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Journalism: Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage

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

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

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

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

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

AM News: Digging Out From Under All The Blizzard Hype

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afternoon Video: PBS NewsHour Covers "The Test"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

image from www.edwingouldfoundation.org

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Morning Video: Student Poverty Deepening & Spreading Nationally

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lunchtime Listen: When Students Of Color Have White Teachers

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

Update: "Serial" Eyewitness Blames Tensions On Magnet Program

NPR's big podcast success, Serial, is long done now, but more news has been trickling out about some of the characters from the series (about the murder of a high school student). In this interview with one of the key witnesses (Witness from 'Serial' Tells His Story for First Time) there's the claim that tensions at Woodlawn high school were exacerbated by the creation of a magnet wing at the school:

When Woodlawn put in the magnet thing, they took out all the vocational classes. Before you would just go down there for drafting, shop, and everyone would co-mingle, and all the students interacted. But when they put the magnet wing in, it was kinda like ‘these people were different from us.’ And they didn’t have to interact with us anymore. They didn’t have to go by us, except to come to lunch, and that was it. But their gym, lockers, parking, was down in the magnet wing. And I found that to be a bit of a slap in the face. Because I knew football had paid for all of that, but there were few football players down there. Football paid for everything at the school.

Others know much more than I do about Woodlawn and about magnet programs being added to existing high schools -- but it seemed like an interesting claim to me and a fun way to bring up the show again.

Related post: Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?

Magazines: NY Mag Profiles Brown, Declares Beginning Of The "Lawsuit" Era Of School Reform

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 14 10.50
Pegged to the court hearing taking place today in Staten Island, Vanessa Grigoriadis' profile of Campbell Brown in New York magazine (The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform) starts out with the somewhat expected description of what Brown looks like but manages to hit some interesting and useful points along the way.  Read it all below. Image used with permission. Photo credit: Dina Litovsky.

Continue reading "Magazines: NY Mag Profiles Brown, Declares Beginning Of The "Lawsuit" Era Of School Reform" »

Upcoming: A 360-Degree Look At The "New" Education Philanthropy

Just a few weeks from now AEI is hosting an event looking at the ‘new’ education philanthropy that I think is going to be pretty interesting -- and not just because I'm going to be there talking about a series of interviews with program officers and academics.

AEI's Hess and Teachers College's Jeff Henig have rounded up 8 new studies and analyses from across the ideological spectrum.

Some of those who have written chapters and/or will be there at the event include Stacey Childress, NewSchools Venture Fund, Jay P. Greene, University of Arkansas, Sarah Reckhow, Michigan State University, and Jeffrey W. Snyder, Michigan State University.  Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine,  Larry Cuban, Stanford University, Howard Fuller, Marquette University, and Michael Q. McShane, AEI, will also be there. Wrapping things up will be a panel featuring me, Jim Blew, StudentsFirst, Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project, and Andrew P. Kelly, AEI.

The conference is part of AEI Education's revisiting of the decade-old volume looking at education grantmaking ("With The Best Of Intentions").  How much has education philanthropy changed, in terms of funded activities and/or effectiveness?

Related posts:  Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban (Thompson); It Isn't Always The Best Nonprofits That Get The Big MoneyWho Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn'tHave Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?No More "Give Money To Someone Really Smart" For Foundations

Lunchtime Video: Why No One Wants To Talk About Ending Neighborhood School Segregation

Here's a short video and writeup via The Atlantic about the 1974 Boston public school integration effort, and recent efforts to revisit segregation in public schools. Click here if the video doesn't load.

Journalism: No, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School Shootings

image from static.politifact.com.s3.amazonaws.comGiven the pace of work being produced and the complexity of the issues, it's pretty easy for mis-statements and errors of fact to creep into education stories -- and very hard to correct them once they're out in the wild.  

That's why it's helpful that Politifact covers Education statements.  

Just recently, the site took a look at the claim made that GA "leads the nation in school shootings since Sandy Hook." The claim was made by Everytown For Gun Safety and passed along by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The issue is how Everytown defines school shooting (very broadly).

Any other bad numbers or unverified claims out there that you think need to be addressed?  Send them to me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student Scam;NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationOops!? Results From The Equity Project Same As Other NYC ChartersMissing Context From ProPublica Charter School "Sweeps" Story.

