You can argue that some of the OTHER things the Obama administration has done constitute something of an over-reach, but not on standards. -- Achieve's Mike Cohen speaking at #EWA154 (at roughly the 8:33 mark)
Last week a big batch of "formerly withheld" papers from the Clinton administration were published online, and political types are poring through them for answers to various mysteries from nearly 20 years ago (and to help make predictions for 2016).
Here are 3 education-mysteries that might be answered by the new releases (or by previously released materials that haven't been examined yet):
3 --What was the real motivation behind the Class Size Reduction initiative from Clinton's second term, and did Riley, Reed, et al know how thin the research was and what havoc it would cause in places like California?
From a 1999 memo about means-testing Social Security and using the money for education:
"I just want you to think about where you could be in America if you means-tested Social Security and did some of these more radical things, and pour all this surplus for 20 years and spend it on children," Clinton said. "You could hire a million teachers and increase their salaries by 50 percent and really do something."
2 -- Where did the idea of funding a voluntary national test in the Clinton budget proposal (1997 0r 1998, as I recall) come from, and how confident or concerned were the folks at the DPC about getting something through Congress? See a 1997 letter from my old boss and others in support of the idea here.
EdSource’s Kathryn Baron, in NCLB Co-author Says He Never Anticipated Federal Law Would Force Testing Obsession, reports that Rep. George Miller, an architect of No Child Left Behind, says that he did not intend to create “what some have charged is a simplistic ‘drill and kill’ approach that subverts real instruction.”
Miller claims that the most important part of the law was reporting data on the outcomes of each demographic group. This “turned out to be a firestorm.”
No! The reporting of disaggregated test score data was a win-win policy welcomed by all types of stakeholders. It was the high-stakes testing that educators oppose.
Miller undercuts his professions of innocence to dumbing down teaching and learning. He says that “there were people who believed that drill and kill could lead to learning. And there were people who were drilling and killing and saying ‘This is absolutely wrong. But that was the policy’.”
Miller still seems oblivious to the damage done by creating the utopian goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. And, again, he blames school systems for responding in ways that he should have known were predictable.
Seriously, after 12 years, it is time to address some issues in addition to the law's failed, top-down approach to schooling. Was it a good idea to forsake "incrementalism" and demand rapid "transformative" change across the entire nation? It is also time to reflect upon the political strategy of blowing up the educational "status quo" to pave the way for "disruptive innovation."
We should inventory the ways that NCLB-type reform weakened progressive coalitions, undermining state efforts to promote justice, or at least slow the increase of economic inequities.
It also has been a decade since New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann, in The Controller, persuaded Karl Rove to reveal that NCLB was a component of his three-part plan for destroying the Democratic Party. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court declared corporations to be people, the "Billionaires Boys Club" is the new Rove.
Not all of the new elites seek complete domination of the party that once represented working people, but corporate reformers are rarely reluctant to bulldoze institutions that used to provide some balance of power.
As we begin another spring testing season, educators will further highlight the educational malpractice being imposed on our students by bubble-in accountability. This year, we will also showcase the countdown to the failure of NCLB to meet its accountability targets.
Surprisingly, true believers in high-stakes testing aren't ignoring the law's anniversary and its target of 100% proficiency. The Democrats for Education Reform Statement Marks the Twelfth Anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act press release brags that "NCLB’s policies are now a permanent part of the education policy landscape."
DFER's Charlie Barone was an architect of NCLB and yet he proclaims the truth that reformers usually prefer to duck. He compares "current reform efforts on issues like standards, assessments, choice, teacher evaluation, and tenure" to NCLB.
If you liked NCLB, you will love DFER's, Arne Duncan's, and the Billionaires Boys Club's versions of NCLB-type testing on steroids. I'm curious, however, about the data that DFER cites to celebrate the output-driven mandates of the last twelve years. It links to data produced by "its inexorable march forward" to top-down micromanaging of our diverse nation's schools. It shows the $1000 per low-income student, per year increase in Title I, input-driven spending. DFER remains silent about any supposed increases in student performance.
The noneducators who gave us NCLB and the even worse policies of the Duncan administration remain preoccupied with their political fights. Their lesson from NCLB is focused on "those pushing back," i.e. their adult nemeses. Once again, reformers show themselves oblivious to real-world outputs, the effects of their handiwork on poor students of color.-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.
