There was a pervasive sense from the folks we spoke to that TFA has taken a side in education reform, taken the side of teacher evaluation and charters, and that their views were more complicated. We need to create a space that is much more welcoming of the diversity of opinions. -- TFA co-head Matt Kramer in EdWeek
Rather than having 14,000 school boards across America, it would get governors involved, big city mayors involved, and it would have a longer school day and a longer school year... It would look like a national system. - Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad describing his ideal education infrastructure (Eli Broad appoints head of philanthropic education efforts SCPR)
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, unions have spent a combined $1.7 billion on state politics since 2000. - David Sirota in PandoDaily.
News got out this week that Hillel Aron was joining the LA Weekly as a full time staffer. Though he stayed on for a time after my departure from the site at the end of last summer , the workhorse reporter (who did most of the daily writing for LA School Report during its first year of publication) had stopped writing for the education outlet earlier this winter.
So who's left? The masthead there currently includes Jamie Lynton (now listed as Executive Editor), Michael Janofsky (my replacement, as it turned out), and site manager Leigh Anne Abiouness. Vanessa Romo and Chase Neisner have appeared in recent weeks. Ellie Herman has been writing occasional commentaries.
There have been some notable improvements in the site. Someone seems to have finally figured out how to livestream LAUSD board meetings. They've thankfully stopped capitalizing School Board (my fault, if I remember correctly). And they've added links to local news sites from around the sprawling district.
And of course there's always lots of education news to cover in LA. Current examples include the Vergara trial, the ever-contentious school board members, and the never-ending iPad debacle.
As if the protesting teachers and parents and the new CNN documentary weren't enough, here comes my look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's tumultous first three years at the helm of the city and its beleagured schools system.
The piece (which was originally titled "Reforming Rahm") makes note of just how incremental change had come during the Daley era -- especially the last few years during which a new contract was signed with the union and leadership turnover was the theme -- and what kind of a massive budget and pension deficit Emanuel inherited.
But it also makes clear how Emanuel's rush to take action on things like a longer school day have often backfired, and how he inadvertently helped make a star out of rookie Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and alienated reform-inclined educators and parents like Seth Lavin as well as "enclave" parents and traditional educators.
Colorful personality conflicts aside, the piece notes that there are still several wortwhile things going on in Chicago, including a move to school-based budgeting, streamlining of testing requirements, a teacher evaluation system to replace the checklist of yore, and a difficult but long-necessary downsizing in response to demographic shifts.
Read the piece -- maybe also Neil Steinberg's recent Esquire profile, too -- and tell me what you think.
What do teachers think about the Common Core standards? Hechinger Report: The findings—both reports are published by staunch supporters of the Common Core—were largely positive. But the feedback from teachers and districts also uncovers anxiety about how classrooms and students will be affected by the tougher standards. And training teachers to be able to handle the Common Core remains a major concern.
Ed Dept To Schools: Protect Student Data Online AP: In guidance issued Tuesday, the Education Department encouraged districts to look closely at what online services are already in use within their schools. The guidelines suggest that districts develop procedures to evaluate and approve educational services and, when possible, use a written contract or legal agreement. They also spell out applicable federal laws.
GOP Seeks Answers on Arne Duncan's Teacher Equity Plans PK12: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the top Republican on the subcommittee overseeing K-12 education, sent a letter to Duncan Tuesday expressing concerns over the department's plan—floated in the story—to task the office for civil rights with ensuring that states ensure that kids in poverty have access to as many highly effective teachers as their more advantaged peers.
Test protest: Chicago teachers say they’ll refuse to give ISAT WBEZ: A Seattle high school gained national attention last year when teachers there refused to give a standardized test. In late 2002, teachers at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago said they would refuse to give a district-mandated exam that was unpopular with teachers, the Chicago Academic Standards Exam. In a statement, CPS said "district employees that fail to execute their job responsibilities face appropriate disciplinary actions.”
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
The most influential and well-educated people either have their kids in private schools, or they have their kids in an enclave inside the high school that are called honors courses... and so, if we go to a school and say, let’s change things here, they say, no way, you’re going to mess our little enclave up. - Bill Gates quote (from several years ago) about the challenges of changing schools (Education Week).