Morning Video: Perhaps The Best Education Video Since Edelman 2011

Don't be put off by the outfit (slim grey suit with pink pocket square), the TED-like bells and whistles, or even the point of view (pro-reform).  This might be the best education video since Jonah Edelman's infamous 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival explainer. Or maybe it's just the best of the week, and there's not much else going on.

In this "how to make the case for education reform" video, the president of AEI tells his audience something that pretty much everyone in education advocacy has come to understand at this point, whatever side they're on:  "You better make it moral, you better fight for people, and you better do it quick."

Watch it, tell us what you think (it's very much of the mind that reform ideas are fine they just haven't been communicated effectively), and extra points for calling out names from the audience reaction shots.

*Apologies for mis-spelling Jonah's name -- it's Edelman with an "E."

AM News: Cold-Weather Closures Plus Updated EdWeek Grades

Deep Freeze Sticks Around As Some Schools Remain Closed WAMU: Many districts in Virginia and Maryland took no chances with the roads today. See also HuffPost.

Brutal Cold Forces Schools Throughout Midwest to Close NYT: Even Chicago, which prides itself on toughing out fierce winters, told students to stay home as wind chills were predicted to hit 27 degrees below zero. See also AP.

Report gives CA low marks on preschool EdSource Today: California ranks well above other states in preschool and kindergarten enrollment, but still ranks 45th overall in its efforts to support the education of its youngest children, according to a report by Education Week released today. See also KPCC, EdWeek.

Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own NYT: A study by Scholastic points to ways that parents can encourage kids to read for fun.

Students Thrilled About End to Cell Phone Ban? Not Necessarily. WNYC: For the New York City students who admit to little self control, allowing cell phones in high school spells trouble. They'd rather not have daytime access to their tempting screens. See also ChalkbeatNY.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Cold-Weather Closures Plus Updated EdWeek Grades" »

Quotes: "Being Against Something Isn't Enough"

Quotes2I wish that the critics of testing and ‘test-based accountability’ would get together with their opponents and agree on some fair, effective and efficient ways of evaluating teachers. Just being against something isn’t enough, in my book, and teachers deserve to be fairly evaluated. - PBS NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow (What’s Ahead in 2015)

People: Forbes' 30 Under 30 Education List Goes EdTech

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 07 13.36The 2015 version of Forbes' #30Under30 education list came out on Monday, featuring members of familiar organizations and companies including Kano, Chegg, Amplify, Aspire, TFA, College Board, & FFEPS. Folks like TFA and EdPioneers were understandably enthusiastic about the list, since it includes so many of their current and former folks. Others -- including at least one of the judges -- weren't so enthusiastic. Some reasons for concern or complaint included the lack of classroom teachers on the list, the focus on edtech, and the lack of diversity (racial and ideological, I suppose). 

Related posts: Meet Jeremiah Kittredge, Forbes' Under-30 Honoree (2012);  Who's *Not* On The Forbes 2011 Reformer List?;  Forbes Tackles School Solutions (2008).  Image used with permission of Forbes.

Quotes: Praise For This Site From A Very High High Place

Media: Why Did EWA Change Its 2015 Contest Categories?

I've gotten a handful of questions and seen a few tweets about EWA's decision not to award prizes to non-journalists as they have in the past, effectively cutting out teacher-writers like Chicago's Ray Salazar, NorCal's Anthony Cody, and the Fordham Institute.  The contest entry deadline is in a couple of weeks, and there's a FAQ page up that answers the question -- sort of:

1. Why did you remove categories for work of non-journalists?

There are many thoughtful writers in the teaching, think tank, and research communities who contribute much to education journalism by providing news tips, quotes, research and perspective. However, this contest honors the very best of independent education journalism. EWA is grateful to its community members for their continued support of expanding the breadth and depth of independent education journalism.
If I understand this correctly, EWA is defining "independent education journalism" as paid (full-time?) work of people who are primarily journalists and write for outlets that define themselves as newsrooms of some kind.  So-called "community" members -- who can be educators, advocates, and even communications professionals -- are welcome to attend EWA events and contribute to EWA training and panels but aren't eligible for the contest (and presumably aren't eligible for scholarships, either).
 
