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Quotes: Reno Teachers Love The Core, Worry About The Tests

Quotes2For many teachers in Washoe County, Common Core has been liberating. They are free from the way textbooks, and tests, had come to define education... But new tests are coming. -- American Radio Works (Teachers embrace the Common Core)

Advocacy: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism

image from educationpost.orgThe Washington Post has a story about Peter Cunningham's new education group (Education Post aims to take the sting out of national conversations about school reform) that hints at but doesn't quite get to the real story behind the organization.

Described as "a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions," the $12 million Chicago-based organization (Cunningham, Mike Vaughn, etc.) is funded by Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton, among others.  

It's an obvious (and long-needed) attempt to address the insufficiencies of the reform movement when it comes to shaping the education debate -- the reform version of Parents Across America or the Network for Public Education or Sabrina Stevens' group (though I haven't heard much from them lately).

The purely communication-oriented outfit ((RSS FeedTwitter) is led by longtime Arne Duncan guy Cunningham and including blogger Citizen Stewart. A sampling of their blog posts (Public Education Needs a New ConversationSpeak Up, Don’t Give UpThe Right School for My ChildThe Common Sense Behind Common Core 

Versions of Education Post have been discussed for a while now, online and in the real world.  A version of the same idea almost came to being 18 months ago, tentatively called "The Hub." Why another group? Advocacy groups get embroiled in pushing for changes, and lack time and resources to coordinate among each other or to focus on communications. They barely have time or capacity to defend themselves, much less put out a positive agenda across multiple groups.  

Meantime, a small but dedicated group of reform critics and groups(many of them union-funded or - affiliated) has managed to embed themselves in the minds of reporters and generate an enormous amount of resistance to reform measures. 

Related posts: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

Books: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led

image from tcf.orgI've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.

The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts: 

*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).

*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).

*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).

The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.

Related posts:  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.

Numbers: 27 State New Ed Reform Groups In 5 Years

Over the past five years, national K-12 advocacy organizations created 27 state affiliates, according to a May 2014 report  quoted in EdWeek (Leadership, Political Winds Buffet Education Advocacy Groups).  

That's up from 8 such groups created in the decade 1997-2007. 

You can read the report here.

I've asked them for updated figures, since some of the affiliates have closed up shop and others have opened since then.

Philanthropy: Case Studies Of 100 Grant-Funded Efforts (1900-2000)

Doing some research on foundation-funded education efforts (and still looking for an apples-to-apples comparison to the Ford era to the Gates era) this interesting collection of cases was recommended to me by Stanford's Rob Reich (Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret).  

It's 100 case studies focused on specific grant-funded efforts from 1900 to 2000. Some of the most interesting recent ones include: Charter Schools Funding: Walton Family Foundation, 1991Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000A Model for the New Inner-City School: KIPP Academies: Pisces Foundation, 2000. But there are lots of others.  

Anyone seen case studies of more recent grant-funded efforts (say, since 2005)? As you know, I think it can be fascinating to look back and examine efforts like these, however they turned out. These cases aren't comprehensive -- some are quite short -- but the approach is appealing.  It also reminds us that the Gates era is just the most recent one, and that previous efforts have struggled with impact and in some cases been wrong-headed, too.

Media: 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Finding great public radio content online is getting easier and easier, thanks to there being more of it available in more places.  

This recent Poynter article touts a new streaming (think Pandora) service (NPR One app potential is huge) out of the national NPR shop plus six big local stations.  I've tried it a little and it's OK but not my favorite (yet).

There's also the WNYC "Discover" app, which lets you pick some categories of story that you like (both local to New York City and national) and download them before you get on the subway or into your bunker as the case may be.  There's more and more WiFi on subway platforms, but still not much by way of service in between stations.  The key is remembering to download the material ahead of time (and finding it once you have).

However, I'm still a big fan of the basic NPR News app, in large part because it lets me livesream whatever station I want to listen to, and also allows me to listen via program -- catching up on All Things Considered, for example -- after hours or even the next day.  For any given program, just hit "Add All To Playlist" and - boom! -- it's all there.)

I'm not sure if that's technically considered a podcast or not -- some of these distinctions are lost on me -- but I know that I like being able to go back and hear the most recent version of a show I missed if I was out, or busy, or napping, or whatever.  That they're mobile is great, but I must admit that a lot of the time I'm listening to them sitting at my desk or in front of a laptop.