The 50-state strategy [to ensure equitable distribution of effective teachers] should have been started 12 years ago. [The new waiver renewal guidance is] disappointing, and it sends a message that it's not at the top of their agenda. -- EdTrust's Kate Tromble in EdWeek (Civil Rights Groups Wary on Waiver-Renewal Guidelines
On the 12th anniversary of 9/11, here are some education-related items that are worth mentioning again -- most of them from a 2011 post called The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up:
For the first nine years [of NCLB], the average gains were six points annually for African-Americans, five points for Hispanics and three points for whites... Annual gains [in the Obama/waiver era] have been limited to one-and-a-half points for blacks and to three points for Hispanic students. - Paul Peterson in the WSJ (The Obama Setback for Minority Education)
Parents got left out of NCLB in terms of engagement, transfers, and tutoring, says NACS's Nina Rees in this recent WSJ Opinion Video -- but the House rewrite of NCLB over-corrects the law's problems.
In honor of her recent birthday, Cloaking Inquality has posted this picture of one of Diane Ravitch's class pictures and invited folks to guess which is her.
For me, the more interesting picture is further down the post, depicting Ravitch and George W. Bush.
It may be hard to remember, and often goes without mention these days, (though it's not secret), but for a loooong time, Ravitch was pro-reform and even held a spot in the (previous) Bush administration.
Happy birthday, Diane!
Inflation-Adjusted Title I Budget Back to Pre-George W. Bush Level via Thompson (Andy Brownstein plus special appearance by Wayne (CRS) Riddle).
This week, Politics K-12 has a review / recap of the series (Congress Won't Reauthorize ESEA, So Netflix Will Do It For Them) penned by someone named Ross Brenneman.
While disappointingly unaware of my take on the show ( Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization), Brenneman provides a couple of helpful tidbits, including a reminder that The West Wing also focused heavily on education and some reassurance that teachers aren't portrayed negatively (at least not in comparison with the anti-hero Democratic Congressman played by Kevin Spacey). This is no "Won't Back Down" in regards to its portrayal of union leaders, though I understand that there's a bigger role for them in the second half of the show which I didn't see.
If, like me and a few others, you spent all or part of the weekend watching episodes of Netflix's new dramatic series, House of Cards, you emergef from your cave this chilly Monday morning tired and edgy. Perhaps you went back and tried again once the week started. According to Atlantic.com, a Netflix marathon often leads to a Netflix hangover.
Why a hangover? Well, like many shows these days -- Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, etc. -- the central characters here (Kevin Spacey as a Southern Congressman, Kate Mara as an ambitious journalist) aren't particularly admirable or moral human beings.
What makes the show watchable -- in addition to the never-ending concerns about whether the characters will do more awful things (they will!) or get caught (mostly not!) -- is that it's got negotiations over an education bill as a backdrop.
Yes, like Season 4 of The Wire and Won't Back Down and a raft of recent shows, education reform is the high-stakes backdrop for this Washington DC thriller.
But is it realistic, or any good? To tell you a little more about this -- which I must (otherwise I watched four and a half episodes in vain) -- involves revealing a fair number of plot points (ie, spoilers). So read below without any expectation of my keeping secrets.
Called Public Defender, features this somber picture of Ravitch.
One interesting line from the article jumps out:
Ravitch says that she still receives letters from teachers who can’t forgive her for her past reform advocacy:
“I feel I have to make up for the damage I’ve done.”
Ravitch's role in creating the reform movement, and her subsequent reversal, has long been an issue and a concern for me (see Ravitch's Stunning Certainty).
This is the first time I've seen or heard her say something this simple and apologetic.
I know this makes me a sentimental geek, and I have issues with at least some of the policies they all pursued, but I thought it was great to see the last four education secretaries together onstage earlier this week at Education Nation. (Riley's chair should have been a little higher than the others' given he served two terms, no?) Courtesy NBC News.
Beyond that, the similarities end. NCLB was briefly popular, and then increasingly less so. The Wire was obscure and unpopular for most of its five seasons. Most people who came to know and love it never saw it "live" on HBO.
For a long history of the series (not much education in there) go here.
Thinking back on the show and my countless blog posts about it, I feel like "The Wire" wasn't particularly helpful on education issues but it captured the mind-blowing dysfunction the can happen in large bureaucracies, the chronic mistreatment of poor urban minorities, and the difficult interplay between idealism and political pragmatism.