Other changes for this year's contest include ending the practice of separating general-interest and education-only outlets, so that they can compete against each other. 

EWA has evolved in several ways over the years, including dropping the annual membership fee (for journalists, at least), a major expansion in scholarships for journalists to travel to events, and relocating the annual conference from hotels to universities (ed schools, usually), and the sometimes-awkward mixing of advocates, educators, and journalists of various kinds at EWA events.

There have been some minor controversies along the way, too, including the 2007 creation of a "public editor" position (A New "Coach" For Education Reporters) and a 2011 prize to a Hechinger-funded LA Times report that published teachers' value-added ratings (Journalism Awards, Good And Bad).

All that being said -- turn in your award submissions ASAP!

Magazines: The Hype Cycle Created By Innovators & Journalists

image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker is no longer my go-to magazine or site for deep and smart writing, but one of the best magazine stories I've read recently was in a December edition of the magazine.

It wasn't focused on education but rather on graphene, a substance whose invention generated tremendous scientific, academic, and journalistic attention but whose widespread application has lagged and is only now on the horizon (The New Yorker). 

Of particular interest, the piece describes the Hype Cycle, which "begins with a Technology Trigger, climbs quickly to a Peak of Inflated Expectations, falls into the Trough of Disillusionment, and, as practical uses are found, gradually ascends to the Plateau of Productivity."

“Nobody stands to benefit from giving the bad news,” [Guha] told me. “The scientist wants to give the good news, the journalist wants to give the good news—there is no feedback control to the system.”

Tour concurs, and admits to some complicity. “People put unrealistic time lines on us,” he told me. “We scientists have a tendency to feed that—and I’m guilty of that. A few years ago, we were building molecular electronic devices. TheTimes called, and the reporter asked, ‘When could these be ready?’ I said, ‘Two years’—and it was nonsense. I just felt so excited about it.”

Much the same could be said for many education-related inventions, both technological and policy-related, right?

Related posts about hype can be found here. See also The Innovation/Disruption "Myth. Related posts about the New Yorker: New Yorker Slips Anti-Reform Straw Man Into Teacher Training Column;  12 New Yorker Education Stories Vox MissedNew Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School; ; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next. Image via New Yorker Magazine.

Morning Video: Teachers Unions Join Republican Congress Against Testing

Here's a recent PBS NewsHour segment about the possibility that the new Congress will rewrite NCLB thanks in part to an unusual alliance between teachers unions opposed to so-called "overtesting" and Republican objections to federal involvement in local education decisions.

AM News: Edu-Predictions Are Fluffy & Fun! #JournoSpeculation2015

Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory NYT: Thousands of students travel to Maotanchang to spend 16 hours a day, seven days a week, studying for the biggest test of their lives.

Parents Issue Cry for Help with Common Core Math Homework WNYC: Math problems are often crafted so that students need to apply mathematical concepts to real life situations. Ja’Niah Payne’s teacher, Peter Schmitt, thinks the new standards promote more rigorous thinking.

Common Core Repeal, The Day After NPR: The Common Core had a rough year. The learning standards were repealed in three states, including Oklahoma. But what happens the day after a state repeals its academic standards?

Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation NYT: Known for one of the strictest home-school laws in the nation, Pennsylvania has relaxed some requirements, and that has brought it to the forefront in a lobbying war.

With eye on 2016, Jeb Bush resigns from all boards Washington Post: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, moving closer to a possible presidential run, has resigned all of his corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including with his own education foundation, his office said late Wednesday night. 

Kansas court orders more state spending on schools AP: Kansas isn't spending enough money on its public schools to provide a suitable education for every child, a state district court panel ruled Tuesday in an order that could mean the state has to boost its aid by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.... See also KPCC: Is more education money helping California schools?

