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Media: That 1,800-Student "Alcohol-Related" Deaths Figure Is Way Too High

"News articles and lawmakers frequently suggest that 1,800 college students die every year from binge drinking," notes the Washington Post's fact-checking page. "But there are no deaths directly linked to binge drinking in the calculation of this statistic." Wait, what?  "In terms of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, the actual number of deaths appears to be in the dozens."

Journalism: NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Programs

Chancellor Carmen Fariña Changes New York City Schools’ Course   NYTimes.com

Here's another distracting (and seemingly avoidable) correction on an otherwise-interesting education story: The NYT's Valentine's Day corrections included this addendum to its Sunday February 8th profile of Chancellor Farina, noting errors describing the demographic makeup of the district's gifted and talented program and and Joel Klein's correct middle initial.  NYC's gifted and talented programs are "largely white and Asian, not largely white," notes the correction.

Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"

Almost every paper presented at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, made me somewhat more hopeful that the Gates Foundation, at least, will learn and back off from insisting that stakes be attached to standardized tests, and start down more promising policy paths. The exception is Alexander Russo’s Inside Foundations: Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees on Education Giving

According to Russo’s astute article, the lessons of this new generation of philanthropy are:

1. Policy and advocacy are great tools—to a point.

2. New approaches complicate measurement/evaluation issues. 

3. Newly-created organizations bring focus and fidelity but can lack credibility and engagement.       

4. “Strategic” philanthropy is a powerful way to narrow priorities—unless it’s applied too rigidly.  

5. Setting clear metrics helps—until you take them too far.

6. Fail fast—but don’t overreact to bad news, either.

7. Don’t forget/underplay “the grind.”

8. Little more coordination, please (but not too much!)

In a rational world, this witty and insightful call for balance would contribute to better policy-making. In contrast to the statements made by other insiders to the other contributors, however, I fear that the several elites interviewed by Russo are concluding that, yes, we lose credibility with each of our risky policy gambles -- but we will make it up on volume.

Continue reading "Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"" »

Quotes: David Carr's View Of Teachers

Quotes2You will meet this schlumpy lifer who five minutes into the conference makes you just feel like killing yourself, and you think, ‘I leave my child with this kid?’ And the next person you meet will be this incredibly charismatic person who sees every young person before them as this unique piece of clay about to be molded.

- Recently-deceased NYT media critic David Carr in The Answer Sheet (What David Carr told me

Morning Video: The Heroin-Dealing Principal (& Other Options)

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

From NBC News: "Missouri police seek a former elementary school principal, they now believe was running a heroin trafficking ring. " Click here if the video doesn't load properly. Or watch AFT video of UTLA event last week here, or Scott Walker's critique of going to college as a requirement for being President here, or Fordham's lavender-shirted Petrilli talking about the same topic over the weekend here.

AM News: NJ Gov. Christie Joins Brigade Of Common Core Position-Changers

Christie goes from Common Core supporter to critic, blames Obama Washington Post: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is no longer the only GOP presidential hopeful to undergo an election season conversion from Common Core booster to critic.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told conservative Republicans in Iowa — the site of the first 2016 GOP caucus about a year from now — that he has “grave concerns” about the Common Core, the K-12 academic standards in reading and math adopted by 43 states and D.C.  See also WNYC: 'Grave Concerns' with Common Core.

Garcia suggests teachers will strike again if Emanuel re-elected Chicago Tribune: Mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said Feb. 17, 2015, that he expects teachers to strike again if Rahm Emanuel is re-elected. Mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said Feb. 17, 2015, that he expects teachers to strike again if Rahm Emanuel is re-elected. See also NYT: Rahm Emanuel's Campaign Worries How He Will Fare With Black Voters

As education rises in mayoral politics, teachers organize Philly.com: National teachers' union president Randi Weingarten, who spent significant time in Philadelphia last fall, hailed PFT's "incredible political program." "Obviously, that hard work paid off big in the end," Weingarten said in a statement.

New Mexico lawmakers confirm Jeb Bush protégé as education secretary Washington Post: The New Mexico Senate voted Monday to confirm Jeb Bush protégé Hanna Skandera as the state’s secretary of public education, handing a defeat to Democrats and teacher unions in what had become a four-year political fight. See also EdWeek: Hanna Skandera Confirmed as New Mexico K-12 Chief After Four Years in Limbo.

Report Highlights Features of Districts' Differentiated-Pay Systems Teacher Beat: The 10 districts now tie teacher raises to performance measures; most offer better overall pay, too.

Sharp Rise in Occupational Therapy Cases at New York’s Schools NYT: Nearly 42,000 public school students have been referred to the treatments, designed to help with things like managing sensitivities to noise or improving fine motor skills.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NJ Gov. Christie Joins Brigade Of Common Core Position-Changers" »

Media: The Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County Coverage

Friday was Josh Starr's last day as head of the Montgomery County public schools.  He granted an interview to NPR -- but not to the Washington Post.   This forced the Post to run a bloggy writeup of the NPR interview over the weekend. You and I may not care, but in most cases a traditional news outlet like the Post would normally avoid publishing something like this on its regular news page, and would generally be loath to "follow" another news outlet with essentially duplicative coverage.

