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Quotes: Duncan On Lowly Teacher Prep Programs

Quotes2If teaching is - and should be - one of our most revered professions, teacher preparation programs should be among a university's most important responsibilities. Unfortunately, this is the exception, not the rule. --  USDE Secretary Arne Duncan via USA Today

Quotes: Duncan Does Dunbar

Quotes2On a gusty, rainy, recent afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat on stage next to two students, an administrator and a teacher, at the head of a big blue auditorium that smelled faintly... - HuffPost's Joy Resmovits describing a recent Career Tech event.

Morning Video: First Lady Recounts Doubtful Teachers

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

First lady recalls teachers doubting her Princeton ambitions NBC News.  See also First Lady Takes Up a New Education Initiative NYT and First lady kicks off education advocacy efforts Washington Post.

#EdGIF of the Day: President Obama Has A Question

image from tinyurl.com
I don't remember where this is from or who made it but thanks! It's one of my favorite #edgifs out there.  What does a teacher do when the President of the United States raises his hand to ask a question?  What's the President asking? Solve the mystery or imagine a caption.

AM News: LAUSD Superintendent Might Stay - Or Not


Momentum builds for retaining Deasy as LAUSD chief LA Daily News: As civic groups mobilized in support of Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy, board member Steve Zimmer expressed optimism Monday that the embattled schools chief can be persuaded to stay on as head of the nation's second-largest district.

Los Angeles Schools Leadership Questioned WSJ: The Los Angeles Unified School District is slated to meet Tuesday to discuss whether to renew its superintendent’s contract—a decision that could change the leadership of the nation’s second-largest school system.

Zimmer: LA Unified Board Wants Deasy to Stay LA School Report: In anticipation of what’s sure to be a long and dramatic school board meeting tomorrow, LA Unified board member Steve Zimmer says he’s optimistic that the board can convince Superintendent John Deasy not to resign as head of the nation’s second largest school district.

L.A. schools improved, but Deasy fell short of ambitious goals LA Times: Supt. John Deasy, whose annual review will be conducted Tuesday, failed to meet many goals he set for himself. Even so, school board members and civic leaders cite long-term gains. 

LAUSD needs Deasy LA Times (editorial page): We don't always agree with him, but the superintendent has excelled in a difficult position.There are so many dramas and mini-disasters at the Los Angeles Unified School District, they have to take a number and line up for attention.

Texas No Child Left Behind waiver means concessions to feds Politico: Critics often tie No Child Left Behind waivers to the Common Core and equate them with operating in the pocket of the federal government. Some say Texas crushed that theory. Others say the state's recently won waiver reinforced it.

New Jersey School District Cancels Testing After Exams Are Leaked on the Internet NYT: The breach of test security in the Montclair, N.J., school district was discovered by a parent on Friday, leading to a “full legal investigation.”

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Superintendent Might Stay - Or Not" »

Morning Video: Obama's Brooklyn High School Visit

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

Via MSNBC: "In a speech at a specialized high school in Brooklyn President Obama talks about the importance of education and takes aim at those in congress who he says started the government shutdown."

AM News: Obama Visit Highlights Dual Enrollment, Co-Location

News2Obama's P-Tech Visit Highlights New York School Closure Fights HuffPost: P-Tech's history isn't stopping closure critics, like de Blasio and United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, from planning Friday appearances at the school for Obama's visit.

Six-Year High School Answer for Tomorrow's Workers? WNYC: Students at the school earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree over six years. The Obama administration says efforts like P-Tech will prepare the next generation of tech workers for jobs at companies like IBM, which sponsors the school. 

Education Secretary Duncan, Gov. Quinn get nanotechnology lesson from ...
Skokie Review: Secretary Arne Duncan visited District 214's Wheeling High School for more than two hours, touring the school's cutting-edge nanotechnology laboratory with Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, R-10th, and several other local leaders.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy may leave in coming months LA Times: Deasy declined to discuss his intentions Thursday evening, saying that he has not submitted a letter of resignation and that he would have more to say after his job evaluation Tuesday.

Study: Eighth-graders in more than half of US states better than average in ... Washington Post: Eighth-graders in more than half the U.S. states did better than average on an international test in math and science, but the top students lagged behind South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, according to a study released by the federal government Thursday.

Location matters for math and science scores AP: Massachusetts was the top performing state, but it still lagged behind some Asian countries in terms of its students’ overall score on exams and the number of high achievers. Mississippi, Alabama and the District of Columbia students scored below the international average on both exams,

Minnesota takes hands off approach to test cheating MPRN via Hechinger: School district officials must discover test security problems, such as cheating by students or teachers, and report them to the state. Districts typically ask that compromised tests be invalidated. When that occurs,  in most cases, the state’s only requirement is that district officials prove they trained teachers to properly give tests.

Continue reading "AM News: Obama Visit Highlights Dual Enrollment, Co-Location" »

Events: Obama Visiting Brooklyn High School

image from upload.wikimedia.orgSo President Obama is scheduled to visit Brooklyn's P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) high school in Crown Heights on Friday, and already the locals are complaining.  

