This NBC Nightly News segment describes how quality early childhood education can be enormously beneficial, childcare costs as much or more than private college in many places, and President Obama rolled out a pared-down early childhood education expansion last week. But National Journal notes that the politics of early education are not nearly as straightforward as they may seem.
For every organization like Teach for America that catches fire and goes national, there are myriad smaller initiatives that struggle in the trenches for years, never quite breaking into the big time—and maybe missing their moments to do so. - Inside Philanthropy (After Years in the Trenches, Is This Ed Group Going to Break Out?)
Here's a map from the new NACSA @qualitycharters report on state charter authorizers showing how many authorizers each state has. The more the merrier, in general, though obviously that's not always the case since Ohio has lots and Arizona has few. Read the report here.
Last week, NPQ discussed the issue of Cosby's board memberships (Must Nonprofits Change Their Relationship with Bill Cosby?), and I'm told that StudentsFirst has now removed the entertainer from its board.
But there's another, deeper issue, which is the reminder of our persistent collective refusal to acknowledge hard truths (or at least widespread allegations) that are uncomfortable or require a reconsideration of past beliefs:
The Cosby story makes me wonder what deep beliefs about schools we already know to be false but refuse to acknowledge? Time will tell.— alexanderrusso (@alexanderrusso) November 24, 2014
Interesting. What if we ask, "Who is already acknowledging those truths, but we refuse to acknowledge their voices?" @alexanderrusso— xian f'znger barrett (@xianb8) November 24, 2014
What of today's deeply held beliefs or school practices do we arlready know are wrong, but just can't bear to acknowledge or change? And who is speaking hard truths but is being ignored - for now?
Earlier this year, the Post ran a front-page story by Strauss about allegations that Arne Duncan was trying to influence the choice of NYC chancellor under Mayor de Blasio. I and others had some questions about the reporting, editing, and decision to assign the story to Strauss.
Duncan is "losing" Ritsch after two years at the top communications spot within USDE. Duncan had the gall to praise TFA founder Wendy Kopp for highlighting the aspects of great teaching but ignored former NEA head Van Roekel. Duncan's first press secretary now works for Joel Klein at Amplify.
For some measure of balance, Strauss notes that Cunningham's accomplishments include getting Duncan on the Rolling Stone Agents of Change list. (She's wrong - getting Duncan on Colbert was Cunningham's biggest coup, or perhaps it was keeping Duncan away from the media after he jumped into the gay marriage debate ahead of the White House.) She also added Ritsch's "so, long" email after first publishing the post.
At TFA, Ritsch will be replacing Aimée Eubanks Davis as head of TFA’s Public Affairs and Engagement team. She's moving over to head Beyond Z, a new student leadership and 21st century skill building initiative she launched last year.
Related posts: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education); Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?; About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; Education's Huffington Post; Parent Trigger: An "Easy" Button For Parents & Kids.
MediaMatters 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.
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 Meeting; Newark Officials Discuss School Improvement, Local Control; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash; Union Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark.
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.
Here's an interesting look at who funds edtech pointing out that traditional funders don't all approach the sector the same way -- and that there are some challenges as a result. Take a look and let us know what you think.
Saturday was the occasion of the annual Spencer Journalism Fellowship reunion, during which the new fellows (pictured) are officially introduced to the alumni and given their secret instructions. This year's fellows (Linda, Mitra, and Joy) are focusing on poverty, resegregation of schools, and special education respectively. Read below for some notes and tidbits from the event, as well as encouragement to apply for the fellowship this winter and make us all proud with the project you produce.
It's been a year now since the Seattle Times and the Solutions Journalism Network launched EdLab, a Gates-funded effort to focus less on conflict and failure and delve deeper into what's working in public schools.
And according to this SJN blog post (Moving the needle) things seem to have been going pretty well. Quantity-wise, the Times has produced "more than a dozen major features, accompanied by video documentaries, guest opinion pieces, Q&As, and hundreds of shorter articles and blog posts – all informed by the solutions lens."
And, according to an online surveys of readers,"People have noticed. They do seem to care. For many, solutions coverage does seem to be changing the perceptions of problems in schools and how they might be addressed." Just as important, they seem to be able to tell the difference between a solutions story and normal newspaper coverage.
