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Campaign 2016: Bush Gets Demerits From PolitiFact For Dropout Claims

Education types are all excited about the increasing possibility that Jeb Bush will run for President (though Vox's sober take on the role his education positions will take seems most accurate).

Meantime, Politifact notes some issues with  recent comments Bush has made about schools (Jeb Bush on the Truth-O-Meter). Bush's October fundraising letter contains some information about kids dropping out that Politifact deems mostly false.  "There is more than one way to measure dropout frequency, but whichever one you use, Bush’s number was off."  

Not everyone's so sure that PolitiFact has it right, however. Among them are Sherman Dorn, no particular fan of Bush's, who says on Facebook that Bush is closer to the right number than it may seem.

According to Politifact, Bush did somewhat better comparing US achievement to other countries.  

 

Quotes: NY Teacher Evaluation Results "Don't Reflect Reality," Says Cuomo

Quotes2It is incredible to believe [teachers' high scores are] an accurate reflection of the state of education in New York. I think we have to go back to work on the teacher evaluation process. - NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in Capital New York (Cuomo: High teacher scores 'not real')

Morning Video: Duncan Wasn't The Only One At Last Weekend's Protests

EdSec Arne Duncan may have marched for #blacklivesmatter last weekend, and his communications team may have posted a somber picture of him doing so, but AFT head Randi Weingarten gave a fiery speech to the crowd.  Uploaded by AFT. Not in the mood? Morning Joe has a segment about a school taking a blind kid's cane away as punishment, replacing it with a swimming pool "noodle."

Thompson: Duncan & Other Reformers Should Apologize (Like Tony Bennett)

Mike Kline FlickrIt is hard to realize you are wrong on something important in the middle of a busy school day. But, many, many times, settling in at home, a light went on, and I realized that I owed a student an apology. 

Perhaps I’m naïve, but if President Obama would apologize for imposing the full, untested and dangerous corporate reform agenda on schools, wouldn’t teachers be as gracious as my students were when I would say, “I’m sorry?” 

Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has issued a series of non-apologies, criticizing the way that testing sucks the oxygen out of schools, but he has made little effort to curtail its damage.  

Why can’t Duncan and President Obama acknowledge that their policies were as insulated from education reality as those of the famously “tone-deaf” Indiana Chief for Change Tony Bennett?  The IndyStar’s Tim Swarens’ reports, in I Was a (Bleep) Candidate, that the hard-charging and defeated reformer is now remorseful and contemplative. Bennett is now candid about the way his daughter, a teacher, pushed back against his attacks on her profession. He admits, "I saw anyone who disagreed with me on an issue like vouchers as a defender of the status quo." 

Oops! I guess I’m still naively hoping that true believers will face up to the harm done by their self-righteousness and scorched earth politics. Tom LoBianco of the AP Press reports that Bennett now has no comment regarding the inspector general's report on his 2012 campaign activities that has been forwarded to federal prosecutors.

Continue reading "Thompson: Duncan & Other Reformers Should Apologize (Like Tony Bennett)" »

Quotes: Departing NY Superintendent Reflects On Polarized Education Debate

Quotes2I have gotten to see how hard it is in the current political climate to break through the tendency to polarize issues and how difficult it sometimes can be to get at nuance and to have conversations that are informed by nuance. - John King (Capital NY John King reflects on contentious tenure)

Update: USDE Alt Cert Report Now Over A Year Late

Way back in 2012, Congress called on the USDE to issue a report on the number and distribution of alternative certification teachers in US classrooms as a condition of extending the provision that makes alt cert teachers highly qualified under NCLB.  

The HQT waiver is good through 2016, which is why there wasn't any need for a rider in the 2015 spending bill currently under consideration.  (The union waiver, known as HOUSSE, is permanent and doesnt't require updating.)

But the report was supposed to come out in December 2013 -- a year ago.  But it hasn't been heard of.

Related posts: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" About Highly Qualified Teachers"Technical Amendments" In The Fiscal Cliff Deal?Alt Cert: TFA "Interns" Allowed To Keep Teaching ELLs (For Now)Budget Deal Gives TFA Another Two Years.

Continue reading "Update: USDE Alt Cert Report Now Over A Year Late" »

Quotes: Jindal Touts Defeat Of Common Core Supporter Landrieu

Quotes2Mary Landrieu supported Common Core and was soundly defeated — the voters have spoken... We hope Secretary Duncan is coming to Louisiana to see how real education reform is benefitting kids and families in the real world, and we hope he wants to work with us. - LA Governor Bobby Jindal in Politico (Jindal blasts Duncan ahead of NOLA visit)

Quotes: Success Of Pro-Common Core Politicians Suggests 2015 Progress

Quotes2There were probably at least 10 states last spring that had tough fights, and you’ll have tough fights again, with the biggest ones in the most conservative states and mostly in the south. But politicians respond to voters, and pro-Common Core politicians won midterm elections across party lines...At least two-thirds of states will stick with Common Core. That’s pretty remarkable for a country that’s been allergic to common standards. - Fordham's Mike Petrilli (Will Common Core Survive Past 2016? RealClear Education)

Charts: Common Core Implementation By The Numbers

image from s3.amazonaws.comIf you read the news too much or live in New York or Chicago you might be excused for thinking that Common Core was universally controversial and that the pushback was widespread. Here's a somewhat different way to look at Common Core, rather than focusing on the handful of controversial states and media coverage of conflicts, via centrist DC think tank Third Way.  Caveats: It's undated, and focuses on the standards not the assessments or their uses.