Perhaps a new form of educational choice will drive the next era of school improvement. One would think that advocates for school choice would be consistent and support the rights of parents and students to choose whether to be subjected to standardized tests - or not.
We should seriously contemplate William Hiss's Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions. Hiss studied 123,000 students at 33 institutions over eight years and he found there was virtually no difference in college grades and graduation rates between students who submitted SATs and ACTs or not. He also explains, "Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it."
NPR's Eric Westervelt, in College Applicants Sweat the SATs: Perhaps They Shouldn't, reports that "Some are calling this study a potential game-changer that may prompt schools to evaluate whether there is value in requiring standardized tests." Of course, he is reporting on colleges, not the bubble-in tests that are used to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, and there is a difference between the two types of assessments. The difference is that the ACT and SAT tests are more reliable and defensible, and the younger the test taker, the greater the potential damage of the test.
So, if parents and students should be allowed to opt out of college admissions tests, shouldn't that choice be extended to all students? Of course, a study of college outcomes, alone, is not definitive proof that public school testing has failed. It just adds to the evidence that the data-driven reform movement was a historical dead end. Once we offer students headed to college the choice of whether they want to endure more of the testing rat race, the next logical step is to ask parents whether they want high-stakes testing dumped on their children. It leads to a common sense approach to school improvement; Let students and adults opt in or opt out of standardized testing. And, if they give a test and nobody comes ..., reformers should honor that choice.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
According to Paul Bruno, the NPR and PBS coverage of the Bates College SAT study has gotten it wrong:
"You wouldn't know from reading this headline - or even from the story, really - that the study actually finds that SAT scores have predictive power (over and above high school GPA alone) when it comes to success in college. Even the study authors seem to be trying too hard to avoid this conclusion, but it's right there in their data tables."
I've asked Bill Hiss if this is accurate or not and will let you know his response.
Meantime, as I noted yesterday, the study was peer reviewed, according to Hiss, but its funding source has not been revealed. It's a private foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.
The University of Chicago's charter network is one of three programs touted in a new book about effective programs that could be replicated in other places. The others are Boston's pre-K program and NYC's small schools. Via Atlantic EDU.
What's hot and what's not in the Common Core, via GreatSchools.
The AFT's social media team was thwarted yesterday in their efforts to get BuzzFeed to post a list of arguments against ALEC's education-related agenda -- though having the item taken down may generate more attention that the list would otherwise have attracted.
BuzzFeed allows outside organizations to contribute their own blog posts, and the USDE and AFT among others have provided content.
For example: Top 9 Things Every College Freshman Needs To Know (from USDE).
The site also has occasional education-related content that the site's own staff creates, and is interested in covering the business of education in the future.
Full of #edgifs, the anti-ALEC list was posted for a time, then taken down.
Then it was restored, and then taken down again.
The AFT's Kombiz Lavasany explained on Twitter: "BuzzFeed took it down because they view it as "personal", even though it's factual."
BuzzFeed's sarcastic response, via honcho Ben Smith: "You're totally stuck with just the rest of the internet to publish on."
The original post included disclaimer language: "This post was created by a user and has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed's editorial staff. BuzzFeed Community is a place where anyone can post awesome lists and creations."
But apparently someone complained about the AFT post, or the site has some standards for submissions it accepts that aren't covered in the disclaimer language.
The nation's largest teachers union comes in 4th on this CPI listing of top Super PAC donors, with $5.6 million in contributions, right after the DGA, Mike Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer:
Think about this next time you hear or read someone like Diane Ravitch talking about corporate involvement in education -- or -- even more important! -- are about to say or write something about school reform involvement in electoral politics. via I Love Charts.
I especially enjoyed the mock battle between USDOE's Libby Daggett and Brookings' Russ Whitehurst, and a rogue visit to a charter school startup where they're doing balanced listeracy and a mini maker event about which I am still apologizing.
However, I probably learned as much about things going on in journalism as I did about Early Ed, and you probably care more about that stuff than the rest:
8- The LA Times has three fulltime K-12 education reporters (Blume, Caesar, and Watanabe) plus three more higher ed reporters (who don't count), which means that EdSource (with Fensterwald, Frey, Mongeau, and Baron plus an LA-based reporter TBD) is - holy cow! --the biggest education newsroom in California if not the universe.
