The fact is, that while NEA does not control curriculum, set funding levels, or hire and fire, we cannot go on denying responsibility for school quality. - Former NEA President Bob Chase (in 1997) via DFER's Charlie Barone
The fact is, that while NEA does not control curriculum, set funding levels, or hire and fire, we cannot go on denying responsibility for school quality. - Former NEA President Bob Chase (in 1997) via DFER's Charlie Barone
She (Robin Chait) is an education wonk at ostensibly left-leaning CAP, and he (Jonathan) is a writer at sharp-elbowed New York magazine. They both write about a education a lot these days. Image via Facebook.
*Correction: She's no longer at CAP and is now at a charter school network (via LinkedIn)
I need more non-reform couples, obviously. Nominations?
The impulse to want a neighborhood school for your children is understandable... [But advocates for neighborhood schools] are part of the problem not part of the solution. -- Warren Simmons, executive director of The Annenberg Institute for School Reform (The Uncomfortable Reality of Community Schools).
This documentary trailer (h/t AJAM) tells the story of "how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned how to build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts. And defeat engineering powerhouse MIT in the process." #underwaterdreams
The Minnesota Star Tribune posted the story last week that SF was pulling out of the state (StudentsFirst pulls up stakes), and reported that the group was getting out of FLA, too.
EdWeek added to the story (StudentsFirst Powers Down Five State Affiliates) by listing the 5 states that were being shuttered (Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, and Minnesota), explaining the the reasons for closing up shop differ by state, and noting that Travis Pillow at RedefinED got to the FLA part of story first.
Politico led with the story in its morning roundup today (Rhee’s group retrenches) but provided little by way of new information and (old habits die hard) failed to credit EdWeek or the Minnesota Star Tribune or anyone else for unearthing the news.
Sure, it's embarrassing having other folks break a story that probably should be yours. But it only makes it worse when they pretend you dug it up themselves or assume their readers don't know/don't care where the story idea came from. Plus, it makes their hard-working counterparts really hate them.
Previous posts: StudentsFirst 14-State 2012 Candidate Spending; StudentsFirst 2012 Spending On Local Board Races; NEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirst; Why's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?
I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but The New Yorker goes deep with its latest education story (A Struggling School Made a Shocking Choice), by contributor Rachel Aviv.
"Struggling to meet data-driven district targets, as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind, administrators and teachers at Parks first began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests in 2006.
"The resulting scores significantly raised the school’s percentage of eighth graders who met the state’s standards.
"The success created an ongoing cycle that fostered continuous cheating—by 2008, the practices had become what Christopher Waller, the school’s former principal, calls a “well-oiled machine.”
The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.
Could it happen again soon? The story seems to suggest it's likely.
Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.
So you think that edtech (and school reform in general) are full of buzzwords and hot new trends? Well, that may be true. But edtech’s got nothing on adult education, which freely adopts jargon and innovation from the K-12 and postsecondary worlds and then adds its own particular set of terms and approaches.
Some of the developments – flipped, blended, gamified, mobile learning – are familiar trends generally mirroring those taking place in other sectors. Others trends and concepts – contextualization, “braided” funding, and “bridge” programs – are more specific to the needs of low-skill adults and adult education programs who serve them.
The errant tweet -- "I reach out to diverse sources on deadline. Only the white guys get back to me :( " -- went out under @NPR-Ed, making matters somewhat worse.
Kamenetz apologized pretty quickly, took responsibility and nobody took the tweet down. I passed it along and assumed it was all over.
However, more recently EWAer Dakarai Aarons posted about the situation on Facebook, linking to a blog post summarizing the situation, the online reactoins, and noting NPR's struggles with newsroom diversity and programming diversity, and its hiring of Juana Summers as part of the education team.
The Blaze also picked up the story, referencing Juan Williams but also noting that "the initial tweet expressed a desire to hear from minority sources (in addition to the offending phrasing)... [and that Kamenetz] "was engaged and apologetic throughout the process, yet many continued to harangue her."
