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Media: 8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd (That Weren't About Early Ed)

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 12.57.06 PMThere was tons of great early ed discussion and sites visits via EWA's New Orleans #EWAearled seminar (Building a Child's Mind) earlier this week -- plus no shortage of shmoozing and good food shared among hard-working education journalists.

I especially enjoyed the mock battle between USDOE's Libby Daggett and Brookings' Russ Whitehurst, and a rogue visit to a charter school startup where they're doing balanced listeracy and a mini maker event about which I am still apologizing.

However, I probably learned as much about things going on in journalism as I did about Early Ed, and you probably care more about that stuff than the rest:

8- The LA Times has three fulltime K-12 education reporters (Blume, Caesar, and Watanabe) plus three more higher ed reporters (who don't count), which means that EdSource (with Fensterwald, Frey, Mongeau, and Baron plus an LA-based reporter TBD) is - holy cow! --the biggest education newsroom in California if not the universe. 

7-The Seattle Times' recently-announced Education Lab takes the "solutions" approach to journalism to a grand scale but has already run into some controversy thanks to an info-sharing deal revealed by KUOW radio that some say could endanger student privacy.

6-The new CNN/Robert Redford series, ChicagoLand, looks like it features LOTS of education-related footage (the teachers strike, etc.).

5-The New Haven Independent combines serious public affairs journalism with tabloid-style headlines like 2012's"Beyonce Scores A Faldita" -- thankfully minus the ALL CAPS.

Read below for the remaining items.

Continue reading "Media: 8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd (That Weren't About Early Ed)" »

Afternoon Video: Girl-Focused Toy Startup Won SuperBowl Ad Spot From Intuit


Read more about the contest and the possible implications from MSNBC here.

TV Shows: Thinking "West Wing" In A "House Of Cards" World

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 1.03.12 PMThere are lots of lessons reformers might glean from the NYT Sunday Magazine preview of season two of House of Cards -- greatest among them the dangers of imagining they're working in a "West Wing" world where good ideas, research results, and smarts prevail when the reality is much more "House Of Cards" (in which idealism and book smarts matter less than street savvy and knowing how to work the media).

Of particular note, the article focuses on the young(ish) show-runner, who worked on the Howard Dean campaign and watched as it responded to the press frenzy surrounding the "Dean Scream" by taking the higher ground rather than responding vigorously -- and in the end let Dean's opponents (and the media) define him and derail his campaign.

Sound familiar? 

To be sure, both shows are exaggerated, fictionalized versions of reality.  But there are real-world historical lessons to be gleaned from the show and article.  

For reform opponents, the dangers illustrated by the show are the ever-present possibility of public revulsion and political excommunication that would likely follow revelation of cut-throat tactics no matter how worthwhile or well-intended the aims.   

 Previous posts:  House Of Cards Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization EdWeek's Take On "House Of Cards"

Quotes: How To Pull The Levers Of Power

Quotes2Organizing is about more than having a good idea. It's about knowing how to pull the levers of power: by having strength in numbers at a board meeting, by having a clear, consistent "ask," and by being prepared to respond to any and all objections. – Paraphrase of LEE's Joy Silvern in EdWeek (Teach For America Spinoff Helps Alumni Gain Influence)

People: ProPublica's Education Reporter

image from www.propublica.orgMeet Marian Wang (@mariancw), ProPublica's education reporter.  I don't know how I missed her arrival, but better late than never.

As you can see from her story list, Wang has focused mostly on college debt, student loans, etc. (How College Pricing Is Like Holiday Retail Sales). But there's always hope she'll start shedding light on K-12 accountability issues.

You may recall that she included some K-12 stories in her excellent roundup (This Year’s Best Reporting on Education).

What would you want a ProPublica education reporter to focus on, knowing that they tend towards waste and accountability stories? Come up with something interesting and maybe it'll happen. 

Thompson: Henry Ford's School Reform Lesson [Stability]

FordNPR’s Sarah Cwiek, in The Middle Class Took Off 100 Years Ago ... Thanks to Henry Ford?, noted the centennial of Henry Ford’s policy of paying his workers $5 a day.

The policy of paying a living wage sparked a positive feedback loop which helped create middle class prosperity. Ford was not being charitable. He wanted a stable workforce. 

Education research confirms the value of stable teaching forces. This is especially true of high-poverty schools where students face extreme instability in their neighborhoods. 

Even so, some school reformers claim to believe that “churn” or high levels of turnover is a virtue. 

Two recent studies have added to the evidence that high-dollar efforts to turnaround challenging schools have disappointed because they do not recognize the value of stability.

And a recent post from Andy Rotherham notes that class issues play a role in how reformers view stability differently than others.

