About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Media: Bullying, A Federal Civil Rights Complaint, & A Wealthy District's Response

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 17 23.08You might have missed this series of stories from Palo Alto Weekly about student bullying, a district's flawed response -- I certainly did -- but the Society of Professional Journalists gave the Northern California outlet one of its top awards for small media outlets.

Read more about the stories given the award here, or how the stories came about here. Interesting to note that the reporters unearthed a federal Office of Civil Rights case about halfway through the process, and in the end the complaint was made public (by the child's parents).

"The Weekly coverage included two cover story packages researched and written by Lobdell,"Out of the Shadows," (June 14, 2013) about bullying, and "Power to Hurt," (Aug. 16, 2013) on the use of social media by teens, and numerous news stories by Kenrick and Lobdell on the school district's handling of bullying complaints, federal investigations and the development of bullying policies."

The full list of SJP awardees is here -- I didn't see any other education-related stories but I might have missed some.

Media: "Marketplace" Adds Education Reporter

 Yau Hoong Tang FlickrNot to be outdone by NPR or anyone else, American Public Media's "Marketplace" show is also staffing up on education coverage, and has just announced that Adriene Hill (@adrienehill) will be its new education reporter along with editor Betsy Streisand and Amy Scott (@amyreports).

I first met Hill in Chicago, where she was one of the stars at WBEZ Chicago Public Radio who helped produce their morning newsmagazine show.  She's spent the last four years or so in LA at Marketplace, doing great work by all accounts, and it's exciting that she'll be adding to Marketplace's education coverage.

The position is funded in part by the Kresge Foundation.

Previous posts: Covering The Ed Beat For "Marketplace"; Where Does That Public Radio Coverage Come From, Anyway?NPR Expands Education Coverage (A Goodly Amount)*;  Local NPR Stations Beefing Up Education CoverageNPR Ed Team Adds Staff (Still Needs Spiffy Name)* Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: They've Re-Segregated In Tuscaloosa

"The district, once the model of racial integration, has moved back in time, such that "nearly one in three black students attend a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened." (Plus a long feature story in The Atlantic Magazine with ProPublica)

Media: NPR Ed Team Adds Staff (Still Needs Spiffy Name)*

Jobs-signAs you may already have heard via Twitter, the latest news on the NPR education team expansion front is that they've hired Anya Kamenetz to be one of two education bloggers for the new, expanded education page.  

Starting next month, the Brooklyn-based freelancer (Fast Company, Forbes, Hechinger, and many other outlets) will be joining on-air correspondents Eric Westervelt (in SF) and Claudio Sanchez (DC) plus editorial staffers Matt Thompson, Steve Drummond, and Cory Turner (in DC) for a team that will eventually number about 10 people in all (including production staff).  

No word yet on what they're going to name the new site (my bad idea is that they should call it "Planet Education") or who the other blogger is going to be, though rumors have it that the competition has been intense. (I put my name in for the job but they were too smart to fall for that.) 

So far, it seems like the new team is doing well. Contributor Paul Bruno and I had some issues with one of their SAT stories (Media Getting SAT Story Wrong (& Who Funded It, Anyway?). But they seemed to be first to have a reporter take a Common Core field test (sort of like the mom who did SAT prep in The Atlantic), and they've got a great model in Planet Money for smart, fun coverage of a complex topic.

Ironically, education hiring and coverage are expanding all over the place -- Marketplace, Vox, Politico, FiveThirtyEight, NPR, RealClear Education, etc. -- just as the education debate has stalemated/stalled out.  Hopefully, there will be enough real-world change going on for all these new and/or expanded outlets to tell interesting and useful stories. Hopefully there will be enough sharp reporters to give readers the real stories not just the ones handed to them.

Image via Flickr. Previous posts: NPR Expands Education CoverageLocal NPR Stations Beefing Up Education CoverageWhere Does That Public Radio Coverage Come From, Anyway?. And also:  Colbert Move Probably Bad News For EducationMarch Madness Pits 16 Sites Against Each Other.

*Correction:  Kamenetz says she's never written for Forbes.  My apologies.

Politics: Google Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 11.16.21 AMI know a lot of educators love to hate Microsoft and the Gates Foundation and love Apple and Google.  

However, there's a wild article in the Washington Post about how Google has gone "all in" with its lobbying efforts -- including funding think tanks and policy shops that cover education isssues.

So maybe there's room for a little more scrutiny and skepticism across the board?

