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Watch: For One Miami Principal. Common Core Spurs Hope & Fear

 

Watch Bridget Mckinney, third-year principal of Miami's Allapattah Middle School, explain "her trepidations, as well as her support, for the common core itself." (Common Core Spurs Hope, Fear for a Miami Principal via State EdWatch).

 

Journalism: Think Tanks Bypassing Media & Doing Their Own Version Of Journalism

In case you hadn't noticed, more and more think tanks are behaving in journalism-like ways: hiring journalists to write pleasant, engaging pieces as well as blogging and tweeting directly to policymakers and the public. [They also seem less focused on hiring only PhDs, or on doing their own original academic research, but that's another thing.]

The Think Tank Watch has a recent blog post (Think Tanks Doing Journalism) that highlights this trend:

"Many Washington think tanks have been hiring well-known journalists in recent years in an effort to beef up their efforts to get good writers, network with media-types, and better disseminate information and policy proposals to a wider audience. "

A recent Economist article (Think-tanks and journalism: Making the headlines) points out that it's not just opeds, papers and conferences anymore. 

Indeed.  we've seen bits and pieces of that from education think tanks like Education Sector, Fordham, Carnegie, Brookings, and New America all come to mind. Perhaps the best example of this is AIR taking over Education Sector (and its blog), or Bellwether helping launch RealClearEducation. ThinkProgress -- a division of CAP -- is another example (they were looking for an education reporter not too long ago).

Of course, some news outlets are blurring the line the other way, becoming more wonkish and policy-oriented and less, well, newsy.  Part of this is by necessity.  With their own writers and social media campaigns, think tanks need journalists less.  They've already got academic credibility (of a sort), they already validate ideas for politicians and policymakers. Now they're distributing their own ideas directly.

Related posts: AIR Taking Over Education SectorCarnegie Is The New Ed Sector[Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyGoogle Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy ConferencesExpert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?

Quotes: Progressive Dems Could Win With Education, Says Pollster

Quotes2The top testing turnout message overall emphasizes education, specifically Republicans' efforts to cut programs for students while giving tax cuts to the wealthy. - Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, quoted in TruthOut.

Magazines: Where Are The Pro-Reform Versions Of The Nation, Mother Jones, Etc?

image from www.thenation.com

The new issue of The Nation (Saving Public Schools) includes a feature package of education stories that may pique your interest whatever your position or views. Some highlights include: 

The Tough Lessons of the 1968 Teacher Strikes (Goldstein)

What It Takes to Unite Teachers Unions and Communities of Color (Fine and Fabricant) 

Why Don’t We Have Real Data on Charter Schools? (Noguera)

5 Books to Build a Movement for Education Justice (Shibata)

Our Public Education System Needs Transformation, Not ‘Reform’

It's interesting to note that, despite all the firepower that reform advocates have behind them, they rely almost entirely on occasional efforts in traditional mainstream journalistic outlets like Slate, The New Republic, NYT Sunday Magazine and the daily papers but lack moderate or centrist versions of the liberal-leaning outlets like Mother Jones, Jacobin, The Nation, The Washington Monthly, City Paper (DC), and The American Prospect to pump out sympathetic stories like these "on the regular."

This advantage in access to a slew of magazines -- combined with the social media influence advantage that reform critics have over reform advocates and the liberal leanings of many journalists, somewhat offset by the influence of journalism grants from funders like Gates and Broad -- makes for an interesting interplay of efforts. 

Related posts: Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Image via The Nation.

Media: Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThere's lots to love in Conor Williams' Daily Beast story (Stop Scapegoating Teach for America), at least some of which I feel like I and others have written several times in the past -- though perhaps with less stylishness.  

In essence, Williams is taking on TFA's critics for exaggerating the case against TFA and ignoring larger issues surrounding teacher preparation, diversity, and professionalism. More importantly, he's also taking on the reporters who keep citing these

In particular, Williams cites stories penned by NPR's Anya Kamenetz and former New America Foundation colleague Dana Goldstein in Vox, noting that TFA's diversity has long eclipsed that of the overall teaching corps nationally and that is has been evolving internally for several years now.  (He ignores last year's Politico story, which is just a well.)

"Both [stories] present alt cert in general—and TFA in particular—as a problem, as a project that urgently needs fixing. Read them, and you’re called to consider whether alt cert programs are worth having, and to wonder whether they can be saved."

This level of concern and urgency is senseless given the small size of the teacher corps TFA has in classrooms at any single time. "TFA is neither a lever for dramatically improving or ruining U.S. public education," notes Williams. "Dramatic reforms to TFA’s teacher training aren’t going to substantially shift the trajectory of American public education."

Over all, the debatre over TFA is a sideshow, notes Williams, distracting our attention from the reality that little-trained TFA recruits come near to doing as well as fully-trained traditional candidates.

Related posts:Teach for America Not Directly Displacing Veterans In ChicagoKey Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Goldstein Puts TFA Under The Microscope. Vox image used with permission.