Continue reading "Thompson: Henry Ford's School Reform Lesson [Stability]" »

Update: It All Began Ten Years Ago

Jacob riss dana goldstein Hard to believe that I started the weekly email roundup that became "This Week In Education" in November '03, starting with AOL, then moving to GMail (remember when it was so), then Blogger/Blogspot (your eyes still hurt).  

What I'd forgotten along the way is the blog moved over to EdWeek in January '07 -- about six months after I moved to New York City and much later than I had remembered.   The Chicago blog moved over to Catalyst and ChicagoNow a little earlier. 

Way back then, blogs were still strange and new -- now they're strange and old.  Being able to comment immediately rather than write a letter to the editor was new -- now most folks simple Tweet or Facebook what they've got to say.

There was no Politics K-12 or Teacher Beat, no Huffington Post, no Answer Sheet, no GothamSchools/Chalkbeat. Rotherham didn't allow comments. Hess didn't even know what a blog was, much less have his own.

One thing hasn't changed, which is the basic aim of what I'm doing, which I summarized in the 2007 welcome message at EdWeek: "Too often, educators don't understand politics, politicians don't understand education, and education journalists don't understand -- or find ways to capture -- the interactions of these two different worlds. Everyone suffers as a result."

Jacob Riis image via Dana Goldstein's blog.

Afternoon Video: Decline In Extreme Poverty Shows Things Can Change


Bill Nye explains changes in extreme poverty, and makes the case that "intractable" social problems can be ameliorated. Crossed fingers. Via @knowmore. Or catch Eyes On The Prize on YouTube.

EdTech: Tablets, MOOCs -- Now Rocketship

Flickr hey rocker angry starWhat's going on in edtech and innovation these days?  Growing pains?  Overly ambitious timelines?  Credulous media suddenly turned skeptical?  Or are there lots of people who've simply taken the wrong path?  

A few weeks ago MOOC enthusiast Sebastiaun Thrun admitted that the model wasn't working (largely due to high attrition rates).  A handful of iPad deployments have blown up or seem unlikely to result in student learning increases.

Now, Rocketship -- the highly blended charter school model -- is having to revamp its programs for a second time (see Edweek here) and apparently rolled back its expansion plans, too (via Caroline Grannan). Image via Flickr.

Media: EdSource Today's California-Sized Growth Spurt

image from edsource.orgWhile you might have been looking the other way, distracted by East Coast media outlets and the like. EdSource Today has quietly been emerging as one of the biggest nonprofit edmedia outlets out there.  

They describe themselves as "the leader in California education journalism." They're partnering with other nonprofit outlets like KQED and Hechinger.

Over the past year or two they've staffed up in Northern California (Fensterwald, Baron, Mongeau are the bylines you've been seeing most frequently.)  See the staf list here.

Now they're looking to expand in SoCal as well. 

Of course, there are other nonprofit education outlets covering California, like the KPCC education shop I've written about before. And a handful of commercial outlets like SI&A Cabinet Report and the LA Times that are still out there.  LA School Report has been plugging away, though seems like Hillel Aron isn't writing for them any longer.  

Click below for the job announcement. Here's their look ahead at 2014 (Top 12 education issues in the new year).


Continue reading "Media: EdSource Today's California-Sized Growth Spurt" »

Afternoon Video: "Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less"


“Taking a test on material can have a greater positive effect on future retention of that material than spending an equivalent amount of time restudying the material.” Remarkably, this remains true “even when performance on the test is far from perfect and no feedback is given on missed information.” (Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less The Atlantic)

Weekend Reading: Best Education Articles You Probably Missed

Some fascinating reads from over the long MLK weekend, including a bunch of stuff about politics, advocacy, and over-reaching, a smattering of pieces about parenting and teaching, and the usual edtech trends and troubles:

Flickr albastrica mititicaHow Organized Minorities Defeat Disorganized Majorities - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society http://ht.ly/sLTTt 

Extreme voices: Interest groups and the misrepresentation of issue publics - Harvard Shorenstein Center http://ht.ly/sKTyF 

Manufacturing Dissent: What happens when “community activists” falsely claim they have community support http://ht.ly/sMqr0  @petercook

Teachers Unions and Democracy | Jacobin http://ht.ly/sKNMt  Lois Weiner on internal pressures @rweingarten faces leading @AFTunion

What If These TED Talks Were Horribly, Unspeakably Wrong? The Awl http://ht.ly/sIq3h  [incl Gladwell, Mitra]

Why Adolescence Is More Brutal for Parents Than Teenagers -- New York Magazine http://ht.ly/sIpm0 

More items below and via @alexanderrusso

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Best Education Articles You Probably Missed" »

Media: Foundation-Funded Journalism Vs. "Advocacy" Journalism

Test boxes cc flickr DaveBleasdaleAs more and more education journalism is being funded by nonprofit philanthropies (rather than subscribers or advertisers), more and more people seem to be thinking and writing about the possible implications.