Three education-related 9/11 moments, and an update: In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked. The New Yorker then told us about the story (The Pet Goat) that students were reading. A SF blogger named Peter Smith had discovered the story was actually a reading exercise in a Direct Instruction textbook (text here). Now there's a pretty fascinating AP story about what happened that day in that school and what's happened to the educators and students -- now high school seniors --since then.
His eventual Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings worked on the legislation her spot at the White House DPC and recently argued against the idea it should be gutted -- advocating not only for the retention of AYP but (did I hear that correctly?) also for the 2014 goals.
Check out the video here and don't forget to find me a copy of the table of contents for the Bush book and any other snippets.
Responding to the question of why Michelle Rhee disregarded the instructions of the D.C. Council to cut $9 million from summer school, Jay Mathews wrote "Anyone who has looked at the data on summer learning loss would have to say Rhee was right, and the council was wrong." What?!?! Because high-quality, engaging summer programs are valuable, Mathews did not need to question the effectiveness of D.C.’s summer schools before proclaiming Rhee is right? When commenters complained that D.C.’s summer schools were still the same old test prep, fig leaf for social promotion, Mathews responded "I know it (summer school) has been bad in the past, but I was told that the plan was to do better in 2010. ... If it turns out to be a zoo, then you are right, I'm an idiot."
Sounds like low expectations for Op Ed writers to me. If I believe that Rhee has plans to improve summer learning, then I can believe that Rhee believes the incredible testimony that she provided to the Council. (Follow the link and see what it really takes to stem summer loss.)
Worst, Mathews explained away alleged age discrimination based on
If the Obama girls can't move into the Blair Residence January 5, how are they supposed to start school on time?
And if they can't start school on time, how are they supposed to fit in and get a good education?
NYT: Sorry, We’re Booked, White House Tells Obamas (via Wonkette).
The establishment is owned in part by the brother of Spelling's Press Secretary, Samara Yudof (Hospitable treatment).
Thanks to Texas education blogger Kimberly Reeves for digging this one up.
But they're not the ones that you might think. There's no KIPP, no Harlem Children's Zone. Instead there are things like the Nurse Family Partnership program (which you may recall from Kate Boo's Swamp Nurse article in the New Yorker a few years back.)
It's a pretty controversial view of things, especially for those coming from the reformy / accountability hawk side of things. (Earlier this week, David Whitman called her view "defeatist.")
On the HotSeat, Neuman dishes about Margaret Spellings (they're apparently not Facebook friends), describes how poverty "trumps everything," talks about Minessota's experience using her research as part of a program review, and says she wants to be on Oprah.
Click below for all her answers. Or go check out the book: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs that Break the Cycle of Poverty.
Lots of news outlets are telling us about the Bush administration's push to get out "midnight regulations" that would take effect even after Obama takes office (Google News), but no one has told us yet whether there are any regs getting pushed out the door that affect education.
Any last-minute rule changes or definitions they're trying to sneak by us? I'm counting on you OMB watchers and lobbyists to tell us what's going on.
UPDATE: I'm being reminded that the USDE issued a big batch of Title I regs last month (New federal regulations on graduation rates have school officials ...) that might, depending on your definition (90 vs 60 days), be described as midnight regulations.
UPDATE 2: ProPublica is tracking midnight regs but doesn't seem to have included any education ones (here). Maybe the October education regs are only considered to be "twilight" regs? But that hasn't stopped folks from complaining about them -- see the NEA's press release from a few weeks back.
EdWeek has the story that NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider is headed to AIR (Head of Ed. Dept. Statistics Agency Stepping Down).
But I'm told that Russ Whitehurst (pictured) is headed to Brookings even sooner than that.
During her visit she will "tour classrooms, visit with students and teachers, deliver remarks and participate in a question and answer session about higher education and the Department’s newly launched website, College.gov, at a school assembly at Charlestown High School."
Is it too early to call it a farewell tour?
Kudos to Spellings for showing off her TedStrong wrist bracelet and talking about her admiration for Ted Kennedy. Colbert suggested the idea federally mandated spanking. "Maybe we oughta try that," remarked Spellings. Colbert came back at her with the idea that school sanctions don't work -- we should go straight to bombing them. Spellings said that she didn't like the word "sanctions" but remained suspiciously silent on the whole bombing idea. It was light, as expected, but I guess she did OK. What did you think?
