TFA alum Matt Brown (@mattGLH) was kind enough to share these six amusing and possibly helpful steps to getting into TFA, for those of you who might be curious or interested (or whom have offspring who are making noises about applying) but aren't sure you want to shell out $20 for a book or $250 for one of those fancy TFA application consultants.*
Following up on the success of so-called "Gun Dorms" at the University of Colorado -- residential units where students could carry their (legal, licensed) weapons on campus -- Colorado Springs and Fort Collins school districts are now creating similar policies for school buildings and administrative offices where teachers, administrators, and even parents will be allowed to carry their weapons as well.
"We've followed the U of C process carefully and it seems to have worked out really well," said Fort Collins spokesperson David Grisholm.
"Teachers want to be able to carry their licensed, legal firearms with them wherever they go," said Colorado Springs superintent Mark Reversol. "This is just an attempt to comply with the spirit of the Concealed Carry law in an educational setting."
Somewhat ironically, the idea of letting teachers carry weapons on campus was proposed in 2007 by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert in a satirical commentary called No Guns Left Behind.
No word yet from the teachers union, or from parents.
"I"ll be your visionary. You do the things I come up with." (via The Atlantic)
Some of the uses that are being tried in schools around the nation: *Dropoff and pickup supervision *Lunch / recess supervision *Menu announcements *Truancy sweeps *Test proctoring *Patrolling the senior parking lot *Finding lost kids and schoolbuses off school grounds *Field trip supervision
For more on domestic uses of drones, check out this NPR story from Larry Abramson.
At this past weekend's SIG conference in Chicago, Jason Snyder talked about where the SIG program is and where it heads next, mentioned that MOUs between districts and unions seem to be a interesting way to get dramatic improvements done, and generally made the whole program seem like an earnest and generally well-run endeavor. Then again, I was barely awake since it was 9 am. Here's some audio for you to pore over, courtesy of the good folks at EWA:
There's also a PowerPoint presentation that I'll try and get and post here, too. Note that my audio edit is very rough -- that's EWA head Caroline Hendrie speaking at the start, and the second voice is UofC's Tim Knowles (wearing a black turtleneck, bien sur). Snyder doesn't always talk into the microphone so you'll have to deal with that.
In a handful of statehouses around the country, lawmakers have been introducing a new, controversial kind of legislation that is raising concerns among district and state administrators as well as in Washington. Commonly called PTL ("parent trigger lock") legislation, these proposals would allow parents whose children attend schools slated for turnaround, closure, or charter conversion to block that process with a simple majority vote, and to return their school to its previous state, however low-performing that might be. "It's our school, and they're our kids," said Jeremy James, the Oxnard, California parent credited with popularizing the idea. "If we want to keep things the way they are we should be able to do that." A statement provided by the U.S. Department of Education said that the "intriguing" approach was currently being reviewed for compliance with NCLB and SIG grant requirements.
EdWeek teacher blogger Kelly Flynn thinks educators and reformers should be talking more about student behavior and motivation, based in part on a "quick scan" of this report from the National Center for Education Statistics, which she says shows that: "school personnel spend an inordinate amount of time struggling with every single day: insubordination, student and teacher victimization, fighting, weapons, theft, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, gang activity, drugs, alcohol, tardiness, and an astonishing rate of absenteeism."
These are undoubtedly important issues, but I tend to be skeptical about "kids-these-days" sorts of arguments.So is it really the case that there are, as she says, a "growing number of students who don't learn because they don't want to"? I think a deeper look at the very same report suggests the answer is "no".
First, Kyle Spencer of the New York Times reports on the backlash against children having too much time in front of computer screens and "overly academic preschools." Even some of the most prescriptive of school leaders are embracing the return of old-fashioned building blocks to elementary classrooms. Then ""Anonymous" at Edtweak describes Education Secretary Arne Duncan's announcement on the "clear and compelling evidence that physical activity plays a crucial role in learning." So, Secretary Duncan has added a new requirement for states seeking waivers from NCLB. All primary and secondary schools must now have four tetherball poles. Duncan is said to also be considering a mandate that schools must serve "that chocolate milk with the adorable cow on the container." Ignoring charges that he has become "power mad," Duncan is also considering a mandate that schools return to film strip projectors that allowed children to see films forwards and backwards.-JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.
