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AM News: As Common Core Support Falls, NYC Mayor Forges Ahead

Support For The Common Core Plummets, Especially Among Teachers HuffPost: 40 percent of teachers said they opposed the Common Core -- more than triple the 12 percent who said they were against the standards in 2013.  Broken down by party lines, Republicans were much more likely to have switched their opinion than Democrats. 

How much did students really gain on Common Core tests in New York? Data doesn’t say Hechinger Report: Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Farina, pointedly confirmed their commitment to Common Core when they announced the test results. “Both promised to invest more in teacher training to help implement the new standards in the classroom.

Fight on Common Core Is Dividing Louisiana NYT: The fight has generated two dueling lawsuits, a standoff between Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state superintendent of education he appointed, and a sense of chaos among educators and parents.

No Safe Place: Ferguson Postpones Start of School Year WNYC: The decision to cancel school is one Scott Spurgeon, superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District, made on Monday. Spurgeon oversees the school district that includes the location where 18-year-old Brown was shot.

Undocumented Children Strain Miami Schools NPR: School administrators in South Florida are concerned about funding and resources for these new students, who often require extra attention. Some children have never attended school before, and others suffer from psychological trauma from the gang violence back home.

Los Angeles to Reduce Arrest Rate in Schools NYT: New policies with the aim of keeping students out of the court system will end citations for minor offenses like fighting or defacing school property.

Two Teens Arrested for Mass School Shooting Plot in Southern California AP: Two students at South Pasadena High School were arrested on suspicion of a plot that reportedly involved shooting three school staffers and then targeting as many students as possible.

How Chicago is Bringing Together Edtech Entrepreneurs and Educators EdSurge: At the second annual Collaborative last Thursday, August 14, over 650 educators from Chicago and surrounding areas and entrepreneurs from 37 startups gathered at the South Side’s Bridgeport Art Center to engage in panels, workshops and pitch sessions.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Is NPR Pro-Reform Or Con?

Initially, critics claimed @npr_ed was pro-reform (b/c Gates $$). Here @petercook suggests it's anti (b/c NOLA story) ow.ly/As6Zs

‘Vergara’ decision signals the start of a 3rd wave of ed reform - Joshua Lewis in The Washington Postow.ly/As6Oi

Overdue process for Duval County FL special ed teacher teacher, or illustration why job protections needed?ow.ly/As5C3

Rotherham not sure Rhee "drew fire away from other groups," then in next graf describes how she did just thatow.ly/As2MG

The Common Core Will *Not* Double The Dropout Rate http://ow.ly/ArZOZ  No matter what Carnegie Corp or @drjohnthompson say - @mrpabruno

Reform critics at @NetworkPublicEd add new board members to address lack of diversity, but botch rollout with "Crayon" comment.

All this and more throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Thompson: Frontline's Terrifying Portrait of Generation "Like"

How is Douglas Rushkoff’s PBS Frontline “Generation Like” different than semi-addictive social media that “reels” in people like they are a fish?

Rushkoff starts with some disturbing social media issues that perplex adults. He then lets students, and new media entrepreneurs, speak for themselves. This allows us to see the dynamism and the potentially wonderful use of the digital “mashup of commerce and culture” for “self-empowerment.”

By the time Rushkoff completely reels in the viewer, however, we recognize the true danger of a world where young people believe “you are what you like.” He explains a “meticulously planned marketing strategy” where young consumers become the marketers. The result is an “endless feedback loop” where every moment in a teen’s life is transformed into “a branding opportunity.”

At first, we can grin along with the energy and antics of “Baby Scumbag,” as the talented and immature social media star seeks validation. At first, his and his peers’ efforts to seek “fame by association” prompt mixed feelings. We can understand his claim “it’s all fun.”  As we see him “playing the class clown in public” to get skateboard freebies, the dynamics become more frightening.  Then, Rushkoff pulls us into an Orwellian world of “fame by association.” We recognize the horrifying essence of a commercial digital culture where “to stay alive” young people must “get people to like you.”

But, Rushkoff embodies the balance necessary to use social media to build a better world. He demonstrates the role that all adults should have played in listening and mentoring digital natives.

Like the young people portrayed in the documentary, I had no idea of how deliberate entrepreneurs are in engineering "serendipity by design." I hope that someday our generation won't be cursed by young people for ignoring our responsibility to help teach them to use and not be used by technology. While we are fighting over silly schemes to measure "outputs" and reward and punish educators, I fear that we are ignoring our real responsibility to today's students.-JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Quotes: NYC Mayor De Blasio Praises Predecessor For Common Core Focus

Quotes2They were right to focus on the Common Core curriculum. -- NYC Mayor De Blasio on Bloomberg decisions that led to NYC test score increases (WNYC Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests)

Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?

As was apparent at last week's discussion of the Vergara case between Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane, the current generation of school reformers is generally dismissive of legal cases in search of school improvements. 

Lawsuits don't work, or are at best crude measures compared to policies and statutes.Or, theyre good for quantity-related issues (like funding) but not for quality-related issues (like access to effective teaching). Check out Petrilli and McShane's responses to my Twitter query at the 30 minute mark.

They may be right. I'm no legal scholar, and it's certainly conventional wisdom that the wave of equity and adequacy cases of the 1970s and 1980s didn't result in any wholesale improvements in American education. Some would say the same about civil rights cases. 

But the Vergara case, its successors, and a whole host of non-education advocacy (same-sex marriage, for example), suggest that the conventional wisdom might be worth reconsidering, or at least examining.