Six Education Stories To Watch in 2015 NPR: A veteran reporter's view on the hot-button issues in the coming year: Police in schools, the fallout from the Vergara case and more. See also here. WNYC here. EdSource here.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Edu-Predictions Are Fluffy & Fun! #JournoSpeculation2015" »

Morning Video: How The Colbert Report Made School Reform Cool

Take a minute to think about how much time and attention the Colbert Report has dedicated to education-related issues during its long run, which ended last night.  Colbert's guests included not only EdSecs Spellings and Duncan, but also a who's who list of mostly reform types like Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, Charles Best, Bill Gates, Jonah Edelman's Dad, Emily Bazelon, Maurice Sendak, Geoff Canada, David Levin, Roland Fryer, Campbell Brown. Colbert also included education in numerous segments, mocking states for gaming proficiency levesl, fired Florida teachers, and simultaneously mocked and endorsed the Common Core earlier this year:

Some favorites among the (just!) 49 times that Colbert appears in the headline of a TWIE blog post include "Keep [Parental] Fear Alive," Says Colbert, his out-of-character story of being miserable in school (Colbert's "It Gets Better" Story), and a Roland Fryer interview in which Fryer pulls off a feat and gets the best of Colbert ("You're Black Now, Aren't You?"). Some of his few dud interviews related to education include one with the director of the War On Kids documentary, and his interview with Peter Edelman in which Edelman appears to walk off the stage at the end (Another Unhappy Moment For The Edelman Clan). 

Need more? 21 times Stephen Colbert has dropped his act and been himself (Vox), which includes some graduation speeches, his Congressional testimony, and a few other moments, and Goodbye, Stephen Colbert (a fond farewell from the NYT).How 

Journalism: Have You Seen Media Matters' New(ish) Education Page?

Maybe everyone else already knew this but image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI hadn't noticed until recently that for the last year or so the longstanding liberal watchdog Media Matters for America (MMFA) has had an education-focused page tracking cable news coverage of school-related issues, run by Hilary Tone.

Most of the posts are focused on conservative cable news shows, which Media Matters tracks closely and I don't usually pay much attention to. They also cover right-leaning online outlets like the Daily Caller and the Washington Beacon (a Petrilli favorite, if I remember correctly). 

Some recent posts: North Carolina Newspapers Mostly Silent As ALEC And Koch Brothers Rewrite HistorySchool Athletic Officials Debunk Horror Stories About Transgender Student AthletesHow Conservative Media's Attacks On Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Efforts May Lead To A Government ShutdownFox Takes Premature Victory Lap On AP History Controversy In Colorado.

If you think that the liberal-leaning media are doing a hatchet job on schools and school improvement efforts, you may have forgotten how the right-leaning outlets roll. 

But sometimes -- as with the recent piece on cable news' shows education guests -- they include mainstream and left-leaning outlets like CNN and MSNBC, which I noted recently (Too Few Educators On Cable News- And Too Few Education Segments, Too). The site also addressed on the TIME/Vergara cover, albeit focusing on coverage from the conservative and labor perspectives rather than the mainstream (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story). 

Anyway, now you know. RSS Feed is here. MMFA is on Twitter @MMFA. Tone can be found at @htonetastic.

Related posts: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, TooCritical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show. Image used with permission.

Journalism: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student Scam

There are lots of ways for education reports to get fleeced by sources or to neglect to check things out thoroughly, but New York Magazine found a pretty obvious wayof embarassing itself when it posted a story about a NYC high school student who'd supposedly made millions trading before turning 18 (Mohammed Islam, Stock Trader).  

The problem was that the student hasn't made anywhere near $72 million in the original story headline and the Chase bank statement that he provided to NY Magazine fact-checkers was fake.

After lots of questions about the story, editor Adam Moss wrote about the story and concluded with the obvious: "We were duped. Our fact-checking process was obviously inadequate; we take full responsibility and we should have known better." 

For further readin, see also an interview in the New York Observer and coverage of the mis-steps in the Washington Post.

Media: Missing Context From ProPublica Charter School "Sweeps" Story

In a recent series of pieces, ProPublica has described how charter schools in some states are being run by for-profit entities rather than the non-profits who are given the charter approval, creating unintended financial incentives.  This is certainly an alarming and potentially problematic trend, but the ProPublica piece doesn't tell us how widespread it is, creating the impression that it might be happening in many places -- or not. I haven't gotten any response from ProPublica about the missing piece of context, but a NACSA staffer tells me that there's no national data but that these situations aren't rare. "This is an issue that needs more study and consideration." 

