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Quotes: Sen. Warren Voices Concerns About NCLB Rewrite

Quotes2The idea that we would pass a major piece of legislation about education and, in effect, shovel money into states and say 'Do with it what you want', and not have some accountability for how that money is spent, I think, is appalling.

-- MA Senator Elizabeth Warren in NPR (Goodbye, No Child Left Behind)

Quotes: Latest Version Of NCLB Puts Obama In Tight Spot

Quotes2[The conference version of the NCLB overhaul] puts [President Obama] in a difficult position to be signing onto something that clearly empowers states to be less aggressive in addressing inequity.

-- Peter Cunningham, former assistant secretary at the Education Department and a past adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan (quoted in Politico (Growing anxiety on left over NCLB deal)

Morning Video: More About MA's Common Core Testing Decision

On the PBS NewsHour, the NYT's Kate Zernike expands on her Massachusetts Common Core testing decision story.

Or, listen to this WAMU segment on Kaya Henderson's five-year tenure as head of DC Public Schools.

Or, check out this WHYY Philadelphia story about a magnet school dropping its admissions criteria as part of a school consolidation plan.

Charts: How One Miami SIG School Made Significant Progress

Morning Video: Astronomy Night At The White House


"While not everybody was thrilled at the public invitation via Twitter, the President made good on his promise, hosting Mohamed and 300 other students for the White House’s second “Astronomy Night” on Monday. (Mediaite). See Twitter for images of the POTUS and the Texas student. 

AM News: Obama Administration Reports Grad Rate Increases

Most states show increase in high school graduation rates AP: High school graduation rates for most states continue to improve, according to preliminary data released Monday by the Obama administration.... See also Washington Post.

White House hosts Texas student arrested for homemade clock Washington Post: The president and Ahmed did not have a formal meeting at the White House Monday, but they spoke briefly during the Astronomy Night event, according to the Associated Press.

Graduation Rate Gap Between Black And White Students Is Closing In Most States HuffPost: Thirty-six states experienced an increase in graduation rates, while six saw decreases, according to a press release from the Education Department. Twenty-eight states saw decreases in the graduation rate gap between black and white students, as shown in the graph below.

Michelle Obama announces new education push WBEZ Chicago: Michelle Obama is continuing her push to get every young person to pursue some form of higher education. At the White House Monday, the First Lady is expected to launch a new public awareness campaign geared toward students aged 14 to 19. See also Tubefilter.

Arne Duncan, John King Talk Higher Graduation Rates, ESEA, and Testing PK12: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has a piece of good news to announce on his way out the door: High school graduation rates appear to be on track to rise for the third year in a row.

How one Chicago high school built a college culture WBEZ: To catch up, Gallick started making college part of the conversation at Washington. The school staged a phonathon, reaching out to parents to answer their questions about applications and financial aid.

Seattle School Board races: Transparency, funding issues loom large Seattle Times: At least three and possibly four of the Seattle School Board’s seven members will be newcomers after the November election.

State labor panel to file injunction in charter school unionization push LA Times: Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles had asked the Public Employment Relations Board to seek the injunction, accusing Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a charter organization, of intimidating employees, denying organizers access to school buildings and blocking emails. In its request, the union said there would be irreparable harm if the courts did not intervene.

Noble maps out massive charter school expansion, feds support it WBEZ Chicago: Despite a financial crisis in Chicago Public Schools and increasingly organized opposition to the prospect of more charter schools, Chicago’s largest charter network has plans for a massive expansion in the city, according to a successful grant application it submitted to the federal government.

New York City Seeks Teacher Evaluation Waiver WNYC: "We want to make sure that our teacher development and evaluation system is high quality and works best for students, teachers and school communities as a whole," said Devora Kaye, spokeswoman for the Department of Education. "Learning to implement a brand new system of teacher development and evaluation at this time would not be best for students and school communities."

Nevada Fights Against ACLU Suit Over Voucher-Like Program AP: The program, which is considered the broadest school choice program in the country because it's not limited by factors such as family income, allows parents to claim most of their child's per-pupil state education funding and use it toward private school tuition or other qualified education expenses.

As Campus Fears Rise, So Do Efforts to Enact School Gun Laws NYT: While California passed a ban on concealed weapons at schools, other states considered bills to ease restrictions on concealed firearms on campus.

Brooklyn Mother Fights for Changes After Disabled Son Misses Graduation by One Point NYT: New York State students who come within three points of passing a Regents exam can appeal in certain cases, but that option isn’t available to some disabled students.

How a diverse yet divided school blended ‘segregated’ classes Seattle Times: After experiencing a striking racial imbalance, Leschi Elementary altered a popular program that had drawn white families to a traditionally black school.

