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Media: EdWeek Leads Way On Coverage Of Unaccompanied Migrant Kids

image from fullframe.edweek.org

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. 

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

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

Magazines: 12 New Yorker Ed Articles Vox Missed/Got Wrong

Screen shot 2014-07-22 at 12.20.39 PM

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.

For example, the Vox list includes forgettable profiles of Arne Duncan and Diane Ravitch (Class WarriorPublic Defenderalong with Doug McGray's excellent Steve Barr profile (The Instigator).  

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 MovementLast Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt-Out StoryThe New Yorker Takes Another Look At CoachingDelayed Gratification = 210 SAT PointsLessons From Earth Day 1970If Doctors Can Do It, So Can TeachersCoaching: Even Veterans & Star Teachers Could BenefitChecklists: The Simple Solution No One Wants To Try.

 

Morning Video: Help Reporter Finish Cincinnati School Documentary

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


 

Morning Video: Nonprofit Crowdfunding A New Preschool

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

Journalism: Virginian-Pilot Wins Common Core Grant

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

image from www.pbs.org

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

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

When Storytelling Meets Civic Action (via PBS)

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

 

Hot Vs. Hot: Campbell Brown Vs. Matt Damon

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

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

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

Power Couples: The Wonk & The Journo*

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 3.03.43 PM
She (Robin Chait) is an education wonk at ostensibly left-leaning CAP, and he (Jonathan) is a writer at sharp-elbowed New York magazine. They both write about a education a lot these days.  Image via Facebook.

*Correction: She's no longer at CAP and is now at a charter school network (via LinkedIn)

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

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

Afternoon Video: Schools Prepare For Surge Of Unaccompanied Migrant Kids

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?

Magazines: 5 Ways The SF Protests Can Help You Understand Education

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comNow 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. 

Sound familiar?

Three more to go -- the best ones! -- click the link and see.

Continue reading "Magazines: 5 Ways The SF Protests Can Help You Understand Education" »

Morning Video: So What's It Like To Take The OECD Test for Schools?

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.

Media: Politico Brings Up The Rear On StudentsFirst Reboot Story

Money_1The Minnesota Star Tribune posted the story last week that SF was pulling out of the state (StudentsFirst pulls up stakes), and reported that the group was getting out of FLA, too.

EdWeek added to the story (StudentsFirst Powers Down Five State Affiliates) by listing the 5 states that were being shuttered (Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, and Minnesota), explaining the the reasons for closing up shop differ by state, and noting that Travis Pillow at RedefinED got to the FLA part of story first.

Politico led with the story in its morning roundup today (Rhee’s group retrenches) but provided little by way of new information and (old habits die hard) failed to credit EdWeek or the Minnesota Star Tribune or anyone else for unearthing the news.

Sure, it's embarrassing having other folks break a story that probably should be yours.  But it only makes it worse when they pretend you dug it up themselves or assume their readers don't know/don't care where the story idea came from. Plus, it makes their hard-working counterparts really hate them.

Previous posts: StudentsFirst 14-State 2012 Candidate SpendingStudentsFirst 2012 Spending On Local Board RacesNEA & State Political Spending 5X Higher Than StudentsFirstWhy's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?

 

Magazines: New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School

I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker goes deep with its latest education story (A Struggling School Made a Shocking Choice), by contributor Rachel Aviv.

"Struggling to meet data-driven district targets, as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind, administrators and teachers at Parks first began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests in 2006.

"The resulting scores significantly raised the school’s percentage of eighth graders who met the state’s standards.

"The success created an ongoing cycle that fostered continuous cheating—by 2008, the practices had become what Christopher Waller, the school’s former principal, calls a “well-oiled machine.”

The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.  

Could it happen again soon? The story seems to suggest it's likely.

Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.

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

Quotes: Reform Debate Often Detached From Schools & Parents

Quotes2The policy debate has become so polarized that it often seems detached from the very people it is aimed at helping. - Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe via Annenberg Institute

Morning Video: Helping Increase Toddlers' Vocabularies With Word Counters

"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)

Pictures: Michelle Obama's Tour of the Brown Museum In Topeka

ScreenHunter_02 Jul. 14 10.22The 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)

 

 

Media: Errant Diversity Tweet Creates NPR Mini-Controversy

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

The errant tweet -- "I reach out to diverse sources on deadline. Only the white guys get back to me :( " -- went out under @NPR-Ed, making matters somewhat worse.  

Kamenetz apologized pretty quickly, took responsibility and nobody took the tweet down. I passed it along and assumed it was all over.  

However, more recently EWAer Dakarai Aarons posted about the situation on Facebook, linking to a blog post summarizing the situation, the online reactoins, and noting NPR's struggles with newsroom diversity and programming diversity, and its hiring of Juana Summers as part of the education team. 

