-- HGSE professor Martin West (Schools Wait to See What Becomes of No Child Left Behind Law)
On 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)
The AP called it a "political embarrassment" for Republicans in charge of Congress, but it might just as well have been called an embarrassment for pundits and journalists covering the process.
On Friday afternoon, the House scuttled debate on the reauthorization of ESEA, the federal education law currently known as No Child Left Behind. -- and it seems like nobody other than Dropout Nation's Rishawn Biddle seems to have anticipated that such a thing might happen.
That's right. Not Politico. Not Politics K-12. Not AP. Not the Washington Post. Not Petrilli, Hess, Smarick, or any of those Fordham/AEI folks, either. (Not anyone on the D. side, either, that I know of.)
Looking back, it seems obvious that this was a possibility. The House and Senate were dealing with a tough political issue with much greater urgency. Conservative Republicans hated the Committee-passed version of the bill. This has happened before. In 2013, a Republican ESEA reauthorization got pulled.
And to be fair, political reporters and pundits were surprised about the DHS funding failure, too. Even Boehner said he didn't know what was going to happen on DHS. Education issues don't get on the floor that often, and annual spending amendments are a thing of the past, so things like this are a bit of a wildcard for everyone.
Still, what happened, and how could we get better advance notice in the future? Check out my 5 Lessons below - and add or correct them here or at @alexanderrusso.
More Conflict Over Cutting Federal Role in Education NYT: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday produced data that he said showed that poorer districts would suffer under a Republican plan expected to clear the House of Representatives this week.
As House Prepares to Vote on NCLB, Advocates Push for Preschool Funding U.S. News & World Report: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, noted the first bill, passed in 1965, was a bipartisan effort, as was its reauthorization in 1994. "It would be a very good signal to America if something that has bipartisan support ...
How Would the House NCLB Rewrite Affect Funding for Minority Students? PK12: The White House report, released Tuesday, warns of cuts of more than $1.3 billion over 6 years to more than ten districts that serve high concentrations of African-American students. But, these top-line estimates, while powerful, are essentially a worst-case scenario that's highly unlikely to play out in real life, especially if you consider them over six years. There are a number of reasons why.
Schools using new tools to make teachers better Seattle Times: How to help teachers improve? A new system of in-depth observation by trained evaluators and principals, soon to be required in schools across Washington, shows what can help. See also: Seattle ranks high in suspending elementary-school students with special needs.
Suspended students lose millions of days of instruction while out of school Washington Post: Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts — including some in the Washington region — but U.S. students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year, according to research released Monday.
Suspensions at city charter schools far outpace those at district schools, data show ChalkbeatNY: One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.
Chicago sets early voting record in last weekend before mayoral election WBEZ: About 90,000 Chicago voters cast their ballots during early voting, including more than 21,500 votes on Saturday, which set a single-day record for a municipal election.
Christie’s Truce With Teachers Could Pay Dividends in ’16 NYT: Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Education Association are cooperating to grapple with the state’s crippling pension costs, and that may help the governor’s presidential ambitions.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Got a minute? Check out Kevin Kosar's Washington Monthly article (Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service) for a depressing but informative look at what's happened to CRS, the in-house think tank for Congress that used to be such a useful and timely source of information and advice that few Congressional staffers and members could imagine living without it.
Back in the day, folks like Wayne Riddle and Kosar (@kevinkosar) were invaluable sources of information. But of course, back in the day Congress passed legislation and spending bills, too, and working on the Hill was considered one of the best jobs you could have.
Much has happened to CRS since then, according to Kosar's telling of the story. And Riddle is a private consultant. Two folks who seem to have picked up the work seem to be Rebecca Skinner and Kyrie E. Dragoo (great name!).
Kosar's now at a think tank, appropriately enough. Think tanks have replaced CRS in many ways. The information's not nearly as expert or neutral but it's faster, and more easily tailored to each side's arguments, and it's public, too.
The Andy Smaricks and Anne Hyslops and Connor Williamses of the world can opine in public in real time -- they have communications help! CRS reports are infamously not publicly available. An effort to make them public, OpenCRS, closed up shop last year. Wikileaks posted a bunch of CRS reports, but I'm not sure how extensive the collection is (Secret Congressional reports).