Keeping Black Men In Front Of The Class NPR: Studies show high rates of teacher turnover — especially among minorities. One researcher is trying to figure out why and how schools can reverse the trend.

LAUSD holds first community forum on superintendent search KPCC: As about two dozen more people trickled into the auditorium, Hank Gmitro, president of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the company helping to search for the next superintendent, talked about the search process. Then he asked those present what kind of superintendent they would like to see selected.

Quotes: Ohio Lawmaker Questions $32M Grant For Ohio Charters

Quotes2The charter school system in Ohio is broken and dysfunctional... The last thing we need is a black eye because the money went to a dysfunctional program that we knew was dysfunctional.

-- Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in Washington Post (Ohio Congressman questions Arne Duncan’s $32 million charter grant)


Thompson: Jennings's Call for Education Policy Worthy of Our Democracy

Jack Jennings's Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is a must-read for anyone seeking to improve our public schools. Drawing upon a half century of political and education research, Jennings writes a history of federal involvement in school reform and makes sensible suggestions for the next era of school improvement.

Jennings chronicled the first generation of federal education reforms and their results. The ESEA Act of 1965 had big goals and it was well-funded.  From the mid-1960s to the 1980s, often fragmented federally funded efforts only produced modest improvements and they did not bring equity.  But, those gains now look pretty impressive in comparison to post-NCLB outcomes, especially since their funding did not increase in order to meet the ambitious goal of closing the Achievement Gap. To produce equity for the most disadvantaged students, who disproportionately were concentrated in high-challenge schools, a far greater investment into their entire learning environments would have been necessary.

Jennings then documents how and why NCLB accountability failed. He bluntly reminds us that "Tests do not a good education make.”  Moreover, “When it came to measuring student progress in school, NCLB got it wrong.” Pulling it all together, Jennings’s analysis of NAEP testing results shows:

It is ironic that from the 1970s to the early 2000s. achievement generally rose and achievement gaps generally narrowed, which would seem to refute the Title I evaluation results used to support the shift to test-driven reform.

He also concludes:

The long-term NAEP results showed gains, especially for Black and Hispanic students, until 2008. A disturbing finding, though, is that since 2008, achievement has not increased for students except for 13-year-olds, nor have achievement gaps narrowed between racial/ethnic groups.

Jennings is judicious in summarizing the evidence about the effectiveness of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, telling Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post  “The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement. ... They also did considerable harm.”

Then Jennings turns to solutions. First, he calls for a vigorous debate regarding the new direction that federal education policy should take. While I applaud that invitation, teaching in an era of failed test-driven reforms has made me more risk-adverse. But, Jennings’s closing paragraph has finally convinced me:

The biggest lesson I have learned over a half century of involvement in education politics and policy is that if you are not working to implement your own agenda, then you are working off someone else’s agenda. It is time public school advocates established their own ambitious agenda and set out to achieve it.

Continue reading "Thompson: Jennings's Call for Education Policy Worthy of Our Democracy" »

Morning Video: First Lady Drops The Mic (Plus "He Named Me Malala" Premiere)

Here's a roundup of the First Lady's Apollo Theater appearance earlier this week talking about #62milliongirls, via The Root: ‘There Is No Boy Cute Enough or Interesting Enough to Stop You From Getting Your Education’. See more at HuffPost.

Or, check out the LA Times' coverage of West Coast premier of Davis Guggenheim's latest documentary, and read more about it here.

7,000 high school girls attend West Coast premiere of 'He Named Me Malala'

High school girls from across L.A. County attended the West Coast premiere of director Davis Guggenheim’s ‘He Named Me Malala.’




Quotes: Noguero On Why Obama Picked/Kept Duncan (& If Duncan Really Cares)

Quotes2Even though I have disagreed with many of his policies, positions and statements, I do think he actually cares about poor children. Just goes to show that "caring" is not enough to create good, effective policy.

- Pedro Noguero on Arne Duncan (via Facebook).

Quotes: Noguero On Why Obama Picked/Kept Duncan (& If Duncan Really Cares)

Quotes2Even though I have disagreed with many of his policies, positions and statements, I do think he actually cares about poor children. Just goes to show that "caring" is not enough to create good, effective policy.

- Pedro Noguero on Arne Duncan (via Facebook).

Quotes: Duncan Laments Belated NCLB Waiver Decision

Quotes2We spent a year and a half two years trying to finish No Child Left Behind in 2009 and '10 and '11... We let schools, we let kids suffer for another year. So, in hindsight, we should have done waivers earlier... I think [overall] waivers have gone pretty darn well. You guys don't cover it much. But we have 44 pretty happy customers across the political spectrum.

-- EdSec Arne Duncan in EdWeek (Duncan's Big Mistake?)

POTUS: "Cool Clock, Ahmed."