There's no mention in the post about the controversy -- real or ginned-up -- earlier this year about the Times accepting Gates funding (Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?), or the concern about student data sharing that came up between the EdLab and Seattle Public Radio last winter (8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd). Indeed, there are times when the Times is covering the Gates Foundation (Rush-hour protest by teachers to target the Gates Foundation).
What happens next? I have no idea. But the LearningLab in MA has recently popped up on my radar screen, so maybe I'll write about them next.
The 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)
Remember up-and-coming young reporter George [@georgejoseph94] Joseph wrote that big piece in The Nation about TFA a week or so ago?Yeah, you remember.
We already know that he didn't bother reporting that the group behind the anti-TFA campus protests, ASUS, is union-funded. And -- thanks to New America's Conor Williams -- we also know that his main concern that TFA was tipped off about a FOIA request turns out to be standard operating procedure for federal grantees.
But now there's more -- not a lot more, but still. I'm procrastinating here and this is helping. Joseph's bio blurb at The Nation says he's a Columbia undergrad and who he's written for. All good there. But his bio at In These Times is a little different, noting that he organizes with a student activist group called Student Worker Solidarity (that's their logo - nice!).
Why wasn't that disclosed in his TFA story, and why is The Nation taking stories from people with what seems like obvious conflicts of interest. Identifying as a member of a student activist group is something that I, at least, want to know when I'm reading a story about student activism -- and something that the editors at The Nation should have considered before taking or assigning the story and in its bio blurb of the writer.
Here's a half-hour talk with Sal Khan, Reed Hastings, and Jane Williams - plus a link to the Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair portrait of Khan and a profile by EdSec Arne Duncan.
Here's something you don't see every day - in fact I can't think of it happening ever before (though surely it must have): The ED of the Cowen Institute at Tulane, John Ayers, has resigned after a report came out and had to be withdrawn, according to Higher Education via Politico (Education Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study). The study came out and was withdrawn 9 days later, and now Ayers is gone at the end of this month. It's not clear why the study was withdrawn, or whether there were issues with its review as well as its methodology, or whether Ayers left because of the report or because of its withdrawal. Know more about the report or the circumstances? Let us know in comments or ping me at email@example.com.
Teacher Training Is A Ridiculously Easy Way To Ace College, Report Says Huffington Post: At 58 percent of 509 schools, "teacher preparation programs are much more likely to confer high grades than are other majors on the same campus," the report says. While an average of 30 percent of all students graduated "cum laude," 44 percent of teacher preparation students received the honor. The report calls the results "a wake-up call for higher education."
What Obama’s Inequity Nudge Means for San Diego Schools Voices of SD: The new union president, Lindsay Burningham, made clear when we talked with her in August that she didn’t see much need to change the evaluation process, putting any room for error on the administrator carrying out each review.
Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts WSJ: As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.
Seeking Big K-12 Plans From Governors for 2015? Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Delivers State EdWatch: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has presented a wide-ranging package of education initiatives that include a focus on early education, reading, and English-language learners.
Portland Schools Urged To Scrap Transfers To Boost Racial Diversity Huffington Post: These allow students to switch to schools in different neighborhoods, but they must enter a lottery if spots are limited. There is also a separate lottery system for students hoping to transfer to selective "magnet" schools which offer advanced curriculums.
Goodbye, Snow Days: Students Study From Home ABC: Goodbye, snow days: Students across the nation increasingly hit the books from home.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Education 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.
Here's a pro-charter segment on Success Academy via ReasonTV. Can't bear the thought? Watch the NEA president talk about the union's hopes for teachers and tireless commitment to kids following last week's drubbing of teachers unions Democrats. Play them backwards or mash them up into a single video if you dare.
5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: StudentsFirst Claims 86 Pct Win Rate For Bipartisan Mix Of Candidates
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.
The old playbook 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)
The Washington Post's latest big piece on the influence of philanthropic funding focuses on think tanks. Titled Who funds the new Brookings?, the piece suggests that the new funding has likey had an impact on think tanks' research agendas if not their conclusions.
Corporate donations, more than large foundation grants, are newer and especially concerning. But foundations also have played a role:
"Foundations began to place more restrictions on their grants, part of a challenging new trend facing Brookings and other academic institutions in which donors increasingly specify their expectations as part of what they call 'impact philanthropy.'"
Among those funding Brookings are the Walton Family Foundation, who have given "millions of dollars to support Brookings’s education policy center — whose scholars regularly adopt market-oriented stances on key issues."
