About this blog Subscribe to this blog

AM News: Denver Suburb Proxy Battle; Moskowitz Denounces Pushout List

In Denver suburb, a school board race morphs into $1 million ‘proxy war’ Washington Post: In Jefferson County, teachers unions and Koch brothers battle for votes and the future of public schools. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Success Academy Founder Calls ‘Got to Go’ List an Anomaly NYT: Ms. Moskowitz, who spoke on Friday at a news conference, said that the list existed for only three days before Mr. Brown was admonished and that he changed course. Nonetheless, nine of the students on the list eventually left the school. See also Chalkbeat, NY1Politico New York.

Judge Issues Restraining Order on L.A. Charter Chain in Unionization Fight Teacher Beat: A judge has granted a temporary restraining order against the 27-school Alliance College-Ready Publia S. Moskowitz, in response to a New York Times article about the list, said the charter school network did not have a practice of pushing out difficult students.

Charters grapple with admission policies, question how public they should be Washington Post: Some schools restrict admission to early grades, fueling a national debate about fairness and access to quality schools.

Big Education Groups to Congress: Finish ESEA Reauthorization PK12: Teachers, school administrators, principals and state officials have launched a digital ad campaign asking lawmakers to finish work to reauthorize the ESEA.

New York City School Suspensions Fell 17% in 2014-15, Officials Say NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced new and expanded initiatives to change how students are disciplined, following a national shift in techniques. See also WNYC.

Many Children Under 5 Are Left to Their Mobile Devices, Survey Finds NYT: Experts said a small, self-reported survey added to evidence that the unsupervised use of mobile screens is deeply woven into childhood experiences by age 4.

In a disadvantaged district, a parable of contemporary American schooling Washington Post: A community is closing its one high school to give kids a better education — at another troubled school. Will it work?

Recent Alabama teacher of the year resigns over certification issues NPR: Less than two years after being named Alabama's Teacher of the Year, Ann Marie Corgill resigned her post this week, citing her frustration with bureaucracy. After Corgill was moved from teaching second grade to fifth, she was told she wasn't qualified to teach fifth-graders. See also Valerie Strauss.

Texas case mulls if home-school kids have to learn something AP: Laura McIntyre began educating her nine children more than a decade ago inside a vacant office at an El Paso motorcycle dealership she ran with her husband and other relatives....

Students Protest Firing Of Spring Valley High School Officer HuffPost: Students at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, left their classes on Friday to protest the firing of Ben Fields, a former resource officer at the school.

The Changing Role Of Police In American Classrooms NPR: Susan Ferriss has reported extensively on this issue for the Center for Public Integrity, and she is with us now. Welcome, thanks for joining us.

Deterioration of public school arts programs has been particularly jarring in L.A. LA Times: Normandie Avenue Elementary Principal Gustavo Ortiz worries that he can't provide arts classes for most of the 900 students at his South Los Angeles school. Not a single art or music class was offered until this year at Curtiss Middle School in Carson.

Campaign 2016: A Teacher-Led Campaign PAC

More and more, it feels like it's going to take something new or different to break the current stalemate on education changes.

So it's hard not to be curious about America's Teachers, the teacher-led pro-Hillary PAC that popped up in the LA Times a few days ago. They two teachers behind the effort are TFA and union members. Take that reformers/critics.

5tgh

 According to the America's Teachers site, "Teachers aren’t supposed to start Super PAC’s. That’s exactly why we created one." The priorities are universal preschool, college affordability, and education rights from DREAMers.

According to the LA Times (Meet the teacher lobby behind Hillary Clinton that's not the teachers union), the group's goals are to make sure that Hillary Clinton hears "from more than just unions or reformers." One main strategy is to focus on "friendlier, softer issues" rather than closing schools and limiting tenure.

What form "something new" is going to take, nobody quite knows. And not all of the new approaches coming along are going to be able to survive, much less thrive. Previous attempts at a middle-ground approach -- remember "thin" contracts for charters, anyone? -- have ended up being ignored even opposed by both of the major sides (who appear at times to prefer trench warfare to progress). And as soon as new people and approaches show up -- think Deray McKesson and Black Lives Matter -- they're claimed by one side and/or vilified by the other.

But eventually something/someone new is going to come along that's so compelling to the public and policymakers that entrenched interests can't ignore or avoid it any longer. The only real question in my mind is who/what will it be?

Quotes: Bloomberg Slams Duncan/Obama Testing Rollback

Quotes2Now that results from tests aligned to these standards are showing just how many students are not on track for college, the public backlash against the tests seems to have given Obama and Duncan a case of cold feet... That’s deeply regrettable. 

- Michael Bloomberg via Washington Post (Bloomberg: Obama and Duncan are making a wrong turn over testing)

Events: Looking Ahead To #TFA25 (By Looking Back At #TFA20)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

I'm excited to be going to  this year. Check out the website here.

But as with all things (TFA and otherwise) it will likely be a mixed bag. 

Here's what I wrote at #TFA20 (which seems like 100 years ago)

"Imagine a world in which Michelle Rhee is something of a rock star no one’s much over 45 everyone is smart and optimistic and hard working and basically competent (if not particularly wise) and thinks they’re doing a bang-up job. 

"That’s what it was like at this weekend’s TFA20 Summit, a slick celebration and expensive-seeming birthday party for Teach For America."

A Premature (Or Even Unwarranted) Celebration?

Even before I arrived at the big event, I had some unsolicited suggestions: 

"Get off the charter school pipe.  Charter placements shouldn't exceed the percentage of kids being taught at charter schools in any given district."

 
I know, I know. TFA overkill. I'm violating my own ban. 

Events: Education Writers Study Teacher Prep In Chicago

Another day, another EWA seminar. This one titled (Ready for Day 1? Covering the Education of Teachers) includes appearances from Dan GoldhaberRoss BrennemanSteve Drummond, Shaina Cavazos, Susan AsiyanbiUlrich Boser, Alexandria Neason, Stephanie Banchero, and Louise Kiernan.

Catch up on yesterday's proceedings by looking back at the hashtag #EWApoverty.

Charts: Four Years Of TNTP's ACE Assessment In 7 Cities

1-a0YCTtajFjLMxxYv-TOqHQ

"In the four years since we rolled out ACE at scale, we’ve seen about an 80 percent initial pass rate; we’ve offered extension plans to about another 10 percent, some of whom then pass in their second year. As of fall 2014, 170,000 students have been taught by teachers who passed the ACE screen in those seven cities." via TNTP (Teacher Prep…What’s Data Got to Do With It?)

AM News: Charter Teachers Rally (NY), Teacher PAC Launches (LA)

Charter School Teachers Make Bid For Support Politico NY: Families for Excellent Schools held its second rally in as many weeks in Manhattan's Foley Square, but this time, the rally was attended by more than 1,000 charter school teachers, rather than many thousands of charter school students and parents. See also Chalkbeat New York, BuzzFeed.

Meet the teacher lobby behind Hillary Clinton that's not the teachers union Los Angeles Times: Naveed Amalfard and Luke Villalobos want to influence education policy, and they want Hillary Clinton to hear from more than just unions or reformers. They were in Los Angeles on Wednesday to jump-start efforts around a political action committee, a group that can raise money on behalf of candidates. 