They're already apparently working on predicting criminal behavior -- just like in Minority Report -- and using online assessments like TeacherFit to figure out who's going to make a good teacher, so it probably won't be long before they're predicting who'll be a good teacher. Fill out a survey or send in your demo video and they'll give you tenure and a bonus on the spot. Or they'll fire you. For rural and hard-to-staff schools, the predictive software -- anyone got a new name? -- will probably be available on the next iPhone through an app that can also be used to control the unarmed mini-drone you're using to monitor the playground and the perimeter of campus. Via The Atlantic.
Wow. A little-noticed provision in the Obama education "blueprint" for NCLB -- inserted at the behest of the Gates Foundation and/or Pearson and Comcast (no one's quite sure) -- allows schools to identify children as special needs and divert them into a resource room for up to a full school year -- without parents' knowledge or approval or the consent of the teacher of record. According to section 45.321, a district can "identify, at its discretion, up to 5 (five) percent of student enrollment not already identified as having special needs, for alternative special services outside the normal course offerings, which may include (a) computer-assisted instruction, (b) group activities supervision by classified or certified staff, or (c) any such services as the district may deem appropriate...as long as the parent or guardian is notified within 180 days of such changes." The stated rationale is that early intervention could help reduce later needs for full-on special education services, but advocates are concerned about parents and classroom teachers being left out of the loop on educational decisions and the potential misuse of the provision for cost-cutting purposes or to advance a particular technology or vendor. For more see here.
Journalists and others will be gathered at Columbia's Journalism School this weekend to discuss the role of foundations both in shaping school reform and in shaping media coverage of education issues. Stories about philanthropic influence are turning into something of a cottage industry what with the Dissent story (Got Dough?), the Newsweek/Center on Public Integrity takedown (Back to School for the Billionaires ) and the Charlotte Observer story (Who's the power behind CMS?). Having written about these topics frequently over the years, I've found them all interesting -- it's important for reporters and others to understand how the media and the reform movement are being shaped -- but not entirely convincing, in that they generally seem to ascribe a certain all-powerfulness to private foundations at the same time they're gleefully reporting that privately funded efforts haven't worked. There's also a certain whiff of witch hunt that can easily get into stories like these: the notion that anyone who's taken foundation money or done anything reformy has lost all capacity for independent thought or credibility. And yet, I agree with the basic notions that funders and reformers are trying to influence public opinion through the media, and education reporters should be much more skeptical and critical than they have been. Image via.
Under California's new student trigger law, any student in a failing classroom will be able to remove her or his teacher by collecting signatures from 50% of the class's students. Edtweak explains that this law was sponsored by "Student Revolution," a group of millionaires. In two pilot studies, student grades increased dramatically. - JT (@drjohnthompson)
The head of the Central Falls teachers' union is skipping the upcoming national conference on labor-management cooperation because she says the district is "not willing to establish real collaboration," according to the Boston Globe (Teachers union chief in RI sees little progress), and at this point I'm not sure I blame her. It won't be long before disgruntled teachers (who want dignity and autonomy and to see some research before they accept their marching orders) partner with right wing Ron Paul types who want Obama and Duncan to back off from meddling in personnel decisions, local practices, and all the rest. Then they'll organize a big protest on the Mall, a crazy anti-government, anti-reformy cry of anger against ObamaSchool. Sara Palin and Diane Ravitch will keynote.