First there were all the helicopters flying around overhead on Wednesday.  We're trying to enjoy the leaves down here!

Then came news that beloved Prospect Park -- Brooklyn's Central Park -- would be closed for six hours Friday afternoon.  Six hours!

But it's only about six minutes by bike from my Prospect Heights lair and so I've put in for credentials and will let you know if it all works out.

Image via Wikipedia

AM News: NEA Opposes House-Passed Background Check Bill


U.S. House Approves Bipartisan Background Check Bill Politics K12: Mary Kusler, the NEA's director of government relations, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the measure is "well intentioned" but could "run counter to existing state laws requiring background checks."

Senator Raises Questions About Protecting Student Data NYT: Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is investigating whether federal rules governing the sharing of student data provide adequate security and privacy protections.

Local Education Hiring is Up, Even With Sequestration Cuts PoliticsK12: Local government education employment posted a monthly increase of 9,500 jobs, according to the September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That brought the overall gain to 56,400 jobs since June.

Common Core Reading Survey Shows Slow Start To Teaching Shift HuffPost: Based on an extensive survey of a small but nationally representative sample of teachers last year, the group suggests that teachers mostly have not yet overhauled reading instruction in a way that will herald change. "In summary, these results reveal that many teachers have not yet confronted the new text complexity demands of the Common Core," the report concludes.  [ALSO: Teachers Are Supposed to Assign Harder Books, but They Aren't Doing It Yet AtlanticEDU]

Teacher Who Died Trying To End Shooting Remembered As A Hero NPR: Michael Landsberry was a 45-year-old former U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan with the Nevada Air National Guard.

Nevada School Shooting Draws Fresh Focus on Bullying, Harassment State EdWatch: A new law in Nevada requiring school districts to track and report incidents of bullying could be put to use after a school shooting on Oct. 21.

Continue reading "AM News: NEA Opposes House-Passed Background Check Bill" »

AM News: Toughen Up NCLB Waiver Renewals, Say Reform Groups


Advocacy Groups Urge Arne Duncan to Get Tough on NCLB Waivers PoliticsK12: In a letter sent to the Education Department today, these groups express deep concerns about waiver implementation, from how graduation rates are factored into state accountability systems to how subgroups of at-risk students are being helped.

School iPads to cost nearly $100 more each, revised budget shows LA Times: The L.A. Unified School District will spend $770 per iPad, a 14% increase over earlier cost estimates, the revised budget shows.

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K NYT: A Stanford psychologist found that affluent children had learned 30 percent more words from 18 months to 2 years of age than children from low-income homes. Video: Middle schooler: Shooter was aiming 'at my chest' NBC: Sparks Middle School shooting survivor Jose Cazares describes the scene inside the school Monday when teacher Michael Landsberry got between him and the 12-year old shooter. 

Sequestration Cuts Lead To Bigger Classes, Shuttered Arts Programs In Schools HuffPost: For the current school year, the group heard back from 298 school districts in 42 states. Eighty-six percent factored sequestration cuts into budgets -- up from 36 last year -- and 144 reported they deferred building maintenance or purchases. Eight closed or consolidated schools.

West Point Women: A Natural Pattern Or A Camouflage Ceiling? NPR: Since 1980, the percentage of women at the U.S. Military Academy has stayed the same, leading some to conclude that the school has set an artificial cap on the number of female cadets that it accepts. Now, West Point has been told it must raise those numbers to meet the demand for more female leaders.

Crash Course on Speaking in Tongues, All 22 of Them NYT: A workshop in Brooklyn was held over three hours, in seven classrooms, featuring classes on nearly two dozen languages taught mostly by native speakers.

For many young D.C. parents, city schools remain a sticking point Washington Post: Public school enrollment in the District has risen nearly 18 percent over the past five years, mostly in the early grades and charter schools, as an increasing number of parents have been persuaded to give D.C. schools a try. 

Study: 15 percent of US youth out of school, work Associated Press: Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday. That's almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visiting Wheeling Thursday Chicago Daily Herald
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit with students at Wheeling High School on Thursday to discuss the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and tour the school's new nano technology laboratory, ...

Crenshaw Digital Team Brings its ‘Game’ to the White House LA School Report: The team, which is sponsored by the grassroots education nonprofit Mother of Many, raised nearly $10,000 for the trip by selling more than 50 gaming apps to Microsoft as part of the company’s “Keep the Cash” app-a-thon. One of the games, “Going Bananas for Health,” is now available on the Windows 8 App Store.

Teaching: Hechinger & Ed Writers Cover Common Core

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 16 11.20

Here's an idea: Spend the rest of the day reading @hechinger and @edwriters massive new coverage of Common Core implementation across the states here -- then come back and let us know what you learned or liked best.

GIFS: Mesmerizing Arne Duncan White House Briefing Gestures

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Here's a GIF I made of Arne Duncan at the White House. Anything else you think would make a good education GIF? Let me know in comments or at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com. 