Quotes: Weingarten May Be Helping Bush By Calling Him Out

Quotes2

[Bush] says he wants to break up so-called ‘monopolies’ of public education, forgetting that public education is a public good, a moral imperative and a constitutional mandate in many of this country’s states, including Florida. - Randin Weingarten via WSJ (Fight With Unions May Benefit Jeb Bush)

Morning Video: Debating Rice's "Racist Liberals" Claim

 

In case you missed it from last week, here's Condoleeza Rice's claim that failing neighborhood schools and the inequality that comes with them are racist, along with a link to Citizen Stewart's examination of the claim.

TV: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, Too

image from cloudfront.mediamatters.orgMediaMatters notes that educators make up just one in ten of the guests on cable news segments related to education, which Valerie Strauss regards as a big problem.  

MSNBC does the best percentage-wise in terms of booking educators as guests -- but not by that much. CNN does the worst.  Fox -- this may surprise you -- comes in the middle.

What jumps out at me even more than this issue is that there are so few education segments, over all.

Granted, Morning Joe is not included -- a favorite for Randi Weingarten and Campbell Brown alike. And NBC News still does a fair amount of education coverage, along with PBS NewsHour.

But still. Looking at evening news shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, there were just 185 total guests in 10 months.  CNN booked the fewest - by far.  Fox and MSNBC came in much higher, quantity-wise.

Take a look at the full MM story here. Image used courtesy MediaMatters.

Related posts: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show.

 

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

Watching Newark superintendent Cami Anderson's interview with AEI's Rick Hess from last week, a few things are clear:

First and foremost is that Anderson's initiatives may be much more nuanced and less top-down than critics have claimed (and the media has repeated).  For example, she says that there have been no school closings as part of her plan, and that several revisions and changes were made in response to community input.  Is that accurate?  Someone needs to check.  By which I mean the WSJ, NJ Spotlight, Hechinger, ChalkbeatNY, or NYT.

Second, and just as important for someone to figure out, is whether her claims that there's a small but "well-funded" effort to block her efforts are accruate or not.  The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton chronicled the protest against her, (a busload of Newark parents) but doesn't tell us who was behind the effort, if anyone. Did they decide to go among themselves? Who paid for the bus? Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle notes that CWA, "which has been an ally if AFT's NJ affiliate, has funded NJ Communities United to tune of $251K."

Related posts: Last Night's Raucous Newark Schools MeetingNewark Officials Discuss School Improvement, Local ControlNew Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashUnion Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark.

Journalism: Media Narrative Shifted Dramatically During Post-Midterm Period

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Check out my latest Scholastic column here if you want to read about how media coverage of the 2014 midterms shifted sharply during the first few days after the results were known -- and how upon examination nobody's claims of victory seemed as strong as was being claimed. 

One issue that didn't make it into the piece was just how flat-footed the teachers unions seemed initially in their responses to the reformers' claims of victory, as in the AFT canceling a press conference without considering how that would look (or whether there was an opportunity to counter the reform narrative before it got rolling).

Another key angle is that the media covering the midterms and some of those commenting on them initially seemed to take the reformers' claims of victory at face value rather than taking a more skeptical view of the claims or a harder look at the results. 

Maps: States Where Lots Of Students With Undocumented Parents Attend School

image from www.pewhispanic.org

No surprise that President Obama is going to announce his big deportation relief plan at a Las Vegas high school, given that a whopping 18 percent of kids in Nevada schools have at least one parent without documentation.  That's according to a Pew study that HuffPost's Rebecca Klein wrote about yesterday. Read all about it here. Image used with permission.

AM News: Obama Plan's Impact On Students With Undocumented Parents

Obama's Forthcoming Immigration Plan to Protect Millions From Deportation PK12: President Obama on Thursday will announce steps he will take to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States from deportation, a move that could have implications for millions of America's K-12 schoolchildren. See also Vox story on impact on K-12 students with undocumented parents.

No Child Left Behind, Pre-K Programs Could Be On New Congress' Agenda NPR: With Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Congress may push for change on several big education issues, including a rewrite of the law known as No Child Left Behind. But it's also clear that, even on classroom issues that seem to have bipartisan support — including Pre-K funding — Democrats and Republicans may have trouble compromising.

Passing Rate Declines by 20% as State Uses New Certification Exams for Teachers NYT: The fall in certifications resembles, in some respects, the state’s experience with the Common Core, a set of more rigorous learning standards for students that has been adopted by New York and most other states.

Wash. school district tries arming administrators to protect students from shootings PBS NewsHour: A school shooting north of Seattle last month left five students dead, reviving questions of safety and violence for students and teachers. Another school district in Washington State is answering that question in an unconventional manner: arming school administrators.

Obama Makes Pitch to Expand High-Speed Internet Access to Schools NYT: The president, in a respite from the gridlock and sniping in Washington, also signed a bill that changes the child care rules for low-income families.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Obama Plan's Impact On Students With Undocumented Parents" »

Quotes: Trapped In Failing Schools

Quotes2I’ll tell you what I think is the biggest problem of race today, it’s poor black children trapped in failing neighborhood schools. - Condoleezza Rice on Fox via Brietbart

Polls: CA Public Views Of Common Core Show Wide Variations

PACE USC Poll Common CoreEast Coast types might think that how things are playing out in New York is how they're playing out nationally, but these new poll results from California (USC via EdSource) show widespread (though declining) unfamiliarity among the public about the Common Core and a wide range of views on the standards. To see the poll data itself, click here, find the link, download a copy and find the charts you want on page 2. Images used with permission. Anyone seen state by state polling data comparing views from one place to another?

