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TV: Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show

image from media.salon.comThe new David Simon show coming later this year will give us all a chance to think about residential segregation and the neighborhood school.

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 ChoiceWatch School Segregation Grow Over 20 YearsRethinking The Neighborhood School IdealDecline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta)The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools

Numbers: Missing Context From Reports On Free Lunch & Food Stamp Spikes

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThere are a lot of numbers out there, and some of them may not mean what you're being told they mean.

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.

Related posts: Teacher In Hot Water For "Food Stamp" CommentPoverty Rises Despite Stimulus Spending.

Journalism: Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage

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 CoreControversial Washington Post Blogger Tells AllFact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2).

Campaign 2015: LA School Board Candidate Won't Attend United Way Debates

Screenshot 2015-01-28 12.48.02
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." 

Related posts:  "Education Mayors" Headline West Coast SummitLetter Opposing Publication Of Value-Added ScoresSchool Board Candidates Debate DeasyLos Angeles School Board Candidate Forum

 

Think Tanks: UPenn Ranks Urban Institute, RAND, Brookings, Cato, NIEPR, CEPR*

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 1.46.43 PM
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!

Afternoon Video: PBS NewsHour Covers "The Test"

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.

Thompson: EdReform's White Collar Assault on Blue Collar Schools

The Center for Reinventing Education's Steven Hodas, in Clash of Cultures: Blue Collar, White Collar, and Reform, explains that we who oppose school reform are "correct to have sniffed a corporatist agenda ... but they [we] have fundamentally misconstrued the motive. It’s less about extracting profits than it is about advancing a cultural hegemony."
 
I agree, and I also agree that educators value "personal relationships gained through immersion and tenure in the workplace." We who oppose corporate reformers are acutely aware of chain of command and workplace rules, and we value "the knowing of the 'how', the 'who,' and the limits of getting things done." And, of course, we highly value the principle of "getting along."
 
Yes, we are rooted in blue collar cultures. That's one of the best things about a teaching profession which serves all types of people in our diverse democracy.
 
I won't speak for the NYCDOE where Hodas worked, but I agree with him that corporate reformers "saw themselves as missionary and insurgent," and they treated educators - who have the knowledge about the way that schools actually function - as "aboriginal cultures of practice" to be dismantled. Worse, they set out to salt the ground to prevent us from reestablishing ourselves.
 
Yes! Hodas is correct that the corporate reformers' "white-collar notions about work and value" are "expressed in endless wonky tweaking of measurements, incentives, and management structures that feel increasingly disconnected from the lived experience of students, parents, and teachers."

Continue reading "Thompson: EdReform's White Collar Assault on Blue Collar Schools" »

Visuals: Don't Miss Out On NPR's Ed-Related Illustrations

image from 41.media.tumblr.comWhatever 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. 

Journalism: How That Atlantic Magazine Story Went (So) Wrong

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.

Quotes: Why Schools Aren't Using Simple "Nudges" To Help Students Learn

Quotes2Why 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)

Events: All The Cool (NPR) Kids Are (Were) At #NPREdSummit

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!).

 

Morning Video: Everybody Hates Pearson - But It's Not Going Away Anytime Soon

 

Here's a three-minute video explainer to go along with the Fortune magazine story that came out yesterday. Video not loading properly (#thankstypepad)? Click here.

Journalism: Ten Large (& A Bowler Hat!) For High-Quality Reporting

image from www.edwingouldfoundation.org

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.

 

Journalism: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top -- Right?

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.

Continue reading "Journalism: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top -- Right?" »

Quotes: Reform Crowd Getting Played On "Annual Testing"

Quotes2The 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?)

Journalism: Corrected Atlantic Magazine Story Still Not Accurate, Says CUNY

image from ow.lyThe latest edition of The Atlantic includes a long story about how rising reliance on test scores is pushing low-income minority students out of top-tier CUNY schools.  

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 ScamMassive NYT Math Score CorrectionNYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationNo, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School ShootingsCJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" MythResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask

Upcoming: A 360-Degree Look At The "New" Education Philanthropy

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 MoneyWho Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn'tHave Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?No More "Give Money To Someone Really Smart" For Foundations

Update: A Kinder, Gentler StudentsFirst In 2015?