Also: NPR reporter apologizes after being called out for ‘diversity’ gaffe (Twitchy).
A recent CJR article tells the story of how New Orleans' nonprofit outlet is going to have to cut its near-comprehensive coverage of charter school board meetings and is going to lose its star reporter Jessica Williams (In New Orleans, a comprehensive schools coverage hiatus).
The news could be cause for alarm, but Williams isn't going far, and The Lens' comprehensive approach of the past four years is being replaced by a more targeted one (which sounds more sensible, anyway).
The events remind us that nonprofit news is a relatively new and untried model when it comes to local education coverage. There are a bunch of other outlets out there trying to avoid The Lens' current predicament.
Image via Flickr.
Earlier today, Politico reported that StudentsFirst has raised a whopping $62 million in campaign contributions in the past two years. However, EdWeek reports that national and state teachers unions spent a combined $191 million in 2012 alone (see chart alone). However imperfect, the comparison serves as a useful reminder that reform money, however new and on the rise it may be currently, remains substantially less than teacher union money.
Correction: The initial headline said StudentsFirst spent "462M" since I neglected to hit the shift button at the right moment.
Either this is a co-operative project, funded by experience, evidence and expertise, as well as the mutual passion for integrity, education and innovation (and yes, venture capital). Or it’s a series of expensive and limiting failures where working-stiff educators have to pick up the pieces. - (A Distemperate Response to Silicon Valley’s ‘Edtech Revolution’)
From time to time, Educators 4 Excellence puts together teams of teachers to research and make recommendations on various aspects of education policy.
The report - authored by thirteen current classroom teachers - suggests attracting teachers with additional compensation for hard-to-staff placements and recommends selectively retaining teachers by offering incentives for teacher and school impacts on student growth.
It also argues that rather than paying teachers bonuses for graduate credits and degrees, we should offer teachers rewards for 'mastery-based' professional development of specific skills or for taking on well-defined leadership roles.
Since many of these proposals are controversial among educators, I wanted to hear more from actual teachers who support them.
Last week, I sat down with one of the report's authors: sixth grade English and Social Studies teacher Menya Cole (pictured).
Menya taught in Detroit through Teach for America and now teaches at a charter school in Los Angeles. It was another TfA alumnus who connected her to Educators 4 Excellence.
A transcript of a portion of our conversation, edited for clarity, is below the fold.
Here's something I've been thinking might happen for a while now -- a new national network of diverse charter schools has been announced.
Included among the founding members are several of the schools I profiled in Education Next a couple of years ago (Brooklyn Prospect, Bricolage (NOLA), Community Roots, DSST (Denver), and yes, Success Academy.
See the full press release below, and tune into (attend) the panel on diverse charters at 4pm local time in Las Vegas.
Previous posts: Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse NOLA Charter Opens; Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability; and Change Could Help Promote Charter Diversity.
Local Fox News segment on NY version of Vergara that's being planned, featuring Mayor de Blasio and Campbell Brown.
The most recent episode of NPR's "On The Media" ponders the meaning of The End of "Tell Me More", the daily national show whose demise has recently been announced (the same week as NPR_ED was launched, as EdWeek's Mark Walsh noted).
"On The Media"'s focus was mostly on the issue of the diversity of the hosts and producers who were on the show (pictured). But the segment got me thinking about the education segments and topics that the show covered.
Though I didn't always note all the education segments the show was putting out -- Google shows 117 references to host Michel Martin -- there was a fairly regular segment on parenting that often got to education-related issues. The show held a big 2012 #npredchat on Twitter (check it out #npredchat aggregate page). EWA's public editor Emily Richmond was a guest on the show (listen to the audio here). There were some great education-related commentaries from host Martin including one about education coverage that I recently linked to (Do You Want The Truth, Or Do You Just Like Your Story Better?)
The show ends August. You can keep following its host @MichelMcQMartin.
The best and worst education news of 2014 — so far - @Larryferlazzo in the Washington Post
Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night about the new Participant documentary about college costs and outcomes.