Kosar and I have known each other via email for almost a decade now. He contributed some great pieces to this site while he was still at CRS -- back when such things were still allowed. For example: Muddled AYP Fixes; Do National Standards Have A Chance?; He also penned a 2005 book: Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards. Image used with permission.
Today is one of those opportunities to try and see how different outlets match up against each other covering the same event. Or, well, it should be. But the Washington Post doesn't seem to have covered the event, which is a bit of surprise given their two-member national education reporting team. (No surprise really that the NYT didn't bother, or will publish something in a day or two.)
Over all, the coverage seemed fine, if basic in terms of insights and context:
Politico's morning email (What You Missed At Markup) includes a few useful tidbits (and links to their paid story), noting that the markup took 10 hours and that most of the two dozen amendments were rebuffed and the bill passed along party lines. Senator Alexander is delighted. Secretary Duncan is not. There's a link to the paid story but I'm not a subscriber -- I'm not even sure if they sent someone or bothered to live-tweet (but I'm checking).
The AP story (Committee Sends Partisan Education Bill to House) by Kimberly Hefling focuses among other things on the limits to EdSec Duncan in the bill. "House Republican leaders view the bill as a way to make clear their opposition to the Obama administration's encouragement of the Common Core state standards." But it's spot coverage, not detailed event coverage or analysis (not AP's thing).
EdWeek's writeup (House Education Committee Approves NCLB Rewrite on Party-Line Vote) by Lauren Camera notes that the bill would limit federal involvement in education decisions and lists the outcome of each amendment offered to the underlying bill. None of the Democrats' amendments were adopted, we learn, and the issue of private school vouchers came up. Overtesting amendments went down, too. This was the most comprehensive of the writeups.
Some other observations: Live-tweeting may be dead in the age of the video live-stream. Ditto for event-based hashtags, it seems. @PoliticsK12 didn't even bother to hashtag their updates. There was a reasonably active live-tweeting that took place during the long day, including updates from PoliticsK12 as well as advocates and think tank folks like Anne Hyslop (Bellwether), Penn Hill Group, the EdTrust, Mary Kusler (NEA), Michele McLaughlin (Knowledge Alliance) and Noelle Ellerson (AASA). Cheryl Sattler (EthicaLLC) provided some great color commentary off the live-stream, which I greatly appreciated.
I'm not saying I could have done any better -- I have the attention span of an ant and (as I wrote about yesterday) I don't know the current committee staffers who might offer interesting tidbits or whose body language might reveal secrets. I can't claim to have seen every outlet's stories -- Politico may have done a great job -- and may have missed pieces that have come out since my morning roundup (NYT, Washington Post, USA Today?). Let me know if you see those and I'll update.
Not a lot of comity on the House education panel, members split on how to rewrite law Washington Post: Scott and other committee Democrats announced they are holding their own hearing on Thursday, calling it a “forum,” with witnesses. It is unclear if they are going to file dueling legislation, Levin said.
Education secretary visits Maryland for town hall meeting WBAL Baltimore:Secretary Arne Duncan said the meeting, in part, was organized to give parents, teachers and administrators a chance to share their concerns about the current education law, No Child Left Behind.
California Seeks NCLB Waiver From Feds Over Use of Test Scores PK12: State officials are essentially arguing that because the Smarter Balanced exam is new, AYP can't be calculated by comparing Smarter Balanced exams to student scores on prior tests.
'No Illusions' For Starr As He Prepares To Leave Montgomery County Schools WAMU: The Maryland county's superintendent is leaving his job under public uncertainty about what conflicts led to the decision. See also Washington Post: Schools chief’s exit leaves many in Montgomery with questions.
Bush offers impassioned defense of his education record The Hill: Jeb Bush deviated from his prepared remarks at the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday to give an impassioned defense of his education reform record.
Ed. Commissioner Gist Set to Leave R.I. to Lead Tulsa Schools State EdWatch: Deborah Gist has been Rhode Island's chief state school officer since 2009, and has overseen several significant changes to K-12 policy during her tenure.
Classroom coaches critical as teachers shift to Common Core EdSource Today: To break down the isolation that many teachers experience in their classrooms, California schools are using instructional coaches as a key tool to help teachers adapt their instruction to implement the Common Core standards in math and English language arts.