So a school suspended a kid for bringing a homemade clock to school, and got this comment from President Obama: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

Quotes: A Glass Half-Empty View Of Common Core Progress

Quotes2The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is... And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it.  - Brookings' Tom Loveless in AP (As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled)


AM News: Obama, Bush Tout New Orleans School Accomplishments

Presidents Obama, Bush Praise New Orleans' Schools Education Week: U.S. presidents past and present are visiting New Orleans this week, marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and discussing the radical reshaping of public education in the city. See also NYT: George W. Bush, Visiting New Orleans, Praises School Progress Since Katrina 

Nearly Half of States Opted to Hit Accountability Snooze Button PK12: For those states, results from tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards won't have an effect on school ratings, at least for the school year that just ended.

As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled AP: Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Scores in four other states that developed their own exams tied to the standards have been released.

Indianapolis Pact Couples New Teacher Roles and Big Pay Boosts Teacher Beat: Effective teachers signing onto a newly created initiative to mentor other teachers and reach more students could see thousands of dollars in additional pay.

A timeline of Texas' 30 years of school finance legal fights AP: A lawsuit challenging how Texas pays for its public schools will soon reach the state Supreme Court - the sixth time since 1984. Here's a look at major milestones in 30-plus years of legal battles:...

Tools for Tailored Learning May Expose Students’ Personal Details NYT: Many technological tools used by schools are designed to customize learning, but concern is developing over the collection and use of data on individual students.

Teacher Was Late To School 111 Times Because Of Breakfast AP: "I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time," 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson told The Associated Press.

Art Show Captures the Wrenching Effects of Closing a School NYT: “reForm” is set in a model classroom from a Philadelphia school, with a blackboard, cubbies, books — and oral testimony about the school’s closure.

Maryland schools superintendent announces resignation Washington Post: Lillian Lowery, hired in 2012, will become president and CEO of an Ohio education nonprofit.

Little Saigon school to provide instruction in English and Vietnamese LA Times: A public school in Little Saigon is set to become the first in California to provide instruction in both English and Vietnamese.

Quotes: Elizabeth Warren, Reformers' (Unexpected?) ESEA Accountability Champion

Quotes2In many ways, this bill represents a significant improvement in federal education policy, moving away from rigid standardized tests and respecting the vital work that our teachers do every day--and I strongly support those changes. But this bill is also about money, and it eliminates basic, fundamental safeguards to ensure that federal dollars are actually used to improve both schools and educational outcomes for those students who are often ignored. -- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in CommonWealth Magazine (On No Child law, Warren carries Kennedy torch)



Charts: Together, AIR & Pearson Have 27 State Testing Contracts

GfshfsVia RealClear Education. Click here for interactive version.

AM News: White House School Discipline Summit, Plus Free Online AP Lessons

White House Hosts School Discipline Summit PK12: The department's civil rights data collection shows that more than 3 million students are suspended or expelled each year (including 4-year-olds). See also Washington PostHuffPost.

Education Groups to Leaders in Congress: Get ESEA Rewrite Over Finish Line PK12: Begin conferencing the House and Senate ESEA bills now, said 10 major education groups in a letter sent Wednesday.

As states drop out of PARCC’s Common Core test, faithful carry on Washington Post: The tests from PARCC — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — has come under fire for its length, for its technical glitches and for efforts by its test publisher, Pearson, to crack down on cheating via social media.

Teachers' union gets schooled for violating campaign law Philly.com: The union was flagged for giving a $11,500 donation to its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers - Pennsylvania Chapter, whose political committee on March 9 wrote a check for that amount to Gym's campaign.

The new frontier for Advanced Placement: Online AP lessons, for free Washington Post: First came MOOCs, or massive open online courses. Now there are MOOLs -- massive open online lessons -- to help high schools teach some of the toughest AP topics.

Issue of collective bargaining threatens California evaluation reform EdSource Today: Democratic leaders’ efforts to rewrite the state’s teacher evaluation law have stalled over the same disagreement that upended the last big push in the Legislature three years ago: stark differences in who gets to decide what goes into an evaluation.

From an ‘Undocumented’ Boyhood to a Doctorate NYT: A new memoir hopes to further the debate on immigration policy.

A Geek Speaks Out Against Tech WNYC: Computer scientist Kentaro Toyama used to use tech to help the poor around he world. But slowly, he started believing it wasn't the answer. He explains why tech isn't doing much to educate the underprivileged or spur social change.

74 percent of high school students failed Algebra 1 final in a Md. district Washington Post: The exam results were better than they were last year, but failure rates remain steep for Montgomery Co.

Parent petition results in Prescott School new principal LA School Report: A wave of angry complaints by parents of students at a small elementary school has succeeded in convincing LA Unified to replace a principal whom the parents described as unfit for the job.

