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Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments

Quotes2It's like saying you're for interstellar travel but against warp drive.

- NYCAN's Derrell Bradford via Facebook on NEA Common Core position(s) -- see full quote below.

Continue reading "Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments" »

Quotes: NYC Mayor De Blasio Praises Predecessor For Common Core Focus

Quotes2They were right to focus on the Common Core curriculum. -- NYC Mayor De Blasio on Bloomberg decisions that led to NYC test score increases (WNYC Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests)

Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?

As was apparent at last week's discussion of the Vergara case between Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane, the current generation of school reformers is generally dismissive of legal cases in search of school improvements. 

Lawsuits don't work, or are at best crude measures compared to policies and statutes.Or, theyre good for quantity-related issues (like funding) but not for quality-related issues (like access to effective teaching). Check out Petrilli and McShane's responses to my Twitter query at the 30 minute mark.

They may be right. I'm no legal scholar, and it's certainly conventional wisdom that the wave of equity and adequacy cases of the 1970s and 1980s didn't result in any wholesale improvements in American education. Some would say the same about civil rights cases. 

But the Vergara case, its successors, and a whole host of non-education advocacy (same-sex marriage, for example), suggest that the conventional wisdom might be worth reconsidering, or at least examining.

Historically, it seems to me that legal cases have played an important role in shaping education -- perhaps as much or more so than laws that have been passed. I don't see any big advantage of one forum over the other.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?" »

AM News: New York Scores Up (But Union Still Won't Endorse Cuomo)

Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests WNYC: State Education Commissioner John King speculated on Thursday that the city showed more gains because it began training groups of teachers and principals in the Common Core learning standards a few years ago, ahead of other districts. 

N.Y. Union Won't Endorse in Governor's Race Teacher Beat: NYSUT opted not to endorse Cuomo or any other candidate for the 2014 governor's race.

Why The Atlanta Testing Scandal Matters NPR: The pressure placed on schools and educators by high-stakes tests can lead to unintended consequences.

Helping Students Make Sense Of A Young Black Man's Death In Missouri NPR: The shooting of Michael Brown may raise questions for students, and teachers need to be prepared.

 Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts NYT: The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a cigarette tax for the city that would make the budget reductions temporary.

LAUSD says it's not subject to state's 'parent trigger' law this year NYT: In a letter last year, a U.S. Department of Education official told Deasy the federal waiver did not exempt L.A. Unified from identifying schools for improvement, corrective action or restructuring, and did not affect any related state laws.

 

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

Continue reading "AM News: New York Scores Up (But Union Still Won't Endorse Cuomo)" »

Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure

The Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits broke the news on Tuesday.  The Sacramento Bee followed up with a focus on Rhee's work on behalf of her husband, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who may run for higher office in two years.  Beaten badly on the news, Politico published a misleadingly negative account of Rhee's accomplishments, noting her successes only in the bottom half of its story.

However, it's not really news that Rhee and her organization made crazy demands and didn't coordinate well with others or that she didn't reach her $1 billion fundraising goal.  Just recently, she listed a set of states suitable for Vergara-like lawsuits without (I'm told) consulting with Campbell Brown's organization. And no doubt, Rhee et al made a bunch of mistakes. (Focusing on ending seniority in layoffs was the biggest among them, in my opinion.)

But much of the criticism now focused on Rhee is the product of anti-reform advocates gleeful at her departure and thin-skinned reformer who didn't like being elbowed aside while Rhee was on the front pages and generally failed to support or defend her against the relentless critiques of anti-reform advocates who dominate the online discourse and influence many reporters.  (For a recent example of just how dominant reform critics are online, read this US News story: Common Core Opponents Hijack Supporters' Twitter Blitz.) 

Continue reading "Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure" »

AM News: Teachers Union Wins Another LA School Board Election

Teachers union-backed candidate George McKenna elected to Los Angeles Unified school board LA Daily News: The 35,000-member union threw its weight behind McKenna, who was outspent 3 to 1 by Alex Johnson and his supporters, which included a political action committee affiliated with charter schools.

Outspent by rival, McKenna drew on connections in school board victory LA TImes: In this week's election for a seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education, one side had deep pockets and extensive political connections; the other side had people such as Orley Frost Jr.

McKenna victory gives appearance of a pro-teacher union board LA School Report: Since her upset win, board member Monica Ratliff has been held up as the epitome of the David and Goliath-style triumph over big money reform.

With Tueday's school board loss, charter advocates recalculate KPCC: After Tuesday's defeat of another of their candidates to the Los Angeles school board, charter school advocates are rethinking how to support local candidates.

Ex-Head of Washington Schools Steps Down at Advocacy Group NYT: Rhee said that it was “time for my next step in life” and that she would focus on her family and support her husband, Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, as “he continues to move forward with his career.” 

Michelle Rhee drops out of school group Politico: As she prepares to step down as CEO, she leaves a trail of disappointment and disillusionment.

State Attorney General wants two teacher tenure lawsuits to become one Chalkbeat NY: The attorney general’s office writes in the filing that the request was made “to avoid the possibility of conflicting findings” and because the two suits “involve the same legal and factual issues and seek the same relief.” The attorney general’s did not provide further comment.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Union Wins Another LA School Board Election" »

Tenure: Public Divided On "Too Easy/Hard To Fire" Teachers

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 1.18.40 PM"Only 31 percent of respondents said they thought it is too difficult to fire public school teachers in their state. Conversely, 12 percent of respondents said it was is too easy to fire teachers, and 27 percent said the difficulty level was about right." (HuffPost). Image used with permission.