Opt-out advocates get attention from city’s most powerful couple ChalkbeatNY: De Blasio and his schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have stopped short of encouraging parents to opt their students out of the tests, and Fariña told state lawmakers on Tuesday that she supports the tests and their role as a challenge for students.
Karen Lewis: New CTU contract will cost city, but members willing to strike for itChicago Sun-Times: With less than a month before the mayoral election, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewismade two things clear Monday: The new teachers contract being negotiated is going to cost money, and her 30,000 members who went on strike in 2012 for ...
2 Students Hurt in Shooting Outside Maryland High School ABC News: Shooting outside Maryland high school basketball game wounds 2, sends people running for cover.
Enough with these high-minded policy debates over annual testing and teacher evaluations and vaccinations (!). Let's talk about the Senate bill's formula "portability" provisions determining which states and districts get more or less funding than under current law. According to CAP, the Alexander bill would be a big loser for large districts and high-poverty states. Click the link to get all the details. No response yet (that I know of) from the Alexander office. Image used with permission.
States Are Losing Power Over Classroom Materials, and Districts Are Gaining It State EdWatch: The number of states that exert direct control over districts' choice of instructional materials through state funding has dipped from roughly 25 to 18 in recent years.
White House Won't Seek To End 529 College Tax Break NPR: All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans. Critics had called the proposal to limit them a tax hike on the middle class. See also WSJ, NYT.
Senate Ed. Panel Unlikely to Require Teacher Evaluations in NCLB Overhaul PK12: The lack of teacher-evaluation language in the reauthorization will likely stop in its tracks the Obama administration's efforts to push states to adopt evaluation systems based in part on student test scores and performance-based compensation systems, both of which were at the heart of U.S. Department of Education's NCLB waivers.
As numbers of homeless kids rise, resources fall short Marketplace: The number of students experiencing homelessness in the U.S. has increased 85 percent since before the recession, according to Department of Education data. But the resources available to help them have remained flat.
States Move to Make Citizenship Exams a Classroom Aid NYT: Arizona became the first state to require its high school students to pass the test that is given to immigrants who want to become United States citizens.
Football As A Tool In The Hands Of A Master Craftsman NPR: Our 50 Great Teachers series profiles a football coach who's made academics ... and a sense of family ... part of his winning strategy.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
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.
The 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?)
Democrats and Republicans Agree: It's Time To Rewrite No Child Left Behind HuffPost: Murray articulated a similar position on testing in an interview Tuesday. "We have to fix the redundant and unnecessary testing within the system broadly," she told The Huffington Post. But, she said in her speech, "That doesn't mean we should roll back standards or accountability." She further defended the need for some degree of standardized testing by invoking a reason more often used on the right: taxpayer money.
Senators set stage for debate about federal education law Washington Post: Top Republican and Democratic negotiators over federal education law each took to the Senate floor Tuesday to lay out their sometimes conflicting visions for rewriting No Child Left Behind.Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chair of the Senate education panel, emphasized that he wants to shrink the federal footprint in local education, saying the Obama administration has acted as a “national school board” and that Congress ought to cede power back to states to decide how best to educate K-12 students.
Why Google Didn't Sign Obama-Backed Student Privacy Pledge Wall Street Journal: Other Google student-privacy policies are more nuanced than the pledge Obama endorsed Monday. The company says it doesn't sell Google Apps for Education data to third parties and it only shares personal information with third parties in “exceptional ...
The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform NY Magazine: Even in school reform’s new lawsuit era, hand-to-hand combat is still the preferred mode of resolving—or not resolving—conflict. Brown has become the latest vilified figure in a decades-long PR battle—between the teachers union, one of the last powerful unions in the U.S., and “reformers”—to rival the ugliest type of corporate warfare.
Teacher survey: Change tenure, layoff laws EdSource Today: Gov. Jerry Brown said last week he's open to changing tenure and other teacher employment laws at issue in the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, and most teachers in a new survey say they want to change them, too.
Speak & Spell: A History Hacked Education: The Speak & Spell – one of the most iconic toys of the 1980s – is a teaching machine. By that, I don’t mean simply that it’s an electronic, educational device. It is that, sure. The Speak & Spell is a teaching machine specifically in the tradition of B. F. Skinner, reflecting some of both Skinner’s design principles and his theories of learning, decades older than the popular Texas Instruments device. Rather than selecting the correctly-spelled word in a multiple choice quiz, for the example, the Speak & Spell prompts the user to construct the response. It praises; it corrects.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Arne Duncan to call for No Child Left Behind revamp Politico: In a speech Monday, Duncan will lay out his principles for rewriting the education law, sources familiar with the event confirmed. But he is not expected to back down from his insistence that a rewritten law retain the federal mandate that all students be tested in math and reading every year from third through eighth grade.