There's nothing really out of the ordinary about a district superintendent giving the cold shoulder to an outlet he or she perceives as having provided rough coverage of a tough situation.  Former DCPS head Michelle Rhee declined to give much help to the Washington Post during the last few months of her tenure, feeling that the coverage there had gone overboard with its criticism.  At a certain point, relations between beat reporters covering elected or appointed officials can get toxic even under the best of circumstances.  

But this is just the latest incident surrounding the Post's coverage of Montgomery County and Starr.  On January 27th, the paper's editorial page wrote about Starr's departure on the same day that the news came out on the education page.

That means the editorial page -- normally given to thoughtful analysis and commentary on news that's already been reported -- essentially scooped its own newsroom. I've heard estimates that there was a 12-hour gap, but I can't document such a thing.  There's no timestamp on Washington Post stories, however, the earliest comments I can find on the editorial page story come from that evening, around 8 pm and the earliest comments on the education version of the story come in a few hours later, just after midnight on the 28th. According to the Post's Bill Turque, the newsroom was only about 90 minutes behind, largely due to the newsroom's more stringent sourcing requirements.  

How does that happen, when the Post has both Donna St. George and Turque helping cover Montgomery County public schools? I have no idea.  Yes, nearly everyone seems to have been caught by surprise.  Sure, Twitter and the blogosphere beat newspapers to the punch all the time -- no fact-checking required on social media! -- but usually editorial pages don't beat their own newsrooms (or anyone else's really). They're usually not even close.  And ideally beat reporters hear and report things first, well before everyone else.  That's the whole point of beat reporting, or at least one of the main points. 

Anyway, I've asked some Post folks about the timing of the breaking news and will be happy to learn and share more about how it unfolded.  Anyone else have thoughts or insight into how the Post covered Starr, or the news of his departure, or whether any of it really matters?  Did this story in Bethesda Magazine precipitate or suggest what was to come, well in advance of the news breaking? Feel free to share information, theories, and insights here or on twitter. 

Related posts: Washington Post Doubles Down In National CoverageAbout That Front-Page Washington Post Story"Draft Sharing" Spreads At Washington Post Education TeamMichelle Rhee Vs. The Washington Post.

Charts: An Education U-Turn For Third-Generation Latinos?

Www.urban.org UploadedPDF 413239 Immigrant Youth Outcomes.pdf

"After progress from first to second generation, there are retreats in outcomes, such as voter participation, school attendance, educational attainment, trust in institutions, trust and interchanges with neighbors, and disconnectedness from work and school." Urban Institute via Vox.

Morning Video: None Of The 10 Best Teachers In The World Is From Finland

Check out this video via Forbes' Jordan Shapiro, featuring the USA's own Stephen Ritz, who's apparently well known in the U.S.A for a TED Talk and classroom food production program in NYC.

AM News: Common Core Testing Begins In Ohio (Also: Chicago Reconsiders Holdout)

New Computerized Tests Debut This Week, Starting in Ohio AP: Her state on Tuesday will be the first to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the school year, about 12 million children in 29 states and the District of Columbia will take them, using computers or electronic tablets. See also: Statewide testing begins without proficiency mark SI&A Cabinet Report.

Chicago Schools Reconsider Snub of PARCC Test Tribune: Chicago Public Schools officials are reconsidering their snub of a new, mandatory state exam after being threatened with potentially crippling financial sanctions. See also: Education at Heart of Chicago Mayor's Race Politico.

White House pushes back against GOP on funds for poor school children Washington Post: “The White House is using scare tactics and budget gimmicks to kill K-12 education reform, because they know a new law will lead to less control in the hands ofWashington bureaucrats and more control in the hands of parents and education leaders.” See also Politics K12: Title I Portability Sticky Wicket in NCLB Rewrite.

Gov. Christie Flip-Flops on Common Core WNYC: Governor Christie previously supported common core but now says he has "grave doubts" about the standards. NJ Spotlight's John Mooney explains what this means for education in NJ. See also EdWeek: Jeb Bush's 2005 Emails Show Thinking on Standards

A federal judge just put the brakes on Obama’s immigration actions Vox: The ruling comes right before the administration was going to open up applications for immigrants older than 30 who came the US as children to apply for protection from deportation and work permits. It also affects a program that was supposed to open later this spring, for parents of US citizens and permanent residents.

Amid measles outbreak, few rules on teacher vaccinations AP: In Vermont, Democratic Rep. George Till says legislators will try this year to eliminate philosophical exemptions for students and require that teachers be up to date on the same vaccines students must receive. In Colorado, pro-vaccination groups have been pushing the Department of Human Services to require vaccinations for workers at child care facilities, another area with uneven employee immunization standards. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Testing Begins In Ohio (Also: Chicago Reconsiders Holdout)" »

#EdGif Of The Day: The President's Day #SelfieStick Demonstration

Things Everybody Does But Doesn't Talk About, Featuring President Obama

What better way to celebrate President's Day than a Presidential demonstration of the #selfiestick (devices that have already been banned at several museums and soccer stadiums but not yet at any schools that I know of)? See more Obama gifs here - they're all part of a video he did for Buzzfeed on behalf of the Obamacare signup. See you tomorrow!

