Chart: Top Liberal Campaign Spenders 2012 - via Voxow.ly/zKHsh includes Bloomberg, Soros, Fred Eychaner, etc.
Remembering Gene Maeroff - Education Next : Education Next ow.ly/zL69g (features audio interview)
"At Middle School 223 in the Bronx, the fun starts at the end of the regular day. All sixth graders are offered extracurricular activities like African drumming, latin dance and chess, plus personalized help in reading and math." (Why longer school days can be more fun for students)
I was slow to follow the link to Why Do Americans Stink at Math?, in the New York Times Magazine, and I did not see it as a "must read" until I realized it was written by the Chalkbeat's Elizabeth Green.
I’m bad at math and I don’t see Americans’ problems with math as that big of a deal. I’m much more concerned with the challenge of improving reading comprehension in the 21st century.
As I understand it, math is a precise language, combined with logic. Few teachers are prepared to holistically teach this language or explain to students what the purpose and meaning of the subject is. Besides, contemporary American culture is not at its best in terms of valuing non-English languages, much less translating words and concepts into numbers and symbols.
Green grabbed me when citing John Allen Paulos’s diagnosis of innumeracy— “the mathematical equivalent of not being able to read.” She then reports that on the NAEP, “three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression ‘15 + (2×15).’”
You don’t need to be a genius... You have to know how to manage a discussion. You have to know which problems are the ones most likely to get the lessons across. You have to understand how students make mistakes — how they think — so you can respond to that.
-- Author Elizabeth Green in Joe Nocera NYT column about improving teacher preparation
I think then we make a great mistake by caricaturing the opponents of the standards as crazies or people who don't tell the truth... We will lose, and we'll lose things of great importance, if we dismiss this as an extremist position. - David Coleman in BloombergEDU interview via Politico
PBS: A program in Kansas City, Missouri is trying to stem [preschool expulsions] by "looking beyond the classroom to the issues these children face at home -- and helping them to feel safe." (Giving traumatized kids a head start in healing)
Though not entirely alone in covering the education (and political) angles to the unaccomanpied migrant story, EdWeek and Lesli Maxwell have been leading the way in recent weeks. Examples include a late-June story this photo spread (Documenting the Immigrant-Children Influx), some recent statistics, and a backgrounder. Image courtesy EdWeek.
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.)
Vox's Libby Nelson has a good starter list of 12 New Yorker education articles to read while the archives are free but I think she might have missed and/or gotten a few wrong.
No problem -- that's what I'm here for.
It recommends Kate Boo's story about the attempt to revamp Denver's Manual Arts (Expectations) but leaves out her amazing (2006 - I'm cheating) story about early childhood interventions (Swamp Nurse).
Steve Brill's The Rubber Room was an artful rehash of reporting done by others. Rachel Aviv's Wrong Answer is a fascinating look at how some teachers decided they had to cheat that loses out in the end with its lazy reliance on NCLB as the main reason.
Stories mysterious left out include the New Yorker's take on executive function (Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points) and Jill Lepore's fascinating revelation that liberal Icon Elizabeth Warren hates neighborhood-based school assignment (Your Favorite Liberal Lawmaker Supports Universal Vouchers*). Nick Lemann's 2010 turning point piece is left out, too (The overblown crisis in American education).
All that being said, kudos to Nelson for getting things started and including some ed-related stories like this summer's Jill Lepore takedown of "innovation" (The Disruption Machine), which I blogged about last month (The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"). Lots more examples from Gawande, Gladwell, etc. to be found. The Hit Man's Tale!?
Previous TWIE posts about the New Yorker: Learning From The Gay Rights Movement; Last Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt-Out Story; The New Yorker Takes Another Look At Coaching; Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points; Lessons From Earth Day 1970; If Doctors Can Do It, So Can Teachers, Coaching: Even Veterans & Star Teachers Could Benefit, Checklists: The Simple Solution No One Wants To Try.
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)
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)
Among several news outlets awarded a Knight Foundation "prototype" grant is the Viginian-Pilot:
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?
"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).