The Blaze also picked up the story, referencing Juan Williams but also noting that "the initial tweet expressed a desire to hear from minority sources (in addition to the offending phrasing)... [and that Kamenetz] "was engaged and apologetic throughout the process, yet many continued to harangue her."

Also: NPR reporter apologizes after being called out for ‘diversity’ gaffe (Twitchy).

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

Morning Video: "Breakaway" Efforts In Baton Rouge (& Elsewhere?)

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 08 09.58Check out the trailer for next week's Frontline (Separate and Unequal), which takes us to "one of several breakaway efforts" around the nation.

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

Flickr-sashalaA recent CJR article tells the story of how New Orleans' nonprofit outlet is going to have to cut its near-comprehensive coverage of charter school board meetings and is going to lose its star reporter Jessica Williams (In New Orleans, a comprehensive schools coverage hiatus).  

The news could be cause for alarm, but Williams isn't going far, and The Lens' comprehensive approach of the past four years is being replaced by a more targeted one (which sounds more sensible, anyway).

The events remind us that nonprofit news is a relatively new and untried model when it comes to local education coverage.  There are a bunch of other outlets out there trying to avoid The Lens' current predicament.  

Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: Edu-Geeks Martin & Hess Debate Common Core On PBS

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

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

Roundup: What They're Saying About Supreme Court's Union Dues Decision

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)

Continue reading "Roundup: What They're Saying About Supreme Court's Union Dues Decision" »

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

The most recent episode of NPR's "On The Media" ponders the meaning of The End of "Tell Me More", the daily national show whose demise has recently been announced (the same week as NPR_ED was launched, as EdWeek's Mark Walsh noted).

image from media.npr.org

"On The Media"'s focus was mostly on the issue of the diversity of the hosts and producers who were on the show (pictured).  But the segment got me thinking about the education segments and topics that the show covered.  

Though I didn't always note all the education segments the show was putting out -- Google shows 117 references to host Michel Martin -- there was a fairly regular segment on parenting that often got to education-related issues. The show held a big 2012 #npredchat on Twitter (check it out  #npredchat aggregate page). EWA's public editor Emily Richmond was a guest on the show (listen to the audio here). There were some great education-related commentaries from host Martin including one about education coverage that I recently linked to (Do You Want The Truth, Or Do You Just Like Your Story Better?)

The show ends August.  You can keep following its host @MichelMcQMartin.

Video: Common Core Through 9-Year-Old Eyes

 

ICYMI: Here's the video that went along with last week's NYT story (Common Core, in 9-Year-Old Eyes).

Charts: School Violence Trends, Revisited

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.comThis 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)

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

Because there's always more to learn, Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 3.09.46 PMI'm headed off to Chicago to attend the Covering Common Core journalists' training session being hosted by Poynter, EWA, and Northwestern over the next couple of days.

What's your favorite Common Core story so far? 

What's a Common Core story you haven't seen, or a bit of knowledge that hasn't been surfaced yet?

Mine include Cory Turner's "taking the Common Core" approach, and my own peek inside the field test help desk, but I'm sure there are other better options.

 

 

Morning Video: "Homework Diner" Idea Spreading In New Mexico

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"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)

Campaign 2016: Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political Strength

image from www.educationnews.orgFormer 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").

Continue reading "Campaign 2016: Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political Strength" »

Morning Video: DC Chancellor Kaya Henderson

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 9.18.04 AM

Chancellor Kaya faces questions from Andy Rotherham and Emmeline Zhao (who's clearly not wearing a seatbelt, FWIW).

Five Best Blogs: CTA Pushes For Tenure Expansion As Gov. Brown Ponders Vergara Appeal

As Gov Brown ponders Vergara appeal, California teachers union pushing for expansion of tenure - Reuters ht.ly/yeMTy

Why Do Other Parents Care Where I Send My Kid to School? - City Desk ht.ly/yeLLN @ConorPWilliams

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

How the District’s education politics remain fundamentally driven by privilege, class, and race. ht.ly/yeLQV @ConorPWilliams

What happens to test scores & other teachers when you cluster TFA teachers at high-need schools? AIR ht.ly/yeKSz

Get to know @mikehtrujillo, one of the best/worst campaign guys who's ever worked on an ed campaign ht.ly/yegFP @hillelaron

Politico rounds up education issues playing out in governors' races ht.ly/ydXC7

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

ScreenHunter_05 Jun. 19 11.54From ProPublica's Heather Vogell: "Public schoolchildren across the country were physically restrained or isolated in rooms they couldn’t leave at least 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, despite a near-consensus that such practices are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit. Many states have little regulation or oversight of such practices." (Can Schools in Your State Pin Kids Down? Probably.., Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will)

Morning Audio: Vergara Roundtable On SoCal Public Radio

ScreenHunter_03 Jun. 19 11.14Check 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. 