Report: Mass. Schools Bans On Junk Food Are Working Boston Learning Lab: The Northeastern study compared thousands of food and beverage options available in about 75 middle schools and high schools over a one-year period, before and after the standards took effect.

Morning Video: In LinkedIn Debut, Duncan Promos Lehigh High School Teachers

Check it out. Here's the accompanying text. With Duncan's debut, that makes ... two folks I know about using LinkedIn. The other is Deschryver.  Are there others?

AM News: What Next For NCLB Rewrite?

Senate Votes Overwhelmingly For Bipartisan No Child Left Behind Rewrite HuffPost: However, the bill’s next steps are unclear, since even its supporters concede President Barack Obama is unlikely to sign it in its current form. See also NYT, HuffPost.

Revising the No Child Left Behind Act: Issue by Issue PK12: Here's a look at the Senate and House bills to rewrite the NCLB law, and how they compare to each other, current law, and the Obama administration's waivers. See also AP, Washington Post, PBS NewsHour.

Senate tweaks formula for Title 1 funds to educate children from poor families Washington Post: Burr rewrote the amendment so that the formula changes would not take effect until Congress funds Title 1 at $17 billion annually. It is unclear when that would happen; the program is currently funded at $14.5 billion, an amount that has been steady since 2012. In addition, the change in formula would affect only dollars spent by Congress in excess of the $17 billion benchmark.

Testing Revolt In Washington State Brings Feds Into Uncharted Waters NPR: As Congress debates the future of No Child Left Behind, one state falls short of federal testing requirements.

Crime stats show troubling trend at nation’s schools SI&A Cabinet Report: A general decline in serious crime on K-12 school campuses nationwide appears to be reversing, perhaps reflecting an upswing in violence in some of the nation’s largest cities.

Some schools are still testing students for drug use APM Marketplace: Many schools are still testing students for drug use, despite the end of federal funding and mixed evidence on whether it's worth the expense. Some are expanding their testing.Research shows that while drug testing is associated with a very modest decline in marijuana use, surveys sometimes find an increase in the use of other drugs. How? For one thing, drug tests aren’t always accurate. Case in point, Goldberg says, the athletes Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong. 

Lawsuit says SoCal schools among those breaking law in teacher evaluations KPCC: A lawsuit filed Thursday in Contra Costa County alleges that 13 school districts are violating state law because they aren't using student achievement data when evaluating instructors. The suit was filed by four parents and two teachers. It's backed by Students Matter, a nonprofit founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch. See also EdSource Today.

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

Continue reading "AM News: What Next For NCLB Rewrite?" »

Thompson: Will President Obama's Trip to the Choctaw Nation (& a Federal Prison) Help Move the Administration Toward Comprehensive Solutions?

The President who I still love will visit the Choctaw Nation this week and look into the Promise Zone initiative he launched last year. My first hope for the trip was that President Barack Obama would swing over to the far corner of “Little Dixie,” and visit Frogville. 

But, President Obama has a better plan. The Daily Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel, in President Obama Heading to Oklahoma Next Week, reports that the President will visit the federal prison in El Reno, where inmate Jason Hernandez was housed until Obama commuted his life sentence on drug charges. 

Until recently, President Obama has been especially reticent about hot-button issues such as race and the legacies of generational poverty and discrimination. The 2014 off-year election defeat and tragedies culminating in the Charleston massacre have liberated our President, however, and he has been speaking and singing the truths that previously he held back.  It sounds like we can anticipate another honest conversation with an atypical journalist, this time with HBO’s VICE. 

According to VICE Media, the visit will “give viewers a firsthand look into the president's thinking on criminal justice reform ‘from the policy level down to one-on-one conversations with the men and women living this reality.’” 

Maybe President Obama will return to the Indian Nation and drop in on our family's homestead so we can discuss school reform and its cousin, the War on Drugs, and how these ill-conceived reward and punish policies backfired because they were dismissive of the realities that flesh-and-blood people live in. We could gaze upon the graves of whites, blacks, and Choctaws in the family cemetery, and muse about our long history of living together in peace and conflict, as well as both unity and divisiveness in victory and defeat at the hands of political and economic oppression.

As I explained recently, school reform and the War on Drugs were both deeply rooted in the Reaganism and the lowered horizons of the 1980s. Both were quick, simple, and seemingly cheap solutions to the complex social problems that the War on Poverty did not eradicate.

Continue reading "Thompson: Will President Obama's Trip to the Choctaw Nation (& a Federal Prison) Help Move the Administration Toward Comprehensive Solutions?" »

AM News: Senate Debates NCLB, New York Drops Pearson

Some states would lose big money with proposed education funding changes Washington Post: Congress’s debate about rewriting the nation’s main education law has featured high-profile disagreements over testing, vouchers and school accountability, but there is another issue that has just as much potential to derail the legislation: Money. See also Hechinger Report.