Google's current lobbying and policy development effort "includes financing sympathetic research at universities and think tanks, investing in nonprofit advocacy groups across the political spectrum and funding pro-business coalitions cast as public-interest projects." There are fellows, 100 lobbyists, 140 funded nonprofits,  university-sponsored events, and $900K in campaign donations in 2012 alone (second only to Microsoft among edtech companies). 

As you can see from the chart at left (via WP), Google funded Brookings, Aspen, Heritage, New America, AEI, and PPI in 2010 (pictured) along with lots of other legal and edtech outfits The company added more funding for outside groups during the following four years such as the CAP Action Fund, People for the American Way, and ALEC.  

How much of Google's efforts are directly focused on education isn't immediately clear. But even if there aren't any direct edpolicy grants going out from Google there's enough overlap between tech and education these days to warrant some attention from folks interested in K12 education issues.

Previous posts: Jobs Vs. Gates - Who's Done More For Education?Google & Microsoft Duking It Out Over SchoolsGoogle Glass TeachingGoogle Launches Play For EducationThe Missing Steve Jobs / Apple Philanthropy.

Bruno: Actually, Statisticians Are Cautiously Optimistic About VAM

11442225495_9d9cc1cbc4_nIt's always nice when experts come together to help to articulate and clarify whatever scientific consensus exists around an issue, so I was glad to see the American Statistical Association put out a report last week on the promise and peril of value-added modeling of educational effectiveness.

Interestingly, however, if you were to hear about this report only from the staunchest, most ideological opponents of VAM, you would think it says something else entirely. Valerie Strauss, for instance, claims the report "slammed" the use of VAM to evaluate teachers and Diane Ravitch seems to think it is a "damning indictment" of such policies.

The report itself is not nearly so hyperbolic.

For a useful summary check out Stephen Sawchuk, but the report itself is a mere seven accessible pages so I encourage you read it yourself.

The bottom line for the ASA is that they are optimistic about the use of "statistical methodology" to improve and evaluate educational interventions, but current value-added models have many limitations that make them difficult to interpret and apply, especially when evaluating individual teachers.

Continue reading "Bruno: Actually, Statisticians Are Cautiously Optimistic About VAM" »

Morning Video: Oklahoma Backpedals On Common Core

 

Via the PBS NewsHour's Friday show: "Last month, Indiana became the first state to drop the Common Core standards it had already adopted... This month, Oklahoma became the latest state to take a big step toward repealing the Common Core education standards."

Books: The Deseg Case That Wasn't Brown [It Was Yellow]

image from www.journalism.columbia.eduBrown v. Board of Education wasn't the first school desegregation case, and the case didn't involve African-American children, according to a book being written by a Adrienne Berard (pictured).  

Titled "When Yellow Was Brown," the book "chronicles an important and undeservedly obscure school desegregation case that preceded Brown v. Board of Education -- and that involved several Chinese immigrant children as its plaintiffs," according to a note from Sam Freedman at Columbia about news that the author has won a Lukas award for a book-in-progress.  

"Berard tells the story “in a deeply affecting narrative that is both epic and intimate, through meticulous, original research and truthful real life portraits. She sheds new light on issues that continue to torment and resonate in our public and private lives,” according to the press release announcing the award. 

See full press release below.

Continue reading "Books: The Deseg Case That Wasn't Brown [It Was Yellow]" »

Afternoon Video: Return to Montefiore Alternative School

Last week's premier episode of the VICE-produced documentary series "Last Chance High" was so rough it was hard to watch -- so be warned.  Here's this week's show.

Update: Spencer Fellowships Go To Lutton, Resmovits, & Kalita (Who?)

Christian gozales flickrAfter a bit of a delay to determine whether any of the awardees wanted to pursue alternative options, the newest Spencer Education Journalism Fellowships have been awarded to two familiar names -- Chicago Public Radio's Linda Lutton and HuffPost's Joy Resmovits -- and one unfamiliar one - S. Mitra Kalita (of Quartz & the WSJ).

What are they going to write about?  "Lutton plans to use her Spencer year creating a one-hour radio documentary examining the intersection of poverty and education through the lens of a high-poverty Chicago elementary school...Kalita will spend her Spencer Fellowship year reporting a book on school choice through the lens of one New York City neighborhood....  [Resmovits] will use the Spencer Fellowship to assess the state of education for American students with disabilities."

Read the full press announcement below. Image via Flickr.

Continue reading "Update: Spencer Fellowships Go To Lutton, Resmovits, & Kalita (Who?)" »

Morning Video: First Lady's Alma Mater Featured In New Documentary

 

This trailer describes both the history of the school itself and the stunning inadequacy of supply of seats given the talent and the demand.  Via CPS Obsessed.