Because there's always more to learn, I'm headed off to Chicago to attend the Covering Common Core journalists' training session being hosted by Poynter, EWA, and Northwestern over the next couple of days.
What's your favorite Common Core story so far?
What's a Common Core story you haven't seen, or a bit of knowledge that hasn't been surfaced yet?
Mine include Cory Turner's "taking the Common Core" approach, and my own peek inside the field test help desk, but I'm sure there are other better options.
Alexander Russo's How Waiting for Superman (almost) Changed the World explains how Davis Guggenheim's film created a zeitgeist.
But, did it produce "measurable impact?"
Participant, the film's production company, sought to "ignite social changes." Participant was founded by eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll, and it specializes in "star-laden, carefully crafted, politically colored fims."
Whether Participant knew it or not, in its attempt to claim success, it borrowed from a common school reform meme. Test-driven reformers often claim that increases in student performances in the 1990s were the result of the NCLB Act of 2001. Similarly, Participant claims credit for closing New York City's so-called "Rubber Room," and the Washington D.C. teachers' contract. Both took place before the movie came out.
Michelle Rhee also credits Waiting for Superman for persuading top donors to contribute to StudentsFirst. But, she also claims that her organization is good, not destructive, for public schools.
An objective study, funded by the Ford Foundation, determined that the general public gave good reviews to the film, awarding four out of five stars. Education professionals gave it two stars, concluding that its "depiction of teachers and unions was simplistic."
Russo's account of the making of Guggenheim's film and of its effects is balanced. If he has a bias, it is towards skepticism, even cynicism. Russo indicates that do-gooders must anticipate that their efforts will be "misunderstood or mischaracterized." When that happened, the filmmaker's team responded with "genuine or feigned" surprise.
So you're a liberal member of the 1 percent, and you've decided to wrest control of the Democratic agenda from change-averse insiders... Where do you turn for leadership and innovation? To the teachers union, of course! - Former New York Times Sunday Magazine reporter Matt Bai (Rich Democrats go from challenging the status quo to embracing it)
The Hamilton Project (@hamiltonproj via Brookings) is having a big event today and tomorrow -- check it out -- but you may be pleased or disconcerted to note that their proposed efforts at #AddressingPoverty. -- 14 new policy proposals -- don't really involve K-12 education.
Early childhood education? Sure.
After-school and summer learning? But of course.
A smattering of education types -- NYU's Amy Schwartz, Harvard's Bridget Terry Long. OK.
Whether this means that poverty isn't really an issue that K-12 can be expected to help address, or that the current mess of K-12 (for poor kids, at least) is more daunting than poverty, I'll leave the interpretation up to you.
Personally, I feel a little left out.
Previous posts: Reduced Poverty Or Teacher Quality? "Both," Says Rhee; Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway? (Bruno); What Next For Poverty/Inequality 2014?; More Poverty In Suburbs Than In Cities; Poverty Hurts US Students More Than In Other Nations; Let's Not Talk About 43M Poor People; Poverty Increases Cut Both Ways In Reform Debate.
From ProPublica's Heather Vogell: "Public schoolchildren across the country were physically restrained or isolated in rooms they couldn’t leave at least 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, despite a near-consensus that such practices are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit. Many states have little regulation or oversight of such practices." (Can Schools in Your State Pin Kids Down? Probably.., Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will)
"Americans donated a record $52.07 billion to education in 2013. Adjusted for inflation, this figure marks a 7.4 percent increase over 2012. (Charitable giving to higher education restored to pre-recession levels, report indicates Inside HigherEd via Marketplace) Some of you would like philanthropic giving to education to go away, it often seems, but most folks actually in schools probably feel otherwise. Thirty to 40 percent of giving goes to K-12.
One of the big stories out of yesterday's NCTQ report was the weakness of alternative certification programs, as noted by Teacher Beat (Alternative Certification Deemed Weak). "For the most part, the 85 alternative programs analyzed weren't sufficiently selective, didn't ensure that applicants knew their content, and did far too little to supervise the new teachers in the classroom, the NCTQ concludes."