Senate Rebuffs ESEA Amendment to Let States Opt Out of Federal Accountability EdWeek: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., slammed the A PLUS amendment, knowing that if adopted it would have sunk his chances of getting the ESEA reauthorization across the finish line. See also AP

What should replace No Child Left Behind? PBS NewsHour:  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and former Gov. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Students' Reading And Math Skills Are Still All Over The Map NPR: A federal report out today reinforces that states have huge differences in their definition of "proficiency." See also Boston Learning Lab.

N.Y. Has 'No Current Plans' to Give PARCC EdWeek: The Arkansas state board voted to use the ACT Aspire test instead, concluding a public spat over which common-core exam the state would use next year. See also WNYCNYTChalkbeatBuzzFeedWSJ.

Smarter Balanced Opt-Out Rates Top 25 Percent for Washington State 11th Graders EdWeek: Officially, 27.4 percent of eligible students were "confirmed refusals" for taking the Smarter Balanced English/language arts exam, and 28.1 percent of them were confirmed refusals for the math exam.

Duncan's Children to Attend Private School in Chicago EdWeek: Duncan's children will attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where he himself attended and where his wife will return to work. See also Washington Post, Politico.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Senate Debates NCLB, New York Drops Pearson" »

Quotes: Duncan Policies = "Minimum Improvement... Considerable Harm"

Quotes2The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement. They also did considerable harm. -- Jack Jennings in Washington Post profile of Arne Duncan (Even as Congress moves to strip his power, Arne Duncan holds his ground)

People: TFA's Behind-The-Scenes Hostage Rescue Effort

Tfakipp foley
Even if you already knew that slain journalist Jim Foley had been a TFA alum you might have been surprised to read about TFA (and KIPP) involvement behind the scenes in the efforts to secure his release in this week's New Yorker story The Families Who Negotiated with ISIS. Among those mentioned are Wendy Kopp, Amy Rosen (Newark KIPP), and April Goble (Chicago KIPP), who is identified as Foley's former girlfriend:

"Bradley kept adding people to the team, paying their travel expenses, and often a salary as well. He installed two young researchers in cubicles in the Watergate office. He recruited a former Syrian diplomat, now known as Noor Azar, who had gone into exile after the revolution. Meanwhile, April Goble, Foley’s ex-girlfriend, worked with eleven volunteers from Teach for America, looking for inroads into the Syrian regime."

There may have been hints of this effort on social media, such as this 2013 tweet I sent out (but had forgotten): "Friends of kidnapped freelance photographer James Foley TFA '96 are organizing to secure his release from Syria." The link goes to the Free Jame Foley FB page. 

The confusing and alienating behavior of the US government in support of the hostage families and their friends has been a big topic in the news recently, and the Obama administration recently announced changes in its policies that would give families more information and free them from threats of prosecution for arranging for their loved ones' release (including through payment of ransoms).

Related posts: NYT's annual memorial "The Lives They Lived" includes profile of TFA alum James Foley

AM News: Accountability Divide Behind ESEA Reauthorization Push

Day One of Senate ESEA Debate: Rift Over Accountability Grows PK12: Below the surface of pleasantries and backslapping, a policy split continues to grow over whether to beef up accountability provisions in the bill to overhaul the education law. See also HuffPost, AP, NPR, Washington Examiner, Washington Post.

Conservatives likely to lose education reform battle in Congress Washington Examiner: But the amendments aren't likely to make it into law, and the underlying House bill will likely be pushed to the left by House and Senate leaders eager to move the bill out of Congress and onto the president's desk for signature.

PARCC test pros and cons debated at Massachusetts Board of Education hearing Mass Live: More than 100 people, most of them educators, attended the public hearing at Springfield Technical Community College. Some shared overall concerns about excessive testing and others argued the PARCC test is needed to ensure children are prepared for the future. See also Modesto Bee.

Texas Textbooks And Teaching The Civil War And America's History Of Racial Segregation WAMU: This fall five million public school students in Texas will use textbooks that critics say misrepresent the Civil War and the nation's history of racial segregation. The battle over how the Civil War is taught in public schools. See also Slate

Ken Wagner, top state ed deputy, a finalist for Rhode Island ed chief job Chalkbeat: Wagner has effectively helmed the department alongside acting Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin over the first half of 2015 after John King’s departure last year. Wagner would be the latest in a string of state education officials to leave over the last year, which has been marked by tumult over education policies and the end of the state’s Race to the Top funding, as well as the choice of new Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who started Monday.