Historically, it seems to me that legal cases have played an important role in shaping education -- perhaps as much or more so than laws that have been passed. I don't see any big advantage of one forum over the other.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?" »

AM News: New York Scores Up (But Union Still Won't Endorse Cuomo)

Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests WNYC: State Education Commissioner John King speculated on Thursday that the city showed more gains because it began training groups of teachers and principals in the Common Core learning standards a few years ago, ahead of other districts. 

N.Y. Union Won't Endorse in Governor's Race Teacher Beat: NYSUT opted not to endorse Cuomo or any other candidate for the 2014 governor's race.

Why The Atlanta Testing Scandal Matters NPR: The pressure placed on schools and educators by high-stakes tests can lead to unintended consequences.

Helping Students Make Sense Of A Young Black Man's Death In Missouri NPR: The shooting of Michael Brown may raise questions for students, and teachers need to be prepared.

 Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts NYT: The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a cigarette tax for the city that would make the budget reductions temporary.

LAUSD says it's not subject to state's 'parent trigger' law this year NYT: In a letter last year, a U.S. Department of Education official told Deasy the federal waiver did not exempt L.A. Unified from identifying schools for improvement, corrective action or restructuring, and did not affect any related state laws.

 

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

Continue reading "AM News: New York Scores Up (But Union Still Won't Endorse Cuomo)" »

Twitter Friday: News & Commentary Here, On Facebook, & Via Twitter

It's a Friday in August and so I'll be updating the site -- lightly -- via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook and here). See it all below. Have a great weekend!

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: US Teachers Double OECD Classroom Average

US teachers' classroom hours (double OECD avg) prevent changes @elizwgreen book promotes, writes @smosle http://ow.ly/AjTnG 

Green's new book ultimately rejects reflects on @Doug_Lemov's methods touted in 2010, notes @smosle http://ow.ly/AjSq6 

45 pct of teachers think CC *tests* will improve achievement; nearly 70 pct believe CC = improved instruction http://ow.ly/AjVGk 

Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe will join board of pro-Vergara group @studentsmatter, reports @Morning_Edu 

Valerie Strauss's annual break from criticizing reform efforts is out today: #thankscommoncore ow.ly/Al2Ww

Wait, what? Kansas comes in #5 among states with best school systems http://ow.ly/Akgvx  @huffpostedu @rklein9

All this and much much more at @alexanderrusso.

 

Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure

The Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits broke the news on Tuesday.  The Sacramento Bee followed up with a focus on Rhee's work on behalf of her husband, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who may run for higher office in two years.  Beaten badly on the news, Politico published a misleadingly negative account of Rhee's accomplishments, noting her successes only in the bottom half of its story.

However, it's not really news that Rhee and her organization made crazy demands and didn't coordinate well with others or that she didn't reach her $1 billion fundraising goal.  Just recently, she listed a set of states suitable for Vergara-like lawsuits without (I'm told) consulting with Campbell Brown's organization. And no doubt, Rhee et al made a bunch of mistakes. (Focusing on ending seniority in layoffs was the biggest among them, in my opinion.)

But much of the criticism now focused on Rhee is the product of anti-reform advocates gleeful at her departure and thin-skinned reformer who didn't like being elbowed aside while Rhee was on the front pages and generally failed to support or defend her against the relentless critiques of anti-reform advocates who dominate the online discourse and influence many reporters.  (For a recent example of just how dominant reform critics are online, read this US News story: Common Core Opponents Hijack Supporters' Twitter Blitz.) 

Continue reading "Roundup: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like Figure" »

Bruno: A Goodbye & Retrospective

I've been contributing posts to This Week in Education since January 2012, when Alexander kindly invited me to begin writing. This, however, will be my last post here.

Last week I submitted my resignation at my teaching job which, for a variety of reasons, was not a good fit for me.

I don't have firm plans for what I'm going to be doing next - possibly teaching, possibly some consulting work, probably something education-related - but investigating other opportunities was going to be easier for me if I wasn't simultaneously working full time. (And if you've got suggestions for cool jobs I should be applying for, let me know!)

While I make these transitions - including, potentially, the transition out of the classroom - I'm going to be scaling back the blogging.

To some extent this is about time constraints and focus, but it is also because it's less clear what "point of view" I will represent going forward - teacher? former teacher? consultant? interested citizen? - and I don't want to have to worry about my credibility in the eyes of readers.

I may still write at my personal site, and you can always find me on Twitter, but I will no longer be contributing here.

With that being said, now is also a good opportunity for me to reflect on the last two-and-a-half years. Below the fold, I'll reflect and offer a short retrospective.

Continue reading "Bruno: A Goodbye & Retrospective" »

Morning Video: "Freedom Schools" Still Needed, 50 Years Later

From the PBS NewsHour: 50 Years On, Freedom Schools Still Teaching Most Vulnerable includes interview with founder of the program, who went on to start the Children's Defense Fund.

AM News: Teachers Union Wins Another LA School Board Election

Teachers union-backed candidate George McKenna elected to Los Angeles Unified school board LA Daily News: The 35,000-member union threw its weight behind McKenna, who was outspent 3 to 1 by Alex Johnson and his supporters, which included a political action committee affiliated with charter schools.

Outspent by rival, McKenna drew on connections in school board victory LA TImes: In this week's election for a seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education, one side had deep pockets and extensive political connections; the other side had people such as Orley Frost Jr.