7-The Seattle Times' recently-announced Education Lab takes the "solutions" approach to journalism to a grand scale but has already run into some controversy thanks to an info-sharing deal revealed by KUOW radio that some say could endanger student privacy.
6-The new CNN/Robert Redford series, ChicagoLand, looks like it features LOTS of education-related footage (the teachers strike, etc.).
5-The New Haven Independent combines serious public affairs journalism with tabloid-style headlines like 2012's"Beyonce Scores A Faldita" -- thankfully minus the ALL CAPS.
Read below for the remaining items.
Read more about the contest and the possible implications from MSNBC here.
There are lots of lessons reformers might glean from the NYT Sunday Magazine preview of season two of House of Cards -- greatest among them the dangers of imagining they're working in a "West Wing" world where good ideas, research results, and smarts prevail when the reality is much more "House Of Cards" (in which idealism and book smarts matter less than street savvy and knowing how to work the media).
Of particular note, the article focuses on the young(ish) show-runner, who worked on the Howard Dean campaign and watched as it responded to the press frenzy surrounding the "Dean Scream" by taking the higher ground rather than responding vigorously -- and in the end let Dean's opponents (and the media) define him and derail his campaign.
To be sure, both shows are exaggerated, fictionalized versions of reality. But there are real-world historical lessons to be gleaned from the show and article.
For reform opponents, the dangers illustrated by the show are the ever-present possibility of public revulsion and political excommunication that would likely follow revelation of cut-throat tactics no matter how worthwhile or well-intended the aims.
Organizing is about more than having a good idea. It's about knowing how to pull the levers of power: by having strength in numbers at a board meeting, by having a clear, consistent "ask," and by being prepared to respond to any and all objections. – Paraphrase of LEE's Joy Silvern in EdWeek (Teach For America Spinoff Helps Alumni Gain Influence)
As you can see from her story list, Wang has focused mostly on college debt, student loans, etc. (How College Pricing Is Like Holiday Retail Sales). But there's always hope she'll start shedding light on K-12 accountability issues.
You may recall that she included some K-12 stories in her excellent roundup (This Year’s Best Reporting on Education).
What would you want a ProPublica education reporter to focus on, knowing that they tend towards waste and accountability stories? Come up with something interesting and maybe it'll happen.
NPR’s Sarah Cwiek, in The Middle Class Took Off 100 Years Ago ... Thanks to Henry Ford?, noted the centennial of Henry Ford’s policy of paying his workers $5 a day.
The policy of paying a living wage sparked a positive feedback loop which helped create middle class prosperity. Ford was not being charitable. He wanted a stable workforce.
Education research confirms the value of stable teaching forces. This is especially true of high-poverty schools where students face extreme instability in their neighborhoods.
Even so, some school reformers claim to believe that “churn” or high levels of turnover is a virtue.
Two recent studies have added to the evidence that high-dollar efforts to turnaround challenging schools have disappointed because they do not recognize the value of stability.
And a recent post from Andy Rotherham notes that class issues play a role in how reformers view stability differently than others.
Hard to believe that I started the weekly email roundup that became "This Week In Education" in November '03, starting with AOL, then moving to GMail (remember when it was so), then Blogger/Blogspot (your eyes still hurt).
What I'd forgotten along the way is the blog moved over to EdWeek in January '07 -- about six months after I moved to New York City and much later than I had remembered. The Chicago blog moved over to Catalyst and ChicagoNow a little earlier.
Way back then, blogs were still strange and new -- now they're strange and old. Being able to comment immediately rather than write a letter to the editor was new -- now most folks simple Tweet or Facebook what they've got to say.
There was no Politics K-12 or Teacher Beat, no Huffington Post, no Answer Sheet, no GothamSchools/Chalkbeat. Rotherham didn't allow comments. Hess didn't even know what a blog was, much less have his own.