The obvious upside is that there's more coverage, much of it quite good.  EdSource Today, Chalkbeat, Hechinger, and the expanded Southern California Public Radio education team come to mind. Foundations that fund education coverage of various kinds include Gates, Kresge, Wallace, Ford, and Walton.

The challenge -- a new version of a challenge that's long existed in journalism -- is to make sure that funding sources don't determine coverage choices.

What to do about "advocacy journalism" is a somewhat newer, tougher issue. 

Continue reading "Media: Foundation-Funded Journalism Vs. "Advocacy" Journalism" »

AM News: High-Scoring Success For All Not Cool Enough For USDE

News2Success for All Again Scores Big, And Loses, in i3 Contest Politics K12: For two years in a row, Baltimore-based school turnaround organization Success for All has earned the top score in the scale-up category of the federal Investing in Innovation contest, only to be passed over, U.S. Department of Education records confirm.

New York Wants To Give Special Education Kids Easier Tests Like 'The Old South,' Advocate Says Huffington Post: Should students with disabilities be held to the same academic standards and tests as other kids their age? That decades-old question is being revived by a debate in New York. Some advocates charge that a proposed tweak to the state's No Child Left Behind update may shortchange vulnerable students -- and, if approved, could spread to other states. 

De Blasio, a Critic of Charter Schools, May Need Them for His Pre-K Agenda NYT: Mayor de Blasio is looking for classroom space and qualified teachers to accommodate 50,000 prekindergartners. Charter schools are willing, but not allowed to provide prekindergarten.

Arizona Hopes New Charter Schools Can Lift Poor Phoenix Area NYT: A movement in Phoenix to open 25 high-performing schools in the next five years is focused on test scores in the growing Latino population

Most D.C. residents give public schools low ratings in poll Washington Post: The share of District residents who think that the city’s public schools are performing well has more than doubled since the mid-1990s, but most continue to give low ratings to the schools.

Teachers union set to demand salary hike of 17.6 percent LA School Report: The UTLA House of Representatives last night voted to demand a significant salary hike for teachers — an increase of nearly 20 percent.

In Age of School Shootings, Lockdown Drills Are the New Duck-and-Cover NYT: At the whiff of a threat, a generation growing up in the shadow of Columbine and Sandy Hook is trained to snap off the lights, lock the doors and take refuge in corners and closets.

More news below and from overnight on Twitter (@alexanderrusso)

Continue reading "AM News: High-Scoring Success For All Not Cool Enough For USDE" »

Charts: How People Respond To School Performance Information

image from educationnext.org"When respondents learn how their local schools rank in comparison to the performance of schools elsewhere in the state or in the nation as a whole, they become more supportive of school choice proposals, such as making school vouchers available to all families, expanding charter schools, and giving parents the power to trigger changes in their local school." (from Education Next:  Information Fuels Support for School Reform)

Media: The Rise Of [Straight-Arrow] Education News Sites

Media bias bias colin dunn flickrElizabeth Green's contribution to a recent Nieman Lab roundup of journalism trends focused on the rise of single-subject sites and -- no surprise -- focused on the ongoing story of what's now called Chalkbeat USA (not really, but that's what I like to call it).

In the piece, Green predicts that more nonprofit journalists will focus on narrow ("nerdy") issues in the future -- and that the the focus will be on subject matter expertise rather than "personality, point of view, or even a particularly distinctive voice." 

Ouch! I'm not sure I agree entirely about thatlast part. Media outlets need to write stories that people want to read, and there's a reason that newspapers have included opinion and analysis as well as news coverage and features. (Many have editorial pages, too, which as I've written in the past can be invaluable in helping readers understand complex or controversial issues.)

In an ideal world, according to me, excellent news coverage and thought-provoking commentary would be combined in one place.  Reader comments and predictably self-interested opinion pieces don't count, IMHO, though others would argue that point.)

In any case, it sounds like Green et al are doing *realy* well -- congrats to them -- and their expansion/network (which now includes Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana) is exciting and impressive. 

Image via Flickr.

Media: HuffPost Editor Joins New (Right-Leaning?) Education Site

image from www.realclearpolitics.comEdWeek's Mark Walsh reports that former HuffPostEDU editor Emmeline Zhao is going to help run the RealClear Education site that's launching sometime soon (Editor Picked for Real Clear Education) in a partnership with Bellwether Education Partners.