She (Robin Chait) is an education wonk at ostensibly left-leaning CAP, and he (Jonathan) is a writer at sharp-elbowed New York magazine. They both write about a education a lot these days. Image via Facebook.
*Correction: She's no longer at CAP and is now at a charter school network (via LinkedIn)
I need more non-reform couples, obviously. Nominations?
Here's a Bloomberg segment on school preparations for migrant Central American kids who have been in the news so much the past couple of weeks. Haven't seen tons written on this - which districts are being most affected? Did the White House ask for schools funding as part of his refugee relief package?
Now that you're done reading this week's New Yorker story about cheating in Atlanta, time to circle back and read last week's piece (California Screaming) about the conflicts in San Francisco over class, culture, and education.
Why, you ask? I'll tell you"
1- The opening protest highlights the impact of gentrification and other inequities on a career educator:
Benito Santiago, a sixty-three-year-old special-education teacher, is being evicted from the apartment he’s lived in since 1977.
2- The piece describes a conflict between two groups who are remarkably similar in their ideals and goals -- but not their methods. They're mirror versions of each other, only one is younger and richer and more entrepreneurial than collective than the other:
What’s going on in San Francisco has been called a “culture war,” and yet the values each side espouses can sound strikingly similar.
Three more to go -- the best ones! -- click the link and see.
Following up on the fascinating topic of the OECD Test for Schools, the PBS NewsHour just recently aired a new segment about the test's spread, how it differs from most annual assessments (and even the Common Core assessments), and some of the reactions of the kids who've been taking it. Transcript here. You can also read all about the test's development and impacts in my recent Harvard Education Letter article. Don't forget that Frontline's segment on resegregation airs tonight.
The Minnesota Star Tribune posted the story last week that SF was pulling out of the state (StudentsFirst pulls up stakes), and reported that the group was getting out of FLA, too.
EdWeek added to the story (StudentsFirst Powers Down Five State Affiliates) by listing the 5 states that were being shuttered (Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, and Minnesota), explaining the the reasons for closing up shop differ by state, and noting that Travis Pillow at RedefinED got to the FLA part of story first.
Politico led with the story in its morning roundup today (Rhee’s group retrenches) but provided little by way of new information and (old habits die hard) failed to credit EdWeek or the Minnesota Star Tribune or anyone else for unearthing the news.
Sure, it's embarrassing having other folks break a story that probably should be yours. But it only makes it worse when they pretend you dug it up themselves or assume their readers don't know/don't care where the story idea came from. Plus, it makes their hard-working counterparts really hate them.
Previous posts: StudentsFirst 14-State 2012 Candidate Spending; StudentsFirst 2012 Spending On Local Board Races; NEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirst; Why's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?
I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but The New Yorker goes deep with its latest education story (A Struggling School Made a Shocking Choice), by contributor Rachel Aviv.
"Struggling to meet data-driven district targets, as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind, administrators and teachers at Parks first began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests in 2006.
"The resulting scores significantly raised the school’s percentage of eighth graders who met the state’s standards.
"The success created an ongoing cycle that fostered continuous cheating—by 2008, the practices had become what Christopher Waller, the school’s former principal, calls a “well-oiled machine.”
The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.
Could it happen again soon? The story seems to suggest it's likely.
Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.
"Called digital language processors, they have been given to some 55 toddlers whose families are on public assistance through a city program called Providence Talks." (Coaching parents on toddler talk to address word gap)
The New Republic wonders if this is "the political photo of the year," which it probably isn't. But it's still a prettyeye-catching image. (Michelle Obama Tours Brown v. Board National Historic Site)
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).
Check out the trailer for next week's Frontline (Separate and Unequal), which takes us to "one of several breakaway efforts" around the nation.
A recent CJR article tells the story of how New Orleans' nonprofit outlet is going to have to cut its near-comprehensive coverage of charter school board meetings and is going to lose its star reporter Jessica Williams (In New Orleans, a comprehensive schools coverage hiatus).
The news could be cause for alarm, but Williams isn't going far, and The Lens' comprehensive approach of the past four years is being replaced by a more targeted one (which sounds more sensible, anyway).