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 3.17.47 PMOver 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 FigureReviewing StudentsFirst's Union PositionsRhee Takes On Testing Opt-OutersInsult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform CriticsToo Much Focus On Testing, Agrees RheeNew PBS Documentary Humanizes Rhee's TenureRhee Cites DC Precedent On Collaboration. Image used with permission.

 

TV: Apparently Not Everyone's Cut Out To Be A Teaching Fellow


Let's close out the week with a recommendation to watch at least one segment from the Vimeo series "High Maintenance," which focuses on a character's ill-fated decision to join a Teaching Fellows-like program (and is adult fare probably not best suited to the workplace).

Called Ghengis, the episode features a character named Evan Waxman (pictured above, via Tumblr) who "tries to become a teacher in an attempt to be more fulfilled by his career." But it doesn't go well or easily for him, assigned to a burned-out summer school teacher with some rowdy (and hilarious) high school students. 

Pulling a pencil out of his nose is just the least of it. A moment of desperation leads him to do and say some very, very mistaken things.

It's a darkly comic version of the lighthearded peeks into modern school life we get from The New Girl or the seriousness of Parenthood.  And it's not particularly pro- or con-alternative certfication.  Evan just as easily have come through a traditional program. I feel like I've met lots of Evans from both routs.

People: Forbes' 30 Under 30 Education List Goes EdTech

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 07 13.36The 2015 version of Forbes' #30Under30 education list came out on Monday, featuring members of familiar organizations and companies including Kano, Chegg, Amplify, Aspire, TFA, College Board, & FFEPS. Folks like TFA and EdPioneers were understandably enthusiastic about the list, since it includes so many of their current and former folks. Others -- including at least one of the judges -- weren't so enthusiastic. Some reasons for concern or complaint included the lack of classroom teachers on the list, the focus on edtech, and the lack of diversity (racial and ideological, I suppose). 

Related posts: Meet Jeremiah Kittredge, Forbes' Under-30 Honoree (2012);  Who's *Not* On The Forbes 2011 Reformer List?;  Forbes Tackles School Solutions (2008).  Image used with permission of Forbes.

Thompson: Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban

Stanford Professor Emeritus Larry Cuban, in Another Educated Guess about Philanthropy and School Reform, looks back at “thirty years of market-driven and donor-supported school reform,” and speculates on the vestiges of reform that he guesses “will be quietly incorporated into public schooling.”

Cuban predicts that charter schools will survive, standardized testing will be scaled back, a downsized version of national curriculum standards will endure, as technology will be routinely used in classrooms. Accountability regulations and penalties will be reduced.

I can live with that. Cuban essentially predicts that we will scale standards-based, outcome-based reforms back to 1990s levels. Those policies could be annoying, but they did not cause the harm inflicted by NCLB and the even worse test, sort, and punish regimes of the Duncan era.

More importantly, he envisions the demise of “the idée fixe of schools concentrating on producing human capital first and civic engagement second or third will persist but lose its potency.” I hope this means that the approach that Cuban has long dismissed as “deputizing” teachers as the agents for countering poverty will be replaced by science-based policies such as early childhood education and full-service community schools.

Most importantly, Cuban predicts: "Other current reforms such as evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores, ending tenure and seniority, calling principals CEOs, and children learning to code will be like tissue-paper reforms of the past (e.g., zero-based budgeting, right- and left-brain teaching) that have been crumpled up and tossed away."

As with previous eras, “bits and pieces” of reforms will stick. But, Cuban guesses that “contemporary policymakers and philanthropists who have invested much time, energy, and monies into these market-driven reforms … will not break out the champagne for these remnants.”-JT (@drjohnthompson)

Morning Video: New GED Is Harder (& More Expensive)

The new test is harder, and more expensive -- but is that necessarily a bad thing? PBS NewsHour looks into the situation.  Transcript here.

Media: Why Did EWA Change Its 2015 Contest Categories?