 

AM News: Mixed Common Core Signals For Jeb Bush 2016

Jeb Bush, Common Core and 2016 WSJ: Races in which Common Core was raised as a campaign issue in the midterm election produced a mixed verdict. School superintendents who raised concerns about the national standards won in Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. Arizona also elected an anti-Common Core governor, Republican Doug Ducey. On the other hand, Democratic governors criticized by their opponents for supporting Common Core, including Andrew Cuomo in New York and John Hickenlooper in Colorado, won re-election.

Department Of Education Investigating K-12 School Districts For Mishandling Sexual Assault HuffPost: As of Nov. 12, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights was investigating 24 elementary and secondary schools for potential mishandling of sexual violence incidents under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, according to numbers provided by the department to The Huffington Post [see list below]. One of these districts is under investigation for two cases, meaning that a total of 25 incidents are being investigated. Thirteen of these investigations were initiated in 2014.

Sen. Tom Harkin, Force on Education Policy, Begins Retirement Farewells PK12: Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who's set to retire after nearly four decades in Congress, gave what sounded like his closing oration late Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor. Though I've been assured it wasn't his official swan song, it was some dress rehearsal.

Billions more in spending for school Internet connections under FCC proposal Hechinger Report: Afte If the additional funding is approved, it would bring the cap on total yearly spending on this program to about $3.9 billion.

Pearson Charitable Foundation to Close Its Doors EdWeek: The activities of the charitable foundation came under harsh scrutiny last year, when the not-for-profit organizaiton agreed to pay $7.7 million in a settlement with New York state, which accused it of improperly using assets to benefit its for-profit arm, Pearson Inc. 

ClassDojo Adopts Deletion Policy for Student Data NYT: The maker of ClassDojo, a popular classroom app, said that starting in January it plans to keep students’ behavioral records for only one school year.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Mixed Common Core Signals For Jeb Bush 2016" »

Quotes: Unions Can't Organize Themselves Into Relevancy

Quotes2Unions must recreate themselves to be relevant not only to the leaders who thrive on internal and external political drama, but to the average member who is a school secretary in Washington, first grade teacher in Minnesota, or higher education faculty in Florida. Relevancy means focusing first and foremost on the learning lives of students and the professional lives of educators. - Former NEA bigwig Bill Raabe in EIA (Former High-Ranking NEA Staffer Speaks Out)

Journalism: Hits & Misses In NPR's "Overtesting" Story

So-called "overtesting" is probably the easiest story on the education beat to do right now, and I'm no saint I did one too last winter for the Atlantic's education page. But there aren't any real numbers out there and so it's very easy to fall into using eye-catching anecdotes that may or may not be representative and also to fall prey to the presumption that overtesting is a thing when we really don't know that is.

That's I think what happened to this new NPR education story (Testing: How Much Is Too Much?), which while far from the worst of the overtesting stories I've seen lately would have done better to focus less on critics of testing (Brockett and Jasper) and extreme examples and more on the reality that we don't know as much as we'd like about the prevalence of testing in schools over all and that there are folks out there (including civil rights groups) who think that testing is essential for school accountability and are worried about losing annual tests or going back to a previous era when the public didn't really know how students were doing. 

All that being said, there aren't any obviously sketchy or misleading numbers in the NPR piece like last week's NYT story included, and are some great bits, too: There are some vivid #edgifs showing a kid who has to take lots of end of year exams that are fun to look at (I've tweeted and Tumblred them but can't show them here without permission). I'm really glad that NPR used and linked to the Chiefs/Great Cities survey of large districts, and the CAP study of 14 districts. I didn't know that the White House had put out a statement on the issue. 

Last but not least, the NPR story addresses the notion that tests have gotten added without any attempt to remove their predecessors in a fun, stylish way: " The CCSSO survey describes testing requirements that have seemingly multiplied on their own without human intervention, like hangers piling up in a closet." The layering on of testing regimens without regard to burden or legacy testing will, I am guessing, turn out to be at the root of much of what some parents and teachers and testing critics are clamoring about.

Related posts: NYT Journo Tweets Out "60-80 Days" Of Testing ClarificationPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

Charts: Look At Kentucky & New York "Before & After" Scores

image from cdn0.vox-cdn.com
Thanks to Vox for pulling up these before (green) and after (yellow) bar graphs showing how Kentucky and New York kids did on Common Core-aligned assessments, which gives us a rough idea of how kids in other states will do this spring. Click here to read more about the projected dropoffs in 2015.  Image courtesy Vox.

AM News: Huffman Resigns From Top TN Spot; Newark's Anderson Visits DC

Kevin Huffman Leaving Post as Tennessee K-12 Chief State EdWatch: Huffman was appointed state education commissioner in 2011, and has overseen major changes in Tennessee education policy, many of them tied to the common core. See also ChalkbeatTN.

In DC to talk education, Newark schools chief faces protest over reforms Washington Post: Cami Anderson, who runs the largest school district in New Jersey, came to Washington on Thursday to give a quiet talk about education at a think tank. But the staid event quickly turned dramatic when a busload of angry residents followed Anderson from Newark in a display of the slugfest politics that have infused debate over public education across the country.

Common Core Reading: The Struggle Over Struggle NPR: This idea, that kids really need to grapple with complex reading material, says a lot about the soul of the Common Core. And it's controversial, raising fears among some parents and educators that kids, in the process, are being asked to struggle too much.

A Botched Study Raises Bigger Questions NPR: The report attempted to use an approach called value-added modeling. And value-added is currently the golden fleece for anyone questing after what's really working in education. Value-added models promise to provide a detailed, nuanced picture of school performance — to screen out the background noise and zero in on the impact of individual schools and even individual classrooms. But value-added modeling, it turns out, is really, really hard.

Decades of Neglect Show Starkly as Indian Schools Cry Out for Repairs NYT:  Officials are working to improve congressionally funded schools in 23 states on reservations with decaying facilities where students struggle to meet academic standards and teacher turnover is high. See also AP.