Media: How To Find Arne During The Shutdown? Tweet At Him.

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Education reporters are wondering how to reach EdSec Arne Duncan during the government shutdown, when theoretically nonessential government workers aren't working.  One suggestion?  Tweet at him.  It worked for the NY Daily News' Ben Chapman last week (see above). Or, you could just try reaching his communications staff. That apparently works, too.  Via @edwriters listserv and specifically the WSJ's @lisafleisher.

Morning Video: Duncan's "State Of Education" Speech


Here's the speech from earlier this week, which Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post describes as unusual. I found her observations as interesting as anything Duncan said.

Quotes: The USDE's FY2013 Furniture Spending Spree

Quotes2Of the $667,164 the department spent on office furniture during the 2013 fiscal year, more than $475,000 was spent just last week. -- via Politico 

AM News: Here Come District Race To The Top Amendments


Race to the Top District Winners Already Changing Their Plans PoliticsK12: Already, the Education Department has approved eight amendments ranging from technical to more-significant as the districts seek to fine-tune their projects. If the Race to the Top state contest is any guide, there are many more district amendment requests surely in the pipeline.

Howard County Board of Education react to Ellicott City man's arrest at Common Core forum Baltimore Sun: In Howard County, where the new curriculum was given a test run last year, the Common Core has been the reason cited for removing traditional, stand-alone reading classes in middle schools, lower scores on the Maryland School Assessments and a new teacher and principal evaluation system.

Houston reforms, often overshadowed, now in the limelight with Broad Prize Hechinger: Houston has long been a darling of education reformers with its extensive and deeply rooted charter school network and experimentation with controversial ideas like merit pay for teachers. Still, the city’s efforts to shake up its education system tend to get less notice than places like New Orleans or Washington, D.C., where reforms have led to heated and sometimes vitriolic debates about the role of teachers unions, charter schools and accountability for teachers. 

How to Fund Universal Pre-K WNYC: While there is a huge demand for full-day pre-kindergarten seats, there are plenty of half-day seats unfilled. Why? Geoff Decker, a reporter at GothamSchools, said the half-day schedule doesn't work for most working parents.

From China to Chicago, K12 Inc. markets more than virtual schools Politico: K12 doesn’t break down how many of the 4,500 students enrolled in the International Academy last year were foreign nationals (or how many attended just part-time). But the company says it has significant enrollment from China, Mexico, Brazil and Dubai, where K12 runs a tutoring center at a university complex so students can get face-to-face help, for an extra fee.

Continue reading "AM News: Here Come District Race To The Top Amendments" »

Reform: Why's Everyone So Angry About ObamaCore?

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Thanks to everyone who's been reading (& retweeting) my Slate explainer about the Common Core controversy, which got it (momentarily) onto the front page.  Read it here if you haven't already -- tell me what I left out or got wrong. 

Afternoon Video: Lousiana Gov. Slams Obama Voucher Decision

Is he talking about the USDOJ voucher position or about Common Core?  It's har d to tell (via HuffPost: Louisiana Voucher Lawsuit Opposition Aligns Minority Families With Republican Politicians)

Photos: Mayor Duncan?

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Sure, Arne Duncan has been spending a lot of time lately in the Big Apple (nobody calls it that), but now he's being confused with Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio (upper right, I think). Image via NY Mag (via GS).

Thompson: Tennessee's Rushed Implementation of "Race"

RaceToTheTopElaine Weiss, of the Broader, Bolder Approach, has written an early draft of the history of the Race to the Top.  Her Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Education Improvement recounts the “unrealistic and impossible” promises made by states to win federal grants, and how they are likely to undermine future efforts to improve schools.

Anyone who doubts Weiss’ warnings about the RttT should turn immediately to Appendix Two, a case study on Tennessee’s implementation of the grant, and how it created “a culture of fear.”    

After winning its RttT grant in March, 2110, Tennessee authorized a capacity review of its department of education which concluded that “the organization and the work wasn’t organized in a way that supported implementation.”  

Within four months, however, Tennessee leaped ahead and committed to Common Core standards. Despite anticipating a decline of as much as 50 points on average per grade and subject, state still insisted, “We believe our ultimate goal of 100% proficiency is still the right one—no matter whether the assessment is old or new.” 

The rush to reform accelerated in 2011 when Tennessee tackled the heart of the RttT, its teacher evaluation promises.  Only three months had been allocated for formulating teacher observation tools and training evaluators in their use. A four-day summer session trained over 5,000 evaluators.

Continue reading "Thompson: Tennessee's Rushed Implementation of "Race"" »

Teachers: New Evaluation Quadruples Failing Chicago Teachers

Cps_posterCCLedsimulationBehind all the drama and cussing of the last couple of years, Chicago and its teachers union have developed and now rolled out a new teacher evaluation system to replace the quickie checklist that had been used for years -- largely without complaint.

According to the latest reports, the implementation has gone OK:  

Teachers are confused and worried about being rated in part (25 percent) based on student growth.  

Principals are complaining about having to spend more time evaluating teachers than they used to.

