The new Daily Show host Trevor Noah mocks Oprah's scandal-ridden African school. "You're getting a beating! Everybody's getting one!" There may be other, better examples, but this one will help you make it to lunchtime.
This year's education conferences seem like they're doing better and better modeling diversity and finding new & authentic voices to talk about education, but there's still lots of room for additional improvement.
So here are some ideas to help -- or maybe you've got better ones to suggest?
6 -- If you're organizing a conference or panel, make sure you include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds when you're picking speakers, even if it means reaching out to new connections or recruiting new participants. #Wetried is not enough.
5 -- If you're invited to participate in a panel, tell the organizer it's important to you that the panel includes a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and be so bold as to suggest some folks who might fit the bill if the organizers seem unfamiliar.
4 -- If you're invited to open or close a conference, or function as a keynote speaker, tell the organizers how important diverse panels and perspectives are to you.
3 -- If you somehow find yourself on a panel that's all white (or even all white and male), don't just lament the situation. Give up your time to someone in the audience who has a valuable perspective not otherwise represented on the stage, or do something really bold and give up your spot.
2 -- If you're someone who's used to being asked to speak on panels or give talks, consider giving up your spot to give someone else a chance and -- just as important -- come to the event anyway, sit in the the audience like a normal person, and you might learn something.
1 -- If you're attending a conference or panel in the audience and you happen to notice that the panel is, say, all white (or that the conversation is being dominated by men) say something. (Be nice about it -- the organizers are probably very tired and doing their best -- but still say something.)
Bottom line: Talking about diversity is great but insufficient at this point. Programs aimed at diversifying the pipeline of teacher and leaders are great but way in the future in terms of their impact.
Finding and elevating new and diverse voices to speak at conferences and sit on panels could make a small but concrete difference to the success of the movement. And those of us who've been privileged enough to sit on panels and speak at conferences should take the lead in helping make these shifts, rather than resisting them or even appearing to undercut them.
*For those of you not following along on Twitter, the question of diversifying panels and the responsibilities of conference organizers and convening organizations came up in a series of tweets this morning. The PIE Network's Suzanne Tacheny Kabach and I talked more about it this afternoon and that conversation was the inspiration for some of the above.
I'm at @yaleELC #backtowhy today, mostly on Twitter (Snapchatting an event is not so easy or fun as it sounds). You can check out all the updates here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). You won't miss a thing, plus you can see the fun things people Tweet at me all day. Tweets about "@alexanderrusso"
Laurene Powell Jobs linked to Jeb and Hillary Business Insider: Business Insider obtained Powell-Jobs' resignation letter from a source. In the letter, which was personally addressed to Bush and began "Dear Jeb," Powell-Jobs attributed her decision to leave the foundation's board of directors dto time commitments.
How do schools respond to competition? Not as you might expect. Washington Post: The school-choice movement is built on the philosophy that competition forces schools to improve.But new research on New Orleans — arguably the nation’s most competitive school market — suggests that school leaders are less likely to work on improving academics than to use other tactics in their efforts to attract students.
Evaluation stalemate, looming changes fuel teacher frustration ChalkbeatNY: The future of teacher evaluations in New York state appears more unclear than ever. With six days left to craft an on-time state budget, lawmakers have only just begun to seriously negotiate how to overhaul the state’s nascent teacher-grading system.
Technology is the focus of first-time Smarter Balanced implementation Concord Monitor: Schools are used to administering standardizedtests, but the tests corresponding to theCommon Core State Standards are a new experience for both...
Bill would let parents initiate school reform process Tennessean: Currently, the state does not identify schools in the bottom 10 percent but does identify schools in the bottom 5 percent based on academic achievement. Most of the schools in the bottom 5 percent, known as priority schools, are in Davidson County and Shelby County.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
First things first: The most notable thing about Tuesday's much-tweeted NYT story about Hillary Clinton and education (Hillary Clinton Caught Between Teachers and Wealthy Donors) might be that Team Hillary put Ann O'Leary out in front to represent the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.
"Both the teachers’ union and the reformers will really feel like they have her ear in a way they haven’t,” said Ann O’Leary in the NYT piece. "She believes we need to have some kind of ways that we can measure student progress,” Ms. O’Leary said.
But she said Mrs. Clinton was “also sympathetic that the test regime has become very burdensome in driving the education system in ways that many people think is problematic.”
Longtime readers of this site already know about her (see related posts, below). And longtime Hillary-watchers know her, too. She's on Politico's top Hillary Clinton influentials. Need to know more? Check out her official Next Generation bio
After the article came out, O'Leary (@Ann_OLeary) tweeted " It's true: I do believe ed community will be pleased @HillaryClinton's someone who listens to all good education ideas."
As for the piece itself, well, it's obviously a good media "get" for DFER and the like to have the NYT talking about reformy pressures that are (supposedly) being put on the presumptive Democratic candidate. The "leaked" memo worked again!
But there's an undertone of fear and uncertainty just below the surface, and let's be clear: reformers like the unions don't really have anywhere else to go. They can threaten to stay home or focus on other races but they're pretty much all Democrats and don't really have any interest in having a conservative Republican win the White House. Team Hillary wants their money, sure, and will listen to them, sure.
However, I can't imagine folks as smart and experienced as Team Clinton are feeling any real pressure to do something "crazy" (like coming out hard for the Common Core or even annual testing) anytime soon. (Coming out in favor of vaccinations was already a bit of a surprise.) So if anything, the Clinton folks might not like the public display that DFER et al are trying to put on here, and Team DFER could get some cold shoulder. For a little while. Nobody can hate nice-guy Joe Williams for long.