Charters’ clout grows as top performer to disadvantaged EdSource: Half of the top-performing schools serving low-income students in California are charters, according to a new analysis of scores from this year’s Common Core-aligned assessments.

Judge Rules Against Bobby Jindal's Common Core Suit AP: A federal judge has issued a final judgment rejecting Gov. Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit against the Common Core education standards, clearing the way for him to take his case to an appeals court.

D.C. Adopts National Proficiency Level For Its New PARCC Tests Washington Post: The D.C. State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesdayevening to set what board members called a rigorous proficiency score in anticipation of soon-to-be released results from the new standardized tests administered last year.
 
US to spend millions on educating Pakistani girls Los Angeles Times: The Obama administration plans to announce a new partnership with Pakistan to promote education for girls there by doubling spending on schools ...
 
San Francisco Principal Causes Controversy After Delaying Results Of Student Election AP: A student election at a mostly Hispanic San Francisco middle school turned into a debate about the democratic process when the principal delayed the results because the winners did not reflect the school's diverse student body.

Events: Grantmakers In Education (SF), Plus EWA x2 (Chicago)

2012-05-08-buddhaThis week's big education conference that I know of is Grantmakers For Education, which is meeting in SF and has a speaking appearance from Arne Duncan. The Twitter handle is @Edfunders, the hashtag is . EdSource's John Fensterwald is slated to do an interview with Duncan/King.

But it's not the only one.

Later this week, EWA is hosting two Chicago-based seminar/conferences for education reporters, one on covering poverty (Covering Poverty’s Influence on Education). Highlights from the agenda include an appearance from Alex Kotlowitz.

The second EWA event is called Ready for Day 1? Covering the Education of Teachers, which is being hosted by Northwestern University and "will examine the teacher pipeline, with a focus on how states can build a better route that attracts the best candidates, the extent to which states are — or aren't — taking adequate steps to ensure high quality preparation programs, and look more broadly at best practices to make sure new teachers are ready for Day One in the classroom." 

You can see the updated online agenda for highlights including a session with Dan Goldhaber and some advice from NPR's Steve Drummond about covering teacher shortages.

Any other events going on that we should know about? Anyone see or write a great summary of the Great Cities event last week? 

Quotes: More Of The Same From The Gates Foundation

Quotes2And so from the largest philanthropic foundation on the planet, we can expect not self-reflection but more of the same. Bill and Melinda Gates still believe that the academic playing field is made fair by three good teachers in a row and by charters schools in which six year olds robotically tell visitors what college they will attend.

- NEPC's Carol Burris in The Washington Post's Answer Sheet (What are Bill and Melinda Gates talking about?)

Books: Cohen Joins Huffman, Others Writing Edu-Book

Frf
Former Mass Insight head Justin Cohen is writing a book "about the broken U.S. education system" and was recently named a fellow at the Carey Institute (which supports nonfiction writers).

According to the writeup, Cohen "aims to reinvigorate the debate about reform, and change the old arguments that perpetuate the brokenness."

If he achieves this end, it would be greatly welcomed. However, he's not alone in making the effort. Others working on books that might sound similar ideas include Kevin Huffman and journalist Sara Mosle.

Cohen was a 2008 Obama campaign adviser and DC schools advisor. He's on Twitter at @juscohen and his blog is Justin C. Cohen. He also co-hosts The Beard Brothers Dope Show, "a muscular and witty podcast covering the public education wars" that I must admit has made me laugh a couple of times though I have only listened to a few minutes.

Cohen has been mentioned before on this blog, including this quote: "The big problem here is that somehow we have arrived at a point wherein placing value on student achievement results ismutually exclusive to respecting the voting rights of African-American communities... That is a fight that neither side can win, nor should want to fight."

"Cohen’s work focuses on the intersection of race, class, social justice and education in a country that is once again wrestling with the original sins of racism and white supremacy," notes the Carey Institute writeup.

Related posts: The Rise of AVIDHow Racial Inequality Gets Baked Into SchoolsNotes From Yale SOM 2011"Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led.

Next Week's Conferences: Grantmakers for Education (In SF)

If like me you can't go to many conferences but still really like to know when they're happening, it might be good to know that GFE's 19th Annual Conference is taking place next week in SF.

What do education grantmakers do?

"We cheer from the sidelines and influence from the inner circle. We bring people together when they are divided. We open forums for discussion and offer important opportunities—that no one else does—to take big risks, to make big gains. We are without limits in our vision of a future where outcomes for all learners improve and with them, the strength of our nation."

And what's the big deal with this conference?

"This unique gathering, like GFE’s flourishing network, is unrivaled in its size and focus. It brings together grantmakers from coast-to-coast, from organizations large and small. Together, we will seek answers to such questions as: What can we learn from trend research? Will present strategies create future inequalities? How will we exercise our power as grantmakers to empower future generations?"

I haven't posted a ton about GFE here but there are a bunch of references on Twitter here and some of the folks there were helpful with my chapter about "new" education philanthropy in education (for an AEI volume that's coming out.... sometime).

Meantime, anyone seen/written a writeup of the Council of Great Cities Conference that took place last week? I'm on a conferences binge.

Update: Here Comes NPR Education's New Series, "Ideas"

Wert44
In case you hadn't seen it already, NPR's education team has launched a new themed series, dubbed Ideas.

Its motto: "There's nothing new under the sun in education. Except when there is. We'll explore how innovation happens, who drives it and what works."

So far, Ideas item include "An EdTech Buzzword Bingo Card, Higher Ed's Moneyball?, and (my favorite so far) The Mind-Reading Robo Tutor In The Sky.

The previous series, 50 Great Teachers, was apparently a big hit.

Check it out. Tell me what you think -- or what you hope they do or don't cover (drones! hoverboards!).

Morning Video: Let's Hear It For Humor (& Choice, Maybe)

There's nothing particularly nuanced or persuasive about this @choicemediaTV video that's been going around this week, but at least it's (trying to be) funny. I'm a big fan of attempts to use humor to make a point -- a strategy that's woefully underused in education (but also very hard to pull off).

Of course the reality is that there are lots of K-12 choices being exercised by more privileged families beyond whatever neighborhood school they happen to be assigned to -- and lots of evidence that higher-performing schools (magnets, themed schools, test-in schools, etc.) don't serve low-income minority students proportionately. More choice may not be the answer, but the current system isn't defensible, either.  (See, for example, The Onion's recent headline: 5-Year-Old At Underfunded Kindergarten Enjoying Last Few Weeks Before Achievement Gap Kicks In).

Related posts: Foul-Mouthed "School Bully" PSA SatireStudent Pretends To Be ELL All SemesterThis Is What Might Happen If You Cut ClassThe Glengarry Glen Ross Magazine Subscription Drive

Charts: Vast Majority Of City Kids Not Taking SAT or ACT*

151007graphiccityschools3-graphic
"In more than half of the 50 cities surveyed, less than 15 percent of high school students took the SAT or ACT. Less than 10 percent of high school students took advanced math classes in more than half of the cities as well." In US News (Report: Stagnant City Schools Are Failing Minorities).

*NB the data for Minneapolis were apparently off, and have since been corrected: "The Seattle-based education policy group now reports about 12 percent of Minneapolis students in both district and public charter schools took the ACT or SAT in 2011–2012, three times the originally reported rate. CRPE placed the blame on errors in data schools reported to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights."