Charts: Child Disability Rates Rising Fastest Among Wealthier Families

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

"There's also some good news in these new figures: while mental disabilities are on the rise, there has also been a 11 percent decline in physical disabilities among children over the past decade. Much of this is concentrated in declines among respiratory diseases, like asthma, which have fallen by nearly a quarter just in the course of 10 years." (Vox, with permission)

Morning Video: Katie Couric Explains Common Core, Duncan Reacts To Jindal

Watch Couric explain Common Core standards and then watch Arne Duncan take questions from Yahoo! News about the politics of it all (esp. Bobby Jindal).

Lunchtime Video: Stewart Rips Into Corporal Punishment Proposals*

"Last February, Jon Stewart on the The Daily Show ripped a state legislator in Kansas, Rep. Gail Finney, who was pushing legislation to allow teachers and parents to whack kids hard enough to bruise." (19 states still allow corporal punishment in school) via the Washington Post.

*Yeah, that's Jon Stewart, not Stephen Colbert as I originally had it in the headline.

Media: Boston Magazine Botches Rankings, Profiles Firebrand Union Chief

image from cdn1.bostonmagazine.comIn what's at least the 2nd journalistic goof-up that I know of during the annual back-to-school media deluge of rankings and other kinds of education coverage, Boston Magazine messed up its private school rankings badly and the Globe tells us all about it (Boston Magazine retracts school rankings).  

Basically, the magazine ranked private schools using incorrect SAT score averages, using partial data since many schools didn't provide SAT results, thus pushing some schools up higher than they deserved and pushing others down.

This isn't a reason not to rank schools, though.  It's just a motivation to rank them responsibly.  Sloppy, inexplicable efforts like this just make everyone look bad.  Apparently something similarly bad happened the last time the magazine ranked schools in 2009.

All is not lost, however.  The public school list is up, and doesn't seem to have the problems with the private list. The issue also has a profile of union head Barbara Madeloni that you might want to read, and a piece about healthy school lunches that you will probably feel like you've already read. There's also an XKCD alternative list of schools that you might find amusing.

Image courtesy Boston Magazine

Related posts: FiveThirty-Eight StumblesActually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful.

Morning Video: Debating -- And Voting On -- The Common Core

NPR and Town Square recently held a debate on Common Core during which -- according to EdWeek's Mark Walsh -- opponents made the better arguments but proponents won the audience vote. Click here if the video doesn't load properly: Embrace The Common Core.

Media: Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comProfessional journalism has always been paid for -- by subscriptions, retail purchases, and advertisers -- and journalists have always had to defend their integrity both internally and to the public.  

The arrival of foundation-funded journalism has re-ignited some of those discussions, understandably, but without alas any seeming awareness of the long (and sometimes awkward) history of previous ways of paying for journalism.  

Pretty much every outlet that's taken foundation funding for education coverage -- Chalkbeat, NPR, NBC, PBS come to mind -- has had its credibility questioned.  Others -- Marketplace! ProPublica!-- will surely soon hear the same complaint.

The latest concern is the Seattle Times' "Education Lab" experiment, which has for the last year or so focused on something called "Solutions Journalism" using funding from the Gates Foundation. A blogger who goes by the name Deutch29 wrote a post about the effort, claiming that the stories being produced were obviously influenced by the Gates Foundation's agenda, and that the Times wasn't being open about how much money it had received.

Comments from journalists involved with the effort (reporter Claudia Rowe among them) attempted to reassure readers that there was "zero communication" between the foundation and the newsroom and pointed out that the blog posts pointed to as evidence were just a handful out of hundreds. SJN co-founder David Bornstein (who spoke at a recent EWA conference) weighed in with a comment that the foundation's support allowed the paper to assign reporters to deeper, more investigative pieces than would otherwise have been possible.

What's left out of all the back and forth is any clear sense of whether coverage at the Times or more generally is skewed one way or another -- my seat-of-the-pants sense is that it has swung in recent years from pro-reform credulity to anti-reform credulity -- and the understanding that reform critics such as these -- who swarm journalists' Twitter feeds and complain to editors and anyone else they can find -- are themselves trying to influence the coverage of education initiatives much the same as they believe the Gates Foundation and others are trying to do indirectly.  

They're just doing it directly, at much lower cost -- and at times it seems much more effectively.

Image CC.

Newsmakers: A New TFA For A New Era?

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 1.26.47 PM
The latest issue of Scholastic Administrator includes my interview with TFA co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva-Beard. There's no breaking news but it's interesting to hear how they divvy up the work and how much harder the job seems to have been than they could have imagined a year ago. 

Related posts: 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Howard Dean Touts TFATraditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFATFA Under The Microscope;  Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media PanelSo Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA

 

Afternoon Video: Preview Of Tonight's PBS NewsHour Teacher Preparation Segment

Here's a preview of the PBS NewsHour segment on Elizabeth Green's teacher preparation book; the full version is slated to air tonight.