Related posts: A Clinton Ed Staffer On The High Court? (2010), Power Couples In Education, The Update (2007), More Agency Review Team Names (2008), West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr, Winners & Losers of 2008 (According To Me).Image via Twitter.
This year's Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference could be particularly interesting, given where were are in the education debate. It looks like there are going to be some new faces and names -- Kalimah Priforce, anyone? The theme ("Back to Why") and official goal (to refocus on "the purpose and outcomes of education reform") are full of intrigue to people like me who follow these things too closely. We all know that the fight for the hearts and minds of smart young do-gooder types (and entrepreneurs, etc.) is pretty heated, as is the rhetorical battle over who's more "social justice." Website. Facebook.For past events, look at the list here. Previous blog posts from me about the event here.
Thanks to everyone who passed along my recent CJR piece on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring. Much appreciated! The story was a top read for CJR all week.
By and large, those of you who are pro-Common Core liked the piece, and those of you who are critical thought it was less likable. Pretty predictable. (Your positions are reversed when I'm criticizing Rhee or Kopp or Cunningham, though.)
Far as I know, nobody was willing to admit publicly any major change of mind on the tests or the coverage -- such is rigidly orthodox world of education debate these days (and also of course the limits of my writing).
Most of you who work as education reporters didn't say anything one way or the other -- at least not publicly. (A few of you were kind enough to write privately that it was a useful piece, or that it was helping you to rethink your coverage tendencies, which I appreciated tremendously.)
Alas, the only journalists I could find to talk about the issue on the record were John Merrow (one of its subjects) and Linda Perlstein (a former Washington Post reporter and EWA's founding Public Editor). I hope that won't always be the case, as I think constructive conversation about media coverage is a positive and healthy thing and shows confidence in the work.
Turned by back CJR from commenting on their site, Merrow finally posted his own response on his blog this afternoon (Reporting About Reporting). He makes some good points, as you'll see, but he also makes some weaker ones, according to me at least, and unfortunately resorts to (gentle) criticisms of character.
Read on for more about Merrow, a handful of less predictable responses, some errors and omissions on my part, and a few sentences that were left on the cutting room floor.
Not counting this year's class (pictured), the Spencer Education Fellowship at Columbia University's Journalism School is now six years old.
Wow, time has flown. I was in the first class (2008-2009). The seventh class (2015-2016) will be notified as soon as later today and announced in a few weeks. Here are the people making the decisions this year.
At the time the Spencer Foundation was considering what to do, I thought that a small, expensive program like the Columbia model was a bad idea.
The folks I talked to as part of some research I did on journalism education all told me that small, ongoing, community-focused training was better and more effective than flashy fellowships, and more likely to benefit those who really needed them, and I believed them.
It's possible that they were right. Some of the biggest books on education -- Amanda Ripley's book, for example, or Steven Brill's -- weren't a product of the Spencer Fellowship. Several of the folks that have gotten Spencers aren't really focused on education journalism, per se. A few of them already had book deals and might not have needed the fellowship in order to get their work done. Given the current conversation about white privilege, it's important to note that we are many of us awfully white.
Then again, a bunch of the books and projects that have come out of the Spencer Fellowship have been helpful contributions to the field (as far as I can tell) and wouldn't otherwise have happened. Some examples that come to mind include books and other projects by Goldstein, Green, and Solomon. Ideologically, the products of the Spencer Fellowship have been pretty mixed -- reflecting the advisory board that makes the final decisions.
The newest offshoot of the Spencer project is a reporting program through Columbia and Slate featuring work from Matt Collette and Alexandra Neason that seems like it's been pretty useful. And I'm pretty excited about whatever this year's class -- Lutton and Resmovits especially -- are going to do next, and S. Mitra Kalita's forthcoming endeavors at the LA Times. Toppos' education book is coming out any minute now.
Related posts: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting; Goldstein Taking Her Talents To The Marshall Project. Image used with permission.
Longtime readers already know that the Chicago Sun-Times' Kate Grossman is one of my favorite editorial page writers. She (along with the LA Times' Karin Klein) report their own pieces and sometimes scoop or differ from their own beat reporters, which I think is healthy.
Well the latest news is that Grossman and a few others (including Davis Guggenheim) have won a new fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, and will be teaching a course among other things. Read all about it here: Sun-Times deputy editor Kate Grossman wins U. of C. fellowship. "Starting March 30, Grossman will spend 10 weeks on campus examining education issues and the debate over how best to improve schools."
Speaking of fellowships, I'm told that today is the day that the Spencer Fellowships are being decided for 2015-2016. Good luck to everyone who made it to the finals!
WellDeserved is a a new app that allows folks to offer surplus privileges -- free food at work, extra dental appointments, a soon-to-expire SoulCycle coupon -- to fellow citizens who might want to purchase them.
Their motto: "Privilege goes unused every single day.Why would we waste any of it?"
Great idea, no?
But they need people to post more education-related privileges that are going unused, and maybe you can help them out.
For starters, there are all the extra laptops, tablets, and smart phones laying around many homes -- not to speak of all that unused broadband access and data. But that's not all. A student who doesn't need all of the Kumon hours his parents signed him up for could offer them to a fellow classmate. A private school family living in a desirable neighborhood could offer its spots at the local elementary school. I'm sure you can think of other examples.
Charles Best better watch out.
This week's announcement that Success Academy charters won't give an absolute priority to ELL kids in its charter lotteries because of opposition seems like an unfortunate turn of events (see ChalkbeatNY's Success Academy drops lottery preference for English learners).