Last but not least, since my policy is that no post should lack at least a smidgen of controversy, check out Peter Cook's critique of NPR's recent New Orleans charter schools piece, which contained not only a big error that had to be corrected on air but also a few other wiggly aspects.   Early on, NPR's education team was sometimes accused of being pro-reform because it's funded by some pro-reform foundations.  In Cook's piece, he raises the question whether it (or its newsroom) lean the other way.

Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?

As was apparent at last week's discussion of the Vergara case between Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane, the current generation of school reformers is generally dismissive of legal cases in search of school improvements. 

Lawsuits don't work, or are at best crude measures compared to policies and statutes.Or, theyre good for quantity-related issues (like funding) but not for quality-related issues (like access to effective teaching). Check out Petrilli and McShane's responses to my Twitter query at the 30 minute mark.

They may be right. I'm no legal scholar, and it's certainly conventional wisdom that the wave of equity and adequacy cases of the 1970s and 1980s didn't result in any wholesale improvements in American education. Some would say the same about civil rights cases. 

But the Vergara case, its successors, and a whole host of non-education advocacy (same-sex marriage, for example), suggest that the conventional wisdom might be worth reconsidering, or at least examining.

Historically, it seems to me that legal cases have played an important role in shaping education -- perhaps as much or more so than laws that have been passed. I don't see any big advantage of one forum over the other.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?" »

Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure

The Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits broke the news on Tuesday.  The Sacramento Bee followed up with a focus on Rhee's work on behalf of her husband, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who may run for higher office in two years.  Beaten badly on the news, Politico published a misleadingly negative account of Rhee's accomplishments, noting her successes only in the bottom half of its story.

However, it's not really news that Rhee and her organization made crazy demands and didn't coordinate well with others or that she didn't reach her $1 billion fundraising goal.  Just recently, she listed a set of states suitable for Vergara-like lawsuits without (I'm told) consulting with Campbell Brown's organization. And no doubt, Rhee et al made a bunch of mistakes. (Focusing on ending seniority in layoffs was the biggest among them, in my opinion.)

But much of the criticism now focused on Rhee is the product of anti-reform advocates gleeful at her departure and thin-skinned reformer who didn't like being elbowed aside while Rhee was on the front pages and generally failed to support or defend her against the relentless critiques of anti-reform advocates who dominate the online discourse and influence many reporters.  (For a recent example of just how dominant reform critics are online, read this US News story: Common Core Opponents Hijack Supporters' Twitter Blitz.) 

Continue reading "Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure" »

Morning Video: "Freedom Schools" Still Needed, 50 Years Later

From the PBS NewsHour: 50 Years On, Freedom Schools Still Teaching Most Vulnerable includes interview with founder of the program, who went on to start the Children's Defense Fund.

Campaigns: Parent Revolution & The AFT Walk Into The Same Organizing Event

What happens when Democratic education advocates on opposite sides of many policy issues attend the same campaign training events?  Things get awkward.  That's apparently what happend at a recent New Organizing Institute event when members of the AFT and Parent Revolution both showed up and -- I'm speculating here -- didn't much want to be put at the same table brainstorming ideas together. 

The NOI is a relatively new outfit, and its work was written up earlier this week in the Post (Inside the Democratic party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry): 

"With the real midterms fast approaching, Democrats areager to put more people in the field who've been trained in the latest campaigning techniques... Boot campers have gone on to some of the most prominent left-leaning organizations in the country — such as AFL-CIO, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood, not to mention the White House and political firms like Blue State Digital."

It makes sense that both groups would be there, given how hard everyone's trying to figure out/get better at campaign and mobilization work these past couple of years in particular.  I've heard that similar things have happened at the Marshall Ganz boot camp, too. 

Related posts:  NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To BostonCommunity Organizing & School Reform;  The Left's Getting Itself Organized, Too.

 

 

 

Morning Video: Another Day, Another Campbell Brown Segment

 

"Campbell Brown, founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice, and Keoni Wright, a NY Parent who is a plaintiff in the Wright v NY lawsuit against the state, joined Inside City Hall with Errol Louis to discuss their call to change New York’s teacher tenure rules."

Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"

For me, the hands-down top new Twitter feed in education in 2014 is @thnkscommoncore, but I may be alone in that.

The much more official and deeply-considered Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014 are quite another thing, according to the folks at Education Next who put out the annual update.

This year's version includes three lists -- top overall, top individual, and top organization.  There's lots of overlap, and no doubt some of the accounts (Arne Duncan and USDE) are being run by the same social media manager.

On a related note, should individual accounts for folks like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee that are presumably run by more than one person be included in the list of "people"?

As in the past, the list focuses on Klout scores rather than numbers of followers.  It's not clickable, or re-sortable (by followers, say).  I've asked for a Twitter list so that you can subscribe to all these folks with a single click, and crossed fingers it might happen (yay!).

As Petrilli notes, here are a couple of newcomers in the form of the Badass Teachers Association and founder Mark Naison, which should yet again have reform advocates reconsidering their disinterest in becoming involved in social media.  (Newcomer Campbell Brown is on the list, but I don't think anyone's expecting her or her organization to carry the reform message on Twitter and Facebook single-handedly.)

CAP and New America also made it -- apparently their first time.

Other observations, profound and otherwise are below the fold.  A few folks made it on the list with high Klout scores but very few followers, about which I have mixed feelings.  Some venerable education policy types aren't on this year's list, lots of mainstream media journalists and journalistic outlets aren't included either (for lack of policy or lack of activity, it's not clear).

Continue reading "Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" " »

Morning Video: AFT Head Debates Former LA Mayor On Tenure

In a followup to the Campbell Brown/David Boies segment earlier this week, Randi Weingarten and Antonio Villaraigosa talk teacher tenureon MSNBC's Morning Joe. (Other cable news shows, where are you?). More about the substance -- and the political back and forth -- at TeacherBeat.

 

Pop Culture: Pro-Reform Colbert Leapfrogs Reform Critic Stewart With Broadcast Move

Colbert via scholastic Stewart via scholasticRiffing off last week's Campbell Brown appearance on Colbert, TIME's Haley Edwards has an interesting article about the differences between the Comedy Central comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stwart (The Celebrity Death Match Over School Reform). 

If there's any doubt about Colbert's leanings, you only have to go so far as the Brown booking last week (and the protests that accompanied it), the Ravitch appearances on Stewart (but not Colbert), and Stewart's grilling of Michelle Rhee. Colbert's critique of the Common Core test questions was a slam on testing and those specific questions, in my opinion (see Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core).

The influence of the two comedians is well known (though hard to measure). One of them -- reform wins! -- is about to switch from basic cable to broacast TV. No word yet on whether Colbert's booker, Emily Lazar, is heading to the new show with him (The Most Important Media Insider You've Never Heard Of), or how much education-related bits we'll get to see in the future. 

Previous posts: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education (2014);  Colbert / Stewart Divide On School Reform (2011); Fear-Mongering Educators Dominate Colbert/Stewart Rally (2010).

Credits: (Colbert)  Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP; (Stewart) Mario Anzuoni/Reuters /Landov 

Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?

As you might have noticed on Twitter, I've been enjoying a blog called Think Tank Watch that covers the industry -- trends, dynamics, comings and goings.  

It's not specifically focused on education -- and that's part of what makes it so useful.

Here's a recent post reviewing a new book (Why Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?) examing the rise of the think tanks.  Some of the main points include: 

  • Washington tanks tanks are not primary generators of original research; that function lies with universities.
  • Think tanks are known for their ability to scour the world for attractive ideas, to legitimate them, and to promote them through electronic communications.
  • Think tanks, over the past two decades, have emerged as a complement to, and in some cases a substitute for, lobbyists, due to the ability of think tanks to exploit the rapidly growing information search and propagation capacities of electronic communications.

I've got a whole category about education think tanks, which have supplemented/replaced universities in some regards thanks to their capacity to deliver new ideas quickly and say things more definitively than academics.  That's why we have think tanker Kevin Carey writing in the Times about higher ed rather than Professor So-And-So.  

Previous posts:  Power Couples: The Wonk & The Journo*Reform Debate Often Detached From Schools & ParentsSmarick Rails Against Anti-Democratic Attitudes & ElitesIt's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyBig Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]"Wait A Minute" [On Common Core].