As this AEI paper from 2012 describes, one structural reason for the lack of quality behind alt cert programs is that their graduates are deemed highly qualified under NCLB and allowed to be hired without any negative consequences -- a provision created for TFA and staunchly defended by it in the intervening years. The paper also notes that TFA is the brand name for alt cert but its members are very much the minority in terms of overall alt cert teachers.
UPDATE: "All eight TFA regions received the highest rating for how we admit talented individuals into teaching," notes TFA's response to the NCTQ report. "Additionally all eight regions received high ratings in supervised practice." See full statement below.
You can argue that some of the OTHER things the Obama administration has done constitute something of an over-reach, but not on standards. -- Achieve's Mike Cohen speaking at #EWA154 (at roughly the 8:33 mark)
The Vergara decision came down -- largely in favor of the student plaintiffs -- but then the Gates Foundation came out with a statement in support of a Common Core delay (in terms of high-stakes implications), seeming to catch everyone by surprise:
College presidents express support for Common Core - Newsday http://ht.ly/xQJqY
A Black Father's Search for a Diverse Preschool - Education Week http://ht.ly/xF2s5
@AP: BREAKING: Police: Shooter used rifle in fatal attack at Oregon high school; teacher injured.
Why did the film come out the particular way it did?
What effects, direct and indirect, did the film have on funding, events, and public perception? (How do you measure a "social impact" film, anyway?)
Where are the 5 kids profiled in the film now -- whatever happened to them?
These are some of the topics my long-awaited, much-anticipated re-examination of 2010's controversial documentary, Waiting for Superman, will attempt to address when it's published -- perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Long curious about whether the film was as big a success (or failure) as commonly presented, I pitched the idea of a look back at the Gates-funded Davis Guggenheim documentary to AEI and they kindly commissioned the piece (without any clear sense of what I'd end up having to say). I've written two other case studies published by AEI -- the first about the 2008 campaign to make education a big issue in the Presidential campaign, and the second about TFA's near-death experience being disqualified under NCLB.
In How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Swift Common Core Revolution, The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton explains that two men met with Bill Gates in 2008 and asked for his support of rigorous national standards.
After a brief discussion within the Gates Foundation, a full court press in favor of Common Core was launched. This was done in spite the social science research questioning whether better standards were likely to improve schools.
The foundation funded “almost every consequential education group,” as Diane Ravitch aptly put it, in their efforts to promote the standards. The standard step of conducting pilot studies before such a major innovation was skipped. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan used the Race to the Top grant process as leverage to advance Common Core. Within two years, Gates’s preferred policy was adopted by almost every state in the nation.
Where have we seen this story before?
Steve Brill’s Class Warfare explains that Gates met with two men in 2007. They pushed their pet theory about value-added teacher evaluations.
There's a long piece about the Common Core in the Washington Post you should probably read -- but be forewarned that the view of events and the causal chain that's cobbled together in the piece isn't entirely accurate or fairly contextualized (and differs from other accounts of what happened and why).
Basically, the Post's piece makes the claim that Bill Gates was behind the Common Core's rapid spread over the past few years. Indeed, the headline claims that Gates "pulled off" the Common Core, like it was a heist or a grift.
"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes." Both left and right -- Diane Ravitch and NRO's Stanley Kurtz -- are already calling for Congressional hearings.
Gates' support is clear, and no doubt played a role. There are some fascinating tidbits about that process in the piece. But let's be clear: the idea for common national standards and tests goes back a long long way before Gates (and David Coleman), the spread of the Common Core in recent years wasn't merely a function of Gates' enthusiasm and largess, and the myth of the all-powerful billionaire is just that.
"The DFER PAC donated $43,000 to parties, committees, and federal candidates in the 2008 cycle and $17,500 in 2012. And reform-friendly Students First gave just $10,000 in 2012—to a single congressional candidate. The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers combined to give over $5.5 million in 2008 and nearly $20 million in 2012." - Conor Williams in TNR (Hillary Clinton's Education Policy: Other Implications for 2016)
News came out on Friday that Zuckerberg and Chan were going to give another big gift to education -- this time to the Bay Area. Will it be any different -- or more effective -- than the Newark gift?