McKenna victory gives appearance of a pro-teacher union board LA School Report: Since her upset win, board member Monica Ratliff has been held up as the epitome of the David and Goliath-style triumph over big money reform.

With Tueday's school board loss, charter advocates recalculate KPCC: After Tuesday's defeat of another of their candidates to the Los Angeles school board, charter school advocates are rethinking how to support local candidates.

Ex-Head of Washington Schools Steps Down at Advocacy Group NYT: Rhee said that it was “time for my next step in life” and that she would focus on her family and support her husband, Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, as “he continues to move forward with his career.” 

Michelle Rhee drops out of school group Politico: As she prepares to step down as CEO, she leaves a trail of disappointment and disillusionment.

State Attorney General wants two teacher tenure lawsuits to become one Chalkbeat NY: The attorney general’s office writes in the filing that the request was made “to avoid the possibility of conflicting findings” and because the two suits “involve the same legal and factual issues and seek the same relief.” The attorney general’s did not provide further comment.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Union Wins Another LA School Board Election" »

Tenure: Public Divided On "Too Easy/Hard To Fire" Teachers

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 1.18.40 PM"Only 31 percent of respondents said they thought it is too difficult to fire public school teachers in their state. Conversely, 12 percent of respondents said it was is too easy to fire teachers, and 27 percent said the difficulty level was about right." (HuffPost). Image used with permission.

Lunchtime Video: Paying Kids For Learning In Memphis

Here's the video that goes along with the story in Politico. Click here if the video doesn't load properly.

Thompson: How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate

I received an enthusiastic response, especially from educators, regarding last week's TWIE post Common Core Will Double the Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation.  

The piece also produced some pushback from persons who question the Carnegie Corporation projection and who assert that districts would do whatever is necessary to avoid such an increase in dropouts.

Before addressing research and testing issues, I would like to explain why so many urban educators anticipate that an unconscionable number of low-skilled students will be pushed out of school by the botched implementation of Common Core.

For over a dozen years, too many students have only been taught to parse simple, straightforward sentences and paragraphs, and to answer primitive right-wrong questions. These students need to unlearn these deplorable habits that were worsened by education malpractice encouraged by bubble-in accountability.

The transition from these simple, but counterproductive, worksheet-driven behaviors to meaningful learning is necessary. But, it won't be quick, cheap or easy. The rate by which low-skilled students unlearn the legacy of rote instruction, and master authentic learning, will first be determined by the time it takes for students to rebound from inevitable setbacks. The pace by which teachers help students master new learning skills will be determined by their success in rebuilding the confidence of students after they face defeats.   

As has long been explained by the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, the job of counseling and remotivating students to meet much higher standards is far beyond the capacity of teachers in high-poverty schools. The supports students need require a "second shift" or teams of educators.

Continue reading "Thompson: How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate" »

AM News: What Happens If/When Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst?

Michelle Rhee Prepares To Leave CEO Job At StudentsFirst, Group She Founded HuffPost: The change comes as the education reform movement that Rhee spearheaded has a new face: Former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown. 

Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School? Politico: In Memphis, Mayor A.C. Wharton, a Bloomberg ally, has engaged in what amounts to a four-year-running battle with his city council to pony up relatively modest sums (less than $1 million a year) to offset the roughly $6 million being invested by Bloomberg’s philanthropy and federal grants.

Kansas Union Challenges Tenure-Repeal Law TeacherBeat: The Kansas National Education Association is challenging provisions tacked onto a 2014 budget bill eliminating due process.

McKenna wins key L.A. school board seat, according to unofficial results LA Times: Veteran school administrator George McKenna won his bid for a key seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education besting political newcomer Alex Johnson, according to unofficial results released Tuesday night.

Smartphone Apps Help To Battle Campus Sexual Assaults NPR: Several new smartphone apps offer quick ways for college students facing dangerous or uncomfortable situations to reach out to friends, connect with resources on campus or call the police.

What Robin Williams Taught Us About Teaching NPR:  As a young, handsome, floppy-haired English teacher with the highly apropos name of John Keating, Williams makes the classroom a stage, pulling out all the stops to get his students excited about the wonders of poetry, and, by extension, life.

Video: School supplies cost $20-$100 more this year Today: A survey found that supplies for a middle school student will cost an average of around $312 this fall, up about $100 from last year. Outfitting a student in high school will run about $350, up by about $20. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: What Happens If/When Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst?" »

Is a Hard Life Inherited? - NYTimes.com

Quotes2Just as wealthy Americans inherit opportunity, working-class men inherit adversity. -- Nick Kristof (Is a Hard Life Inherited?)

 
 

Morning Audio: 53K Chicago Parents Choose Other *District* School Over Neighborhood Assignment

 The choice debate often gets boiled down to district vs. charter schools, with district advocates claiming that they're being disadvantaged and charter schools claiming much the same.  

But if you click "play" on this very recent Chicago Public Radio story you'll learn it's not quite as simple as all that.  Neighborhood schools in Chicago are losing local kids not just to charter schools (and to dwindling enrollment in the district over all) but to other neighborhood programs.

According to the Linda Lutton piece, "52,963 grammar school kids choose neighborhood schools that are not their own. That’s almost as many kids as attend charters, gifted schools and magnets combined." (More Chicago kids say 'no' to their neighborhood grammar school)

AM News: Release Of NY Test Questions Prompts Demands For More

Weingarten pushes NY state to release more test questions ChalkbeatNY: The state’s release of 50 percent of the questions represented a jump from last year, when it released a quarter of the questions. But educators and parents have pushed for the state to release even more questions, which some have criticized as developmentally inappropriate or poorly crafted.