AM News: What Happens If/When Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst?

Michelle Rhee Prepares To Leave CEO Job At StudentsFirst, Group She Founded HuffPost: The change comes as the education reform movement that Rhee spearheaded has a new face: Former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown. 

Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School? Politico: In Memphis, Mayor A.C. Wharton, a Bloomberg ally, has engaged in what amounts to a four-year-running battle with his city council to pony up relatively modest sums (less than $1 million a year) to offset the roughly $6 million being invested by Bloomberg’s philanthropy and federal grants.

Kansas Union Challenges Tenure-Repeal Law TeacherBeat: The Kansas National Education Association is challenging provisions tacked onto a 2014 budget bill eliminating due process.

McKenna wins key L.A. school board seat, according to unofficial results LA Times: Veteran school administrator George McKenna won his bid for a key seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education besting political newcomer Alex Johnson, according to unofficial results released Tuesday night.

Smartphone Apps Help To Battle Campus Sexual Assaults NPR: Several new smartphone apps offer quick ways for college students facing dangerous or uncomfortable situations to reach out to friends, connect with resources on campus or call the police.

What Robin Williams Taught Us About Teaching NPR:  As a young, handsome, floppy-haired English teacher with the highly apropos name of John Keating, Williams makes the classroom a stage, pulling out all the stops to get his students excited about the wonders of poetry, and, by extension, life.

Video: School supplies cost $20-$100 more this year Today: A survey found that supplies for a middle school student will cost an average of around $312 this fall, up about $100 from last year. Outfitting a student in high school will run about $350, up by about $20. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: What Happens If/When Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst?" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Endorse, Oppose, Or Stay Out Of The Race?

Unions vary political strategies in places where they are at odds with Dem governors, notes @eia's Antonucci ow.ly/A7Xex

Fordham's @MichaelPetrilli interviews @elizwgreenabout her book-length followup to her 2010 NYT article ow.ly/A7bVn

Chicago releases improved test score results -- too bad they're not on the annual state tests - District299 ow.ly/A6wsS

Map: Handful of states (CA, TX, FL, NY, VA) getting biggest numbers of unaccompanied minorsow.ly/A7Nba @l_maxwell

New series on Dems & choice features opeds from @parentrev @dfer @rwhitmire Doug Tthill Myles Mendoza Gloria Romero ow.ly/A7pF4

30 Ed Applications of Google Glass include teacher eval, teacher's view, ow.ly/A7ftu

NYT Schools for Tomorrow Conf 9/9 includes @RickKahlenberg @paultough @MichelleRhee ow.ly/A6Ta9

 

Campaigns: Parent Revolution & The AFT Walk Into The Same Organizing Event

What happens when Democratic education advocates on opposite sides of many policy issues attend the same campaign training events?  Things get awkward.  That's apparently what happend at a recent New Organizing Institute event when members of the AFT and Parent Revolution both showed up and -- I'm speculating here -- didn't much want to be put at the same table brainstorming ideas together. 

The NOI is a relatively new outfit, and its work was written up earlier this week in the Post (Inside the Democratic party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry): 

"With the real midterms fast approaching, Democrats areager to put more people in the field who've been trained in the latest campaigning techniques... Boot campers have gone on to some of the most prominent left-leaning organizations in the country — such as AFL-CIO, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood, not to mention the White House and political firms like Blue State Digital."

It makes sense that both groups would be there, given how hard everyone's trying to figure out/get better at campaign and mobilization work these past couple of years in particular.  I've heard that similar things have happened at the Marshall Ganz boot camp, too. 

Related posts:  NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To BostonCommunity Organizing & School Reform;  The Left's Getting Itself Organized, Too.

 

 

 

Morning Video: Another Day, Another Campbell Brown Segment

 

"Campbell Brown, founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice, and Keoni Wright, a NY Parent who is a plaintiff in the Wright v NY lawsuit against the state, joined Inside City Hall with Errol Louis to discuss their call to change New York’s teacher tenure rules."

Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"

For me, the hands-down top new Twitter feed in education in 2014 is @thnkscommoncore, but I may be alone in that.

The much more official and deeply-considered Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014 are quite another thing, according to the folks at Education Next who put out the annual update.

This year's version includes three lists -- top overall, top individual, and top organization.  There's lots of overlap, and no doubt some of the accounts (Arne Duncan and USDE) are being run by the same social media manager.

On a related note, should individual accounts for folks like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee that are presumably run by more than one person be included in the list of "people"?

As in the past, the list focuses on Klout scores rather than numbers of followers.  It's not clickable, or re-sortable (by followers, say).  I've asked for a Twitter list so that you can subscribe to all these folks with a single click, and crossed fingers it might happen (yay!).

As Petrilli notes, here are a couple of newcomers in the form of the Badass Teachers Association and founder Mark Naison, which should yet again have reform advocates reconsidering their disinterest in becoming involved in social media.  (Newcomer Campbell Brown is on the list, but I don't think anyone's expecting her or her organization to carry the reform message on Twitter and Facebook single-handedly.)

CAP and New America also made it -- apparently their first time.