Rahm Emanuel on Budget Cuts and Teacher Layoffs The Atlantic: At an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday, Emanuel was defiant. “Everybody’s going to hate what they’ve got to do,” he said. But the budget arrangement is “what we call a grand bargain, or a fair deal.” Emanuel made it clear that he harbors no love for the education-reform movement. For example, he said, the common debate that pits public schools versus charters is “nuts.” “I am not an education reformer,” he said. “My job as mayor is to make sure you have quality.”

Marco Rubio’s Education Plans Echo Some Obama Ideas NYT: Many of the ideas on higher education outlined by Senator Marco Rubio in an economic speech on Tuesday sounded similar to policies that President Obama has called for during his time in office.

On Talking Race to Young Teens, Teachers Say It's Been a Tough Year WNYC: One morning in May, Stephanie Caruso had a question for her seventh graders at West Side Collaborative Middle School. She wanted to know if they’d ever been stopped by police when leaving the Upper West side campus for lunch.

Morning Video: Fox News Sunday Features Common Core's Laura Slover

PARCC's Laura Slover on Fox News Sunday. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly. Via Diane Ravitch.

Afternoon Video: Former Education Staffers Debate ESEA 2015 Chances


Check out this video from yesterday's Brookings event, Getting education bills to the finish line, which among other things includes former education staffers' best guesses at the chances that Congress will act on ESEA reauthorization this year. (Or if you prefer, check out the twitterstream using the hashtag #EdBills.)

My favorite moment is when Bethany Little highlights the impact of waivers on Congressional momentum in 2011.  What's yours? Featuring Chingos, DeLisle, Little, Flanagan, and West.

Next time, maybe they could include a leadership staff alumnus to give the larger, more political perspective. Committee staff are great and smart, but also sometimes in their silos.

Morning Video: Where's K-12 Education's Elizabeth Warren?

Here's an impassioned Elizabeth Warren talking about infrastructure, student loan interest rates, NIH and NSF funding -- and the need to "wake up people all over America" against the interests of the rich and powerful in Washington who are doing fine the way things are. 

Read more about Warren's political strategy and her policy positions from Vox's Ezra Klein. Do *not* watch this scary Vox video about long-term unemployment and the need for a major public works or job training effort. 

Is there anyone like this in education (or talking about K-12 education) -- this mad, this urgent, this smart about influencing others? I can't think of anyone right off the bat. 


Quotes: Portrayal of Teachers Is "Disingenuous and Outrageous"

Quotes2The Obama Administration has managed to pit the teachers against the civil rights community on this issue and to put the teachers on the defensive.... The liberal press has bought this argument hook, line and sinker... Teachers are not opposed to annual accountability testing because they are enemies of their students' civil rights.  They are opposed to annual accountability testing because it is being used to punish teachers in ways that are grossly unfair and singularly ineffective.

- Mark Tucker in EdWeek (Annual Accountability Testing: Time for the Civil Rights Community to Reconsider)

Quotes: Class Segregation Replacing Racial Segregation

Quotes2I mean, there’s some communities where I don’t know -- not only do I not know poor people, I don’t even know people who have trouble paying the bills at the end of the month. I just don’t know those people.  

-- President Obama at recent event via Vox (Liberals are reducing one of the most fascinating speeches of Obama’s career to a Fox News joke)

Morning Video: President Obama Laments Parents Choosing Private Schools

"What’s happened in our economy is that those who are doing better and better... are withdrawing from sort of the commons," Obama said. "Kids start going to private schools; kids start working out at private clubs instead of the public parks. An anti-government ideology then disinvests from those common goods and those things that draw us together. And that, in part, contributes to the fact that there’s less opportunity for our kids, all of our kids." Via RealClear Politics. Click the link if the video doesn't load properly.

Morning Video: Duncan Talks Youth Employment, Public Boarding Schools


Here's Duncan speaking yesterday at the Youth Violence Prevention Summit: "One idea that I threw out … is this idea of public boarding schools. That’s a little bit of a different idea, a controversial idea. But the question is—do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home? There’s just certain kids we should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful.” CPSAN via Breitbart. Click the link if the video doesn't play correctly. Still looking for video of him roaring like a lion if you see it let me know. 

Morning Video: Maryland 6th Grader Didn't Mean To Be Rude To Obama

"I didn’t mean to cut him off,” said Bennett Middle School student Osman Yahya, 12, in a telephone interview with POLITICO.  "I was just nudging him to get on." (POLITICO)


Quotes: Patty Murray's Remarkable Negotiating Skills (Are They Enough?)

Quotes2[Compromise] doesn’t mean that you come in here and say, ‘Lamar, I’ll do whatever you say. I want a bill out of here and you write it and I compromised because I’m with you... That’s not compromise from either side.-- US Senator Patty Murray in TNR (Patty Murray's Negotiating Skill Has Made Her the Democratic Dealmaker)

Thompson: A White Suburban Dad Named Arne Duncan Needs Out

New York  Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch says that "it’s been well over a year since I’ve had someone talk to me about instruction and curriculum. Everyone has talked to me about evaluations."