Governors Laud 'Higher Standards,' Plead for NCLB Renewal in NGA Speeches State EdWatch: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the chairman of the National Governors Association, said more rigorous expectations for students were important, but not the only consideration for stronger schools.
Obama In Tennessee To Promote Free Community College NPR: President Obama is on the road as part of his effort to jump-start his 2015 agenda. Today he's in Tennessee, talking about higher education. See also NYT, Washington Post, PK12.
A 'Sizable Decrease' In Those Passing The GED NPR: The new GED is more expensive, computer-based and tougher. As a result some states are embracing alternative tests, and the number of GEDs awarded last year fell.
Study Questions Stock Teacher-Turnover Stat Teacher Beat: In contrast to the conventional wisdom, an estimated 70 percent of teachers stay in the profession after five years, an analysis of federal data shows.
Could push to improve teacher training start by taking a cue from flight schools? PBS: Just like pilots aren’t allowed to fly solo until they are capable, Deborah Ball, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education, thinks teaching programs should follow the same principle. That’s the analogy Ball drew last summer when speaking about teacher preparation to a group of higher education leaders at a forum in Aspen, Colorado.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
I'm still not quite as convinced as others seem to be that an NCLB rewrite is going to make it through the House and Senate anytime soon --what a mess for Team Duncan and all the waiver states, plus 2016 politics -- but this helpful chart from Fordham gives a sense of what might be left out and what might be retained. Image used with permission.
Here's a recent PBS NewsHour segment about the possibility that the new Congress will rewrite NCLB thanks in part to an unusual alliance between teachers unions opposed to so-called "overtesting" and Republican objections to federal involvement in local education decisions.
This NBC Nightly News segment describes how quality early childhood education can be enormously beneficial, childcare costs as much or more than private college in many places, and President Obama rolled out a pared-down early childhood education expansion last week. But National Journal notes that the politics of early education are not nearly as straightforward as they may seem.
Way back in 2012, Congress called on the USDE to issue a report on the number and distribution of alternative certification teachers in US classrooms as a condition of extending the provision that makes alt cert teachers highly qualified under NCLB.
The HQT waiver is good through 2016, which is why there wasn't any need for a rider in the 2015 spending bill currently under consideration. (The union waiver, known as HOUSSE, is permanent and doesnt't require updating.)
But the report was supposed to come out in December 2013 -- a year ago. But it hasn't been heard of.
Related posts: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" About Highly Qualified Teachers; "Technical Amendments" In The Fiscal Cliff Deal?; Alt Cert: TFA "Interns" Allowed To Keep Teaching ELLs (For Now); Budget Deal Gives TFA Another Two Years.
Storm warning prompts school closures EdSource Today: More than half a dozen school districts across California will close Thursday in anticipation of a major storm that is damaging the state’s collective calm.
New York State Education Commissioner to Leave for Federal Post NYT: John B. King Jr. said he would take the No. 2 job at the United States Education Department. See also WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.
From Potatoes To Salty Fries In School: Congress Tweaks Food Rules NPR: The giant federal spending bill that's expected to go to a vote Thursday will give schools some flexibility in implementing nutrition standards. Also a winner: the potato lobby. See also PBS.
Spending Bill Would Fund Preschool Grants, But Not Race to Top PK12: A few education programs would take a notable whack, including Race to the Top, one of the Obama administration's signature competitive grants, which appropriators sought to scrap completely.
Obama’s Race to the Top loses all funding in 2015 omnibus spending bill Washington Post: President Obama and firstlLady Michelle Obama both would see key initiatives whacked if the $1.01 trillion spending bill unveiled by congressional leaders this week passes without changes in these areas.
Leading Public Education Organizations Lack Diversity at Top, Report Finds District Dossier: The report does not name which groups participated in the survey but does highlight a few education nonprofits that have made building diverse leadership teams a top priority. TNTP and College Track are two that are featured.