Bellwether honcho Andy Rotherham has written Eduwonk for nearly a decade now, and also for TIME.com (though I'm not sure if that arrangement remains in effect).

Walsh notes that"In an era of blurring lines between traditional news organizations and other content providers, having a firm such as Bellwether be a key partner in an education news site doesn't seem unusual, though one could imagine pitfalls."

Forbes bought a controlling share of RealClear Politics a few years ago.  The site has been described as right-leaning ideologically. Here's what's tagged under education on the site right now.

Afternoon Video: Teachers Try To "Reinvent Shop Class" In Rural School

The documentary feature film IF YOU BUILD IT opened in NYC on Friday. Made with Kickstarter funding behind the folks who created Wordplay and IOUSA, it depicts the efforts of two teachers to reinvigorate a rural school in North Carolina -- and themselves. Read more here: Public Interest Design. via David Wald.

Update: Controversial New Advocacy Group Launching Tomorrow

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comJust a reminder that Integrity In Education, the new group that's to be headed by former AFT staffer Sabrina Stevens (pictured), is finally launching tomorrow after some delays and minor controversy last month.

As you may recall, Stevens appeared on MSNBC as a generic "education advocate" in early December, which prompted me and others to be curious about who she was and neither she nor the show had identified her with more specificity.

The AFT said it had no idea how Stevens got onto the show, and that Stevens no longer worked there.  MSNBC never got back to me about how she was booked but not properly identified. Stevens and her allies went to Twitter but never answered the basic questions (who's funding the new organization, etc.).  

For some of the fun back-and-forth, see #SabisSecretJob. For Politico's story, which pretends not to have been prompted by my writing, go... I'm not sure where.  (That was so lame.)

None of this may matter.  What might seem ill-prepared or unprofessional to outsiders might be just what reform critics are looking for right now. Stevens is African-American, younger than many other reform critics, and obviously willing to mix it up.  This new organization and the Stevens hire shows that reform critics and their allies seem like they're more willing to go for it than reformers.

Previous posts: Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"Group Launches AFT / Randi Weingarten Watchdog Effort

See the conference call announcement below.  I'll let you know what takes place on the call (unless they lock me out).

Continue reading "Update: Controversial New Advocacy Group Launching Tomorrow" »

Media: Blogs Are Dead (Long Live Blogging!)

BloggingBlogger extraordinaire Jason Kottke penned this post for the Nieman Journalism Lab (R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013) recently, echoing what I've been telling you guys for years now: The blog is dead, long live the blog.  

Kottke predicts that the blog has been dead for a while now, and that more folks will notice this in 2014 than in the past. It's true -- the blog format with its comments and such is old and creaky.  No argument there.  

But blogging -- the broader activity of sharing useful information and opinions with the world -- is if anything on the rise.  With Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr, everyone's blogging now.  It's just not called that.  

What to call it?  I have no idea.  Meantime, you can find me on Twitter (@alexanderrusso), Facebook (personal profile or official page), and Tumblr (HotForEd).  And I'll continue and try to bring social media onto this site for all of you who are still not into it.

Bruno: Reformers Think (Wrongly) That They Are Engaged On Inequality

2943004410_e274474576_nI'd like to very briefly second Alexander's recommendation to reformers that "obviously education can't be the only method of addressing income inequality" and that they should "reconnect" to the issue.

My sense, however, is that education reformers have if anything moved in the opposite direction as of late.

Perhaps sensitive to charges that they were ignoring issues like inequality, reformers seem to be increasingly taking the position that education really is the best (or only) way to address inequality.

Consider this recent piece by Josh Kraushaar in The Atlantic arguing that various reformy education policies have "proven to be a time-tested path to economic mobility". Despite the fact that it confusingly conflates inequality with economic mobility and doesn't actually provide any evidence that the reforms are "proven" to address either, the article got approving links on Twitter from StudentsFirst, among others.

It's easy to see why this is an attractive shift for reformers, since it simultaneously increases the importance of the education reforms they were already pushing and undermines the argument that they're too indifferent to inequality.

Maybe this is just something I've started noticing recently and doesn't represent a real shift. But I do feel as if reformers have been increasingly willing to tell me that education reform is the best - or only meaningful - way to address a host of problems from inequality to economic mobility to poverty.

Either way, I'm not politically savvy enough to know whether that rhetorical position will let reformers have it both ways: retaining a laser-like focus on education while also attending "the inequality party of 2014", as Alexander puts it.

But it does seem to be the strategy that reformers are most inclined to adopt. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Morning Video: Awesome Student Introduction Of President Obama

Harlem Children's Zone student introduced President Obama at last week's Promise Zone announcement:

Remember, Promise Zones and Promise Neighborhoods are different things and that claims surrounding the original Harlem Children's Zone have been challenged and attempts to replicate it have been difficult. New York Daily News Via HuffPost and ChalkbeatNY


Ideas: [When] Will Reformers Join The Inequality Party?

