on the ACT college entrance exam inched downward this year, yet slightly more students who took the test proved to be prepared.

Roundup: "Hot For Education"

Here are some of the latest updates from Hot For Education that are too hot, or ridiculous, or just plain delicious to make it here (but still might be worth a peek while no one's looking):Daria

If Only It Were True:  "Classroom Intervention" Reality Show

Video:  57 Yr Old 3rd Grade Teacher Tasered 12 Times

(warning:  footage is disturbing).

Movies:  Haley Joel Osment (Sixth Degree) to play virgin high school sex ed teacher

Picture: Rachel Maddow’s Blonde High School Yearbook Picture

Magazines: The Nation Does Education

image from www.thenation.com Everything you've ever thought (or hated) about school reform is in the new The Nation, which includes articles by the usual suspects on the left (Noguera, LDH, Ravitch, Kirp) and a couple of welcome additions (GothamSchools co-founder Phillissa Cramer and Susan Eaton).  Most are free, though a couple are behind a paywall.  The real question is whether any of them tell you things you didn't already know or expect. 

Events: My NewSchools Venture Fund Summit List

261.x600.feat.essentials.illio12 Apparently Duncan and Miller are going to do a joint appearance at NSVF. But here are some of the many folks I'm most looking forward to meet, see in action, Twitter about, and learn something from at Wednesday's summit:  Pamela Moran, Albemarle County Public Schools (real live district person), Sajan George, Alvarez & Marsal, Amy Coe, The Bridgespan Group (real live for profit consultants), Ana Ponce, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (interesting private school spinoff), Jennifer Dai Chen, Chicago Public Schools, Kimberly Carter, Deloitte Consulting (more consultants!), Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools (life after Bennet), Matthew Bishop, The Economist (journalists!), Ted Kolderie, Education Evolving (just because), Kim Azzarelli, Goldman Sachs (seriously?), Parker Hudnut, LAUSD (I think I've met him before), Ben Austin, Parent Revolution (aka the Parent Trigger), Rhonda Hopps, Perspectives Charter Schools Tony Pajakowski, Perspectives Charter Schools (Chicago charter people), Michele Jolin, White House (we go way back).

Media: Opening School Scenes

image from www.writingforward.comSchools are so convenient. I'd forgotten that this (in)famous 1996 Times magazine cover story started out with a schoolhouse anecdote:  "AS THEY PUT ON PLASTIC GLOVES FOR THEIR first litter hunt, the third graders knew what to expect. They knew their garbage. It was part of their science curriculum at Bridges Elementary, a public school on West 17th Street in Manhattan. They had learned the Three R's -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -- and discussed how to stop their parents from using paper plates. For Earth Day they had read a Scholastic science publication, "Inside the World of Trash." For homework, they had kept garbage diaries and drawn color-coded charts of their families' trash. So they were primed for the field experiment on this May afternoon." (Recycling Is Garbage)

Thompson: Asking the Right Questions

Bigsort Its hard to know how to take California's RttT statement that "we additionally expect that evaluation systems will incorporate peer evaluation, using the Peer Assistance and Review model, as appropriate," but there is less doubt about Pennsylvania's words "districts have committed to using this tool (Value Added Models) in a manner that is consistent with due process rights."  And since Tennessee is committed to firing up the 30% of its teachers who don't meet growth targets (making a mockery of Secretary Duncan's position on using multiple measures for evaluations), we must ask the proper legal questions.  We must also understand why the the group of teachers who can't meet growth targets will inevitably include many of the best in the profession, tackling the toughest challenges while handicapped by policies beyond their control.  

Tom Kane misses the point, saying that "the (value added) system doesn't have to be perfect to get started."  But the question is when is the model valid enough to be legal. Imagine that Kane is testifying as an expert witness on the validity of VAMs in a termination case. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Asking the Right Questions" »

Thompson: Three Cheers for Randi (I think)

Ken-feinberg_2657-UP When reading the previews of Randi Weingarten’s address, it was something of a "say it ain’t so" moment. But the commentators stressed the part where she said that teachers "should be judged on a variety of measures" while overlooking the crucial statement that measures of student growth would include "classroom observations by peer evaluators and administrators." Unless I’m guilty of wishful thinking, that sounds like The Grand Bargain. I think Randi (who I’ve never met) is still my hero. Plus, selecting Kenneth Feinberg to spearhead the effort was an act of emotional intelligence genius.

Randi is correct that teachers owe it to our students to speed up the "glacial" process for terminating ineffective teachers.

Continue reading "Thompson: Three Cheers for Randi (I think)" »

Video: Why No One Blogged About "The Principal Story"

It took me a while to get into last week's PBS NOW documentary The Principal Story about two Illinois principals, partly because I'm a hard-hearted jerk and partly because the early scenes are slow and feel a little propagandistic.  I knew that the project had involved AASA and other education groups like that, and for a while I felt like I was watching the principals' version of "Stand and Deliver" or "Freedom Writers." It didn't help that the show got so little by way of reaction or commentary from other education blogs that I read.  

ScreenHunter_26 Sep. 22 18.23

Well I still have some questions but over all the intensity of the situations and the eloquence and heart of the school leaders are tremendously powerful and I am glad I finally turned it on.  What to do with the incompetent teacher in a real-life situation?  How to rally your staff without pissing them off or making them cave under the weight of expectations?  What to do about the tragedies that befall some of the students?  It's not so easy as it may seem from outside.

The documentary is beautifully filmed and scored -- even the visually mundane scenes of the principals going to or from work are poignant.  And it's not an obvious attack (or defense) of any particular policies or programs (though there is a great riff on "walkthroughs" near the end). That's why no one's blogging about it -- it doesn't support any simplistic agenda.  If you haven't watched it, you can do so online now.  If you have, I hope you liked it as much as I did and will share a favorite moment or two.  

Around DC: What Sayeth The FritzWire?

Picture 22 Looking for Washington events, report release dates, and jobs?  Check out Fritz Edelstein's FritzWire, a daily email that I post once a week. But you'll probably want to get it daily if you're a power user. 

Continue reading "Around DC: What Sayeth The FritzWire?" »

Rolling Updates Via Twitter This Week (August 17-21)

I'm officially away from the blog for this week but as usual probably won't be able to stay away from it for very long. Your best bet is to find rolling updates here (hit "refresh" if you don't see anything new):

Twitter Updates

    WEEKEND READING: July 11-12

    Work hard. Be nice The Economist
    Charter schools are a mixed bag, but the best of them are achieving results most board-run schools can only dream of and are heavily oversubscribed.

    For their own good St. Petersberg Times
    They were screwed-up kids, sent to the reform school in Marianna for smoking, fighting, stealing cars or worse. The Florida School for Boys -- that'd straighten them out.

    SlurpThe Female Discount for Sexual Predators Nashville Scene
    The evidence seems mounted against Sandy Binkley as she heads for a trial on seven counts of statutory rape and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.

    Wrong about the stimulus package. Slate
    A mere five months later, it's being declared a failure across the political spectrum.

    Trying to stop the spread of swine flu at summer camp. Slate
    The counselors were taking children's temperatures before letting them onboard.

    Staten Island Teen Ends Up In Manhole Gawker
    She was walking on the sidewalk. She was texting.

    Should New York Be Allowed To Close Public Schools On Muslim Holidays? TNR
    Last week, the New York City Council passed a resolution to close public schools on two Muslim holidays.

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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.