Texas to Close 14 Charter School Operators Texas Tribune: Texas will shut down 14 charter school operators that failed to meet heightened financial and academic performance rules this year, state education officials announced Tuesday.
Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue NYT: For graffiti on a Georgia school’s walls, two girls were suspended. Then one of them ended up in the criminal justice system.
Joel Klein, Controversial as Chancellor of NYC Department of Education, Offers Lessons on Fixing Education WNYC: Klein writes about his eight-year mission of improvement: demanding accountability, eliminating political favoritism, and battling a powerful teachers union that seemed determined to protect a status quo that didn’t work for kids.
More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.
Miller on Common Core, Teacher Evaluation, and NCLB Renewal PoliticsK12: Miller's comments pack a special punch because he is one of the most hawkish members of Congress when it comes to accountability. Miller, an architect of the No Child Left Behind Act, said that tying test-scores to Common Core exams before teachers are ready would be repeating one of the biggest mistakes of the NCLB era.
George Miller: 'Students are Enthusiastic' About Meeting Common-Core Challenge State EdWatch: The retiring U.S. representative also says that politicians are attacking the standards largely to position themselves better for the 2016 presidential elections.
Karen Lewis and Corey Brooks duke it out over Twitter Chicago Sun-Times: A Twitter exchange between Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis grew heated today as the two traded digs on the governor's race.
Teens who crossed US border alone enter schools AP: The group of mostly Spanish-speaking teenage boys with styled spiky hair and high-top sneakers enthusiastically pecks away on hand-held tablets at the G.W. Carver Education Center, pausing to alert the teacher when stumped. See also PBS: Wave of child migrants pose challenges for Florida schools, Backlog of children’s immigration cases challenges judges, lawyers and schools.
The campaign to keep Karen Lewis out of the mayoral race Chicago Tribune: Out of nowhere nearly two weeks ago, Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-charter schools organization backing Mayor Rahm Emanuel's re-election, issued a news release demanding that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis step down.
Trial To Begin In Atlanta Public Schools' Cheating Scandal NPR: On Monday, opening statements begin in the trial of 12 educators charged in an alleged cheating conspiracy. Originally, 35 were indicted but more than half took plea deals. See also WSJ.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Conventional wisdom has it that the current reform movement started in 1983 with the release of the Nation At Risk report, but EdWeek makes a pretty good case with this piece (Historic Summit Fueled Push for K-12 Standards - Education Week) that a better starting point would be 25 years ago (1989) in Charlottesville, Va.
Penned by Alyson Klein, the EdWeek piece reaches back to some of the folks involved in the 1989 summit and some of those who're working on national standards today. In a few cases - Achieve's Mike Cohen, for example -- they are still working at it.
My old boss, Jeff Bingaman, was a committed member of the National Education Goals Panel, which was one of the entities that came out of the standards movement of that time, and was a strong advocate for the voluntary national assessment that President Clinton proposed funding in his second administration in order to provide cross-state comparisons beyond NAEP and give the national standards that were being developed some extra emphasis in schools and districts.
Check it out. It seems so long ago, it's almost a dream. But it wasn't that long ago -- and many of the same issues are part of Common Core and whatever happens next. Image used with permission. Image used with permission from the Bush Presidential Library.
One of the big stories out of yesterday's NCTQ report was the weakness of alternative certification programs, as noted by Teacher Beat (Alternative Certification Deemed Weak). "For the most part, the 85 alternative programs analyzed weren't sufficiently selective, didn't ensure that applicants knew their content, and did far too little to supervise the new teachers in the classroom, the NCTQ concludes."
As this AEI paper from 2012 describes, one structural reason for the lack of quality behind alt cert programs is that their graduates are deemed highly qualified under NCLB and allowed to be hired without any negative consequences -- a provision created for TFA and staunchly defended by it in the intervening years. The paper also notes that TFA is the brand name for alt cert but its members are very much the minority in terms of overall alt cert teachers.
UPDATE: "All eight TFA regions received the highest rating for how we admit talented individuals into teaching," notes TFA's response to the NCTQ report. "Additionally all eight regions received high ratings in supervised practice." See full statement below.