The PIE Network is adding 5 new members to its group of reform-oriented advocacy groups, I'm told, bringing them up to 49 education advocacy organizations working in 31 state capitols and Washington D.C.
News is out that CQ Roll Call reporter (and current Spencer Education Journalism Fellow) Lauren Smith Camera is going to join Alyson Klein at @PoliticsK12, EdWeek's blog covering the USDE and Congress.
No longer will Camera's work be hidden behind CQ's paywall. She'll be out front, doing daily battle with all the new upstarts that have appeared in basically the same space (RealClear, Politico, etc.).
Camera will be replacing Michele McNeil, the blog's co-founder, who left recently to join the College Board.
Camera's Spencer year has been spent looking into whether federal funding in the form of competitive grants is a good investment (compared to dedicated funding streams).
Previous posts: New Spencer Fellows, New Research Topics; Recollections, Controversy, & Advice From Departing PK-12 Blogger; Do Journalists Make Good Program Officers?; Two Journos Win Nieman Fellowships, Another Heads To College Board. Image via SpencerFellows.org
Zuckerberg, Wife Gift $120M to CA Schools AP: The first $5 million will go to school districts in San Francisco, Ravenswood and Redwood City and will focus on principal training, classroom technology and helping students transition from the 8th to the 9th grade. The couple and their foundation, called Startup: Education, determined the issues of most urgent need based on discussions with school administrators and local leaders.
At a Glance: Biggest Tech Donors in 2013 AP: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, topped the list of the most generous American philanthropists in 2013 with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock that are now worth more than $1 billion. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it was the largest charitable gift on the public record in 2013. On Friday, they announced a $120 million gift to the San Francisco Bay Area public school system.
Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition NYT: The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to replace the Common Core standards with locally written versions, and Missouri is considering a related measure.
California's CORE Districts Faltering On Key Tenets of Waiver, Ed. Dept. Says District Dossier: Education Department officials flagged problem areas for the seven districts participating in the No Child Left Behind Act waiver, including delays and changes to strategies aimed at the lowest-achieving schools.
ACLU Sues California For 'Equal Learning Time' WNYC: The lawsuit names students including Briana Lamb as members of the class. In the fall of 2012, when Lamb showed up for her junior year at Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles, she says her schedule was full of holes.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Worried about data privacy and social media? Then don't read Dave Eggers' ‘The Circle, in which a post-Facebook company decides that sharing is not just optional and that knowing where kids are and what they're up to at all times is a good thing.
Eggers couldn't have known when he was writing the book that 2013-2014 would be such a big year for student data privacy (and the larger issue of surveillance), but then again Gary Shtyngart made some pretty good guesses about the near future in his dystopian novel, Super Sad True Love Story. Nearly everything but Staten Island becoming cool has come true.
But I digress. It's not a great book - pretty obvious stuff -- and it's not really focused on education, writ small. But there are obvious education implications and a bit of direct address, and that's all it takes, apparently.
Previous posts about novels, dystopias, etc: (Where Are) The Best Novels About Education?; A Dystopian Education Thriller!;A Perfect Test, A Secret List... A Murder; A TFA Refugee's Interesting-Sounding Novel; The Rise Of The "Cell Phone Novel"; How NCLB Is Like A Russian Novel;
I never want to bet against our digital future, and I’m predisposed to agree with most of Marc Prensky’s hopefulness, as proclaimed in Brain Gain. But, Prensky seems too dismissive of the reports by teachers and others about the shortterm damage being caused by our rapid adoption of digital technology.
I don’t think that we have gotten to the point where all of the reports about unintended negative effects of this technology could be due to a mass hallucination, perhaps recorded in some secret space in the Cloud.
So, while I will enjoy and gain energy from the predictions of futurologists, I’ll stick to my knitting and just pontificate on the field I know – inner city schools.