 

Magazines: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth" (New Yorker Vs. Slate)

image from www.newyorker.comThe 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?

 

Morning Video: Homeless Unit Helps LA Kids Graduate

Here's the mildly uplifting segment from last night's PBS.  Or watch Arne Duncan take a few Common Core questions on Today.

Quotes: Teachers Deserve Reasonable Protections - But Not Ironclad Ones

Quotes2Teachers 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)

Media: Carrie (Caroline?) Porter Is Writing Education Stories For The WSJ

Caroline porter WSJ 2014

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: 

Campus Crime Has Dropped, Report Finds

Illinois Governor Signs Pension Bill for Chicago

Admission Testing Undergoes Revamp

Oklahoma Dumps Common Core Standards

Child Stabbing Raises Alarm About Web and Youths

Study: About 1 in 6 Teachers Out 18 Days or More

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.

Morning Video: After-School Arts Program Turns Into Full-Time School

 

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."

Media: Goldstein Taking Her Talents To The Marshall Project

Dana-goldstein-highresWriter 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 ProliferationTesting Dana Goldstein's Latest Testing Article; Just How Stressful Are Midyear Assessments, Really?Power Couples For 2014The Cheating "Crisis" & Teacher Culpability.

Update: The Story Behind 2010's "Waiting For 'Superman'"

Superman-shieldSome tidbits from my latest oeuvre (How 'Waiting for Superman' (almost) changed the world), which is out today:
 
- the hit-and-miss history of "message" movies (and why they're still so irresistable);
 
- Guggenheim's ill-fated (half-assed?) efforts to include a LAUSD magnet lottery in the movie;
 
- the "two-story" format that helped (or hindered) the movie's message (plus Guggenheim as narrator);
 
- conflicting accounts over whether the film-makers knew ahead of time that they were making such a pro-charter, anti-union film;
 
- the film-makers' refusal to reveal the whereabouts of the kids they profiled (though some updates are known); and 
 
- new efforts to quantify the impact of movie-based advocacy (and ongoing efforts to measure Superman's impact).
 
Participant's latest education-themed documentary, "Ivory Tower," premiers on Friday.

Quotes: Calling Out The Rigid Ideologues Among Us

Quotes2Are 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?)

TV: Louis C.K. Takes Us Back To 8th Grade Science Class (Among Other Things)

image from cdn.hitfix.comFirst 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 CriticMSNBC 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.

Coming Soon: What Did "Superman" Accomplish, Anyway?

Waiting-for-superman-movie_post

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.

Previous posts: Varied Responses To "The Successful Failure Of ED In '08"Teach For America & The Alternative Certification Loophole.

Lunchtime Video: Common Core Opposition Creates Surge ... In Homeschooling?

 

This segment from last night's PBS NewsHour suggests that Common Core is pushing parents to pull their kids out of regular school but -- viewer beware! -- doesn't quantify the trend and could easily make it seem like it's more widespread than it really is.  On the upside, the segment includes the voices and images of some pro-Common Core parents rather than focusing solely on opponents.

Media: What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core (Plus Reactions Roundup)

 Yau Hoong Tang FlickrThere's a long piece about the Common Core in the Washington Post you should probably read -- but be forewarned that the view of events and the causal chain that's cobbled together in the piece isn't entirely accurate or fairly contextualized (and differs from other accounts of what happened and why).

Basically, the Post's piece makes the claim that Bill Gates was behind the Common Core's rapid spread over the past few years. Indeed, the headline claims that Gates "pulled off" the Common Core, like it was a heist or a grift. 

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes." Both left and right -- Diane Ravitch and NRO's Stanley Kurtz  -- are already calling for Congressional hearings.

Gates' support is clear, and no doubt played a role.  There are some fascinating tidbits about that process in the piece.  But let's be clear: the idea for common national standards and tests goes back a long long way before Gates (and David Coleman), the spread of the Common Core in recent years wasn't merely a function of Gates' enthusiasm and largess, and the myth of the all-powerful billionaire is just that. 

Continue reading "Media: What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core (Plus Reactions Roundup)" »

AM News: Gates At Center Of Common Core, Says Washington Post

How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution Washington Post: The pair of education advocates had a big idea, a new approach to transform every public-school classroom in America. By early 2008, many of the nation’s top politicians and education leaders had lined up in support. 