The events remind us that nonprofit news is a relatively new and untried model when it comes to local education coverage. There are a bunch of other outlets out there trying to avoid The Lens' current predicament.
Image via Flickr.
You'll see the phrase "dodged a bullet" quite a few times reading through these reaction stories:
Supreme Court ruling on unions reverberates Washington Post: The Supreme Court ruling Monday against an Illinois requirement regarding union dues for home health aides could ease the way for another, broader legal challenge aimed at teachers unions.
Unions hit, but not fatally Politico: Even the fairly narrow ruling is a blow to the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers and other unions that have organized hundreds of thousands of home health workers in states including Illinois, California and Connecticut. Those workers can now decide whether they want to support the union financially.
Unions duck biggest threat from Supreme Court case — for now Washington Post: Now those workers can decide whether they want to pay union dues from their often meager paychecks, a change labor groups worry could cause their memberships and incomes to shrink.
Unions didn’t dodge a bullet at the Supreme Court today. They dodged the guillotine. Washington Post (Bump): Had the Supreme Court thrown out the 1977 case that allows public sector unions to collect fees from employees, it could very well have been the last push needed. Instead, the Court just made the cliff's edge shakier.
Public-Sector Unions Survive Supreme Court Review, Barely. Forbes: The decision drew a strong dissent from the court’s liberals, written by Justice Elena Kagan. She said the state of Illinois not only pays home-health workers but supervises their work. And the state had ample reasons for selecting a single bargaining agent for home-health aides since that could help it ensure a steady supply of workers and guarantees against strikes.
Mulgrew: Union cautiously optimistic after ruling allows some opt-outs from union dues Chalkbeat: United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement on Monday that while he “deplored” the ruling, which gives some public workers the ability to opt out of paying union dues, it might only affect Illinois, the state where the case was based.
Home healthcare ruling may inhibit growth of powerful union LA Times: The SEIU may have trouble maintaining its growth after Monday's Supreme Court decision allowing home healthcare workers to opt out of paying union fees even if the union bargains on their behalf. If history is any guide, once workers can opt out of paying fees, they also opt out of belonging to the union.
Plus as an added bonus -- an #edGIF of declining union membership by state (below)
The most recent episode of NPR's "On The Media" ponders the meaning of The End of "Tell Me More", the daily national show whose demise has recently been announced (the same week as NPR_ED was launched, as EdWeek's Mark Walsh noted).
"On The Media"'s focus was mostly on the issue of the diversity of the hosts and producers who were on the show (pictured). But the segment got me thinking about the education segments and topics that the show covered.
Though I didn't always note all the education segments the show was putting out -- Google shows 117 references to host Michel Martin -- there was a fairly regular segment on parenting that often got to education-related issues. The show held a big 2012 #npredchat on Twitter (check it out #npredchat aggregate page). EWA's public editor Emily Richmond was a guest on the show (listen to the audio here). There were some great education-related commentaries from host Martin including one about education coverage that I recently linked to (Do You Want The Truth, Or Do You Just Like Your Story Better?)
The show ends August. You can keep following its host @MichelMcQMartin.
ICYMI: Here's the video that went along with last week's NYT story (Common Core, in 9-Year-Old Eyes).
This latest estimate includes "all violent deaths that occurred on school grounds, or during travel to or from school or a school-sponsored event." (More details at Vox)
Because there's always more to learn, I'm headed off to Chicago to attend the Covering Common Core journalists' training session being hosted by Poynter, EWA, and Northwestern over the next couple of days.
What's your favorite Common Core story so far?
What's a Common Core story you haven't seen, or a bit of knowledge that hasn't been surfaced yet?
Mine include Cory Turner's "taking the Common Core" approach, and my own peek inside the field test help desk, but I'm sure there are other better options.
"The Homework Diner has become so successful that it’s spawning other branches in New Mexico." (Nightly News: Homework Diner Serves Up Education With a Side of Food)
Former New Yotk Times Magazine reporter Matt Bai has a fascinating and highly controversial (5,000-comment) story you might want to read about how the ultra-liberal Democracy Alliance ended up naming NEA executive director John Stocks (pictured) as board chairman (Rich Democrats go from challenging the status quo to embracing it).