UPDATE: Now there's video. Hooray.
Secretary Spellings' pop culture thing wore off on me a long time ago -- though apparently I'm alone. She's slated to be on Colbert tonight. Here's a link to her Daily Show appearance, based on which we can predict that on tonight's show she will ham it up to show that she's in on the joke and flirt with the host to distract him from the hard question he's trying to ask-- including salacious lip-licking at key moments.
Not only does ECS still exist for some reason, it's even having a conference. Held in Austin this year, it features EdSec Spellings (natch!), plus Kansas Gov Sebelius. Details here. Not to be outdone, the Aspen Institute is having its annual ideas festival. Spellings will be there, too, conversing with Eli Broad about the state of American education. Details here.
"The federal role in education for the last 40-plus years has been on behalf of the nation's neediest kids. As such, No Child Left Behind is written primarily around their needs. I would say those are the kids who are being grossly underserved in our schools."
Q&A: Education secretary: Challenge assumptions about time, teachers
Des Moines Register
Is RTI ("Response To Intervention") the best thing since sliced bread, or just a new name for something old, or -- worst case scenario -- a fancy-sounding way to overburden mainstream classroom teachers and save districts some cash by delaying SPED referrals? I don't really know.
I just started hearing about RTI last year -- you probably heard about it much earlier. But it had been a while since I'd heard about anything "new" and of course that made me curious. Here's an article by the Washington Post's Michael Allison Chandler from this past winter (Waiting Too Late to Test) that raises some of these questions.
I like the notion of putting in a systematic screening system that makes sure kids don't just fall through the cracks -- rather than relying entirely on teachers' instincts. And I'm curious about the potential for small interventions that might make a difference. But I'm skeptical about teachers' willingness to do all the formative assessments and ability to make a series of subtle adjustments. Maybe that's why it's mostly being implemented in better-off districts.
Previous Posts: Could "Checklists" Improve Academic Outcomes?
The most interesting part of Patrick Riccards' post on who should be the next EdSec is his description of the previous EdSec, Rod Paige. In essence, Riccards says Paige has gotten a raw deal. Indeed, it may be true, especially given that by many accounts Paige was operating under such close orders from the White House DPC, where then-unknown Margaret Spellings was housed. It's something that I wrote about a while back in an NRO piece about Spellings' about-face on NCLB once she became EdSec.
Unlike with Obama-Clinton, it's Spellings who's the charismatic light-footed one, what with her waivers and pilot programs and TV appearances, while Paige comes off as the plodding, humorless careerist who was overly strict about implementing NCLB. As with Obama-Clinton, the public narrative may be substantially different from the underlying truth.
PS -- I have never seen a picture of them together, and can't find one on Google Images.
First, everyone said that Reading First was the best thing since sliced bread -- early intervention on literacy to reach kids that Title I sometimes missed. Then came lots of accusations about conflicts of interest, and the departure of that Doherty guy from the USDE. But still, there were reports that the program was popular and considered effective by states and districts that had implemented it. Now, USA Today's Greg Toppo is reporting that a new study from IES, the research arm of the USDE, shows that Reading First is... ineffective. Doh! Read all about it.
U.S. to Require States to Use a Single School Dropout Formula NYT
The adoption of a federal graduation formula would correct one of the most glaring weaknesses of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
'Crisis' graduation gap found between cities, suburbs USA Today
The likelihood that a ninth-grader in one of the nation's biggest cities will clutch a diploma four years later amounts to a coin toss — not much better than a 50-50 chance, new research finds.Cross into the suburbs, and the odds improve dramatically.
Report: Urban students face rough road to graduation CNN
Seventeen of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio, according to a report released Tuesday.
Tomorrow's news, today: "Secretary
Spellings will make an announcement during remarks on the need for a more comprehensive and precise definition of
“graduation rate” at a press conference hosted by America's Promise Alliance
and State Farm in the Columbus Club at Union Station. Other speakers at the press conference on
the America’s Promise Alliance’s Dropout Prevention Campaign will include General Colin L. Powell, USA
(Ret), founding chair, America’s Promise Alliance; Alma Powell, chair,
America’s Promise Alliance; and Edward J. Rust, Jr., chief executive officer,
EdSec Spellings finally won on NPR's Wait, Wait--Don't Tell Me -- perhaps the easiest game show out there -- but she can't stop talking about rejecting Karl Rove back in the day (Let's Just Be Friends).