The percentage of nontenured teachers found to be the worst has quadrupled -- to three percent.

EdWeek: Chicago Teachers See Value in New Evaluations, But Eschew Test Scores; Catalyst: New teacher evaluations get positive reviews; Chicago Tribune: No dramatic changes in CPS teacher evaluations; Chicago Sun-Times: Mixed reviews from CEO, principals, teachers

Morning Video: Duncan Returns To Colbert Report

The Colbert Report
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Society: Julie Chen, Miss America, & Michelle Rhee

image from a.abcnews.com
The recent discussions about TV personality Julie Chen's plastic surgery (see above, "required" by her agent, she says), combined with the racist tweets following the crowning of a nonwhite Miss America, reminds me sadly of the racism and sexism that I have seen, read, and sometimes sensed underneath criticisms of education's most prominent Asian-American woman, StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee.

A look back at some of the attacks on Rhee suggests that there has been a small but consistent pattern of critics describing Rhee in racist and -- even more commonly -- sexist language.  The fact that this kind of thing is happening is pretty unsettling, whether you agree with Rhee or not.  The fact that it's going un-noticed and un-challenged is even more disturbing. 

image from img.allvoices.comAt times, the racism and/or sexism comes right to the surface.  Most well known perhaps is the time last year when Rhee was called a racist epithet by Miami-Dade educator Ceresta Smith at an anti-reform meeting, as acknowledged and denounced in this Diane Ravitch blog post.

But that certainly wasn't the first time Rhee was described in racist or sexist terms by her critics. The Frustrated Teacher described her using a misogynistic (but not explicitly racist) term, and she was described in sexist terms by DC Mayor Marion Barry. Former MA AFT writer Jennifer (Edushyster) Berkshire used the same sexist slur against Rhee last year. A Daily Kos blogger suggested that Rhee was attempting to "seduce" an HBO host.

Then there are the images.  The AFT-created anti-Rhee blog Rhee First for a time had images of Rhee with her mouth taped shut and with a long Pinnochio nose.  All Voices has a cartoon of Rhee that might be considered offensive, depending on the viewer's sensibilities (see at right).

But most of the time the racism and/or sexism I sense is beneath the surface. The intense personal nature of the attacks against Rhee and her ideas is clear.  Most of Rhee's harshest critics are white, as are those journalists who write about her.  

Of course, accusations of racism are nothing new, and go both ways. Rhee has described some of the coverage of her reign in DC as racist, according to John Merrow, and addresses the media focus on her dress and appearance in a brief AOL video segment here.  She and her policies have been accused of being racist against low-income minority families. No doubt, Rhee says and does some pretty intense things.  (Her recent attack on California's teachers unions is a good example.)

School reform is not show business. I'm not suggesting Rhee needs to change her appearance to make herself more palatable to others, or that her critics are all necessarily racists.  But the same kinds of language are not generally being used publicly & without apology against reform critics (Diane Ravitch, Randi Weingarten, etc.) or even white/male reformers (Wendy Kopp, Arne Duncan, etc.).  And I think we should all think about that. 

Thompson: How "Race To The Top" Went Wrong

Broader_bolderOne of the more damaging aspects of NCLB was that it set impossible targets, contributing to panic and hurried implementation of seemingly quicker and easier policies.  Teachers were essentially deputized as the agents for overcoming the legacies of generational poverty.  NCLB thus failed and undermined more promising methods of improving schools.

Elaine Weiss, of the Broader, Bolder Approach, shows how Race to the Top committed the same mistake.  Her new report (Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Education Improvement) recounts the “unrealistic and impossible” promises made by states to win federal grants.

Weiss draws on studies by the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for American Progress, numerous journalism sources, an email survey of the experiences of district superintendents from the RTTT states, and over two dozen interviews with state and community education leaders to explain why the rush to reform now threatens early education, college readiness standards, and sustainable efforts to improve teacher quality. 

Not surprisingly, the USDOE and NCLB co-author  Charlie Barone complain about Weiss’ study.  But, if it was as biased as Barone implies, would Weiss have buried her lede?  The real meat of her report is found in the appendices.  

Continue reading "Thompson: How "Race To The Top" Went Wrong" »

AM News: Reform Critics Slam Race To The Top

News2Race To The Top Competition Deemed 'Impossible' In New Report Huffington Post: The 100-page report, released Thursday, argues that policies should tackle the effects of poverty while simultaneously making schools better. By not targeting out-of-school factors like nutrition and parental income, the report says, and by focusing on teacher evaluation systems that often result in harsh consequences without much useful feedback, Race to the Top goals are severely mismatched with its policies.'

Race to the Top’ for education a flop, report finds Politico: Most winning states made what the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education labeled “unrealistic and impossible” promises to boost student achievement in exchange for prizes that were ultimately paltry in comparison with their pledges.

MOOCs keep getting bigger. But do they work? Hechinger/TIME: Hailed by politicians and journalists as the affordable future of higher education, the MOOC is neither fashion accessory nor smartphone app. It’s a massive open online course—a college class available for free online to tens of thousands of people at once.