Young and inexperienced, a new principal tries to turn around a New Orleans charter school Hechinger Report: “We know effective teachers are crucial to moving our students forward,” says Hardy, pausing for a few seconds before she enters a second-grade classroom. “We have good teachers. My challenge is this: How do I, as a school leader, grow their effectiveness and grow it more quickly?”

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Huffman Resigns From Top TN Spot; Newark's Anderson Visits DC " »

Quotes: Blame Obama For Common Core Pushback, Says Jeb

Quotes2The opposition to the common core has been mostly fueled by President Obama and his administration attempting to take credit for and co-opt a state-led initiative.

- Jeb Bush in Education Next (Talking education policy with Florida’s former governor)

Update: NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing Clarification

Kudos to NYT Miami bureau chief Lizette Alvarez, who tweeted out last night that the eye-popping 60-80 days per year figure she cited for testing days in Florida in her Monday story wasn't an "every kid, all day situation."

It's not quite a formal correction, but to be fair you could read the original line different ways.  Here's the post that generated at least some of the questions about the original NYT story:  Are There *Really* 60-80 Days "Dedicated" To Testing In FLA?

Thanks also to everyone at FairTest, the FLDOE, EWA, and ExcelinED for helping try and dig out the facts behind the figure, which turned out to be the total number of days during which testing could be conducted -- the "window" of time rather than the actual number of days kids spend testing. Obiously, we still need a simple, comprable way to talk about testing burdens from district to district and school to school.  Where's the NCEE when you need them?

Related posts: Please Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

 

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Common Core Politics Not As Complicated As You May Think

This @cpre look at the midterms/CommonCore overlap seems notably clear, no? http://ow.ly/E8hDo 

3 reasons Common Core is especially controversial in New York - Vox http://ow.ly/E7lXk 

EdWeek bill tracker shows 2 Common Core rollback proposals have made it into law (so far) http://ow.ly/E7yIU  They're MO & NC

Obama's Fragile Education Legacy http://ow.ly/E7tMf  by @conorpwilliams

New report from Urban Teacher Residency United features Aspire & Denver Teacher Residency http://ow.ly/E8vjK  @utrunited

Head of Tulane-affiliated think tank (& former Chicago charter guru) John Ayers quits after release of flawed study http://ow.ly/E7EWc 

Salman Khan is changing the way kids learn - Portrait by Annie Leibovitz http://vnty.fr/11e1mfV 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

Reform: Education Post Marks Up Your Work At "Red Pen Page"

Red Pen Archives   Education PostEducation Post, everybody's favorite new education nonprofit, recently debuted its Red Pen Page, where it rebuts ridiculous claims made by advocates and fact-checks horrible stories reported by journalists.  

In the first few entries, which debuted last week, EP takes on Change the Stakes in NY and the Poughkeepsie Journal for various perceived errors and unsubstantiated claims.

 It's an interesting and potentially useful strategy that mirrors a lot of the writing I've done here in recent weeks and months.  

There are lots of claims being made by advocates (on both sides) and mistakes being made by journalists (of all kinds). And the format -- red pen marks in faux handwriting in the right margin (look where the green arrow leads you) is visually appealing.

However, the approach still relies on people to find the posts on EP's site (rather than sending them out via email or clogging up everybody's Twitter feed), and I'm not sure whether EP has enough reach or credibility (yet?) to make folks stand up and pay attention to what they say.

Related posts: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism;  Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

 

Video: TIME Editor Defends Controversial Vergara Story & Cover

Here's an MSNBC segment from a couple of weeks ago that you (like me) may have missed at the time, in which the TIME editor Nancy Gibbs explains the story -- including the notable use of the courts to bypass a broken legislative process - and reflects on the response to the story:

 

Gibbs rejects the notion that the story is anti-teacher -- a frequent claim made against reformers and journalists who write about reform -- but fumbles a bit I thought when she's asked why there weren't more apples on the cover, or a question mark along with the headline. For this and more of a view from the conservative side of things, check out the Media Matters roundup (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story). Meantime: pageviews!

AM News: Showdown Looming Over LA School Board Control

Four L.A. school board members likely to face reelection challenges LA Times: A majority of the Los Angeles Board of Education is up for reelection this spring, and all four are likely to face challengers based on the election filing period that closed Saturday. See also LA School Report.

Hispanic students are making steady math progress Washington Post: Hispanic students have made significant gains on federal math tests during the past decade, and Hispanic public school students in major cities including Boston, Charlotte, Houston and the District have made some of the most consistent progress, according to a report released Monday.

States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F NYT: Parents, students and school officials have joined a national protest of consequences of Common Core testing.

Common Core unscathed in California elections EdSource Today: The Common Core State Standards, the principal reform now underway in California schools, emerged unscathed from the state's fall electoral battles, including one of the most combative races for state superintendent of public instruction in decades.

City Deal to Fix Two Struggling High Schools Includes Replacing Staff WNYC: Two Brooklyn high schools will begin reviewing all of their staff members to determine which ones will stay, while developing a longer school day for students, under a long-awaited intervention plan that was originally due in the summer.

After a Dip More NYC Teachers Get Tenure WNYC:  Roughly 60 percent of 4,662 eligible city teachers were approved for tenure this year. That's a little higher than last year's approval rate of 53 percent, but enough of a change to prompt debate about whether Mayor Bill de Blasio was tough enough on teachers.

Five Great Teachers On What Makes A Great Teacher NPR: For our 50 Great Teachers series, a panel of experts shares thoughts on great teaching: past, present, and future.