Charter schools located in mixed neighborhoods are often flooded by wealthier, whiter parents, and lose their diversity despite all efforts. The USDE will allow weighted lotteries, but not guaranteed admission. USDE has opposed letting diverse charters weight their lotteries in such a strong way for fear of the precedent that would tempt other schools to set priorities (for white kids, for kids whose parents have yachts, etc.)
There are situations where charters have been set up to avoid integration, or located or run in ways that are disadvantageous to poor and minority kids. But this is not one of them.
What could be done?
Lots of things, it seems. Congress could change the federal definition of a charter school to allow this kind of weighting. The USDE could revise its guidance (though risking Congressional displeasure). Or Success could shift its proposal from an absolute 14 percent priority for ELL kids, going with an unweighted lottery for the first year or two and then shifting. The unitary enrollment system would be diluted, creating different systems for different schools, but more ELL kids would be served.
I'll let you know if and when Success or the USDE respond with more about their thinking, or why these solutions couldn't work.*
*UPDATED: From USDE's Dorie Turner Nolt: “The U.S. Department of Education is firmly committed to increasing high-quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, including English learners, in charter schools, as in all public schools. The Department has worked with Success Academies to find ways for it to provide additional weight for English learners within the boundaries of the law and program guidance, and remains committed to that effort. We have worked with other grantees that submitted proposals to use weighted lotteries for educationally disadvantaged students—including other charter management organizations operating in New York—and have approved several such proposals. Such approaches complement broader efforts by charter schools to recruit, serve and retain educationally disadvantaged students.”
Your turn, Success.
Related posts: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led; Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance; Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability.
On one side, you have a group of reformers who say that getting rid of federal mandates for annual testing would be apocalyptic, and that’s crazy.... On the other side, you have people who think that getting rid of it would lead to utopia. I think both sides have lost their minds on this. -- Author and Emerson Fellow Amanda Ripley in the Washington Post (Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing)
There may be too few educators on cable TV (and too few education-related segments, too), but has there ever been a time when schools were as much a central part of so many TV shows?
*On Fresh Off The Boat, the hip-hop loving son of immigrant parents has to make new friends at a Florida school where there has apparently a student who isn't white, black, or Hispanic.
*The New Girl is now an assistant superintendent and her boyfriend/employee teacher works at the same school (or still did, last I looked).
*Girls' most appealingly deplorable character, Hannah, substitutes at a private school after crashing and burning at her Iowa MFA program.
*In episode 6 of Tina Fey's new show, The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, the protagonist encounters a burned-out GED teacher who wants to be reported so he can get assigned to the rubber room. (There was a rubber room on Silicon Valley, too.)
*The female half of a bored married couple starts getting involved with an LA charter school startup in Eagle Rock that might also be good for her kids. (Repeat of Parenthood, sort of.)
Plus also: High Maintenance (seriously), Blackish (yep), Empire (just kidding), The Good Wife (I wish).
These aren't just silly pop culture coincidences, I'd argue -- or at least not only that. They're a representation of what the larger public thinks or knows about education, or is at least what the public is curious about. Clearly, charter schools and the rubber room are fascinating to writers, and the notion of smart young people trying out teaching isn't as foreign or obscure as it once may have been.
Related posts: Oh, No! Girls' Lena Dunham Is Going To Teach; Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show; Apparently Not Everyone's Cut Out To Be A Teaching Fellow; Silicon Valley's Rubber Room Includes A Rooftop Grill; Louis C.K. Takes Us Back To 8th Grade Science.
Figuring out whether advocacy efforts "work" -- or what that even means -- is one of education advocates' biggest challenges. Executing an effective advocacy effort is another. With that in mind, you might want to check out today's panel on advocacy evaluation at Brookings, and read the report (Measuring and understanding education advocacy) that's being discussed, which focuses on Louisiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
After NPR's Wade Goodwyn’s moving report, One Night Only, about two dozen homeless singers performing at the Dallas City Performance Hall, I wiped tears from my eyes and made a resolution. This wonderful event must be celebrated, but I vowed to not use it as ammunition in our edu-political civil war.
The orchestra began to play "Somewhere" from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," and the homeless singers were "still a bit wobbly" as they joined in. After all, only about five of them were regular members of the chorus. Choral director Jonathan Palant had worked with 57 different choir singers over the last three months.
Then, Goodwyn reported, "Suddenly, a world-famous opera singer appears on the stage, seemingly out of nowhere. Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade walks into the middle of the Dallas Street Choir and puts her arms around two of the singers."
Together, they sing, There's a place for us. Somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air wait for us somewhere.
Goodwyn noticed "a lot of surreptitious wiping of eyes.” As a hundred other trained voices joined in, the homeless singers grew far more confident and melodious. "It was an evening they said they'd remember the rest of their lives."
But, Goodwyn's final words were nearly as striking in their pessimism, "For a night, two dozen of Dallas's homeless were lifted from the city's cold streets and sidewalks to bask in the warm glow of spotlights. For the usual hostility and indifference to their fate, they were traded love, respect and goodwill - one performance only."
Then, I read Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue post on the Gates Foundation’s new effort to address complex and interrelated housing problems.
As you may recall, 50CAN launched in 2010 at roughly the same time as StudentsFirst, but has followed an interesting and somewhat distinct path in the intervening five years compared to other national networks of reform-minded advocacy groups like StudentsFirst and Stand For Children and DFER that all seemed to sprout up around the same time.
Check out the organization's new state-by-state goals Policy Goals, which are largely state-developed rather than predetermined by the national or its funders, and you'll get a sense for what I mean. I'm also told that the organization doesn't pick states to go into anymore, but rather gives out planning grants to folks who think they might be interested in putting something together -- 80 in 28 states last year -- and go from there. Call it an advocacy incubator. They're also running a Policy 101 course (there's still time to sign up), and advocacy workshops.