Update: 3 More Avenues To Great Information From Scholastic

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Good news from the folks at Scholastic Administrator (who kindly sponsor this blog) is that there are now two more blogs on the site: The first is edu@scholastic, run by Tyler Reed (@tylerbreed) with voices from all over Scholastic-land). The second blog is Down the Hall from Rod Berger (@drrodberger), who covers trends and people in the ed tech/leadership space, through videos, posts, and audio interviews. Check them out, and also take a look at the Edu Pulse for a mix of daily stories from staff and outside contributors. 

Congress: The (Seeming) Demise Of The Congressional Research Service

image from wamo.s3.amazonaws.comGot 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 FixesDo National Standards Have A Chance?; He also penned a 2005 book: Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards.  Image used with permission.

Quotes: Chicago Teachers Union Blames Mayor For Jackie Robinson Little League Scandal

Quotes2Mayor Rahm closed half a dozen schools in Jackie Robinson West’s part of the city, and tried to close the school where the founder of JRW worked. Then CPS cut funding for high school freshman sports, laid off a thousand teachers.

-- CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey in The Nation (Gentrification Is the Real Scandal). Quote slightly edited for clarity.

Charts: No, There Aren't Really More Black Men In Jail Than In College

The myth that there are more black men in prison than in college  debunked in one chart   Vox

According to Vox, it's not even close.  But people keep saying it anyway, probably because it vividly captures concerns about mass incarceration and African-American education achievement. Click the link for an explanation. Image used with permission.

AM News: LA State Supe Threatens Common Core Districts With Zeroes

La. Supt.: Zeroes for Schools Avoiding 'Core' Tests The Advocate: Tackling a bubbling controversy, state Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday that state and federal rules require Louisiana to proceed with plans to give Common Core tests next month. Schools and districts are set to get zeroes for students who avoid the tests.

Spat highlights jockeying among Clinton campaign surrogates Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: "At the end of the day, when we have a candidate that we nominate, Democrats will be together," saidRandi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers and a Priorities board member, adding that Brock had done "terrific work."

Funeral for Muslims Killed in Chapel Hill Draws Thousands NYT: “Please involve the F.B.I.,” Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose daughters and son-in-law were killed Tuesday in North Carolina, implored at a service. 

Nation’s high school graduation rate ticks up for second year in a row Washington Post: The nation’s high school graduation rate ticked up for the second year in a row, according to new federal data released Thursday showing that 81 percent of the Class of 2013 graduated within four years. See also PBS NewsHour, HuffPost, EdBeat.

Louder Than A Bomb 2015: The 15th Annual Chicago Youth Poetry Festival WBEZ: The largest youth poetry festival in the world, Louder Than A Bomb--Power To The Poets, celebrates its 15th anniversary of giving students a global platform from which to share their stories. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: LA State Supe Threatens Common Core Districts With Zeroes" »

#TBT: New America Foundation Education Event (Eight Years Ago)

image from photos1.blogger.com

Here's a #TBT picture from a January 2007 New America event in DC. Can you name these current and former educationistas without cheating (by looking here)? I know that two of them are still in the game, but I'm not sure about the others. 

Got any TBT education pictures or blog posts you think folks would enjoy seeing? Send them to me at @alexanderrusso or AlexanderRusso@gmail.com.

Thompson: Re-Evaluating the Gates MET Study

Dana Goldstein’s remarkable contribution to the AEI conference on edu-philanthropy, Paying Attention to Pedagogy while Privileging Test Scores, starts with the reminder that (except for Education Week) little of the MET’s media coverage “explained the study’s key methodology of judging all modes of evaluating teachers based on whether they predicted growth in state standardized test scores.”

Neither did the media typically point out that the foundation advocated for the use of test score growth in evaluating teachers before it launched the MET. Legislation requiring the use of student performance was "driven, in part, by close ties between the Gates Foundation and the Obama administration.”

Goldstein thus asks the question that too few have uttered:

How is research received by scholars, policymakers, and practitioners when the sponsor of that research—and political allies including the president of the United States—have already embraced the reforms being studied? And is anyone paying attention when the conclusions of such research appear to contradict, or at least to complicate, some of the core assumptions of that reform agenda?

Goldstein’s narrative is consistent with the equally great analysis of Sarah Reckhow and Tompkins-Stange which placed the rise of Gates’ advocacy and the pressure for value-added evaluations within the context of “the organizational food chain,” and how changes in the status of their policies can be “ascendant and rapid.”

The outcomes produced by the previous Gates small school experiment had been “a disappointment to the resolutely data-driven” organization, and the stars were aligned for a dramatic edu-political push. Reformers like the Education Trust had been pushing for incorporating test score growth into teacher evaluations. And, despite the unproven nature of their claims for value-added evaluations, VAMs represented a ready-made, though untested, tool for advancing a teacher quality agenda.

The MET was under a similarly hurried schedule, with director Tom Kane promising a completed project in two years.

Continue reading "Thompson: Re-Evaluating the Gates MET Study " »

Media: Who Covered Yesterday's House NCLB Markup Best?

