Fordham's Mike ("Kojak") Petrilli has a new piece online this morning (Online education coverage is on the rise) over at Education Next (which I sometimes write for), taking a look at the "new breed" of education journalism out there over the past year or so.
What's new, or missing, or wrong in the Petrilli piece?
Clearly someone with access to Politico Pro, Petrilli notes that in addition to Morning Education the outlet "pumps out loads of ministories, and at least a handful of meaty ones, almost every day."
Anyone else seen these pieces, and if they're so influential why aren't they getting passed around?
Petrilli describes Chalkbeat as "a geographically based Education Week," which I'm sure will irk both EdWeek and Chalkbeat for different reasons.
The big surprise for me here is the presence of The Daily Caller, which Petrilli says gets tons of pageviews but I never see passed around. Anyone else read it?
What about RealClear Education, where there is a smattering of original writing in addition to great morning and afternoon roundups, or NPR Education, where Drummond et al have been crushing us with so many education stories we can't keep up?
What else can I add?
Check out a few more tidbits and some bottom-line observations below the fold.
Granted, it was a busy week in Chicago news, what with the Columbus Day holiday and the unexpected sickness befalling CTU head Karen Lewis, but I see this happening with disturbing frequency lately:
A Chicago-focused charter school study from a couple of days ago was apparently funded in large part by the Chicago Teachers Union -- something that wasn't disclosed in the report and wasn't picked up on by any of the media outlets who passed on its results until now.
The situation was picked up by Crain's Chicago reporter Greg Hinz in this post (Chicago teachers union paid part of cost of charter-school study), which noted:
Mr. Orfield conceded in a later interview with WTTW that the Chicago Teachers Union, a vehement foe of charters, picked up part of the tab. "It was funded by the teachers union," Mr. Orfield said. "And the Ford Foundation and Kresge Foundation and others."...
In a subsequent phone call, Mr. Orfield said the CTU had paid "about half" of the total bill. However, he added, the methodology he used for the Chicago study was "exactly the same" as in prior studies of charters in New Orleans and the Twin Cities."
Hinz himself didn't get around to checking it out in his initial story either (Chicago charter schools lag conventional public schools: Orfield report). The two dailies covered the study (Study: Charter schools have worsened school segregation | Chicago Sun-Times, and Study: Chicago charter schools lag traditional ones - Chicago Tribune -- but didn't address funding sources. Only WTTW, Chicago Public Television, got to the issue.
So what, you ask? The funding source doesn't necessarily undermine the results (though INCS and others have raised questions about the data and methodology), and Chicago's charters did somewhat better using Orfield's methodology than charters in New Orleans and Minneapolis.
But still... this is pretty basic stuff. Given all the scrutiny given to funding sources and disclosure in the media and by reform critics in particular, disclosure from the researcher (Myron Orfield) -- and some journalistic checking about the funding source -- would have made a lot of sense. I don't know who to be more upset with -- the journalists or the researcher.
This video recently uploaded by AFT is mostly just a broadside against Campbell Brown but it also reveals something I've written about before -- that think tankers (Brookings, Fordham) don't seem to like the Vergara-style approach to school reform:
Why not? Some of the concerns are substantive, but that's only a part of it. Think tankers and others are feeling burned by the pushback against reforms of the recent era (the so-called "war on teachers"), they're not as nearly familiar with legal strategies (as opposed to policies, programs, and politics), and they probably think they're smarter than Campbell Brown, who's leading the charge.
Let's just figure out how to build capacity in individual schools. ..That's the only thing that I think is scaleable, is talking about how to improve the capacity that schools have to improve themselves.
-- Holy Cross assistant professor Jack Schneider in US public schools are better than they've ever been (Vox).
As you may recall, AP tried a "team" approach to covering education for a time (roughly 2010-2012). Armario and others were responsible for digging out all those waiver letters in 2012, as you may recall (How AP Got Hold Of All Those Waiver Letters). In recent times, AP has had Kimberly Helfing covering education nationally.