Evaluation: A Revolt Against The "Randomistas"?

Flickr Meghan Carnavalet In These TimesAre you an unapologetic "randomista" -- an advocate of randomized controlled trials as a way to mesure the impact of social interventions -- or do you dare to consider some of the drawbacks behind what's commonly called the "gold standard" for evaluations in edreform circles? This recent Slate article by Joshua Keating might help you decide: Randomized controlled trials: Do they work for economic development?.

RCTs are increasingly popular with the public and policymakers -- with TED Talks and New Yorker profiles -- but also expensive and difficult to implement, strip away key contextual information, and lack generalizability. They're also over-adored by politicians and journalists. "Media and policymakers tend to overstate the conclusions of randomized controlled trials," according to Keating.

The piece focuses on evaluation of international development but also contains an interesting story about randomized trials in education improvement efforts in education. Specifically, it tells the story of an attempt to figure out whether more textbooks or other interventions worked best in improving education outcomes. It turned out they didn't.  Better teaching strategies and health care did. Other examples cited in the piece include one that found school uniforms helped prevent teen pregnancy more than sex ed. Very Malcolm Gladwell.

I don't personally believe that research can prove things in social sciences, in part because of evaluation limitations (and time delays, etc.) but also because of the tendence of people to disbelieve research findings that don't comport with their beliefs.  If something's proven but the proof isn't accepted widely, then -- for a time at least -- the issue remains unsettled in the public debate.  That's why my research category on this site is titled (Who Cares What) Research says.  I feel a bit anti-intellectual in writing that, but I only mean to be pragmatic.

Image via Flickr.

 

Reform: Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?

In case you missed it, image from www.edexcellence.netFordham's Pamela Tatz published a BuzzFeed "Which Reformer Are You?" quiz the other day. The tagline:  "Saving the education system, one irrelevant question at a time."

These quizzes are wildly popular on Facebook, etc. -- and self-effacing humor (something reformers don't always convey) goes a long way.  Figures that Fordham would get in on it -- they're smart (and love attention).

If you haven't taken it already you should give it a try. (Doesn't really mean you're a reformer if you do.) Nearly 700 folks have already done so and shared the results on Twitter or Facebook.  But be forewarned: you'll probably end up being Andy Smarick.  The other options were Rick Hess, Michelle Rhee, David Coleman, Arne Duncan, or Diane Ravitch (which took some unusual answering). "A lot of folks did seem to get Andy Smarick," said Tatz via email.

Here's the Fordham page about the quiz. And click below to see the snarky writeups for each of the profiles (Smarick, Hess, Rhee, Coleman, Duncan, and Ravitch), which sound like they were written by .... Petrilli.

Continue reading "Reform: Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?" »

EdTech: Startups On Track To Raise $2B Despite Challenges

HiresWhat's super-hard to pull off but really attractive to venture capitalists? Edtech, apparently. 

Creating and sustaining a successful startup is not nearly as easy as it may look, as described recently in EdWeek, focusing on Edthena & Autism Expressed. 

And yet, edtech startups raised over $500M in just the first quarter of 20014, according to TechCrunch, which mentions AltSchool, Schoology,as well as TeachersPayTeachers.

Image courtesy TechChrunch.

Events: Yale Education Summit Features Fuller & Duncan-Andrade

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 25 16.50Another week, another conference. Next up for me is the Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference held in New Haven today and tomorrow.

Notable panelists include Matt Candler, Founder and CEO, 4.0 Schools, Jim Balfanz, President, City Year, Jonathan Gyurko, Co-Founder, Leeds Global Partners, Dave Low, Vice President - High Schools & School Reform, New Haven Federation of Teachers, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President & CEO, Community Coalition (LA), Ken Wong, Professor of Education, Brown University, Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent, Burlington Public Schools (MA). Keynote speakers at the 8th version of this event are Dr. Howard Fuller and Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade.

There will also be an edtech lab (3D printers for everyone!?) and a bunch of event sponsors, and a lot of recruitment and hiring going on behind the scenes.  As always, feel free to come up and say hi if you see me there. Or follow along on Twitter (@YaleELC).

Previous posts: Live From The Yale SOM Education Conference (2009); Yale Conference Takeaways (2010); Notes From Yale SOM 2011;  Big Shift In Focus For Yale Education Event (2012), Tweets From Yale 2013How Organizers See The Parent Trigger.