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. 

Charts: Union Coverage & Membership Fall Below 50 Percent

image from imgur.comIt's not just union membership that's declining, reports USA Today, but also the percentage of teachers who are covered by a union contract. Image used with permission. 

Quotes: Bolstering Executive Function To Help "Problem Readers"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe need to start not just giving flashcards, letters, and sounds the way we now do, but, especially if we know someone might be a problem reader, look at these other skills, at cognitive control and self-regulation.

-- UCSF researcher Fumiko Hoeft in The New Yorker (How Children Learn To Read) #stealthdyslexia

AM News: New Report Says Student Data Software Lacks Basic Security

Data Security Gaps in an Industry Student Privacy Pledge NYT: On the eve of a congressional hearing to explore the use of new technology in classrooms nationwide, a software engineer has found significant gaps in an industry effort to bolster student data security and privacy.

Schools Are Using Classroom Coaches To Keep Up With The Common Core EdSource via Huffington Post: A survey by EdSource of six California districts -- Garden Grove Unified, Santa Ana Unified, Whittier Union High School District, Visalia Unified, Oakland Unified and San Jose Unified -- showed that all are relying on coaches as they move forward to implement the Common Core.

Threat of mass testing opt-outs looms over schools SI&A Cabinet Report: Ongoing protest over Common Core testing has 14 Louisiana schools asking for penalty waivers which would keep the state from holding them accountable if parents decide to remove their children from teEdsting next month.

Texas, feds on collision course over No Child Left Behind Act Austin American-Statesman: Education Commissioner Michael Williams said on Wednesday that he will not enforce an educator evaluation system, which means the state could lose its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Jackie Robinson West stripped of Little League title WBEZ: In a stunning Wednesday announcement that came months after the all-black team, whose ages ranged from 11 to 13 years, captured the attention of the country and the hearts of its hometown, the baseball organization said it also found that after the league had changed the boundaries, some team officials went to surrounding leagues to convince them to go along with what they'd done. See also Crain's: Karen Lewis rips JRW decision.

Graduation Rates Rise; Gap Between Black and White Males Grows, Report Says District Dossier: A report released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education called for more action to address the disparity in graduation rates, academic achievement, and other factors such as out-of-school suspensions in the nation's public schools.

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

Continue reading "AM News: New Report Says Student Data Software Lacks Basic Security" »

Journalism: Three Education Stories I'd Like To See

Works Progress Administration 1938  James Vaughan FlickrHere are three stories I'd like to see (unless you've written or seen them already):

THE LAWSUIT ERA: Vergara and a few other high-profile education lawsuits -- combined with the legal strategy employed by gay rights advocates -- makes me think that we're overdue for a return to court-focused advocacy efforts. What are some of the most influential court cases of the past (besides Brown, of course), what are some of the most interesting cases currently being debated, and -- most fascinating -- what cases might be filed or floated in the coming years that could change the shape of education as we know it?

HOUSE OF COMMITTEE CARDS: For a few minutes, at least, all eyes are going to be on the House and Senate education committees.  But it's been a minute since anyone paid much attention. Who are the main players on the Committee and leadership staffs, and what are the behind the scenes relationships between advocates, lawmakers, and staff, that may influence the end result? Any think tankers with a hotline into the anteroom? Plus: Who's dating whom? Who's the best-dressed? Who's paid most?

NEWS STORIES DON'T INVENT THEMSELVES: There was a time earlier this winter when it seemed clear that someone was feeding the "dump annual testing" story to the media, creating a mini-firestorm of interest and speculation that according to some observers was designed to distract us all from harder, more important elements of the ESEA reauthorization process. But where'd that story come from, and in what other ways are advocates and policy wonks able to put their fingerprints on stories or even create trending topics?  You know it's happening -- they're not paying all those comms folks and strategists for nothing -- but you probably don't know how much. Yet. 

Image CC via Flickr.

Quotes: States Might Take Over More Districts Under Common Core

Quotes2I hear more state boards talking about it, even if they're not doing it yet... If you believe that more and more authority is going to go back to states — and I do — then you probably are likely to see it more. -- NASBE  Kristen Amundson in USA Today (More state takeovers of public schools possible)

Video: NJ Governor Chris Christie Revises Common Core Position

Here's Christie's latest pronouncement on the standards, which as the Des Moines register notes is a change from his previous position. Click the link if the video doesn't load.

Thompson: Reckhow's and Tompkins-Stange's Analysis of Edu-Philanthropic Convergence

Sarah Reckhow’s and Megan Tompkins-Stange’s 'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad begins in the glory days of test-driven, market driven reform, from 2008 to 2010, when the Broad Foundation  proclaimed,  “We feel the stars have finally aligned. With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.” 