"Davis Gugenheim has earned an Emmy for the movie screenplay, based on the book “Teacher Unions: Spawn of Satan," reports the online journal Education Tweak (PDF). "It tells the story of five children as they try to escape from unionized teachers who are, in fact, zombies and vampires." - JT (@drjohnthompson)
Crossed fingers that there's a Stephen Colbert venture into K12 education to follow his new (made up) university:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Stephen Colbert University - Andrew Hacker|
Stephen Colbert University (Comedy Central)
Click here to read Matthew Tabor's roundup of the blogosphere's response to news that A & E was going to start showing a classroom version of Intervention -- a story I made up and posted last week. I've been posting the occasional fake news on the site since almost the beginning -- there's even a category called "Made Up News" in my sidebar (Duncan Appoints Death Panel Discoverer As School Lunch Czar, Top Obama Officials Contract H1N1 "Swine Flu", Illinois Governor Seeks Payments For Spots At Local Elementary School, Ashley Dupre Was Homeschooled TFA Alum). Though occasionally a few people are fooled, my purpose isn't to embarrass anyone. My thinking is that readers will do a double-take, wonder for a second if the world's gone mad, and then move on. But not everyone agrees. Tabor's take is much more critical -- that bloggers can't read or research. Or at least that's the gist of it, based on a quick skim :-)
"We think "Waiting for 'Superman'" has the potential to make public education top-of-mind for even more people throughout the country, and we look forward to channeling this expanded interest into direct support for teachers and students." - DonorsChoose resopnse to concerns about its co-promotion with pro-charter documentary.
No, not really. But here's the schedule for next week. Nothing nearly as interesting on tap, at least as far as public media events that they want us to know about and hope will be covered by the press.
The "Race To The Top Of Maryland Avenue" (RTTTOMA) Act is a $50 billion competitive grant program designed to incent the US Department of Education to make itself dramatically better over the next two years.
This bold proposal hidden deep in the fine print accompanying the FY2011 budget request is just coming to light, apparently inserted there by White House staffers concerned about self-satisfaction and stagnant performance at the US Department of Education.
Read below for program details and a preliminary response from the Education Secretary.
Forced to look for every possible way to raise revenues, the cash-strapped Merrilville (IN) public school system has decide to convert one of its largest high schools into a maximum security prison where detainees from Guantanamo Bay will be housed under contract with the federal government.
"We really had no other choice," said superintendent Marvin Braxton about the decision, made at a board meeting last night after a hotly debated 6-3 vote. "The building was empty and the Homeland Security money will help us make it to the end of the year."
The school district is the first in the nation to take such drastic steps. Other districts have reduced the length of the school day, raised class sizes, put cell phone transponders in kids' backpacks, and raffled off principals as domestic servants.
Responding to mounting concerns about districts micromanaging students' diets and pushing a "liberal" vegetarian agenda with so-called "meatless Monday" lunch menus (see Lou Dobbs segment below), Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today that he had named Betsy McCaughey, among the first to warn about the death panels contained in various health care proposals, as "school lunch czar" in charge of making sure that there is no ideological meddling in local school lunch decisions. Richard Heene, father of the balloon boy, will be handling media.
Writers from the staff of The Colbert Report have contacted me asking for help with tonight's interview with Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. They need questions and jokes for Colbert to ask. I've only got a couple. Can you help out?
-What does it say that Kevin Jennings is being bullied by those mean Republicans, and no one seems to be able to stop them? Your safe schools czar isn't safe.
-You and Attorney General -- both extremely tall gentlemen -- are going to Chicago this week to talk about youth violence. What're you going to do, play two on two against the gang leaders to see who gets to control the streets?
-Speaking of which: If I play you in a game of "horse" and I win, does that mean that I'll be in charge of the schools?
-You've called No Child Left Behind "toxic" and said it needs changing -- can I take that to mean that some children should be left behind? If so, I have some kids I'd like to nominate.
Late Monday night, Obama administration officials were forced to admit what many already knew: education secretary Arne Duncan and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius have both contracted the H1N1 virus (otherwise known as "swine flu").
Ironically, the disease was likely transmitted at the pictured press event, held to highlight swine flu prevention efforts for the upcoming school year. (CDC prevention head Thomas Friedan was not infected.)
Though the situation is considered extremely embarrassing to the administration, Duncan and Sebelius are not the first public figures to be affected by the highly contagious virus. Presidents of Costa Rica and Columbia, among others, have already picked up the disease. No word yet on how this will affect the week's scheduled events.
WED EDIT: This is obviously fake, as most of you understood immediately or soon thereafter. It is filed under the category "Made Up News." There are no wire reports of this. Sorry for any momentary alarm that may have been caused.
Scandal erupted over the weekend when a group of anonymous bloggers sent evidence purporting to show that some TFA teachers may not in fact be American citizens to the US Department of Education, five of the nation's largest school districts, and a number of different media outlets.