I've gotten a handful of questions and seen a few tweets about EWA's decision not to award prizes to non-journalists as they have in the past, effectively cutting out teacher-writers like Chicago's Ray Salazar, NorCal's Anthony Cody, and the Fordham Institute.  The contest entry deadline is in a couple of weeks, and there's a FAQ page up that answers the question -- sort of:

1. Why did you remove categories for work of non-journalists?

There are many thoughtful writers in the teaching, think tank, and research communities who contribute much to education journalism by providing news tips, quotes, research and perspective. However, this contest honors the very best of independent education journalism. EWA is grateful to its community members for their continued support of expanding the breadth and depth of independent education journalism.
If I understand this correctly, EWA is defining "independent education journalism" as paid (full-time?) work of people who are primarily journalists and write for outlets that define themselves as newsrooms of some kind.  So-called "community" members -- who can be educators, advocates, and even communications professionals -- are welcome to attend EWA events and contribute to EWA training and panels but aren't eligible for the contest (and presumably aren't eligible for scholarships, either).
 
Other changes for this year's contest include ending the practice of separating general-interest and education-only outlets, so that they can compete against each other. 

EWA has evolved in several ways over the years, including dropping the annual membership fee (for journalists, at least), a major expansion in scholarships for journalists to travel to events, and relocating the annual conference from hotels to universities (ed schools, usually), and the sometimes-awkward mixing of advocates, educators, and journalists of various kinds at EWA events.

There have been some minor controversies along the way, too, including the 2007 creation of a "public editor" position (A New "Coach" For Education Reporters) and a 2011 prize to a Hechinger-funded LA Times report that published teachers' value-added ratings (Journalism Awards, Good And Bad).

All that being said -- turn in your award submissions ASAP!

Magazines: The Hype Cycle Created By Innovators & Journalists

image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker is no longer my go-to magazine or site for deep and smart writing, but one of the best magazine stories I've read recently was in a December edition of the magazine.

It wasn't focused on education but rather on graphene, a substance whose invention generated tremendous scientific, academic, and journalistic attention but whose widespread application has lagged and is only now on the horizon (The New Yorker). 

Of particular interest, the piece describes the Hype Cycle, which "begins with a Technology Trigger, climbs quickly to a Peak of Inflated Expectations, falls into the Trough of Disillusionment, and, as practical uses are found, gradually ascends to the Plateau of Productivity."

“Nobody stands to benefit from giving the bad news,” [Guha] told me. “The scientist wants to give the good news, the journalist wants to give the good news—there is no feedback control to the system.”

Tour concurs, and admits to some complicity. “People put unrealistic time lines on us,” he told me. “We scientists have a tendency to feed that—and I’m guilty of that. A few years ago, we were building molecular electronic devices. TheTimes called, and the reporter asked, ‘When could these be ready?’ I said, ‘Two years’—and it was nonsense. I just felt so excited about it.”

Much the same could be said for many education-related inventions, both technological and policy-related, right?

Related posts about hype can be found here. See also The Innovation/Disruption "Myth. Related posts about the New Yorker: New Yorker Slips Anti-Reform Straw Man Into Teacher Training Column;  12 New Yorker Education Stories Vox MissedNew Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School; ; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next. Image via New Yorker Magazine.

Journalism: Have You Seen Media Matters' New(ish) Education Page?

Maybe everyone else already knew this but image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI hadn't noticed until recently that for the last year or so the longstanding liberal watchdog Media Matters for America (MMFA) has had an education-focused page tracking cable news coverage of school-related issues, run by Hilary Tone.

Most of the posts are focused on conservative cable news shows, which Media Matters tracks closely and I don't usually pay much attention to. They also cover right-leaning online outlets like the Daily Caller and the Washington Beacon (a Petrilli favorite, if I remember correctly). 

Some recent posts: North Carolina Newspapers Mostly Silent As ALEC And Koch Brothers Rewrite HistorySchool Athletic Officials Debunk Horror Stories About Transgender Student AthletesHow Conservative Media's Attacks On Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Efforts May Lead To A Government ShutdownFox Takes Premature Victory Lap On AP History Controversy In Colorado.

If you think that the liberal-leaning media are doing a hatchet job on schools and school improvement efforts, you may have forgotten how the right-leaning outlets roll. 