That being said, not everything that comes out of Brookings is pro-reform, notes the piece. Tom Loveless critiques the Common Core, which Gates and others support. But that doesn't satisfy folks like AFT president Randi Weingarten, who's quoted questioning the credibility of the institution and lamenting the dropoff in invitations to Brookings events.
The Post's previous effort on the philanthropy front was a look at the Gates Foundation's involvement behind the scenes on behalf of the Common Core that I found overheated (What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core) because I am of the view that funders can't really get the public or policymakers to do things that they don't already want to do (The Myth Of The All-Powerful Billionaires).
Not mentioned in this piece is the 2012 kerfluffle when Brookings and Diane Ravitch parted ways (she was a nonresident senior fellow), or a 2009-2010 attempt to determine the quality of education journalism that struck me as superficial and retro and a bit of of Brookings' areas of expertise.
Related posts: Brookings "Fires" Ravitch For Being "Inactive"; Brookings Responds Re Ravitch, Romney; Olde Timey Panel, Olde Timey Report; Second Brookings Education Report As Bad As First One; Google Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences.
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).
Here'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?
Steve Brill, the cigar-chomping, Tab-drinking journalism enterpreneur who sometimes writes about education issues, is starting a new longform investigative journalism endeavor that isn't necessarily focused on education issues but could imaginably be a place for school stories to find a home.
The effort, detailed in Capital New York and other places (Steven Brill-Jill Abramson startup comes into focus), is a partership with former NYT exec Jill Abramson that will generate one big story a month, published via subscription model, and will be part of an existing site or publication (not named).
Via email, Brill told me that the site isn't education-focused by any means, and they aren't taking pitches yet so hold your horses, but I can't imagine that the right kind of pitch wouldn't find interested eyes given Brill's track record writing about teachers, unions, politics, and schools. The only real danger is that Brill himself will want to write the education stories rather than assigning them out.
Like many others, I've had a love-hate relationship with Brill, generally loving the attention he brings to the issue and his sharp eye -- he also thanked me in his book about school reform for all the insights this blog provided, which I appreciated -- but lamenting his Ravitchian self-certainty, his pro-reform credulity, and his somewhat limited grasp of education research.
Related posts: Time's Up For "Race ...; Steve Brill's School Reform Sustainability Problem; Brill's Big Sloppy Wet Kiss ...; Brill (Over)Praises Duncan; Brill's Last Stand; 12 New Yorker Ed Articles Vox Missed/Got Wrong.
Tom Kane’s Climate Change and Value-Added: New Evidence Requires New Thinking, in Education Next, continues his recent, obsessive meme. Kane keeps arguing that he was right and those who oppose value-added evaluations are wrong.
Kane starts by criticizing the polarization of the debate over value added. Even as he does so, Kane must understand that the evaluation model he favors can only function if it is trusted. But, both sides have long ago staked out their positions. The opportunity to persuade educators that VAMs are trustworthy is ancient history.
Kane continues to fight in the same old way over arcane statistical controls and theories that have no relevance in regard to real world policy. He acknowledges that value-added estimates for teachers are volatile and then replies, “for many purposes, such as tenure or retention decisions, it is not the ‘year to year’ correlation that matters, but the ‘year-to-career.’”
No! What matters for individuals is the “year to year” correlation of their value-added score to their actual effectiveness in their annual evaluations.
Why would top teachers remain in the inner city when VAMs give them an unknown but signficant chance PER YEAR of having their careers damaged or destroyed due to circumstances beyond their control? Why would we risk the humiliation of being placed on a Plan for Improvement, being on the chopping block, and facing constant indignities for a second year under a VAM which misfired in its “year to year” correlation with actual effectiveness? After one of those inexplicable drops in the annual estimates of their effectiveness, accomplished teachers will likely look at that first “Below Satisfactory” evaluation, tell their principal to take this job and shove it, and transfer to a lower-poverty school.
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, Too; 12 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.
Here's Bloomberg EDU's new interview with superintendent Bill Hite.