Related posts: Putting Testing Flaws In ContextCan Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please?Education Reporting Frequently Lacks Balance, Context, Multiple SourcesProPublica Hires Another Reporter To Cover Education; Meet ProPublica's Education Reporter.

Morning Listen: On Freakonomics, Housing Project Program Helps Kids Turn Around

"A program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble." (How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps)

Charts: Student Retention Rate Drops (Was Never That High)

Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 10.49.50 AMStudent retention has never been all that high, nationally. A new AERA study shows that, after peaking at 2.9 percent in 2005, overall retention rates for grades 1 through 9 declined to 1.5 percent in 2009-10 (Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010).

 

People: Wong Takes Over As Editor Of Atlantic Education Page

Alia wong the atlanticMeet Alia Wong, The Atlantic Education page's new editor.  Most recently at the Honolulu Civil Beat, Wong's byline has been appearing at The Atlantic since November.

Wong replaces founding editor Emily Barkhorn and a few folks who filled in since Barkhorn left. She's doing some of her own writing (The Cutthroat World of Elite Public SchoolsWhen Lifting a School Cellphone Ban Is a Win for Poor Students) as well as working with outside contributors. She's already an EWA award winner for her writing. 

I've asked her if there are going to be any big changes and will let you know what she says. You might be able to reach her at @aliaemily. Image via Twitter.

Related posts: Atlantic Adding New Education PageFirst Look At The Atlantic's Education PageAFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event The Atlantic's "Best Cities" Includes Education.

Media: Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?

In case you hadn't heard, This American Life spinoff "Serial" is a big hit.  Focusing on the murder of a high school student in Maryland, it's a true-crime "whodunit?" with lots of excellent school-related characters and tidbits. One California teacher has replaced Shakespeare with the series.

But it's increasingly facing a major backlash, focused in part on the fact that the reporting team behind the piece is all white and the main characters are minorities: "What happens when a white journalist stomps around in a cold case involving people from two distinctly separate immigrant communities? Does she get it right?" (Success And 'Serial' Backlash - DiggSerial' & White Reporter Privilege - The AwlThe Complicated Ethics Of 'Serial,' - ThinkProgress).

I'll leave the merits and details of the pushback to others -- Conor F. at The Atlantic has a long piece defending the show -- to point out that a very similarly popular show by This American Life last year focusing on Harper High school in Chicago generated little such concern despite many similarities.

White reporters? Check. Set in and around a high school? Check. Minority community? Check. Widespread acclaim? Check.

According to some critics, Serial and TAL have a lot in common:  "Ethnic naïveté and cultural clumsiness are hardly unique to Serial. They’re woven into the fabric of its parent show, This American Life, which over its 20-year history has essentially made a cottage industry out of white-privileged cultural tourism," writes Quartz's Jeff Yang.

But Harper High didn't generate nearly as much criticism as Serial has. The two-part Harper High show (Episodes 487 and 488) won widespread accolades and to my knowledge just a smidgen of criticism. "In the end, I believe that [TAL's] coverage served to excuse many of the most harmful practices in our schools today and perpetuate some of the most harmful myths about urban education."

I can think of lots of possible reasons for the disparity -- though none is entirely satisfying. Perhaps "Harper High" is simply better than Serial, more careful to protect against stereotypes and white privilege. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping when immigrants (Korean- and Pakistani-American) are involved than African-Americans. Or, it could be that the criticism results from the multi-week format. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping in 2014 than we were in 2013?

Related posts: Scripps Honors This American Life's "Harper High";  What Happens When Harper's SIG Ends?Chicago Teacher Critiques "This American Life"

Quotes: Former NYC Mayor Blames Unions For Violence Against Black Males

Quotes2Maybe all these left-wing politicians who want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers so that we can drastically and dramatically improve education. - Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Giuliani Says Teachers Unions Are To Blame For Violence In Black Communities in HuffPost). See also Valerie Strauss.

Media: CJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" Myth

There are lots of myths in education and education reporting, and the Columbia Journalism Review highlights one of them in its latest post (The Texas school board isn't as powerful as you think), calling out Reuters, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Vice, and the Brownsville Herald (and praising the AP and the Houston Chronicle). 