 

Quotes: Regrets For Common Core-Teacher Evaluation Combo From NY Regent

Quotes2The work that we did struck a nerve... So maybe what we didn’t do was deliver enough anesthetic before we struck the nerve. - Merryl Tisch in the Washington Post (The next education secretary)

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Examines Primary School Suspensions

In his PBS NewsHour finale, John Merrow takes on NYC's Success Academy charter school network and its school discipline policies.

"At the largest charter school network in New York City, strict academic and behavior standards set the stage for learning. That doesn't exclude children as young as 5 or 6 years old, who can be given out-of-school suspensions if they don't follow the rules. Special correspondent for education John Merrow explores what that policy means for both the child and the school."

Watch it above or read the transcript here.

Twitter Friday: So Long, Seattle (Making Room For POTUS)

I'm traveling back from the @GatesED conference today so I'll be posting a bit here and mostly via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook) -- some of it about the conference but not all of it. Or you can just see it all stream by below here.

Events: Gates Foundation Stays Course In Much-Changed Environment

Even with a big Bill & Melinda appearance and a PBS NewsHour segment, what was actually going on at the conference – first big one like this since 2009, they said -- was no real match for outside events taking place in the education world: indictments against the former head of the Chicago schools, a pro-charter protest/rally in New York City, Clinton and Sanders’ refusal to appear at the Iowa education debate organized by Campbell Brown and the Des Moines Register, and apparently some sort of sneak attempt to get ESEA done at the same time as the Republicans were trying to pick a new House Speaker.

Even if it had been a quieter week in education-land, I’m not sure that the event would have attracted all that much notice:

First and foremost, Gates wasn't announcing any major change in direction (or funding levels). According to Gates, "I believe we are on the right track. For today, and for the coming years, this is our vision: Every student deserves high standards. Every student deserves an effective teacher. Every teacher deserves the tools and support to be phenomenal. And all students deserve the opportunity to learn in a way that is tailored to their needs, skills, and interests."

"Did Bill Gates just con a bunch of people into watching a speech that says the Gates Foundation is doing good work?," quipped EdWeek's Ross Brenneman.

Just as important, the Gates Foundation isn't as much the frightening behemoth as it was a decade ago, or even four years ago.

Back in 2005 or even 2010, the Gates Foundation was perceived as the big bully on the block – aggressive, immodest – or in other corners as the potential savior of public education – I suppose. It was a new funder. There was lots of money going out. Microsoft, the source of Gates' money, was somewhat frightening in its ubiquity. Then it seemed like there were all sorts of linkages between the Gates Foundation and the Obama administration.

But all that seems quaint and old timey a decade later in 2015, what with the fierce, focused efforts of other funders who have come to prominence (Walton, Broad, Bloomberg, etc.). Unlike those others, Gates isn’t pushing charter school growth for growth’s sake, and it doesn’t barely count as a funder of Teach For America. The Walton Family Foundation was conspicuously left out when Gates gave shout outs to other funders (Broad, Bloomberg, Hyde, Schusterman) who have joined the effort.

Just as important, there's also been the rise of other big tech companies like Google and Amazon (and to some extent Apple) to scare us with their email-scanning, dominate-the-world ways. No one seems really worried about Microsoft -- or the Gates Foundation -- taking over the world. The current Seattle construction boom is being fueled by Amazon, thank you very much. It was the Gates' who urged caution on linking test scores to teacher evaluations. 

That doesn’t mean that some folks don’t lump all the funders together, of course, or that there isn’t any controversy surrounding the Gates Foundation. The inBloom implosion wasn’t too long ago, and the foundation is a big big supporter of the Common Core standards that some educators and politicians find so objectionable. Leonie, Anthony, and the person in charge of the BATs Twitter account expressed their ongoing displeasure with the foundation via Twitter. (According to the BATs Twitter feed, the Gates Foundation "has broken hearts of children and teachers in this country - time to get out of public ed. policy.")

The current Gates Foundation affect is urgent but modest. There wasn’t a lot of talk about ‘disrupting’ the education system. In fact, now that I think of it, maybe there should have been more of that.  This was their main point (and sole visual):

Where is the Gates Foundation on the Learning Line?

"We're here to keeping moving up that line" - @BillGates @gatesed #GatesEd #edchat pic.twitter.com/CMlKzQ2Rcw

— michael j. crawford (@mjcraw) October 7, 2015

While there weren't any big programmatic or funding announcement, there were some notable lines delivered in the speeches and panels:

Melinda Gates made a key point about how difficult it can be to persuade parents who have figured out a good school, program, or teacher for their child to help make things better for the rest of the school or district. "That's been hard."

Allan Goolston noted that schools are segregated by programs and floors, a comment that reminded me of Bill Gates' 2008 remarks about how kids might all enter the same school doorway in the morning, their experiences in the building are very different.  

There was also a moment of acknowledgement and contrition regarding the Common Core rollout in reference to moments where "our foundation and others were perhaps naive about those [Common Core] rollouts."

Gates also acknowledged as he has in the past that helping move things forward in education has been harder than making changes in the health area:"Nobody votes to uninvent a malaria vaccine," he quipped in response to a question from Ifill. 

There's been no clear or definitive rise in test scores or other broad-based measures of student achievement: "Test scores in this country are not going up, but there are a few points of light."

I didn’t hear anyone talk about or even refer to inBloom, or whatever happened to the charter-district compact, or that teacher advocacy effort that Yolie Flores ran for a while before it closed shop.  The teachers’ strike in Seattle, the court’s finding against charter schools, and other related messes went unmentioned (at least as far as I heard).

At various times along the way it seemed unclear how much of a splash the foundation wanted to make in the outside world. There was some livestreaming and a hashtag and a press release touting the significance of the event, but if there was an agenda listed publicly it was hard to find and it was announced the second day that the livestreaming was being cut off:

For anyone following #GatesEd online, we won't have a livestream today. You can follow the #GatesEd hashtag for updates.

— Gates Education (@gatesed) October 8, 2015

There was also some upset and confusion about whether press were allowed to report on the interview with Ted Mitchell:

@LianaHeitin This session was closed press at request of speakers. Glad you got a 1:1 with Mitchell after. This tweet however is misleading.

— Jen Bluestein (@TheRealJenBlue) October 8, 2015

Heitin got a sit-down interview with Mitchell after the fact. Perhaps the White House or Education Department didn't want to fuel the sense of tight connections between the foundation and the Obama administration?

I was only at this conference by accident and at the last minute, filling in for some hapless staffer or grantee who didn’t want to talk about unlikely allies with some folks from Hillsborough (FL) and Austin (TX):

Unlikely allies take the stage w/ @alexanderrusso #gatesed pic.twitter.com/YTraHNTM38

— Suzanne Walsh (@sewsueme) October 8, 2015

I’ve moderated similar-ish panels about charter-union cooperation (at Yale) and union innovation (at AFT). I am not a Gates Foundation grantee, however the foundation did pay for my airfare and hotel costs, and some of my freelance clients over the years have most certainly been grantees.