Reckhow’s and Tompkins-Stange’s excellent contribution to the American Enterprise Institute’s conference of edu-philanthropy, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, ends with an illustration of the power of Broad and Gates Foundations’ “purposeful convergence” on advancing their accountability-driven beliefs. They quote a Gates Foundation insider:

There was a twinkle in the eye of one of our US advocacy directors when the Obama administration's...education policy framework came out...this person said...“aren’t we lucky that the Obama Administration’s education agenda is so compatible with ours, you know?”...We wouldn’t take credit...out loud even amongst ourselves....But, you know, the twinkle… 

Rechkow and Tompkins-Stange add that “the notion of a “twinkle”—rather than claiming credit more openly—highlights one of the more problematic aspects of the concentrated influence of Gates, Broad, and other foundations in the policy realm.”

The Gates Foundation had been reluctant to commit to a coordinated federal advocacy campaign until the election of President Barack Obama and the appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Their Ed in ’08 campaign had fizzled but, during the Obama years, 2/3rds of the states made significant changes to their teacher evaluation process.

'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad shows that this dramatic change was conducted in the “absence of a robust public debate.”

It is beyond the scope of Rechkow's and Tompkins-Stange's study but after reading their work, I wonder even more how it would have been possible for the Gates Foundation to have engaged in an adequate, private discussion of the costs and benefits of their favored policy. Behind closed doors, insiders may or may not have exchanged their opinions on value-added evaluations, but since the evidence required for a meaningful debate over the real world effects of those evaluations did not exist, I wonder if the lack of research on the policy implications of value-added was considered. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Reckhow's and Tompkins-Stange's Analysis of Edu-Philanthropic Convergence" »

Journalism: Another Erroneous "Deck" Distracts From Underlying Story

 Enough Is Enough   Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists   BuzzFeed NewsKudos to BuzzFeed's Molly Hensley-Clancy for digging out an angry letter from Chicago School Board appointee Deborah Quazzo and getting a follow-up interview with her about the dispute over Quazzo's investments in education companies while serving as a Board member.  

However, demerits to the deck-writing folks at BuzzFeed, who distracted many readers with copy that said Quazzo was no longer on the Board.  

See image at left.

This is the second time in recent weeks that a headline and/or "deck" copy (the sentence or two after the headline) has proven to be problematic for an education-related story.

The Atlantic's community colleges story, as you may recall, included a headline and deck that needed correction. See that story here.

Reporters sometimes suggest headlines and decks, but they're often written by others who aren't necessarily familiar with the story subject.

It's all cleared up here now, so we can go back to focusing on the embattled Chicago board member (and the looming mayoral race).

AM News: Chicago School Board Appointee Defends GSV Education Investments

"Enough Is Enough": Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists BuzzFeed: In an email yesterday, a prominent education technology investor encouraged industry supporters to fight back against a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that was critical of her role as a member of the Chicago school board. See also EdSurge.

Jeb Bush Talks Immigration, Education, Releases Emails As He Eyes 2016 Bid Huffington Post: In a visit to Florida's state capital on Tuesday, Republican Jeb Bush focused on the politically explosive topics of immigration and education reform, while emails were released from his time as governor there in an effort to burnish his credentials as he eyes a 2016 presidential bid. See also Palm Beach Post, PK12.

In Iowa, Chris Christie said he now has 'grave concerns' about Common Core Des Moines Register: Today, reporters and political operatives are talking about how Christie has in the past supported Common Core. Time magazine politics reporter Zeke Miller on Monday night tweeted a link to a video of Christie saying in 2013 that "we are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we're going to continue."

Five States Encounter Problems With PARCC Tests EdSurge: Connection issues, malfunctioning video players, error codes--these are just a few of the problems encountered on TestNav, PARCC’s student testing platform, as Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, New Mexico and Maryland conducted “infrastructure trials” in preparation for testing season in March.

Fewer than half of teachers now covered by unions USA Today: For the first time since the rise of teachers unions in the 1980s, the percentage of USA teachers represented by unions in public and private schools has fallen below 50%, suggesting that the demographics of the teaching profession and the shift away from traditional schools are taking a toll on union membership.

High-School Equivalency Degree Loses Its Dominant Position WSJ: The new GED, which is more expensive in many states and harder to pass for test takers, has provided an opening for competing products. Already, 10 states have chosen an alternative to the GED, seven additional states offer two or three tests, and state officials in Washington and New Mexico are considering new options. See also Hechinger Report.

Pro-charter school group estimates 14 percent enrollment gain nationwide Washington Post: The National Alliance of Public Charter Schools estimates in a new report that 2.9 million children now attend U.S. charter schools, up 14 percent from last school year.More than 500 new charter schools opened in the 2014-2015 school year and 200 charters were closed for reasons ranging from poor academic performance to financial problems, according to the organization.

Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget WSJ: Mr. de Blasio has said he supported a proposal to require city schools to serve breakfast inside the classroom—instead of just the cafeteria—a shift supporters say would increase participation rates in the city’s free breakfast program. But the program has yet to get off the ground under Mr. de Blasio. More than a year into the mayor’s first term, advocates say their frustrations are growing.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Chicago School Board Appointee Defends GSV Education Investments" »

Research: Self-Reported US Figures Overestimate Classroom Teaching Time

Teaching time  A new study finds that American teachers don t actually work much longer hours than their international peers.