"The Texas-textbook story is not the same as it was when the board approved materials in 2002. Reporters should not be telling it as if it is."

In a lengthy post, CJR points out that the familiar narrative of an all-powerful school board setting the textbook agenda for the nation is outdated and inaccurate "As far back as 2010, professionals in the textbook industry were already telling the Texas Tribune that the story about the state school board’s influence was “an urban myth.” But it's fun and easy to retell, focusing as it does on Texas, religion, and dysfunctional education bureaucracy. So folks jump on it, whether they know better or not.

What's CJR get wrong or leave out? What other myths are still getting passed along by education reporters and media outlets?  Vox's Libby Anderson recently highlighted 5 things about standardized testing that you don't always find in testing stories. I'm sure there are others out there.

Related posts: Why Journos Overstate Federal InfluencePlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos6 Key Critiques Of Media Coverage Of EducationHow Reporters Got Sucked Into Value-Added DebacleResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask.

 

Journalism: So Long, NYT Labor Reporter Steven Greenhouse

He didn't cover teachers unions all that frequently. I didn't always admire his work when he did (and as I recall from a series of angry emails he didn't much care for my constructive criticism, either).

But I certainly appreciated that Greenhouse was out there doing what so few others do in education or mainstream journalism in general, and wish there were more folks out there doing the same.

In his exit interview with Gawker (A Q&A With Steven Greenhouse) Greenhouse includes some interesting tidbits about an uptick in labor coverage since 2010 and the potential impact of worker advocacy groups like Domestic Workers United, Make the Road in New York, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the Workers Defense Project in Texas. (Are any of these groups operating in the education arena?)

In Politico (Steven Greenhouse takes N.Y. Times buyout), it's noted that there's now just one other national reporter focused on labor -- at the WSJ. (What about BuzzFeed's Jacob Fischler?)

Related posts: Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?;  Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesCharts: Teachers = Teamsters?

Thompson: Common Core's Potential

The story line of NPR’s four stories on Common Core was entirely predictable. The excellence of reporting was equally predictable, as well as the great teaching it showcased. Even so, it left me more saddened than ever about the Common Core fiasco. 

Emily Hanford, in Common Core Reading: "The New Colussus," began the series with a teacher, Linnea Wolters, assuming that her students would not be able to handle the complexity of a sonnet. She keeps an open mind, teaches the lesson with fidelity and is pleasantly surprised, “Wolters was amazed. She'd rarely seen her kids so excited about learning. And she had no idea they could succeed with such a challenging text. She couldn't wait to tell her colleagues about what had happened.” 

This is consistent with my experience. Low-skilled students despise the “dummying down” of instruction. They want the respect that is demonstrated when they are taught for mastery of challenging materials and concepts. Moreover, many or most teachers welcome assistance in helping students “dig deep.”

Then, Corey Turner explains, we must wrestle with the question of how do we teach complex reading in a way that “doesn't just lead to tears and frustration?” He summarizes the findings of cognitive scientist Dan Willingham who explains why background knowledge is more important than a child's reading skills. "Kids who, on standard reading tests, show themselves to be poor readers, when you give them a text that's on a topic they happen to know a whole lot about, they suddenly look like terrific readers." 

The NPR reporter concludes that although some Common Core architects may deny it, background knowledge “is just too important to ignore” when teaching reading. “The trick is, don't overdo it.” 

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core's Potential" »

Update: Cosby Allegations Raise Tough Education Issues

Last week, NPQ discussed the issue of Cosby's board memberships (Must Nonprofits Change Their Relationship with Bill Cosby?), and I'm told that StudentsFirst has now removed the entertainer from its board.

But there's another, deeper issue, which is the reminder of our persistent collective refusal to acknowledge hard truths (or at least widespread allegations) that are uncomfortable or require a reconsideration of past beliefs:

What of today's deeply held beliefs or school practices do we arlready know are wrong, but just can't bear to acknowledge or change? And who is speaking hard truths but is being ignored - for now? 