Other observations, profound and otherwise are below the fold.  A few folks made it on the list with high Klout scores but very few followers, about which I have mixed feelings.  Some venerable education policy types aren't on this year's list, lots of mainstream media journalists and journalistic outlets aren't included either (for lack of policy or lack of activity, it's not clear).

Continue reading "Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" " »

Morning Video: AFT Head Debates Former LA Mayor On Tenure

In a followup to the Campbell Brown/David Boies segment earlier this week, Randi Weingarten and Antonio Villaraigosa talk teacher tenureon MSNBC's Morning Joe. (Other cable news shows, where are you?). More about the substance -- and the political back and forth -- at TeacherBeat.

 

AM News: NYC Mayor Touts National Pre-K Movement

De Blasio Cheers on National Pre-K Movement WNYC: The mayor spoke broadly about efforts to expand preschool access in cities such as San Francisco, Miami, and San Antonio—efforts he said are reshaping the national conversation.

Memphis-Area School Year Starts With Opening of Six Breakaway Districts District Dossier: Memphis-area suburban communities moved to form their own school districts in the wake of the merger of the Shelby County, Tenn., district with the financially-strapped city school system in 2011.

Michelle Rhee to Chair Her Husband's Sacramento Charter Group District Dossier: The former District of Columbia schools chancellor returns to the Sacramento charter school organization known as St. Hope Public Schools.

Dispute over Common Core gets personal AP via SF Gate: White issued a letter a few days later, saying he felt he was being personally attacked with suggestions of "unfounded malfeasance" within his office.

Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build A Better Brain NPR: Children learn their most important lessons on the playground, not in the classroom, researchers say.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Mayor Touts National Pre-K Movement" »

Quotes: "No One Can Fire Parents"

Quotes2Even better would be widespread parent boycotts. No one can fire parents. They have it in their power to pull the plug on this mess. I hope it comes to that. - Diane Ravitch (Pick Your Fights Carefully)

 

Morning Video: Campbell, Boies -- & Weingarten -- On MSNBC

 

Here's Campbell Brown and David Boies on MSNBC's Morning Joe yesterday morning, with mention of a Weingarten appearance later in the week.

AM News: AFT Pressures Force Split In Dem. Consulting Firm

Former Obama Aides Broke With Democratic Firm Over Anti-Teachers Union Project HuffPost:  Gibbs' liberal colleagues reacted angrily when news of the marriage surfaced, and the American Federation of Teachers made its displeasure known. Gibbs said the teachers union put pressure on New Partners as a result of his new client.  

With Uncertainty, Schools Prepare for New Arrivals Texas Tribune: The average stay is about 35 days. During that time, federal case workers attempt to track down relatives or other caregivers, like foster parents, to sponsor the children as they go through the legal system. Once they are placed with sponsors, they can go to public schools in their communities.

Literacy Laws Challenge Third Graders and Schools NYT: Anthony is one of about 1,900 children from the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District who failed the standardized reading test given to all North Carolina third graders in the spring. Under a recent law similar to those in more than a dozen states, such students in North Carolina may be required to repeat the grade. 

Hillary Clinton’s Fee for a Hometown Speech: Free NYT: The former secretary of state, who regularly commands $200,000 for speeches, returned to Chappaqua, N.Y., to address seven high school seniors at their graduation from a summer scholarship program.

'Building a Better Teacher' explores the complexity of teaching USA TODAY: Greg Toppo spoke recently with Green, who co-founded the Web-based non-profit education news site Chalkbeat. 

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

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Quotes: Only Thing Worse Than The Common Core Is The Alternative, Says Ravitch

Quotes2This is a terrible idea. Legislators have no academic competence to write academic standards. This is a sure way to politicize American education. Politicians should do their work and let educators do their work. Educators are the experts on what students should know and be able to do. - Diane Ravitch (What’s Worse than Common Core? Legislators Writing State Standards)

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Departing House Leader Rails Against Neighborhood-Based School Assignment

Cantor decries neighborhood/school quality linkage  ow.ly/zQlsp USA Today via @RedditEducation  

Fact-Checking UFT’s Attack on NOLA Schools | PE + COow.ly/zQlp0 @petercook

Snapshot of Teacher Union Spending on House, Senate Campaigns  @PoliticsK12  ow.ly/zQ8ez  @laurenonthehill

Vox points out big but little-known hole in union spending figures ow.ly/zR1Ob

2014's top lobbying spenders so far - Washington Postow.ly/zQmeg Labor unions/teachers *not* among them

Why poor kids fail to show up for college - and lie to college counselors about it - Jay Mathews ow.ly/zQmBG

Knowledge Isn’t Power - NYT ow.ly/zPUAI Krugman on politicians and the public ignoring expertise

Campaigns: Those Union Spending Numbers Are Only Half The Story

Quotes2Unions are important financial powerhouses in elections, but much of their spending is done in such a way that it doesn't show up on FEC reports — it involves getting out the vote or internal communication with their members rather than paid TV ads.  Vox

Books: The Unexpected Alliance Of Civil Rights & Women's Rights Groups

The best education-related article in the New Yorker of the past few weeks might not be Rachel Aviv's piece about the "burn-it-down-to-save-it" actions taken by some Atlanta teachers pressured to produce better results but rather Louis Menand's story about how women's rights and civil rights advocates came together uneasily.