Disclosure: I've written and done research for some foundations, nonprofits, and think tanks.

Morning Video: What You Missed At The KIPP 20Th Anniversary Summit

 

There was a big KIPP Schools Summit a few days ago, and Whitney Tilson has kindly gathered a bunch of videos from the event (his own plus official ones). Start with the First Lady's taped greeting, and then head on to the rest below. This one is pretty inspiring.

Continue reading "Morning Video: What You Missed At The KIPP 20Th Anniversary Summit" »

AM News: NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To Boston

Out-of-state group touting charter schools expands to Boston Boston Globe: Families for Excellent Schools , a nonprofit that has been mobilizing parents in New York City to push for more charter schools is expanding to Boston, a potential boost for local charter school supporters seeking to rebound after a crushing defeat last month. 

Celebrated Trial Lawyer to Head Group Challenging Teacher Tenure NYT: Mr. Boies, the son of two public schoolteachers, is a lifelong liberal who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore and prosecuted Microsoft in the Clinton Administration’s antitrust suit. In aligning himself with a cause that is bitterly opposed by teachers’ unions, he is emblematic of an increasingly fractured relationship between the Democrats and the teachers’ unions.

Amid Criticism, States Gear Up For Common Core NPR: Delaware Gov. Jack Markell co-chaired the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He speaks with NPR's Scott Simon about the set of standards, and responds to its critics.

Legislatures taking state education into their own hands Washington Post: The backlash against the Common Core has prompted lawmakers in at least 12 states to get more involved in setting their own K-12 academic standards, injecting politics into a process usually conducted in obscurity by bureaucrats.

Debunking Common Myths About The Common Core NPR: Many people don't realize it's a set of standards, not a curriculum. NPR's Eric Westervelt talks with education reporter Cory Turner about other misconceptions about the Common Core standards.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To Boston" »

Books: The Unexpected Alliance Of Civil Rights & Women's Rights Groups

The best education-related article in the New Yorker of the past few weeks might not be Rachel Aviv's piece about the "burn-it-down-to-save-it" actions taken by some Atlanta teachers pressured to produce better results but rather Louis Menand's story about how women's rights and civil rights advocates came together uneasily.

Called The Sex Amendment, Menand's piece uses a couple of new books to tracethe work of women's rights advocates -- in almost total opposition from the rest of the liberal establishment (including civil rights leaders). "The last thing any of these people wanted was a group with a different agenda crashing the party."
 
Key takeaways for education types include the strong differences within the civil rights movement and with the women's rights movement, and the unexpected turns of events that created new opportunities and turned enemies into reluctant allies.
 
No time to recap or make all the connections, but trust me it's a good read for anyone trying to figure out how things end up getting done even when groups generally aligned (say, Democrats, or education advocates) have ended up in staunch opposition on the particulars.  I have no idea how or when this kind of thing could happen in education, but have the sense that it will -- some surprising set of events and alliances not currently part of the stalemated war between reformers and their critics.
 

Update: West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr

image from www.dfer.org

 

 

DFER California is re-launching operations for 2014 and beyond, kicked off with a few events and announcements (see press release below).  

As a big part of that effort, DFER has hired Steve Barr to be the state chapter head.  Former state legislator Gloria Romer was the previous head.  

Barr founded Green Dot Schools and more recently headed FIN Schools, which I'm told has been winding down its operations in recent months.

Previous posts:  Pro-Charter Dem PAC Expands To CA [2010]; Strange Times In California [2012]; Green Dot & Steve Barr Finalize Their "Divorce" [2011]; Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy [2013]

Continue reading "Update: West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr " »

Morning Video: New Efforts To Engage Emotional Support For Common Core

 

Here's an example of how Common Core supporters are going to try and engage the public with outrage over the current inequalities and inadequacies of the education system  - and inspiration about what the new standards can do. From NCLR via Politico. #whimsical

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Philanthropy Is Everywhere

The Expanding Role of Philanthropy in Education Politics http://ow.ly/zvgb6  @sreckhow and Jeff Snyder via @dianeravitch

Why Do Americans Stink at Math? - http://NYTimes.com  http://ow.ly/zuZMK  @elizabeth_green @elizwgreen