Diversity on the Rise Among TFA Recruits TeacherBeat: TFA's newest corps is its most diverse ever, with fully half identifying as people of color.

Putting Power Tools In The Hands Of 5-Year-Olds NPR: To move kids away from computer screens, a new wave of learning programs is emphasizing hands-on activities. Like building stuff.

Lunch lady rises to teachers union leader and takes on all comers, bluntly Washington Post: She began her career in a school cafeteria, as a lunch lady. In three weeks, she will take over as head of the nation's largest labor union, representing 3 million educators. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Release Of NY Test Questions Prompts Demands For More" »

Site News: On Deadline -- Taking The Day Off

Highres_136748192I'm on deadline for a couple of freelance projects today, so there will be little or no blogging from me unless I can't bear it or really need to procrastinate.  

For morning news headlines, try Real Clear Education or Politico or AISR's Morning News.

For video clips, check out the MSNBC segment that taped/aired yesterday featuring Derrell Bradford.  

For smart, independent commentary that takes everyone to task in roughly equal measure, you'll have to wait until tomorrow :-).

I might tweet out a few things -- or you may have missed some recent tweets from over the weekend (yes, it's true).  You'll find that at @alexanderrusso.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Endorse, Oppose, Or Stay Out Of The Race?

Unions vary political strategies in places where they are at odds with Dem governors, notes @eia's Antonucci ow.ly/A7Xex

Fordham's @MichaelPetrilli interviews @elizwgreenabout her book-length followup to her 2010 NYT article ow.ly/A7bVn

Chicago releases improved test score results -- too bad they're not on the annual state tests - District299 ow.ly/A6wsS

Map: Handful of states (CA, TX, FL, NY, VA) getting biggest numbers of unaccompanied minorsow.ly/A7Nba @l_maxwell

New series on Dems & choice features opeds from @parentrev @dfer @rwhitmire Doug Tthill Myles Mendoza Gloria Romero ow.ly/A7pF4

30 Ed Applications of Google Glass include teacher eval, teacher's view, ow.ly/A7ftu

NYT Schools for Tomorrow Conf 9/9 includes @RickKahlenberg @paultough @MichelleRhee ow.ly/A6Ta9

 

Quotes: In Violent Neighborhoods, Kids Become "Immune" To Death

Quotes2I remember being so immune to death, so immune to shootings, killings. I just remember wanting them to rush, like get the body out the way so we can get back to playing hopscotch or dodgeball. -- Monica Jaundoo Of Parkville, Md. (NPR Race Blog)

Campaigns: Parent Revolution & The AFT Walk Into The Same Organizing Event

What happens when Democratic education advocates on opposite sides of many policy issues attend the same campaign training events?  Things get awkward.  That's apparently what happend at a recent New Organizing Institute event when members of the AFT and Parent Revolution both showed up and -- I'm speculating here -- didn't much want to be put at the same table brainstorming ideas together. 

The NOI is a relatively new outfit, and its work was written up earlier this week in the Post (Inside the Democratic party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry): 

"With the real midterms fast approaching, Democrats areager to put more people in the field who've been trained in the latest campaigning techniques... Boot campers have gone on to some of the most prominent left-leaning organizations in the country — such as AFL-CIO, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood, not to mention the White House and political firms like Blue State Digital."

It makes sense that both groups would be there, given how hard everyone's trying to figure out/get better at campaign and mobilization work these past couple of years in particular.  I've heard that similar things have happened at the Marshall Ganz boot camp, too. 

Related posts:  NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To BostonCommunity Organizing & School Reform;  The Left's Getting Itself Organized, Too.

 

 

 

Morning Video: Another Day, Another Campbell Brown Segment

 

"Campbell Brown, founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice, and Keoni Wright, a NY Parent who is a plaintiff in the Wright v NY lawsuit against the state, joined Inside City Hall with Errol Louis to discuss their call to change New York’s teacher tenure rules."

AM News: Everybody's Looking At NY's Common Core Questions

Take a peek at some of the newly released NY state reading questions Chalkbeat: Below are two reading sections, one from grade 3 and another from grade 8, along with handwritten student responses to questions. We took all of the them from the State Education Department’s set.

Just How Hard Are Common Core Tests? See For Yourself HuffPost: New York State's Department of Education released about half of the questions that were used on this year's math and English tests, allowing the public to see what kinds of items were on the controversial Common Core tests. 

Checking in on Common Core WBEZ: During the last two weeks of school, seventh graders in Wheatley’s class were reviewing for their final test of the school year. The desks in her room were set up in clusters of four—a common arrangement for all of the Common Core lessons WBEZ sat in on. Students would work for 15 minutes reviewing each skill and then pass the materials to the next group over and start on another.

Education Reform Is Becoming A Celebrity Cause NPR: Celebrities are becoming a prominent fixture in the debate over K-12 education.  Comic Louis C.K. is one of many celebrities to come down hard on the Common Core academic standards. And NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas wrote an op-ed in support of the Common Core.

Michelle Obama, Laura Bush push for girls' education Chicago Daily Herald: Mrs. Bush "set a high bar for me during her time in the White House" and has long been a source of inspiration, Mrs.Obama said. "I consider her not just a role model but also a friend," the first lady said. 