Called The Sex Amendment, Menand's piece uses a couple of new books to tracethe work of women's rights advocates -- in almost total opposition from the rest of the liberal establishment (including civil rights leaders). "The last thing any of these people wanted was a group with a different agenda crashing the party."
 
Key takeaways for education types include the strong differences within the civil rights movement and with the women's rights movement, and the unexpected turns of events that created new opportunities and turned enemies into reluctant allies.
 
No time to recap or make all the connections, but trust me it's a good read for anyone trying to figure out how things end up getting done even when groups generally aligned (say, Democrats, or education advocates) have ended up in staunch opposition on the particulars.  I have no idea how or when this kind of thing could happen in education, but have the sense that it will -- some surprising set of events and alliances not currently part of the stalemated war between reformers and their critics.
 

Update: West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr

image from www.dfer.org

 

 

DFER California is re-launching operations for 2014 and beyond, kicked off with a few events and announcements (see press release below).  

As a big part of that effort, DFER has hired Steve Barr to be the state chapter head.  Former state legislator Gloria Romer was the previous head.  

Barr founded Green Dot Schools and more recently headed FIN Schools, which I'm told has been winding down its operations in recent months.

Previous posts:  Pro-Charter Dem PAC Expands To CA [2010]; Strange Times In California [2012]; Green Dot & Steve Barr Finalize Their "Divorce" [2011]; Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy [2013]

Continue reading "Update: West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr " »

Quotes: The Coming Union Backlash Against Reform Democrats

Ultimately, the union backlash is likely to be channeled into the 2016 Democratic primary. Of the various sources of liberal dismay that may be brought to bear upon Hillary Clinton — Warren-esque concern with inequality, unease with the Clinton’s hawkish record — the most focused and organized may well be the cause of the unions.

-- Jonathan Chait NY Magazine (Teachers Unions Turn Against Democrats)

AM News: Union Defends Tenure/Seniority Rules Against Lawsuits

New York Educators Fight Back on Attacks to Tenure NYT: The United Federation of Teachers sent out a memo defending tenure laws after two parents groups in New York filed lawsuits to challenge it.

Union Claims Weak Teachers Are Shown the Door WNYC: With its cherished tenure system under scrutiny, the New York City teachers union claimed on Tuesday that hundreds of teachers leave the city schools every year for failing to meet professional standards or as a result of disciplinary actions, even though very few of them are actually fired.

Q&A: Michelle Rhee On Teacher Tenure Challenges NPR: Her group played a supporting role in both the California and New York challenges and is now considering action in several other states.

COMMON CORE

Bobby Jindal Is Being Sued By His Own School Board Over The Common Core HuffPost: On Tuesday, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted 6-4 to join the lawsuit against Jindal, known as Navis Hill, et al., v. Louisiana State. 

Can special education students keep up with the Common Core? The Hechinger Report: On a morning in late May, the pace was slow and deliberate as seven students formed a semicircle around their teacher to work on a lesson about finding the main idea in a story.

AFTER-SCHOOL

Can after-school programs help shrink the ‘opportunity gap’ for low-income students? PBS NewsHour: Middle School 223 in the Bronx, NY, is one of about 1,000 public schools in the U.S. offering low-income students a host of fun and educational classes after the final bell rings. But despite their best intentions, after-school programs may be overlooking the “elephant in the room”.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Union Defends Tenure/Seniority Rules Against Lawsuits" »

AM News: NY Gets A Vergara Lawsuit (MN, CT, NJ & TN Could Be Next)

New York’s teacher tenure faces second challenge as Campbell Brown’s group files suit Chalkbeat:  In the past, Mayor Bill de Blasio has defended teacher tenure as a way to recruit and retain effective teachers. A spokesman from the state said they could not comment on pending litigation.

Second Vergara-Inspired Lawsuit Filed in New York Teacher Beat: "Campbell Brown may be tearing up, but her secret hedge-fund supporters will be crying all the way to the bank if she succeeds in her mission to undercut public education and privatize our schools," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. "Parents know that attacking teachers is not the answer to the problems of New York's public schools.  We expect New York's courts to reject the fact-challenged and legally questionable assertions in this case."

Teacher Tenure Fight Comes to New York City NPR: Seven parents filed a lawsuit with New York State Supreme Court on Monday seeking to overturn teacher tenure laws that they said prevent their children from receiving a "sound basic education" that is guaranteed by New York State’s constitution.

Campbell Brown takes on teacher tenure in New York Washington Post: An advocacy group headed by former television journalist Campbell Brown filed a lawsuit in New York on Monday that seeks to overturn the state’s tenure laws and other job protections for teachers.

Teacher Tenure Lawsuits Spread NPR: Rhee's group is considering additional suits in Minnesota, Connecticut, New Jersey and Tennessee.

The Common Core PR war Politico:Supporters of the Common Core academic standards have spent big this past year to persuade wavering state legislators to stick with the new guidelines for math and language arts instruction. The millions have proved no match for the moms. 

What Happens When High School Administrators Get Caught Plagiarizing HuffPost: Although high school students are regularly warned to avoid plagiarism and are often punished when they slip, a steady stream of high school administrators have come under fire lately for engaging in that very practice. 

Boston Plan for Cameras and Microphones on School Buses Comes Under Fire District Dossier: An editorial in The Boston Globe Monday called the plan to install microphones on school buses "bad public policy and a bad lesson for students."