Examples of how Common Core has changed test questions in Mississippi Washington Post: Mississippi, which historically ranks among the lowest-scoring states on achievement  tests administered by the federal government, adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010.  The state slowly phased in the standards until the current school year, and now all Mississippi students are being taught to the new standards. They will take new standardized tests based on the Common Core in spring 2015.

Obama Plans Steps to Ease Student Debt NYT: Borrowers’ debt load is growing and retarding the ability to buy homes, start businesses or otherwise spend to spur the economy, economists say.

Oklahoma repeals Common Core educational standards PBS: The bill, overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate on the final day of the 2014 Legislature, requires the state to return to old standards in place before 2010, according to the Associated Press.

National student database controversy heats up again Hechinger Report: The idea, sometimes referred to as a “unit record data,” was originally proposed by the Bush Administration in 2005, but critics, citing student privacy concerns, were able to kill it.

Two States Repeal Education Standards NYT: The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina signed bills within the past week repealing the Common Core state standards, guidelines for children’s achievement in reading and math between kindergarten and high school graduation.

Koch brothers to give $25 million to United Negro College Fund PBS: The United Negro College Fund announced a $25 million grant Friday from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation — a large donation from the conservative powerhouse Koch name that Democrats have sought to vilify heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Gates At Center Of Common Core, Says Washington Post" »

Morning Video: New Orleans Schools, Then & Now

 

Last night's PBS NewsHour takes us back to 2005 when the charter push really began in New Orleans, and brings us up to the present, when non-charters are all but eliminated (for better or worse). The evolution sort of reminds me of what happened at Locke High School in LA, where the school improves somewhat for the kids but there is lots of collateral damage experienced by teachers and staff.  John Merrow and Sarah Carr are guests.

Quotes: Another Bad Thing NCLB "Caused:" The End Of "Reading Rainbow"

Quotes2Reading Rainbow was not cancelled because it was not effective. Reading Rainbow was the most used television resource in our nation’s classroom. In 2009, it was [cancelled] due to No Child Left Behind. - LeVar Burton (Criticism Of Reading Rainbow Is 'Bullsh*t')

Thompson: NPR's Discussion of How Testing Is Driving Great Teachers Out of the Classroom

Logo2To paraphrase the Reagan administration’s A Nation at Risk (which triggered this mess) if a foreign power tried to destroy the teaching profession, we would call it a war on public education. Data-driven reformers are driving much of the joy out of the greatest job I can imagine.

NPR’s On Point guest host, Art Donovan, in Teachers Tell Us Why They’ve Left the Classroom, interviewed, “three dedicated teachers [who] walked away from jobs they loved.” The discussion featured two veteran educators, a former TFA teacher, and an incoming rookie, and it prompted numerous teachers to call in.

Not surprisingly, testing was blamed for most of the damage being done to the profession. The same phrases kept being repeated by the show's participants, with the only good news being that many teachers are “sticking it out” and remaining in the classroom “despite of the disrespect.”

Problems such as cultural insensitivity, disciplinary challenges, and a top-down curriculum that kills creativity were cited, but the same story kept repeating itself – testing is destroying our public schools.

Interestingly, not one teacher or caller defended test-driven accountability.

Private school kindergarten teacher Suzie Sluyter explained that she left the public schools due to “the focus on testing, data collection and academic push that was inappropriate for the age.” She “was being forced to teach in a way I did not believe in.” Sluyter concluded, “I was actually harming children by pressuring them to do things they weren’t ready for.”

Continue reading "Thompson: NPR's Discussion of How Testing Is Driving Great Teachers Out of the Classroom" »

Media: CQ Roll Call Reporter Joining EdWeek's Politics K-12 Team

image from spencerfellows.orgNews is out that CQ Roll Call reporter (and current Spencer Education Journalism Fellow) Lauren Smith Camera is going to join Alyson Klein at @PoliticsK12, EdWeek's blog covering the USDE and Congress.  

No longer will Camera's work be hidden behind CQ's paywall.  She'll be out front, doing daily battle with all the new upstarts that have appeared in basically the same space (RealClear, Politico, etc.).

Camera will be replacing Michele McNeil, the blog's co-founder, who left recently to join the College Board.

Camera's Spencer year has been spent looking into whether federal funding in the form of competitive grants is a good investment (compared to dedicated funding streams).

Previous posts: New Spencer Fellows, New Research TopicsRecollections, Controversy, & Advice From Departing PK-12 BloggerDo Journalists Make Good Program Officers?Two Journos Win Nieman Fellowships, Another Heads To College Board. Image via SpencerFellows.org

Morning Video: Columbine Principal Reflects On Retirement

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A little bit corny -- and not the first outlet to cover the story -- but Principal DeAngelis' last day (and what some of the students say to him on camera) is still worth watching.

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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.