Books: I Trust That You Will Find This Useful

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 1.14.43 PMUlrich Boser's new book, The Leap, is about the science of trust and includes some education-related policy implications you might want to check out.

In the policymakers' guide that comes along with the book, Boser addresses some of the things that can be done to empower individuals through education, including:

• Support schools that lengthen the school day.
• Reform school funding so that it’s both more equitable and effective, and have school dollars follow children instead of programs.
• Make college more affordable through Pell Grants.• Allow college students to gain credit for learn-
ing outside the classroom.
 
There's also good reading on trust and public policy in Robert Putnam's writings such as here.
 
Most directly comparable of all is the work that Tony Bryk and others have done at the University of Chicago showing that trust among adults and kids is an important condition for effective learning. 
 
Boser is a longtime fellow/contributor at CAP and has another book after this one already in the works.
 

Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?*

The sad but unsurprising news from this recent On The Media segment (The Labor Beat) is that labor coverage has dwindled sharply in the mainstream press -- down to just a couple of fulltime labor beat reporters at major national papers (WSJ and NYT).  

What's fascinating to note is that there's so little labor-focused coverage in education newsgathering operations, too -- even as there are new (especially small nonprofit) education-focused journalism operations sprouting up all over the place.

The argument for labor coverage in education is pretty straightforward.  Union numbers may be dwindling sharply in the private sector and other parts of the public sector, too, but last I looked charter schools (most of them non-union) educate less than 10 percent of the students in America and union representation of district school teachers is at around 50 percent.

Labor is and will continue to be a big part of the K-12 education space for the foreseeable future, and yet other than the occasional controversy or flareup unions and laws surrounding them get surprisingly little coverage.

EdWeek's Steven Sawchuk handles the issue as best he can over at Teacher Beat, but he's also got every other teacher-related issue under the sun to cover (research, politics, etc.).  EIA's Mike Antonucci is the only full-time, labor-focused person out there that I know of -- and his coverage (if not his reporting) are generally critical-minded.

Given how many teachers there are -- and how important and influential (and in some corners controversial) teachers unions are, you'd think there'd be more regular, in-depth coverage.  

Or is there more ongoing coverage out there than I'm seeing?

*I should have included RiShawn Biddle's coverage of teachers unions at Dropout Nation, including updates like this one.

Media: This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters" Needs More Names*

A somewhat more diverse version of Education Dive's recent 12 education thought leaders you should follow on Twitter might include who(m), exactly? 

Off the top of my head -- without much concern for how much I agree or disagree with them (and vice versa) -- how about Chicago's Xian Barrett (@xianb8),LA's Liz Dwyer (@losangelista),NYC's Jose Vilson (@theJLV), NYCAN's Derrell Bradford (@Dyrnwyn), ProPublica's Nikole Hannah Jones  (@nhannahjones), The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (@tanehisicoates), The Lens' Jessica Williams (@williamslensnola), Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle (@dropoutnation), the NEA's Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) and Education Post's Chris Stewart (@citizenstewart).

Others to add, suggest, or critique?  There are two more spots to get to an even 12.  Or, take issue with the whole notion of creating such a list in the first place. 

Thanks for the suggestion, Heather Harding (@heatherHJ)!  Education Dive's original list includes a mix of men and women but only two POC that I know of (LDH and Michelle R.).

*Additional names that have been suggested (on Twitter and Facebook) since the original posting include @drsteveperry, @jmsummers, and @drkamikaroyal.   

Morning Audio: Special Ed, Suburban Students, Private Schools

image from www.thisamericanlife.orgWhat happens when orthodox Jews move into a suburban New York neighborhood with high property taxes and don't send their kids to private yeshivas -- or vote down school budgets-- as long as the district doesn't monitor the private schools and gives as much money as possible (up to $27,000 per kid)?

The deal doesn't last forever.  

The result is a situation that's "Like nothing you have seen in any school district anywhere," according to Ira Glass. NSFW (curse words).

Politics, budgets, religion, regulation -- it's all in there. Image via This American Life.

 

 

Books: Get Ready For 2015's "The Test"

The test book 2015Hey, everyone, so sorry if you're not done reading Goldstein, Green, Kahlenberg/Potter, or any of the other education books that have come out in recent weeks, but it's time to start getting ready for the next wave of titles coming down the pike.

First one that I know of for 2015 is Anya Kamenetz's The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be.

According to the understandably hyperbolic promo writeup (I haven't actually seen the book itself), many schools are spending up to 28 percent of their time on test prep, and the Common Core is going to require "an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year", and the nation's spending $1.4 billion a year on testing.

I don't know if any of that is accurate (or if $1.4 billion is a lot) but it's certainly pretty alarming -- and I guess that's the point. Not to worry, there are things that parents and educators to do to deal with the overtesting problem.  And there are celebrity profiles showing us how high tech folks like Gates and Bezos deal with overtesting in their kids' lives.