You can argue that some of the OTHER things the Obama administration has done constitute something of an over-reach, but not on standards. -- Achieve's Mike Cohen speaking at #EWA154 (at roughly the 8:33 mark)
"Blue markers represent incidents in 2014; red markers are for incidents from 2013. You may have to zoom in to view separate incidents in the same city. Cities that were home to multiple shootings are Atlanta; Grambling, La.; Savannah, Ga.; Jackson, Tenn.; Roswell, N.M.; Milwaukee; Augusta, Ga." (There have been at least 74 shootings at schools since Newtown) Click the link to zoom in and get more information.
The Vergara decision came down -- largely in favor of the student plaintiffs -- but then the Gates Foundation came out with a statement in support of a Common Core delay (in terms of high-stakes implications), seeming to catch everyone by surprise:
College presidents express support for Common Core - Newsday http://ht.ly/xQJqY
A Black Father's Search for a Diverse Preschool - Education Week http://ht.ly/xF2s5
@AP: BREAKING: Police: Shooter used rifle in fatal attack at Oregon high school; teacher injured.
There's a long piece about the Common Core in the Washington Post you should probably read -- but be forewarned that the view of events and the causal chain that's cobbled together in the piece isn't entirely accurate or fairly contextualized (and differs from other accounts of what happened and why).
Basically, the Post's piece makes the claim that Bill Gates was behind the Common Core's rapid spread over the past few years. Indeed, the headline claims that Gates "pulled off" the Common Core, like it was a heist or a grift.
"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes." Both left and right -- Diane Ravitch and NRO's Stanley Kurtz -- are already calling for Congressional hearings.
Gates' support is clear, and no doubt played a role. There are some fascinating tidbits about that process in the piece. But let's be clear: the idea for common national standards and tests goes back a long long way before Gates (and David Coleman), the spread of the Common Core in recent years wasn't merely a function of Gates' enthusiasm and largess, and the myth of the all-powerful billionaire is just that.
I love Michelle Obama as much as I remain loyal to her husband, despite his awful test and punish education policy. When the First Lady is attacked, I am angered almost as much as when the Obama administration assaults public education.
The issues underlying both Michelle Obama's Let's Move healthy schools campaign, and President Obama's corporate school reform are equally complicated.
Time Magazine's Jay Newton-Small, in Michelle Obama Bites Back at Critics of Her Healthy School Lunch Standards, reports that a million fewer students ate school lunches in the first year of the program. The bigger problem is anecdotes and twitter photo campaigns featuring students who want their junk food back.
In light of the House Republicans' assault on anti-obesity efforts, Burkhard Bilger's 2006 New Yorker article, The Lunch Room Rebellion, should now be reread. As the First Lady explains, the "stakes couldn't be higher" in the battle to improve children's health, so the fight is worth it. But, given the difficulty Bilger described in providing nutritious meals in the affluent Berkeley, California schools, we must prepare for a long, frustrating struggle.
Bilger told how a "haute cuisine chef," Ann Cooper, got schooled when she brought nutritious meals that were a hit in a progressive private school to a public system. Cooper's biggest problem was that children's food tastes (not unlike some of their learning habits) are established before they enter school. But, a seemingly absurd combination of political and institutional dynamics created unforeseen complications, even in a system where only 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.
News is out that CQ Roll Call reporter (and current Spencer Education Journalism Fellow) Lauren Smith Camera is going to join Alyson Klein at @PoliticsK12, EdWeek's blog covering the USDE and Congress.
No longer will Camera's work be hidden behind CQ's paywall. She'll be out front, doing daily battle with all the new upstarts that have appeared in basically the same space (RealClear, Politico, etc.).
Camera will be replacing Michele McNeil, the blog's co-founder, who left recently to join the College Board.
Camera's Spencer year has been spent looking into whether federal funding in the form of competitive grants is a good investment (compared to dedicated funding streams).
Previous posts: New Spencer Fellows, New Research Topics; Recollections, Controversy, & Advice From Departing PK-12 Blogger; Do Journalists Make Good Program Officers?; Two Journos Win Nieman Fellowships, Another Heads To College Board. Image via SpencerFellows.org
This video from last month shows Rand Paul talking education reform in Milwaukee. Rebel Pundit via RCe. Link here.
"In a report for the Hamilton Project, they propose allocating $400 million over five years to competitive program that would select forty cities, in each of which a local nonprofit would offer the program to 500 youths." (How Chicago is using psychotherapy to fight crime — and winning Vox)
There's an interesting new article by The Atlantic's Molly Ball out just recently (The Privatization Backlash) that makes for good reading even though it doesn't address education issues directly.