One thing hasn't changed, which is the basic aim of what I'm doing, which I summarized in the 2007 welcome message at EdWeek: "Too often, educators don't understand politics, politicians don't understand education, and education journalists don't understand -- or find ways to capture -- the interactions of these two different worlds. Everyone suffers as a result."
Jacob Riis image via Dana Goldstein's blog.
Bill Nye explains changes in extreme poverty, and makes the case that "intractable" social problems can be ameliorated. Crossed fingers. Via @knowmore. Or catch Eyes On The Prize on YouTube.
What's going on in edtech and innovation these days? Growing pains? Overly ambitious timelines? Credulous media suddenly turned skeptical? Or are there lots of people who've simply taken the wrong path?
A few weeks ago MOOC enthusiast Sebastiaun Thrun admitted that the model wasn't working (largely due to high attrition rates). A handful of iPad deployments have blown up or seem unlikely to result in student learning increases.
Now, Rocketship -- the highly blended charter school model -- is having to revamp its programs for a second time (see Edweek here) and apparently rolled back its expansion plans, too (via Caroline Grannan). Image via Flickr.
While you might have been looking the other way, distracted by East Coast media outlets and the like. EdSource Today has quietly been emerging as one of the biggest nonprofit edmedia outlets out there.
They describe themselves as "the leader in California education journalism." They're partnering with other nonprofit outlets like KQED and Hechinger.
Over the past year or two they've staffed up in Northern California (Fensterwald, Baron, Mongeau are the bylines you've been seeing most frequently.) See the staf list here.
Now they're looking to expand in SoCal as well.
Of course, there are other nonprofit education outlets covering California, like the KPCC education shop I've written about before. And a handful of commercial outlets like SI&A Cabinet Report and the LA Times that are still out there. LA School Report has been plugging away, though seems like Hillel Aron isn't writing for them any longer.
Click below for the job announcement. Here's their look ahead at 2014 (Top 12 education issues in the new year).
“Taking a test on material can have a greater positive effect on future retention of that material than spending an equivalent amount of time restudying the material.” Remarkably, this remains true “even when performance on the test is far from perfect and no feedback is given on missed information.” (Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less The Atlantic)
Some fascinating reads from over the long MLK weekend, including a bunch of stuff about politics, advocacy, and over-reaching, a smattering of pieces about parenting and teaching, and the usual edtech trends and troubles:
How Organized Minorities Defeat Disorganized Majorities - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society http://ht.ly/sLTTt
Extreme voices: Interest groups and the misrepresentation of issue publics - Harvard Shorenstein Center http://ht.ly/sKTyF
What If These TED Talks Were Horribly, Unspeakably Wrong? The Awl http://ht.ly/sIq3h [incl Gladwell, Mitra]
Why Adolescence Is More Brutal for Parents Than Teenagers -- New York Magazine http://ht.ly/sIpm0
More items below and via @alexanderrusso
As more and more education journalism is being funded by nonprofit philanthropies (rather than subscribers or advertisers), more and more people seem to be thinking and writing about the possible implications.
The obvious upside is that there's more coverage, much of it quite good. EdSource Today, Chalkbeat, Hechinger, and the expanded Southern California Public Radio education team come to mind. Foundations that fund education coverage of various kinds include Gates, Kresge, Wallace, Ford, and Walton.
The challenge -- a new version of a challenge that's long existed in journalism -- is to make sure that funding sources don't determine coverage choices.
What to do about "advocacy journalism" is a somewhat newer, tougher issue.
Success for All Again Scores Big, And Loses, in i3 Contest Politics K12: For two years in a row, Baltimore-based school turnaround organization Success for All has earned the top score in the scale-up category of the federal Investing in Innovation contest, only to be passed over, U.S. Department of Education records confirm.
New York Wants To Give Special Education Kids Easier Tests Like 'The Old South,' Advocate Says Huffington Post: Should students with disabilities be held to the same academic standards and tests as other kids their age? That decades-old question is being revived by a debate in New York. Some advocates charge that a proposed tweak to the state's No Child Left Behind update may shortchange vulnerable students -- and, if approved, could spread to other states.
De Blasio, a Critic of Charter Schools, May Need Them for His Pre-K Agenda NYT: Mayor de Blasio is looking for classroom space and qualified teachers to accommodate 50,000 prekindergartners. Charter schools are willing, but not allowed to provide prekindergarten.
