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Afternoon Video: That "Humans Of New York" Principal Was Thinking Of Quitting

"Just earlier this year, Nadia Lopez was ready to quit her job at Mott Hall Bridges Academy" -- a school she'd founded in 2010 in the poorest neighborhood in New York City. "Four years later, though, she worried her work wasn't influencing the community." (via The Atlantic: Meet Ms. Lopez of Mott Hall Bridges Academy)

 

#TBT: A Look At This Mythical 2010 Seating Chart Shows Big Turnover In Ed Media

Take a look at this 2010 chart -- a made-up seating chart for a nonexistent USDE briefing room setup and you'll get a pretty vivid idea of how much has changed in national education coverage over the past five years (A Map To Coverage Of National Education News): 

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

So much has changed, I know! USA Today's Toppo is splitting duties on other issues (like demographics). The WSJ's Banchero is gone (to Joyce), replaced by Brody. PK12's McNeil is gone (to the College Board), replaced by Klein and Camera. The NYT's Dillon is gone (to retirement, I think), replaced by Rich. Winerip is gone (to other beats), and the column has sat empty since he left. At the Washington Post, Mathews is gone (to LA, at least), though he's still columnizing from there. AP has changed over. Colbert is gone (as we know him), replaced by... nothing so far as I can tell.  Sanchez has been joined by Kamenetz and Turner. Politico's education page didn't exist back then. Huffington Post's education page wasn't launched yet, either, I guess (come back soon, Joy!).

Events: Journalists Discuss Common Core (Coverage?) In Denver (Plus Map)

Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, JournosCan Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please? 

 

Media: So-Called "Experts" Not All That Expert (Say Experts)

Screenshot 2015-02-25 14.39.55
A new study out suggests that education 'experts' may lack expertise, in terms of academic qualifications.  The study, authored by the UofIllinois' Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, suggests that media prominence and academic qualifications aren't closely related.

However, it's no big surprise that education policy has turned away from academic expertise (and academic research, for that matter).  That's been going on for quite a while.

More importantly, the study doesn't name names, and it seems to include more individuals from the more conservative think tank experts -- AEI, Cato -- and fewer liberal or moderate ones.  For reasons I'm not quite clear on (though I'm sure others could understand), EPI is included, but not CAP or New America, or Brookings (or Fordham).  

For a list of institutional affiliations, look here. For MMFA's writeup, look here. The issue has been addressed before -- last winter in InsideHigher Ed, for example. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Image courtesy EPAA. 

TV: Oh, No! Girls' Lena Dunham Is Going To Be A Teacher

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I'm equally horrified and fascinated with the latest plot development on the HBO show Girls, in which Lena Dunham's character Hannah drops out of her MFA writing program and decides she's going to be a teacher. Specifically, she decides she wants to help people (despite her friends' observation that she's selfish) and that she's not good at writing, and -- yes -- that "those who can't teach." (Those words are actually uttered, with an unclear amount of irony.)

In a perfect/nightmare world, she'd do TFA or something, but to Hannah even that takes too long so she's apparently just going to substitute at a private girls' school. (The episode ends with her printing out a resume and walking up to a building with the name St. Justine's on the front.)

What to think, folks? Read more here: Girls Close-Up Episode Review for some guesses as to how well/poorly she'll do, and watch the clip below for a preview of next week. Or check out Twitter, where folks seem fascinated and appalled.

Note that one of the characters on High Anxiety also doesn't know what to do and tries teaching. It doesn't go well. Plus there's the charter school/adultery thing on Togetherness, and the charter school thing on Parenthood (RIP). And let's not forget The New Girl. This may be Peak Education On TV.

 

 Image via @tvtagGirls

Social Media: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 10.38.29 AM
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:

*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.

*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)

*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.  

Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.

But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.

Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others.   Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.

Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.

Quotes: Edu-Related Movie Lines From Last Night's Oscars

Quotes2Who do you want to be, Mason? What do you want to do? What can you bring to it that nobody else can?

-- Art teacher from "Boyhood," challenging unfocused protagonist to set some goals.  See my tweets from last night for other tidbits (or try @mpolikoff or @smarick for edwonk #oscars2015 punditry).

Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"

Anya Kamenetz’s The Test is an awesome analysis of how “the test obsession is making public schools … into unhappy places.” But Kamenetz’s great work doesn't stop there.  In the second part of the book, she presents alternative approaches to high-stakes testing:
 
Team Robot tests conventional subjects (math, reading, writing) in unconventional ways (invisible, integrated, electronic).
 
Team Monkey tests unconventional qualities (mindset, grit) in conventional ways (multiple –choice surveys).
 
Team Butterfly, which Kamenetz would use as the basis for a new system, integrates learning with assessment and covers twenty-first-century skills without quantifying the outcomes in a way that’s familiar or easily comparable …
 
Team Unicorn, which is still emerging, relies heavily on video games. She offers an intriguing distinction between Team Unicorn and Team Robot: “the former understands the limitations of what they are doing.” (Sign me up for the more adventurous approach, whose metrics also should be the most incompatible with stakes being assessed.)