NYC Uses Food Trucks to Bring Summer Meals to Kids AP: NYC uses food trucks to bring free summer meals to kids; more mobility, less stigma.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

AM News: Lawsuits Filed In NY & CA Against Tenure Protections & Inadequate ELL Service

Campbell Brown’s group to file teacher tenure suit ChalkbeatNY: A group of seven families led by the news-anchor-turned-education-activist Campbell Brown will file a complaint in state court on Monday. The suit, to be filed in Albany by Brown’s group, is the second such case in New York and follows a California ruling in June that deemed teacher tenure laws in that state unconstitutional.

Feds back English learner lawsuit against state EdSource via Hechinger: The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has found an ally in the U.S. Department of Justice for its lawsuit charging that the state abdicated its obligation to ensure all students classified as English learners get extra instructional services to become fluent in English. The lawsuit, filed in April 2013, is set for a one-day trial next week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Washington state stands alone on US education law AP: When the past school year began, four states were in danger of losing their waivers from aspects of the law. But only one has actually lost the flexibility Duncan began promoting in 2011: Washington. The three others - Oregon, Kansas and Arizona - appear to be on the path to resolving their differences with the federal government.

Learning To Read May Take Longer Than We Thought NPR: A Dartmouth study suggests that fifth-graders are still "learning to read," not just "reading to learn."

Gene I. Maeroff, Education Reporter and Author, Dies at 75 NYT: A former education reporter for The Times, Mr. Maeroff found a second career working as an author, a researcher and an adviser on education issues.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Lawsuits Filed In NY & CA Against Tenure Protections & Inadequate ELL Service" »

Maps: Which States Are Changing Which Charter Laws To Do What?

Screen shot 2014-07-24 at 12.18.16 PMFrom ECS: "42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have charter school laws. Important, evolving elements of these state laws include: Statewide authorizing bodies (33 states); Standards for authorizers (quality school authorizing) (15 states and D.C.); Requirements that authorizing bodies report annually on their portfolios of schools (15 states and D.C.); Explicit performance thresholds below which charters must be revoked or non-renewed (11 states and D.C.); Explicit attention to one type of charter: the Internet, or cyber charter (24 states define or permit; 20 outline elements of oversight)."

 Charter Schools Database via EdWeek.

Image Flickr CC via

Quotes: That Campaign Field Worker Might Well Be A Teacher

Quotes2If someone knocks on your door and says, ‘I’m Mark, I’m from the state Democratic Party,’ you take the literature and shut the door. “If you say, ‘Hi, I’m Karen, I’m a third-grade teacher at Hillsmere Elementary and I’m here to tell you what’s at stake for public education,’ that gets a very different reaction from the voter. - Karen White, political director for the National Education Association in today's Politico story (Unions put teachers on streets — for votes)

Quotes: Why Teachers Unions Usually Don't Turn Against Reform Democrats

Quotes2However strongly they disagree with Obama and the education reformers about the design of education and teacher pay, they do agree on the principle of paying teachers more. This is in contrast to Republicans, who generally support all the reformers’ accountability measures and lower public budgets as well. - Jonathan Chait in NY Magazine last week.

Media: EdWeek Leads Way On Coverage Of Unaccompanied Migrant Kids

image from fullframe.edweek.org

Though not entirely alone in covering the education (and political) angles to the unaccomanpied migrant story, EdWeek and Lesli Maxwell have been leading the way in recent weeks.  Examples include a late-June story this photo spread (Documenting the Immigrant-Children Influx), some recent statistics, and a backgrounder. Image courtesy EdWeek. 

AM News: NYC Union, LA Governor Both Fighting Former Allies

The Daily News Flickr swanksalot

Teachers union steps into legal battle over tenure, against a former ally ChalkbeatNY: The lawsuit pits the union against a former ally, Mona Davids, who is among the parents suing to undo the tenure laws. Davids heads the New York City Parents Union, which consulted with the UFT on a union-sponsored parent advocacy group two years ago. [See also TeacherBeat]

Bobby Jindal Sued By His Allies Over Common Core HuffPost: Two years ago, Jindal visited a charter school operated by the Choice Foundation, a nonprofit organization that manages a chain of charter schools in Louisiana. Now, Jim Swanson, chair of the Choice Foundation schools, is joining a group of parents and teachers to sue Jindal for trying to reverse his state's adoption of the standards. 

Lessons from a school that scrapped a longer student day and made time for teachers Hechinger Report: The case in New Haven tells a cautionary tale of what can happen when a low-performing school rushes to add time to close that gap. It also reflects the latest focus of the expanded-time movement: making extra time for teachers to learn. 

Charter and traditional schools bridge divide under one roof PBS NewsHour: Charter schools have often been seen as a threat to traditional schools, diverting resources and students to these publicly funded but privately run institutions. In Houston, Texas, the superintendent of one school district has invited competing charter schools to set up shop alongside a regular middle school. Special correspondent John Merrow reports on their evolving partnership.

Is There a Mismatch Between Ed. Dept.'s Teacher-Equity Plans and NCLB Waivers? PK12: For the past five-plus years of the Obama administration, the big teacher-policy emphasis has been on educator effectiveness, meaning tying teacher performance to student outcomes, including  on standardized tests. States had to develop teacher evaluations that take test scores into account, both to get a slice of the Race to the Top money, and later, to get flexibility from the No Child Left Behind Act.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Union, LA Governor Both Fighting Former Allies" »

Thompson: Oklahoma Education Drama Has National Implications

DormanThe Oklahoma State Department of Education annual Vision 2020 conference opened as Secretary of Education Robert Sommers announced his resignation. Sommers was a CEO of Carpe Diem charters, and a supporter of the former Indiana Chief for Change Tony Bennett.   