Tests That Look Like Video Games NPR: Imagine you're playing a computer game that asks you to design a poster for the school fair. You're fiddling with fonts, changing background colors and deciding what activity to feature: Will a basketball toss appeal to more people than a pie bake-off?

Feds Single Out Va. Schools For Restraining And Isolating Misbehaving Students WAMU: The U.S. Department of Education has singled out two Virginia schools for routinely putting students in isolation or physically restraining them in response to misbehavior.

Why I'll Never Read Another Parenting Book NPR:  Anxious parents are big business, and parenting books — along with baby monitors that track breathing, baby baths that digitally control water temperature and tutors for preschoolers — are an important segment of the insecurity economy.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: "Half-Day" Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

Lets retire the full day and half day#ECE labels. bit.ly/1vg4q7U @NewAmerica

Six Myths in the NYT Math Article | Brookings Institution http://ow.ly/A45td 

Common Core Is Boring - @conorpwilliams in TPM http://ow.ly/A4vsu 

Tests That Look Like Video Games : NPR Ed : NPR http://ow.ly/A4qVO 

15 Strategies for Placing Excellent Teachers in High-Need Schools - EdWeek ow.ly/A4w3b 

Is the Duolingo language app good enough to prep students for the TOEFL? ow.ly/A4SKO  

Writeup of @dfer CA re-launch in Long Beach last weekow.ly/A4WAe @SteveBarrLA

Who does @campbell_brown think she is, asks @citizenstewartow.ly/A4RYX +41 comment

Throwback Thursday: What Was Going On Five Years Ago Today (August 7, 2009)?

Throwback Thursday #tbt is a big thing on Facebook but why should they have all the fun?  

So I took a look at what was happening five years ago in education by checking out the blog archives.  

Right about now 5 years ago, I was still posting Duncan's weekly schedule.

Thompson was still (already) raising hell (The True NEA Revealed).

There were furloughs in ATL (Furloughs alter teachers' schedules, paychecks). 

I posted the opening monologue from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The Feds were investigating the use of clout to get well-connected Chicago kids into elite schools.

Readers still commented on posts rather than ranting on Twitter. (I was still telling people How To "Do" Twitter", and trying to fool you about undocumented TFA teachers. 

What else happened in August 2009?

There were lots of vacations taken. I was still reading ASCD's SmartBrief (is it still there?).

Quotes: Teachers Just "Loving Kids" Isn't Enough

Quotes2“Every single time I get on a plane I’m really glad that the plane is not being flown by someone who just always loved planes." - Teacher quoted in review of Elizabeth Green's new book about preparing teachers better.

Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"

For me, the hands-down top new Twitter feed in education in 2014 is @thnkscommoncore, but I may be alone in that.

The much more official and deeply-considered Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014 are quite another thing, according to the folks at Education Next who put out the annual update.

This year's version includes three lists -- top overall, top individual, and top organization.  There's lots of overlap, and no doubt some of the accounts (Arne Duncan and USDE) are being run by the same social media manager.

On a related note, should individual accounts for folks like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee that are presumably run by more than one person be included in the list of "people"?

As in the past, the list focuses on Klout scores rather than numbers of followers.  It's not clickable, or re-sortable (by followers, say).  I've asked for a Twitter list so that you can subscribe to all these folks with a single click, and crossed fingers it might happen (yay!).

As Petrilli notes, here are a couple of newcomers in the form of the Badass Teachers Association and founder Mark Naison, which should yet again have reform advocates reconsidering their disinterest in becoming involved in social media.  (Newcomer Campbell Brown is on the list, but I don't think anyone's expecting her or her organization to carry the reform message on Twitter and Facebook single-handedly.)

CAP and New America also made it -- apparently their first time.

Other observations, profound and otherwise are below the fold.  A few folks made it on the list with high Klout scores but very few followers, about which I have mixed feelings.  Some venerable education policy types aren't on this year's list, lots of mainstream media journalists and journalistic outlets aren't included either (for lack of policy or lack of activity, it's not clear).

Continue reading "Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" " »

AM News: Vergara Backers Join One Of Two NY Tenure Lawsuits

Group behind Vergara suit joins anti-tenure challenge in New York ChalkbeatNY:The lesser-known of two lawsuits aimed at taking down New York’s teacher tenure laws got a boost on Wednesday.

Vergara Legal Team Signs On To N.Y. Lawsuit TeacherBeat: The high-powered lawyers that litigated the California suit will represent the plaintiffs in one of two suits targeting teacher tenure in New York.

Big Publishers See A Big Opportunity In Universal Pre-K BuzzFeed: When more than 50,000 children enroll in Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature prekindergarten program in New York City this fall, it will signal a major victory for advocates of early childhood education. To the country's largest education publishers, it will be a sign of something else, too: a major growth opportunity in a sphere that has, so far, been relatively small, fragmented, and underfunded.

Charter Schools Push Back Against New State Law's Measure on Closures Texas Tribune: In their lawsuit, the schools argued that because of the limited appeals, the administrative hearings violated their right to due process under the law. They also questioned why the new law had relied on accountability ratings that had predated its enactment.  

Should state sue Arne Duncan to get No Child waiver back? Seattle Times: The executive director of the association that represents Washington school superintendents says Washington state should challenge the revocation of the state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind law in federal court. 