The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"" »

Media: NYT Fills Labor Beat Spot With TNR Alum Noam Scheiber

Politico reported yesterday that the NYT will be filling the spot once held by Steven Greenhouse with TNR alum Noam Scheiber.

I'm no expert on Schieber and his work on politics and labor, but a quick Google Search shows up stories and Tweets about Cory Booker, Karen Lewis, and New Jersey politics that suggest that he's going to provide different coverage than his predecessor.

There are precious few reporters assigned to cover the labor beat, including folks at BuzzFeed and EdWeek and indie bloggers like Mike (EIA) Antonucci, and perhaps depending on how you view his work Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle. I don't think there's anyone covering labor for the Washington Post or NPR. 

Related posts: So Long, NYT Labor Reporter Steven GreenhouseWe Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?;  Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesCharts: Teachers = Teamsters?

Movies: Follow Up To Documentary Criticizing School Reform

Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.

Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story

Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do. 

Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).

But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.  

There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide). 

The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.

By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments. 

But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.

Continue reading "Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story" »

Update: Sites & Blogs To Follow (Plus Twitter Advice)

Www.hanoverresearch.com media K12 Education Market Leadership Report 2014_final.pdfBig thanks to Hanover Research for including me (and several others) in its list of folks to follow in K-12 education.  You might find some names and sites you don't already know on this list. And always remember to tweet your story more than once.  Guy Kawasaki and others swear by it, and it's sort of fun.

Media: That 1,800-Student "Alcohol-Related" Deaths Figure Is Way Too High

"News articles and lawmakers frequently suggest that 1,800 college students die every year from binge drinking," notes the Washington Post's fact-checking page. "But there are no deaths directly linked to binge drinking in the calculation of this statistic." Wait, what?  "In terms of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, the actual number of deaths appears to be in the dozens."

Journalism: NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Programs

Chancellor Carmen Fariña Changes New York City Schools’ Course   NYTimes.com

Here's another distracting (and seemingly avoidable) correction on an otherwise-interesting education story: The NYT's Valentine's Day corrections included this addendum to its Sunday February 8th profile of Chancellor Farina, noting errors describing the demographic makeup of the district's gifted and talented program and and Joel Klein's correct middle initial.  NYC's gifted and talented programs are "largely white and Asian, not largely white," notes the correction.

Quotes: David Carr's View Of Teachers

Quotes2You will meet this schlumpy lifer who five minutes into the conference makes you just feel like killing yourself, and you think, ‘I leave my child with this kid?’ And the next person you meet will be this incredibly charismatic person who sees every young person before them as this unique piece of clay about to be molded.

- Recently-deceased NYT media critic David Carr in The Answer Sheet (What David Carr told me

Media: The Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County Coverage

Friday was Josh Starr's last day as head of the Montgomery County public schools.  He granted an interview to NPR -- but not to the Washington Post.   This forced the Post to run a bloggy writeup of the NPR interview over the weekend. You and I may not care, but in most cases a traditional news outlet like the Post would normally avoid publishing something like this on its regular news page, and would generally be loath to "follow" another news outlet with essentially duplicative coverage.

There's nothing really out of the ordinary about a district superintendent giving the cold shoulder to an outlet he or she perceives as having provided rough coverage of a tough situation.  Former DCPS head Michelle Rhee declined to give much help to the Washington Post during the last few months of her tenure, feeling that the coverage there had gone overboard with its criticism.  At a certain point, relations between beat reporters covering elected or appointed officials can get toxic even under the best of circumstances.  

But this is just the latest incident surrounding the Post's coverage of Montgomery County and Starr.  On January 27th, the paper's editorial page wrote about Starr's departure on the same day that the news came out on the education page.

That means the editorial page -- normally given to thoughtful analysis and commentary on news that's already been reported -- essentially scooped its own newsroom. I've heard estimates that there was a 12-hour gap, but I can't document such a thing.  There's no timestamp on Washington Post stories, however, the earliest comments I can find on the editorial page story come from that evening, around 8 pm and the earliest comments on the education version of the story come in a few hours later, just after midnight on the 28th. According to the Post's Bill Turque, the newsroom was only about 90 minutes behind, largely due to the newsroom's more stringent sourcing requirements.  

How does that happen, when the Post has both Donna St. George and Turque helping cover Montgomery County public schools? I have no idea.  Yes, nearly everyone seems to have been caught by surprise.  Sure, Twitter and the blogosphere beat newspapers to the punch all the time -- no fact-checking required on social media! -- but usually editorial pages don't beat their own newsrooms (or anyone else's really). They're usually not even close.  And ideally beat reporters hear and report things first, well before everyone else.  That's the whole point of beat reporting, or at least one of the main points. 

Anyway, I've asked some Post folks about the timing of the breaking news and will be happy to learn and share more about how it unfolded.  Anyone else have thoughts or insight into how the Post covered Starr, or the news of his departure, or whether any of it really matters?  Did this story in Bethesda Magazine precipitate or suggest what was to come, well in advance of the news breaking? Feel free to share information, theories, and insights here or on twitter. 