Sommers’s exit followed the resounding electoral defeat of State Superintendent and Chief for Change Janet Barresi. It also followed the legislative defeats of high stakes 3rd grade testing and the withdrawal from Common Core.

The week's biggest news was also education-related. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman had once been more of an underdog than those who challenged Superintendent Barresi, but now a Rasmussen poll shows that his Republican opponent, Gov. Mary Fallin, is in a freefall.  

Dorman was given the perfect opportunity to proclaim, “We cannot continue Fallin and Barresi’s destructive education policies.”

As Dorman pulled almost even with the incumbent, Fallin repudiated Barresi’s and her own agenda.

The story of how this happened will follow the break.

Continue reading "Thompson: Oklahoma Education Drama Has National Implications" »

Hot Vs. Hot: Campbell Brown Vs. Matt Damon

Screen shot 2014-07-17 at 1.22.47 PM"Here's somebody whose influence on ed policy is in no way related to their hotness, unlike that bimbo Campbell Brown," quipped NY Mag journo Jonathan Chait, linking to Matt Damon's appearances at various anti-reform events a few years back.  

ICYMI, Ravitch questioned Brown's credibility on education issues about which the two people happen to disagree and in the process made several comments about Brown's looks.  

Damon has appeared at various anti-reform events in recent years, based in large part on his good looks and celebrity (and views on education with which Ravitch happens to agree).

Quotes: Union "Cannot Go On Denying Responsibility For School Quality"

Quotes2The fact is, that while NEA does not control curriculum, set funding levels, or hire and fire, we cannot go on denying responsibility for school quality. - Former NEA President Bob Chase (in 1997) via DFER's Charlie Barone

 

Afternoon Video: Schools Prepare For Surge Of Unaccompanied Migrant Kids

Here's a Bloomberg segment on school preparations for migrant Central American kids who have been in the news so much the past couple of weeks. Haven't seen tons written on this - which districts are being most affected? Did the White House ask for schools funding as part of his refugee relief package?

Thompson: Arne Duncan's "Secretary Under Improvement" Plan

140517_randi_weingarten_teachers_union_ap_605Was the AFT's call for Arne Duncan to be placed on a plan for improvement a stroke of political genius by its leadership?

Or was it another example of what rank-in-file teachers do when we are at our best?

Or, was it both?

Read on (below) to find out.

Continue reading "Thompson: Arne Duncan's "Secretary Under Improvement" Plan" »

AM News: AFT Conference Wraps Up With Tenure Support

Teacher union's national conference concludes with support for tenure laws LA Daily News: The American Federation of Teachers panel featuring educators from out of state shared their personal observations to bolster why current tenure laws work.

Missouri Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Teachers To Carry Concealed Weapons AP: The veto by the Democratic governor sets up a potential showdown with the Republican-led Legislature, which could override Nixon if it gets a two-thirds vote of both chambers during a September session.

Jeb Bush Draws Tea Party Ire Touting Education Record Businessweek: The former governor is touting gains under his “A-plus” plan, which imposed statewide testing standards, provided financial rewards to improving schools and offered students a way out of those that were failing them. The state’s high-school graduation rate has increased to 75.6 percent, compared with 52.5 percent when Bush, 61, took office in 1999.

Exiting teachers-union leader Julie Blaha talks of tenure, retention — and improv MinnPost: She is possibly the funniest woman in education leadership circles in the upper Midwest. She’s capable of rendering even a seasoned journalist helpless with laughter, and thus unable to impose a linear structure on the conversation.

Arne Duncan Says Philadelphia District 'Starved for Resources' District Dossier: The U.S. Secretary of Education also said that Pennsylvania's current level of commitment to funding public schools in Philadelphia is "unacceptable."

Schools a haven for many unaccompanied minors AP: After 14 years of separation from her parents and a harrowing journey across the U.S. border, Milsa Martinez finds solace in the ..

School officials try healthier cafeteria options AP: Bean burgers, peanut butter substitutes and pre-sliced vegetable packets were on the menu Monday as school lunchroom managers from around the country sampled offerings in a hunt for fare that will meet stricter health mandates - without turning off sometimes-finicky students....

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

Continue reading "AM News: AFT Conference Wraps Up With Tenure Support" »

Media: Politico Brings Up The Rear On StudentsFirst Reboot Story

Money_1The Minnesota Star Tribune posted the story last week that SF was pulling out of the state (StudentsFirst pulls up stakes), and reported that the group was getting out of FLA, too.

EdWeek added to the story (StudentsFirst Powers Down Five State Affiliates) by listing the 5 states that were being shuttered (Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, and Minnesota), explaining the the reasons for closing up shop differ by state, and noting that Travis Pillow at RedefinED got to the FLA part of story first.

Politico led with the story in its morning roundup today (Rhee’s group retrenches) but provided little by way of new information and (old habits die hard) failed to credit EdWeek or the Minnesota Star Tribune or anyone else for unearthing the news.

Sure, it's embarrassing having other folks break a story that probably should be yours.  But it only makes it worse when they pretend you dug it up themselves or assume their readers don't know/don't care where the story idea came from. Plus, it makes their hard-working counterparts really hate them.