There's lots of education journalism going on already in LA, between KPCC, the LA Times, and others (LA School Report and the NYT's Jenny Medina occasionally). But it's the second-largest school district in the nation and warrants much more attention than it usually gets.
Related posts: Associated Press Names New Education Editor (2011); Another Twist And Turn For The AP Education Team (2012); Replacing The NYT's National Education Writer (2012); Meet AP Education Reporter Josh Lederman. Image courtesy AP.
Here's that NBC News segment about Newark I tweeted out yesterday, checking in on what the Zuckerberg gift has and hasn't done (Nightly News: Tracking Zuckerberg’s schools gift). The gist of the story seemed to be that the changes have been small and slow-moving but potentially transformative. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly.
Kudos to In These Times for updating its Harvard/TFA story (Student Activists Demand Harvard Sever Ties with Teach for America) to note that the group behind the effort received nearly $60,000 in AFT funding, as well as other labor backing.
The same can't be said for news outlets covering student protests against the Philadelphia school board for recent contract actions, in which union funding for student groups (albeit in small amounts) has gone unmentioned. The two main student groups, Philadelphia Student Union and United Youth for Change, received $80,000 from the AFT, according to Droput Nation's RiShawn Biddle (The AFT’s $2 Million Spree in Philly).
While education journalists and reform critics have increasingly noted when groups and individuals receive funding from reform-oriented foundations and individuals, the same can't be said about coverage of reform critics' efforts and ideas.
But the correction/addition from In These Times -- a progressive outlet! -- points out that it can and should be done by mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Huffington Post, and others. It's not that hard to do: Ask where the group gets its funding from, or ask Biddle or Mike Antonucci, or look around online.
Related posts: Reporters Should Identify Union Employees; Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?; Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political Strength; Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"
Now, Frank Bruni praises the students, families, and educators in Colorado and elsewhere who are opposing standards that demand that schools be all on the same page when teaching a single ideologically-driven set of Standards.
Bruni writes, “When it comes to learning, shouldn’t they [schools] be dangerous?” Sounding like a teachers union building rep, Bruni asks, “Isn’t education supposed to provoke, disrupt, challenge the paradigms that young people have consciously embraced and attack the prejudices that they have unconsciously absorbed?”
I am curious about noneducators, who ordinarily support the clash of ideas, who contradict themselves by attacking tenure, due process, and the policies that are essential for protecting the free flow of ideas of public education. Do they not realize that the test, sort, reward, and punish reform movement is only viable when it is imposing tests where there is only one “right” answer? Do commentators like Bruni not understand that tenure is essential for protecting the debate and discussion in our schools?
Bruni’s ill-informed attack on teachers may help answer my question. It was based on an interview with – you guessed it – one ideologically-driven reformer. Bruni accepted the claims of Colorado Senator Mike Johnson at face value. It doesn’t seem to occur to Bruni that the efforts of Johnson et. al to destroy the rights of teachers (so that they cannot oppose his test-driven accountability schemes) also opened the door for Colorado's conservative reformers to micromanage the learning of students? Can he explain a difference between the way that rightwing censorship operates, as opposed to the way that corporate reform functions when it micromanages teachers’ instruction and students’ learning?
On Monday, WNYC's SchoolBook education site relaunched with new media partners and a new expanded focus on school data.
As you may remember, WNYC and the New York Times launched SchoolBook together a few years ago, but even before things really got rolling the Times folded up shop when some of the key players over there moved on to other work or left the paper. The reporting came from WNYC, and the original data setup came from the NYT side -- but there was no original NYT reporting dedicated to SchoolBook.
You can read a bit about the launch effort here at the Nieman Journalism Lab, the gist of which is that the new site will include content from other sites (WNBC and the New York Daily News, among others) and expanded/improved data on individual schools and language offerings (Spanish, Mandarin). There won't apparently be any expansion in the newsgathering operation at WNYC, however -- which was the site main original addition (or at least the one I valued most).
You can read the official press release below the fold. Or check out some coverage of the launch: SchoolBook Service Walks Parents Through Admissions Process (WNBC), Revamped Website to Offer News on New York City Public Schools (NYT). The Times calls the nonprofit/commercial partnership unusual (even though the original partnership was the same hybrid offering).