Related posts: Washington Post Doubles Down In National CoverageAbout That Front-Page Washington Post Story"Draft Sharing" Spreads At Washington Post Education TeamMichelle Rhee Vs. The Washington Post.

Media: Who Covered Yesterday's House NCLB Markup Best?

Today is one of those opportunities to try and see how different outlets match up against each other covering the same event.  Or, well, it should be.  But the Washington Post doesn't seem to have covered the event, which is a bit of surprise given their two-member national education reporting team. (No surprise really that the NYT didn't bother, or will publish something in a day or two.)

Over all, the coverage seemed fine, if basic in terms of insights and context:

Politico's morning email (What You Missed At Markup) includes a few useful tidbits (and links to their paid story), noting that the markup took 10 hours and that most of the two dozen amendments were rebuffed and the bill passed along party lines. Senator Alexander is delighted.  Secretary Duncan is not. There's a link to the paid story but I'm not a subscriber -- I'm not even sure if they sent someone or bothered to live-tweet (but I'm checking).

The AP story (Committee Sends Partisan Education Bill to House) by Kimberly Hefling focuses among other things on the limits to EdSec Duncan in the bill. "House Republican leaders view the bill as a way to make clear their opposition to the Obama administration's encouragement of the Common Core state standards." But it's spot coverage, not detailed event coverage or analysis (not AP's thing). 

EdWeek's writeup (House Education Committee Approves NCLB Rewrite on Party-Line Vote) by Lauren Camera notes that the bill would limit federal involvement in education decisions and lists the outcome of each amendment offered to the underlying bill. None of the Democrats' amendments were adopted, we learn, and the issue of private school vouchers came up. Overtesting amendments went down, too.  This was the most comprehensive of the writeups.

Some other observations: Live-tweeting may be dead in the age of the video live-stream. Ditto for event-based hashtags, it seems. @PoliticsK12 didn't even bother to hashtag their updates. There was a reasonably active live-tweeting that took place during the long day, including updates from PoliticsK12 as well as advocates and think tank folks like Anne Hyslop (Bellwether), Penn Hill Group, the EdTrust, Mary Kusler (NEA), Michele McLaughlin (Knowledge Alliance) and Noelle Ellerson (AASA). Cheryl Sattler (EthicaLLC) provided some great color commentary off the live-stream, which I greatly appreciated. 

I'm not saying I could have done any better -- I have the attention span of an ant and (as I wrote about yesterday) I don't know the current committee staffers who might offer interesting tidbits or whose body language might reveal secrets.  I can't claim to have seen every outlet's stories -- Politico may have done a great job -- and may have missed pieces that have come out since my morning roundup (NYT, Washington Post, USA Today?). Let me know if you see those and I'll update. 

Journalism: Three Education Stories I'd Like To See

Works Progress Administration 1938  James Vaughan FlickrHere are three stories I'd like to see (unless you've written or seen them already):

THE LAWSUIT ERA: Vergara and a few other high-profile education lawsuits -- combined with the legal strategy employed by gay rights advocates -- makes me think that we're overdue for a return to court-focused advocacy efforts. What are some of the most influential court cases of the past (besides Brown, of course), what are some of the most interesting cases currently being debated, and -- most fascinating -- what cases might be filed or floated in the coming years that could change the shape of education as we know it?

HOUSE OF COMMITTEE CARDS: For a few minutes, at least, all eyes are going to be on the House and Senate education committees.  But it's been a minute since anyone paid much attention. Who are the main players on the Committee and leadership staffs, and what are the behind the scenes relationships between advocates, lawmakers, and staff, that may influence the end result? Any think tankers with a hotline into the anteroom? Plus: Who's dating whom? Who's the best-dressed? Who's paid most?

NEWS STORIES DON'T INVENT THEMSELVES: There was a time earlier this winter when it seemed clear that someone was feeding the "dump annual testing" story to the media, creating a mini-firestorm of interest and speculation that according to some observers was designed to distract us all from harder, more important elements of the ESEA reauthorization process. But where'd that story come from, and in what other ways are advocates and policy wonks able to put their fingerprints on stories or even create trending topics?  You know it's happening -- they're not paying all those comms folks and strategists for nothing -- but you probably don't know how much. Yet. 

Image CC via Flickr.

Journalism: Another Erroneous "Deck" Distracts From Underlying Story

 Enough Is Enough   Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists   BuzzFeed NewsKudos to BuzzFeed's Molly Hensley-Clancy for digging out an angry letter from Chicago School Board appointee Deborah Quazzo and getting a follow-up interview with her about the dispute over Quazzo's investments in education companies while serving as a Board member.  

However, demerits to the deck-writing folks at BuzzFeed, who distracted many readers with copy that said Quazzo was no longer on the Board.  

See image at left.

This is the second time in recent weeks that a headline and/or "deck" copy (the sentence or two after the headline) has proven to be problematic for an education-related story.

The Atlantic's community colleges story, as you may recall, included a headline and deck that needed correction. See that story here.

Reporters sometimes suggest headlines and decks, but they're often written by others who aren't necessarily familiar with the story subject.