 

Maps: Indiana Stands Alone (For Common Core Reversal)

Screen shot 2014-04-03 at 9.55.49 AMThe black-colored state is Indiana, which just formally withdrew from Common Core (though it's developing standards and assessments that will mirror them). Via EdWeek . Click below for the full version of the map and explanations.

Continue reading "Maps: Indiana Stands Alone (For Common Core Reversal)" »

Teachers: Hey, That Older Dude Doesn't *Look* Very TFA

Unnamed (6)Tucked in at the end of Motoko Rich's recent NYT story about career-switching teachers (Teaching as a Second Act, or Maybe Even a Third) was mention of military veteran Scott Graham, 49, who initially "laughed when his daughter, then a Teach for America corps member in San Antonio, suggested he try [TFA], too."

After he was done laughing, however, Graham applied, got in, and was sent to Houston for training just like everyone else.  Now he works in a San Antonio middle school and is training to become an administrator.

That's Graham with his daughter, pictured (courtesy TFA). You can read a blog post he wrote a couple of years ago, and another written by his daughter here

Media: Education Journalists In Fellowship Limbo Until May?

image from www.journalism.columbia.eduThe Spencer education journalism advisory board met on Monday to pick the next year's three fellows but the applicants --I know who got in but am holding off on saying for some reason-- are most of them still in the dark about whether they got the nod or not and the Columbia journalism school can't announce winners for another few weeks.  

Why the delay?  Two of the three top picks for the Spencer also applied for other prestigious journalism fellowships (Nieman, Knight, etc.), whose notification timelines could stretch as late as May. 

These fellowships -- as well as the New America program -- all serve slightly different purposes. I'm partial to the Spencer for many reasons, including that it is focused on education journalism in particular and also encourages the stream of long-form education writing that's come out in recent years.

If either of the two top picks gets into one of these other programs and decides to decline the Spencer, then one of the alternates would get a spot.  (That's what happened the first year, when I got a spot after Stephanie Banchero went off to Palo Alto for the year.  I think that it's happened at least a couple of times since then.)

A month of waiting seems wasteful and nerve-wracking.  Wouldn't it be nice if Michigan, Stanford, and Columbia could coordinate so that this doesn't happen?  I mean, if charter and district schools can coordinate application deadlines and forms in some places -- and colleges can agree on some sort of window for letting students know -- then so should a handful of journalism fellowship programs.

Meantime, congrats to the folks who got picked for next year, and no hard feelings if you decide to go to Ann Arbor or Palo Alto instead of Manhattan. Someone else will happily take your place. 

Previous posts: What's Next For The Spencer Fellowship?New Spencer Fellows, New Research TopicsSpencer Fellow Gets Big Book DealNew America Fellow Writing Book On "Future Of Testing".

People: Young Joins GreatSchools [Plus Unsolicited Advice]

image from m.c.lnkd.licdn.comMeet Caprice Young, though you probably knew her already. She's a former LAUSD school board member who helped right the ship at LA's troubled ICEF charter network then went to work for the Arnold Foundation. She also worked as a Deputy Mayor and for a distance learning company along the way, and was a Coro Fellow.

Young left the Arnold Foundation fulltime last year and did some consulting but then decided to join GreatSchools as a senior advisor because she things the site is fascinating and as yet under-used. You might not hear a lot about GreatSchools, but it's got impressive pageviews, according to Quantcast -- 5-6 million pageviews a month (much higher than Kahn Academy and other big-name sites, according to Young).

Now 15 years old, GreatSchools keeps adding features and collaborations like this week's Detroit rollout in partnership with Excellent Schools Detroit.  Not too long ago, the site began producing its own stories (Diversity: "When The Melting Pot Boils Over"). They've partnered with real estate site Zillow and are fending off competitors like Niche and Education.com that do similar things just not as well, says Young.  Next up after Detroit is an effort to deepen the school profiles using social media and qualitative data, and a spinoff dubbed GreatKids that is intended to help parents understand what it looks like when their children can do, say, 2nd grade math. 

What would be really cool -- in the category of unsolicited suggestions -- would be if GreatSchools partnered with big-city districts who are doing universal/streamlined application and admissions processes, so that parents could see ratings, user reviews, and apply all in one place. Yeah, sort of like HealthCare.gov, I guess.  Would make NSA spying on parents easier. Loaner tablets for parents who don't have computers? 