Related posts: AEI Philanthropy/Advocacy Event (#NewEdPhil) HotSeat Interview: 50CAN Creator Marc Porter Magee; 50CAN Action Fund Focuses On RI & MN; Winn Leaving 50CAN To Head New TFA Initiative; Where The Shiny New Advocacy Groups Are* [were].
As Politico recently noted, statehouse efforts to turn the Common Core and its assessments back seem to have peaked since last year. The number of states with repeal efforts repeated this year is down from 22 to 19. "So far, they’ve fared poorly," notes Stephanie Simon.
But you wouldn't necessarily know this from reading national education news stories, which tend to focus on the handful of rollbacks that have taken back and the slew of proposed rollbacks that have been proposed, or passed out of committee, or made it out of a legislative chamber. In other words, proposals that *might* happen, but haven't yet become reality -- and probably won't, given the way these things usually pan out.
I have yet to see an AP, Washington Post*, New York Times, or NPR story about this -- or for that matter anything along these lines from Huffington Post, Reuters, Hechinger, etc. (Please let me know if I've missed anything relevant.*) The issue might have been discussed at yesterday's #EWAcore media training in Denver but the focus there seemed to be on the substance of the standards and tests rather than the national trends and coverage thereof.
None of this is to say that repeal and slowdown efforts are gone: NSCL says that there are roughly 450 CCSS-related proposals in the works this session. "Total number of bills that would halt implementation of Common Core State Standards: 39 bills (in 19 states) Total number of bills that would halt use of Common Core State Standards-related assessments, i.e., PARCC or Smarter Balanced: 36 bills (in 17 states)."
But if this year is like last year, these new efforts will fare just as badly as last year's. And if this year is like last year, most newspaper and news site readers will hear mostly about the proposals and what they would do, rather than the actual track record of these proposals and their actual chances of enactment.
Proposals are great, people -- easy to sell to editors and full of hope or fear for those involved -- but enactment (or at least a realistic chance at passage) is what counts. We do readers and ourselves a disservice when we lose track of the larger storyline, creating an impression (in this case, of widespread rollbacks) that doesn't match reality.
*UPDATE: Earlier this week, the Washington Post's GovBeat page (never heard of it!) had a story about failed Common Core repeal efforts.
Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.
Tennessee's Common Core review comes with uncommon costs Times Free Press: A bill requiring Tennessee's State Board of Education to drop Common Core education standards and develop new requirements has a math problem: It's projected to cost $4.14 million over a three-year period.
State not joining revolt against Common Core learning model Seattle Times: Despite backlash in other states over new learning standards known as the Common Core, little serious opposition has surfaced in Washington.
Is your child’s personal data safe at school? PBS NewsHour: In Miami, a man was arrested with students’ names, social security numbers and birthdays — more than enough personal information to steal their identities. Parents in D.C. learned that information on student enrollment in special education services — including names and passwords for online mailboxes — has for years been easily accessible to anyone online, due to a security breach.
YouTube launches kids app Marketplace: YouTube launches a kids app on Monday. It comes with a filter for content, kid friendly design, and a parental timer for how long kids can play. It’s just one of several new media platforms targeting kids.
L.A. Unified says it can't afford 'computer for all' plan LA Times: Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said Friday that the district cannot afford to provide a computer to every student, signaling a major reversal of his predecessor's ill-fated $1.3-billion effort to distribute iPads to all students, teachers and school administrators.
When a Wildlife Rehab Center Regulates Charter Schools ProPublica: Nestled in the woods of central Minnesota, near a large lake, is a nature sanctuary called the Audubon Center of the North Woods. It’s also Minnesota’s largest regulator of charter schools, overseeing 32 of them. As a group, the schools overseen by the center fall below the state average on test scores.
Cuomo Plan Diminishes Principals' Authority on Evaluations WNYC: New York City principals challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his plan to increase the role of outside evaluators in reviewing teacher performance.
Report Recommends Elected School Board for Chicago District Dossier: A new report from the Collaborative for Justice and Equity in Education recommends an elected school board for the city that would prioritize "equitable educational opportunities and outcomes" in its decisionmaking.
At New York Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside NYT: In a new type of diversity initiative at elite institutions, students explore privilege and power and are encouraged to think about social justice in a personal way.
A safety net for dropouts catches others WBEZ: Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park is one of the district’s 20 new alternative schools opened in the last two years. It’s a joint venture between the NBA-star-turned-businessman, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and EdisonLearning, a for-profit education company. Students come for half the day and do most of their work online. Many can finish a full credit in a matter of weeks.
Expelled in preschool Hechinger Report: An after-school program run by Chicago Youth Centers has seen significant improvement in children’s behaviors since staff began working with Lauren Wiley, an early childhood mental health consultant.
Chicago's Mayor Emanuel spends heavily to avoid run-off Reuters: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hoping his warm hug with President Barack Obama in the last days of his re-election campaign will help him avoid a run-off in the race to lead the financially troubled, third largest city in the country.
Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.
Almost every paper presented at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, made me somewhat more hopeful that the Gates Foundation, at least, will learn and back off from insisting that stakes be attached to standardized tests, and start down more promising policy paths. The exception is Alexander Russo’s Inside Foundations: Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees on Education Giving.
According to Russo’s astute article, the lessons of this new generation of philanthropy are:
1. Policy and advocacy are great tools—to a point.
2. New approaches complicate measurement/evaluation issues.
3. Newly-created organizations bring focus and fidelity but can lack credibility and engagement.
4. “Strategic” philanthropy is a powerful way to narrow priorities—unless it’s applied too rigidly.