The military's not just recruiting in regular high schools anymore, a la NCLB. They're now increasingly helping start and run schools with military themes (Military-backed public schools on the rise despite protests USA Today). What no one knows, however, is that it's a secret provision in the Race to the Top fund.
From Slate's Daily Cartoons.
In response to a FOIA request by ProPublica.org, the US Department Of Education has now released a list of state and local issues that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has weighed in on during the past six months (in addition to state charter caps and mayoral control).
- Raising the driving age in Ohio (against)
- Block scheduling at Harper High School (for)
- Adding five days to the CT minimum school year (for)
- Proposition P in Oregon (against)
- Split lunch at Patterson Elementary next year (for)
- Changing boys' soccer from fall to spring in Missouri's Imperial League (against)
- Changing monthly board meeting locations for Chattanooga public schools to the Denny's on Dalton Boulevard (against)
Education Is Our Passport To The Something Or Other
"Education is the single most important issue of today. More important than... you know, all the other issues combined."
Obama Revises Campaign Promise Of 'Change'
"Today, Americans face a great many challenges, and I hear your desperate calls for barely measurable and largely symbolic improvements in the status quo," said Obama.
Parents Legally Change 9-Year-Old's Name To Better Reflect Current Pop Culture
"Britney just seems a little bit old-fashioned is all," mother Heather Patterson said. "We want our little girl to have all the advantages a name like Miley, or maybe Hannah, would give her."
Word is trickling out from Miami that a handful of rebellious edupreneurs at this year's Gathering Of Leaders have approached SEIU about possible unionization.
High turnover, uncertainty over performance evaluation, and unnecessary scheduling of meetings are among the reasons cited for considering the move.
New Profit's annual invite-only retreat (NSVF meets Six Sigma) has operated up until this point outside of any collective bargaining agreement.
Here's the report (PDF) from last year's conference.
Pictured: Illinois Governor Blagojevich seen in an undated picture asking elementary school students how much they (or their families) can pay to keep their spots at the extremely popular Nettlehorst Elementary School in Chicago.
“I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden," Blagojevich was overheard telling the children about their spots in the next grade. "I’m just not giving it up for bleeping nothing."
In light of EdWeek's prolonged problems providing site access for print subscribers (aka, "Premium Access"), Editorial Projects in Education, which owns EdWeek, has asked me to use allow them to use this space to provide readers with a place to describe whatever problems they are having accessing the site.
Please detail whatever issues or concerns you've been having in the comments section below. This might include passwords that don't work, claim codes that are "already" claimed, customer support that hangs up on you or tells you that you are not in the system or that they are going through a "transition" of vendors and to call back in a few days. A representative from EPE will get back to you as soon as possible.
No, she did nothing of the sort. Just seeing if you were paying attention. She just gave a speech (pdf) at the National Press Club, and Bloomberg was there.
No endorsements or non-endorsements were given. Hard to imagine that she is the one blocking a Klein appointment if Bloomberg was there, though. Unless Bloomberg was thanking her for keeping Klein in NYC.
Think that the debates or some baseball game are tonight's TV highlights? Think again. Tonight is the premier of David Alan Grier's new Comedy Central show, Chocolate News, which includes a sketch about a rapper hired to write public service announcements for NCLB. This doesn't go well when the PSAs end up being quite a bit more bootylicious than intended. I give it two snaps -- and a swirl.
UPDATE: Actually, it wasn't that good at all. More crude than funny. Hated it!
This has gone on too long.
For months now, I've been letting friends know that, in reality, I am Eduwonkette. The time has finally come to step forward and reveal it to the world. Yes, it's true. Eduwonkette is an elaborate hoax, an alternate blogging identity created to let me focus on New York City schools and my love of statistics, as well as to help bolster the web traffic at EdWeek.org and live out my love of women's clothing (if only online). Close observers had already figured this all out from our shared sense of humor, love of silly graphics, and pleasure at deflating bloggy know-it-alls (whomever they might be). But I'm sick of being asked if I happen to know who "she" is by people with funny smiles on their faces. I could tell they suspected, and it was making me really paranoid. And I'm overcome with guilt at having deceived New York Sun reporter Elizabeth Green about my identity when she started emailing me for this story. She's me. I'm her. We're different versions of the same thing, sort of like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Now you know. Now, on to more important things.