We've all sent out an email that we didn't mean to send. But for most of us it doesn't happen all the time. However, one out of two email announcements from the USDE's Office of Public Affairs these days seems to be followed within a few minutes with a "recall" message. Here's today's example:
The sender would like to recall the message, "U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION MARGARET SPELLINGS HIGHLIGHTS NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND IN RALEIGH".
With the occasional exception, I don't bother trying to figure out what was wrong with the first message -- wrong city? wrong time? But these email recalls have gotten so frequent that it's hard not to notice them and wonder whether this is an example of ineptitude or how little anyone cares about emails sent to the press. My friends on the EWA listserve -- knowing how easily persuaded I am to do their dirty work -- have been hectoring me to point this out.
Back in the day when federal education funding was much less of a big public deal, being Director of the Title I program was sort of a big deal. (Remember Mary Jean LeTendre?) These days, the prominence is gone -- in part because higher-ups (Assistant Secretaries and up) have taken over the issue.
But someone's still gotta make sure the $14B train runs on time. The new man for the job is NC native Zollie Stevenson Jr. [Nice earring!] Stevenson was deputy director -- doing state audits among other things -- and before that he worked in Baltimore, DC, and Charlotte-Mecklenberg.
Congrats, condolences. Read below for the rest of the details.
There's rumors on the Interwebs that the USDE unintentionally revealed its proposed FY09 budget proposals a few days ahead of time, though I can't vouch for any of it. Click below to see what's rumored to be proposed on Monday. Make of it what you will. Thanks to them who sent this. Fun!
UPDATE: Here is the spreadsheet with the FY09 figures still "hidden" it, courtesy of the eagle-eyed Jason Sakran at the Committee On Education Funding. Sakran apparently was first to spy the USDE's mistake and post the news on CEF's website and to its members last week, which is how it got spread around. Smart guy that he is, Sakran kept a version of the old spreadsheet, which has the new numbers. [Remember, though, that these are totally unofficial and unconfirmed. Could be just a Spellings plot to make you waste time this weekend.] Note to self: join CEF.
I'm still looking for pics of EdSec Spellings at the SOTU for you check out, but in the meantime thanks to readers for sending in these close-but-not-quite submissions (interpretations?) of the Spellings outfit:
On the left, you have the polar bear from Golden Compass. This one seems a little harsh. Spellings looked scary that night, but not quite so ferocious.
On the right, that's starlet Jessica Alba at the Sundance Film Festival (I think). Again, not quite a fair comparison, though the high-necked design does have a resemblance to the Spellings outfit.
Troubled still by the President's assertion that NCLB is working? The folks at FactCheck.org say that he's not all wrong:
"He was mostly correct in describing progress in test scores since his No Child Left Behind Act was passed, but he overlooked some recent backsliding in reading scores and the fact that some test scores were on an upward trend before the new law went into effect."
Harsh. Click here (Facts of the Union 2008) for more details.
UPDATE: Over at NPR, Larry Ambramson has something to say that many of you will like hearing better:
"Many educators dispute the effectiveness of No Child Left Behind NCLB . Teachers in particular say they re being asked to meet unrealistic standards, and have demanded more flexibility.... [Bush] didn't mention that reading scores in those grades have stagnated, despite No Child Left Behind...What he did not say is that the achievement gap between whites and minorities remains very large."
The Alliance for Excellent Education (no idea) is determined to make a week out of the President's State Of The Union speech tonight, first by demanding that education be a big part of his speech (it won't) and second by encouraging us to play SOTU Bingo (sure, why not?).
Click below for the Alliance's talking points. Click here for the Bingo thing (via Fritzwire).
Extra points for anyone who can explain what the Alliance is, how it's different from all the other education groups in DC, and why we need it.
A few days ago EdSec Spellings sent a letter out to the state education chiefs (Download letter.tif) telling them that the USDE is going to explore legal remedies -- no word on a specific route of appeal. Foregoing Sundance this year, Spellings is nonetheless headed to Davos, Switzerland for the annual confab of economic powers and thinkers.