Thompson: Joel Klein's Heedless Rush to Impose Transformative Change

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 11.47.57 AMThere is an old saying that tough judicial cases make bad law. Applying the legal maxim to education, challenging school districts like New York City, because of its size, might or might not resort to extraordinary measures. If leaders of those systems, rightly or wrongly, take extreme (not to mention extremely expensive) measures, they should not necessarily be seen as precedents or best practices to be scaled up nationwide. 

Even though I would be afraid of allowing Joel Klein to offer guidance for my 90% low-income school system, which spends around $8000 per student per year, it might or might not be valuable to go deeper into Klein’s Lessons of Hope for insights from his years at the helm of NYC’s schools. By the way, Klein had as much new money to spend, per student, as our district spends in total. So, the next step might be a discussion of whether Klein’s approach was cost effective.

The prime issue, however, is whether it makes sense to eschew incrementalism and only aim for radical or “transformative” change.

Joel Klein does not claim he was the most mild-mannered of federal prosecutors, but he is most explicit in describing his time in the White House as preparation for his job as Chancellor of the NYC schools. During the Clinton administration, he experienced “a constant mix of strategy, hardball negotiation, and insider backbiting.” Clearly, he assumed that this take-no-prisoners mentality was necessary in order to produce rapid and disruptive change.

The cornerstone of the Klein approach to school improvement was his assumption that he must ramrod “transformational change.”  When he first met UFT President Randi Weingarten, Klein asked for her view of the appropriate pace of change. “Sustainable and incremental change,” was Weingarten’s reply. Klein didn’t seem to ask himself whether he should learn more on that subject from this far more experienced person. He responded, “No, no, it must be radical reform.”

The part of Lessons of Hope that has generated the most buzz are Klein’s lengthy quotations of emails with Diane Ravitch and his speculation that the personal dispute caused her to shift gears and oppose school reform in New York and elsewhere.  Even if those pages were to be read in a purely political manner, it seems questionable that a newcomer like Klein would not enthusiastically welcome the “smart and experienced” Mary Butz into his principal leadership team. As was often the case in these pivotal decisions, Klein sided with his inner circle because Butz’s approach “didn’t emphasize the type of transformational leadership that we thought was necessary.” (emphasis mine)

Continue reading "Thompson: Joel Klein's Heedless Rush to Impose Transformative Change" »

Media: Washington Post's Valerie Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves

It always makes me a little bit nervous when Valerie Strauss tries to go back to straight news reporting after all those weeks and months blogging and sharing material that's pretty uniformly critical of the current school reform movement. (New America's Kevin Carey once described Strauss's much-read blog as "The premiere Web destination for doctrinaire anti-reformist rhetoric and shoddy education research.") 
Then again she and others probably feel the same way about my work.

Earlier this year, the Post ran a front-page story by Strauss about allegations that Arne Duncan was trying to influence the choice of NYC chancellor under Mayor de Blasio.  I and others had some questions about the reporting, editing, and decision to assign the story to Strauss.

The latest example is a little story about changes within Team Duncan (Duncan’s communications chief leaving for Teach For America), which to my perhaps paranoid reading seems to be making a nefarious tragedy out of Massie Ritsch's departure for TFA.

Duncan is "losing" Ritsch after two years at the top communications spot within USDE. Duncan had the gall to praise TFA founder Wendy Kopp for highlighting the aspects of great teaching but ignored former NEA head Van Roekel. Duncan's first press secretary now works for Joel Klein at Amplify.

For some measure of balance, Strauss notes that Cunningham's accomplishments include getting Duncan on the Rolling Stone Agents of Change list. (She's wrong - getting Duncan on Colbert was Cunningham's biggest coup, or perhaps it was keeping Duncan away from the media after he jumped into the gay marriage debate ahead of the White House.) She also added Ritsch's "so, long" email after first publishing the post.

At TFA, Ritsch will be replacing Aimée Eubanks Davis as head of TFA’s Public Affairs and Engagement team. She's moving over to head Beyond Z, a new student leadership and 21st century skill building initiative she launched last year.

Related posts: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education)Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?About That Front-Page Washington Post StoryEducation's Huffington PostParent Trigger: An "Easy" Button For Parents & Kids.