"Year after year, the organization has found that American high school teachers spend about 73 percent more time on classroom instruction than colleagues in countries such as Finland and Israel," notes Alexandria Neason in Slate (Teaching time). "In fact, Abrams concludes, they spend only a modest amount of extra time teaching." How come nobody every noticed this before?  The previous numbers were too good to check, I guess. 

Charts: Reconsidering NCLB's Bad Rap

  Screenshot 2015-02-10 12.50.00 Screenshot 2015-02-10 12.50.10These pretty charts from Third Way (Did No Child Left Behind Work) will change no one's mind, if we've learned anything about minds being changed, but I will share them anyway (with permission), and recommend you read their writeup of the reality behind NCLB's bad rap.

Thompson: The Unsurprising Limits of School Choice in New Orleans & Elsewhere

Douglas Harris and Matthew Larson, in What Schools Do Families Want (and Why?) begin their paper, the first in a series of studies on the New Orleans experiment in choice, by explaining that it could be “the rare policy that increases both average student outcomes and the equity of outcomes at the same time, a win-win situation. Alternatively, choice may do more harm than good.”

Pre-Katrina, before the experiment in market-driven school improvement, the majority of students already attended schools other than their neighborhood schools. As Harris and Larson note, the widespread availability of choice should raise questions about its power to drive school improvement. Even so, some commentators have expressed shock at their study’s prime conclusion, the lowest income families “weigh academic outcomes somewhat less than higher-income families.” Harris and Larsen find:    

While very-low-income families also have greater access to schools with high average test scores, they are less likely to choose schools with high test scores. This is partly because their incomes and practical considerations prevent them from doing so. Being close to home, having siblings in the same school, and including extended school days are all more important to very-low-income families than other families. Also, compared with other New Orleans families in the public school system, very-low-income families have weaker preferences for SPS (School Performance Score) and stronger preferences in high school for band and football. 

I doubt that many teachers were surprised by the study’s findings. Other than true believers in competition-driven improvement of anything and everything, I wonder if how policy-makers with an awareness of poverty's constraints could have anticipated other conclusions.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Unsurprising Limits of School Choice in New Orleans & Elsewhere" »

Campaign 2016: Bush Stretched FLA Hispanic Student Accomplishments, Reports PBS

Fact check  Is Jeb Bush right about Hispanic students’ achievement in Florida The PBS NewsHour (online) notes that Jeb Bush's comments at the Detroit Economic Club last week included a claim that Florida Hispanic students were “two grade levels ahead of the average” that was "a stretch:  

"In 2009 and 2013, Hispanic fourth-graders in Florida did have the higher average reading scores than Hispanics in any other state. Yet, in 2011, Hispanic students in Kentucky and Maryland scored higher. In math, Hispanic fourth-graders in at least three other states scored as high or higher than their peers in Florida in 2009, 2011 and 2013.By the eighth grade, however, Florida’s Hispanic students are far from the very front of the pack."

The post also notes that it's not entirely clear that the increased scores that do exist are attributable to Bush reforms.  Check it all out here: Is Jeb Bush right about Hispanic students’ achievement in Florida?.

Morning Video: Language Immersion Programs

 

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

Learn more about native language programs from this NBC News segment (above or click here ). Or, watch and learn about dual immersion programs from the NY local NBC affiliate (via WNYC) here.

AM News: Broad Foundation Suspends Signature Award Program

Broad Foundation suspends $1-million prize for urban school districts LA Times: The action underscores the changing education landscape as well the evolving thinking and impatience of the 81-year-old philanthropist. See also NYT: Billionaire Suspends Prize Given to Schools.

GOP Lawmakers Talk Plans for NCLB Rewrite at School Choice Jamboree PK12: As it stands, the draft reauthorization introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in January includes a Title I portability provision that would allow parents to use federal dollars only for the public school of their choice, including public charter schools.

Rich School, Poor School NPR: With 169 years of experience between them in college advising or admissions, Finks, the school’s dean of college counseling, and his four associate deans and two support staff calmly dispense wisdom, manage expectations and offer practical training in such things as mock interviews for college aspirants.

Arne Duncan presses his case for innovation grants at D.C. school Washington Post: As Congress sets about rewriting the No Child Left Behind law, key Republican leaders have been clear that they want to give states much more latitude to spend federal education dollars as they see fit. To that end, leaders in both houses of Congress are seeking to do away with dozens of dedicated federal funding streams — including a signature Obama administration program called the Investing in Innovation. See also PK12.

Lawsuit seeks instruction intervention at 5 CA high schools EdSource Today: After winning a court order to improve academic conditions at one Los Angeles high school last fall, lawyers in a class action suit asked Thursday for an additional court order to compel the state to improve instruction time at five other California high schools in the 2015-16 school year.

Low vaccination rates at schools put students at risk USA Today: Hundreds of thousands of students attend schools — ranging from small, private academies in New York City to large public elementary schools outside Boston to Native American reservation schools in Idaho — where vaccination rates have dropped precipitously low, sometimes under 50%. California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Arizona, Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia also were included in the analysis.