I got a kick out of Prensky’s overly rational anticipation of a key issue related to Mark Zuckerberg’s donation of $100 million to Newark schools. He wrote that “potentially, it is a very good thing … if it is used in a digitally wise way.” Prensky thus seemed to anticipate that Zuckerberg would contribute in ways that he was qualified to contribute. He also hoped that Zuckerberg would “imagine and plan for at least a year (and maybe more) before any technology gets ordered.”
In other words, Prensky didn’t seem to consider the possibility that someone as smart as Zuckerberg would jump into a field he knew nothing about, and finance a transformational reform of it, without even looking into the basic evidence about what works in school improvement. Zuckerberg, the technology expert, illogically invested in a mayor, Cory Booker, who made a virtually evidence-free bet on incentives and disincentives that had a long history of failure!?!?
What would have happened, however, if Zuckerberg had stuck to his knitting and invested his money in something he knew about?
Another week, another education site launches.
You already knew this one was coming -- and that Adriene Hill was going to be the lead reporter along with editory Betsy Streisand.
But you probably didn't know that the effort was going to be dubbed Learning Curve.
"The most ambitious and expansive education project in Marketplace’s 25-year history, LearningCurve will engage a national audience in an ongoing conversation on multiple platforms. Coverage will include on air segments across the Marketplace portfolio of public radio programs, a dedicated website, infographics and interactive quizzes, videos, dedicated Twitter and Tumblr accounts and, starting later in June, a regular podcast hosted by Adriene Hill and Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson."
Read the full press release below. Crossed fingers.
This is from SXSW earlier this spring -- what do you think? The other option was Phil Collins singing "In The Air Tonight" at his sons' middle school talent show.
"At the very least, things are not as bad as they were before the court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools," notes HuffPost entry on UCLA study released today. Over all, at least. Segregation in the NE is higher than it was in 1968, and the segregation rates are up across the board since 1989 for all regions.
An anonymous Montclair New Jersey blog called "Montclair Schools Watch" noted earlier this week that Maia Davis, apparently one of the most prominent critics of the district and its implementation of the Common Core, has been quoted repeatedly in local media (like the Bergen Record) and started a group critical of reform efforts there without being identified as a UFT communications staffer.
"It’s probably not a coincidence that one of their most aggressive spokespeople is really a professional spokesperson, employed by the massive teachers union across the river that has been one of the most aggressive in fighting reform efforts."
That's pretty much all I know. Someone with the same name as Davis IDs herself as such on Twitter (@maia_davis). On Twitter, WSJ reporter Lisa Fleisher says that neither she nor her successor Leslie Brodie quoted Davis in their pieces but that Davis' views shouldn't necessarily be discounted if a reporter says where she works: "Hopefully people strongly believe in their work, so it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that in a story."
Should reporters ask (and pass along) what parent advocates do for their day jobs? Should advocates identify themselves by where they work or what kind of work they do if it's relevant? My inclination is to say "yes." The issue has come up in the past, for example in Chicago where parents and teachers were quoted without any indication of their affiliations. Reporters often reach out to the closest, most convenient, and most vocal stakeholders for quotes (rather than the most typical ones), and fail to ID them as such.
Of course, the blog making this point doesn't have any names attached to it, so the point is somewhat undercut. Whether it's "reformy astro turf" (as described by a critic on Twitter) or balanced and responsible, we don't know. And, the person who sent me the item comes from the reform side of the aisle, so there's that, too.
Here's a roundup of coverage I've seen so far of Dale Russakoff's New Yorker article about reform efforts in Newark:
NJ Spotlight (In Newark, New Yorker Magazine Grabs Attention of Educators, Politicos) credits the story for creating a lot of election-week buzz -- especially about the claim that most of the $100M Zuckerberg gift is gone or committed -- and reminds us that Russakoff is working on a book about Newark.