Kenfagerdotcom-flickrThe Washington Post's Ezra Klein & Co. recently gave out their Third annual Wonky awards, including think tank of the year (Kaiser), pundi (Bob Laszewski), graph of the year (the deficit shrinking), FAIL of the year, regulation of the year, etc.

There wasn't anything education-related that I saw, but the academics of the year (Saez and Piketty) have brought lots of attention to an education-related issue that reform critics especially like to bring up all the time these days: income inequality.

Last year made inequality big:

"Obama devoted a whole speech to the topic. Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York on a promise to fight it. The think tank closest to the administration launched a whole spin-off dedicated to studying it."

What if anything will reformers figure out to say in the face of all this newfound attention to inquality (and poverty and income mobility)?  

They traditionally shy away from these issues, though many of them got into education because they thought that education could help address them -- was indeed the best method of doing so.  But obviously education can't be the only method of addressing income inequality, and especially so during and after a massive recession.

Reformers may have to reconnect with why they got into education in the first place -- and even support some non-education measures like minimum wage and immigration reform -- if they don't want to be left out of the inequality party of 2014.

Flickr via KenFager

Quotes: "The Facts Need a Champion"

Quotes2Those engaged in reform don’t see countering misinformation as a core part of their mission. Reformers have been under the mistaken impression that the facts—both about the need for and the direction of change—will, by themselves, carry the day. They won’t. -- TNTP's Dan Weisberg (The Facts Need a Champion)

Morning Video: "If Another Country Was Doing This To Our Kids, We’d Be At War."

"This clip [about child hunger and health] is the trailer for the movie "A Place at the Table." You can stream it on Amazon Instant Video and Netflix or order it online on DVD or Blu-ray. And yes, that is Jeff Bridges." via Upworthy

Media: Education Writers To Consolidate Online Offerings

Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 2.33.27 PMThere have been lots of good things that have happened at EWA in the last couple of years, and I appreciate the efforts the nonprofit education writers association has made to make itself successful (and its patience with my never-ending suggestions and requests).

But its ill-fated attempt to create a standalone site called Education Media Commons wasn't ever going to succeed.  As I whined about repeatedly at the time -- mostly in private -- nobody needed yet another site to track, yet another online profile, etc. Things were already getting hectic with social media and the new content coming out of EWA.  

So congrats to EWA for moving on from the effort and focusing attention on the main site, EWA.org.  (Read the email below.) They're updating the site, consolidating other standalone efforts, and it could all work out in the end, which is all that counts. And let the EMC experience be a lesson to everyone out there that sometimes more is not better, and that simplicity and old-school list-servs still have their place.

Previous posts about EWA here.  

Continue reading "Media: Education Writers To Consolidate Online Offerings" »

Media: NPR Expands Education Coverage (A Little Goodly Amount)*

Cardboard-RadioThe latest media outlet to join the small but notable surge in education coverage during 2013 is NPR, which announced a $17 million coverage expansion thanks to grants from Gates and Wallace, among others.  
Expanded education coverage should have been in my roundup of top 2013 education stories but got left on the cutting room floor. Other additions or expansions this year include the expanded Chalkbeat network, Politico's education page, the Atlantic education page, and SCPR (Southern California Public Radio).
Not all of the new money will go to education coverage, notes EdWeek (NPR to Expand Education Coverage). In fact, the education grant may be just over $3 million -- for a blogger, a producer, and that's about it.*
Current education reporters Claudio Sanchez and Eric Westervelt will remain, without any additional hires. (Marketplace's education reporting is funded separately - by Kresge, among others).
Check out Mark Walsh's blog post for more details.  My only qualm is his assertion that NPR's education coverage "is probably already the deepest of any broadcast news organization in the country."
I'd argue that there are several other broadcast outlets -- WNYC, SCPR, maybe even WBEZ -- with deeper coverage.  But that could change soon.
*Correction:  The expanded education team will eventually consist of 6 journalists, including 3 existing folks and 3 new hires (I left out two additional editors who are to be hired along with the producer and blogger).

Events: Ed Writers & Communications Pros Going To Nashville

MaryKateMcDevitt_Nashville_864Speaking of journalism, the news is out that EWA is going to Nashville for its annual conference in May (EWA Announces Theme and Venue of 2014 National Seminar).

As usual, the event will be a fun and strange group of journalists, bloggers, academics, and advocates.  AERA is co-hosting.

Where else are you going to see things like me and Anthony Cody hanging out like we did (albeit somewhat uncomfortably) last year at Stanford?