In it, Ball traces the trend towards contracting out public services that's been taking place since at least the 1980s and has grown substantially. "An estimated $1 trillion of America's $6 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies."
But privatization isn't always cheap or effective, and Ball, observes that the appeal seems to be wearing thin with some recent experiences (like the parking meter fiasco in Chicago). "From Halliburton to Healthcare.gov to private prisons and welfare systems, contracting has often proved problematic."
According to Ball, the move against privatization is nationwide. "Laws to rein in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year, and three—Maryland, Oregon, and Nebraska—have passed legislation, according to In the Public Interest, a group that advocates what it calls "responsible contracting.""
Ball doesn't address various forms of subcontracting out of education, which some would call privatization. And she notes that anti-privatization views skew Democratic and labor only late in the article.
One last tidbit: there's an Annual Privatization Report put out by Reason. I wonder how much if any education-related subcontracting is included?
It's no big surprise to find out that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) doesn't actually support private school vouchers, an issue that came up last week in a blog post I wrote.
Here's an MTA voter education form stating that “Warren opposes private school voucher proposals and similar proposals that take money away from public schools.” and a MassTeacher update indicating that "This was confirmed with the candidate and her campaign back during the nomination process.”
Both of these are courtesy Senator Warren's press office, which also notes that the proposal comes from Warren's 2003 book not her new memoir.
But that still leaves the underlying (and quite revolutionary in some circles) notion of universal public school choice. Does Warren's support include choice for schools within local districts, or inter-district transfers (as proposed, however weakly, in the NCLB law that Ted Kennedy and George Miller co-sponsored)?
Vox's Libby Nelson wrote that "Warren's views aren't entirely out of step with the education reform wing of the Democratic party." But of course, Warren isn't generally considered a reformer.
Federal spending on K-12 education comes in at just under $60B, compared to local funding that's a whopping $464B, according to a blowup of the federal budget created by Visualizing.org (2013 Federal Budget). Click the link to explore the methodology used and see the full chart in all its glory.
So was the Senate HELP Commmittee, way back in 2011-2012.
That's right. There was language in the bipartisan Harkin ESEA bill calling for the creation of a national commission that would have, among other things, been charged with "determining the frequency, length, and scheduling of such tests and assessments, and measuring, in hours and days, the student and teacher time spent on testing."
The Senate language was proposed by Senators Alexander and Bennet.
Indeed, Bennet introduced standalone legislation last year. Colorado has been working on auditing and coordinating tests for several years, according to this 2011 Durango Herald opinion piece. Alexander is listed as a co-sponsor.
Since then, the noise surrounding test proliferation and/or test uses has risen exponentially -- warranted or not, we don't really know. Chicago and DC have already initiated testing audit/streamlining procedures.
The TeachPlus report that came out the other day indicated that there were large variations around the country, and that official and classroom views of the testing burden are very different. However, the report was limited to a small set of districts. [See here for some updated information on why its Chicago numbers were initially wrong.]
I proposed something along the same lines in my latest Scholastic Administrator column: "Secretary Duncan has at least one thing he could do with his remaining time in office that could be both effective at preserving his initiatives and popular with educators and parents. He could begin to address concerns over test proliferation... Serving as a watchdog against overtesting, he would also effectively be protecting the Common Core assessments during a very vulnerable time."
Hardcore testing opponents would not be appeased, of course -- look no further than the reactions to the New York State attempts to compromise on Common Core implementation for evidence of that. But, depending on the results such an audit provided, everyone else might be reassured and glad to know how different states and districts compare.
No word back yet about whether the USDE had taken a position on the language or not -- or what they think of the idea now.
There are lots of lessons reformers might glean from the NYT Sunday Magazine preview of season two of House of Cards -- greatest among them the dangers of imagining they're working in a "West Wing" world where good ideas, research results, and smarts prevail when the reality is much more "House Of Cards" (in which idealism and book smarts matter less than street savvy and knowing how to work the media).
Of particular note, the article focuses on the young(ish) show-runner, who worked on the Howard Dean campaign and watched as it responded to the press frenzy surrounding the "Dean Scream" by taking the higher ground rather than responding vigorously -- and in the end let Dean's opponents (and the media) define him and derail his campaign.