It's all cleared up here now, so we can go back to focusing on the embattled Chicago board member (and the looming mayoral race).

Charts: Reconsidering NCLB's Bad Rap

  Screenshot 2015-02-10 12.50.00 Screenshot 2015-02-10 12.50.10These pretty charts from Third Way (Did No Child Left Behind Work) will change no one's mind, if we've learned anything about minds being changed, but I will share them anyway (with permission), and recommend you read their writeup of the reality behind NCLB's bad rap.

Campaign 2016: Bush Stretched FLA Hispanic Student Accomplishments, Reports PBS

Fact check  Is Jeb Bush right about Hispanic students’ achievement in Florida The PBS NewsHour (online) notes that Jeb Bush's comments at the Detroit Economic Club last week included a claim that Florida Hispanic students were “two grade levels ahead of the average” that was "a stretch:  

"In 2009 and 2013, Hispanic fourth-graders in Florida did have the higher average reading scores than Hispanics in any other state. Yet, in 2011, Hispanic students in Kentucky and Maryland scored higher. In math, Hispanic fourth-graders in at least three other states scored as high or higher than their peers in Florida in 2009, 2011 and 2013.By the eighth grade, however, Florida’s Hispanic students are far from the very front of the pack."

The post also notes that it's not entirely clear that the increased scores that do exist are attributable to Bush reforms.  Check it all out here: Is Jeb Bush right about Hispanic students’ achievement in Florida?.

Corrections: NYT Front-Pager Mis-Identifies Ed Trust President

Nyt tfa correctionGender is just a construct and the error has long since been corrected online, but last week's front-page story about TFA (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) apparently included a mis-identification of the Education Trust's Kati Haycock as male. Anything else wrong or missing from the piece? Let us know. NYT corrections are always so deliciously awkward.

 

 

Update: "Humans Of New York" Comes To The White House

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I guessed this was coming  and am so glad it happened. That's President Obama with the Bronx middle school student and principal who have been part of this amazing viral good-news story about strangers giving over $1 million to a poor school to help pay for class trips to Harvard.

Events: Today's Education Philanthropy Event At AEI

In case you hadn't figured it out by now, I've been at AEI all day today talking about the "new" education philanthropy. That's me in the middle, flanked by Goldstein, Kelly, Blew, and Hess. #newedphil is the hashtag.  Video and draft papers to come.

Throwback Thursday (#TBT): Anya Kamenetz, Circa 2006

Screenshot 2015-02-04 12.29.16
One of the nice things about having been writing about education so long is that I now get to participate in #TBT (Throwback Thursday), through which the Internet celebrates (or laments) the past. This week's entry is a 2006 blog post about Anya Kamenetz, now NPR's lead education blogger and author of the exquisitely well-timed new book, The Test.Titled Another Great(?) Education Writer I've Never Heard Of, the post dates back to Blogspot days (before EdWeek, before Scholastic).

Update: Clinton Comes Out As Pro-Vaccination, & CA Might End "Personal Belief" Exemption

It wasn't entirely clear what Hillary Clinton's views on vaccination were -- until now. "The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork," she says (via Twitter). And, according to NPR, California is considering joining 30 other states that don't allow parents to list personal beliefs as a way to bypass vaccination requirements.

Magazines: Go, Team Scholastic!

Www.abmassociation.com images Neals 2014NealAwards Entries A5   COMMENT.EDU This Week in Education   Entry.pdfAs you should already  know, this site is sponsored by Scholastic Administrator, one of several education magazines published by Scholastic.  
 
What you may not be aware of, however, is that I also write a column and do newsmaker interviews for Scholastic Administrator (and sometimes am lucky enough to get to hang out in the company's lovely SoHo offices). 
 
The editorial staff  includes Wayne D'Orio, Chris Borris, and Frank Tagariello -- all of whom help make my columns and interviews look and read as well as possible.

Today's news is that Administrator and Instructor (one of the other magazines) are finalists for this year's NEAL Awards in several categories (best single issue, best subject-related package, best commentary (that's me), best theme issue, best instructional content (Instructor's Spring 2014 STEM package).

The awards are hosted by American Business Media and focus on business-to-business publications.
 
Administrator was a finalist for best commentary last year (pictured), among other categories.
 
 
 

Morning Video: Heart-Warming Story Of Unemployed Photographer & Bronx Middle School

Here's Ellen Degeneres interviewing the man behind "Humans of New York" and the student and principal who have become unintentional superstars. Target is jumping on the bandwagon, too.

Unions: Making Sense Of That Strange NEA Strategy/Polling Memo

Kudos to New America's Conor Williams for digging up (or cultivating sources who sent him) the results of a $170,000 NEA-funded strategy memo which he details in The Daily Beast (Union to Teachers: Say ‘Right ZIP Code,’ Not ‘Rich’).

This is the second interesting document that's been surfaced by a non-national education reporter in recent days. The other was the letter from the USDE to the Illinois state board of education about districts not complying with annual assessment requirements which Crain's Chicago reporter Greg Hinz shared last week. (National education reporters, strike out on your own. Don't let yourselves be turned into White House correspondents or spoon-fed by smooth-talking advocates playing on your over-worked, underpaid sympathies.)