5. Setting clear metrics helps—until you take them too far.
6. Fail fast—but don’t overreact to bad news, either.
7. Don’t forget/underplay “the grind.”
8. Little more coordination, please (but not too much!)
In a rational world, this witty and insightful call for balance would contribute to better policy-making. In contrast to the statements made by other insiders to the other contributors, however, I fear that the several elites interviewed by Russo are concluding that, yes, we lose credibility with each of our risky policy gambles -- but we will make it up on volume.
Got a minute? Check out Kevin Kosar's Washington Monthly article (Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service) for a depressing but informative look at what's happened to CRS, the in-house think tank for Congress that used to be such a useful and timely source of information and advice that few Congressional staffers and members could imagine living without it.
Back in the day, folks like Wayne Riddle and Kosar (@kevinkosar) were invaluable sources of information. But of course, back in the day Congress passed legislation and spending bills, too, and working on the Hill was considered one of the best jobs you could have.
Much has happened to CRS since then, according to Kosar's telling of the story. And Riddle is a private consultant. Two folks who seem to have picked up the work seem to be Rebecca Skinner and Kyrie E. Dragoo (great name!).
Kosar's now at a think tank, appropriately enough. Think tanks have replaced CRS in many ways. The information's not nearly as expert or neutral but it's faster, and more easily tailored to each side's arguments, and it's public, too.
The Andy Smaricks and Anne Hyslops and Connor Williamses of the world can opine in public in real time -- they have communications help! CRS reports are infamously not publicly available. An effort to make them public, OpenCRS, closed up shop last year. Wikileaks posted a bunch of CRS reports, but I'm not sure how extensive the collection is (Secret Congressional reports).
Kosar and I have known each other via email for almost a decade now. He contributed some great pieces to this site while he was still at CRS -- back when such things were still allowed. For example: Muddled AYP Fixes; Do National Standards Have A Chance?; He also penned a 2005 book: Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards. Image used with permission.
La. Supt.: Zeroes for Schools Avoiding 'Core' Tests The Advocate: Tackling a bubbling controversy, state Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday that state and federal rules require Louisiana to proceed with plans to give Common Core tests next month. Schools and districts are set to get zeroes for students who avoid the tests.
Spat highlights jockeying among Clinton campaign surrogates Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: "At the end of the day, when we have a candidate that we nominate, Democrats will be together," saidRandi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers and a Priorities board member, adding that Brock had done "terrific work."
Funeral for Muslims Killed in Chapel Hill Draws Thousands NYT: “Please involve the F.B.I.,” Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose daughters and son-in-law were killed Tuesday in North Carolina, implored at a service.
Nation’s high school graduation rate ticks up for second year in a row Washington Post: The nation’s high school graduation rate ticked up for the second year in a row, according to new federal data released Thursday showing that 81 percent of the Class of 2013 graduated within four years. See also PBS NewsHour, HuffPost, EdBeat.
Louder Than A Bomb 2015: The 15th Annual Chicago Youth Poetry Festival WBEZ: The largest youth poetry festival in the world, Louder Than A Bomb--Power To The Poets, celebrates its 15th anniversary of giving students a global platform from which to share their stories.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Dana Goldstein’s remarkable contribution to the AEI conference on edu-philanthropy, Paying Attention to Pedagogy while Privileging Test Scores, starts with the reminder that (except for Education Week) little of the MET’s media coverage “explained the study’s key methodology of judging all modes of evaluating teachers based on whether they predicted growth in state standardized test scores.”
Neither did the media typically point out that the foundation advocated for the use of test score growth in evaluating teachers before it launched the MET. Legislation requiring the use of student performance was "driven, in part, by close ties between the Gates Foundation and the Obama administration.”
Goldstein thus asks the question that too few have uttered:
How is research received by scholars, policymakers, and practitioners when the sponsor of that research—and political allies including the president of the United States—have already embraced the reforms being studied? And is anyone paying attention when the conclusions of such research appear to contradict, or at least to complicate, some of the core assumptions of that reform agenda?
Goldstein’s narrative is consistent with the equally great analysis of Sarah Reckhow and Tompkins-Stange which placed the rise of Gates’ advocacy and the pressure for value-added evaluations within the context of “the organizational food chain,” and how changes in the status of their policies can be “ascendant and rapid.”
The outcomes produced by the previous Gates small school experiment had been “a disappointment to the resolutely data-driven” organization, and the stars were aligned for a dramatic edu-political push. Reformers like the Education Trust had been pushing for incorporating test score growth into teacher evaluations. And, despite the unproven nature of their claims for value-added evaluations, VAMs represented a ready-made, though untested, tool for advancing a teacher quality agenda.
The MET was under a similarly hurried schedule, with director Tom Kane promising a completed project in two years.
Sarah Reckhow’s and Megan Tompkins-Stange’s 'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad begins in the glory days of test-driven, market driven reform, from 2008 to 2010, when the Broad Foundation proclaimed, “We feel the stars have finally aligned. With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”
Reckhow’s and Tompkins-Stange’s excellent contribution to the American Enterprise Institute’s conference of edu-philanthropy, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, ends with an illustration of the power of Broad and Gates Foundations’ “purposeful convergence” on advancing their accountability-driven beliefs. They quote a Gates Foundation insider:
There was a twinkle in the eye of one of our US advocacy directors when the Obama administration's...education policy framework came out...this person said...“aren’t we lucky that the Obama Administration’s education agenda is so compatible with ours, you know?”...We wouldn’t take credit...out loud even amongst ourselves....But, you know, the twinkle…
Rechkow and Tompkins-Stange add that “the notion of a “twinkle”—rather than claiming credit more openly—highlights one of the more problematic aspects of the concentrated influence of Gates, Broad, and other foundations in the policy realm.”