More Chicago kids say no to their neighborhood grammar school WBEZ: Marsh is a classic neighborhood school. Ninety-four percent of the Chicago Public Schools students in Marsh’s attendance boundary are enrolled here, and that’s despite an explosion in families’ options — many more charter schools, gifted or magnet schools to choose from. Kids can even go to other neighborhood schools; while the district once insisted that a child live in the attendance boundary to enroll in a neighborhood school, that rule has been relaxed.

Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead NPR: Take two kids, the same age, who grew up in the same city. Which one is more likely to go to jail ... or college?

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Bad Teacher Math From Weingarten

Teachers avg 14 years of experience not 2, says @StudentsFirst's @jacobwaters about @rweingarten @AFTunion claims ow.ly/A1IhY

"Who The Fck Is Campbell Brown?" writes Esquire's angry political blogger, Charles P. Pierce ow.ly/A2dqO@ESQPolitics

‘The View' Hosts Apparently Love Teachers, Hate Tenure http://ow.ly/A1FnA 

Half-day and full-day labels mislead early education debate, notes @NewAmericaEd via @RedditEducation http://ow.ly/A1GaI 

20 states with new student-data laws | Marketplace.orgow.ly/A1GIU @adrienehill 

Jindal lawyer: Common Core a ‘scheme’ that breaks federal law - @caitlinzemma POLITICO.com ow.ly/A2dhF

Cool new learning space for LA's Locke HS @EdSurge@MJMadda ow.ly/A1J2Z @greendot 

Thompson: Common Core Will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation*

How did I miss it? The single most important study on Common Core implementation was published by the Carnegie Corporation in 2013, but its key finding has been ignored.

Hat tip to Tom Hoffman and Larry Ferlazzo for showcasing the evidence that is so unnerving.

Carnegie’s Leah Hamilton and Anne Mackinnon, in Opportunity by Design, and the McKinsey Group estimate that the implementation of Common Core (without first establishing a level of systematic supports that would clearly be impossible) would double the nation’s dropout rate.

Even if Common Core was implemented only by top-quartile teachers – who “'move’ student performance at the rate of 1.25 grade levels per year” – the best teachers “cannot possibly meet the demand to raise student achievement to Common Core levels.”

School reformers have long misused multi-colored graphs by the McKinsey Group to argue that improved teacher quality could drive school improvement. So, it is doubly important that Carnegie commissioned McKinsey to use the reformers’ data “to test whether or not it might be possible to avoid large drops in graduation rates using human capital strate­gies alone.”

A year ago, Carnegie and McKinsey concluded, “The short answer is no: even coordinated, rapid, and highly effective efforts to improve high school teaching would leave millions of students achieving be­low the level needed for graduation and college success as defined by the Common Core.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core Will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation*" »

Polarization: The Education Debate Could Be *Much* Worse

image from oaklandwiki.orgEducators and journalists like to talk about how extreme and polarized today's debate has become, and in some ways that's true.  Social media is full of extremism and polarization.  Democrats are fractured internally even as Republicans are being stretched to the right by the Tea Party movement (not dead yet!).

But still, it's almost entirely words and yelling and rallies and protests, painful and triggering to be sure but well short of property damage or physical violence that's taken place in the reproductive rights debate or even in education at times.

For a little bit of historical context , remember the murder of Marcus Foster, the superintendent of Oakland schools, in 1973.  

Yep, murder.  

Members of the group that called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army shot Foster and his deputy as they left a board meeting, killing Foster outright, in response to a student ID card proposal that Foster had actually helped water down, according to Wikipedia, anyway.

I didn't know about this either, by the way.  Just heard it on the radio and looked it up so I could wag my finger at everyone. Credit Oakland Wiki/CC BY 3.0

Quotes: No, Common Core Doesn't Mandate "Minecraft"

Quotes2Just because - let's say a fifth-grade teacher in Louisville, like we just heard, decides Minecraft is a great way to get his kids using grids. Well, that doesn't mean that teachers everywhere else are doing the exact same thing. -- NPR's Cory Turner (Debunking Common Myths About The Common Core)

Morning Video: AFT Head Debates Former LA Mayor On Tenure

In a followup to the Campbell Brown/David Boies segment earlier this week, Randi Weingarten and Antonio Villaraigosa talk teacher tenureon MSNBC's Morning Joe. (Other cable news shows, where are you?). More about the substance -- and the political back and forth -- at TeacherBeat.

 

AM News: NYC Mayor Touts National Pre-K Movement

De Blasio Cheers on National Pre-K Movement WNYC: The mayor spoke broadly about efforts to expand preschool access in cities such as San Francisco, Miami, and San Antonio—efforts he said are reshaping the national conversation.

Memphis-Area School Year Starts With Opening of Six Breakaway Districts District Dossier: Memphis-area suburban communities moved to form their own school districts in the wake of the merger of the Shelby County, Tenn., district with the financially-strapped city school system in 2011.

Michelle Rhee to Chair Her Husband's Sacramento Charter Group District Dossier: The former District of Columbia schools chancellor returns to the Sacramento charter school organization known as St. Hope Public Schools.

Dispute over Common Core gets personal AP via SF Gate: White issued a letter a few days later, saying he felt he was being personally attacked with suggestions of "unfounded malfeasance" within his office.

Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build A Better Brain NPR: Children learn their most important lessons on the playground, not in the classroom, researchers say.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Mayor Touts National Pre-K Movement" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: The "Myth" Of Tenure

What a union will - and won't - do to protect a teacher, according to AEI's Antonucci via @eduwonk http://ow.ly/zZuXJ  Accurate?