No profit left behind Politico: A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Broad Foundation Suspends Signature Award Program " »

Quotes: "Fix The System Rather Than Applying A Patch"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. -- Woodrow Wilson Institute's Arthur Levine in the NYT (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) via GT

Corrections: NYT Front-Pager Mis-Identifies Ed Trust President

Nyt tfa correctionGender is just a construct and the error has long since been corrected online, but last week's front-page story about TFA (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) apparently included a mis-identification of the Education Trust's Kati Haycock as male. Anything else wrong or missing from the piece? Let us know. NYT corrections are always so deliciously awkward.

 

 

AM News: Testing Critics Flood Congressional Inboxes, Annoy Staffers

Anti-Testing Advocates Flood Congressional Staff Inboxes PK12: Did it work? Actually, it seemed to have made at least one aide pretty cranky. If you think a flood of 800-plus emails are enough to stop a government-supplied Blackberry in its tracks, you're right. "This is bullying," the aide said. "We're trying to be really thoughtful on a range of issues, including assessments, in a really short time frame. We're doing the absolute best we can. And this makes it even harder."

Uncovering Security Flaws in Digital Education Products for Schoolchildren NYT: The law has long treated educational information as a category worthy of special protections, like credit or medical records, but the reality is often different.

Democrats Seek to Hit Jeb Bush With Comparisons to Romney AP: Not yet a formal candidate, Jeb Bush taking hits from Democrats who compare him to Mitt Romney

How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science NYT: Early educational experiences have a quantifiable effect on the courses students choose later, a study shows.

Starr’s record a mixed bag: Data show improvement, but there were missteps Washington Post: The listening tour came first, extending through Joshua P. Starr’s early months as the newly hired superintendent of Maryland’s largest school system. He crisscrossed Montgomery County in 2011, hosting town halls, dropping in on schools, hearing about budget strains and curriculum worries and performance gaps.

Malia Obama, Rap Tastemaker, Might Attend College in New York City Jezebel: Malia Obama, known 90s rap enthusiast and Joey Badass fan, is looking at universities this week—and cool New Yorkers who work very hard at being cool and calm are losing their shit because she's undergraduate shopping in the Big Apple.

Mom charged with threatening to blow up daughter's school AP: Authorities say a mother got so angry when told that her daughter had failed a New York state exam that she threatened to bomb the school....

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

Continue reading "AM News: Testing Critics Flood Congressional Inboxes, Annoy Staffers" »

Thompson: OK's Grassroots Revolt Against Testing Continues to Grow

Last week brought more evidence that the voices of students, parents, and teachers are being heard, in many or most places, and we are all fed up with bubble-in accountability. The Daily Oklahoman’s Tim Willert, in Oklahoma City School Leaders Hope Tour Will Give Elected Officials a New Perspective, reported that Superintendent Rob Neu, an eloquent opponent of test, sort, and punish, took newly-elected State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and other governmental leaders on a tour of schools. They visited my old high school, Centennial, hearing from some great student leaders and one of my best former colleagues.

The statement that gained the most attention was that of an elementary student who criticized high-stakes exams.  He said, “We’re just 10 years old, and we’re getting stressed out in the fourth grade.”

The Oklahoma PTA, which has also criticized stakes attached to standardized tests, encouraged parents to Opt Out of field tests. Moreover, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association responded to this parental pushback by issuing a reference guide on opting out. The Tulsa World’s Nour Habib, in OSSBA Issues Guidance to Opt-Out Requests by Parents, reports that veteran Superintendent Lloyd Snow said that the PTA’s call to parents to opt-out is “pretty telling.” He noted, “It’s a pretty strong message to policy makers that parents don’t like this environment.”

The week’s third big story is a “stinging new report” from the Southern Regional Education Board about opposition to value-added evaluations. The SREB conducted focus groups in 58 Oklahoma school districts and found a “lack of buy-in and trust in the system.” It found “a remarkable portion of teachers and principals interviewed in focus groups” question the validity of Oklahoma’s standardized test data. There was even more distrust of the metrics for teachers of non-tested classes. Tulsa, which is focused on its Gates Foundation teacher quality grant, didn't participate in the process.

The Tulsa World's Andrea Eger, in Commission Hears Report Critical of Oklahoma's Handling of Teacher Evaluations,  reported that State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister “shares some of those concerns and questions.”

Continue reading "Thompson: OK's Grassroots Revolt Against Testing Continues to Grow" »

Timeline: Ten Years Helping Districts Revamp Their Spending

Erstimeline

Mostly behind the scenes, ERS (Education Resource Strategies) has spent the past 10 years helping districts understand and revamp their spending priorities (usually focused on student-based budgeting).  Click here for the interactive timeline of ERS activities. Click here to see if your district has worked with them. Tell us here on on Twitter what your experience has been(@erstrategies). Image used with permission.

Morning Video: What You Missed At Yesterday's Edu-Philanthropy Event

Here's the video from yesterday's AEI event on education philanthropy, plus a link to the draft papers being prepared for an updated version of AEI's 2005 volume, "With the Best of Intentions.": 

 

I'll write separately about the chapter I contributed, but some other conference highlights for me included meeting lots of folks face to face (including AFT's Kombiz, HEP's Caroline Chauncey), seeing people for the first time in a long while (Arnie Fege, Mike Usdan), and learning all sorts of things from fellow chapter writers and panelists (like Jim Blew's dad was a teacher union official, and that there are still only a handful of political scientists working on education issues). You can also check out the Twitter-stream at #NewEdPhil.  