For a roundup of media coverage (and some excellent detailed disclosure from EdWeek), head over to The Grade

Related posts: What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common CoreHave Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?Gates Shifts Strategy & Schools Get Smaller Share (Reckhow); Gates Reverses On Risky "ALEC" BetBill Gates' Warning On Test ScoresGates "Deep Dive" Winners Finally Surface.

#TBT: Michelle Rhee Waving A Ruler In Your Face (2012)

image from www.ctcapitolreport.com

From 2012: "This picture of Rhee waving a ruler in your (teachers') face(s) was on the CT Capital Report, which I've never seen before but looks like it comes from the old broom shoot." (This Week In Education)

Events: Live From Seattles @GatesED Forum

As you may recall, the Gates Education Forum/15th Year Anniversary begins today with an address from Bill Gates and some other speeches and announcements.

The Twitter handle to follow is @gatesED, which is also the hashtag #GatesEd. You can see an unofficial list of speakers and moderators here. I saw Ted Mitchell on the attendees list, but no John King. Let's assume he's staying put in DC given recent events.

It seems hard to believe, but I'm told that this is the first big education-focused event that the foundation has done since 2008, when it shifted gears away from its early focus on smaller high schools and other things towards teacher development and high school and college completion.

I'll be moderating a panel on "unlikely allies" tomorrow morning featuring two pairs of folks who found ways to work together rather than lapsing into finger-pointing, etc.

Events: See You In Seattle

Yep, the rumors are true. I'm going to this week's Gates Foundation education conference in Seattle and moderating a panel on "unlikely allies" in K-12 and postsecondary who have overcome easy antagonism and found ways to work together.

The event, called the Learning Forum, marks the Gates Foundation's 15th year in the education game, which some have found enormously beneficial and others have found seriously problematic. An estimated 250 folks are going to be there. It will include what the foundation is describing as Bill Gates "first major retrospective speech on education issues in almost eight years," as well as a Bill & Melinda interview with the PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill. Along with many of the usual suspects, the USDE's John King is currently scheduled to be in attendance -- wonder if he'll still be able to show up now that he's been named to succeed Duncan.

The "unlikely allies" who will be onstage with me sharing their experiences include Bill Hammond, CEO, Texas Association of Business; Richard Rhodes, President/CEO, Austin Community College; Jean Clements, President, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association; and Mary Ellen Elia, Commissioner of Education, New York State Education Commission (formerly of Hillsborough).

According to the foundation, you can watch via live stream starting Wednesday AM. The Twitter handle to use is @GatesEd and the hashtag is #GatesEd. They're also encouraging everyone to follow a few leaders on Twitter including @AllanGolston@GPayneEDU@drvickip@dan_greenstein, & @davidbleysea.

Foundations: The 2015 MacArthur "Genius" Everybody Overlooked

Little noticed in the annual flurry of attention given to MacArthur genius grant recipients -- including by me -- was that the Chicago nonprofit head who won is deeply involved in immigrant education and heads an organization that started a charter school a few years ago.

A day or so after the fact, the Charter Alliance made note of the event -- perhaps the first person involved with charter schools to win the award:

"In 2010, Mr. Salgado founded, Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy,a charter school located on the Instituto del Progreso Latino campus in Chicago for grades 9-12. The academy prepares students for success in competitive colleges and universities while simultaneously providing job readiness certifications in entry-level positions with higher wages at the healthcare sector."

Truth be told, there wasn't much interesting in the grants from the people I follow on Twitter this year, even though some awardees are super strong on race and inequality issues. The NYT's Amy Virshup noted that one of the 2015 awardees -- also involved in education indirectly -- named Alex Truesdell had been profiled in the paper the year before. 

If and when someone solidly from the reform camp or its critics win the award, all hell will break loose.  But most of the folks who seem to win these things aren't ideological combatants but rather maker/creators who work from the middle. 

Related posts: Roland Fryer Wins MacArthur "Genius" Award (2011);   Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius" (2007); Educator Wins MacArthur "Genius (2010); Will An Educator Win A 2012 MacArthur Grant?The Genius Behind Teach For America (2007).

Charts: How Charters Ended Up Being Predominantly Urban

"According to the Bellwether report, 56 percent of charter-school students live in cities, versus just 29 percent of all U.S. children. (The remaining charter-school students are about evenly split between rural areas and the suburbs.) Relatedly, nearly two-thirds of the charter-school population is nonwhite, compared to about half of its regular public-school counterpart... Just a small percentage of Colorado’s charter-school population is identified as low-income, versus a solid majority of the students attending charters in D.C." Laura McKenna in The Atlantic (Why There’s Little Demand for Charter Schools in the Suburbs)

Books: An Anthropological Look At School Fundraising

image from www.tinyspark.orgI don't know much of anything about this, but a new book called A Good Investment? is coming out and it's written up at Tiny Spark (When a School Markets Students as Charity Cases):

"Amy Brown’s forthcoming book examines how a NYC public high school managed its image to donors and critiques big philanthropy’s role in public education. A Good Investment? Philanthropy and the Marketing of Race in an Urban Public School is based on her two years at the pseudonymous “College Prep Academy.”

According to LinkedIn, Brown is a "Critical Writing Fellow at University of Pennsylvania Critical Writing Program."

Events: Reflections On Last Night's Newark Panel

While we're waiting for the event to be discussed on WNYC's Brian Lehrer later this morning, let me tell you what a strange, interesting time it was to my eyes in Newark yesterday evening at the WNYC-hosted panel to discuss the past and future of the Newark schools.

As has already been reported, the news out of the event was that while there's no clear timeline for returning the district to local control -- and no clear legal mechanism for doing so -- Cerf says that there will be no attempt to increase the percentage of kids being served by charter schools, either.

That's probably reassuring to charter critics and those who are focused on the district schools that still serve two thirds of the Newark kids but tremendously disappointing to charter advocates who point to Newark charters' academic success and long waiting lists of parents.  It may also have come as something of a surprise. At least one charter insider in the audience thought that Cerf was going to charterize the district. 

Beyond that news, there were all sorts of moments and dynamics that felt "off" to me (though they may not have had the same effect on other audience members).

First and foremost, there was the visual of Newark mayor Ras Baraka sitting next to grey-haired Chris Cerf, the appointed head of Newark schools. How and why Chris Christie chose an awkward preppy white guy to replace Cami Anderson is unclear to me and can't have been welcome news to Baraka and his supporters. Contrast the move with what happened in DC, where Kaya Henderson succeeded Michelle Rhee.

Part of the tension is structural. The two men are both deeply concerned about Newark schools, but neither is wholly in charge of Newark's mixed school system. The state oversees the school district, but the district doesn't really oversee the charter schools -- an ongoing governance problem raised several times in Russakoff's book. And of course, Cerf is pro-charter, an outsider, and all the rest. 

Unsettling matters further, Baraka and Cerf couldn't seem to decide last night whether they were going rehash and continue past battles that were the subject of Dale Russakoff's book, The Prize, or focus on trying to create the impression of a unified front looking to the future and working together.  They did a bit of both, but seemed like they were veering back towards old beefs as the night went on (and the audience's preference became clear).

Throughout, both men seemed to be resorting to sound bites and talking points rather than candor and honest reflection, though Baraka came off as a much better speaker in this context (and certainly had more of the audience members behind him). His mandate and responsibilities are much more focused. Cerf had the awkward task of defending the past, apologizing for it (including throwing some shade at Booker and Christie), and reassuring the public about future changes. (Cerf: "I suspect there were more than a few cases when now-Sen. Booker and Gov Christie overstated their case.")