SEE ALSO: Tenure never protected teachers as much as is thought, but ending it will deteriorate teaching TCRecord:  http://ow.ly/zZfnR 

CA's new school funding system stumbles into its first year, says @hechingerreport http://ow.ly/zZrxh

Ed advocates of all kinds might do well to (re-) read this New Yorker article: Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral http://ow.ly/zYVlE 

Meet the left's new campaign think tank - WPost http://ow.ly/zZvJJ 

Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads - @TheAtlanticEDU Meghan Murphy http://ow.ly/zYOA4 

Are You A “Student Voice” Kind Of Educator?... http://ow.ly/zZrOy 

 

Afternoon Video: Whoopi Doubles Down On Rant Against Universal Tenure

Some celebrities shy away from taking a position that's going to bring them so much heat as well as some measure of admiration, and others simply don't agree that tenure is an issue, but Whoopi Goldberg seems to be up for the controversy. If only she'd been somewhat funny about it.... that always helps, right?

Quotes: "No One Can Fire Parents"

Quotes2Even better would be widespread parent boycotts. No one can fire parents. They have it in their power to pull the plug on this mess. I hope it comes to that. - Diane Ravitch (Pick Your Fights Carefully)

 

Morning Video: Campbell, Boies -- & Weingarten -- On MSNBC

 

Here's Campbell Brown and David Boies on MSNBC's Morning Joe yesterday morning, with mention of a Weingarten appearance later in the week.

AM News: AFT Pressures Force Split In Dem. Consulting Firm

Former Obama Aides Broke With Democratic Firm Over Anti-Teachers Union Project HuffPost:  Gibbs' liberal colleagues reacted angrily when news of the marriage surfaced, and the American Federation of Teachers made its displeasure known. Gibbs said the teachers union put pressure on New Partners as a result of his new client.  

With Uncertainty, Schools Prepare for New Arrivals Texas Tribune: The average stay is about 35 days. During that time, federal case workers attempt to track down relatives or other caregivers, like foster parents, to sponsor the children as they go through the legal system. Once they are placed with sponsors, they can go to public schools in their communities.

Literacy Laws Challenge Third Graders and Schools NYT: Anthony is one of about 1,900 children from the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District who failed the standardized reading test given to all North Carolina third graders in the spring. Under a recent law similar to those in more than a dozen states, such students in North Carolina may be required to repeat the grade. 

Hillary Clinton’s Fee for a Hometown Speech: Free NYT: The former secretary of state, who regularly commands $200,000 for speeches, returned to Chappaqua, N.Y., to address seven high school seniors at their graduation from a summer scholarship program.

'Building a Better Teacher' explores the complexity of teaching USA TODAY: Greg Toppo spoke recently with Green, who co-founded the Web-based non-profit education news site Chalkbeat. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: AFT Pressures Force Split In Dem. Consulting Firm" »

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: MA Charter Teachers Join Teamsters

MA teachers unionize via Teamsters not MTA or MFT - Worcester Telegram http://ow.ly/zVVAL  First time ever? @SteveBarrLA @aftacts [seems unlikely]

Sacto's St. Hope schools taps Michelle Rhee as board chair - The Sacramento Bee http://ow.ly/zVZ8c  via @RealClearEd

How Chicago & Philly Are Short-Changing Low-Income Students http://ow.ly/zVY7f  @rklein90

Check out this PD personalization webinar feat. ASCD & Scholastic experts next week 8/14 http://ow.ly/zWlzG  @ScholasticAdms

What happened when writer @elizwgreen stepped in and tried to teach a class herself? insidehighered http://ow.ly/zVe6V 

Media over-focusing on edtech failures vs. successes like McCallen, says proponent @EdSurge News http://ow.ly/zVblM 

Get news and commentary all day at @alexanderrusso.

Pop Culture: Pro-Reform Colbert Leapfrogs Reform Critic Stewart With Broadcast Move

Colbert via scholastic Stewart via scholasticRiffing off last week's Campbell Brown appearance on Colbert, TIME's Haley Edwards has an interesting article about the differences between the Comedy Central comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stwart (The Celebrity Death Match Over School Reform). 

If there's any doubt about Colbert's leanings, you only have to go so far as the Brown booking last week (and the protests that accompanied it), the Ravitch appearances on Stewart (but not Colbert), and Stewart's grilling of Michelle Rhee. Colbert's critique of the Common Core test questions was a slam on testing and those specific questions, in my opinion (see Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core).

The influence of the two comedians is well known (though hard to measure). One of them -- reform wins! -- is about to switch from basic cable to broacast TV. No word yet on whether Colbert's booker, Emily Lazar, is heading to the new show with him (The Most Important Media Insider You've Never Heard Of), or how much education-related bits we'll get to see in the future. 

Previous posts: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education (2014);  Colbert / Stewart Divide On School Reform (2011); Fear-Mongering Educators Dominate Colbert/Stewart Rally (2010).

Credits: (Colbert)  Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP; (Stewart) Mario Anzuoni/Reuters /Landov 

Quotes: Only Thing Worse Than The Common Core Is The Alternative, Says Ravitch

Quotes2This is a terrible idea. Legislators have no academic competence to write academic standards. This is a sure way to politicize American education. Politicians should do their work and let educators do their work. Educators are the experts on what students should know and be able to do. - Diane Ravitch (What’s Worse than Common Core? Legislators Writing State Standards)

Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?

As you might have noticed on Twitter, I've been enjoying a blog called Think Tank Watch that covers the industry -- trends, dynamics, comings and goings.  