Well duh!

We are in the middle of a wonderful democratic moment as the Opt Out movement is poised to kill the high stakes testing vampire. And, even Tisch ridicules the idea that the test, sort, and punish school of reform can be saved by punishing parents who are standing up for their children. She says, “I would say to everyone who wants to punish the school districts ... Really, are you kidding me?”

But, Arne Duncan has even surpassed his previous political blunder of dismissing the concerns of "white suburban moms" whose kids might not be as brilliant as they think. He again demonstrates political sensitivity comparable to that of Southpark's Eric Cartman. As Chalkbeat's Patrick Wall reports, in As Opt Out Numbers Grow, Arne Duncan Says Feds May Have to Step In, Duncan now threatens to punish low-income schools in states which fail to hit participation rate targets.

The Education Czar demands, "Respect My Authorit-iii!"

Even better, Duncan reveals his lack of education judgment by asserting that his children aren't being injured by punitive testing mandates. After all, testing hasn't sucked all of the oxygen out of elite schools. Whether Duncan knows it or not, its under-the-gun, high-challenge schools that face the most pressure to impose drill and kill. He remains clueless about the inevitable ways that the toxicity dumped on teachers and administrators flows down onto the kids.

Duncan, the white suburban father, knows best. He, not moms and students, should decide how much of the joy of learning should be sacrificed in the name of bubble-in accountability.

Duncan's gaff is the best news since the announcement that 185,000 New York students have already opted out. He has just thrown more gasoline on the irreversible fire that is spreading through states that first adopted his extreme version of test-driven  accountability.

Continue reading "Thompson: A White Suburban Dad Named Arne Duncan Needs Out" »

Quotes: Three Reasons Early Education Could Join Education Opponents (But Probably Won't)

Quotes2K-12 education is an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.

- NYT columnist Nick Kristof (Beyond Education Wars)

Quotes: Duncan Laments Lack Of Urgency From Parents & Others

Quotes2What we don’t have is enough parents beating down our door saying ‘go faster...You never have critique saying ‘do more.’ The critique is always ‘slow down, slow down...’
- EdSec Arne Duncan via EdSurge News (What Education Writers Are Reporting On)

Morning Video: Arne Duncan's Impenetrable Wall Of Talking Points

Last week, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tried valiantly to get past EdSec Duncan's talking points (Why is Common Core so controversial?) Curmudgucation tears it apart here. At least Duncan now limits his "race-to-the-bottom" claims about NCLB to 20 states.

Already seen it? Watch this Engadget blog post about a new video game, No Pineapple Left Behind. ("You're a principal lording over pineapples, making sure they do amazingly well on standardized tests because that's what begets more funding for your school...")

Selfies: Oh No, Duncan's Mastered The Selfie Stick

Quotes: Why NCLB Can't Just Give States/Schools The Money

Quotes2The worry is that if you leave it to the states, they will drop the ball, as they did in the past.

-- HGSE professor Martin West (Schools Wait to See What Becomes of No Child Left Behind Law)

#EdGif Of The Day: Duncan Slow Walks Through Chicago Testing Protesters

OK, technically it's a Vine (with sound!) not a GIF, but who cares? The Chicago Tribune's Juan Perez saw fit to highlight a few seconds of Duncan's forced walk through anti-testing protesters in Chicago the other day. The moment took place because Duncan car ended up in a dead-end alley -- some poor driver or advance staffer got in trouble for this (or should have).  

Read Sun-Times for additional coverage. The EdSec claims that the USDE didn't force Chicago to administer PARCC, and Mayor Rahm is saying that it was the state (not Washington). Hmm. Read more Tribune for how the rollout's going so far.

Quotes: Both Sides Have "Lost Their Minds" On Annual Testing

Quotes2On one side, you have a group of reformers who say that getting rid of federal mandates for annual testing would be apocalyptic, and that’s crazy.... On the other side, you have people who think that getting rid of it would lead to utopia. I think both sides have lost their minds on this. -- Author and Emerson Fellow Amanda Ripley in the Washington Post (Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing)

Listen: President Obama Tells Teen He Has "This Strength" Inside Himself



As you might have heard on NPR this morning, President Obama and a teen named Noah McQueen did a StoryCorps interview.  


Obama Weekly Address: Republicans Want to Gut Education Spending | Video | RealClearPolitics

ICYMI: Here's President Obama's speech on education spending  from over the weekend (via RealClear Politics). Click the link for a transcript.

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

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

USDE: Illinois Could Lose $1.2B In Funding Over Chicago Refusal

Image 1Here's the letter from the USDE to Illinois about Chicago's refusal to administer the Common Core assessment this spring, dug up just yesterday by Crain's Chicago's Greg Hinz.