Arizona Hopes New Charter Schools Can Lift Poor Phoenix Area NYT: A movement in Phoenix to open 25 high-performing schools in the next five years is focused on test scores in the growing Latino population
Most D.C. residents give public schools low ratings in poll Washington Post: The share of District residents who think that the city’s public schools are performing well has more than doubled since the mid-1990s, but most continue to give low ratings to the schools.
Teachers union set to demand salary hike of 17.6 percent LA School Report: The UTLA House of Representatives last night voted to demand a significant salary hike for teachers — an increase of nearly 20 percent.
In Age of School Shootings, Lockdown Drills Are the New Duck-and-Cover NYT: At the whiff of a threat, a generation growing up in the shadow of Columbine and Sandy Hook is trained to snap off the lights, lock the doors and take refuge in corners and closets.
More news below and from overnight on Twitter (@alexanderrusso)
Elizabeth Green's contribution to a recent Nieman Lab roundup of journalism trends focused on the rise of single-subject sites and -- no surprise -- focused on the ongoing story of what's now called Chalkbeat USA (not really, but that's what I like to call it).
In the piece, Green predicts that more nonprofit journalists will focus on narrow ("nerdy") issues in the future -- and that the the focus will be on subject matter expertise rather than "personality, point of view, or even a particularly distinctive voice."
Ouch! I'm not sure I agree entirely about thatlast part. Media outlets need to write stories that people want to read, and there's a reason that newspapers have included opinion and analysis as well as news coverage and features. (Many have editorial pages, too, which as I've written in the past can be invaluable in helping readers understand complex or controversial issues.)
In an ideal world, according to me, excellent news coverage and thought-provoking commentary would be combined in one place. Reader comments and predictably self-interested opinion pieces don't count, IMHO, though others would argue that point.)
In any case, it sounds like Green et al are doing *realy* well -- congrats to them -- and their expansion/network (which now includes Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana) is exciting and impressive.
Image via Flickr.
EdWeek's Mark Walsh reports that former HuffPostEDU editor Emmeline Zhao is going to help run the RealClear Education site that's launching sometime soon (Editor Picked for Real Clear Education) in a partnership with Bellwether Education Partners.
Bellwether honcho Andy Rotherham has written Eduwonk for nearly a decade now, and also for TIME.com (though I'm not sure if that arrangement remains in effect).
Walsh notes that"In an era of blurring lines between traditional news organizations and other content providers, having a firm such as Bellwether be a key partner in an education news site doesn't seem unusual, though one could imagine pitfalls."
The documentary feature film IF YOU BUILD IT opened in NYC on Friday. Made with Kickstarter funding behind the folks who created Wordplay and IOUSA, it depicts the efforts of two teachers to reinvigorate a rural school in North Carolina -- and themselves. Read more here: Public Interest Design. via David Wald.
Just a reminder that Integrity In Education, the new group that's to be headed by former AFT staffer Sabrina Stevens (pictured), is finally launching tomorrow after some delays and minor controversy last month.
As you may recall, Stevens appeared on MSNBC as a generic "education advocate" in early December, which prompted me and others to be curious about who she was and neither she nor the show had identified her with more specificity.
The AFT said it had no idea how Stevens got onto the show, and that Stevens no longer worked there. MSNBC never got back to me about how she was booked but not properly identified. Stevens and her allies went to Twitter but never answered the basic questions (who's funding the new organization, etc.).
For some of the fun back-and-forth, see #SabisSecretJob. For Politico's story, which pretends not to have been prompted by my writing, go... I'm not sure where. (That was so lame.)
None of this may matter. What might seem ill-prepared or unprofessional to outsiders might be just what reform critics are looking for right now. Stevens is African-American, younger than many other reform critics, and obviously willing to mix it up. This new organization and the Stevens hire shows that reform critics and their allies seem like they're more willing to go for it than reformers.
See the conference call announcement below. I'll let you know what takes place on the call (unless they lock me out).
Blogger extraordinaire Jason Kottke penned this post for the Nieman Journalism Lab (R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013) recently, echoing what I've been telling you guys for years now: The blog is dead, long live the blog.