It's not specifically focused on education -- and that's part of what makes it so useful.

Here's a recent post reviewing a new book (Why Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?) examing the rise of the think tanks.  Some of the main points include: 

  • Washington tanks tanks are not primary generators of original research; that function lies with universities.
  • Think tanks are known for their ability to scour the world for attractive ideas, to legitimate them, and to promote them through electronic communications.
  • Think tanks, over the past two decades, have emerged as a complement to, and in some cases a substitute for, lobbyists, due to the ability of think tanks to exploit the rapidly growing information search and propagation capacities of electronic communications.

I've got a whole category about education think tanks, which have supplemented/replaced universities in some regards thanks to their capacity to deliver new ideas quickly and say things more definitively than academics.  That's why we have think tanker Kevin Carey writing in the Times about higher ed rather than Professor So-And-So.  

Previous posts:  Power Couples: The Wonk & The Journo*Reform Debate Often Detached From Schools & ParentsSmarick Rails Against Anti-Democratic Attitudes & ElitesIt's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyBig Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]"Wait A Minute" [On Common Core].

Disclosure: I've written and done research for some foundations, nonprofits, and think tanks.

Morning Video: What You Missed At The KIPP 20Th Anniversary Summit

 

There was a big KIPP Schools Summit a few days ago, and Whitney Tilson has kindly gathered a bunch of videos from the event (his own plus official ones). Start with the First Lady's taped greeting, and then head on to the rest below. This one is pretty inspiring.

Continue reading "Morning Video: What You Missed At The KIPP 20Th Anniversary Summit" »

AM News: NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To Boston

Out-of-state group touting charter schools expands to Boston Boston Globe: Families for Excellent Schools , a nonprofit that has been mobilizing parents in New York City to push for more charter schools is expanding to Boston, a potential boost for local charter school supporters seeking to rebound after a crushing defeat last month. 

Celebrated Trial Lawyer to Head Group Challenging Teacher Tenure NYT: Mr. Boies, the son of two public schoolteachers, is a lifelong liberal who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore and prosecuted Microsoft in the Clinton Administration’s antitrust suit. In aligning himself with a cause that is bitterly opposed by teachers’ unions, he is emblematic of an increasingly fractured relationship between the Democrats and the teachers’ unions.

Amid Criticism, States Gear Up For Common Core NPR: Delaware Gov. Jack Markell co-chaired the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He speaks with NPR's Scott Simon about the set of standards, and responds to its critics.

Legislatures taking state education into their own hands Washington Post: The backlash against the Common Core has prompted lawmakers in at least 12 states to get more involved in setting their own K-12 academic standards, injecting politics into a process usually conducted in obscurity by bureaucrats.

Debunking Common Myths About The Common Core NPR: Many people don't realize it's a set of standards, not a curriculum. NPR's Eric Westervelt talks with education reporter Cory Turner about other misconceptions about the Common Core standards.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To Boston" »

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Departing House Leader Rails Against Neighborhood-Based School Assignment

Cantor decries neighborhood/school quality linkage  ow.ly/zQlsp USA Today via @RedditEducation  

Fact-Checking UFT’s Attack on NOLA Schools | PE + COow.ly/zQlp0 @petercook

Snapshot of Teacher Union Spending on House, Senate Campaigns  @PoliticsK12  ow.ly/zQ8ez  @laurenonthehill

Vox points out big but little-known hole in union spending figures ow.ly/zR1Ob

2014's top lobbying spenders so far - Washington Postow.ly/zQmeg Labor unions/teachers *not* among them

Why poor kids fail to show up for college - and lie to college counselors about it - Jay Mathews ow.ly/zQmBG

Knowledge Isn’t Power - NYT ow.ly/zPUAI Krugman on politicians and the public ignoring expertise

Campaigns: Those Union Spending Numbers Are Only Half The Story

Quotes2Unions are important financial powerhouses in elections, but much of their spending is done in such a way that it doesn't show up on FEC reports — it involves getting out the vote or internal communication with their members rather than paid TV ads.  Vox

John Thompson: Jal Mehta's Ten Inconvenient Truths

MehtaJal Mehta, in the Education Week blog Learning Deeply, discusses five inconvenient truths held by both reformers and education traditionalists. I'm not sure why he only mentions five minor blind spots held by reformers.

Perhaps Mehta is being diplomatic or maybe his excellent Allure of Order did such a great job of chronicling the failures of accountability-driven reformers that he didn’t see the need to repeat its diagnoses of their shortcomings. 

Frankly, I think Mehta has chosen a rhetorical path halfway between reformers and their opponents, and he believes he can do the greatest good by sticking to it. Metha is not playing politics; but he seeks consensus. 

I respect that. 

My five inconvenient truths ignored by reformers would be, first, high stakes testing and, second, increased segregation are inherently destructive, so reformers need a very strong reason for imposing either.

Third, education is an act of love and trusting relationships are the key but, fourth, the reformers’ politics of destruction and the demonization of teachers and unions undermine those relationships.

Fifth, reformers should have accepted the burden of proving that their policies would do more good than harm. 

Mehta’s critique of traditionalists, however, is profound.   Hardly a day passes when I don’t wrestle with his “Inconvenient Truth 1: Longstanding institutions are not good at doing things other than what they were initially designed to do.” Mehta’s insight applies to all social institutions, not just education.

Continue reading "John Thompson: Jal Mehta's Ten Inconvenient Truths" »

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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.