According to Hinz, "Politically, the problem is that, given national wrangling over school standards, Duncan cannot be seen as being easy on Chicago, said one source close to the center of the flap. That doesn't mean Illinois would lose all of the money, but a sizable hit is likely." 

I'm not sure that's how it's going to happen but it' certainly interesting to see what the USDE is saying and how ISBE is playing things.

There was a Board meeting for CPS yesterday but I haven't seen any indication that the district is backing off its decision not to give the tests.

There's a mayoral election in a few weeks, which is likely heading for a runoff, according to the latest polls.  Yes, a runoff for Rahm. Chicago schools are in an estimated $1 billion hole, budget-wise -- not counting pension obligations. 

Full letter below, via Crain's. 

Continue reading "USDE: Illinois Could Lose $1.2B In Funding Over Chicago Refusal" »

AM News: Thirty States Plus DC To Give Common Core Assessment This Spring

What happens when the Common Core becomes less ... common? Washington Post: Now only 12 states plus the District plan to give the PARCC exam to students, according to the Council of State School Officers, an organization of state education chiefs. Smarter Balanced has seen less attrition, but just 18 states plan to give that test this spring. 

Kasich Calls Out Conservatives Who Oppose Common Core HuffPost: Kasich dismissed criticisms of the standards from those like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who argue that the guidelines will lead the federal government to have more control of the education system in the United States.

Mississippi House passes bill that keeps Common Core but changes name Hechinger Report: Mississippi legislators passed with wide support a bill Thursday that proponents say will give the state more control over public education standards but even they admit it would have no effect on what schools currently teach.

It’s Cuomo Versus The Teachers Union WNYC: In his State of the State address, the Governor proposed big education changes this week - and took aim at the teachers union. See also WNYC.

Biden touts community college proposal, healthcare during L.A. visit LA Times: Vice President Joe Biden visited several Los Angeles sites on Friday to tout and gather support for two of the White House's signature initiatives: a plan to make the first two years of community college free and the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Once Had Universal Child Care, But Rebuilding It Won't Be Easy NPR: In his State of the Union address, President Obama referenced a little-remembered, WWII-era federal child care program, holding it up as an example he hopes to emulate with expanded federal subsidies.

To Improve School Discipline, Change Teacher Behavior Slate: Various programs have cropped up to support the effort. A local partnership called All-In! places therapists and special-education specialists in elementary classrooms, helping teachers identify and address trauma-induced behavior and emotional problems that they might otherwise dismiss as mere misbehavior. Seneca Family of Agencies, a California child welfare organization, is expanding the approach to five Oakland and two San Francisco schools using a $3 million grant from a U.S. Department of Education innovation fund.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Thirty States Plus DC To Give Common Core Assessment This Spring" »

AM News: Obama Speech To Include Student Privacy, Safety, & Free College Tonight

Obama to propose new student privacy legislation Washington Post: President Obama is planning to propose new federal legislation to safeguard student privacy, a move that comes as new classroom technologies gather sensitive personal information about children in order to deliver personalized lessons,

Englewood boy who asked Santa for safety invited to attend State of the Union address WLS-TV: The seventh grader was one of about 8,500 Chicago Public Schools students who wrote letters to Santa. 

How Will Education Play in the State of the Union Address? PK12:Proposals on both ends of the education spectrum—early and higher—were part of a big tax package unveiled by the White House this weekend, from which K-12 policy was (almost) absent. This seems to be a trend for the president, who has focused the education remarks in his last three addresses to college on either higher education (popular with young voters and their middle-aged parents) and early ed. (popular with just about everybody), while steering clear of K-12 (a politically stickier issue these days). 

Do students take too many tests? Congress to weigh question PBS NewsHour/AP: Preliminary research by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts, found that students take an average of 113 standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. It said testing time for 11th graders was as high as 27 days, or 15 percent of the school year, in one district and that didn’t count Advanced Placement, career and technical education course and college entrance exams.

Arizona civics group targets California after winning test for high school graduation KPCC LA: “We hope to get out to California maybe in the next year or two and start working with citizens, legislators, teachers there, and see if we can’t make this happen in California as well,” said Sam Stone, Civics Education Initiative executive director, on Friday.


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

Continue reading "AM News: Obama Speech To Include Student Privacy, Safety, & Free College Tonight" »

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" »

Quotes: Reform Crowd Getting Played On "Annual Testing"

Quotes2The more freaked out the “education-reform crowd” is about annual testing, and the more singularly they stay focused on “annual testing” to the exclusion of what are equally important issues, the easier it is for Kline and Alexander to take everything else off the table. - December blog post from DFER's Charles Barone (Annual Testing in ESEA Reauthorization: A Red Herring?)



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.