Wait, what? A new Pew report on nonprofit journalism points out that 172 nonprofit news-gathering operations are growing but still small compared to commercial journalism. But at least in education the list of outlets is incomplete -- listing Catalyst Chicago, gothamschools, Hechinger, and Education News Colorado but omitting the Philadelphia Notebook, Inside Schools, EdSource Today, Great Schools, LA School Report, and others.
The study methodology says that sites included must be primarily digital -- that might disqualify The Notebook -- and started after 1987 -- when was Inside Schools started?
Alexa Aguilar, in the Tri-Cities Tribune (Batavia Teacher in 5th Amendment Debate Ordered to Curb Remarks) writes that John Dryden, a twenty-year veteran teacher, served a one-day suspension without pay as punishment for words that the district considers "inappropriate and unprofessional."
Specifically, Dryden was punished for telling students that they had the right to not answer a survey about their illegal drug use.
The School Board issued a "notice to remedy" letter to Dryden, ordering him to refrain from making "flippant" remarks or providing "legal advice." The teacher must not "mischaracterize" or "discredit" any district initiative.
How should we characterize a survey with the student’s name printed at the top that asks about the student’s illegal drug use? Should anyone believe that such a survey meets professional standards for targeting students in need of social or emotional help?
Speaking of initiatives that are inappropriate in a constitutional democracy, the Board demanded that Dryden must now repeat any district directive back to his boss and agree to comply. Dryden replied that the new requirements are "demeaning, vague, overly broad and constructed to entrap me in a future infraction for the purpose of termination." I’d say that they sound like the Communist Chinese war against “verbal struggles.”
On the other hand, wouldn’t advocates of new college ready standards support a classroom assignment such as an analysis that compares and contrasts the practice of “criticism and self-criticism” during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and American schools in the 21st century. Mao said, “So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure, so long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade.” Perhaps students could compare Mao's position with American school systems’ policies on free speech. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Doing what it seems like someone on the reform side of the debate has needed to do for many months now, the earnest folks at Parent Revolution have just launched a site they hope will help debunk some of the abundant reform criticism that's out there (especially surrounding the parent trigger).
The site is called Truth in Education Reform and its stated aim is “ferreting out and debunking the conspiracy theories and provable lies… that collectively threaten to overcome sensible debate on education policy and ed reform.”
The site’s initial focus will be on attempting to debunk claims made by Diane Ravitch, who earlier this month quasi-apologized for calling Parent Revolution head Ben Austin “loathsome” and on Friday penned another critique of the parent trigger (which as of Monday afternoon had already attracted 60+ comments).
For a taste of the challenge TIER faces, check out the comments following a brief post about the new site at LA School Report. Whether or not Parent Revolution is up to the task of doing daily battle with Ravitch, Valerie Strauss and their allies is not yet clear. My guess is that if StudentsFirst, DFER, and others aren't up to the task of making sure that reform isn't being Swift Boated -- so far, none of them has really stepped up on the "rapid response" front -- then Parent Revolution won't be able to pull this off either.
University programs that train US teachers get mediocre marks in first-ever ... Washington Post: Released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based advocacy group, the rankings are part of a $5 million project funded by major U.S. foundations.
Teacher Preparation Program Rankings Make U.S. News Debut Huffington Post: States are getting in on the action, too: Earlier this month, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed legislation that would make it harder to become a teacher... The rankings garnered early, if tepid, support from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Teacher Training's Low Grade WSJ: Fewer than 10% of the programs earned three or more stars. Only four, all for future high-school teachers, received four stars. About 14% got zero stars, and graduate-level programs fared particularly poorly.
Rookie teachers woefully unprepared, report says Reuters: The US teacher training system is badly broken, turning out rookie educators who have little hands-on experience running ...
Report: Too many teachers, too little quality AP: The nation's teacher-training programs do not adequately prepare would-be educators for the classroom, even as they produce almost triple the
Study: Teacher Prep Programs Get Failing Marks NPR: The first-ever study of more than 1,100 schools of education released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality shows that teacher preparation is in disarray. The study warns that 163 programs provide only "minimal, substandard training."