Kottke predicts that the blog has been dead for a while now, and that more folks will notice this in 2014 than in the past. It's true -- the blog format with its comments and such is old and creaky. No argument there.
But blogging -- the broader activity of sharing useful information and opinions with the world -- is if anything on the rise. With Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr, everyone's blogging now. It's just not called that.
What to call it? I have no idea. Meantime, you can find me on Twitter (@alexanderrusso), Facebook (personal profile or official page), and Tumblr (HotForEd). And I'll continue and try to bring social media onto this site for all of you who are still not into it.
I'd like to very briefly second Alexander's recommendation to reformers that "obviously education can't be the only method of addressing income inequality" and that they should "reconnect" to the issue.
My sense, however, is that education reformers have if anything moved in the opposite direction as of late.
Perhaps sensitive to charges that they were ignoring issues like inequality, reformers seem to be increasingly taking the position that education really is the best (or only) way to address inequality.
Consider this recent piece by Josh Kraushaar in The Atlantic arguing that various reformy education policies have "proven to be a time-tested path to economic mobility". Despite the fact that it confusingly conflates inequality with economic mobility and doesn't actually provide any evidence that the reforms are "proven" to address either, the article got approving links on Twitter from StudentsFirst, among others.
It's easy to see why this is an attractive shift for reformers, since it simultaneously increases the importance of the education reforms they were already pushing and undermines the argument that they're too indifferent to inequality.
Maybe this is just something I've started noticing recently and doesn't represent a real shift. But I do feel as if reformers have been increasingly willing to tell me that education reform is the best - or only meaningful - way to address a host of problems from inequality to economic mobility to poverty.
Either way, I'm not politically savvy enough to know whether that rhetorical position will let reformers have it both ways: retaining a laser-like focus on education while also attending "the inequality party of 2014", as Alexander puts it.
Harlem Children's Zone student introduced President Obama at last week's Promise Zone announcement:
Remember, Promise Zones and Promise Neighborhoods are different things and that claims surrounding the original Harlem Children's Zone have been challenged and attempts to replicate it have been difficult. New York Daily News Via HuffPost and ChalkbeatNY.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein & Co. recently gave out their Third annual Wonky awards, including think tank of the year (Kaiser), pundi (Bob Laszewski), graph of the year (the deficit shrinking), FAIL of the year, regulation of the year, etc.
There wasn't anything education-related that I saw, but the academics of the year (Saez and Piketty) have brought lots of attention to an education-related issue that reform critics especially like to bring up all the time these days: income inequality.
Last year made inequality big:
"Obama devoted a whole speech to the topic. Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York on a promise to fight it. The think tank closest to the administration launched a whole spin-off dedicated to studying it."
What if anything will reformers figure out to say in the face of all this newfound attention to inquality (and poverty and income mobility)?
They traditionally shy away from these issues, though many of them got into education because they thought that education could help address them -- was indeed the best method of doing so. But obviously education can't be the only method of addressing income inequality, and especially so during and after a massive recession.
Reformers may have to reconnect with why they got into education in the first place -- and even support some non-education measures like minimum wage and immigration reform -- if they don't want to be left out of the inequality party of 2014.
Flickr via KenFager
Those engaged in reform don’t see countering misinformation as a core part of their mission. Reformers have been under the mistaken impression that the facts—both about the need for and the direction of change—will, by themselves, carry the day. They won’t. -- TNTP's Dan Weisberg (The Facts Need a Champion)
"This clip [about child hunger and health] is the trailer for the movie "A Place at the Table." You can stream it on Amazon Instant Video and Netflix or order it online on DVD or Blu-ray. And yes, that is Jeff Bridges." via Upworthy
There have been lots of good things that have happened at EWA in the last couple of years, and I appreciate the efforts the nonprofit education writers association has made to make itself successful (and its patience with my never-ending suggestions and requests).
But its ill-fated attempt to create a standalone site called Education Media Commons wasn't ever going to succeed. As I whined about repeatedly at the time -- mostly in private -- nobody needed yet another site to track, yet another online profile, etc. Things were already getting hectic with social media and the new content coming out of EWA.