California Moves to Scrap ‘No Child’ Testing, Despite U.S. Threat WSJ: California lawmakers approved a bill that would scrap the state’s current student-testing program, despite an Obama administration threat to pull federal dollars from the state if the legislation becomes law. The bill—which California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign—would immediately end the annual California Standards Tests in reading and math.

Continue reading "AM News: Reform Critics Slam Race To The Top" »

Update: Belated City Hall-Union Truce In Chicago?

Lewis and emanuelOn the one-year anniversary of the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, it has been revealed that Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) and CTU President Karen Lewis (left) are attempting to get back in touch.  It's also being reported that Lewis was ill:

Year after strike, mayor offers CTU president olive branch Sun Times: The seven-day strike by Chicago Public School teachers that was the city’s first in 25 years marked its one-year anniversary on Tuesday. The mayor who helped to instigate it apparently wants to make certain it doesn’t happen again.
Rahm's Been Reaching Out to Karen Lewis NBC Chicago: The Chicago Teacher's Union president talked with Mary Ann Ahern on the one year anniversary of the Chicago Teacher's Strike and said that Mayor Emanuel has been reaching out to get their relationship back on track. They haven't spoken in two years.
Rahm Defends School Closings, Says He Admires, Supports Teachers DNAI: Mayor Rahm Emanuel said first-day attendance wasn't the true test of "consolidated" schools.
Lewis also makes an appearance in Motoko Rich's NYT profile of Diane Ravitch:  “About two or three years ago people were feeling, 'Oh, my God, these people are taking over and there's nothing we can do,' ” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. (Loud Voice Fighting Tide of New Trend in Education)

Opinions still diverge over which side "won" the seven-day strike.  (I've heard more than one inside observer note that neither side won -- they both lost.) The school year started last week, just in time for a heat wave, and the budget and pension situations remain unresolved. Read all about it at District299.com

Image courtesy Sun Times.

AM News: USDE Nixes NYC Charter Schools' Diversity Effort


Facing federal funding freeze, Success to nix lottery preference GothamSchools: The charter school network is making the revision under pressure from the U.S. Department of Education, which has mandated the change as a condition to continue receiving $15 million in grants aimed at helping Success expand its reach.

Rhee Joining Town Hall Meeting with Teachers in LA LA School Report: A panel of education reformers, including StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee, is holding a town hall meeting later today in Los Angeles, where they will take...

Seattle Teachers Approve Contract, Avert Strike TeacherBeat: With a show of hands last night, Seattle teachers voted to approve a new two-year contract, ending the possibility of a strike and ensuring that students returned to school on time today.

Family income not a factor as students eat free AP: Some students toted lunchboxes to the first day of school in Boston this week, but district administrators are expecting that could become a more unusual sight as parents learn about a federal program that is now providing all public school students in the city with free breakfast and lunch....

Continue reading "AM News: USDE Nixes NYC Charter Schools' Diversity Effort" »

Events: Education Nation 4.0

Foursecretariesatednation2012So NBC News is doing another Education Nation national summit again this year -- but it's in October now, and seems smaller and different from earlier versions (or maybe it just seems that way since I haven't been paying attention):

"This year’s Summit will include the second annual Student Town Hall, in addition to the fourth annual Teacher Town Hall. All events will be moderated by top NBC News journalists, including “NBC Nightly News” Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams, NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw and NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis."

It's the fouth time they're doing it.  That's four Education Secretaries discussing reform at the 2012 event. Recap of the first three years is here. Press release is below.  Sign up by September 12 if you want to get in. Special prize for predicting more than 5 panel topics/presenters (like Amanda Ripley).

Continue reading "Events: Education Nation 4.0 " »

Quotes: President Clinton Defends Common Core

Quotes2We cannot be disheartened by the forces of resistance to building a modern economy of good jobs and rising incomes, or to rebuilding our education system to give all our children a common core of knowledge necessary to ensure success... - Former President Bill Clinton, via USA Today's Greg Toppo

Thompson: Who Are "They" Asks PBS's John Merrow?

StopAt the end of his two-part PBS report on Common Core last week, John Merrow asks the $64,000 question: who are "they?"

Merrow starts by showing the type of classroom interactions that most teachers aspire to, as a Common Core teacher interacts with students in multimedia, multidisciplinary ways to encourage critical thinking, problem solving, good listening skills, speaking skills, and collaboration.  So, there must be "reformers" who watch the segment and ask the question about educators who oppose Common Core - why are "they" resisting us?  

But, Merrow and Barbara Kapinus, of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium agree that they have not been able to devise tests that assess everything that was intended.  Unless "they" - policy makers - stop mistrusting teachers, the tests are likely to be misused.  Since "they" intend to use Common Core for accountability, teachers are likely to be too scared to teach its standards properly.  They will revert to teach-to-the-test basic skills instruction.

The interview with Kapinus raises an intriguing question question as to whether there is no single "they" who support the idea that we need a test worth teaching to.  Did "they" - Education Secretary  Arne Duncan and the governors  - not understand what they - the testing experts - know about the problems inherent in adding stakes to tests. 