New teacher training study decries California universities LA Times: A controversial policy group singles out teacher training programs at UCLA and Loyola Marymount as hardly worth attending. But the schools say the report is flawed.
When Gates-funded teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) announced they were releasing a new report about how to revamp teacher recruitment and retention in LA -- including pay bonuses based on student test scores -- they might have been pleasantly surprised at the appearance of School Board member-elect Monica Ratliff (pictured) along with reform champions Superintendent John Deasy and Villaraigosa ally Monica Garcia.
Ratliff won election to the Board as an underdog, beating Villaraigosa favorite Antonio Sanchez, and is being championed by many as one of a growing number of reform skeptics on the LAUSD School Board.
But of course Ratliff's presence at the event seemed to suggest that she was supportive of the E4E report recommendations, which the teachers union and others either refrained from supporting or came out against. And so she took to Diane Ravitch's blog over the weekend to clarify that she supports revamping teacher recruitment, retention, and evaluation but is opposed to linking things to student test scores.
Here's National Journal's updated education experts site, now dubbed Education Insiders, which features a weekly blog post by reporter Fawn Johnson and responses from various luminaries (well, sort of -- I'm on the list). It's been around sicne June 2009 years now -- here's the old version -- and it's always been a little sleepy for me because of the restrictive format, predictable viewpoints, and the lack of real interactivity among respondendents. But there's always hope, and I'm glad it's there.
Hillary gives early childhood agenda what it needs: A public boost. | New Republic ow.ly/m4mV8
How online tools may change classrooms today and forever. ow.ly/m4k74
After Newtown shooting, mourning parents enter into the lonely quiet - Washington Post ow.ly/m4kMt
Sir Ken Robinson, Teachers on Creativity in Schools (Audio) ow.ly/m4k8k
Big data is not our master -TNR ow.ly/m4mYl
Trying to make separate equal | Feature | Chicago Reader ow.ly/m5hNB
From Jay Mathews: School ignores advice from learning disability experts: Stacie Brockman is the Prince George... bit.ly/13RA8qe
Did Ritalin Make Kids in Quebec Dumber? | New Republic ow.ly/m4mGH
Arne Duncan Calls Slow School Internet 'Morally Unacceptable' U.S. News & World Report: Education Secretary Arne Duncan (L) and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (R) read the Dr. Seuss book 'Green Eggs and Ham' to students enrolled in a Head Start program.
More US Schools Go International Wall Street Journal: An educational curriculum that originally catered to the children of globe-trotting diplomats is making rapid inroads in K-12 public schools across the U.S., boosting test results and academic readiness ...
Has Gov. Pence Just Saved the Common Core in Indiana? State EdWatch: The Associated Press notes that among the governor's six new appointees to the 11-member state board made on June 13, Pence, a Republican. has decided to keep two of the current board members.
Budget Cuts Reach Bone for Philadelphia Schools NYT: Deep budget cuts have Philadelphia school officials worrying about how to make do without aides, secretaries, counselors, monitors, coaches or money for new books or paper.
Chicago Public School System Lays Off 850 in Move to Cut Budget AP: The layoffs included about 550 teachers — from schools that are closing and struggling academically — along with teacher assistants, bus aides, custodians and others.
Chicago to hire 600 for school safe-passage routes AP:The city of Chicago, which plans to close dozens of schools this summer to save money, has received 11,000 requests for help getting children to their new schools along safe-passage routes....
So there's a guy named Andrew Vanden Heuvel (@avheuv) who was among the first to get the Google Glass system, and he's a science teacher, and he's blogging about it and doing videos ("STEMbite!").
In my experience, the two main causes of educational failure are cancer and heart disease. Competing for the third spot are diabetes, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and incarceration. When severe illnesses disrupt families, too many kids fall off the conveyor belt which is k-12 schooling and too few get help in climbing back on.
Rather than treat the main causes of truancy, which are the key factors that undermine families and schools, we ratcheted the blame game. Texas has taken the resulting criminalization of absenteeism, tardiness, and school misbehavior to its most brutal conclusion.
The Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits, in School Discipline Changes Urged in Federal Complaint Against Dallas Truancy System, reports that Texas filed 113,000 truancy cases in 2012. Granted, that is more than the number of prosecutions in the other 49 states combined.