But sometimes -- as with the recent piece on cable news' shows education guests -- they include mainstream and left-leaning outlets like CNN and MSNBC, which I noted recently (Too Few Educators On Cable News- And Too Few Education Segments, Too). The site also addressed on the TIME/Vergara cover, albeit focusing on coverage from the conservative and labor perspectives rather than the mainstream (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story). 

Anyway, now you know. RSS Feed is here. MMFA is on Twitter @MMFA. Tone can be found at @htonetastic.

Related posts: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, TooCritical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show. Image used with permission.

Campaign 2016: Bush Gets Demerits From PolitiFact For Dropout Claims

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

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

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

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

 

Charts: "Modernizing" Teaching Outpolls Poverty-Focused Agenda

image from s3.amazonaws.comAccording to last week's Third Way report (What Americans Want from Democrats on Education), modernizing the teaching profession outpolls a poverty-focused agenda not only among the general public but also among teachers, Democrats, and Millennials.  Liberals see the two options as roughly equal in importance. Image used with permission.

Morning Video: Complicated Politics Surrounding Renewed Push For Early Childhood Education

This NBC Nightly News segment describes how quality early childhood education can be enormously beneficial, childcare costs as much or more than private college in many places, and President Obama rolled out a pared-down early childhood education expansion last week. But National Journal notes that the politics of early education are not nearly as straightforward as they may seem. 

Quotes: It Isn't Always The Best Nonprofits That Get The Big Money

Quotes2For every organization like Teach for America that catches fire and goes national, there are myriad smaller initiatives that struggle in the trenches for years, never quite breaking into the big time—and maybe missing their moments to do so. - Inside Philanthropy (After Years in the Trenches, Is This Ed Group Going to Break Out?)

Maps: The More (Charter Authorizers) The Merrier?

image from www.qualitycharters.orgHere's a map from the new NACSA @qualitycharters report on state charter authorizers showing how many authorizers each state has.  The more the merrier, in general, though obviously that's not always the case since Ohio has lots and Arizona has few. Read the report here

Update: Cosby Allegations Raise Tough Education Issues

Last week, NPQ discussed the issue of Cosby's board memberships (Must Nonprofits Change Their Relationship with Bill Cosby?), and I'm told that StudentsFirst has now removed the entertainer from its board.

But there's another, deeper issue, which is the reminder of our persistent collective refusal to acknowledge hard truths (or at least widespread allegations) that are uncomfortable or require a reconsideration of past beliefs:

What of today's deeply held beliefs or school practices do we arlready know are wrong, but just can't bear to acknowledge or change? And who is speaking hard truths but is being ignored - for now? 

Media: Washington Post's Valerie Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves

It always makes me a little bit nervous when Valerie Strauss tries to go back to straight news reporting after all those weeks and months blogging and sharing material that's pretty uniformly critical of the current school reform movement. (New America's Kevin Carey once described Strauss's much-read blog as "The premiere Web destination for doctrinaire anti-reformist rhetoric and shoddy education research.") 
Then again she and others probably feel the same way about my work.

Earlier this year, the Post ran a front-page story by Strauss about allegations that Arne Duncan was trying to influence the choice of NYC chancellor under Mayor de Blasio.  I and others had some questions about the reporting, editing, and decision to assign the story to Strauss.

The latest example is a little story about changes within Team Duncan (Duncan’s communications chief leaving for Teach For America), which to my perhaps paranoid reading seems to be making a nefarious tragedy out of Massie Ritsch's departure for TFA.

Duncan is "losing" Ritsch after two years at the top communications spot within USDE. Duncan had the gall to praise TFA founder Wendy Kopp for highlighting the aspects of great teaching but ignored former NEA head Van Roekel. Duncan's first press secretary now works for Joel Klein at Amplify.

For some measure of balance, Strauss notes that Cunningham's accomplishments include getting Duncan on the Rolling Stone Agents of Change list. (She's wrong - getting Duncan on Colbert was Cunningham's biggest coup, or perhaps it was keeping Duncan away from the media after he jumped into the gay marriage debate ahead of the White House.) She also added Ritsch's "so, long" email after first publishing the post.