News reports suggest that last week's announcement that the National Charter Schools Conference celebrity figurehead was supermodel Petra Nemcova has created a scramble to secure celebrity representatives among various education groups, organizations, and causes.
Some of the rumored matchups are as follows: Title I Comparability (Justin Timberlake), Class size reduction (Angelina Jolie), National Standards (Scarlett Johannson), Merit Pay (David Beckham), NCLB Rollback (Robert Downey, Jr.), Homeschooling (Will Smith), Universal preschool (David Letterman).
Not to be outdone, several education groups are also pursuing celebrity endorsements: Gates Foundation (Sarah Jessica Parker), Reading First (Tiger Woods), Teach For America (Shia Labeouf), EDINO8 (Tom Cruise), and KIPP (Jon Stewart),
If there are any I've missed or that could be improved upon (depending on availability), feel free to weigh in.
It turns out after all that the principal of Gloucester High School in MA was just following the lead of the San Diego educators who recently told high school students that their friends had died in drunk driving accidents (School Uses Fake Drunk Driving Tragedy to Scare Students). So the principal made up the whole pregnancy pact thing to warn students against the dangers of teen pregnancy and premarital sex. Indeed, there may not have been any pregnant teens. But then the media got ahold of the story and -- neglecting to interview the students involved -- fell for it harder than the kids did, and the principal temporarily forgot that he made up the story in the first place (Mass. school official casts doubt on 'pregnancy pact').
UPDATE: Mayor Says NCLB To Blame For Gloucester Pregnancies Swift Charlie
Last week's publication of the former White House press secretary's tell-all book about his time with the Bush administration was dominated by allegations that White House officials misled the nation about the war in Iraq and the Valerie Plame CIA incident. Little noticed was a passage in the final chapter in which McClellan confesses that he "never had any idea" what phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations" meant, even though he repeated it from the podium hundreds of times.
There are several preposterous theories (LA Times) about what Barack Obama was doing when he scratched his face last week (left).
But I don't think Obama was flipping Hillary Clinton off. I think he was sending a subtle but clear message to the UFT and NEA for not endorsing him despite all his NCLB-bashing.
A little help from the teachers unions in Pennsylvania and I would have this thing wrapped up by now, is what he seems to be saying.
"After decades of only offering ruled notebook paper suitable for college-level education and below, school-supply giant Mead introduced its new grad-school-ruled notebook Monday, which features lines twice as close as those for college," states this news report (Mead Releases New Grad-School-Ruled Notebook). "The notebooks are currently available in several special grad-school-edition colors, including alabaster, saffron, vermilion, and, for girl graduate students, periwinkle."
According to her MySpace page, Ashley Alexander Dupre has a fascinating education and work background. Homeschooled through 8th grade, she went to an IB-focused charter high school and joined TFA when she was just out of college. She was interning in Roland Fryer's academic incentives shop until the end of last week. Fryer could not be reached for comment.
No, he didn't (far as I know). But wouldn't it be funny -- and a great relief to folks who hate vouchers but want to support Obama -- if some of the lines that have been lifted from MA Gov. Deval Patrick were those ones about Obama being open to vouchers and supportive of charters? Then Obama's progressive supporters could heave a sigh of relief -- but their candidate probably wouldn't be as appealing to independents and moderates.
Inspired by DC Mayor Fenty's surprise appointment of school reformer Michelle Rhee to head the District school system on Tuesday, elected officials across the nation have scrambled to announce their own hires from outside of traditional education circles: In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg on Tuesday evening fired Joel Klein and hired Teach For America Founder Wendy Kopp, despite the absence of any previous district experience. "She's been running the system for the past 10 years anyway," said Bloomberg in announcing the change. "We might as well make it official." New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced his plan to fire incoming chief Paul Vallas before he even starts, to be replaced by New Leaders For New Schools co-founder Jonathon Schnur. "I met him at a party and he seemed really smart," said Nagin. "Vallas is a nice guy, too, but I figure we should give this new generation of reformers a chance to show their stuff at running something."