By and large, Russakoff was woefully under-used during the 90-minute session, limited to a few initial observations and then left to the sidelines. It would have been especially interesting if Floyd had asked her to confirm or raise questions with the claims that Baraka and Cerf were making (several of which seemed possibly misleading or incomplete to me) or if she had just jumped in and said, "hey, wait a minute -- that's not right." But neither of those things happened. 

Wearing a cropped white jacket and fun glasses, Floyd was an enthusiastic and engaged moderator but seemed to struggle to keep panelist's answers short (especially Cerf) and to deal with audience members who wanted to ask more than one questions or refute panelist's answers to their questions.  Though she's spent a fair amount of time in Newark on this topic in the past few weeks, she also lacked the background information to question Baraka and Cerf's claims herself. (She also apparently had a panelist bow out at the last minute, and was unable to convince the head of the teacher's union to appear at the event though he did sit down for an interview earlier this year.)

She called Cerf out when he tried to glide past some of the past failures, but that was about it. Baraka admitted "of course there's bloating in the district" but that was about it. His answer to why more resources don't get into schools was incomprehensible (to me, at least). His sound bites were awesome, though. ("We can't fight inequality by creating more inequality," for example.)

So neither the moderate nor the journalist panelist was able or willing to do any live fact-checking against the claims being made onstage.

For me personally, it was fascinating to see some of the folks I'd been reading about and listening to in person up on stage, and to see a slew of familiar folks. My Spencer classmate Nancy Solomon was there -- she's currently heading the New Jersey bureau for WNYC. (I also got to meet Sarah Gonzalez, the NJ-based reporter who sometimes covers education for the station.) Former WSJ education reporter Barbara Martinez was in the audience.  Jennifer (Edushyster) Berkshire was somewhere in the audience, too.  

Morning Video: African Education Entrepreneur Wins "Genius" Grant

 

"Patrick Awuah is an educator and entrepreneur building a new model for higher education in Ghana. Read more here.

Related posts: Roland Fryer Wins MacArthur "Genius" Award (2011);   Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius" (2007); Educator Wins MacArthur "Genius (2010); Will An Educator Win A 2012 MacArthur Grant?The Genius Behind Teach For America (2007).

Morning Video: Pro-Charter Ad Slams NYC's De Blasio Gets Criticized As Racist

Politico New York's Eliza Shapiro posted this video from Families For Excellent Schools and wrote about it last week (New charter ad hits de Blasio on race). Then came the followup story in which some folks denounced the ad as being overly divisive (Critics call new charter school ad 'racist'). 

While it makes some uneasy, descriptions and accusations related to race and racism are all over the place in the past few years, including recent comments from Derrell Bradford, Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book, #educolor, and the This American Life series related to school integration. Just last week, white affluent Brooklyn parents were being accused of racism in response to a proposed school zoning stage (and affluent white parents in Chicago were being praised for their open-mindedness).  Over the weekend, Elizabeth Warren gave a speech related to #BlackLivesMatter.

On the substance of the matter, the NYT editorial page recently suggested that the DOE needed to move further, faster on failing schools. ProPublic recently slammed the universal preschool program for not adding enough low-income (minority) students. But he's also launched a big new initiative related to economic equality.

Related posts: Ta-Nehesi Coates' New Book On Race (& Schooling)Your Individual Racism Isn't Really The ProblemWorst Schools = The "New" Plantation.

Charts: Should Education Advocates Work On Voting Issues? (Yes.)

The notion that people interested in making schools work better for kids should get involved in voter registration/equity issues will probably make some (on the reform side, mostly) howl and tear their hair out of their heads (except perhaps those Democracy Prep folks).

But social justice activists and organized labor have long been involved in these kinds of things (most notably in Chicago, where the CTU registered voters along with running candidates against City Hall).

There's a sliver of reform-side history on voter registration in the form of Steve Barr (and others?) being involved with Rock The Vote, which was a musician-focused effort to encourage people to register whose heyday was in the 1990's on MTV.

This forthcoming study on responses to poor AYP ratings suggests increases in voter turnout 5-8 percent (varying by income) -- almost as much effect as door knocking.

Plus which: schools are often used as polling places, so it's right there in front of your faces.

Parent engagement & mobilization is now recognized as a key aspect of efforts to make schools work better. Why not throw some voter registration/advocacy in the mix while you're at it?

Related posts: Harvard Students Fail 1964 Louisiana Voting Literacy Test Children's Academic Success Vs. Minority Voting RightsComputerized Voting To Change A ContractTurning Students Into Voters.

#TBT: Remembering The Annenberg Challenge (aka "Bottom-Up" Reform)

Fghj
There's lots of talk these days about "bottom-up" efforts to fix struggling schools and districts, largely tied to what happened in Newark over the past five years.

But as some longtimers may recall, bottom-up (locally-driven, community-led) school reform funded by nonprofit sources has been tried before, most notably in the form of Walter Annenberg's $500M Challenge.

Take a minute to check out the case studies of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City that were written and published way back in 2000. (The Chicago chapter is one that I wrote. Carol Innerst and Ray Domanico wrote the others.)

Some of the folks who are pushing for bottom-up reforms now were actually part of these efforts, and should know better (or at least know that it's no guarantee of success of any kind). 

While we're on the topic, the NYT's Kate Zernike is scheduled to interview Dale Russakoff about Newark tonight at 5.

Reform: Why Was Community Engagement In Newark *So* Bad?

In a recent interview in The Seventy Four, former mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries described how woefully insufficient the communications and engagement effort was behind the Newark school reform effort: “There was absolutely not an infrastructure to communicate to parents... voters [and] the community.” 

Rtetrtr

Love or loathe the Newark reform effort, you have to admit that it's pretty notable that well-funded reformers who'd seen what happened to Michelle Rhee in DC and had to know the importance of informing and rallying community members to their cause didn't seem to do so (or did so ineffectively). Across the river, Families For Excellent Schools launched in 2011. There was nothing like that in Newark. 

In Dale Russakoff's book about Newark, the communications effort outsourced to consultant Bradley Tusk and others is described as a half-completed boondoggle:

Sdfgdfsgdfsgg

Mysteriously Tusk's role in Newark -- and his effectiveness -- isn't mentioned in this recent Forbes profile (What Uber And Mike Bloomberg Have In Common).

TuskVentures_Bradley_Tusk1

I've invited Tusk and other consultants who worked on the Newark project to tell me more about their work, what if anything the Russakoff book gets wrong, and what readers need to know about the folks working on the opposite side of the issue (who don't get nearly as much attention as Tusk et al in the Russakoff book).

So far, few if any takers. But the lines are still open.  

Related posts: Meet Bradley Tusk, Reform StrategistWhy Organized Opposition Gets Less Attention.

AM News: Jobs Announces New $50M HS Redesign Project

Laurene Powell Jobs Commits $50 Million to Create New High Schools NYT: With an advertising campaign that looks as if it came from Apple’s marketing department, the initiative [XQ: The Super School Project] is meant to create high schools with new approaches to education. Over the next several months, the teams will submit plans that could include efforts like altering school schedules, curriculums and technologies. By fall next year, Ms. Powell Jobs said, a team of judges will pick five to 10 of the best ideas to finance.