At TFA, Ritsch will be replacing Aimée Eubanks Davis as head of TFA’s Public Affairs and Engagement team. She's moving over to head Beyond Z, a new student leadership and 21st century skill building initiative she launched last year.

Related posts: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education)Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?About That Front-Page Washington Post StoryEducation's Huffington PostParent Trigger: An "Easy" Button For Parents & Kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slideshow: Who Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn't

Here's an interesting look at who funds edtech pointing out that traditional funders don't all approach the sector the same way -- and that there are some challenges as a result.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Events: Inside The Secret World Of The Spencer Journalism Fellowship

Spencers2014-2015
Saturday was the occasion of the annual Spencer Journalism Fellowship reunion, during which the new fellows (pictured) are officially introduced to the alumni and given their secret instructions.  This year's fellows (Linda, Mitra, and Joy) are focusing on poverty, resegregation of schools, and special education respectively.  Read below for some notes and tidbits from the event, as well as encouragement to apply for the fellowship this winter and make us all proud with the project you produce.

Continue reading "Events: Inside The Secret World Of The Spencer Journalism Fellowship" »

Journalism: Looking Back At The First Year Of The Seattle Times' EdLab

It's been a year now since the Seattle Times and the Solutions Journalism Network launched EdLab, a Gates-funded effort to focus less on conflict and failure and delve deeper into what's working in public schools.  

And according to this SJN blog post (Moving the needle) things seem to have been going pretty well. Quantity-wise, the Times has produced "more than a dozen major features, accompanied by video documentaries, guest opinion pieces, Q&As, and hundreds of shorter articles and blog posts – all informed by the solutions lens."

And, according to an online surveys of readers,"People have noticed. They do seem to care. For many, solutions coverage does seem to be changing the perceptions of problems in schools and how they might be addressed." Just as important, they seem to be able to tell the difference between a solutions story and normal newspaper coverage.

There's no mention in the post about the controversy -- real or ginned-up -- earlier this year about the Times accepting Gates funding (Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?), or the concern about student data sharing that came up between the EdLab and Seattle Public Radio last winter (8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd). Indeed, there are times when the Times is covering the Gates Foundation (Rush-hour protest by teachers to target the Gates Foundation).

What happens next? I have no idea.  But the LearningLab in MA has recently popped up on my radar screen, so maybe I'll write about them next. 

Morning Video: Before New Orleans (Or DC), There Was Chicago

Chicago Schools: Worst in the Nation? from Siskel/Jacobs Productions on Vimeo.

It was a cash-strapped city, a dysfunctional bureaucracy, and a national reputation for low-performing schools. But did Chicago deserve its reputation, and what's happened since to make things better?

Quotes: Blame Obama For Common Core Pushback, Says Jeb

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

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

Magazines: More Disclosure Problems For "The Nation"

image from www.wikicu.com

Remember up-and-coming young reporter George [@georgejoseph94] Joseph wrote that big piece in The Nation about TFA a week or so ago?Yeah, you remember.

We already know that he didn't bother reporting that the group behind the anti-TFA campus protests, ASUS, is union-funded.  And -- thanks to New America's Conor Williams -- we also know that his main concern that TFA was tipped off about a FOIA request turns out to be standard operating procedure for federal grantees.  

But now there's more -- not a lot more, but still. I'm procrastinating here and this is helping.  Joseph's bio blurb at The Nation says he's a Columbia undergrad and who he's written for.  All good there.  But his bio at In These Times is a little different, noting that he organizes with a student activist group called Student Worker Solidarity (that's their logo - nice!).

Why wasn't that disclosed in his TFA story, and why is The Nation taking stories from people with what seems like obvious conflicts of interest. Identifying as a member of a student activist group is something that I, at least, want to know when I'm reading a story about student activism -- and something that the editors at The Nation should have considered before taking or assigning the story and in its bio blurb of the writer. 

Video: While Away The Afternoon WIth Khan, Hastings, & Williams, Vanity Fair-Style

Here's a half-hour talk with Sal Khan, Reed Hastings, and Jane Williams - plus a link to the Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair portrait of Khan and a profile by EdSec Arne Duncan.