Apple Claims 85% of U.S. Education Market for Tablets http://ow.ly/zuqy8  [Even as iPad consumer sales flatline]

Setting the record straight on tenure  - NY Daily News http://ow.ly/zvMHG  #vergara @campbell_brown

Both @anniegilbertson & @mrpabruno think @libbyanelson's map http://bit.ly/1tBboQk  should be adjusted for COL etc 

This Aspiring Astronaut Might Be The World's Most Amazing Teen : Goats and Soda : NPR http://ow.ly/zvGZe 

Cato's Andrew Coulson slams Slate's Sweden School Choice article in @EducationNext http://ow.ly/zvn37 

High schools worse than colleges handling rape, reports Al Jazeera America http://ow.ly/zviOv  Harrowing story re Seatle's Garfield HS

 

Morning Video: District & Charter Schools Sharing Classrooms, Teachers, & Even Test Scores

From last night's PBS NewsHour: "In Houston, Texas, the superintendent of one school district [Spring Branch] has invited competing charter schools to set up shop alongside a regular middle school. Special correspondent John Merrow reports on their evolving partnership." (Transcript here.)

Morning Video: Help Reporter Finish Cincinnati School Documentary

Marketplace reporter Amy Scott has launched a Kickstarter to finish out a documentary about a Cincinnati school that's transformed itself into a K-12 community center (OYLER). Watch the trailer above and click the link to contribute (@oylerdoc)


 

Morning Video: Nonprofit Crowdfunding A New Preschool

VOCEL – a small education non-profit for children from under-resourced communities – is behind one of the first initiatives to use crowdfunding to open a preschool, the AFP reports. (TIME via Annenberg Institute)

Journalism: Virginian-Pilot Wins Common Core Grant

Among several news outlets awarded a Knight Foundation "prototype" grant is the Viginian-Pilot:

image from www.pbs.org

Pilot for School by The Virginian-Pilot (Project lead: Shawn Day):

Building a targeted digital system that will allow Virginia teachers to search newspaper content and use it to complement class curricula; content will align with Virginia’s Standards of Learning and help students apply academic concepts to what’s happening in their community.

When Storytelling Meets Civic Action (via PBS)

Does it make sense for newspapers to try and guide teachers and parents on Common Core materials, or is there a danger it's going to be misleading or overkill?

 

Hot Vs. Hot: Campbell Brown Vs. Matt Damon

Screen shot 2014-07-17 at 1.22.47 PM"Here's somebody whose influence on ed policy is in no way related to their hotness, unlike that bimbo Campbell Brown," quipped NY Mag journo Jonathan Chait, linking to Matt Damon's appearances at various anti-reform events a few years back.  

ICYMI, Ravitch questioned Brown's credibility on education issues about which the two people happen to disagree and in the process made several comments about Brown's looks.  

Damon has appeared at various anti-reform events in recent years, based in large part on his good looks and celebrity (and views on education with which Ravitch happens to agree).

Quotes: Union "Cannot Go On Denying Responsibility For School Quality"

Quotes2The 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

 

Power Couples: The Wonk & The Journo*

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 3.03.43 PM
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)

Previous posts: Two New(ish) Power Couples For 2014It's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]Jane & Brian WilliamsNYC DOE & DFER Couple WedsEmily & David SirotaHuffman Vs. Huffman.

I need more non-reform couples, obviously.  Nominations?

Quotes: Neighborhood Schools "Part Of The Problem," Says Simmons

Quotes2The 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). 

Morning Video: How Poor Latino High School Kids Beat MIT [In Robotics]

 

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

Media: Politico Brings Up The Rear On StudentsFirst Reboot Story

Money_1The 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 SpendingStudentsFirst 2012 Spending On Local Board RacesNEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirstWhy's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?

 

Magazines: New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School

I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but image from www.newyorker.comThe 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.

Previous New Yorker posts: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next.

Articles: Adult Ed's Secret Buzzwords & Lingo

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 14 10.07So 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.

That's the opening from my latest EdSurge article, which came out a couple of days ago (So You Think You Can Educate Adults?). The first article is here. Image via EdSurge.