Common Core test scores show achievement gap, even in high-performing schools KPCC: At Wonderland Avenue Elementary, this week's test score release prompted celebration: 94 percent of the 330 students who took the test met or exceeded the grade-level standards in English language arts and 82 percent did so in math.  The school’s Latino students, about 4 percent of the student population, scored lower on the standardized tests when compared to white and Asian children.

School Canceled for 4th Day as Seattle Teachers Strike AP: Seattle Public Schools is canceling classes for a fourth day Monday as a strike by teachers enters its second week. The strike, over issues that include pay raises and teacher evaluations, has delayed the start of the school year for about 53,000 students. The sides resumed negotiations Saturday and continued to talk Sunday. Seattle Times.

Obama Seeks to Make Applying for Federal Financial Aid Easier PK12: The president is unveiling changes aiming to give students information about how much aid they qualify for earlier and encourage more low-income students to go after federal grants and loans. See also Reuters, PBS NewsHour.

Gaps in Earnings Stand Out in Release of College Data NYT: At some expensive colleges, the salaries of students 10 years after enrollment are bleak, and there is an earnings gender gap at every top university. See also NPRBuzzFeedAP.

School choice complicates Promise Neighborhood’s efforts to help kids Washington Post: Less than a third of the 1,600 students who live there attend neighborhood schools; the rest are enrolled in 184 others, scattered across a city that has embraced school choice more than almost any other.

Charter School Head Says Newark Schools Are Better Since Facebook Gift WNYC: "Your odds have doubled of being in a good school if you're an African American kid in Newark," said Ryan Hill, director of Kipp New Jersey, which operates five charter schools in the city. 

Authorities identify special needs student found dead on bus AP: Authorities have identified a special needs student who was found dead on a school bus as a special needs student who regularly rode the bus to his home in Whittier....

Another clue that school's in session: the traffic WBEZ Chicago: For many in the Chicago region, the start of a new school year marks the beginning of another season: nine months of traffic headaches. People block the alley, park illegally. People park in places that block the buses. 

Matthew Levey's Charter School Quest NYT: Late last month, on a warm, luminous morning, Matthew Levey, a 48-year-old former McKinsey consultant, stood on Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn and shook hands with his new charges: 65 kindergartners, a sea of neon sneakers, starched dresses and cotton golf shirts. It was the first day — ever — for the International Charter School of New York. And Mr. Levey, who had spent the last 36 months planning, developing and hiring for his new elementary school, was in high spirits. 

Quotes: Expanding Choice Not The Same As Fixing A District

Quotes2I thought that with [hundreds of millions] of dollars...that they knew how to reform a district, and how to help urban schools, not just charter schools... I thought they really knew how to take...the whole district and make all of those schools perform better for kids, and they really didn't know how to do that.

- Author Dale Russakoff about the reform effort in Newark, via WNYC (The Deal That Brought Mark Zuckerberg's $100 Million Gift to Newark's Schools)

"

Quotes: Communities Try To Balance Choice/Charters Against Jobs/Stability

Quotes2People are often of two minds. They're putting their kids in charters but that means the district schools need to right-size by cutting jobs, and that affects their cousin. Everyone in Newark is affected by both trends.

- Dale Russakoff in Newark Star-Ledger (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book on Newark School Reform)

 

Think Tanks: Former TN Commissioner Kevin Huffman Writing A Book

Resize_huffman.6330143a440f426690ad23ab60335d2e

"Kevin Huffman will write a book about the challenge of building a first-rate public school system in the face of modern political dysfunction," according to this announcement from the New America Foundation (2016 class of New America fellows). 

Huffman headed the Tennessee school system from 2011-2015, and announced his resignation last November.

Yes, he was once married to Michelle Rhee. No, he's not married to Rebeca Nieves-Huffman. 
You can find him at @k_huff1. Image via New America.

Quotes: Newark Book "Critical Of All The Players"

Quotes2I see it as critical of all the players in education, so I don't think reform movement is singled out. There's a real divide in the debate over education, one side versus the other. And the children are caught in the middle. 
- Author Dale Russakoff rebutting NYT review by Alex Kotlowitz (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book on Newark School Reform)

Roundup: Best & Worst Reviews Of Newark Book Out Today

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comPerhaps the best two pieces I’ve come across are from the Newark Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran including an opinion piece on where things stand that notes district progress along with charter school improvements and reformers' misguided focus on the parts of the story Russakoff leaves out (Newark students are better off, despite the political noise) and also a Q & A with Russakoff in which the author rebuts a deeply flawed NYT review, proposes a forensic audit of Newark's $23,000-per student spending, but calls the Zuckerberg-funded reform efforts a “wash” over all (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book). These are both well worth reading, for what Moran writes and for Russakoff's responses.

There have also been four big mainstream reviews of the book: Chicago Tribune (Diane Rado);  The Seventy Four (Conor Williams); NYT (Alex Kotlowitz;  NYT (Jonathan Knee). Of these earlier reviews, I found the second NYT review (by Knee) to be the most interesting, taking a business-oriented view of what happened that's no less critical of the process and the outcomes than anyone else. 

 

Roundup: Best & Worst Reviews Of Newark Book Coming Out Today

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comPerhaps the best two pieces I’ve come across are from the Newark Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran including an opinion piece on where things stand that notes district progress along with charter school improvements and reformers' misguided focus on the parts of the story Russakoff leaves out (Newark students are better off, despite the political noise) and also a Q & A with Russakoff in which the author rebuts a deeply flawed NYT review, proposes a forensic audit of Newark's $23,000-per student spending, but calls the Zuckerberg-funded reform efforts a “wash” over all (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book). 

These are both well worth reading, for what Moran writes and for Russakoff's responses.

There have also been four big mainstream reviews of the book: Chicago Tribune (Diane Rado);  The Seventy Four (Conor Williams); NYT (Alex Kotlowitz;  NYT (Jonathan Knee). 

Of these earlier reviews, I found the second NYT review (by Knee) to be the most interesting, taking a business-oriented view of what happened that's no less critical of the process and the outcomes than anyone else. 

Last but not least, here's NYT columnist Joe Nocera's piece on the book (Zuckerberg’s Expensive Lesson), which notes among other things that "almost half" of the Zuckerberg effort went to Newark teachers in the form of back pay, salaries for teachers who weren't assigned to a classroom, and bonuses. "Apparently, Zuckerberg has learned his lesson. What will it take for the rest of us to learn?" 

Just this morning, WNYC's Sarah Gonzales gave us an update on how some of the characters in the book are doing (How Booker, Christie Spent the $100 Million Facebook Donation), including a breakout of spending (most of which went to teachers and principals, not consultants).

 

Update: Darling-Hammond Leaving Stanford To Launch New Policy Research Organization (Doesn't Seem Interested In Being Next Education Secretary)

Asdf
There’s some big news coming out of California today in the form of the official launch of the new policy and research center headed by Linda Darling-Hammond.

Called the Learning Policy Institute, the new organization is Darling-Hammond’s effort to create a better kind of think tank/policy research center, one that puts student learning at the center and bridges research and policy worlds.