Did the experts not know what "they" - the accountability hawks - do not know about standards, teaching, and assessments? If "they" - the big boys who impose one "reform" on teachers after another - understood schools, teaching and learning, would they have have understood the inherent contradiction between higher standards and a test worth teaching with?-JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

AM News: NCLB Waivers Hurt Tutoring - & At-Risk Students

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Study: Waivers leave behind at-risk students AP: Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates released Tuesday.

No Child Left Behind waivers are causing the private tutoring industry to implode Deseret News: Education Week's analysis showed that among states that have received NCLB waivers, very few included supplemental education — after-school tutoring — in their waiver plans.

Arne Duncan Wants Special Education Students To Take General Exams Huffington Post: Should students with disabilities be held to the same academic standards as their peers? And should schools and teachers be held accountable for their progress? U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan answered that question with a resounding yes, proposing a seemingly wonky regulatory change that could have profound effects on some of the nation's most vulnerable learners.

At Charter Schools, Short Careers by Choice NYT: Charter networks are developing what amounts to a youth movement in which teaching for two to five years is seen as acceptable, even desirable.

Biggest Changes in a Decade Greet Students Wall Street Journal: Millions of students heading back to school are finding significant changes in the curriculum and battles over how teachers are evaluated, as the biggest revamps of U.S. public education in a decade work their way into classrooms. Most states are implementing tougher math and reading standards known as Common Core, while teacher evaluations increasingly are [...]

Breaking Down the Newark Teacher Raises WSJ: Last week, 190 Newark public-school teachers learned they’d be getting bonuses in a controversial merit-pay program funded by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg‘s foundation. Not all of Newark’s 3,200 teachers were eligible to begin with, and even fewer – only 11 teachers – qualified for the full bonus amount of $12,500. 

Former Sec. Of Education Wants More Support For Teachers NPR: Education has been called the top civil rights issue of the 21st century. Host Michel Martin asks former U.S. Secretary of Education of Education Rod Paige about whether the nation is winning the battle for equality in schools.

Continue reading "AM News: NCLB Waivers Hurt Tutoring - & At-Risk Students" »

Morning Video: Obama Lays Out College Costs/Ranking Proposal


Here via PBS NewsHour is the President laying out the plan late last week. Reactions have been mixed.

Hot Seat Interview: The "Anti-Reform" Supe Who Favors Common Core & Assessments

image from www.scholastic.comHere's my latest Scholastic Administrator interview, with Montgomery County's Joshua Starr.

Critical of several aspects of the reform movement and the Obama administration's education agenda, Starr nonetheless supports the Common Core and the use of standardized assessments.

Click below for some interview highlights, or click here for the full thing.

Up next later this year: the College Board's David Coleman.

Continue reading "Hot Seat Interview: The "Anti-Reform" Supe Who Favors Common Core & Assessments" »

Morning Video: New Standards Require New Tests


An overview of the new Common Core assessment development process from the PBS NewsHour earlier this week.

Afternoon Video: Common Core Hits The Classroom

Watch Public School Students on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night. Part 2 is tonight.

AM News: Districts Cutting PD During Key School Year

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Sequestration Effects: 59 Percent of Districts Cut Professional Development PoliticsK12: Districts are dealing withautomatic, across-the-board trigger cuts of federal education funding by slicing professional development (59 percent of districts), eliminating personnel (53 percent), increasing class size (48 percent), and deferring technology purchases (46 percent).

Obama pushes ambitious Internet access plan Washington Post: There’s just one catch: The effort would cost billions of dollars, and Obama wants to pay for it by raising fees for mobile-phone users. Doing that relies on the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency that has the power to approve or reject the plan.

Charter partnership gives L.A. Unified school new name and outlook LA Times: In an unprecedented partnership, the L.A. Unified School District has joined forces with Crown Prep, an outside charter operator, to run the persistently low-performing campus south of downtown.

Top Obama Higher Education Official, Resigns Huffington Post: Her departure thins out the ranks of the Education Department's first-term upper echelons. Until recently, the department lacked heads for its preschool and civil rights offices, and a general counsel. The department has "acting" leaders in charge of "innovation and improvement," "planning, evaluation and policy development" and communications.

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AM News: More States Prepare For Lower Test Score Results

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Get ready for 'disappointment,' political spin with new school-test results Minn Post:  Depending on who is doing the talking, the tests are either the beginning of a new, more rational era, the beginning of the end or Waterloo for fed-up teachers.

NC schools chief June Atkinson says test scores will drop this year NewsObserver: Last week, the state Department of Public Instruction announced that the four-year graduation rate reached a record high 82.5 percent this year. But expect more sobering news this fall, Atkinson said, when DPI releases the results of English/language arts and math tests based on new Common Core standards. via GS.

Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to Head Start Cuts Bloomberg:  A U.S. preschool program for low-income families allowed single mother Kelly Burford to take a $7.25-an-hour job as a department store clerk in Maryland. Her son, Bradyn, 2, spent the day with friends listening to stories, singing and drawing pictures -- at no cost to Burford. via Politico.

Obama administration presses forward on early education Politico: President Barack Obama has found a way to cater to his obsession with pre-K programs while the rest of his education agenda stalls: Skip Congress and spend the money anyway.

Philadelphia Schools Should Remain Closed Until Fully Funded, Some Parents Say HuffPost: Philadelphia's Superintendent William Hite said Thursday if he doesn't get an additional $50 million by Aug. 16, the city's beleaguered 218 public schools will be unable to open their doors on schedule on Sept. 9.

Lavish perks. Little oversight Asbury Park Press: While Wall students lagged behind their statewide peers, prosecutors say schools chief James F. Habel stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement pay.

M. Night Shyamalan Takes on Education Reform WSJ: Best known for producing films such as "The Sixth Sense" and "The Village," Mr. Shyamalan is about to come out with a book called "I Got Schooled" on the unlikely subject of education reform.

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Quotes: NAEP Progress Slower In Obama/Waiver Era

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comFor the first nine years [of NCLB], the average gains were six points annually for African-Americans, five points for Hispanics and three points for whites... Annual gains [in the Obama/waiver era] have been limited to one-and-a-half points for blacks and to three points for Hispanic students.  - Paul Peterson in the WSJ (The Obama Setback for Minority Education)

Morning Video: A Different View On NCLB's Flaws & the House Version

Parents got left out of NCLB in terms of engagement, transfers, and tutoring, says NACS's Nina Rees in this recent WSJ Opinion Video -- but the House rewrite of NCLB over-corrects the law's problems.


Maps: Harder Tests (NY, KY) & Higher Cut Scores (IL, TN, MI)

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 2.58.00 PMBy now you know that NY and KY have revamped their tests and reported out new (lower) test score results.  

But what about everybody else?  

A couple of states like IL and TN and Michigan have ratched up their cut scores on existing tests as a way of getting folks ready for new assessments.  (The tests are old, but the requirements are higher and in theory somewhat close to what they're going to be like under Common Core assessments.)  

The rest -- so far as I know -- are waiting until this year to make more changes.  

Here's a map from Achieve showing what states said they were doing as of December.  Scroll down to page 28.  Tell them Alexander sent you.

Afternoon Video: Paul Bruno Discusses Science Standards

Here's "This Week In Education" contributor Paul Bruno talking about the new science standards, for all of you who've been wondering what he looks and sounds like:


And here's his blog post about the experience.

AM News: So Much For Duncan's Layoff Predictions

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Fewer Layoffs Than Expected, But Sequestration Still 'Heartbreaking' PoliticsK12: It is nearly August and students around the country are starting their back-to-school shopping. Most school districts have finished their budgets for the 2013-14 school year—and there still aren't many stories of massive layoffs or even major programmatic cuts due to the sequestration.

Ark. District Arming More Than 20 Teachers, Staff NBC: In strongly conservative Arkansas, where gun ownership is common and gun laws are permissive, no school district had ever used the law to arm teachers on the job, until now.

D.C. students reach new heights in annual standardized tests Washington Post: Students in the District’s traditional public schools scored higher than ever before on the city’s annual math and reading tests this year, and they also posted the largest single-year gain since 2008, according to results released Tuesday by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

Review, Resignation Urged in Ind. Grading Flap ABC News: Ind. school grading case sparks calls for review, education chief's resignation in Florida.

Elite Colleges Differ on How They Aid Poor NYT: As colleges profess a growing commitment to recruiting poor students, a comparison of low-income enrollment shows wide disparities among the most competitive private institutions.

Education Department Picks New Leader for Early-Learning Office PoliticsK12: The department said in a press release Tuesday that Doggett will also work to promote the administration's proposal to distribute $75 billion to the states to bolster high-quality state prekindergarten programs. The proposal also would include increased investments in home-visiting programs and in Head Start, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Chobani awarded USDA school lunch Greek yogurt contract Dairy Reporter: Under the pilot program, the USDA will trial the addition of high-protein, low-fat Greek yogurt to the National School Lunch Program in New York, Idaho, Arizona, and Tennessee. Via Politico.

Charts: 19 Waiver States Now Have Approved TVal Systems

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The yellow dots represent the 19 states with waivers that have also had their teacher evaluation systems approved, according to EdWeek. The green dots are those who have merely been approved for a waiver.  Everybody else is still operating under the original NCLB.

Quotes: Why Are We Talking About Georgia So Much?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWell, if nobody is actually dropping the Core standards, why does it matter if they're dropping the test? - NPR's Robert Seigel on All Things Considered

AM News: States Sticking With Common Core, Survey Says

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comState education officials: We’re sticking with Common Core Washington Post: As the political debate swirls in some statehouses over the Common Core math and reading standards, most state education officials responsible for implementing the new K-12 standards are confident that their states will stick with the program, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Gates Announces $15M in Professional-Development Grants TeacherBeat: Its education wing today announced the awarding of more than $15 million in "Innovative Professional Development" grants over a three-year period. The funds will be split among the Fresno, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif; and Jefferson County, Colo., districts, with each receiving about $5 million.