Seattle Residents Choose To Raise Their Own Taxes To Subsidize Preschool, Increase Teacher Pay HuffPost: Seattle Proposition No. 1B will authorize a $58 million property-tax levy to fund a four-year pilot program of city-subsidized preschool on a sliding scale while raising academic standards and the pay of preschool teachers.

Death Toll Rises to 5 in School Shooting AP: Andrew Fryberg, 15, died of wounds sustained when his cousin, a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, opened fire in the cafeteria two weeks ago.

'Pioneer Schools' give a peek at what CPS's longer school day will look like Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools principal Nancy Hanks prepares three binders that will be given to each teacher outlining Rahm Emanuel's signature...

See more news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: StudentsFirst Claims 86 Pct Win Rate For Bipartisan Mix Of Candidates

Here's @StudentsFirst's self-rep 104-race $2.2M '14 tally http://ow.ly/DYSdi  [You're next, @FiftyCAN @DFER @Stand4Children @LEE_National!]

Teachers spent $100M says WSJ's @allysiafinley http://ow.ly/DZ02z  [but most of it wasn't on education races, right?]

Outside Money, Mixed Results in Austin school board race - The Austin Chronicle http://ow.ly/DVA17 

Cunningham's take on midterms2014 includes praise & concern for reformers http://ow.ly/DZbOk 

New Jersey Gets No Child Left Behind Waiver Extension - Politics K-12 - Education Week http://ow.ly/DZcPN 

High School Graduation Rates at an All-Time High - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/DZbFt 

NYT editorial board slams de Blasio school improvement plan for being weak, slow, complicated http://ow.ly/DYbKx 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

Quotes: Old Playbook Not Working Anymore, Says Defeated CA Candidate

The old Quotes2playbook of...'Things are fine in our schools, we just need more money' — that’s not going to work for long... People want to be inspired, motivated and excited.

-- Marshall Tuck on his close loss for California state superintendent of education (Politico)

Crosswords: NYT Puzzle Lists "NEA" As Answer To "Common Core Org."

Martin West on Twitter    alexanderrusso You mean I have to document claims in tweets  Here s the evidence. http   t.co exCCK3yn5Q
Thanks to Martin West and Morgan Polikoff (among others) for noting that the correct answer to the NYT's 40D question "Common Core org." appears to be "NEA."  No word yet on whether the union is demanding a correction. Image courtesy MW.

AM News: Dissecting California's $30 Million Showdown (Torlakson v. Tuck)

Torlakson talks Democratic divisions, teacher tenure, Inglewood Unified KPCC: “I think this election was more about getting someone who could continue the momentum forward, doing some exciting and historic changes to education in California,” he said. “I believe the voters wanted someone with experience and I have that.”

Opinions differ on impact of Tuck’s campaign EdSource Today: In the hours since Marshall Tuck’s daunting but failed effort to unseat incumbent State strong Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, education and political observers have reached different conclusions about the election and its significance.

See also Politico's Morning Edu.

School Choice a Top Priority for Republican Leaders in House, Senate PK12: Be on the lookout for charter school or school voucher proposals to pop up early during the 114th Congress, as school choice legislation was named a top priority by the assumed Republican leaders in the House and in the Senate, which will flip to GOP control in January.

Arne Duncan on Minnesota's achievement gap Minnesota Public Radio News: Pre-school teacher Jody Bohrer and her students in Bloomington, Minn. gave U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a poster during a classroom visit on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. At Duncan's left is Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.

Average Urban School Superintendent Tenure Decreases, Survey Shows District Dossier: Significant turnover in the top job for big-city districts reversed what had been an uptick in length of service for urban superintendents, according to a new survey by the Council of the Great City Schools.

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

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Quotes: How Can Democrats' Midterm Defeat = Reform Victory?*

Quotes2It’s hard to believe a huge outpouring to defeat Obama – arguably the most powerful force ever to push for “education reform” – is somehow a resounding call for more education reform.

- Jeff Bryant (The Coalition For An Education Agenda Just Isn’t There, Yet)

*Originally headlined "Democratic" but that's not right -- thanks for catching the error.

Events: Yale 2015 Conference Going "Back To Why"

Yaelsomeed2015Here's the promo card for the spring 2015 version of the annual Yale event, which is notable mostly for the headline:  "Back To Why: Education At Its Core," and its subhead, which is about the need to "refocus on the purpose and outcomes of education reform." Interesting, right? Or am I making too much of it?

Morning Video: Midterm's Big Winner? $6.5 Billion In Spending

From The Daily Show. Money wins! Warning NSFW language from Jason "Money" Jones. 

AM News: Democrats -- Not Unions -- Lost In Midterms, Say Teachers Unions

Teachers Unions Say Midterm Losses Don't Reflect On Them HuffPost: Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Huffington Post that she sees the election results differently -- and does not understand how Democratic reformers could possibly claim they were a success. “It’s hard for me to understand … what the business types and the testing types of this education debate think they won here.” 

Teachers unions defend their ground by getting Torlakson reelected LA Times: In races where education was the main issue, such as the Torlakson-Tuck contest, union-backed candidates and measures fared better, Weingarten said. Voters, she said, still side with teachers on issues such as the need to lower classes sizes, limit standardized testing and provide more funding for schools.

Torlakson victory ensures continuity in reforms EdSource Today: One immediate consequence of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s rebuff of challenger Marshall Tuck is to ensure the continuance of the cohesion in state education policy that has been forged since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to Sacramento four years ago.

Unions' Sliver Of Hope In Devastating Midterm Elections BuzzFeed: The success of progressive initiatives in typically red states is being treated by labor as a signal that what they are doing is working, even if those votes didn’t carry over into the governor and senate races.