"So you're a liberal member of the 1 percent, and you've decided to wrest control of the Democratic agenda from change-averse insiders. You want to free the capital from the grip of powerful interest groups...Where do you turn for leadership and innovation? To the teachers union, of course!"
Originally conceived as a venture fund for progressive think tanks and thinkers (CAP, MMA), the liberal group has funneled $500 million + to liberal groups over the past decade, according to Bai. But it didn't stay innovative very long, in terms of its backers and who got funding. Silicon Valley and Wall Street funders faded away. Think tanks like the New Democrat Network and Third Way were cut off.
Now Stocks is at the helm, a move that "tells you something about the direction of Democratic politics right now," according to Bai, because of Stocks' role as the power behind the throne at the NEA (top of Bai's list of "political powerhouses that have been intransigent and blindly doctrinaire in the face of change").
Chancellor Kaya faces questions from Andy Rotherham and Emmeline Zhao (who's clearly not wearing a seatbelt, FWIW).
As Gov Brown ponders Vergara appeal, California teachers union pushing for expansion of tenure - Reuters ht.ly/yeMTy
Doomsday Scenario: A Court Order to Increase Taxes for K-12 - State EdWatch - Education Week ht.ly/yeMOO
Arizona Schools Chief Under Fire for Anonymous Blog Comments - State EdWatch - Education Week ht.ly/yeMKW
What happens to test scores & other teachers when you cluster TFA teachers at high-need schools? AIR ht.ly/yeKSz
Politico rounds up education issues playing out in governors' races ht.ly/ydXC7
From ProPublica's Heather Vogell: "Public schoolchildren across the country were physically restrained or isolated in rooms they couldn’t leave at least 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, despite a near-consensus that such practices are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit. Many states have little regulation or oversight of such practices." (Can Schools in Your State Pin Kids Down? Probably.., Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will)
Check out this half-hour segment featuring the Broad Foundation's Bruce Reed, Politico's Stephanie Simon, and the Century Foundation's Rick Kahlenberg. You might be surprised to hear Simon's analysis of the situation -- calling out the unions for hypocrisy on the issue of political spending, for example. h/t Dr. John Thompson. Reed discusses the possibility that other states will have Vergara-like lawsuits.
The big think piece of the week so far has to be Jill Lepore's New Yorker cover story attempting to debunk (or at least contextualize) the current fancy for things labeled "innovative" and/or "disruptive."
Basically, Lepore is saying that "innovation" is today's version of the word progress, that the Clay Christensen book that has promoted much of the furor is based on some shaky anecdotes, that innovator/disruptor types tend to rely on circular logic (innovations that fail weren't disruptive enough), and that disruptors' insights aren't much good at predicting future successes and may be particularly inappropriate to public efforts (and journalism).
In several places, the piece notes that schools and other public endeavors have been touched by the innovation craze:
"If your city’s public-school district has adopted an Innovation Agenda, which has disrupted the education of every kid in the city, you live in the shadow of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”
And also: "Christensen has co-written books urging disruptive innovation in higher education (“The Innovative University”), public schools (“Disrupting Class”), and health care (“The Innovator’s Prescription”).
There's also a funny description of the MOOC panic of 2012-2013.
Over at Slate, Will Oremus thinks that the case against innovation/disruption is being overstated and that the New Yorker writer just wants folks to stop trying to disrupt her industry.
There are lots of angles related to education here. Are things as bad as we're being told by reformers -- bad enough to warrant attempts at "blowing up" the current system? What happens to the legacy system when inno-disruption efforts fail to make much improvement (MOOCs), or (as in charters) succeed only partially?
Here's the mildly uplifting segment from last night's PBS. Or watch Arne Duncan take a few Common Core questions on Today.
Teachers deserve reasonable due process rights and job protections. But the unions can either work to change the anachronistic policies cited by the court or they will have change thrust upon them. - NYT Editorial Page (A New Battle for Equal Education)
Chicago-based WSJ reporter Caroline Porter (pictured) has been writing a bunch of national education stories in the time since Stephanie Banchero abdicated the throne left for the Joyce Foundation. Some recent examples:
No word yet on whether she's temporary, permanent, or getting a summer tryout for the job, which is traditionally operated out of the Chicago office. According to her WSJ bio, Porter graduated from Northwestern University and has a master’s degree from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Follow her on Twitter: @carolineporter.