Media: Errant Diversity Tweet Creates NPR Mini-Controversy

Alarm-silence FLATTOP341 flickrIn case you missed it last week, NPR education blogger Anya Kamenetz sent out a frustrated tweet last week about the struggle to get diverse voices into a story that generated a bit of a controversy.  

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).

Previous posts: "Tell Me More"'s Education Coverage Will Be MissedNPR Ed Team Adds StaffWhere Does That Public Radio Coverage Come From, Anyway?.

Media: NOLA's The Lens Pares Down Charter Coverage, Loses Star Reporter

Flickr-sashalaA 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.

Politics: Teachers Unions Spent $191M To StudentFirst's $62M*

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 1.33.41 PM
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. 

Media: NYT's Javier Hernandez Can't Be Nice AND Good, Can He?

image from graphics8.nytimes.comI was really sort of hoping that  Javier Hernandez (no, not the one who plays for Mexico) would be an arrogant jerk or something like that, just so I would have a reason to dislike the NYT education reporter and could ignore the envy that comes from his having written some great education stories recently.
 
But alas, he was humble and patient and forthcoming during his recent interview in front of education journalists at a Poynter workshop last week in Chicago, telling us all how he got the "Common Core, in 9-Year-Old Eyes" story -- including the lucky parts and mistakes he may have made.
 
Twitter here.

Quotes: EdTech Hubris Undermines School Improvement

Quotes2Either 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’

Bruno: Interview With A Teacher Who Supports Differentiated Compensation

Menya PhotoFrom time to time, Educators 4 Excellence puts together teams of teachers to research and make recommendations on various aspects of education policy.

This month, the Los Angeles chapter released reports from two such teams, including one about how to revamp the way we compensate teachers, which you can find summarized here

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.

Continue reading "Bruno: Interview With A Teacher Who Supports Differentiated Compensation" »

Update: Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance

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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 OpensDiverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability; and Change Could Help Promote Charter Diversity.

Continue reading "Update: Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance" »

Morning Video: Campbell Brown Previews NY Version Of Vergara Lawsuit

Local Fox News segment on NY version of Vergara that's being planned, featuring Mayor de Blasio and Campbell Brown.

Media: "Tell Me More"'s Education Coverage Will Be Missed

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).

image from media.npr.org

"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.

Five Best Blogs: New Advocacy Organization Aims To Bring Vergara To New York

Obama alumni Robert Gibbs joins @campbell_brown's#Vergara-inspired campaign, reports @StephanieSimon_ ht.ly/yp0gE

32 States Are Failing To Follow Disability Law, U.S. Says - HuffPost ht.ly/yoEuy @Joy_Resmovits

CommonCore opposition isn't widespread but that doesn't mean it's not in trouble, says @ConorPWilliamsin TPM ht.ly/yoFvE

Showdown for state chief in Oklahoma, South Carolina - @Morning_Edu ht.ly/yoLpF

Parent-trigger efforts: At a crossroads? A standstill? A dead end? | Hechinger Report ht.ly/ypb3i @parentrev #parenttrigger

The best and worst education news of 2014 — so far - @Larryferlazzo in the Washington Post

New Approaches To Discipline Strive to Keep Kids Out of Jail : @npr_ed : NPR ht.ly/ypdxr

5 Thoughts on @rweingarten's AEI Remarks by @rhess99 ht.ly/ypePz #vergara

The Twitter handle for @Marketplace's newish edtech site is @LearningCurveEd 

Morning Video: Why's College So Expensive? ("Ivory Tower")

Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night about the new Participant documentary about college costs and outcomes.

Events: Poynter Institute's "Covering Common Core" Event

Because there's always more to learn, Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 3.09.46 PMI'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.

 

 

Thompson: The Legacy of "Waiting for Superman"

WaitAlexander 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.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Legacy of "Waiting for Superman"" »

Quotes: Rich Liberals Hire Union Head To Run Progressive PAC

Quotes2So 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)

Events: Fixing Poverty Without Fixing K-12 Education?

120914_$BOX_PovertyEX.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeThe 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 RheeWho 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 PeoplePoverty Increases Cut Both Ways In Reform Debate.

 

Maps: ProPublica Shows Most States Allow Adults To Pin Kids Down

ScreenHunter_05 Jun. 19 11.54From 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)

Charts: Philanthropy Rebounds Past Pre-Recession Levels

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"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. 

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