Previous posts: Was Bloomberg Article Fair To Bullis Charter?Is GreatSchools Helping, Or Hurting? A Yelp (Or Facebook) For Schools?New NYT-WNYC Site [SchoolBook] To Cover New York City

People: Big Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]

Flickr albastrica mititicaLongtime education guru Cynthia Brown -- I first met her when she was at the state chiefs (CCSSO) -- is now listed as a Senior Fellow at the Center on American Progress.  She's cutting back on her work time, she says via email.  Meantime, former Kennedy and Duncan staffer Carmel Martin is VP for policy, overseeing education and other policy areas. Which means that CAP needs a new Vice President, Education Policy. Could be an interesting gig, considering CAP's prominence and presumed role in supporting the Clinton Democratic campaign for President in 2016.  Or, alternately, could be a tough spot given Martin's connections on the Hill and in the White House.  Image via Flickr.

Media: Where Does That Public Radio Coverage Come From, Anyway?

Flckr-radio-020210The announcement that This American Life is changing distributors is a good opportunity to remind that the public radio education coverage that you and I listen to all the time comes from a bunch of different places even though most of us get it from just one location (a radio station or streaming online).  

Most of us don't really care about what goes on behind the scenes -- we just want good coverage -- but it's useful to know that what you're hearing on that clock radio by your bed or in the kitchen or in the car (or boombox!) comes from a variety of sources and is distributed by a variety of methods. Image via Flickr.

So, for example, Washington DC's WAMU radio is the delivery point for news stories that are produced by all sorts of folks including local stations like WAMU, national stations like NPR's flagship shows Morning Education and All Things Considered.

These are distributed to WAMU by a handful of organizations including American Public Media and PRI to stations who want them.  Some of these distributors also produce shows like Marketplace (APM), which is ramping up its education coverage, and American Radioworks, which already produces a bunch of education covarage.

To make matters slightly more complicated, some shows (like This American Life) share their "broadcast" show one way (through a distributor like PRI) and produce their online digital content (extras, podcasts, etc.) another way (independently).  And some newsteams divide their education teams so that one set of folks are mostly doing broadcast radio and another set of folks are doing online/digital. 

Movies: 'Ivory Tower' Documentary To Get June Release

Hollywood_1575288cA much-discussed documentary about higher education costs and quality is getting a full theatrical release this June, according to various Hollywood outlets ('Ivory Tower' Lands). Paramount and Samuel Goldywn are distributing theatrically and online, and Participant (TEACH, Waiting For Superman) is doing the social action campaign."Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), Ivory Tower questions the value of higher education among spiraling tuition fees and student debt."

Baltimore: A New School Where "The Wire" Was Filmed

20140313HENDERSON-slide-PLMW-superJumboThere's an amazing-looking new $43M school that's been built and opened in a blighted neighborhood in Baltimore, part of a massive urban renewal project funded in part by Johns Hopkins University and the Casey Foundation (and in partnership with Morgan State), according to the NYT (Reading, Writing and Renewal). It's a contract school, not a charter, but there's been displacement of previous residents in the area and controversy over the admissions lottery priority system. Image courtesy NYT. Other stories here, here, and here.

Maps: States' Progress Implementing Common Core In Class

image from educationnext.orgRed, lime green, and dark green are all states that are already implementing the new standards, according to Robert Rothamn in Education Next (The Common Core Takes Hold).

Quotes: Despite Victories, Reform Critics Still Lack Viable Agenda

Quotes2They haven’t yet made the case for a different view of the needed changes in American public education... They need a message that goes beyond critiquing reformers and defending the miserable status quo. - New America's Conor Williams in The Daily Beast (The Charter School Trap)

Quotes: The Key Is To Go On Strike For Kids, Not Teachers

Quotes2When you’re going on strike, and instead of not making widgets anymore you’re leaving kids without an education, the only way for that not to be seen as a public temper tantrum is to make those kinds of actions not just about yourself, but about the kids, about the broader community.   - Chicago author Micah Uetricht interviewed in The Awl (How Can Unions Win?)

Events: Watch Out New Jersey -- Here I Come!

FS.Writers

I'll be at the Teach For America-New Jersey 20th Anniversary Summit a week from Saturday, appearing on a panel with other folks including Camika Royal and moderated by Derrell Bradford. It's going to be a good one, but there are several others -- on entrepreneurship, organizing, minority educators -- that seem interesting.  Check it out.  Come up and say hi if you're going to be there. 

Morning Video: Have Charters Hurt Schools (Or Were They Hurting Already?)

 

Segment from Democracy Now! includes de Blasio railing against pro-charter ads and features guests Steve Barr (Future Is Now) and Brian Jones (former UFT social justice caucus) talking about whether charters are to blame for hurting public schools or whether there were profound problems before charters ever came along (and continue unaddressed to this day). Click here if embed doesn't work or to read transcript.