But, it is an admittedly extreme example of the more common tendency to use the legal system to address behaviors that public schools should handle.
Things that worked for my fifth graders at the beginning of the year don't work over here. Things that work over here with the third graders didn't work with my fifth graders. And I have a strong feeling that things that worked this year are not going to work next year.
-- First-year Chicago teacher Abby Miller (WTTW Mentoring New Teachers)*
*Disclosure: I know and have done some consulting in the past for folks at the New Teacher Center
Arne Duncan slams No Child Left Behind (diagnoses Congress, etc.) POLITICO
Study Gauges Value of Technology in Schools NYT: A review of federal data found that technology investments in schools had not changed the nature of education.
6 months after Newtown: Rush of gun laws, mixed results USA Today: In the six months since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, lawmakers in four key states have approved significant restrictions on access to firearms. But elsewhere in the USA, the picture is far from clear.
Obama to meet relatives of shooting victims Education Week News: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met Thursday with relatives of the victims of the Connecticut school shooting, who were visiting Washington on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the tragedy
Private Preschools See More Public Funds as Classes Grow NYT: Across the country, states and districts are increasingly funneling public funds to religious schools, private nursery schools and a variety of nonprofit organizations that conduct classes.
Clinton Project Promotes ‘Open Badges’ Online Credentials NYT: Former President Bill Clinton announced a project on Thursday to expand the use of Open Badges — online credentials that employers or universities can use in hiring, admissions, promotions or awarding credit.
Chicago public television profiles teacher mentoring and retention efforts run via the New Teacher Center. (Teacher Mentoring)
The latest example is Thompson Media Group, from which plastform Andy Brownstein and Chuck Edwards have been reporting for the past bunch of years.
I know Brownstein mostly from the Title I Monitor, a Thompson newsletter that's been around since I was on the Hill, and from Brownstein's more recent blog posts. (Click here if you want to skim Brownstein's appearances on this site.)
If I understand correctly, Thompson has been bought by LRP, a competitor, and Brownstein and Edwards are unlikely to be retained with the new, merged operation. I can imagine them writing for another trade publication, or being grabbed up by a smart nonprofit, association, or Hill office looking for deep knowledge of federal policy, regulation, and political mechanics.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan works to sell Obama administration’s preschool initiative Washington Post: He is reaching out to Republican governors, hoping they will help him persuade GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill to embrace the “Preschool for All” initiative. But it’s a tall order for many Republican governors who are cool to the notion of new taxes.
Senate Committee Passes Democratic NCLB Renewal Bill EdWeek: On a completely predictable party-line vote, the Senate Education Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the long-stalled renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Senate committee approves bill updating federal education law Washington Post: On a party line vote, a Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday to update the country’s main federal education law by erasing some of its most punitive aspects.
No Child Left Behind Bill Passes Senate Committee, But No End In Sight For Recasting Bush Law Huffington Post: Harkin says he intends to bring his bill to the Senate floor sometime this year -- hopefully by the fall -- and would allow amendments to be made during that process. But even if the overhaul makes it through the floor vote, it is unlikely to be signed into law because the predominant legislative vision in the House varies significantly.
States Seek Flexibility During Common-Test Transition EdWeek: A flurry of education groups are staking out positions on the role tests should play in evaluating teachers and labeling schools.
On Friday, President Obama flew to Hollywood for a DNC fundraiser, where Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti (left) and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy (right) were both in attendance.
What might they have been talking about?
According to this new story from LA School Report's Hillel Aron, the next LAUSD Board President -- who oversees Deasy's work -- seems likely to pass to Deasy critic Richard Vladovic rather than to a Deasy ally or a swing vote.
However, Garcetti is apparently trying to influence the leadership of the LAUSD School Board, perhaps aiming to find a compromise between the teachers union (who endorsed him) and local reform advocates. Perhaps Deasy was sking Garcetti for help.
Image via LA School Report.
Last week, Gallup put out a survey finding that students "who say they 'often' developed 21st century skills -- such as real-world problem-solving and global awareness -- in their last year of school are more likely to self-report higher work quality."
This is the kind of survey that lends itself to misinterpretation. At first blush, for example, you might think that students are reporting higher work quality because their teachers had them do lots of "collaboration" and "knowledge construction".