However, Williams may be guilty of milking the significance of the document he's found ("Persuading the People on Public Schools”) for somewhat more than it's worth.  

The NEA memo he describes includes poll-driven recommendations to use simpler language (ZIP codes vs. inequality).  But it's not clear that there's anything particularly nefarious or unusual about that.  Williams also revisits his previous post about the overheated coverage of a similar TFA memo dug up and reported on a few months ago, which somewhat undercuts his argument that it's no big deal that the NEA does communications and strategy work. And his conclusions -- that the NEA will both use softer language and that "the NEA is planning to be as confrontational as possible in the coming years" -- don't really go together, if I understand them correctly.

How does the NEA intend to use softer language and rally the base at the same time? Perhaps it's more about simpler language, or clearer language, than any stepping away from the issues.  (Someone who's read the memo through would be able to tell us that.) Though the NEA does have to be careful in how it rallies its base, given that there are so many aspects of the current system -- attendance zones, seniority transfers, and local school boards -- that result in inequitable services and outcomes for kids.  And, of course, the obvious differences between the priorities of college-educated, mostly-white teachers working with a student population that is increasingly poor and now majority-minority.

"What does it mean when a major education organization would rather not discuss inequality, equity, research, or effectiveness in 2015?" asks Williams. "It means that the organization wants to muddy public education debates and resist changes to the status quo." About that we might agree. 

Update: Blogging Is Dead. Long Live Blogging (Again)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comIt might be worth noting in passing the announcement last week that Andrew Sullivan, one of the first bloggers to come to prominence in the then-new field, has announced he's retiring from the pursuit.

Not so much because we don't already know that blogging as it was originally conceived of is dead - that's been true since roughly 2009, when social media came along.  I remember telling folks at an EWA event around that time that starting a blog was generally a bad idea. See related posts below.

The real reason to take note of Sullivan's decision is that he pioneered or elevated some key aspects of the online world we occupy now, including several that I wish there more of: intellectual honesty (admitting to error, changing of mind), linking out to others' work or giving credit for someone else's having found something interesting (which many folks are still reluctant to do), and the mixing of serious and silly. He was also white, male, and a product of traditional journalism.

Leave it to EIA's Mike Antonucci to give us a good education-related bit of commentary (Dead Blogs), in which he reminds us all that blogging is just a delivery system not some sort of magic unicorn that's come and gone:

"I don’t want to sound like Andy Rooney – especially since some of you don’t remember him – but “blogging” is just a name for a technological improvement to what people have done for centuries."

Might be time to get on Twitter, Mike, but otherwise you've got it right. 

Roundup of commentary on the Sullivan announcement: CJR: 7 ways Andrew Sullivan changed blogging;  Mashable: Requiem for blogging; Washington Post: No, blogging isn’t dead; BuzzFeed: My Life In The Blogosphere; Daily Beast: Andrew’s Burnt Out? Blogs Are, Too.

Related posts from this site: Blogs Are Dead (Long Live Blogging!)Six Rules Of Blogging (Defined Broadly).

Charts: TFA State Budget Line Items Look Big - Until You Compare Them

Though this Dallas Observer piece on TFA reads pretty reasonable to me compared to many others I've come across recently (Teach for America Finds Growing Support in Texas), the chart of state budget line items for TFA is pretty eye-catching and simplistic:
Teach for America Finds Growing Support in TexasIt'd be helpful to have some context here. How much do these states spend on other alternative programs, for example? (The Illinois "Grow Your Own" program spent $20M over 10 years and generated 100 certified teachers.) How much do these states spend on teacher recruitment overall? (My guess is that it's tens of millions in many cases.) Image used with permission.

Journalism: San Diego Union-Tribune Corrects Washington Post Poverty Story

Definition of ‘poverty’ becomes issue in story   UTSanDiego.comThe San Diego Union-Tribune has run a correction on its version of that January 17 Washington Post poverty story, according to the paper's public editor (Definition of ‘poverty’ becomes issue):
Although The Washington Post reporter wrote that the lunch program is “a rough proxy for poverty,” the sentence gives the impression that those signed up for the program are living in “poverty.” And that’s not precisely correct.... While many are certainly “low-income,” “needy,” poor,” those receiving the free and reduced-price lunches don’t have to fit the federal definition for “poverty.”
 
According to Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton, "Yes, it is possible that some of these kids come from families that are technically above the poverty line. But here’s the thing — when it comes to the public education system, the federal government considers these kids ‘poor.’... The government is feeding them breakfast and lunch because it has determined that their families lack the means to provide for them.”
As noted, the NYT version of the story that children who receive free or reduced-price meals don't necessarily live in poverty. The program eligibility criteria have also changed to allow schools greater latitude. The U-T ran a correction Jan. 28 on the headline.
 

TV: Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show

image from media.salon.comThe new David Simon show coming later this year will give us all a chance to think about residential segregation and the neighborhood school.