Books: Here Comes "Building A Better Teacher" [The Book Version]

1959701_10153910975890241_253366456_nYou probably still remember reading that great NYT Sunday Magazine article "Building A Better Teacher" way back in March 2010, which for many of us was an introduction to Doug Lemov and his "Teach Like A Champion" ideas.
 
Now, get ready for the book version of Elizabeth Green's article, which is scheduled to come out in August from Norton.
 
According to the publicity copy, Building a Better Teacher "introduces a new generation of educators who are revealing the hidden science behind their art... [and] provides a new way for parents to judge what their children need in the classroom—and considers how to make every teacher great."
 
It's got a blurb from Paul Tough, and reading copies are going around among those in the know.  

Maps: Nationial NEA Money Doled Out Across The Nation

Screen shot 2014-03-10 at 1.10.11 PMHere's another Center on Public Integrity map you might like, showing that top spending groups like the NEA dominate outside spending and plop their contributions all across the nation (in NEA's case, CA, AZ, NM, WI, MI, ME, etc.) This is not state and local money, but rather money doled out from Washington. Click the link to get the interactive version, which allows you to hover over a state and see more dteails (Puppet states: where the money went)

Media: RealClearEducation Disclosure/Conflict Of Interest Statement

image from www.realcleareducation.com

In case you were curious, here's the "transparency" page for RealClear Education, in which it is explained that the editorial decisions and content that are produced by editors Andy Rotherham and Emmeline Zhao will be independent from not only funders (including the Arnold Foundation, the Hume Foundation, and the New Venture Fund --a sort of clearinghouse / intermediary for foundations) and advertisers but also clients of Bellwether Education (a "growing community of performance-driven education reform leaders, entrepreneurs, organizations, foundations and public institutions").

 

Maps: NEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirst

Screen shot 2014-03-10 at 11.32.33 AM

"StudentsFirst is a rising power in state political spending, but it didn’t come close to matching the National Education Association’s influence in 2012," notes Center for Public Integrity.  "That year, the National Education Association and its local and state affiliates accounted for roughly $15.7 million in independent spending, nearly five times what relative newcomer StudentsFirst spent." (Where education titans spent)

Morning Video: Charter Advocates, Opponents Discuss NYC Conflict

MSNBC segment from over the weekend including New York University’s Pedro Noguera, parent Regina Dowdell, founder of Green Dot Schools Steve Barr, and Working Families Party’s Dan Cantor to "discuss the fight over three nixed charter schools and the public education debate in New York City."

Afternoon Video: First, Kill All The [Elected] School Boards, Says Netflix Founder

)

Here's Reed Hastings speaking to CCSA Charter Conference 2014 last week, via Politico, during which he rails against the the vagaries of local elected school boards and urges aggressive charter expansion. (He's not the first to make this argument.  Matt Miller's 2008 Atlantic piece, First, Kill All the School Boards, is another notable example.) Don't agree with Hastings? Show your commitment by canceling your Netflix subscription immediately, even if you have episodes of House of Cards still to watch. 

 

Quotes: Unions Have Lobbyists, Law Firms, & PACs Too

Quotes2The teachers union has its own squad of in-house lobbyists, along with an outside firm, Strook, Strook & Lavin... [and] its own political action committee, UFT Cope, which in the last two years spent $1,721,960. -- NY Daily News reporter Ben Chapman (Parents and children get caught between charter school feud) h/t EW

Morning Video: Mayor De Blasio On The HotSeat

 

Here's the MSNBC segment that everyone's talking about  (see links in morning roundup) in which we see a mayor caught between several competing players: charter supporters like Eva Moskowitz and Governor Cuomo, charter critics like the UFT, and elected officials even further to his left like Public Advocate Tish James (who's suing against some of the de Blasio-approved co-locations). I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the guy.

Bruno: Vergara Plaintiffs Shouldn't Put Individual Teachers On Trial

4322493690_e0bab53950_mThe plaintiffs in Vergara vs. California believe that the state's tenure and seniority protections for teachers are so detrimental to student well-being that they should be considered unconstitutional.

I'm skeptical the evidence on that count is sufficiently abundant and clear to justify judicial intervention, but one can at least imagine what a data-driven argument from the plaintiffs might look like. Rigorous statistical analyses of student outcomes would likely be appropriate, for example, and at times the plaintiffs have attempted to provide them.

What has been more puzzling and disheartening, however, is the apparent need for the plaintiffs to demonstrate that they were personally wronged by the laws in question by impugning the competence of protected teachers.