More likely, however, is that teachers are more likely to employ those "21st century" strategies with students who are already higher-achieving - and who would thus tend to get higher-quality work anyway.
What really jumped out at me, though, was the finding that fewer than 1/3 of students reported applying what they were learning to "real world problems in your community or in the world".
There's almost certainly less to that result than meets the eye.
I don't have a survey finding to back this up, but I'm still extremely confident that virtually every student in the country applied their learning to real-world problems not just in their last year of school, but in their last month of school. In fact, in their last year of school they might have done so at least once almost every day.
The examples are endless. English teachers have students write persuasive essays about current events, math teachers have students use math to optimize resource allocation, and history teachers ask students to apply the lessons of the past to today's dilemmas.
In the last month of school my 8th grade science students had to apply their knowledge of electricity to evaluate the safety and energy efficiency of their homes. My 7th graders had to use information about sexually transmitted diseases and human body systems to evaluate the safety of their own - and hypothetical - lifestyle decisions.
These aren't exceptions; they're the norm. As far as I can tell there aren't any teachers who don't tie real world problems into their classes. If students are saying otherwise, it's likely because such activities are so common that they're taken for granted or because the term "real world problem" is too vague. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)
Complaint Filed With Justice Dept. in Texas Truancy Cases NYT: Advocacy groups said that school districts were violating the students’ civil rights and that the students, some as young as 12, were prosecuted as adults.
School Discipline Changes Urged In Federal Complaint Against Dallas Truancy System Huffington Post: Brown is one of 36,000 Dallas students who have faced truancy cases in the last year. In 2012, Texas adult courts prosecuted 113,000 truancy cases, more than twice the number pursued in the other 49 states combined.
Texas students to seek federal help to soften 'cruel' truancy policies Reuters: Students as young as 12 can be arrested and handcuffed at school. Once they turn 17, they can be jailed for failing to pay past fines, which can run into thousands of dollars, according to the complaint, which was drafted by the National Center for Youth Law.
DFER tells everyone to “chill” GothamSchools: Democrats for Education Reform has kept a low profile in New York since it unsuccessfully backed several downstate candidates for state office in the 2010 elections. In the years since, it has continued to expand nationally, establishing chapters in 13 states and cozied up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Last year, it took a backseat seat to StudentsFirstNY, a once-emergent rival advocacy group that has since faded after its founding director left.
A teachers union embraces reform in New Haven, creating a model for others Hechinger Report: Unions in Baltimore, Md., and St. Paul, Minn., have used New Haven as a blueprint for their own labor contracts, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has highlighted New Haven’s work at national conferences on labor-management collaboration.
State Test Results Released in Texas, Florida EdWeek: In the last few days, two of the five largest states in the United States by student enrollment, Texas and Florida, released results from student assessments in their K-12 accountability systems.
As part of their never-ending efforts to make school cool, the @getschooled folks are encouraging high school students to commit to finishing their educations by displaying their Instagram pictures in Times Square tomorrow.
I know, I know. It's what every kid wants -- his or her name in lights -- "the world's largest yearbook."
And there's still time left. The best 500 submissions will get displayed and receive an e-mail of their picture in lights in Times Square. #TimesSquareYearbook
Last week Valeries Strauss published a post by Penelope Trunk arguing that schools shouldn't be so "uptight" about cheating.
Cheating, she argued, involves skills - like networking and collaboration - that are valued in the workplace and important for students to learn.
In a response (also on Strauss' blog), Elaine Power says what needs to be said about the most obvious problems with Trunk's argument.
In particular, Trunk seems to be confused about what educators mean when they talk about "cheating" and about why they discourage it. (Either that or she's spent time in some extremely unusual and cut-throat workplaces.)
More generally, I think Trunk is commiting an all-too-common edu-fallacy. The language varies, but oftentimes commentators will propose that schooling would be improved if it were made more like the "real world" and thus more "authentic".
Trunk makes this argument about cheating, but you can find it being made about all kinds of things in education, from teaching methods to curricular content to student motivation and classroom management. What unites these claims is the assumption that the more school life imitates "real life", the better.
That assumption is fallacious for at least two reasons.