According to a recent Grantland article, the miniseries -- called "Show Me A Hero" -- surrounds the reaction in Yonkers NY to a 1985 court decision that the city had "'illegally and intentionally’ fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city.” 

The series is based on a Lisa Belkin book by the same name (book cover to left). The former NYT writer has since moved to HuffPost and Yahoo. You can read an excerpt here. Something in Salon here. IMDB for the show is here.

What's this have to do with education?  Well, residential segregation combined with neighborhood-based schooling is the main reason we have such inequitable & segregated schools and school systems (and charter networks, too). While everyone likes to talk about the joys of the neighborhood system, it's turned out to be class- and race-based in some pretty awful ways. See Nikole Hannah-Jones' work in ProPublica and The Atlantic if you don't think it's a current issue.   

So this show will give us at least a glancing chance of revisiting the issues of race, class, and the neighborhood school. 

Related posts: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose ChoiceWatch School Segregation Grow Over 20 YearsRethinking The Neighborhood School IdealDecline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta)The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools

Numbers: Missing Context From Reports On Free Lunch & Food Stamp Spikes

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThere are a lot of numbers out there, and some of them may not mean what you're being told they mean.

Take for example last week's headlines about the majority of US kids now being poor.  Well, it turns out that those claims were based on both free and reduced-price lunch, which goes up to 180 percent of poverty. NPR's education team explores the issue here.

Even more recently, there have been a slew of reports about Food Stamp numbers, noting a dramatic rise of kids who live in families dependent on Food Stamps (now officially called SNAP benefits, but whatever) For example, this Guardian story: Number of US children living on food stamps nearly doubles since 2007. Or this Reuters story:  One in five U.S. children now rely on food stamps. Or this AP story posted on ABC News:  Census: 1 in 5 Children on Food Stamps. Or the chart I posted yesterday: Children On Food Stamps. What got left out, however -- again flagged by Petrilli -- is that the criteria for Food Stamps was loosened in 2009 so at least some of the increase is due to changed eligibility standards.  

Not all is lost, however. Some outlets -- like Newsday -- explained that the increase might not be purely due to increased poverty. And I'm asking the USDA and others to help explain what percentage of the SNAP increase is due to eligibility changes. But clearly we all need to check our preconceptions and watch out for facts that are "too good to check" because they fit a pre-existing narrative.

Related posts: Teacher In Hot Water For "Food Stamp" CommentPoverty Rises Despite Stimulus Spending.

Journalism: Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage

Some of you have noticed Emma Brown's byline on national education stories coming out of the Washington Post recently, and indeed the former DC Public Schools reporter is joining Lyndsey Layton covering the big beat starting this month. The move was in fact announced on the Washington Post site way back January 9 (Staff News: Education Coverage).

As you may already know, Brown covered the DC Public Schools from 2011 until recently when she went on maternity leave. Her old beat will be covered by Michael Alison Chandler, who's been filling in since the summer. Layton has been covering the national beat since 2011.

Brown joining Layton will be good news to those who want more education coverage from the Post (and don't want it handled by blogger Valerie Strauss) and less appealing to those who have had issues with Layton's coverage (of poverty statistics, foundation influence, etc.) and were hoping she was moving on to something else. On the whole, it seems like a positive move to me.

The Post announcement also tells us that a new blog is coming (has arrived?), though alas from my point of view it's going to focus on higher education. It is called Grade Point.

Related posts: Student Poverty Deepening & Spreading Nationally;  About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves; What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common CoreControversial Washington Post Blogger Tells AllFact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2).

AM News: Digging Out From Under All The Blizzard Hype

Snow Day: Blizzard Shutters Schools Across Region WNYC: Snow days for the New York City public school system do not come easily, but with forecasts predicting two feet of snow and wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour, yes: school's canceled.

For Students (and Some Adults), School Cancellation in New York Comes as Welcome News NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city schools would be closed on Tuesday because of the snowstorm, giving some students a reprieve from pending exams.

Hidden Day Care Records And Other State Secrets Seattle Public Radio: State inspection reports of day care providers are public record, but accessing them is still a problem for many parents. Washington state posts records online, but more than a dozen states don’t.

Obama Takes Heat For Proposing To End College Savings Break NPR: President Obama has proposed changing the tax treatment of college savings accounts known as 529 plans. Some are calling this a tax increase on the middle class. See also MMFA: What Media Miss On The Tax Breaks In Obama's Free Community College Plan 

Competency-Based Degree Programs On The Rise NPR: A new report says 52 colleges offer, or plan to offer, some credits based on learning, not just seat time.

Investigation into Md. ‘free-range parenting’ case unresolved after meeting Washington Post: The neglect investigation that started after a Silver Spring couple allowed their children to walk home a mile from a park could continue for another couple of weeks, despite the parents’ hopes that authorities would drop the case at a meeting Monday.

Yale police aim gun at NYT columnist’s son, turn spotlight on racial profiling on campus PBS: The debate over racial profiling — already a hot topic on many college campuses — gained renewed attention this weekend when Yale University police briefly detained a black male student Saturday evening.