From last night on the PBS NewsHour: "In Chicago, an after-school art center has been transformed into a full-time public school that serves students who come from some of the highest crime areas in the city."
Writer Dana Goldstein has landed at The Marshall Project, a newish endeavor with lots of strong names behind it, where she'll write about criminal justice and school-to-prison.
She was a Spencer Fellow at Columbia University, and has written for Slate, The Nation, The Atlantic, and lots of other folks. Her book, The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, is coming out in September.
I haven't always agreed with Goldstein's take on issues, but I've always admired her reporting and writing. [Her 2011 line, "Welcome to the beat, Brill!" sticks in my mind as a particularly delightful moment.] And she's always had other interests and topics -- and there'll be a big book tour etc. this summer -- so maybe the dropoff won't be as bad or immediate as it seems.
Previous posts: Goldstein & Carey Debate Test Proliferation; Testing Dana Goldstein's Latest Testing Article; Just How Stressful Are Midyear Assessments, Really?; Power Couples For 2014; The Cheating "Crisis" & Teacher Culpability.
Are we really interested in tapping everyone's full potential in our schools and work places, or do we just like our story better? - NPR's Michel Martin (Do You Want The Truth, Or Do You Just Like Your Story Better?)
First things first: The last couple of episodes of Louie are full of flashbacks of Louie's classroom, lunchroom, and after-school experiences as an 8th grader, which include friends who pull him up and pull him back and a really sweet if somewhat misguided science teacher Mr. Hoffman who's just trying to reach the kids (and to get the administration to pay attention to the trouble kids are getting into after school).
It's memoir, at best, but it's pretty good -- and the parental reflections on how to deal with a temporarily-wayward child seem pretty powerful, too. For another good recap -- full of spoilers! -- go here.
In other Louis CK-related news, a recent interview in Medium with the comedian and father and Common Core critic gives us some helpful insight into CK's temprament through an anecdote about how he ended up not going to NYU film school:
"An old teacher of mine got me an interview at NYU film school, and I brought all these videos I’d made, and photographs, a portfolio — I’d gotten into photography and stuff, and they said that they would accept me to go to film school. So I quit my job with that in mind, and I’d been doing stand-up, but not well or successfully, and then I never filled in — I got these forms from this guy to fill in, on the floor of my apartment somewhere, but I couldn’t get my brain to…I was supposed to go back to my high school and get my transcripts, and the idea of doing all that, just that paperwork — going to NYU film school was this dream come true for me, but I couldn’t fill out the thing, couldn’t fill it out and go to the Xerox machine and put a stamp on an envelope, all that stuff. It made me want to vomit. That sort of thing has always been the case for me, I can’t get that done."
Something to keep in mind the next time you have the urge to present CK as the best example of a parent who might be able to help his daughters with homework, right?
Previous posts: Louis C.K. Isn't Really The Next Big Angry Common Core Critic; MSNBC Focuses On Conservative Opposition To Common Core (includes CK joke re burning low-performing schools to the ground); Jerry Seinfeld Explains Gettysburg Address To Louis C.K.
Why did the film come out the particular way it did?
What effects, direct and indirect, did the film have on funding, events, and public perception? (How do you measure a "social impact" film, anyway?)
Where are the 5 kids profiled in the film now -- whatever happened to them?
These are some of the topics my long-awaited, much-anticipated re-examination of 2010's controversial documentary, Waiting for Superman, will attempt to address when it's published -- perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Long curious about whether the film was as big a success (or failure) as commonly presented, I pitched the idea of a look back at the Gates-funded Davis Guggenheim documentary to AEI and they kindly commissioned the piece (without any clear sense of what I'd end up having to say). I've written two other case studies published by AEI -- the first about the 2008 campaign to make education a big issue in the Presidential campaign, and the second about TFA's near-death experience being disqualified under NCLB.