The Gates Foundation had been reluctant to commit to a coordinated federal advocacy campaign until the election of President Barack Obama and the appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Their Ed in ’08 campaign had fizzled but, during the Obama years, 2/3rds of the states made significant changes to their teacher evaluation process.
'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad shows that this dramatic change was conducted in the “absence of a robust public debate.”
It is beyond the scope of Rechkow's and Tompkins-Stange's study but after reading their work, I wonder even more how it would have been possible for the Gates Foundation to have engaged in an adequate, private discussion of the costs and benefits of their favored policy. Behind closed doors, insiders may or may not have exchanged their opinions on value-added evaluations, but since the evidence required for a meaningful debate over the real world effects of those evaluations did not exist, I wonder if the lack of research on the policy implications of value-added was considered.
Broad Foundation suspends $1-million prize for urban school districts LA Times: The action underscores the changing education landscape as well the evolving thinking and impatience of the 81-year-old philanthropist. See also NYT: Billionaire Suspends Prize Given to Schools.
GOP Lawmakers Talk Plans for NCLB Rewrite at School Choice Jamboree PK12: As it stands, the draft reauthorization introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in January includes a Title I portability provision that would allow parents to use federal dollars only for the public school of their choice, including public charter schools.
Rich School, Poor School NPR: With 169 years of experience between them in college advising or admissions, Finks, the school’s dean of college counseling, and his four associate deans and two support staff calmly dispense wisdom, manage expectations and offer practical training in such things as mock interviews for college aspirants.
Arne Duncan presses his case for innovation grants at D.C. school Washington Post: As Congress sets about rewriting the No Child Left Behind law, key Republican leaders have been clear that they want to give states much more latitude to spend federal education dollars as they see fit. To that end, leaders in both houses of Congress are seeking to do away with dozens of dedicated federal funding streams — including a signature Obama administration program called the Investing in Innovation. See also PK12.
Lawsuit seeks instruction intervention at 5 CA high schools EdSource Today: After winning a court order to improve academic conditions at one Los Angeles high school last fall, lawyers in a class action suit asked Thursday for an additional court order to compel the state to improve instruction time at five other California high schools in the 2015-16 school year.
Low vaccination rates at schools put students at risk USA Today: Hundreds of thousands of students attend schools — ranging from small, private academies in New York City to large public elementary schools outside Boston to Native American reservation schools in Idaho — where vaccination rates have dropped precipitously low, sometimes under 50%. California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Arizona, Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia also were included in the analysis.
No profit left behind Politico: A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. -- Woodrow Wilson Institute's Arthur Levine in the NYT (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) via GT
Gender is just a construct and the error has long since been corrected online, but last week's front-page story about TFA (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) apparently included a mis-identification of the Education Trust's Kati Haycock as male. Anything else wrong or missing from the piece? Let us know. NYT corrections are always so deliciously awkward.
Mostly behind the scenes, ERS (Education Resource Strategies) has spent the past 10 years helping districts understand and revamp their spending priorities (usually focused on student-based budgeting). Click here for the interactive timeline of ERS activities. Click here to see if your district has worked with them. Tell us here on on Twitter what your experience has been(@erstrategies). Image used with permission.
Here's the video from yesterday's AEI event on education philanthropy, plus a link to the draft papers being prepared for an updated version of AEI's 2005 volume, "With the Best of Intentions.":
I'll write separately about the chapter I contributed, but some other conference highlights for me included meeting lots of folks face to face (including AFT's Kombiz, HEP's Caroline Chauncey), seeing people for the first time in a long while (Arnie Fege, Mike Usdan), and learning all sorts of things from fellow chapter writers and panelists (like Jim Blew's dad was a teacher union official, and that there are still only a handful of political scientists working on education issues). You can also check out the Twitter-stream at #NewEdPhil.
In case you hadn't figured it out by now, I've been at AEI all day today talking about the "new" education philanthropy. That's me in the middle, flanked by Goldstein, Kelly, Blew, and Hess. #newedphil is the hashtag. Video and draft papers to come.
Though this Dallas Observer piece on TFA reads pretty reasonable to me compared to many others I've come across recently (Teach for America Finds Growing Support in Texas), the chart of state budget line items for TFA is pretty eye-catching and simplistic:
It'd be helpful to have some context here. How much do these states spend on other alternative programs, for example? (The Illinois "Grow Your Own" program spent $20M over 10 years and generated 100 certified teachers.) How much do these states spend on teacher recruitment overall? (My guess is that it's tens of millions in many cases.) Image used with permission.
According to a recent Grantland article, the miniseries -- called "Show Me A Hero" -- surrounds the reaction in Yonkers NY to a 1985 court decision that the city had "'illegally and intentionally’ fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city.”
The series is based on a Lisa Belkin book by the same name (book cover to left). The former NYT writer has since moved to HuffPost and Yahoo. You can read an excerpt here. Something in Salon here. IMDB for the show is here.
What's this have to do with education? Well, residential segregation combined with neighborhood-based schooling is the main reason we have such inequitable & segregated schools and school systems (and charter networks, too). While everyone likes to talk about the joys of the neighborhood system, it's turned out to be class- and race-based in some pretty awful ways. See Nikole Hannah-Jones' work in ProPublica and The Atlantic if you don't think it's a current issue.
So this show will give us at least a glancing chance of revisiting the issues of race, class, and the neighborhood school.