Last week - and for the second time so far during the trial - a teacher took the stand to defend herself against complaints made by a student plaintiff.

In other words, the Vergara trial entails teachers being forced to defend their competence and professionalism in court because a few students were unhappy with them.

What, precisely, is this sort of public humiliation supposed to accomplish?

Continue reading "Bruno: Vergara Plaintiffs Shouldn't Put Individual Teachers On Trial" »

Media: What WNYC's Charter School Advocacy Story Gets Wrong

image from c5.nrostatic.comThe news of the day is that the DOE has appreantly reversed itself on one of its much-discussed charter co-location decisions -- Success Academy's students aren't "on their own" after all, according to the NY Post (Flip-flop Farina now wants to help charter students).

If you want, read a little more about the shellacking that reformers have been giving this week over at NRO (School Reformers Fight Back against de Blasio). This kind of robust public response has been missing in the past from polite reformers who've seemed to be scared of their own shadows (or naive about how things get done in the real world).

Still, I still want to take a minute to address WNYC's piece earlier this week about the debate going on between charter advocates and critics, because, well, I like to complain about other peoples' work and this kind of thing keeps happening and really annoys and troubles me.

The WNYC story has several great elements, but misses badly when it comes to balance and context -- and misses out on at least one obvious connection between FFES and Eva Moscowitz's charter network.

Read below for the details.

Continue reading "Media: What WNYC's Charter School Advocacy Story Gets Wrong" »

Quotes: TFA Moves To Soften "Pervasive Sense" Of Reform Support

Quotes2There was a pervasive sense from the folks we spoke to that TFA has taken a side in education reform, taken the side of teacher evaluation and charters, and that their views were more complicated. We need to create a space that is much more welcoming of the diversity of opinions. -- TFA co-head Matt Kramer in EdWeek

Quotes: "It Would Look Like A National System"

Quotes2Rather than having 14,000 school boards across America, it would get governors involved, big city mayors involved, and it would have a longer school day and a longer school year... It would look like a national system. - Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad describing his ideal education infrastructure (Eli Broad appoints head of philanthropic education efforts SCPR)

Numbers: Unions Have Spent $1.7 Billion On State Politics

101103_PRESS_numbersQTNAccording to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, unions have spent a combined $1.7 billion on state politics since 2000. - David Sirota in PandoDaily.

Media: Update On LA School Report

image from laschoolreport.comNews got out this week that Hillel Aron was joining the LA Weekly as a full time staffer.  Though he stayed on for a time after my departure from the site at the end of last summer , the workhorse reporter (who did most of the daily writing for LA School Report during its first year of publication) had stopped writing for the education outlet earlier this winter.

So who's left? The masthead there currently includes Jamie Lynton (now listed as Executive Editor), Michael Janofsky (my replacement, as it turned out), and site manager Leigh Anne Abiouness. Vanessa Romo and Chase Neisner have appeared in recent weeks. Ellie Herman has been writing occasional commentaries.

There have been some notable improvements in the site.  Someone seems to have finally figured out how to livestream LAUSD board meetings. They've thankfully stopped capitalizing School Board (my fault, if I remember correctly). And they've added links to local news sites from around the sprawling district. 

And of course there's always lots of education news to cover in LA.  Current examples include the Vergara trial, the ever-contentious school board members, and the never-ending iPad debacle.

Chicago: The Story Behind The Rahm-Karen Lewis Food Fight

image from educationnext.org
As if the protesting teachers and parents and the new CNN documentary weren't enough, here comes my look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's tumultous first three years at the helm of the city and its beleagured schools system.  

The piece (which was originally titled "Reforming Rahm") makes note of just how incremental change had come during the Daley era -- especially the last few years during which a new contract was signed with the union and leadership turnover was the theme -- and what kind of a massive budget and pension deficit Emanuel inherited. 

But it also makes clear how Emanuel's rush to take action on things like a longer school day have often backfired, and how he inadvertently helped make a star out of rookie Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and alienated reform-inclined educators and parents like Seth Lavin as well as "enclave" parents and traditional educators.

Colorful personality conflicts aside, the piece notes that there are still several wortwhile things going on in Chicago, including a move to school-based budgeting, streamlining of testing requirements, a teacher evaluation system to replace the checklist of yore, and a difficult but long-necessary downsizing in response to demographic shifts.

Read the piece -- maybe also Neil Steinberg's recent Esquire profile, too -- and tell me what you think.

