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Media: Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?

In case you hadn't heard, This American Life spinoff "Serial" is a big hit.  Focusing on the murder of a high school student in Maryland, it's a true-crime "whodunit?" with lots of excellent school-related characters and tidbits. One California teacher has replaced Shakespeare with the series.

But it's increasingly facing a major backlash, focused in part on the fact that the reporting team behind the piece is all white and the main characters are minorities: "What happens when a white journalist stomps around in a cold case involving people from two distinctly separate immigrant communities? Does she get it right?" (Success And 'Serial' Backlash - DiggSerial' & White Reporter Privilege - The AwlThe Complicated Ethics Of 'Serial,' - ThinkProgress).

I'll leave the merits and details of the pushback to others -- Conor F. at The Atlantic has a long piece defending the show -- to point out that a very similarly popular show by This American Life last year focusing on Harper High school in Chicago generated little such concern despite many similarities.

White reporters? Check. Set in and around a high school? Check. Minority community? Check. Widespread acclaim? Check.

According to some critics, Serial and TAL have a lot in common:  "Ethnic naïveté and cultural clumsiness are hardly unique to Serial. They’re woven into the fabric of its parent show, This American Life, which over its 20-year history has essentially made a cottage industry out of white-privileged cultural tourism," writes Quartz's Jeff Yang.

But Harper High didn't generate nearly as much criticism as Serial has. The two-part Harper High show (Episodes 487 and 488) won widespread accolades and to my knowledge just a smidgen of criticism. "In the end, I believe that [TAL's] coverage served to excuse many of the most harmful practices in our schools today and perpetuate some of the most harmful myths about urban education."

I can think of lots of possible reasons for the disparity -- though none is entirely satisfying. Perhaps "Harper High" is simply better than Serial, more careful to protect against stereotypes and white privilege. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping when immigrants (Korean- and Pakistani-American) are involved than African-Americans. Or, it could be that the criticism results from the multi-week format. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping in 2014 than we were in 2013?

Related posts: Scripps Honors This American Life's "Harper High";  What Happens When Harper's SIG Ends?Chicago Teacher Critiques "This American Life"

Thompson: With King Appointment, Obama Administration Kicks Teachers In The Teeth

I guess I'll never learn. After President Obama's wonderful appearance on the Colbert Report, I reverted back to the dream that the real Barack Obama would emerge. At this point in the second term, there doesn't seem to be a reason to keep up the teacher-bashing and union-bashing of the last six years.

The appointment of the divisive New York Education Commissioner John King to the USDOE can only be seen as a gratuitous attack on teachers. The title of Chalkbeat's recount of King's career, by Geoff Decker, Patrick Wall, and Sarah Darville, says it all: After a Turbulent Career, State Education Commissioner John King Stepping Down for a Federal Job Offer

Surely, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan doesn't think there is a constructive education rationale for the appointment. He must be sending a message to reformers who revel in bitter political in-fighting. During the last two years, Duncan seems to be saying, he will be loyal to corporate reformers. Educators and schools won't be getting any relief from this devastating turmoil.  

I have continually wondered whether we educators would be offered an olive branch. If it happened, I'd be thrilled to respond in kind. But, the administration continues to make its point; it is joined at the hip with the Billionaires' Boys' Club. This appointment is rubbing salt in our wounds.

We cannot allow Democrats to question our stick-to-it-ness. We can't endure another term with a Secretary of Education who will keep up this assault on our profession and our students. Now, more than ever, is time to release our anger. We can't just take these insults anymore.-JT(drjohnthompson)

Morning Video: Project-Based Schools Competing With Charters In Philadelphia

Here's a two-parter from Learning Matters/PBS NewsHour last week that you may not have seen. Part 1 above, focusing on Science Leadership Academy and other project-based schools. Part 2 here.

AM News: Storms, Spending Bill Secrets, & Departure Of NY Superintendent

Storm warning prompts school closures EdSource Today: More than half a dozen school districts across California will close Thursday in anticipation of a major storm that is damaging the state’s collective calm.

New York State Education Commissioner to Leave for Federal Post NYT: John B. King Jr. said he would take the No. 2 job at the United States Education Department. See also WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.

From Potatoes To Salty Fries In School: Congress Tweaks Food Rules NPR: The giant federal spending bill that's expected to go to a vote Thursday will give schools some flexibility in implementing nutrition standards. Also a winner: the potato lobby. See also PBS.

Spending Bill Would Fund Preschool Grants, But Not Race to Top PK12: A few education programs would take a notable whack, including Race to the Top, one of the Obama administration's signature competitive grants, which appropriators sought to scrap completely.