Check out the announcement, and get yourselves psyched up to be there.  

Image via Mary Kate McDevitt

Advocacy: Group Launches AFT / Randi Weingarten Watchdog Effort

image from cdn.laborpains.orgA nonprofit advocacy group called the Center for Union Facts published a full-page ad in the New York Times last week (pictured), blaming AFT president Randi Weingarten and teachers unions for low PISA 2013 scores by American students.  

Reform gadfly Diane Ravitch didn't think much of the ad or the Times' decision to run it, based on this recent post (Rightwing Group Attacks Unions in “New York Times”).  

Since the shadowy new progressive reform group dubbed "Integrity In Education" isn't launching today as promised last week, let's talk about the Center for Union Facts, the NYT ad, and the Ravitch critique.

According to Ravtich, our PISA scores aren't declining, don't connect to larger economic successes, and -- this is sort of interesting - the AFT has approved some forms of merit pay (even though merit pay absolutely doesn't work).  

As usual, test scores don't mean much, except when they can be cited to show that reform ideas don't work. It's the Ravitch Contradiction (or some better turn of phrase).

Ravitch also slams the center that funded the ad, based on an anecdote from some time in the past in which she questioned Richard Berman over his critique of teachers union in New Jersey and he didn't know the answers. Case closed, as Ravitch says.

The ad didn't get much attention other than from Ravitch, though there's a small writeup in LaborPains.org  -- a publication of the Center for Union Facts (AFT Refuses to Reward Excellent Teachers, Protects Incompetence Instead).  

I'll save you reading it to say that it includes just one juicy quote -- yes, from Berman: "Randi Weingarten doesn’t care about reforming schools in the name of quality education; she cares about exploding government budgets in the name of filling her union’s bank account.”

According to a quick talk with someone at the Center, last week's ad is part of a newly-relaunched effort to call attention the gaps between AFT / Weingart rhetoric and actions (dubbed AFT Facts), isn't specifically funded or earmarked by a particular donor, and is slated to last for the next few months. I'l let someone else comb through the organization's 990 tax forms, but a quick search comes up with this donor warning from Charity Navigator.

Yesterday's Labor Pains headline:  Teachers Union Fights for Convicted Child Molester.

Afternoon Video: Can Venture Philanthropy Replace Direct Donations?


See another MSNBC segment about philanthropy vs. public programs here.

Update: Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy

image from d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net
Quick update on Steve Barr's Future Is Now nonprofit, given his scheduled appearance in New York City next week at the AFT/Atlantic event:
The organization has rebooted in the past few months -- new name (Future Is Now vs. the old Future Is Now Schools name adopted when Barr had to stop using Green Dot America) -- new staff -- three of them based in Chicago -- and a new focus on teacher advocacy than charter school development and operations.  Plus twitter @teacheraction.
According to FIN's communications director Gordon Wright: "We're organizing teachers with the goal of empowering them to take actions that will improve their schools and unions. Acknowledging the wisdom and professionalism of teachers has always been a hallmark of Steve's approach, and this new effort also taps into his deep roots as an organizer."
This makes sense in a lot of ways. Barr has always been more an organizer and mobilizer than a school operator (read my book for more about this), he's always been squarely in the middle between reformers and reform critics, and he's got more experience and track record working with districts and unions (in LA, NY, and NOLA) than some of the other groups. (Funding comes from Ford, Moriah, Gates, and high-value individuals, I'm told.)
Of course, there's no shortage of groups trying to help teachers gain voice and advocate effectively (in addition to the voice and advocacy that comes from the unions), so that's going to be a challenge. FIN claims it's going to help teachers better/differently than everyone else.
The website tells stories about teachers organizing their own contracts at the school level in NYC, starting their own schools in LA, and pushing for online union voting (for UTLA). 

Charts: Which Groups Have More Influence -- & How?

image from www.brookings.edu"Tactics in the personal channel of influence (political support and personal communication) were more influential than tactics that addressed legislators indirectly, such as grassroots campaigns, media outreach and informational seminars" (Measuring the Influence of Education Advocacy Brown/Brookings)

Quotes: "Public Investment Hasn't Withered" [Like Obama Says]

Quotes2There’s no clear trend for public spending on education as a percentage of the U.S. economy, but public investment hasn’t withered. -- FackCheck.org 

Events: AFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event*

Moving-the-Needle-heroThe AFT is sponsoring a NYC event on education next week called Moving the Needle Summit: A Collaborative Approach to Education Reform.

"The program’s conversations will examine the current policy debates and the underlying social issues that put the nation’s future generations at risk, while seeking to move towards real solutions."