TV: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, Too

image from cloudfront.mediamatters.orgMediaMatters notes that educators make up just one in ten of the guests on cable news segments related to education, which Valerie Strauss regards as a big problem.  

MSNBC does the best percentage-wise in terms of booking educators as guests -- but not by that much. CNN does the worst.  Fox -- this may surprise you -- comes in the middle.

What jumps out at me even more than this issue is that there are so few education segments, over all.

Granted, Morning Joe is not included -- a favorite for Randi Weingarten and Campbell Brown alike. And NBC News still does a fair amount of education coverage, along with PBS NewsHour.

But still. Looking at evening news shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, there were just 185 total guests in 10 months.  CNN booked the fewest - by far.  Fox and MSNBC came in much higher, quantity-wise.

Take a look at the full MM story here. Image used courtesy MediaMatters.

Related posts: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show.

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: 30 States Scheduled To Use Common Core Assessments This Spring

30 states using Common Core assessments this spring, says @ecscommreport ow.ly/ECmFc

Accomplishments & post-game analysis from @MarshallTuck re CA Supe Race ow.ly/EChbn

Third Way: Creating a Consistent & Rigorous Licensure Process ow.ly/ECjYM @ThirdWayEDU 

Opt out advocates want to use COPPA to oppose testing - National Public Ed Network ow.ly/ECiVc 

Jeb Bush's Delicate Dance with Common Core - Bloomberg Politics ow.ly/ECm3h@MichaelCBender

Do we know who organized & paid for busload of Newark protesters to travel to DC? ow.ly/ECnWy  We don't - yet. 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso

 

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

Watching Newark superintendent Cami Anderson's interview with AEI's Rick Hess from last week, a few things are clear:

First and foremost is that Anderson's initiatives may be much more nuanced and less top-down than critics have claimed (and the media has repeated).  For example, she says that there have been no school closings as part of her plan, and that several revisions and changes were made in response to community input.  Is that accurate?  Someone needs to check.  By which I mean the WSJ, NJ Spotlight, Hechinger, ChalkbeatNY, or NYT.

Second, and just as important for someone to figure out, is whether her claims that there's a small but "well-funded" effort to block her efforts are accruate or not.  The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton chronicled the protest against her, (a busload of Newark parents) but doesn't tell us who was behind the effort, if anyone. Did they decide to go among themselves? Who paid for the bus? Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle notes that CWA, "which has been an ally if AFT's NJ affiliate, has funded NJ Communities United to tune of $251K."

Related posts: Last Night's Raucous Newark Schools MeetingNewark Officials Discuss School Improvement, Local ControlNew Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashUnion Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark.

#EdGif Of The Day: How To Avoid Your Elementary School Co-Worker Crush

image from 38.media.tumblr.com

Sure, there's a charter school plotline in" Parenthood," and school is in the background (so far) of "Black-Ish." "How To Get Away With Murder" is set at a law school. But "New Girl" remains the most school-focused show out there, and still sometimes the most amusing.

This week's episode of New Girl features Jess's attempts to avoid interacting with her crush, a teacher at the school where she's an assistant principal.  It also involves touchy-feely professional development, and male bonding gone awry.

Recap of the episode (including spoilers) here. I found this gif here. For more #newgirl gifs go here. It's on Fox on Tuesday nights.

Related posts: "New Girl" Jess Confronts The Cool Mean Teachers"New Girl" Gets Pink Slipped [Teacherpocalypse 2012]"New Girl" Deals With Bullying 5th Grader TV's "New Girl" Teacher Is She One Of You?

Journalism: Media Narrative Shifted Dramatically During Post-Midterm Period

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Check out my latest Scholastic column here if you want to read about how media coverage of the 2014 midterms shifted sharply during the first few days after the results were known -- and how upon examination nobody's claims of victory seemed as strong as was being claimed. 

One issue that didn't make it into the piece was just how flat-footed the teachers unions seemed initially in their responses to the reformers' claims of victory, as in the AFT canceling a press conference without considering how that would look (or whether there was an opportunity to counter the reform narrative before it got rolling).

Another key angle is that the media covering the midterms and some of those commenting on them initially seemed to take the reformers' claims of victory at face value rather than taking a more skeptical view of the claims or a harder look at the results. 

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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.