Student 'Body Slams' Teacher Who Took Cell Phone (VIDEO) HuffPost: In the video, the 16-year-old suspect goes ballistic when his teacher confiscates his phone. The student appears to wrap his arms around the teacher and knocks him into an empty desk. The student then wrestles with the teacher before slamming him to the floor.

Afternoon Video: PBS NewsHour Covers "The Test"

Here's last night's PBS NewHour segment featuring Anya Kamenetz's new book, The Test. (Is it a high of 113 tests K-12, or is 113 the average?) Not loading properly, or want to read the transcript? Click here.

Visuals: Don't Miss Out On NPR's Ed-Related Illustrations

image from 41.media.tumblr.comWhatever you may think of NPR's education coverage, you gotta love the art that's been on the site these past few weeks and months. Most if not all of it's done by LA Johnson (@theLAJohnson), who kindly gave me permission to post this recent image. See more of her great work here & here.  Any other favorites of her work? Let usknowin comments or tweet them at me and I'll share them out. 

Journalism: How That Atlantic Magazine Story Went (So) Wrong

Here's the beginning of my writeup of the events leading to and following the online publication of TheAtlantic.com's CUNY story, published in its entirety over at Medium:

Both online and in print, The Atlantic has become known for running extremely strong education-focused features. One such example is Nikole Hannah-Jones’ look at school resegregation, which is a 2015 ASME finalist.

That’s why it was so startling to watch last week as the reporters and editors who had produced a long piece on the City University of New York (CUNY) made not one but two rounds of major corrections to the story published at TheAtlantic.com.

How did it happen? It’s not entirely clear yet.

But the events raise familiar concerns about the adequacy of fact-checking procedures, best practices for indicating changes and corrections to readers, and the perception of influence of outside funders in today’s media environment.

It’s also just the latest in a worrisome series of errors, omissions, and other kinds of flubs for education-related news stories in the past year or so.

As you'll see, The Atlantic, CUNY, and The Nation's Investigative Fund all talked to me about what did -- and didn't -- happen.  The reporters and editors -- LynNell Hancock, Meredith Kolodor, and Jennie Rothenberg Gritz -- have thus far declined. I can't get a response from the main character, Kenneth Rosario, to ask him about his side of things, though by now I hope he knows I'd love to talk.

Events: All The Cool (NPR) Kids Are (Were) At #NPREdSummit

Following up on something that I recall was done last year, the folks at NPR's education team are hosting a conference with lots of local public radio station folks.

Not invited? Me, neither, but you can follow along sort of via Twitter #npredsummit. Those in attendance include Anya Kamenetz (fresh off her Morning Edition appearance) @anya1anya. Mallory Falk @malloryfalk. Claudio Sanchez @CsanchezClaudio. Cory Turner  @NPRCoryTurner. Also: WNYC's Patricia Willens @pwillens . APM's Emily Hanford ‏@ehanford .  Illustrator LA Johnson  ‏@theLAJohnson (love her stuff!).

 

Morning Video: Everybody Hates Pearson - But It's Not Going Away Anytime Soon

 

Here's a three-minute video explainer to go along with the Fortune magazine story that came out yesterday. Video not loading properly (#thankstypepad)? Click here.

Quotes: Show Taxpayers [Test] Results If You Want More Of Their Money

Quotes2Taxpayers provide about $600 billion each year to fund public education in America. They have a right to know if the system is working. And if we want the public to spend more money on education, we need to show them [test] results.

-- Ed Post's Peter Cunningham (Fewer, Better, Fairer Tests)

Journalism: Ten Large (& A Bowler Hat!) For High-Quality Reporting

image from www.edwingouldfoundation.org

The Edwin Gould Foundation has announced a new (to me) journalism prize to "the authors / producers / originators of works of journalism that help to further the national conversation about low-income college completion."

First prize: $10,000 and a bowler hat Two Honorable Mention Awards: $2,500 and a bowler hat.

Sounds pretty good to me, though I rarely write about what happens to kids after high school.

Read all about it here: The Eddie. Then send them your stuff and cross your fingers.  Image used courtesy EGF.

 

Morning Video: Let's Talk About Why Schools Are So Segregated (Again)

 

Here's an April 2014 C-SPAN interview with ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones about how schools in Tuscaloosa Alabama and many other places have resegregated since coming out from under court supervision. (Washington Journal School Desegregation)

Morning Video: Student Poverty Deepening & Spreading Nationally

 

Here's a PBS NewsHour segment on student poverty from Friday that you might not yet have seen. A majority of students in 21 states are now poor or near-poor, according to data passed on by Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton (whose paper's initial coverage of the numbers was critiqued somewhat predictably by Fordham's Mike Petrilli and somewhat unexpectedly by Mother Jones' Kevin Drum).

Journalism: Atlantic Story Highlighting "Racial Gerrymandering" Named Magazine Award Finalist

One of the handful of articles nominated for a national magazine award yesterday includes Nikole-Hannah-Jones' school resegregation story, which ran in The Atlantic and is a finalist in the Public Interest category. 