All snark aside, it'll be interesting to see what Kamenetz's book adds to the overtesting debate, which is sure to continue this year as states and districts and schools deal with Common Core assessments and parents' and teachers' concerns about testing, test prep, and use of test results. The timing couldn't be better.

Follow Friday [#FF]: Top Education Tweeters, According To Education Dive

image from d1bb041l1ipbcm.cloudfront.netI'm still not quite sure what Education Dive is all about -- one of several different industry "dives" that the company puts out -- but still I'm happy to be included in its list of best education Twitter feeds to follow (along with several other noteworthies) and appreciate in particular the kind writeup:

"A former educator, and a staffer under California Sen. Diane Feinstein, Russo has his thumb on education trends. He is constantly updating his feed with interesting ed reads, and as the founder of Scholastic's This Week In Education, he is never short of content. Something to appreciate about Russo's feed is he never seems to push one agenda, but rather curates an interesting selection of must-reads."

Thanks for including me, Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth). Image courtesy @EducationDive.

 

 

Events: We All Missed #TheTeacherWars Confab In NYC Last Night

image from t.co

#edjourn Last Night at New America's SoHo offices there was a lively-sounding filled-to-capacity three hour discussion with Jose Vilson, Dana Goldstein, and Motoko Rich (pictured, courtesy Melinda Anderson).

I wasn't there and haven't heard about any audio or video to share -- there's apparently a podcast in the works for some time in the near future.

In the meantime there are lots of tweets you can catch up on via #theteacherwars, #NANYC, @newamericaNYC and @danagoldstein, @TheJLV, and @motokorich.

Or, if you were there or following along in real time, tell us what we missed or what jumped out at you.

Thanks again to @MDAwriter Melinda Anderson for the picture.

Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful

#edjourn  Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 4.31.15 PMIt's not hard to relate to Libby Nelson'spoint of view in a recent Vox piece (Ranking high schools tells you which schools are rich or selective ), in which she notes that the rankings from places like the Daily Beast  mostly function to tell us what we already know -- that wealthier, whiter communities generate higher-performing high schools and that news outlets put out the lists to generate web traffic rather than to shed light on any particular phenomenon.

"The public schools that top these lists are mostly selective magnet schools that get to pick which students they educate. If they're not, they're much likely to enroll fewer poor students than public schools as a whole." That -- plus the reality that few families move for high school like they do for college -- explain why ranking high schools like this "makes no sense at all."

But the high school rankings phenomenon isn't as recent as Nelson seems to imagine, isn't quite as empty of substance or usefulness as it might seem, and isn't all that different than stories that Nelson and her colleagues at Vox (and here) sometimes also run.

Continue reading "Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful" »

Throwback Thursday: September 11 Will Always Be Connected To Education

 

Here are some #TBT blog posts from previous years on this date that seem sort of interesting, both related to 9/11 and otherwise:

The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up: In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked. (2011) 

Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?": Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?" 10 It's a diet.  A set of exercises.  A scientific term. A guide to behavior. (2013)

StoryCorps Teachers Starts Today: Today is the launch date for the StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative I told you about a few weeks ago (2011).

Or, look around for others that might be interesting here.

Media: FiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The Gate

#Edjourn Newish data-based journalism site FiveThirtyEight is rumored to be looking for someone to head its education coverage, and indeed posted a story last week about US kids spending lots of time in class (which I happily shared out). So far, so good, right?ScreenHunter_10 Sep. 05 16.16

Well, part of the story confused TIMSS test scores with classroom instructional time. We've all made mistakes, but ... Oops! At least they had the class to remove the data and issue this correction. And crossed fingers that the outlet joins other newish mainstream outlets like Vox, BuzzFeed, Storyline, and The Upshot in publishing education pieces that I can share with you. 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Even When #CCSS Critics Win, They Lose

CCSS critics out-debated advocates -- but [spoiler alert/trigger warning!] audience voted for CC anyway - EdWeek ow.ly/BlsUN

Common Core Advocates' Top 3 Mistakes - @yep-DC @BrainofMatter ow.ly/BkLHr Mistake #1: Ignoring materials and training.

Just 5 of 43 states with #CCSS are considering repeal of some kind, reports @ecs ow.ly/BkPt5 Though many have #renamed

Revamping tenure doesn't poll well in MO, reports @TeacherBeat ow.ly/BlMoO Then again, the state's already revamped tval.