TIME reports allegations of mass cheating on SAT http://ow.ly/DxjNF Students demand apology [no, not really]
Boston failing thousands of students, says reform group - CommonWealth Magazine http://ow.ly/DwXKm - FFES lands in Boston
Pro-Common Core group "High Achievement New York" says repeal would cost NY $280M http://ow.ly/DwSdh
This Is What Happens When You Criticize TFA | The Nation http://ow.ly/DwWtM
Cuomo calls public school system a ‘monopoly’ he wants to bust http://ow.ly/DwhRm [But NYSUT still won't officially oppose him]
With $100M pledge, Apple hops on board Obama program to wire up schools - Chicago Tribune http://ow.ly/Dw2LQ
Here's a new piece on Medium from the Robin Hood Foundation (Philanthropy’s Most Innovative Players Talk Metrics and Impact), based off a recent event in New York City.
If you want a sense of just how data-fied some grantmaking has become -- full of metrics and benchmakrs (and philanthropic consultants focused on grantmaking efficiency), you should check it out. New Visions has a six person data team. Robin Hood uses 166 different formulas to evaluate grants.
Related posts: Gates Shifts Strategy & Schools Get Smaller Share; Education's Other, Better(?) Education Funder; Where Walton Spends Money (Differently From Gates); $44 Billion/Year That Would Otherwise Fund Public Projects.
Rhetoric aside, and excepting a couple of spots like Chicago, the national unions and most union locals have continued to work with states, districts, and Common Core developers to familiarize teachers with the new standards being rolled out in schools around the country.
That's the main finding from my new Education Next article just online today. Behind the hyperbolic headlines, and despite the efforts of critics within the unions and from the outside, much of the work with unions nationally and locally seems to have continued - much to the frustration of social justice advocates who wanted to de-fund these efforts.
The piece includes insights from advocates like Bob Rothman, developers like Sandra Alberti (of SAP), funders like Lynn Olson (Gates), and union officials like Marla Ucelli-Kayshup (AFT) and Donna Harris-Aikens (NEA) who have been working on the standards implementation process. One of the main points that came up repeatedly was that unions haven't generally joined with Republicans to oppose the Common Core process -- Chicago, New York, and Tennessee being exceptions.
“The biggest threat to the Common Core is not that states will pull out” under union pressures, argues Rothman. “The biggest threat is states that stay in but don’t do much to implement the standards.”
An apparent leak of former NYC chancellor Joel Klein's new book Lessons of Hope reignited the long-running debate over when and why Diane Ravitch turned against NYC's accountability-focused school reform efforts and gave reform critics a second thing (besides the TIME cover story) to rail against over the weekend.
I still haven't seen the book -- Newsweek'sAlexander Nazaryan tweeted about it first (as far as I am aware) -- but Klein and others have repeatedly suggested that Ravitch's turn against reform efforts like those in New York City was motivated at least partly in response to perceived poor treatment of her partner.
New book by Joel Klein strongly & damningly suggests @DianeRavitch stopped supporting reform only after he refused to hire her partner.— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) October 24, 2014
See the Twitter thread here.
Or, for a more traditional view of the issue, New America's Kevin Carey wrote about redacted emails in a 2011 magazine feature about Ravitch:
"Over the next two months, Klein and Ravitch exchanged a series of e-mails. Their contents were almost entirely redacted by the department when it responded to the FOIA request. But several people who worked for the department at the time, including one who saw the e-mails personally, say Ravitch aggressively lobbied Klein to hire Butz to lead the new program—and reacted with anger when he didn’t.
"Ravitch disputes this, saying she did not ask for Butz to be put in charge of the program, was not angry, and only urged Klein to call upon Butz for her deep knowledge and experience. She also told me she was glad Butz was no longer at the New York City DOE, because it had constrained her own ability to criticize the department."
Steve Brill also went after Ravitch in his 2011 book, claiming that the fees she took in for speaking to teachers should have been disclosed, among other things.
Ravitch and others claim that this is merely an attempt to smear and discredit her, that her partner's departure from NYC's DOE came well before Ravitch's "conversion?" and that it had nothing to do with personal issues.
Who cares what two folks who aren't in charge of any schools have to say about each other? Well, the education debate is all about credibility, for better or worse, so questions about Klein and Ravitch's credibility are noteworthy. There's also the ongoing tension within the reform movement about whether to attack critics or make nice with them, and the issue for both sides of whether attacks are powerful or alienating.
All that being said, I'd love to see the Klein book, and even the unredacted emails. Klein or Ravitch could provide them.
Despite History, N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Says: 'I Have Nothing to Do With Common Core' State EdWatch: Although he's previously stressed the importance of the common core, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an Oct. 22 debate: "I have nothing to do with common core."