To be sure, both shows are exaggerated, fictionalized versions of reality. But there are real-world historical lessons to be gleaned from the show and article.
For reform opponents, the dangers illustrated by the show are the ever-present possibility of public revulsion and political excommunication that would likely follow revelation of cut-throat tactics no matter how worthwhile or well-intended the aims.
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.”
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.
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, ...
Writing about TFA is fun. I do it all the time. They're the most iconic school reform organization out there. People love them or hate them (or like me, it depends on the day). There's always something new to talk about!
However, fulltime paid journalists writing for for-real mainstream media outlets ostensibly writing straight news coverage shouldn't be throwing around half-hidden opinions and only getting two thirds of the full story. That's what bloggers, part-time freelancers, and columnists are for!
Plus which, writing about pro-reform endeavors all the time is predictable and boring, especially when there's lots of other big education action going on out there that might warrant some careful examination, too (ie, the watered-down teacher dismissal bill in CA, or the funding equity fight in IL, or the new LAUSD board president who apparently has a temper and appropriate behavior problem).
Which brings us to today's Politico education story bylined by Stephanie Simon -- and yet another set of problems and issues with the journalism being provided. Plus one obvious issue related to TFA's new Congressional fellows program.
Budget Deal Would Allow Alternate-Route Teachers to be Deemed "Highly Qualified" PoliticsK12: The legislation, which is expected to be approved by both houses of Congress very soon, would allow teachers participating in alternative-certification programs (for example, Teach for America) to be considered "highly qualified" for an additional two years, through the 2015-16 school year.
[For the full backstory on this provision's history, see my long article: Teach For America & The Alternative Certification Loophole]
Federal workers returning to a 'mess' Politico: The Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Labor departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, have largely been dark since Oct. 1. Not only are those workers almost three weeks behind schedule, many will need to spend the next few days just digging through clogged inboxes and answering phone messages.
Education Commissioner Opts for Private Meetings After Heckling WNYC: New York State Education Commissioner John King said he understood parents are frustrated. But he said he would not participate in any meetings with disruptions, like the Poughkeepsie hearing where parents shouted at him.
In Laurel, 'intense' but promising shift to Common Core Baltimore Sun: At first glance, the bulletin boards lining the hallways of Oaklands Elementary School in South Laurel look like any typical display of students' work — drawings, short essays, a display of some dioramas.
New standardized tests boast less risk of cheating — by students and teachers KPCC: Last school year, students were caught taking pictures of the tests with their cellphones to share with others.But this year's computer test gets rid of those answer sheets and booklets. Tests will be given on computer, and officials can monitor when a student is logging in and out of a web site to take the test.
Study: Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West Washington Post: A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country.
New study finds Teach for America recruits boost student achievement in math Politico: A rigorous new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education finds that Teach for America recruits lead students in impoverished middle and high schools to higher achievement in math than teachers who have come through traditional training programs.
Some teachers left behind? Politico: The House's first lob in the budget fight, a continuing resolution filed late Tuesday that would keep the federal government in action through Dec. 15, doesn't include language that would allow educators in alternative-certification programs to be considered "highly qualified.
Also: Teach for America is a deeply divisive program. It also works. (Washington Post), TFA Teachers Perform Well in a New Study -- But Teacher Experience Still Matters (Dana Goldstein)
Federal government threatens action against Calfornia if it cuts student tests KPCC: Torkalson is urging legislators to pass the bill and has said he will try to get a waiver from the federal government later. It had been expected to go to the state senate for a vote Tuesday, but the vote was not scheduled.
Arizona and Education Department in NCLB Waiver Standoff Politics K12: Arizona may be the next state headed toward high-risk status for its No Child Left Behind Act waiver after it submitted a final draft of its accountability system—a plan that does not meet federal demands on high school graduation rates or teacher evaluations.
No Child Left Behind ends in PA The Reporter: Adequate Yearly Progress is a thing of the past in the North Penn School District and in districts across Pennsylvania after the USDE approved the state's request to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind.
Okla. school changes policy on dreadlocks AP: An Oklahoma charter school is changing its dress code after inciting criticism for telling a 7-year-old girl that her dreadlocks violated the school's policy...
Here via PBS NewsHour is the President laying out the plan late last week. Reactions have been mixed.
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.
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.