Is It Time to Cash in on Charter Schools? I Don’t Think So - NJ Spotlight http://ow.ly/Bk3bU 

Newsweek: The Manhattan School That's Helping Immigrant Students Succeed ow.ly/Bl6dp

About 70 percent of America's elementary schools still rely on slow Internet connections. ow.ly/BkDTS

Video: Rhee, Kahlenberg, & Daniels Debate Common Core, Integration, & New iPhone Design

 Watch this panel featuring Michelle Rhee, Mitch Daniels, and Richard D. Kahlenberg from yesterday's NYT Schools For Tomorrow.  It's titled "Getting To College-Ready" and the Twitter hashtag was #NYTsft

Charts: NYT Ranks Top Colleges For Economic Diversity

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 09 13.07

"Colleges with similar resources admit very different numbers of low-income undergraduates. Some wealthy colleges admit many such students, but others do not." David Leonhardt on the NYT's new ranking. Image used with permission.

Livestream: NYT "Schools For Tomorrow" Conference

Link to agenda and previous segments here@NYTConf#NYTsft

AM News: NYT Ranks Top Colleges That Actually Enroll Low-Income Students

Top Colleges That Enroll Rich, Middle Class and Poor NYT: A new index measures which colleges [Grinnell, Wesleyan, etc.] have the most economically diverse student bodies — and charge the least to lower-income students.

Education secretary touts teacher diversity during Atlanta visit Atlanta Journal Constitution: During a visit Monday to Spelman College, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the country needs to increase the diversity of its teacher workforce to match the diversity of schoolchildren. 

Karen Lewis loans $40K to her own mayoral bid Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis put $40,000 of her own money toward a mayoral exploration effort in hopes of signaling to donors that she should be taken seriously. 

Karen Lewis puts $40000 of own money into mayoral bid Chicago Tribune: For weeks, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has said she is seriously considering a run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On Monday Lewis offered what she said is proof: $40,000 of her own money.

Universal preschool spending draws wide support in national poll KPCC: The telephone survey of 1,013 adults nationwide showed, not surprisingly, that Democrats love the idea of universal preschool, with 87 percent in support. But over half of the Republicans polled also agreed that public money should be used for preschool.  

Pa. Gov. Corbett Urges Review as Part of Effort to 'Roll Back' Common Core State EdWatch: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett releases a somewhat ambiguous statement about the future of the Common Core State Standards in the Keystone State.

Custodial contract causing problems at start of school year WBEZ: Belanger is just one of more than 230 principals recently surveyed by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The results reveal problems across Chicago Public Schools—dirty classrooms, damaged materials, theft and an overall lack of communication.

New Reduced Pricing For Amplify's All-In-One Tablet EdSurge: This week Amplify announced a price dip for it’s all-in-one tablet, which made headlines last year after some of its chargers melted.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Morning Audio: ICYMI Common Core Documentary

 

Here's the full audio for the widely-admired embedded American RadioWorks documentary about teachers working with Common Core that came out last week. Or download or read it it here.

Morning Video: Teachers Describe Common Core Transformation

 

Check out 7 minutes of video above feturing Reno (Washoe) teachers talking about their experiences with the Common Core. Your eyes might be opened.  Then go and read the sidebar story from American Radio Works about how things have played out there. Then -- almost done! -- listen to the full hourlong documentary, and several other sidebar stories (including Carol Burris and Lace To The Top). Last but not least, there's a second video from Washoe in which teachers reflect you can watch here, courtesy Torrey Palmer and Aaron Grossman.

AM News: Too Much Education News, All Published In One Short Week!

NEA Ad Buy Slams Republican in N.C. Senate Race on K-12 Spending PK12: The National Education Association launched a seven-figure TV ad buy Friday in North Carolina, slamming GOP Senate hopeful Thom Tillis for education spending cuts that occurred under his watch as state House Speaker. See also.

New Jersey Parents And Students Boycott First Day Of School HuffPost: A group of parents and students in Newark, New Jersey, boycotted the first day of school on Thursday to protest a new system that reorganized the state-run district this year. See also NJ Spotlight

Suspensions and expulsions down in D.C. charter schools Washington Post: The expulsion rate for D.C. public charter schools in the past school year was about half of what it was two years before, and the rate of out-of-school suspensions decreased by about 20 percent in one year, according to a report released Thursday.

Former MPS board member Chris Stewart to blog for Education Post Minn Post: Chris Stewart has left his position as executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) to become director of outreach and external affairs for a new national education reform communications effort.

Teach for America has faced criticism for years. Now it’s listening — and changing Vox: From the outside, Teach for America looked defensive, but internally, it was engaged in profound self-exploration and self-critique. 

The Battle for New York Schools NYT: The fight between two liberal crusaders with profoundly divergent ideas about how to aid and educate the disempowered.

The Myth Of The Superstar Superintendent? NPR: Superintendents make almost no difference when it comes to student success, according to a new report.

American Kids Will Spend An Average Of 943 Hours In Elementary School This Year Five Thirty-Eight: Only in Chile, Israel and Australia do elementary school students spend longer in class each year than their U.S. counterparts.