NY State to Review Schools' Immigration Compliance AP: New York officials ordered a statewide review Thursday of public school compliance with enrollment policies for unaccompanied minors and immigrant children following reports that several dozen children who had recently arrived from Central America were not admitted to a Long Island high school.
Second immigration wave lifts diversity to record high USA Today: Small metro areas such as Lumberton, N.C., and Yakima, Wash., and even remote towns and counties — such as Finney County, Kan., or Buena Vista County, Iowa — have seen a stunning surge in immigrants, making those places far more diverse.
Ed. Department Teacher Prep Regulations Delayed (Again) PK12: Rumors have it that the U.S. Department of Education was set to release new proposed regulations this week requiring teacher-preparation programs to do a better job identifying weak programs. But they have yet to appear in the Federal Register. Earlier this year, the White House promised we'd see new regulations, which have been overdue since 2012, by summer. So what gives?
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
You might be forgiven for thinking that reform advocates (DFER, et al) outspend everyone else when it comes to campaign contributions, but this year as in other years that's generally not the case. Both sides are spending more this year than they did in 2012, but this EdWeek story/chart (image used with permission) shows the situation for 2014:
To be sure, the unions are supporting a broad set of candidates on a broader set of issues -- and trying to help the Democrats keep the Senate -- but the conventional media narrative of massive unopposed reform largesse isn't accurate. Still not enough? See also Teachers' Unions, Others Put Cash on Line in Senate Races; Education-Focused Campaign Spending Crosses Party Lines.
Fordham's Mike ("Kojak") Petrilli has a new piece online this morning (Online education coverage is on the rise) over at Education Next (which I sometimes write for), taking a look at the "new breed" of education journalism out there over the past year or so.
What's new, or missing, or wrong in the Petrilli piece?
Clearly someone with access to Politico Pro, Petrilli notes that in addition to Morning Education the outlet "pumps out loads of ministories, and at least a handful of meaty ones, almost every day."
Anyone else seen these pieces, and if they're so influential why aren't they getting passed around?
Petrilli describes Chalkbeat as "a geographically based Education Week," which I'm sure will irk both EdWeek and Chalkbeat for different reasons.
The big surprise for me here is the presence of The Daily Caller, which Petrilli says gets tons of pageviews but I never see passed around. Anyone else read it?
What about RealClear Education, where there is a smattering of original writing in addition to great morning and afternoon roundups, or NPR Education, where Drummond et al have been crushing us with so many education stories we can't keep up?
What else can I add?
Check out a few more tidbits and some bottom-line observations below the fold.
In the most recent Bloomberg EDU, Jane Williams talks to the Netflix founder (and charter skeptic) and YouTube flipped classroom trailblazer (or whatever to call him). Link not working? Go here.
CA Schools chief race may be election's tightest AP: Tuck has nearly matched Torlakson in campaign fundraising, with $1.9 million, while a Southern California businessman who often supports Republican candidates, William Bloomfield Jr., has independently picked up the tab for at least $900,000 worth of slate mailers and ads on his behalf.
Deasy's exit reflects other school battles across the U.S. LA Times: Top leaders in some of the largest districts — in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Texas and elsewhere — have come under tremendous pressure: some lost their jobs, one faced a massive teachers strike, and lawsuits have been filed against them, among other things.
New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser KPCC: New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans for the school district’s most pressing problems won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy. “Dr. Deasy did many things well, but I will not be using his services,” Cortines said in an interview with KPCC’s Take Two on Monday.
The Short Shelf Life Of Urban School Superintendents NPR: If you're a 12th grader right now in the Los Angeles schools, that means you probably started kindergarten back in 2001. It also means that, as of this week, you've seen four superintendents come and go.
Teacher who flew to Dallas for Common Core seminar put on leave out of Ebola fear The Answer Sheet: A Maine teacher flew to Dallas to attend an educational conference — miles away from the hospital where three cases have been diagnosed — and was told to stay away from the elementary school where she works for 21 days.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Granted, it was a busy week in Chicago news, what with the Columbus Day holiday and the unexpected sickness befalling CTU head Karen Lewis, but I see this happening with disturbing frequency lately:
A Chicago-focused charter school study from a couple of days ago was apparently funded in large part by the Chicago Teachers Union -- something that wasn't disclosed in the report and wasn't picked up on by any of the media outlets who passed on its results until now.