Previous posts: StudentsFirst 14-State 2012 Candidate SpendingStudentsFirst 2012 Spending On Local Board RacesNEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirstWhy's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?

 

Quotes: Reform Debate Often Detached From Schools & Parents

Quotes2The policy debate has become so polarized that it often seems detached from the very people it is aimed at helping. - Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe via Annenberg Institute

Pictures: Michelle Obama's Tour of the Brown Museum In Topeka

ScreenHunter_02 Jul. 14 10.22The New Republic wonders if this is "the political photo of the year," which it probably isn't.  But it's still a prettyeye-catching image. (Michelle Obama Tours Brown v. Board National Historic Site)

 

 

AM News: Sleepy Washington DC Campaign Goes National

Sleepy campaign for D.C. Board of Education goes national Washington Post:  When Tierra Jolly thumbed through her mail on Monday, she was surprised to see campaign literature touting her bid for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education.

Districts Debate Merits of Master's for Teachers AP: Texas' two largest school districts, in Houston and Dallas, recently eliminated advanced degree pay going forward, following the example of North Carolina, where lawmakers last year started phasing it out. Yet the backlash in North Carolina grew so intense that the state is now looking at reinstating the extra pay for those teaching classes related to the subject in which they have an advanced degree. 

Ethics Panel Absolves Tony Bennett of Wrongdoing in School-Grade Changes State EdWatch: The Indiana State Ethics Commission said former state Superintendent Tony Bennett committed no ethics violation in changing certain school grades in 2012.

How a better summer vacation could help low-income kids in school Vox: On average, kids come back to school in the fall about a month behind where they were at the beginning of summer break, says Catherine Augustine, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who has studied summer learning loss.

Union Leader Derides Obama Education Chief AP: Union president chides US education secretary but stops short of calling on him to quit.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Sleepy Washington DC Campaign Goes National" »

AM News: Lawsuit Against Teacher Job Protections Filed In New York

Lawsuit Challenges New York’s Teacher Tenure Laws NYT: In the wake of a landmark court decision in California, an education advocacy group says the laws violate the State Constitution’s guarantee of a “sound basic education.”

Teacher tenure under fire Marketplace: The lawsuit comes on the heels of another challenge to tenure laws, in California. In that case, an LA judge said tenure laws, "have deprived students of the quality education they're entitled to."

New Obama Initiative Stresses Equal Access To Good Teachers HuffPost: By April 2015, states must submit "comprehensive educator equity plans" that detail how they plan to put "effective educators" in front of poor and minority kids. To help states write the plans, the Education Department will create a $4.2 million "Education Equity Support Network." And this fall, the Education Department will publish "Educator Equity profiles" that highlight which states and districts fare well or poorly on teacher equity. 

NEA Calls for Secretary Duncan's ResignationTeacherBeat: In a surprising vote at the Representative Assembly on July 4, delegates passed a new business item calling for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign.

Why more states are backing off Common Core PBS: One major battleground, a growing list of states that are dropping the Common Core standards. Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina have done so. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an order for his state to join them. But now even places committed to keeping the guidelines are deciding to slow things down.

Big Data Comes To College NPR: The  exploding field of "learning analytics" raises ethical questions similar to those arising from the recent Facebook revelations.

Chicago Students Enroll As Boys, And Graduate As College-Bound Men NPR: For five years running, 100 percent of the graduating seniors at Urban Prep Academies have won admission to four-year colleges. The schools work to promote positive examples of black masculinity.

Free lunch for all in Chicago Public Schools starts in September WBEZ: Under a relatively new program called the Community Eligibility Option (CEO) all school meals will be free starting in September 2014, the district confirmed to WBEZ Thursday. Although the CPS initially rejected the program in 2011, it had expanded it to 400 schools by last fall.

Neighborhood high schools again take hit in new CPS budget WBEZ: Schools with more than $1 million slashed from their budgets are overwhelmingly the city’s public neighborhood high schools.

Politics: Teachers Unions Spent $191M To StudentFirst's $62M*

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 1.33.41 PM
Earlier today, Politico reported that StudentsFirst has raised a whopping $62 million in campaign contributions in the past two years. However, EdWeek reports that national and state teachers unions spent a combined $191 million in 2012 alone (see chart alone). However imperfect, the comparison serves as a useful reminder that reform money, however new and on the rise it may be currently, remains substantially less than teacher union money. 

Correction: The initial headline said StudentsFirst spent "462M" since I neglected to hit the shift button at the right moment. 

Roundup: What They're Saying About Supreme Court's Union Dues Decision

You'll see the phrase "dodged a bullet" quite a few times reading through these reaction stories:

Supreme Court ruling on unions reverberates Washington Post: The Supreme Court ruling Monday against an Illinois requirement regarding union dues for home health aides could ease the way for another, broader legal challenge aimed at teachers unions.

Unions hit, but not fatally Politico: Even the fairly narrow ruling is a blow to the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers and other unions that have organized hundreds of thousands of home health workers in states including Illinois, California and Connecticut. Those workers can now decide whether they want to support the union financially.

Unions duck biggest threat from Supreme Court case — for now Washington Post: Now those workers can decide whether they want to pay union dues from their often meager paychecks, a change labor groups worry could cause their memberships and incomes to shrink.