Related posts: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose Choice; Watch School Segregation Grow Over 20 Years; Rethinking The Neighborhood School Ideal; Decline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta); The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools;
Take for example last week's headlines about the majority of US kids now being poor. Well, it turns out that those claims were based on both free and reduced-price lunch, which goes up to 180 percent of poverty. NPR's education team explores the issue here.
Even more recently, there have been a slew of reports about Food Stamp numbers, noting a dramatic rise of kids who live in families dependent on Food Stamps (now officially called SNAP benefits, but whatever) For example, this Guardian story: Number of US children living on food stamps nearly doubles since 2007. Or this Reuters story: One in five U.S. children now rely on food stamps. Or this AP story posted on ABC News: Census: 1 in 5 Children on Food Stamps. Or the chart I posted yesterday: Children On Food Stamps. What got left out, however -- again flagged by Petrilli -- is that the criteria for Food Stamps was loosened in 2009 so at least some of the increase is due to changed eligibility standards.
Not all is lost, however. Some outlets -- like Newsday -- explained that the increase might not be purely due to increased poverty. And I'm asking the USDA and others to help explain what percentage of the SNAP increase is due to eligibility changes. But clearly we all need to check our preconceptions and watch out for facts that are "too good to check" because they fit a pre-existing narrative.
Some of you have noticed Emma Brown's byline on national education stories coming out of the Washington Post recently, and indeed the former DC Public Schools reporter is joining Lyndsey Layton covering the big beat starting this month. The move was in fact announced on the Washington Post site way back January 9 (Staff News: Education Coverage).
As you may already know, Brown covered the DC Public Schools from 2011 until recently when she went on maternity leave. Her old beat will be covered by Michael Alison Chandler, who's been filling in since the summer. Layton has been covering the national beat since 2011.
Brown joining Layton will be good news to those who want more education coverage from the Post (and don't want it handled by blogger Valerie Strauss) and less appealing to those who have had issues with Layton's coverage (of poverty statistics, foundation influence, etc.) and were hoping she was moving on to something else. On the whole, it seems like a positive move to me.
The Post announcement also tells us that a new blog is coming (has arrived?), though alas from my point of view it's going to focus on higher education. It is called Grade Point.
Related posts: Student Poverty Deepening & Spreading Nationally; About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves; What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core; Controversial Washington Post Blogger Tells All; Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2).
Pay no attention to the mis-captioned candidate pictures (the names for Rodriguez and Thomas were switched but have now been fixed) or or the hipster spelling of "yamaka" (I blame Hillel) or even the sloppy screenshot job of the original version of the captions (courtesy: me).
The real news is that incumbent LAUSD District 5 member (and charter target) Bennett Kayser announced that he was pulling out of two United Way-sponsored debates against challengers Thomas and Rodriguez. Why? No one knows exactly. But it may well be that United Way LA “isn't exactly neutral” as it has been in the past, says LA Weekly's Hillel Aron. Yep, that's right. United Way.
In LA and a few other places, United Way organizations aren't just gathering donations and providing services. They're joining or leading coalitions, conducting parent information initiatives, and -- unavoidably -- taking sides.
As one Kayser supporter put it (in the LA Weekly article), “Anybody who thinks the United Way [LA] has run even-handed candidate forums should look into buying land in Florida."
So apparently UPenn has been ranking think tanks for a while now, and added a special category for education-focused think tanks in 2012. The latest rankings put the Urban Institute at the top and put Cato and Heritage above AEI so make of that what you will. via Think Tank Watch.
*Corrected: It's not NIEER, it's NIEPR who came in 5th. Sorry about that!
Here's last night's PBS NewHour segment featuring Anya Kamenetz's new book, The Test. (Is it a high of 113 tests K-12, or is 113 the average?) Not loading properly, or want to read the transcript? Click here.
Whatever you may think of NPR's education coverage, you gotta love the art that's been on the site these past few weeks and months. Most if not all of it's done by LA Johnson (@theLAJohnson), who kindly gave me permission to post this recent image. See more of her great work here & here. Any other favorites of her work? Let usknowin comments or tweet them at me and I'll share them out.
Here's the beginning of my writeup of the events leading to and following the online publication of TheAtlantic.com's CUNY story, published in its entirety over at Medium:
Both online and in print, The Atlantic has become known for running extremely strong education-focused features. One such example is Nikole Hannah-Jones’ look at school resegregation, which is a 2015 ASME finalist.
That’s why it was so startling to watch last week as the reporters and editors who had produced a long piece on the City University of New York (CUNY) made not one but two rounds of major corrections to the story published at TheAtlantic.com.
How did it happen? It’s not entirely clear yet.
But the events raise familiar concerns about the adequacy of fact-checking procedures, best practices for indicating changes and corrections to readers, and the perception of influence of outside funders in today’s media environment.
It’s also just the latest in a worrisome series of errors, omissions, and other kinds of flubs for education-related news stories in the past year or so.
As you'll see, The Atlantic, CUNY, and The Nation's Investigative Fund all talked to me about what did -- and didn't -- happen. The reporters and editors -- LynNell Hancock, Meredith Kolodor, and Jennie Rothenberg Gritz -- have thus far declined. I can't get a response from the main character, Kenneth Rosario, to ask him about his side of things, though by now I hope he knows I'd love to talk.
Why aren’t schools, districts and states rushing to set up these measures? Maybe because the programs have no natural constituency. They are not labor- or capital-intensive, so they don’t create lots of jobs or lucrative contracts. They don’t create a big, expensive initiative that a politician can point to in a stump speech. They just do their job, effectively and cheaply. - UMichigan economist Susan Dynarski, in the NYT (The Power of a Simple Nudge)
Following up on something that I recall was done last year, the folks at NPR's education team are hosting a conference with lots of local public radio station folks.