AM News: Teachers Anxious But Hopeful About Common Core

News2

What do teachers think about the Common Core standards? Hechinger Report: The findings—both reports are published by staunch supporters of the Common Core—were largely positive. But the feedback from teachers and districts also uncovers anxiety about how classrooms and students will be affected by the tougher standards. And training teachers to be able to handle the Common Core remains a major concern. 

Ed Dept To Schools: Protect Student Data Online AP: In guidance issued Tuesday, the Education Department encouraged districts to look closely at what online services are already in use within their schools. The guidelines suggest that districts develop procedures to evaluate and approve educational services and, when possible, use a written contract or legal agreement. They also spell out applicable federal laws.

GOP Seeks Answers on Arne Duncan's Teacher Equity Plans PK12: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the top Republican on the subcommittee overseeing K-12 education, sent a letter to Duncan Tuesday expressing concerns over the department's plan—floated in the story—to task the office for civil rights with ensuring that states ensure that kids in poverty have access to as many highly effective teachers as their more advantaged peers. 

Test protest: Chicago teachers say they’ll refuse to give ISAT WBEZ: A Seattle high school gained national attention last year when teachers there refused to give a standardized test. In late 2002, teachers at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago said they would refuse to give a district-mandated exam that was unpopular with teachers, the Chicago Academic Standards Exam. In a statement, CPS said "district employees that fail to execute their job responsibilities face appropriate disciplinary actions.”

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Anxious But Hopeful About Common Core" »

Quotes: "Enclave" Parents Vs. Other Parents

Spy-vs-Spy-without-bombs-775529[1]The most influential and well-educated people either have their kids in private schools, or they have their kids in an enclave inside the high school that are called honors courses... and so, if we go to a school and say, let’s change things here, they say, no way, you’re going to mess our little enclave up. - Bill Gates quote (from several years ago) about the challenges of changing schools (Education Week).

Thompson: Shouldn't We Have Choice in Testing?

SatPerhaps a new form of educational choice will drive the next era of school improvement. One would think that advocates for school choice would be consistent and support the rights of parents and students to choose whether to be subjected to standardized tests - or not. 

We should seriously contemplate William Hiss's Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions. Hiss studied 123,000 students at 33 institutions over eight years and he found there was virtually no difference in college grades and graduation rates between students who submitted SATs and ACTs or not.  He also explains, "Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it."

NPR's Eric Westervelt, in College Applicants Sweat the SATs: Perhaps They Shouldn't, reports that "Some are calling this study a potential game-changer that may prompt schools to evaluate whether there is value in requiring standardized tests." Of course, he is reporting on colleges, not the bubble-in tests that are used to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, and there is a difference between the two types of assessments. The difference is that the ACT and SAT tests are more reliable and defensible, and the younger the test taker, the greater the potential damage of the test.

So, if parents and students should be allowed to opt out of college admissions tests, shouldn't that choice be extended to all students? Of course, a study of college outcomes, alone, is not definitive proof that public school testing has failed. It just adds to the evidence that the data-driven reform movement was a historical dead end. Once we offer students headed to college the choice of whether they want to endure more of the testing rat race, the next logical step is to ask parents whether they want high-stakes testing dumped on their children. It leads to a common sense approach to school improvement; Let students and adults opt in or opt out of standardized testing.  And, if they give a test and nobody comes ..., reformers should honor that choice.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.    

Research: Media Getting SAT Story Wrong (& Who Funded It, Anyway?)

According to Paul Bruno, the NPR and PBS coverage of the Bates College SAT study has gotten it wrong:  

"You wouldn't know from reading this headline - or even from the story, really - that the study actually finds that SAT scores have predictive power (over and above high school GPA alone) when it comes to success in college. Even the study authors seem to be trying too hard to avoid this conclusion, but it's right there in their data tables."

I've asked Bill Hiss if this is accurate or not and will let you know his response.  

Meantime, as I noted yesterday, the study was peer reviewed, according to Hiss, but its funding source has not been revealed.  It's a private foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.  

Morning Video: Schools Conduct Newly-Required "Active Shooter" Drills

Watch the segment from a Missouri school's drill above, read the NBC.com article here, or watch MSNBC host Chris Hayes and reporter @Nona Willis Aronowitz discuss it here

Afternoon Video: Harvard Book Touts NYC, Boston, Chicago Success Stories

 

The University of Chicago's charter network is one of three programs touted in a new book about effective programs that could be replicated in other places. The others are Boston's pre-K program and NYC's small schools. Via Atlantic EDU.

Charts: Common Core Cocktail Party Cheat Sheet

image from www.greatschools.orgWhat's hot and what's not in the Common Core, via GreatSchools.

Advertisement

Advertisement

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.