So congrats to EWA for moving on from the effort and focusing attention on the main site, EWA.org. (Read the email below.) They're updating the site, consolidating other standalone efforts, and it could all work out in the end, which is all that counts. And let the EMC experience be a lesson to everyone out there that sometimes more is not better, and that simplicity and old-school list-servs still have their place.
Previous posts about EWA here.
Speaking of journalism, the news is out that EWA is going to Nashville for its annual conference in May (EWA Announces Theme and Venue of 2014 National Seminar).
As usual, the event will be a fun and strange group of journalists, bloggers, academics, and advocates. AERA is co-hosting.
Where else are you going to see things like me and Anthony Cody hanging out like we did (albeit somewhat uncomfortably) last year at Stanford?
Check out the announcement, and get yourselves psyched up to be there.
Image via Mary Kate McDevitt
A nonprofit advocacy group called the Center for Union Facts published a full-page ad in the New York Times last week (pictured), blaming AFT president Randi Weingarten and teachers unions for low PISA 2013 scores by American students.
Reform gadfly Diane Ravitch didn't think much of the ad or the Times' decision to run it, based on this recent post (Rightwing Group Attacks Unions in “New York Times”).
Since the shadowy new progressive reform group dubbed "Integrity In Education" isn't launching today as promised last week, let's talk about the Center for Union Facts, the NYT ad, and the Ravitch critique.
According to Ravtich, our PISA scores aren't declining, don't connect to larger economic successes, and -- this is sort of interesting - the AFT has approved some forms of merit pay (even though merit pay absolutely doesn't work).
As usual, test scores don't mean much, except when they can be cited to show that reform ideas don't work. It's the Ravitch Contradiction (or some better turn of phrase).
Ravitch also slams the center that funded the ad, based on an anecdote from some time in the past in which she questioned Richard Berman over his critique of teachers union in New Jersey and he didn't know the answers. Case closed, as Ravitch says.
The ad didn't get much attention other than from Ravitch, though there's a small writeup in LaborPains.org -- a publication of the Center for Union Facts (AFT Refuses to Reward Excellent Teachers, Protects Incompetence Instead).
I'll save you reading it to say that it includes just one juicy quote -- yes, from Berman: "Randi Weingarten doesn’t care about reforming schools in the name of quality education; she cares about exploding government budgets in the name of filling her union’s bank account.”
According to a quick talk with someone at the Center, last week's ad is part of a newly-relaunched effort to call attention the gaps between AFT / Weingart rhetoric and actions (dubbed AFT Facts), isn't specifically funded or earmarked by a particular donor, and is slated to last for the next few months. I'l let someone else comb through the organization's 990 tax forms, but a quick search comes up with this donor warning from Charity Navigator.
Yesterday's Labor Pains headline: Teachers Union Fights for Convicted Child Molester.
See another MSNBC segment about philanthropy vs. public programs here.
Quick update on Steve Barr's Future Is Now nonprofit, given his scheduled appearance in New York City next week at the AFT/Atlantic event:
"Tactics in the personal channel of influence (political support and personal communication) were more influential than tactics that addressed legislators indirectly, such as grassroots campaigns, media outreach and informational seminars" (Measuring the Influence of Education Advocacy Brown/Brookings)
There’s no clear trend for public spending on education as a percentage of the U.S. economy, but public investment hasn’t withered. -- FackCheck.org
The AFT is sponsoring a NYC event on education next week called Moving the Needle Summit: A Collaborative Approach to Education Reform.
"The program’s conversations will examine the current policy debates and the underlying social issues that put the nation’s future generations at risk, while seeking to move towards real solutions."
The interesting lineup includes Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot Public Schools and Future is Now Schools, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor, The Atlantic, Nicholas Lemann, Dean Emeritus, Columbia Journalism School, Irwin Redlener, President and Co-Founder, Children’s Health Fund, and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.
*Corrected link thanks to @jgordonwright
"The [NCTQ] report identifies "The Big Five" of classroom management: Make rules; establish structure and routines; praise students for positive behavior; address bad behavior; and maintain student behavior." (Teachers Aren't Trained to Praise Their Students The Atlantic).