Not invited? Me, neither, but you can follow along sort of via Twitter #npredsummit. Those in attendance include Anya Kamenetz (fresh off her Morning Edition appearance) @anya1anya. Mallory Falk @malloryfalk. Claudio Sanchez @CsanchezClaudio. Cory Turner @NPRCoryTurner. Also: WNYC's Patricia Willens @pwillens . APM's Emily Hanford @ehanford . Illustrator LA Johnson @theLAJohnson (love her stuff!).
The Edwin Gould Foundation has announced a new (to me) journalism prize to "the authors / producers / originators of works of journalism that help to further the national conversation about low-income college completion."
First prize: $10,000 and a bowler hat Two Honorable Mention Awards: $2,500 and a bowler hat.
Sounds pretty good to me, though I rarely write about what happens to kids after high school.
Read all about it here: The Eddie. Then send them your stuff and cross your fingers. Image used courtesy EGF.
While The Atlantic Education page editor Alia Wong was setting off a minor firestorm on the EWA listserv and elsewhere about whether education reporting is boring (due to overuse of jargon, mainly), Atlantic editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz was correcting and defending the magazine's feature story about NYC's community colleges' use of test scores to determine student admission. The Hechinger Report which also published the piece was figuring out how to react.
As you may already know, The Atlantic responded to concerns expressed by CUNY about the original story by rewriting some of the piece and posting a note at the bottom of the page explaining the changes it had made. Rothenberg Gritz explained the changes at length in the comments section, as noted by Capital New York. (The lengthy response from Rothenberg Gritz is posted below so you don't have to dig through 300-plus comments to find it.)
Meanwhile, the Hechinger Report says via Twitter that its version of the story was updated yesterday morning, and has now added a note at the bottom of the story ("This story has been updated from the original version.") without any explanation of the substance of the correction (or indication at the top that the story has been changed since its first publication).
CUNY isn't satisfied and wants the story corrected further or even retracted entirely. More changes may come -- I've emailed the reporters and editors involved and will share any responses. Meantime, I think it's laudable that both The Atlantic and Hechinger Report responded so quickly to substantive concerns about the piece. However, I do think that it's well worth noting corrections at the top of the story not just at the bottom, and perhaps making it easy for readers to see the original version, too?
Related posts: Corrected Atlantic Magazine Story Still Not Accurate, Says CUNY.
The more freaked out the “education-reform crowd” is about annual testing, and the more singularly they stay focused on “annual testing” to the exclusion of what are equally important issues, the easier it is for Kline and Alexander to take everything else off the table. - December blog post from DFER's Charles Barone (Annual Testing in ESEA Reauthorization: A Red Herring?)
But apparently not everything in the original story -- including the rejection of a student from his top-choice school -- was in fact as described.
First, CUNY issued a letter calling out several errors in the story. Then, The Atlantic rewrote the story and added the correction you see above.
However, the corrected story is apparently still error-filled, according to CUNY.
What happened in this case? I have no ideas, but will let you know what I can find out.
As you can see below, this is just the latest in a series of errors, omissions, and other kinds of flubs for education news stories in the past year or so.
Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student Scam; Massive NYT Math Score Correction; NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing Clarification; No, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School Shootings; CJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" Myth; Researcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask
Just a few weeks from now AEI is hosting an event looking at the ‘new’ education philanthropy that I think is going to be pretty interesting -- and not just because I'm going to be there talking about a series of interviews with program officers and academics.
AEI's Hess and Teachers College's Jeff Henig have rounded up 8 new studies and analyses from across the ideological spectrum.
Some of those who have written chapters and/or will be there at the event include Stacey Childress, NewSchools Venture Fund, Jay P. Greene, University of Arkansas, Sarah Reckhow, Michigan State University, and Jeffrey W. Snyder, Michigan State University. Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine, Larry Cuban, Stanford University, Howard Fuller, Marquette University, and Michael Q. McShane, AEI, will also be there. Wrapping things up will be a panel featuring me, Jim Blew, StudentsFirst, Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project, and Andrew P. Kelly, AEI.
The conference is part of AEI Education's revisiting of the decade-old volume looking at education grantmaking ("With The Best Of Intentions"). How much has education philanthropy changed, in terms of funded activities and/or effectiveness?
Related posts: Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban (Thompson); It Isn't Always The Best Nonprofits That Get The Big Money; Who Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn't; Have Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?; No More "Give Money To Someone Really Smart" For Foundations.
Over the weekend, newish StudentsFirst head Jim Blew sent out an email explaining the need for what he describes as "controversial, sometimes uncomfortable work" and outlining some of the his plans for the organization in 2015.
"At its core, StudentsFirst is a political and advocacy operation targeting a few states," writes Blew, who identifies himself and much of the senior staff as Democrats, with a common focus on performance systems and choice.
As has been reported previously, StudentsFirst is pulling back in some places and staying out of others and so won't be operating in big states like Texas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana.
At the national level, says Blew, "We will continue to speak the truth about our broken system and the need for policy changes, but we will also endeavor to do so with diplomacy and without malice." He says that teachers unions and their allies spent an estimated $500M over the last two years to block reform and push their own ideas.
Related posts: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure; Reviewing StudentsFirst's Union Positions; Rhee Takes On Testing Opt-Outers; Insult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform Critics; Too Much Focus On Testing, Agrees Rhee; New PBS Documentary Humanizes Rhee's Tenure; Rhee Cites DC Precedent On Collaboration. Image used with permission.