Teachers unions spent $60 million for the midterms but still lost many elections Washington Post: The nation's major teachers unions suffered losses across the country Tuesday, despite pouring about $60 million into federal, state and local races in the midterm elections. 

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

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Politics: Rounding Up The 2014 Midterm Roundups

Media outlets and think tanks and advocacy groups all have roundups of last night's elections out -- most of them saying much the same things. But who's is the best?

image from edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com

Teachers Unions Take Huge Beating in IL & elsewhere, notes Politico Pro - But Common Core oppo looms in AZ, GA.

It was a really bad night for teachers unions besides CA and PA races, echoes RiShawn Biddle

Fordham's Mike Petrilli takes a somewhat historical look at the elections, comparing them to previous rounds (with a chart!).

NC was the most expensive race in the country, notes PK12 -- if not the reform/union showdown that CA was. Union spending didn't pay off.

It's a mixed bag, says Patrick Riccards aka EduFlack - but Cuomo win without teachers in NY is key.

Winning the Senate doesn't mean that much, notes Rick Hess - and Mike Johnston needs a higher office to seek, soon.

Big wins in RI, notes 50CAN's MPM

Don't forget that Sacto's strong mayor measure failed, notes SacBee via CG

Image used with permission.  There are other roundups -- Whitney Tilson's email, a few insider briefings that I'm not sure are meant for public consumption. I still haven't heard who won in Minneapolis.  I still haven't seen a union-side analysis (the AFT press call was cancelled).  I have the sense that perhaps reformers are celebrating outcomes that didn't largely have to do with education issues (most of the union spending was to help Democrats against Republicans, right?).

AM News: Unions Win CA, PA But Lose Elsewhere (IL, MI, RI, WI)

Torlakson wins superintendent race EdSource Today: Tom Torlakson has won a second term as state superintendent of public instruction. The 65-year-old incumbent defeated Marshall Tuck 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

See also: Torlakson declares victory over Tuck for California schools chief SacBee; Tom Torlakson takes early lead in race to be California's school superintendent AP; Incumbent Torlakson takes the lead in race for state schools chief LA Times.

NB AFT has cancelled its s scheduled press call this AM.

NEA’s and AFT’s Awful Election Day Dropout Nation: In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker won a second term over Mary Burke ... In Michigan, Rick Snyder beat the NEA- and AFT-backed Mark Schauer by a four-point margin. Then there is Rhode Island, where State Treasurer Gina Raimondo won a first term as governor in spite of opposition from the NEA earlier this year... And let’s not forget Bruce Rauner, the private-equity fund boss who defeated incumbent Illinois Gov.

Fiorettio snub prompts growing outrage in CTU Substance News: Even those union members who might have considered a honest plea on behalf of the Garcia campaign [endorsed by Karen Lewis] were angered by the way in which the night was handled.

Rocketship wins green light for its first charter school in D.C. WashPost: The D.C. Public Charter School Board gave full approval Monday night for Rocketship Education, a California-based charter operator, to open its first school in the District in 2016.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Unions Win CA, PA But Lose Elsewhere (IL, MI, RI, WI)" »

Quotes: Cincinnati Record Suggests Conversion To "Community Schools" May Not Be Enough In NYC

Quotes2What has gone largely unsaid is that many of Cincinnati’s community schools are still in dire academic straits, according to an analysis by The New York Times, despite millions of dollars in investment and years of reform efforts. - Javier Hernandez in a 2013 NYT article Pondiscio posted on Facebook in response to De Blasio school turnaround announcement.

AM News: All Eyes On California (Plus Pennsylvania & NYC, Too)

California’s biggest race will surprise you: It’s for state school superintendent WashPost: Perhaps the most important — and definitely the most expensive — election in California on Tuesday is the down-ballot battle for state school superintendent. The $30 million race has generated three times as much spending as the contest for governor, with money pouring in from across the country.

AFT's Political Blitz to the Midterm-Election Finish Line PK12: The blitz began last week, with several ads paid for by AFT's Solidarity Fund, one of its political financing arms. It will continue through Tuesday, when Weingarten is slated to be on hand in Philadelphia, where Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tom Wolfe is expected to trounce Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.

De Blasio Unveils New Plans for Troubled Schools in New York NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio said his tactics of offering more help to failing schools, and providing social services to students and families there, differed sharply from his predecessor’s. See also WNYC, WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.

Marysville students return amid grief, outpouring of support Seattle Times: Hundreds of parents, relatives, alumni and other community members turned out to support students at Marysville-Pilchuck High on the first day of school since the shooting 10 days ago. Also offering support were visitors representing other U.S. communities that have endured school shootings.

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

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Monday Video: Pay Less Attention To The Senate Or Governors - Statehouse Elections Matter More

"The state legislatures [are] much more up for grabs (as are many governorships), and they have real power. [They] have more influence than Congress over K-12 and higher education, criminal justice, housing, and transportation, among many other issues." (John Oliver takes on state legislators, the most important politicians you're ignoring - Vox)

Quotes: How Unions "Lost" The Media (Or At Least A Few Editorial Pages)

Quotes2This [digging in] strategy might work in the short run. But in the long run [the unions are] dooming the schools they claim to care about to mediocrity and abandonment by the middle class, and putting the union they profess to love on a path to irrelevance.

-- Whitmire and Rotherham (The Teachers Unions First Lost The Media; Have They Now Lost Everyone Else, Too?)

AM News: In California & Elsewhere, Unions Employ Conservative Arguments To Block Reform Efforts

California Race Brings Democrats’ Differences on Education Into Focus NYT: Traditional alliances have been scrambled as some teachers’ unions have found more common cause with conservatives than with members of their own party. Mr. Torlakson, the union-backed candidate, has expressed views that at times echo conservative mantras.