Unions didn’t dodge a bullet at the Supreme Court today. They dodged the guillotine. Washington Post (Bump): Had the Supreme Court thrown out the 1977 case that allows public sector unions to collect fees from employees, it could very well have been the last push needed. Instead, the Court just made the cliff's edge shakier.

Public-Sector Unions Survive Supreme Court Review, Barely. Forbes: The decision drew a strong dissent from the court’s liberals, written by Justice Elena Kagan. She said the state of Illinois not only pays home-health workers but supervises their work. And the state had ample reasons for selecting a single bargaining agent for home-health aides since that could help it ensure a steady supply of workers and guarantees against strikes.

Mulgrew: Union cautiously optimistic after ruling allows some opt-outs from union dues Chalkbeat: United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement on Monday that while he “deplored” the ruling, which gives some public workers the ability to opt out of paying union dues, it might only affect Illinois, the state where the case was based.

Home healthcare ruling may inhibit growth of powerful union LA Times: The SEIU may have trouble maintaining its growth after Monday's Supreme Court decision allowing home healthcare workers to opt out of paying union fees even if the union bargains on their behalf. If history is any guide, once workers can opt out of paying fees, they also opt out of belonging to the union.

Plus as an added bonus -- an #edGIF of declining union membership by state (below)

Continue reading "Roundup: What They're Saying About Supreme Court's Union Dues Decision" »

Afternoon Video: Reconciling Due Process & Students' Rights At Aspen 2014

 

Here's a new video from the Aspen Ideas Festival in which it is discussed whether tenure reforms and students' rights can be reconciled -- and if so, how. Feat. Weingarten, Deasy, and hosted by Ray Suarez. Read blog post about here.

Charts: Mainstream Republicans Dislike Common Core Just As Much As Conservatives

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.comThis chart from Vox's Libby Nelson shows that recent Pew survey results reveal there isn't really as much debate within the Republican party over Common Core standards as we may have imagined.  Support among Democratic groups including "solid liberals" appears relatively strong and uniform, which may also be another surprise for some. 

Thompson: Another "Chief for Change" Is Dumped

Barresi

Of course I’m celebrating the overwhelming defeat of Chief for Change Janet Barresi in the Republican primary. Oklahoma State Superintendent Barresi embodies the brass-knuckled, scorched earth corporate reform that has driven young children to cry and vomit, and older students to drop out of school.

Her opponent, Joy Hofmeister, condemned both the “toxic” environment created by high-stakes testing and the politics of destruction that Barresi exemplifies. Barresi  lost by a margin of nearly three to one.

As reported by the Tulsa World's Andrea Eger, a video has now been released showing Barresi's tirade at a Department of Education “Summer Convening” event. Barresi told teachers: 

Anybody that has any question what we’re doing, read Nehemiah. Open up your Bibles and read Nehemiah. I want you to put on your breast plate and I want you to fight off the enemy at the same time you’re rebuilding the wall. Because there’s a lot of people, a lot of enemies are going to try to creep up the back of your neck and say you can’t do it, it can’t be done. Do me a favor and tell ‘em to go to hell.

Honestly, though, I’m saddened that education policy disputes sank to this level. Fifteen years ago, I served with Barresi in a bipartisan reform coalition, known as MAPS for Kids. Before it was derailed by NCLB, MAPS was significantly improving our city's schools. 

Barresi started an excellent charter school just a block from my house. It is NOT a high-challenge school like the school it replaced. But, by bringing in high-performing students from outlying areas, it sure raised property values in our neighborhood.

Continue reading "Thompson: Another "Chief for Change" Is Dumped" »

Morning Video: Campbell Brown Previews NY Version Of Vergara Lawsuit

Local Fox News segment on NY version of Vergara that's being planned, featuring Mayor de Blasio and Campbell Brown.

Quotes: Smarick Rails Against Anti-Democratic Attitudes & Elites

Quotes2In too many other cases, our field has succumbed to the derision of politics, giving the impression that technocracy is preferable to democracy... I worry that too often education reform is falling on the wrong side of the democratic-technocratic divide. -- Andy Smarick (Has America Lost Democracy to Technocracc?)

Campaign 2016: Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political Strength

image from www.educationnews.orgFormer New Yotk Times Magazine reporter Matt Bai has a fascinating and highly controversial (5,000-comment) story you might want to read about how the ultra-liberal Democracy Alliance ended up naming NEA executive director John Stocks (pictured) as board chairman (Rich Democrats go from challenging the status quo to embracing it).

"So you're a liberal member of the 1 percent, and you've decided to wrest control of the Democratic agenda from change-averse insiders. You want to free the capital from the grip of powerful interest groups...Where do you turn for leadership and innovation? To the teachers union, of course!"

Originally conceived as a venture fund for progressive think tanks and thinkers (CAP, MMA), the liberal group has funneled $500 million + to liberal groups over the past decade, according to Bai. But it didn't stay innovative very long, in terms of its backers and who got funding. Silicon Valley and Wall Street funders faded away.  Think tanks like the New Democrat Network and Third Way were cut off.

Now Stocks is at the helm, a move that "tells you something about the direction of Democratic politics right now," according to Bai, because of Stocks' role as the power behind the throne at the NEA (top of Bai's list of "political powerhouses that have been intransigent and blindly doctrinaire in the face of change").

Continue reading "Campaign 2016: Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political Strength" »

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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.