We'll learn more about the new site on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show this morning. Someone who pays closer attention will be able to compare the offerings to other sites that cover NYC schools (like ChalkbeatNY and InsideSchools).
Related posts: WNYC's SchoolBook Adds Features For New Year; How SchoolBook Aims To Get More Folks Involved; SchoolBook To Rely On Crowdsourcing, Require Facebook ID; NYT Editor Leaving SchoolBook In Good Hands; New York Times' Diminished Role On Education Site.
No Constructive Solutions for Educational Change Offered in The Nation - Education Post http://ow.ly/Cl48q
Why can't the grown-ups get it right on education? - LA Times http://ow.ly/Ckfdu
Motoko Rich's latest NYT piece isn't really focused on NCLB sanctions but rather the political standoff between Washington State officials and the Obama administration over use of test scores to help evaluate teachers.
Still, NCLB sanctions are the only real-world impact of the fact that Washington State schools are still operating under the original NCLB -- the only reason anyone cares, really -- and the exaggerations and misundertandings of that law are in many ways a precedent for the current confusions/criticisms surrounding Common Core.
So it's worth reminding everyone what NCLB did and din't require.
Specifically, the law didn't require "private" tutoring for schools not making AYP repeatedly. It required tutoring provided by someone other than the school, including nonprofits, community groups, commercial tutoring companies, and sometimes even school districts (like Chicago, which received a federal waiver to provide tutoring to non-AYP schools).*
Whether or not the tutoring was top-notch, many schools and districts lined up against it because it meant that someone else was teaching their kids (and possibly doing a better job) and that they got slightly less federal funding than in the past under their control. Some districts and students responded ungenerously, by making their own students travel to other locations for tutoring rather than making arrangements for in-school delivery.
What NCLB *did* do, among other things, was require annual reading and math tests for schools receiving federal education funding, and require districts to test all students and report out data based on subgroups, and severely limit the use of non-certified aides and out-of-field teachers who were often assigned to low-income children and paid for with federal funding. It also encouraged federal lawmakers to increase Title I funding substantially, in order to help pay for things like extra tutoring that students at schools that weren't doing right by poor kids might need.
NCLB was far from a perfect law, to be sure. The student transfer provisions were ridiculously weak, and the law allowed states to continue to set their own cut scores on annual tests, making it seem like kids were doing much better than they really were. But it -- like Common Core and the assessments -- shouldn't be so eaisly used as a convenient dumping ground for educators' and advocates' talking points.
*NCLB also didn't require districts to shutter schools, or fire teachers. Those were possible options, sure, but Very little of that was done under NCLB, and even under the subsequent school turnaround initiative based on NCLB (SIG). But that's for another time.
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).
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 Sector; Carnegie Is The New Ed Sector; [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?, Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education Guy; Google Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences; Expert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?
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)
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 TFA; 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)
Image via The Nation.
There'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 Chicago; Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel; 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA); Goldstein Puts TFA Under The Microscope. Vox image used with permission.
"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)
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).
"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.
In 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
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.
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.
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 TFA; Traditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFA; TFA Under The Microscope; Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel; So Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA
Here's a preview of the PBS NewsHour segment on Elizabeth Green's teacher preparation book; the full version is slated to air tonight.
Ulrich 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:
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.
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.
*Additional names that have been suggested (on Twitter and Facebook) since the original posting include @drsteveperry, @jmsummers, and @drkamikaroyal.
What 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.
Hey, 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.
I'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.
#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.
#edjourn It'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.
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.
#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?
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.
CCSS critics out-debated advocates -- but [spoiler alert/trigger warning!] audience voted for CC anyway - EdWeek ow.ly/BlsUN
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
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
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It'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.
Image used with permission.
"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."
With 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
So many school stories on the first day of a new year -- some of them good, many pro forma, very few breaking through #edjourn
CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading - Chicago Sun-Times http://ow.ly/AZjOL
NPR's Ominous "The End Of Neighborhood Schools" in NOLA http://ow.ly/B07wu But isn't that what Cambridge, MA has?