Superintendent race turns on future of reform EdSource Today: Donors to incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck are spending record sums to influence what they consider is at stake in this election: the direction of education reform.

Close state schools superintendent race coming down to the wire KPCC: "His [Tuck's] backers were able to recruit a very strong and effective candidate," said David Plank, the executive director of the research center Policy Analysis for California Education. "It is something of a surprise that he has mounted as strong a challenge as he has done."

Education issues often contentious in Maryland governor’s race Washington Post: As the Maryland governor’s race has heated up in recent weeks, education issues have flared up, too, with clashes over pre-kindergarten, college tuition increases and school construction funding.

Once Sleepy Campaign Issue, Education Gains Clout AP: Once a sleepy campaign topic, education policies gains political heft in races against GOP. Walker is the chief target, but Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett face similar, educator-led campaigns against them. Those first-term Republicans all took steps to stabilize state budgets with dramatic shifts in how many tax dollars go to schools and teachers.

States Slashing Education Spending HuffPost: State-level K-12 education spending has fallen dramatically in many states since 2008. In that time, 29 states cut per pupil spending, shifting the burden of financing education to local school districts and, in many instances, forcing schools to cut costs and even teachers.

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

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Reform: High-Contrast Responses To TIME & The Nation Stories**

image from www.thenation.com**See update at bottom.

In case you happened to miss it, The Nation came out with a big 5,000-word story about TFA this week -- it's second piece about the alternative certification program now in its 25th year.  

This one, written by a Columbia University undergraduate who's obviously done a lot of work researching his story, focuses on TFA's efforts to deal with critical reporting about its work (This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach for America), describing the research and responses from TFA as "obsessive" and part of a cover up fueled with $3.5 million a year in advertising and promotion -- and tip-offs from the USDE when its work is being FOIAd.

There are a few facts and figures that you may not have seen before, but most of the article is a laborious rehash of familiar complaints about the weakness of the TFA model, the money and talent it's attracted, and the uncertainties of the efforts it and its alumni have undertaken in places like DC, New Orlans, and Newark. Yep, thanks, we've got it.  

My first complaint about the piece was that it noted on-campus resistance to TFA recruiting without disclosing that one of the groups organizing students is a pro-union AFT-funded organization, ASUS.  Just a few weeks ago, In These Times corrected its story about the Harvard controversy noting that ASUS received AFT funding. Writer George Joseph dismissed the AFT funding as obvious and unnecessary, since ASUS's views are already so widely known:

Seriously?  Funding sources and connections are such a big issue in education when it comes to reform funders and advocates, but somehow journalists think that reporting who's behind the effort isn't an issue when its parents, teachers, or the unions.

My second complaint about the piece was that it's framed as an attempt to scare readers about TFA's communications acumen -- they'll slash your tires, or something like that -- when the reality is that they like many other reform groups have struggled to respond effectively (much less prevent) critical-minded stories in The Nation/Hechinger*, In These Times, NPR, Vox, etc.  

It's not that TFA is so amazing at PR, but the opposite.  The memo that is the focus of the latest article -- so much for TFA's ability to keep a secret! -- indicates a remarkably wonky, slow, and conflict-aversive approach to dealing with critics, advocates, and the teachers unions.  

My real criticism, however, is that both TFA and its reform-minded allies continue to allow this kind of thing happen again and again without any really vigorous or coordinated response.  

Publish a story raising concerns about teacher tenure, as TIME recently did, and the response is strong, immediate, and action-oriented -- 100,000 signatures on a petition, a press event, and a Twitterstorm of criticism against the cover, the story, and the reporter who wrote it.

Slam a reform organization or its leaders -- repeatedly, and somewhat unfairly -- and the response is slow, timid, defensive -- and likely to be limited to the individual or organization most directly affected, and in the case of TFA limited to blog posts and letters to the editor.  

If reformers had a real media response strategy -- no, Education Post doesn't count (yet) -- they'd critique The Nation's story for its flawed reporting. They'd stand up for each other, not just defending their efforts but raising questions about those who are criticizing them. They'd overcome their student government president egos, truly minor policy differences, and deep underestimation of social media and its effect on media coverage.

Sure, most folks don't care for the bickering and it's only a small group of folks who are paying attention. But that small group includes include journalists and thought leaders, funders, and staff, and I just don't think it's working very well for reformers to let their leaders/lead organizations get slammed repeatedly and let claims against them go unanswered. Coordinated action is why the political parties hang together despite policy differences, and unions and union members hang together despite differences.  

Related posts: Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA Funding Disclosure Should Apply To Reform Critics, Too12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Reporters Should Identify Union Employees.

*That's right. The usually play-it-straight Hechinger Report ran the first Nation story about TFA and executive editor Sarah Garland wrote about the second story (The two sides of TFA), claiming that it revealed just how much TFA didn't like the story, defending the piece that was published as factually correct, and noting that Hechinger Report regularly publishes pieces focuses on problems as well as successes in education. [NB there are at least a couple of journalistic questions about the Nation/Hechinger piece]

**UPDATED: New America's Conor Williams notes some of the same ridiculousness in The Nation's storyline, and adds that USDE notifying a grantee of a FOIA request is standard protocol rather than part of TFA's inside influence -- both an example of flaws in The Nation's journalism and useful points of criticism against the piece that reform advocates might highlight in a loosely coordinated but not lockstep (ie, morning memo) kind of way.