Its creation would also seem to put a damper on the hopes or fears of those who have written her in as a next Democratic Education Secretary.

The organization will both conduct its own policy research and partner with others’ work. Some of the policy priorities that the institute [@LPI_Learning] plans to investigate include deeper learning, educator quality, college and career, school organization and design, early childhood.

Based near Stanford, the Institute will also have an office in DC that’s going to be headed by former Alliance For Education staffer Charmaine Mercer. By the end of the year, the expectation is that a staff of 30 will have been hired, with plans to grow as large as 50. See more details from the announcement here.

Initial funders include the Sandler Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford, and Hewlett, and Stuart.

Former SRI staff Patrick Shields is going to be the ED. Board members include David Lyon of the California Public Policy Institute and David Rattray of UNITE-LA. Wynn Hausser is heading the communications/outreach effort. He and Darling-Hammond first met working with Public Advocates.

Two senior fellows in residence have been announced: Jeannie Oakes, formerly of Ford, and David Kirp from Berkeley. Darling-Hammond is retiring from Stanford as part of the new launch, though she is going to teach part time.

In a blog post announcing the new endeavor, Darling-Hammond called the present time "A New Moment in Education."

There's no shortage of research shops, policy outfits, and think tanks doing all sorts of things at all different levels of quality, rigor, and independence. I'll be eager to see whether LPI can both grab policymakers' attention and promote high-quality research. It's not an easy thing to do one or the other, and no small feat to do them both at the same time.

Related posts: UPenn Ranks Think Tanks; Have Funders Overtaken Think Tanks?; Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?; Research-Less Think Tanks Can't Compete; Linda Darling-Hammond's Ninja Warrior Son.

Morning Video: Education, Housing, Integration -- Really?

 "Supporters of desegregation won the Yonkers battle—but the high cost of victory lost them the war," writes former NYT writer Lisa Belkin, whose book about a Yonkers NY housing fight is the subject of a new David Simon HBO miniseries, Show Me A Hero that's been written up by EdWeek's Mark Walsh. "Few in this country had the will to risk another divisive, ugly municipal bruising anytime soon."

This isn't the first time Simon has addressed school-related issues. The Wire included a whole season focused on a group of middle school boys. (No surprise given his writing partner's career as both a cop and a geography teacher). More recently (by which I mean 2010-211), the NOLA-based Treme series included a few biting references to post-Katrina school reform. (Remember "Four years at Radcliff is all you know..."?)

Meantime, someone should go to Yonkers and follow up on how the integration plan and kids are doing, right?

Related posts: New HBO Series Takes On Charters & Choice [2010]; From Cop To Writer To Geography TeacherDoes TFA Displace Veterans -- & Do TFAer Really Stay?.

Quotes: Blame Pinellas County On Local Control?

Quotes2There are real perils to prioritizing local control over ensuring that all schools and districts are actually educating all children. Look no further than Pinellas County, Florida, where a recent story detailed the systematic neglect and denial of opportunity to poor students of color by the local board of education.

-- Former StudentsFirst VP Eric Lerum in Education Post (The Odd Couples of Education)

Morning Video: The Fight To Reboot A Chicago High School

Curious about the controversy over the closing of Dyett HS in Chicago (and the hunger strike against its demise)? Not sure just how controversial it can be to phase out even a low-performing, declining-enrolllment school? Watch the above WTTW Chicago Public Television segment (transcript here).
 
Or, check out a new podcast audio segment from Us & Them about the Math Wars of the 1970s.

Morning Video: Katrina Anniversary Gets Three-Part Education Documentary

Check out this segment from The Seventy Four, featuring New Orleans kids' escape from Katrina and eventual return. Click here for 2 other segments. Are there any other attempts to tell the story on video?

Charts: As Of 2010, DC Got More Foundation Funding Than Anyone Else (Per Pupil)

Eee"The [$31M] total represented an extra $705 per student — far more than any other school district in the country," notes this Washington Post story (D.C. schools attracted record amounts of philanthropy). Other districts with substantial private funding include(d) Nwark, Oakland, Seattle, & Boston. Image used with permission. Latest figures included are for 2010, and are presented on a per-pupil basis. 

Thompson: Greg Toppo Sees the Game's Future and It Works

image from images.macmillan.comI've always been confused by the seemingly absurd dichotomy. Brilliant computer geeks and digital geniuses create such potentially liberating technologies. But, they also became a driving force in corporate school reform and its efforts to turn schools back to the early 20th century.

Gosh, as Greg Toppo explains in The Game Believes in You, computer games were pioneered by a small group of mostly unconnected, visionaries, In the earliest days of the 1960s computer breakthroughs, some inventors were even influenced by LSD. So, why did such creative people commit to turning schools into a sped up Model T assembly line?

It would be too much to ask of Toppo, or any other single writer, to definitively answer this question but his excellent book helps us understand why so many architects of 21st century technological miracles helped impose test, sort, reward, and punish, bubble-in malpractice on our schools.

Toppo chose to study computer gaming after his still dynamic young daughter became disenchanted with reading, and after he tired of reporting on school reform wars.  The fundamental problem predates corporate school reform; for instance, 1/3rd of high school graduates never go on to read another book for the rest of their lives. And, as teacher and reading expert Kelly Gallagher says, the problem is both under- and over-teaching of reading. But, full-blown "readicide" has been made far worse by the test prep which was caused by output-driven, competition-driven reform. 

Toppo writes:

At exactly the same time that schools have taken the questionable path of implementing more high-stakes standardized tests keyed to the abilities of some imaginary bell-curved students, games have gone the opposite route, embedding sophisticated assessment into gameplay ... becoming complex learning tools that promise to deflate the tired 'teach to the test' narrative that weighs down so many great teachers and schools. 

The Game Believes in You does a great job explaining the cognitive science behind computer games (and in doing so he may foreshadow an explanation why corporate school reformers became so obsessed with competition that they helped impose nonstop worksheet-driven, basic skills instruction on so many schools.)

Continue reading "Thompson: Greg Toppo Sees the Game's Future and It Works" »

Quotes: How "Common Core" Got Poisoned

Quotes2The term ‘Common Core’ is so darned poisonous, I don’t even know what it means.

- Jeb Bush quoted in this Washington Post editorial (The right and left poison Common Core with inflammatory rhetoric)

 

Media: EdWeek Acquires Nonprofit Supplying PBS NewsHour Segments - Who Will Replace Merrow On Air?

Screenshot 2015-08-10 22.55.36
There are lots of exciting angles to the news that Editorial Projects in Education (the nonprofit outfit that runs EdWeek) is acquiring Learning Matters (which is John Merrow's long-running nonprofit education media organization), but the most immediate and fun aspect that I can think of about the deal is speculation over who will replace Merrow as one of the on-air correspondents (who introduces segments, asks questions, nods in response to answers, etc.).

As you may have noticed, Learning Matters -- whose segments often appear on the PBS NewsHour -- has had two correspondents sharing duties over the past few years: Merrow and John ("JT") Tulenko. According to EdWeek, Tulenko will stay on as a correspondent and will like the rest of the Learning Matters team remain in New York City. The second, as-yet-unnamed correspondent will work out of Washington DC (well, Bethesda), which is where EdWeek is located. That's where the fun part comes.