The interesting lineup includes Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot Public Schools and Future is Now Schools, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor, The Atlantic, Nicholas Lemann, Dean Emeritus, Columbia Journalism School, Irwin Redlener, President and Co-Founder, Children’s Health Fund, and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.

*Corrected link thanks to @jgordonwright

Morning Chart: Ed Schools Miss "Big Five" Classroom Issues

image from cdn.theatlantic.com"The [NCTQ] report identifies "The Big Five" of classroom management: Make rules; establish structure and routines; praise students for positive behavior; address bad behavior; and maintain student behavior." (Teachers Aren't Trained to Praise Their Students The Atlantic).

Morning Video: Upworthy Goes All AFL-CIO On This PISA Video


Here's something I hadn't seen before: Viral video site Upworthy brings on a "myths about schools" video -- courtesy of the AFL-CIO.  Well played.  Your turn, StudentsFirst et al.

EdTech: Chicago Goes All-In For Computer Coding

image from farm8.staticflickr.comThere's a big national push to get US kids to learn how to code computer programs going on, as you may have noticed (see Google News roundup here).  

You know, there are lots of programming jobs out there, and we need more American kids to program the drones and teachbots of the future.

Apparently Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel thinks that CPS should join in -- by making computer coding a core academic offering.  Or at least so sayeth the Tribune and Sun Times.  

What do you think?  Excited? Fearful? A little of both?  Me, too.

I don't know of any other big city school district making this kind of announcement.

Image via Flickr HackNY 

Update: Journalism Fellowship Applications Due Jan. 31

Spencer fellows 2010The annual Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship luncheon took place a couple of weeks ago and those alumni in attendance made up a veritable who's who of education reporting. They included Liz Bowie (Balt Sun), Greg Toppo (USA Today), Dana Goldstein (Slate, Nation), Sarah Garland (Hechinger), Trey Kay (NPR).  Those not able to make it -- Sarah Carr, Peg Tyre, Elizabeth Green, among others -- are an equally impressive lot.  (That's the 2010 crew pictured right.)

Latest Spencer news: Greg Toppo just got a book contract for his learning games book and is joining the Spencer advisory board. Dana Goldstein just turned in her completed manuscript. Sarah Garland has a very cute baby. Current Spencers Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Lauren Smith Camera, and Annie Murphy Paul were all there, too.

All this to say that the Spencer Fellowship is up again for 2014-2015 and if you think you have the stuff to make it through Evidence and Inference and Sam Freedman's book writing workshop you should apply.  Seriously.Your idea is great.  You're totally qualified.  The competition isn't too tough. (Plus which, the Nieman deadline is already passed.)


See the latest press release below. Don't forget.  

Continue reading "Update: Journalism Fellowship Applications Due Jan. 31" »

People: Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.25.43 PMSo as you may have seen, MSNBC's Chris Hayes did a segment on PISA13 last night.  

One of the guest panelists was Sabrina Stevens, along with AFT head Randi Weingarten and NJ reformer Derrell Bradford.  

Predictably, Hayes and Weingarten focused on the effects of poverty on student achievement and the flaws of the current reform movement. 

Onscreen and in the intro by Hayes, Bradford was ID'd by his organization's name and his work with Gov. Chris Christie and the state charter board.  He mostly played amicable defense -- he's a quasi-regular on the show. 

Stevens was ID'd merely as an education activist (see screenshot).   She got a word in here and there, and nervously chewed the inside of her mouth the rest of the time.

 What nobody said -- not host Chris Hayes, or Weingarten, or Stevens  herself, was that she was until recently an AFT communications staffer, and had worked for the Denver teachers union before coming to the AFT.  So basically there were two AFT folks on the panel (plus a pro-labor host). 

That's fine, I guess - it's not my show.  But viewers also weren't told -- by Hayes or anyone else -- that Stevens recently left AFT to launch a new progressive ed advocacy organization that's describing itself as "a marketing department for progressive education - a campaign that never stops."

Wait, what?

Continue reading "People: Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate" " »

Quotes: Parents Make The Difference

When there are disputes between unions and districts... the side parents align with typically wins. - Labor expert quoted in recent LA Times story

Afternoon Audio: Custom Learning in the Digital Age

In this hourlong radio documentary, American Radio Works explores the potential power -- and peril -- of individualized education technology efforts. Can it match a watchful tutor?  Listen above, and/or click here to read and/or see some visual extras: One Child at a Time: Custom Learning in the Digital Age.