The situation was picked up by Crain's Chicago reporter Greg Hinz in this post (Chicago teachers union paid part of cost of charter-school study), which noted:
Mr. Orfield conceded in a later interview with WTTW that the Chicago Teachers Union, a vehement foe of charters, picked up part of the tab. "It was funded by the teachers union," Mr. Orfield said. "And the Ford Foundation and Kresge Foundation and others."...
In a subsequent phone call, Mr. Orfield said the CTU had paid "about half" of the total bill. However, he added, the methodology he used for the Chicago study was "exactly the same" as in prior studies of charters in New Orleans and the Twin Cities."
Hinz himself didn't get around to checking it out in his initial story either (Chicago charter schools lag conventional public schools: Orfield report). The two dailies covered the study (Study: Charter schools have worsened school segregation | Chicago Sun-Times, and Study: Chicago charter schools lag traditional ones - Chicago Tribune -- but didn't address funding sources. Only WTTW, Chicago Public Television, got to the issue.
So what, you ask? The funding source doesn't necessarily undermine the results (though INCS and others have raised questions about the data and methodology), and Chicago's charters did somewhat better using Orfield's methodology than charters in New Orleans and Minneapolis.
But still... this is pretty basic stuff. Given all the scrutiny given to funding sources and disclosure in the media and by reform critics in particular, disclosure from the researcher (Myron Orfield) -- and some journalistic checking about the funding source -- would have made a lot of sense. I don't know who to be more upset with -- the journalists or the researcher.
This video recently uploaded by AFT is mostly just a broadside against Campbell Brown but it also reveals something I've written about before -- that think tankers (Brookings, Fordham) don't seem to like the Vergara-style approach to school reform:
Why not? Some of the concerns are substantive, but that's only a part of it. Think tankers and others are feeling burned by the pushback against reforms of the recent era (the so-called "war on teachers"), they're not as nearly familiar with legal strategies (as opposed to policies, programs, and politics), and they probably think they're smarter than Campbell Brown, who's leading the charge.
Small high schools send larger shares of students to college, new study says ChalkbeatNY: The multi-year study examines a subset of 123 “small schools of choice” that opened between 2002 and 2008 with private funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and support from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.
New Research Suggests Small High Schools May Help After All NPR: A New York City entrant in a long-running research controversy over the effectiveness of small high schools.
Deasy Resigns as Los Angeles Schools Chief After Mounting Criticism NYT: John E. Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, had clashed with the school board, and drawn flak for a flawed $1.3 billion plan to give iPads to students.
LA Schools Superintendent To Leave After iPad Controversy NPR: The Los Angeles schools superintendent is stepping down. John Deasy's resignation follows a contracting scandal that put him on the defensive. He talks to Steve Inskeep about why he resigned.
Deasy resigns as superintendent of LA Unified EdSource Today: Los Angeles Unified School superintendent John Deasy submitted his resignation this morning, after more than a year of turmoil and conflict with the seven-member elected school board. Deasy reportedly cut short a trip to South Korea to negotiate the terms of his departure.
Los Angeles Unified announces Deasy's exit after secret vote to pay him through end of year LA Daily News: The separation agreement was approved in a 6-1 vote Tuesday. Board member Monica Ratliff, one of two elected officials representing the San Fernando Valley, cast the sole dissenting vote. Ratliff’s office declined to comment on why she voted against the agreement.
Cortines faces challenging tasks as he steps in behind departing superintendent KPCC: This time, Cortines may be in place for a long haul as the board searches for a permanent superintendent. There is little desire among school board members to send the district into more turmoil with another swift change at the top.
How Schools Are Responding To The Threat of Ebola HuffPost: Schools around the country are taking steps against Ebola, screening students, passing out information and, with the air travel of an infected nurse between Texas and Ohio, closing schools in those two states.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Here's the video from CAP's event, during which you'll find out about CAP head sending her own kids to DCPS schools, plus link to the new report (Testing Overload in America’s Schools):
Basically, the report focusing on 14 districts in 7 states -- Colorado (Denver Public Schools and Jefferson Co. Schools), Florida (Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Sarasota County Schools), Georgia (Atlanta Public Schools and Cobb County School District), Illinois (Chicago Public Schools and Elmwood Community Schools), Kentucky (Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville and Bullitt County Public Schools), Ohio (Columbus City Schools and South-Western City School District), Tennessee (Shelby County Schools and Knox Co. Schools) -- finds that there's lots of testing and too much test prep -- much of it district-mandated (not state or federal) -- but holds out hope that states and districts can streamline their testing and that Common Core assessments will make for fewer, fairer tests. #CAPedu
Here's that NBC News segment about Newark I tweeted out yesterday, checking in on what the Zuckerberg gift has and hasn't done (Nightly News: Tracking Zuckerberg’s schools gift). The gist of the story seemed to be that the changes have been small and slow-moving but potentially transformative. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly.