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

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

AM News: Schools, Parents Track Measles Outbreaks & Vaccination Levels

Five children at Chicago-area day care diagnosed with measles WBEZ: Public health officials say students, staff and faculty at the facility have been notified and anyone who hasn't been vaccinated for measles has been instructed to stay away from unvaccinated individuals for the next three weeks.

See also Texas Tribune: See Vaccine Exemptions by School District, AP: A Look at Some Vaccine-Related Legislation in Several States, HuffPost: These States Don't Require Vaccinations For Home-School Students, FiveThirtyEight: Much Of The World Is Better At Giving Their Kids Measles Vaccines Than The U.S., The Atlantic: Schools May Solve The Anti-Vaccine Parenting Deadlock.

House Democrats discuss updates to ‘No Child Left Behind’ law PBS NewsHour: They crowded into a small Capitol Hill hearing room Thursday for their own forum on changing the law in protest of Republicans’ handling of the issue. Votes on a GOP bill are anticipated soon. See also PK12: House Democrats Hold Their Own Session on Rewriting the NCLB Law.

U.S. Department of Education Remakes School Improvement Grant Program PK12: Under the regs, states that want to cook up their own turnaround interventions for low-performing schools using federal SIG dollars and submit them to the U.S. Secretary of Education for approval will need at least one rigorous study to back up their approach. 

Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America NYT: The group has warned school districts and charter school chains that the size of its corps of teachers this fall could be down by as much as a quarter.

The Education of Jeb Bush National Journal: GOP presidential hopeful has question for post-industrial America: "Can we shed a skin and renew ourselves?"

LAUSD school board candidates face off in debate KPCC: In a debate Thursday night featuring candidates for the Los Angeles Unified's school board District 5 seat, differences emerged on issues such as charter schools, testing and the problem-plagued student data system known as MiSiS. See also LA School Report: AFT president Weingarten visits town to give LA teachers a boost.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Schools, Parents Track Measles Outbreaks & Vaccination Levels" »

Events: Today's Education Philanthropy Event At AEI

In case you hadn't figured it out by now, I've been at AEI all day today talking about the "new" education philanthropy. That's me in the middle, flanked by Goldstein, Kelly, Blew, and Hess. #newedphil is the hashtag.  Video and draft papers to come.

Throwback Thursday (#TBT): Anya Kamenetz, Circa 2006

Screenshot 2015-02-04 12.29.16
One of the nice things about having been writing about education so long is that I now get to participate in #TBT (Throwback Thursday), through which the Internet celebrates (or laments) the past. This week's entry is a 2006 blog post about Anya Kamenetz, now NPR's lead education blogger and author of the exquisitely well-timed new book, The Test.Titled Another Great(?) Education Writer I've Never Heard Of, the post dates back to Blogspot days (before EdWeek, before Scholastic).

Morning Video: Early Childhood College Applications (While AEI Livestream Is Down)

 

The AEI Education event #NewEdPhil livestream is down, and you can find the House Dems' NCLB forum on your own. Here's yesterday's NYT early college awareness video, plus more here.

AM News: House Democrats Holding Solo NCLB Reauthorization Hearing

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.

Update: Clinton Comes Out As Pro-Vaccination, & CA Might End "Personal Belief" Exemption

It wasn't entirely clear what Hillary Clinton's views on vaccination were -- until now. "The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork," she says (via Twitter). And, according to NPR, California is considering joining 30 other states that don't allow parents to list personal beliefs as a way to bypass vaccination requirements.

Charts: Big Cities Will Get Much Less Money Under Alexander Bill, Says CAP

Screenshot 2015-02-04 14.29.26Enough 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.

Magazines: Go, Team Scholastic!

Www.abmassociation.com images Neals 2014NealAwards Entries A5   COMMENT.EDU This Week in Education   Entry.pdfAs you should already  know, this site is sponsored by Scholastic Administrator, one of several education magazines published by Scholastic.  
 
What you may not be aware of, however, is that I also write a column and do newsmaker interviews for Scholastic Administrator (and sometimes am lucky enough to get to hang out in the company's lovely SoHo offices). 
 
The editorial staff  includes Wayne D'Orio, Chris Borris, and Frank Tagariello -- all of whom help make my columns and interviews look and read as well as possible.

Today's news is that Administrator and Instructor (one of the other magazines) are finalists for this year's NEAL Awards in several categories (best single issue, best subject-related package, best commentary (that's me), best theme issue, best instructional content (Instructor's Spring 2014 STEM package).

The awards are hosted by American Business Media and focus on business-to-business publications.
 
Administrator was a finalist for best commentary last year (pictured), among other categories.
 
 
 

Morning Video: Heart-Warming Story Of Unemployed Photographer & Bronx Middle School

Here's Ellen Degeneres interviewing the man behind "Humans of New York" and the student and principal who have become unintentional superstars. Target is jumping on the bandwagon, too.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.