Thompson: Teachers Need to Unite in Defeating Reform & Improving Schools

Like many of my friends, I have often worried that my American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is too moderate. But, I have participated in a variety of civil rights, children’s rights, Pro-Choice, and environmentalism coalitions. While I didn’t always agree with my local and national AFT office holders, I’ve never known more astute or more honorable leaders. I feel the same about the NEA.

That is why I was reassured when reading Teachers Unions to Spend More than Ever, by Education Week’s Lauren Camera. She explains how unions are investing $60 million dollars to roll back the GOP onslaught of 2010 that has damaged schools and communities.

We must remind all stakeholders that it is unions, not corporate powers, who have proven themselves as the real champions for social justice. If the billionaires defeat unions, who will stand for fair wages, health care, and equal rights? 

I’m no longer a union member, so I’m out of the loop, but the strategy makes sense on several levels. Teachers need to beat back Vergara and its spawn. We should praise education beat reporters for their depth of knowledge and objectivity, while raising the consciousness of mainstream journalists and commentators are too willing to uncritically accept the corporate reform spin.

If Vergara was about real evidence-based policy, we would have won that fight months ago. However, teachers cannot allow reformers to paint our unions as protecting adult interests over families. We can't let them sell the slander that its about unions protecting bad teachers. We must defeat individual Vergara supporters like John Deasy and Marshall Turk, as we join Randi Weingarten in calling for collaborative efforts to improve schools. 

As Jeff Bryant writes, it is entirely possible that education will save the Democrats this year. We also need to help elect a Democrat as president in 2016, while making it clear that we won’t accept another four to eight years of Arne Duncan-style, anti-teacher policies. Democrats must understand that if they place the Billionaires Boys Club over teachers and students, we will fight them with the same intensity as we are resisting the bubble-in accountability hawks.

In Union there is Strength. We must avoid divisiveness in both our shortterm and longterm battles for education and justice. – JT(@drjohnthompson)

AM News: Torlakson/Tuck Spending Surpasses Governor's Race X3

Schools chief race most expensive statewide race EdSource Today: The battle for California's State Superintendent of Public Instruction race is now the most expensive statewide race this year, surpassing spending in even the Governor's race by three times, and it is also the most expensive State Superintendent race in at least 12 years.

Boston Mayor Menino, Who Helped Transform City's Schools, Dies at 71 District Dossier: Thomas M. Menino, the popular mayor of Boston who had authority over the city's schools throughout his 20-year tenure, died Oct. 30 of cancer. He was 71.

Parents, Teachers Deliver Over 100,000 Signatures To Time Magazine Demanding Apology HuffPost: Teachers, parents and union leaders gathered in front of Time magazine headquarters on Thursday to protest the publication’s latest cover. According to a press release from the American Federation of Teachers, the cover (pictured below) depicts teachers as "'rotten apples’ needing to be smashed by Silicon Valley millionaires with no experience in education.”

Cheating concerns force delay in SAT scores for South Koreans and Chinese Washington Post: The nature and extent of the alleged security breach were unclear Thursday because the College Board and its contractor, the Educational Testing Service, revealed few details about the unfolding investigation. But the score-reporting delay could affect thousands of students seeking admission to U.S. colleges as November deadlines loom for early applications.

Indianapolis Cancels Teacher-Led School Turnaround Contract TeacherBeat: A turnaround strategy using cohorts of teacher-leaders won't be used in Indianapolis.

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

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Charts: Teachers = Teamsters?

image from educationnext.orgThere's lots to learn from Mike Antonucci's new Education Next piece on the rise and (projected) fall of teacher union membership and influence in America -- Antonucci manages to be both critical and sympathetic-seeming at the same time -- but this chart is a good place to start. Used with permission.

"Even if their current difficulties continue, the NEA and the AFT will never disappear. But their days of dominating the education environment are on the wane. In the future, we will look upon them as we now do the Teamsters, as remnants of an earlier age."

Some of the same issues and dynamics can be found in Stephanie Simon's latest piece on union advocacy and influence in the 2014 midterms.  Whether the trends are good for American schoolkids, or bad, or a mixed bag, I'll leave for another day or others to say -- but I wrote a book about a neighborhood charter school with a "thin" union contract if that gives you a clue.

Morning Video: TIME Story, Necessary Outrage, & NEA Gets Out The Vote

 

Watch TIME's Haley Sweetland Edwards discuss her controversial cover story on C-SPAN. Click here if the video doesn't display properly. Or, take a look at Mike Antonucci's new article on teachers unions (Teachers Unions and the War Within). Still surfing the outrage Antonucci describes in his piece, the AFT is delivering a 90,000-signature petition demanding an apology from TIME for the cover image this afternoon in NYC and the new NEA president is embarking on a six-state get out the vote tour.

AM News: Minneapolis School Board Showdown Attracts $500K In Campaign Donations

The sea of cash in the Minneapolis school-board race just became a tsunami MinnPost: Along with six-figure spending by state and local unions, the eye-popping donations bring the total amount of cash going to influence the race to easily twice what many candidates for state office spend on competitive races. 

Large Suburban Districts Call for More Testing Flexibility District Dossier: The Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium is made up of 16 school districts across the country. Earlier this year, the group also called for reduced emphasis on testing. See also PK12

SAT Cheating Inquiry Delays Scores for South Korea and China NYT: The Educational Testing Service said it had reliable information that tests had been compromised for thousands of South Korean and Chinese students applying to American colleges and universities. See also TIME.

Taylor Swift to Donate 'Welcome to New York' Proceeds to NYC Public Schools AP: The singer announced on "The View" today that she's donating the proceeds from the sale of her single, "Welcome to New York," to New York City Public Schools. See also ChalkbeatNY

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

Continue reading "AM News: Minneapolis School Board Showdown Attracts $500K In Campaign Donations " »

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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.