Kudos to In These Times for updating its Harvard/TFA story (Student Activists Demand Harvard Sever Ties with Teach for America) to note that the group behind the effort received nearly $60,000 in AFT funding, as well as other labor backing.
The same can't be said for news outlets covering student protests against the Philadelphia school board for recent contract actions, in which union funding for student groups (albeit in small amounts) has gone unmentioned. The two main student groups, Philadelphia Student Union and United Youth for Change, received $80,000 from the AFT, according to Droput Nation's RiShawn Biddle (The AFT’s $2 Million Spree in Philly).
While education journalists and reform critics have increasingly noted when groups and individuals receive funding from reform-oriented foundations and individuals, the same can't be said about coverage of reform critics' efforts and ideas.
But the correction/addition from In These Times -- a progressive outlet! -- points out that it can and should be done by mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Huffington Post, and others. It's not that hard to do: Ask where the group gets its funding from, or ask Biddle or Mike Antonucci, or look around online.
Related posts: Reporters Should Identify Union Employees; Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?; Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political Strength; Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"
How College Students Battled Textbook Publishers To A Draw, In 3 Graphs http://ow.ly/Cxka3
Improve education by having teachers recite from e-readers? Hmm. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/10/is-it-okay-to-make-teachers-read-scripted-lessons/381265/ …
Can We Find A Truce in the Teacher Wars? | EdCentral http://ow.ly/CzIA2
From deep inside a Chicago hotel, the day after StudentsFirst announced Jim Blew as Michelle Rhee's replacement and at roughly the same time as CTU is announcing that Karen Lewis has a serious illness and her duties are being taken over by her deputy: Tweets about "#PIESummit14 "
Related posts: 5 New Orgs Bring PIE To 49 Members; Talk About "Love" (Not "Rights"); PIE Annual Summit (2013); State Advocacy Groups Talk Policy - Not Tactics (2012); Reform Celebration In Seattle (2011).
California School Voucher Backer [& Democratc] To Head U.S. Education Reform Group ow.ly/CskGl
Here's Another Big Funder Swaying Education in One State - Inside Philanthropy http://ow.ly/CrZ68
What Keeps Women Out of Elite Colleges? Their SAT Scores – The Chronicle of Higher Education ow.ly/Cs4wG
“The starchy-vegetable lobby was quick to take offense" and other choice quotes from the NYT school lunch storyow.ly/CsjR8
On Monday, WNYC's SchoolBook education site relaunched with new media partners and a new expanded focus on school data.
As you may remember, WNYC and the New York Times launched SchoolBook together a few years ago, but even before things really got rolling the Times folded up shop when some of the key players over there moved on to other work or left the paper. The reporting came from WNYC, and the original data setup came from the NYT side -- but there was no original NYT reporting dedicated to SchoolBook.
You can read a bit about the launch effort here at the Nieman Journalism Lab, the gist of which is that the new site will include content from other sites (WNBC and the New York Daily News, among others) and expanded/improved data on individual schools and language offerings (Spanish, Mandarin). There won't apparently be any expansion in the newsgathering operation at WNYC, however -- which was the site main original addition (or at least the one I valued most).
You can read the official press release below the fold. Or check out some coverage of the launch: SchoolBook Service Walks Parents Through Admissions Process (WNBC), Revamped Website to Offer News on New York City Public Schools (NYT). The Times calls the nonprofit/commercial partnership unusual (even though the original partnership was the same hybrid offering).
We'll learn more about the new site on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show this morning. Someone who pays closer attention will be able to compare the offerings to other sites that cover NYC schools (like ChalkbeatNY and InsideSchools).
Related posts: WNYC's SchoolBook Adds Features For New Year; How SchoolBook Aims To Get More Folks Involved; SchoolBook To Rely On Crowdsourcing, Require Facebook ID; NYT Editor Leaving SchoolBook In Good Hands; New York Times' Diminished Role On Education Site.