America's Schools Could Be More Efficient If Teachers Were Paid Less: Report HuffPost: GEMS Education Solutions, an education consulting firm, released its "Efficiency Index" and an accompanying report on Thursday, ranking the return on investment for 30 different nations' education budgets. The index "treats the educational system as if it were a company which attempts to obtain an output," according to the report.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Too Much Education News, All Published In One Short Week!" »

Journalism: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting

Group-spencer1415-hpIt's been a busy few weeks for the folks at Columbia University's Journalism School, what with not one but two Spencer Fellow alumnae having books out and three new Spencer Fellows arriving on campus (pictured).

In addition, there's a new program that's launched alongside the Spencer Fellowship, with Spencer alumna Sarah Carr at the helm.

Called a "post-graduate reporting project," the new effort will focus on teachers and features the work of recent CSJ grads over the next year.

The first crop of reporters -- all CSJ 2014 graduates -- includes Madeleine Cummings (her first story is here), Matt Collette (his first story is here) and Alexandra Neason (coming soon!).  

Image used with permission. 

Trailers: "Rich Hill" Features Children Growing Up In Rural Poverty

"This is what goes through my mind: 'God has to be busy with everyone else.  Eventually he will come into my life.' I hope it happens.  If it doesn't it's going to break my heart."

Quotes: Reno Teachers Love The Core, Worry About The Tests

Quotes2For many teachers in Washoe County, Common Core has been liberating. They are free from the way textbooks, and tests, had come to define education... But new tests are coming. -- American Radio Works (Teachers embrace the Common Core)

Morning Audio: Sounds Of The First Day Of School

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWith millions of children headed back to school, we asked reporters from member stations around the country to bring us the sounds of that first day

  • In Marfa, Texas, a 14-year-old who's been home-schooled all his life is about to enter a classroom for the first time. (Tom Michael, KRTS)
  • Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School is celebrating its opening day in downtown Brooklyn. (Beth Fertig, WNYC)
  • The Newcomer School is a school for kids who are on their first or second year in the U.S. (Devin Katayama, WFPL)
  • At Noble Street-Rauner College Prep, a 22-year-old is preparing to teach his very first class. (Becky Vevea, WBEZ)
  • Students at the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in Austin, Texas, are learning how to tie their own ties. (Kate McGee, KUT)
  • Students at Bailey STEM Magnet School in Nashville prepare to launch their own hot air balloons. (Emily Siner, WPLN)
  • A kindergarten class at Hazel Valley Elementary in the Seattle suburb of Burien starts the first day of school the way you might expect: with the ABCs. (Ann Dornfeld, KUOW)

Image Flickr CC via

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Let's All Publish School Stories On The Same Day!

So many school stories on the first day of a new year -- some of them good, many pro forma, very few breaking through #edjourn

Skipping School Correlates With Low Test Scores But Cracking Down on Truancy May Not Solve The Problem- @ewaemily http://ow.ly/AZOxL 

Lawsuits, snafus, delays, and unchanged outcomes snag early teacher rating efforts, reports @caitlinzemma http://ow.ly/B0ddD 

CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading - Chicago Sun-Times http://ow.ly/AZjOL 

Why Do Americans Love to Blame Teachers? - The Atlantic @hoodedu http://ow.ly/AZOqB 

NPR's Ominous "The End Of Neighborhood Schools" in NOLA http://ow.ly/B07wu  But isn't that what Cambridge, MA has?

Boston principals hire own teachers & leave 110 veterans out - "wasting" $10M - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/AZi8p  via @annenberginst

John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts

NationatriskMany or most problems in urban education are rooted in Ronald Reagan’s “Voodoo Economics.” Yes, schools declined after the 1973 Energy Crisis started the deindustrialization of America. But, Reagan’s “Supply Side Economics” accelerated the tragedy by offering tax incentives for closing still-profitable factories. Families cratered in the face of the subsidized and rapid destruction of jobs, erasing so many hopes.

The implicit message of Sarah Garland’s Hechinger Report, Why Is a Reagan-Era Report Driving Today’s Education Reform?, is that the failure to improve schools is also rooted in Reaganism.

Garland notes, “the Republican-driven revolution is being driven home, as never before, by a Democratic president.” She recalls that many of the proposals in Obama’s RttT and  SIG programs seem to be “copied right out of the 1983 report [Reagan’s A Nation at Risk.]

Garland begins by linking the dubious policy of value-added evaluations with A Nation of Risk. I would gladly lay the blame for today’s testing mania on Reagan, but in the only weak part of her thought-provoking piece, I don’t think she nailed down the case for such a linkage. Clearly, however, Garland is correct in her observation, “the Obama administration appears to be doubling down on the standardized testing that critics say was a misinterpretation of A Nation at Risk.”

Similarly, Garland illustrates the test and punish mentality when quoting Chester Finn. Finn supports testing for teacher and student accountability because, “If there’s no sanction or punishment for not learning, then why work harder to learn more?”

I wonder if there is a reason, besides avoiding pain, why human beings might teach and learn?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts" »

Media: 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Finding great public radio content online is getting easier and easier, thanks to there being more of it available in more places.  