Senate Approves College Student Loan Plan Tying Rates to Markets NYT: The plan would tie interest rates for student loans to the financial markets and brings Congress close to resolving a dispute that caused rates to double on July 1.

Obama Stumps for Education Spending, Pre-K PoliticsK12: "If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century," the president said in prepared remarks released in advance of the speech at Knox College in Illinois. "If we don't make this investment, we'll put our kids, our workers, and our country at a competitive disadvantage for decades."

Obama Promises 'Aggressive Strategy' For Higher Education NPR: Renee Montagne talks to The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel about a shift in the Obama administration's approach to higher education, which the president alluded to in his economic speech on Wednesday.

Can an algorithm ID high school drop outs in first grade? Hechinger: Early warning systems to detect high-school drop outs are all the rage in education data circles. See this post on a new early warning system in Wisconsin. Like the Wisconsin example, most data systems focus on identifying middle school students. But what if researchers could use grades, attendance and behavior data to identify at-risk students as soon as possible — as early as first grade? That would really give counselors more time to try to motivate these kids and keep them in school!

Transgender teen may use boys' locker room Politico: The first-of-its-kind decision from the agencies tasks the Arcadia school district outside Los Angeles to change district policies and practices to accommodate the rising ninth-grade student. Teachers and staff must be trained in how to prevent gender discrimination, and federal agencies will be keeping tabs on the district through at least 2016.

Charts: Roughly Half PARCC States Save On Testing

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"For 10 states, PARCC appears to be a net savings (the states with the negative sign in front of their number), while 11 states would likely see testing costs rise." (Chad Adelman Perspective on PARCC’s Price)

AM News: Duncan Focuses On Preschool Rather Than NCLB Rewrite

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In Denver, Duncan promotes preschool expansion and K-12 tax measure EdNews Colorado: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Friday asked Colorado voters to support President Barack Obama’s attempt to expand access to early-childhood education and endorsed efforts here to pass a $950 million tax increase to overhaul the state’s school financing system.

GOP education bill comes under fire from House Democrats Washington Post: Underpinning the law is a belief that states that receive billions of federal dollars each year must be made accountable to Washington. The GOP bill takes a different tack, returning power to the states.

Overhaul of No Child Left Behind law expected to have little impact in Kansas The Kansas City Kansan: No Child Left Behind is the name of the 2001 federal law to reauthorize the 1960s-era Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the basic law that distributes much of the money the federal government sends to states and local districts through programs

Texas Seeks Waiver from Feds on Test Exemptions EdWeek: On the heels of a significant reduction in the number of required end-of-course tests in Texas high schools, Lone Star State education officials are awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Education on their plan to reduce the number of tests high-performing elementary and middle school students must take.

Church, junior high help out Moore, Okla., schools AP: School officials in the Oklahoma city of Moore say students whose schools were destroyed in the deadly May tornado will attend classes next month in a refurbished junior high school building and a local church....

How Much Will New Common Tests Cost States? EdWeek: Resident Common-Core Queen Catherine Gewertz has the full scoop over at Curriculum Matters.

Textbook publishers revamp ebooks to fight used market Reuters: A booming market in recent years for selling and renting used college textbooks has saved students across the United States a ton of cash. 

No Evidence Harvard Officials Read Faculty E-Mails, Report Says NYT: A review commissioned by the university found that administrators involved in searching faculty e-mail accounts did not believe they were violating privacy rules.

Morning Video: Kid President Going On Summer Vacation

Oh, no -- Kid President is going to summer camp and taking a little vacation from his regular videos.  How will we make it until he returns?

Quotes: CORE NCLB Waiver Treats Educators "As An Afterthought"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comAny effort at “whole system reform” must include “educators and their representatives, as well as other stakeholders, in meaningful decision-making roles throughout the process … not as an afterthought.” -- Local California union presidents in letter opposing CORE NCLB waiver application (in EdSource Today)

NCLB: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval

LAUSDlogoAs reported yesterday in LA School Report, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and others are in Washington today, making a final push to persuade the Obama Education Department to approve its revised application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the 2002 federal education law.

Superintendent Deasy has said that a NCLB waiver would free up as much as $80 million in federal funding for other purposes.

Thus far, at least, neither Board members nor the local teachers union have been critical of the district’s pursuit of the NCLB waiver.

Publicly, at least, Obama’s education team has been signaling its support for the application, and the California Department of education is nominally supportive of the effort, too.

But there’s an unusually high level of conflict on education issues right now between Sacramento and Washington.  Conflicts between Washington and Sacramento — combined with objections from state and local teachers unions to certain requirements for waivers, and practical concerns  – could have some effects, direct or indirect, on whether LAUSD and eight other districts win approval from Washington to change some of the current NCLB requirements – or the final form of the waiver that is approved.

Read the full piece at LA School Report: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval



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