Research: New Orleans Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study

Here's something you don't see every day - in fact I can't think of it happening ever before (though surely it must have): The ED of the Cowen Institute at Tulane, John Ayers, has resigned after a report came out and had to be withdrawn, according to Higher Education via Politico  (Education Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study). The study came out and was withdrawn 9 days later, and now Ayers is gone at the end of this month.  It's not clear why the study was withdrawn, or whether there were issues with its review as well as its methodology, or whether Ayers left because of the report or because of its withdrawal. Know more about the report or the circumstances? Let us know in comments or ping me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ

Teacher Training Is A Ridiculously Easy Way To Ace College, Report Says Huffington Post: At 58 percent of 509 schools, "teacher preparation programs are much more likely to confer high grades than are other majors on the same campus," the report says. While an average of 30 percent of all students graduated "cum laude," 44 percent of teacher preparation students received the honor. The report calls the results "a wake-up call for higher education."

What Obama’s Inequity Nudge Means for San Diego Schools Voices of SD: The new union president, Lindsay Burningham, made clear when we talked with her in August that she didn’t see much need to change the evaluation process, putting any room for error on the administrator carrying out each review.

Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts WSJ: As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

Seeking Big K-12 Plans From Governors for 2015? Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Delivers State EdWatch: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has presented a wide-ranging package of education initiatives that include a focus on early education, reading, and English-language learners.

Portland Schools Urged To Scrap Transfers To Boost Racial Diversity Huffington Post: These allow students to switch to schools in different neighborhoods, but they must enter a lottery if spots are limited. There is also a separate lottery system for students hoping to transfer to selective "magnet" schools which offer advanced curriculums.

Goodbye, Snow Days: Students Study From Home ABC: Goodbye, snow days: Students across the nation increasingly hit the books from home.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ" »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Afternoon Video: How Moskowitz "Outmuscled" The Teachers Union

Here's a pro-charter segment on Success Academy via ReasonTV.  Can't bear the thought?  Watch the NEA president talk about the union's hopes for teachers and tireless commitment to kids following last week's drubbing of teachers unions Democrats. Play them backwards or mash them up into a single video if you dare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

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

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

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

Philanthropy: Have Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?

Flickr gates robreich https-::www.flickr.com:photos:gatesfoundation:6172147665:The Washington Post's latest big piece on the influence of philanthropic funding focuses on think tanks.  Titled Who funds the new Brookings?, the piece suggests that the new funding has likey had an impact on think tanks' research agendas if not their conclusions.

Corporate donations, more than large foundation grants, are newer and especially concerning. But foundations also have played a role:

"Foundations began to place more restrictions on their grants, part of a challenging new trend facing Brookings and other academic institutions in which donors increasingly specify their expectations as part of what they call 'impact philanthropy.'"

Among those funding Brookings are the Walton Family Foundation, who have given "millions of dollars to support Brookings’s education policy center — whose scholars regularly adopt market-oriented stances­ on key issues."

That being said, not everything that comes out of Brookings is pro-reform, notes the piece. Tom Loveless critiques the Common Core, which Gates and others support. But that doesn't satisfy folks like AFT president Randi Weingarten, who's quoted questioning the credibility of the institution and lamenting the dropoff in invitations to Brookings events.

The Post's previous effort on the philanthropy front was a look at the Gates Foundation's involvement behind the scenes on behalf of the Common Core that I found overheated (What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core) because I am of the view that funders can't really get the public or policymakers to do things that they don't already want to do (The Myth Of The All-Powerful Billionaires).

Not mentioned in this piece is the 2012 kerfluffle when Brookings and Diane Ravitch parted ways (she was a nonresident senior fellow), or a 2009-2010 attempt to determine the quality of education journalism that struck me as superficial and retro and a bit of of Brookings' areas of expertise.

Related posts: Brookings "Fires" Ravitch For Being "Inactive"Brookings Responds Re Ravitch, RomneyOlde Timey Panel, Olde Timey ReportSecond Brookings Education Report As Bad As First OneGoogle Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences.

 

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

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

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

See also Politico's Morning Edu.

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

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

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

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

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

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.