Neither Kathleen Kennedy Manzo nor Virginia "Ginny" Edwards would tell me who the new correspondent might be -- I don't think they quite know themselves -- but here are some guesses at who might be in the running:

It's possible that they'll pick someone already on the EdWeek payroll, especially given that some of the current staffers have broadcast experience and obviously know education fairly well. Ben Herold did some radio when he was in Philadelphia. Arianna Prothero came out of public radio in Miami. It's also possible that there's someone at the NewsHour who's interested enough to move over to EdWeek (since nobody calls it EPE). 

My guess is that they'll look for someone who knows education at least a bit, has some broadcast experience (radio or TV), who's already in DC. That could include someone from the NPR national team, or -- my guess -- WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza (whom I've met socially as well as heard on air). Maybe they'll try and lure WNYC's Yasmeen Kahn down to try out for the job. There's a great young public TV correspondent from Chicago's WTTW, Brandis Friedman, who might be interested and ready or might like where she is. Former KPCC LA education reporter Vanessa Romo just accepted a Spencer Fellowship but that only lasts until May, really, so maybe she's a candidate, too?

Let me know if you have any other, better ideas -- or if my ideas are all wrong.

Other tidbits that I can tell you with greater certainty include that Edwards says she has raised $4.5 million to support the new operation over the next three years, led by a commitment from the Wallace Foundation, and that EdWeek is building a new studio in the Bethesda office to do more video for online and broadcast.  

There's no money changing hands between EdWeek and Merrow, and just one board member from Learning Matters is coming over to EdWeek, which is apparently why it's an acquisition rather than a sale or merger.

Edwards also tells me that there's an MOU with the NewsHour spelling out the collaboration between the two organizations, which have for many years operated on little more than a handshake between Merrow and his counterparts at the NewsHour. Learning Matters without the NewsHour isn't nearly as appealing as the two of them together, so that makes sense to nail that down as part of the deal. 

The idea of merging the two organizations has been around for years, according to Edwards, but talks started in earnest last Spring when Merrow told insiders (including me) that he was going to retire soon but hoped to find a way for Learning Matters to continue. Edwards had been on Merrow's board for a time. Learning Matters has been a content partner to EdWeek. "There is only one organization with the expertise, talent, and reputation to continue this work, and that’s EdWeek," says Merrow in a press release.

EdWeek has experimented with video content over the years, and won an award from EWA for a feature focused on Native American education, but has never done all that much with it -- and has never had access to a broadcast outlet like the NewsHour.  

The NewsHour has experimented with online coverage of education in between broadcast segments, and has an education page but no dedicated staffer covering the beat to my knowledge. For what seems like forever, the vast majority of its field segments (those including coverage of schools and live events outside the studio) have been provided by Learning Matters. 

Given all the other options that the NewsHour could have explored -- including handling education internally or farming it out to any number of other production companies who would have jumped at the chance -- and the challenges of the last few years in journalism over all, EdWeek can be forgiven the swagger in its release:  

"At a time when many news organizations have struggled to sustain their audiences and even their businesses, the nonprofit Education Week is a success story," brags EdWeek. "The legacy news operation has not only survived the media disruption, but leveraged it, catalyzing its authoritative coverage with even more engaging and diversified forms of journalism."

I've put out calls to Merrow and to the NewsHour and will let you know what if any additional information I get back from them.

Related posts: Last Night’s PBS NewsHour May Have (Wildly) Overstated the Dropout Rate for New TeachersSome High-Poverty Districts Exceed Federal Opt-Out Limit.

Quotes: Worst Schools = The "New" Plantation

Quotes2There is no hokum that Diane Ravitch can write that will absolve her of her destructive support of this new slave trade... No monograph Karen Magee or S.O.S. soccer moms in Westchester’s leafy burbs can offer that trumps their doublespeak about educational opportunity for all…while they hoard it for themselves. -- NY-CAN's Derrell Bradford from a speech delivered yesterday at CCNY.

Note that this is far from the first time that slavery has come up in the education debate, most recently in a WNYC series this summer. See related posts on the topic: Slavery, The Holocaust, & NCLB (2008), What It's Like Being A 12 Year-Old (2015)

Related posts: No One Can Handle Derrell BradfordHow Organizers See The Parent TriggerNotes From Yale SOM 2011Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media PanelThe "Disqualification Morass"

Morning Video: Noguera, Hagopian, Cunningham Debate Education

On Sunday, Al Jazeera America's Third Rail show featured these three talking about education. See one segment above. See others here (scroll down for various segments).

School Shootings: How Sandy Hook Marked End of The Gun Control Debate

 "In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over." -- Daily Telegraph commentator Dan Hodges via Wonkblog

Movies: New Montclair Documentary Avoids Simplistic Hero/Villain Approach

Got away
If and when you get the chance, be sure to check out a new documentary, "The One That Got Away," which explores the challenges facing low-income families, schools that serve them, and social services systems -- in a more balanced and thoughtful way than many other films of this kind.
 
There's no trailer yet, not even a website or social media, but the flyer for the documentary, screened earlier this year at the Montclair Film Fest (where it's based) and last night at Scholastic in Manhattan (thanks, Tyler!), promises a pretty dramatic story: "Once president of his middle school; now behind bars. The One That Got Away tells the true story of Tourrie Moses, a once-highly promising New Jersey student from a troubled background who is now in prison for murder, and a profoundly devoted team of teachers who tried to help him thrive." 
 
And indeed the film tells an intense, vivid tale. The interviews with Tourrie's mother, who's struggled with heroin addiction, and his strict but loving father, who says he spent roughly 20 years in and out of prison, are particularly challenging to watch. 

But the most interesting and helpful aspect to the film is how it describes a situation in which there are no black-and-white heroes or villains, and no bright or artificial line between parents, school, and social services agencies tasked with supporting families and children in tough circumstances.  

 
It's not the school, or the teacher, or the kid, or society. It's all of them. 
 
As depicted in the film, the educators at Glenfield Middle School are incredibly concerned and dedicated but are using an ad hoc warning system of supports and interventions. Ditto for the high school educators who try and fail to get Moses through a delicate transition from middle school despite his social services case having been formally closed. The parents are both flawed but by no means unloving or entirely absent. Tourrie (known to his family as Ray Ray) is intensely charismatic and eager to learn but unable to hold onto his connections to his teachers and his father over the reliable if limited lure of the streets.
 
In capturing these overlapping roles and dynamics, the film raises both structural societal issues (racism, inequality) and issues of personal and individual effort. But neither society nor the individual is given responsibility for the outcome in this film. It's shared. 
 
(And, blessedly, there's nothing in the film about Common Core, standardized testing, teacher evaluation, charter schools, the Gates Foundation, or any of the other obsessions of the current era. )
 
There are some issues I had with the documentary, including some heavy-handed interviewing (especially in a scene about drug addiction), and a front porch group interview with former classmates that's not as useful or enlightening as intended.
 
And, while the educators and social services agency staffers who are interviewed express deep regret and renewed vigilance against a repeat of systemic failures, it's not entirely clear to me that they've given up their ad hoc approach (based on personal relationships) and replaced it with a more reliable warning and intervention system. 
 
This film will raise awareness of the problems facing schools serving kids like Tourrie but I'm not as confident as I'd like to be that a similar tragedy couldn't be happening again right now.
 

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.