Longtime readers may recall Hannah-Jones from her appearance at an EWA panel on covering communities of color and inclusion on a list of diverse education tweeters I attempted to compile earlier this year. 

While both reformers and reform critics might want to claim her as one of their own, her reporting on racial gerrymandering of school attendance zones calls into question neighborhood- and school district-based policies that few professional education advocates are willing to challenge.

The National Magazine Award is a big deal and it's not often that an education-related publication or article gets nominated. In 2011, an Atlantic Magazine story about the discovery of autism was nominated. In 2013, Peg Tyre's story about teaching writing in Staten Island got the nod. Further in the past, a TIME story on ADD was also nominated.

You can read the May 2014 segregation story here, or watch her on C-SPAN here. Check out how your district may be resegregating over the past 60 years. 

Related posts: Atlantic Magazine Nominated For Autism StoryTeaching WritingThis More Diverse List Of Top Education Tweeters Needs More Names*

Journalism: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top -- Right?

While The Atlantic Education page editor Alia Wong was setting off a minor firestorm on the EWA listserv and elsewhere about whether education reporting is boring (due to overuse of jargon, mainly), Atlantic editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz was correcting and defending the magazine's feature story about NYC's community colleges' use of test scores to determine student admission. The Hechinger Report which also published the piece was figuring out how to react.

As you may already know, The Atlantic  responded to concerns expressed by CUNY about the original story by rewriting some of the piece and posting a note at the bottom of the page explaining the changes it had made.  Rothenberg Gritz explained the changes at length in the comments section, as noted by Capital New York. (The lengthy response from Rothenberg Gritz is posted below so you don't have to dig through 300-plus comments to find it.)

Meanwhile, the Hechinger Report says via Twitter that its version of the story was updated yesterday morning, and has now added a note at the bottom of the story ("This story has been updated from the original version.") without any explanation of the substance of the correction (or indication at the top that the story has been changed since its first publication). 

CUNY isn't satisfied and wants the story corrected further or even retracted entirely. More changes may come -- I've emailed the reporters and editors involved and will share any responses. Meantime, I think it's laudable that both The Atlantic and Hechinger Report responded so quickly to substantive concerns about the piece.  However, I do think that it's well worth noting corrections at the top of the story not just at the bottom, and perhaps making it easy for readers to see the original version, too?

Related posts: Corrected Atlantic Magazine Story Still Not Accurate, Says CUNY.

Continue reading "Journalism: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top -- Right?" »

Thompson: John Merrow's Wish/Hope List for 2015

PBS’s John Merrow, in What’s Ahead in 2015?, starts with an astute observation about the watch dog who didn’t bark. Outcomes-loving Arne Duncan had just said that his predictions for the upcoming year were more, more, more and more increases in non-controversial supports and squishy targets.

Such input-driven goals were once seen as Low Expectations!, and they supposedly made tough-minded data-driven accountability necessary. Merrow notes that Duncan skipped an opportunity to address quality, not just quantity, or to take a stand as to whether students will have better classroom experiences in 2015 due to Common Core.

Rather than make predictions for the next 12 months, Merrow offered “a wish/hope list for 2015.”

Merrow wishes we could “make it harder to become a teacher but easier to be one. Right now a lot of our policies and rhetoric are making it downright unpleasant to be a teacher.”

He wishes Duncan would back away from value-added teacher evaluations, "but that’s not likely to happen. … Mr. Duncan is doubling down, not seeking common ground.”

I agree with Merrow’s next wish, although I'd emphasize a different part of his aspiration. He wishes that “the critics of testing and ‘test-based accountability’ would get together with their opponents and agree on some fair, effective and efficient ways of evaluating teachers.” Since unions have long advocated for practical policies such as peer review and the New Haven plan, the key words are “get together.” Those who seek better means of dismissing bad teachers mostly need to take “Yes” for an answer.

Continue reading "Thompson: John Merrow's Wish/Hope List for 2015" »

Journalism: Corrected Atlantic Magazine Story Still Not Accurate, Says CUNY

image from ow.lyThe latest edition of The Atlantic includes a long story about how rising reliance on test scores is pushing low-income minority students out of top-tier CUNY schools.  

But apparently not everything in the original story -- including the rejection of a student from his top-choice school -- was in fact as described.  

First, CUNY issued a letter calling out several errors in the story. Then, The Atlantic rewrote the story and added the correction you see above.

However, the corrected story is apparently still error-filled, according to CUNY.  

What happened in this case? I have no ideas, but will let you know what I can find out. 

As you can see below, this is just the latest in a series of errors, omissions, and other kinds of flubs for education news stories in the past year or so.  

Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student ScamMassive NYT Math Score CorrectionNYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationNo, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School ShootingsCJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" MythResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask

Lunchtime Listen: When Students Of Color Have White Teachers

Do yourself a favor and listen to this NPR/Latino USA segment from a few days ago about the problems created by the predominance of white teachers teaching kids of color. It's not just a charter school problem, that's for sure. Want more? Check out this MSNBC segment about the issue. #YoweiShaw

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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.