This recent Poynter article touts a new streaming (think Pandora) service (NPR One app potential is huge) out of the national NPR shop plus six big local stations.  I've tried it a little and it's OK but not my favorite (yet).

There's also the WNYC "Discover" app, which lets you pick some categories of story that you like (both local to New York City and national) and download them before you get on the subway or into your bunker as the case may be.  There's more and more WiFi on subway platforms, but still not much by way of service in between stations.  The key is remembering to download the material ahead of time (and finding it once you have).

However, I'm still a big fan of the basic NPR News app, in large part because it lets me livesream whatever station I want to listen to, and also allows me to listen via program -- catching up on All Things Considered, for example -- after hours or even the next day.  For any given program, just hit "Add All To Playlist" and - boom! -- it's all there.)

I'm not sure if that's technically considered a podcast or not -- some of these distinctions are lost on me -- but I know that I like being able to go back and hear the most recent version of a show I missed if I was out, or busy, or napping, or whatever.  That they're mobile is great, but I must admit that a lot of the time I'm listening to them sitting at my desk or in front of a laptop.

Last but not least, since my policy is that no post should lack at least a smidgen of controversy, check out Peter Cook's critique of NPR's recent New Orleans charter schools piece, which contained not only a big error that had to be corrected on air but also a few other wiggly aspects.   Early on, NPR's education team was sometimes accused of being pro-reform because it's funded by some pro-reform foundations.  In Cook's piece, he raises the question whether it (or its newsroom) lean the other way.

Morning Video: "Teacher-Led" Schools Increase Retention (But Not Test Scores)

On last night's PBS NewsHour, John Tulenko took us to Mission Hill in Boston, where teacher retention is high (but test scores aren't -- at leats not so far). There are roughly 70 of these consensus-run schools nationwide.

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Is NPR Pro-Reform Or Con?

Initially, critics claimed @npr_ed was pro-reform (b/c Gates $$). Here @petercook suggests it's anti (b/c NOLA story) ow.ly/As6Zs

‘Vergara’ decision signals the start of a 3rd wave of ed reform - Joshua Lewis in The Washington Postow.ly/As6Oi

Overdue process for Duval County FL special ed teacher teacher, or illustration why job protections needed?ow.ly/As5C3

Rotherham not sure Rhee "drew fire away from other groups," then in next graf describes how she did just thatow.ly/As2MG

The Common Core Will *Not* Double The Dropout Rate http://ow.ly/ArZOZ  No matter what Carnegie Corp or @drjohnthompson say - @mrpabruno

Reform critics at @NetworkPublicEd add new board members to address lack of diversity, but botch rollout with "Crayon" comment.

All this and more throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure

The Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits broke the news on Tuesday.  The Sacramento Bee followed up with a focus on Rhee's work on behalf of her husband, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who may run for higher office in two years.  Beaten badly on the news, Politico published a misleadingly negative account of Rhee's accomplishments, noting her successes only in the bottom half of its story.

However, it's not really news that Rhee and her organization made crazy demands and didn't coordinate well with others or that she didn't reach her $1 billion fundraising goal.  Just recently, she listed a set of states suitable for Vergara-like lawsuits without (I'm told) consulting with Campbell Brown's organization. And no doubt, Rhee et al made a bunch of mistakes. (Focusing on ending seniority in layoffs was the biggest among them, in my opinion.)

But much of the criticism now focused on Rhee is the product of anti-reform advocates gleeful at her departure and thin-skinned reformer who didn't like being elbowed aside while Rhee was on the front pages and generally failed to support or defend her against the relentless critiques of anti-reform advocates who dominate the online discourse and influence many reporters.  (For a recent example of just how dominant reform critics are online, read this US News story: Common Core Opponents Hijack Supporters' Twitter Blitz.) 

Continue reading "Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure" »

Morning Audio: 53K Chicago Parents Choose Other *District* School Over Neighborhood Assignment

 The choice debate often gets boiled down to district vs. charter schools, with district advocates claiming that they're being disadvantaged and charter schools claiming much the same.  

But if you click "play" on this very recent Chicago Public Radio story you'll learn it's not quite as simple as all that.  Neighborhood schools in Chicago are losing local kids not just to charter schools (and to dwindling enrollment in the district over all) but to other neighborhood programs.

According to the Linda Lutton piece, "52,963 grammar school kids choose neighborhood schools that are not their own. That’s almost as many kids as attend charters, gifted schools and magnets combined." (More Chicago kids say 'no' to their neighborhood grammar school)

Quotes: Teachers Just "Loving Kids" Isn't Enough

Quotes2“Every single time I get on a plane I’m really glad that the plane is not being flown by someone who just always loved planes." - Teacher quoted in review of Elizabeth Green's new book about preparing teachers better.

Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"

For me, the hands-down top new Twitter feed in education in 2014 is @thnkscommoncore, but I may be alone in that.

The much more official and deeply-considered Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014 are quite another thing, according to the folks at Education Next who put out the annual update.

This year's version includes three lists -- top overall, top individual, and top organization.  There's lots of overlap, and no doubt some of the accounts (Arne Duncan and USDE) are being run by the same social media manager.

On a related note, should individual accounts for folks like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee that are presumably run by more than one person be included in the list of "people"?

As in the past, the list focuses on Klout scores rather than numbers of followers.  It's not clickable, or re-sortable (by followers, say).  I've asked for a Twitter list so that you can subscribe to all these folks with a single click, and crossed fingers it might happen (yay!).

As Petrilli notes, here are a couple of newcomers in the form of the Badass Teachers Association and founder Mark Naison, which should yet again have reform advocates reconsidering their disinterest in becoming involved in social media.  (Newcomer Campbell Brown is on the list, but I don't think anyone's expecting her or her organization to carry the reform message on Twitter and Facebook single-handedly.)

CAP and New America also made it -- apparently their first time.

Other observations, profound and otherwise are below the fold.  A few folks made it on the list with high Klout scores but very few followers, about which I have mixed feelings.  Some venerable education policy types aren't on this year's list, lots of mainstream media journalists and journalistic outlets aren't included either (for lack of policy or lack of activity, it's not clear).

Continue reading "Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" " »

Quotes: No, Common Core Doesn't Mandate "Minecraft"

Quotes2Just because - let's say a fifth-grade teacher in Louisville, like we just heard, decides Minecraft is a great way to get his kids using grids. Well, that doesn't mean that teachers everywhere else are doing the exact same thing. -- NPR's Cory Turner (Debunking Common Myths About The Common Core)

Morning Video: Campbell, Boies -- & Weingarten -- On MSNBC

 

Here's Campbell Brown and David Boies on MSNBC's Morning Joe yesterday morning, with mention of a Weingarten appearance later in the week.

Pop Culture: Pro-Reform Colbert Leapfrogs Reform Critic Stewart With Broadcast Move

Colbert via scholastic Stewart via scholasticRiffing off last week's Campbell Brown appearance on Colbert, TIME's Haley Edwards has an interesting article about the differences between the Comedy Central comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stwart (The Celebrity Death Match Over School Reform). 

If there's any doubt about Colbert's leanings, you only have to go so far as the Brown booking last week (and the protests that accompanied it), the Ravitch appearances on Stewart (but not Colbert), and Stewart's grilling of Michelle Rhee. Colbert's critique of the Common Core test questions was a slam on testing and those specific questions, in my opinion (see Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core).

The influence of the two comedians is well known (though hard to measure). One of them -- reform wins! -- is about to switch from basic cable to broacast TV. No word yet on whether Colbert's booker, Emily Lazar, is heading to the new show with him (The Most Important Media Insider You've Never Heard Of), or how much education-related bits we'll get to see in the future. 

Previous posts: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education (2014);  Colbert / Stewart Divide On School Reform (2011); Fear-Mongering Educators Dominate Colbert/Stewart Rally (2010).

Credits: (Colbert)  Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP; (Stewart) Mario Anzuoni/Reuters /Landov 

Morning Video: Colbert Interviews Campbell Brown Over Tenure Lawsuit

Here's the interview -- how'd she do? How'd Colbert do? 

Choice: Chicago Teacher Rebuts Public Radio's "The Big Sort"

You may recall a big WBEZ Chicago Public Radio piece about student segregation at the high school level, which was passed around a lot last week. But not everybody thinks that students sorting themselves into different high schools is such a bad idea.  
 
Chicago teacher Ray Salazar outlined some concerns in a post titled School Choice Happens that noted the limits of neighborhood schools and the potential upsides of kids getting out of their home neighborhoods. Reporter Linda Lutton responded in comments, and the subject was further discussed on my Chicago site (Teacher Pushes Back On WBEZ “Sorting” Story).
 
Check it out -- what do you think?

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Hoboken Laptop Experience Unusual / Misleading

Lots of districts avoid Hoboken's unusually disastrous 1:1 deployment  saga  ow.ly/zKKxD @hechingerreport @pwillens

Chart: Top Liberal Campaign Spenders 2012 - via Voxow.ly/zKHsh includes Bloomberg, Soros, Fred Eychaner, etc.

Readers respond angrily to "practice" school-shooting story ow.ly/zKFno via @romenesko

Race to the Top, Wasn't : Frederick M. Hess ow.ly/zKJcZ@rhess99 via @DianeRavitch

Remembering Gene Maeroff - Education Next : Education Next ow.ly/zL69g (features audio interview)

Some Wisconsin schools oppose Common Core repeal ow.ly/zKF4h AP via @RealClearEd

I'm really enjoying the anonymous fun of #thankscommoncore @thnkscommoncore -- but I also want to know who started it??

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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.