Morning Video: What Students Should Know - & How They Should Learn It

"In the past, public school standards varied state to state. With backing from the federal government, some governors and superintendents collaborated on a national "Common Core." But they define only the "what" -- what kids should know, not how they should be taught." (Defining What Public School Students Should Know) Rebroadcast from 08/2013

Morning Video: TN Chief Notes Progress, Responds To Critics

Chorus of criticism doesn't stop reform-minded TN education chief Huffman (The Tennessean via @libbyanelson)

Morning Video: Union Complains Over Evaluations Showing 7 Pct Failure

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"A new evaluation system finds 13.5 percent of teachers are exemplary and 79.5 percent are proficient. But 5.8 percent of teachers need improvement and 1.2 percent are unsatisfactory." (Click here - video isn't loading right). Via @annenberginst

Charts: One Course's Disappearing MOOC Students

image from cdn.theatlantic.comLast week, MOOC founder Sebastian Thrun told Fast Company that, well, things weren't working out as well as he'd hoped three years ago.  Today at the Atlantic Eduction page Owen Youngman describes how 56,000 students turned into 1,200 course passers. 

AM News: The Push For "Great" New Teachers ('Bye, Boomers)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Campaign Seeks to Recruit Top Students to Become Teachers NYT: The campaign, called Teach, uses video spots and radio announcements that portray teaching as creative and compelling a career as medicine, acting or engineering.

Arne Duncan's Search for More Teachers U.S. News & World Report: This week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will re-launch a campaign he initiated a few years ago to get more college students interested in becoming teachers. 

Teachers Wanted WNYC: After all the focus on getting rid of "bad" teachers, Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education, talks about the need for new teachers to replace a large cohort of those about to retire.

The Quality of American Teachers Seems to be Getting Better Mother Jones: The number of teachers from the class of 2008 with different SAT scores: compared to 1993 and 2000, there are fewer from the lower ranks, about the same number from the middle ranks, and more from the higher ranks.

Which States Are Most Vulnerable to K-12 Sequester Cuts? PoliticsK12: More than half the districts in these 14 states rely on the federal government for 15 percent or more of their revenue: Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Interestingly, most of those are "red" states. Republicans, have, in general, been less vocal about the impact of sequestration on schools than Democrats.  

Obama's day: Technology and education USA TODAY: President Obama turns his focus Thursday to the role of technology in education. Obama meets in the afternoon with a group of ConnectED Champions of Change, educators being honored for their use of Internet technology in teaching.

Frequent Tests Can Enhance College Learning, Study Finds NYT: Short quizzes at the start of each class increased attendance and overall performance, an experiment showed.

Online Courses Attract Degree Holders, Survey Finds NYT: About 80 percent of people who enrolled in a massive open online course from the University of Pennsylvania had already earned a bachelor’s degree, according to a survey.

State and district news below.

Continue reading "AM News: The Push For "Great" New Teachers ('Bye, Boomers)" »

Quotes: "We're Not Going To Start A Super PAC Or Anything"

Quotes2We’re not going to start a super PAC or anything, but we will be deeply involved. - Robin Hood founder Paul Tudor Jones in Forbes (Can Hedge Fund Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones Save America's Public Education System?) via GothamSchools

Analysis: 6 Things You Need To Know About Duncan's "Suburban Moms" Remarks

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What to think or care about Duncan's remarks to the CCSSO a few days ago? 

It was an obvious gaffe, and those inclined to make hay out of it (the Strauss-Politico-Ravitch triumvirate) will do so.  

The mainstream press will (I hope) write the stories they need to write without making CCSS protests look larger or broader than they really are.

But I think there's also an opportunity here for Duncan to relieve the pressure and even take the lead. 

*Correction: A link below is for Education Next, not the Fordham Institute.

Continue reading "Analysis: 6 Things You Need To Know About Duncan's "Suburban Moms" Remarks" »

Morning Video: Expert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?

Here's MSNBC's Chris Hayes doing a segment about a so-called think that's mostly funded by restaurants (and opposed to raising the minimum wage) and lacks any economists on staff:


But is it the think tank's job to hire and/or commission independent degreed experts in the field and let them say what they find, or is it the media's job to make sure that readers/viewers know who funds the think tanks?

It's a question that comes up occasionally in education, and not always when the think tank leans Republican. For example, there are two think tanks with the initials EPI -- one leans right, the other (which hosts Broader Bolder) leans left, and the funding/affiliation are rarely mentioned in the press.

There are also university academics who receive not insubstantial funding from think tanks, foundations, and advocacy organizations and who don't always reveal the sources of this funding when they appear as experts (on Capitol Hill, for example).

NB: I have written reports and articles for various think tanks, including those that lean left and right.  

Charts: Racial Gap In Belief In Education Impact On Careers

image from cdn-media.nationaljournal.com
From The Atlantic: "Americans' attitudes on education split along racial lines, with minorities much more optimistic about the effects of further academic study or skills training on their own careers."



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.