Over at Salon (Mark Zuckerberg’s Newark schools cash drop) there are four lessons from the "epic" article about "charter schools, political ambition, race and poverty. ... It’s a story about a problem without an easy solution." Indeed.
The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates (When School Reform And Democracy Meet) has what might be the most robust reader comment thread going (77 entries and counting) and hones in on Russakoff's theme that reformers operate in an anti-democratic way (about which I have many thoughts) even though he (Coates) is "unconvinced" that teachers should be tenured and shares Booker's thoughts about seniority.
Last but not least, don't miss the photo essay that accompanies Russakoff's article (Picture Me Tomorrow: The Faces of a Newark School), taken at a renewal school (Carver) where the principal is being removed.
Any other notable takes on the piece? Let us know. I'm trying to get an interview with Dale (a woman, by the way -- seems to be a lot of confusion about this), and trying to gather my own thoughts as well.
Despite all the sturm und drang of education reform debates, despite all the noise and nonsense, the trajectory of American public education hasn’t changed a whole lot. Even the biggest, most comprehensive reforms have mostly ended up as tinkering around the edges. - New America's Connor Williams (Taking Education Reform From Launch to Stable Orbit)
"In the debate over the CCSS, as in other efforts to even the odds for underserved students, education reformers have not won the hearts and minds of the families and communities they seek to serve," is the stark summary from the NSVF 2014 summit video presented below:
It's an issue for progressive educators, too, as you may recall from last month's The Unbearable Whiteness of the American Left (The Nation).
"In 2010, Zuckerberg pledged a hundred-million-dollar challenge grant to help Booker, then the mayor of Newark, and Christie overhaul the school district, one of the most troubled in the country.
"Four years later, “improbably, a [school] district with a billion dollars in revenue and two hundred million dollars in philanthropy was going broke,” and Newark is at war over its schools."
Closing quote:" Shavar Jeffries believes that the Newark backlash could have been avoided. Too often, he said, “education reform . . . comes across as colonial to people who’ve been here for decades. It’s very missionary, imposed, done to people rather than in coöperation with people.” Some reformers have told him that unions and machine politicians will always dominate turnout in school-board elections and thus control the public schools. He disagrees: “This is a democracy. A majority of people support these ideas. You have to build coalitions and educate and advocate.” As he put it to me at the outset of the reform initiative, “This remains the United States. At some time, you have to persuade people.”
Check it out and let us know if it's interesting, fair, etc.
Speaking of philanthropy, check out this new article in Businessweek if you want to be amazed and perhaps appalled at how little is known about some of the wealthy individuals who decide to create foundations and give their money away rather than pay it in taxes and let the government decide what's most important (Three Mysterious Philanthropists Fund Fourth-Largest U.S. Charity).
It's not so much that the grantmaking decisions are horrible -- some include education-related efforts, like LA's 9 Dots, which is always good to me.
It's that there's a lot of money involved -- an estimated $44 billion per year -- and that the transparency isn't always as good as it should be.
This piece from Inside Philanthropy asks and tries to answer the very good question: Why the Joyce Foundation Chose a Wall Street Journal Reporter to Lead Its Education Program.
At Joyce, Banchero will be Senior Program Officer and report directly to Joyce President Ellen Alberding. She'll be using her reporters' skills to dig into programs and make decisions about who gets funded or re-funded.
This is in contrast to other ed journalists who have gone to work in writing or communications capacities for the USDE (Hoff, Turner), or a nonprofit (Chenoweth, Aarons, Sipchen) or a communications firm (Zuckerbrod, etc.).
Banchero isn't the only reporter to have a grantmaking or programmatic role. EdWeek's Lynn Olsen at Gates is deeply involved in programmatic decisions, and just the other week Michele McNeil announced she was going to work for the College Board -- in a policy position. Three makes a trend, right?
Of course, being a good reporter doesn't mean you'll be a good program officer. Journalists are typically quick studies and great at boiling things down but not too many have studied education policy or know much about evaluation or philanthropy, or know when it's their turn to buy the next round, or how to manage larger long-term projects or how to suck up to board members.
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.