Obama’s Race to the Top loses all funding in 2015 omnibus spending bill Washington Post: President Obama and firstlLady Michelle Obama both would see key initiatives whacked if the $1.01 trillion spending bill unveiled by congressional leaders this week passes without changes in these areas.

Leading Public Education Organizations Lack Diversity at Top, Report Finds District Dossier: The report does not name which groups participated in the survey but does highlight a few education nonprofits that have made building diverse leadership teams a top priority. TNTP and College Track are two that are featured.

Texas to Close 14 Charter School Operators Texas Tribune: Texas will shut down 14 charter school operators that failed to meet heightened financial and academic performance rules this year, state education officials announced Tuesday. 

Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue NYT: For graffiti on a Georgia school’s walls, two girls were suspended. Then one of them ended up in the criminal justice system.

Joel Klein, Controversial as Chancellor of NYC Department of Education, Offers Lessons on Fixing Education WNYC: Klein writes about his eight-year mission of improvement: demanding accountability, eliminating political favoritism, and battling a powerful teachers union that seemed determined to protect a status quo that didn’t work for kids.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Thompson: Teaching Students Kale-Thusiasm

NPR’s Cory Turner, in Why These Kids Love Kale, reports on “kale-thusiasm.” It prompts one girl doing jumping jacks and cheering for kale, while others “shake their jazz hands.” As another student proclaims, "That kale is the bomb." 

This kale-thusiasm is a product of “FoodPrints,” a part of the curriculum in five Washington D.C. schools. Students help tend their school’s garden, and it becomes the focal point for hands-on instruction. When Turner visited, elementary students were learning about decomposition and bacteria. The lesson includes a worm bin and “a writhing handful of worms from their dark clutch of compost." 

I have long been as supportive of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” and her focus on healthy school food as I have been opposed to her husband’s test-driven education policy. I’m not surprised, however, that the First Lady’s efforts have faced pushback.  To be successfully implemented, physical education and improved nutrition need to be integrated into the teaching and learning process. They can’t just be one more thing on schools' impossibly long “to do” lists, especially at a time of test-driven accountability. 

I’ve experienced the joy of working with children as they learn from “worm dookie!” Locally, the Putnam City Elementary School embraces project based learning and field trips. The Daily Oklahoman’s Matt Patterson describes how high school students and cafeteria workers help provide holistic lessons about nutrition. But, Paterson concludes with pre-kindergarten students helping to prepare, not kale, but ambrosia!-JT (drjohnthompson)!

Quotes: Former NYC Mayor Blames Unions For Violence Against Black Males

Quotes2Maybe all these left-wing politicians who want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers so that we can drastically and dramatically improve education. - Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Giuliani Says Teachers Unions Are To Blame For Violence In Black Communities in HuffPost). See also Valerie Strauss.

Media: CJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" Myth

There are lots of myths in education and education reporting, and the Columbia Journalism Review highlights one of them in its latest post (The Texas school board isn't as powerful as you think), calling out Reuters, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Vice, and the Brownsville Herald (and praising the AP and the Houston Chronicle). 

"The Texas-textbook story is not the same as it was when the board approved materials in 2002. Reporters should not be telling it as if it is."

In a lengthy post, CJR points out that the familiar narrative of an all-powerful school board setting the textbook agenda for the nation is outdated and inaccurate "As far back as 2010, professionals in the textbook industry were already telling the Texas Tribune that the story about the state school board’s influence was “an urban myth.” But it's fun and easy to retell, focusing as it does on Texas, religion, and dysfunctional education bureaucracy. So folks jump on it, whether they know better or not.

What's CJR get wrong or leave out? What other myths are still getting passed along by education reporters and media outlets?  Vox's Libby Anderson recently highlighted 5 things about standardized testing that you don't always find in testing stories. I'm sure there are others out there.

Related posts: Why Journos Overstate Federal InfluencePlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos6 Key Critiques Of Media Coverage Of EducationHow Reporters Got Sucked Into Value-Added DebacleResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask.

 

AM News: Universal Preschool Day At The White House

The White House Wants You To Know That Preschool Is Really Good For The Economy HuffPost: The president is set to announce which states and communities are receiving some $750 million in federal grants for the expansion and improvement of early childhood education programs. He's also expected to say that corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders have committed over $330 million in support of the cause. 

Obama announcing $1B for early childhood education AP: The president will join a daylong summit convening at the White House on Wednesday to announce the investment in early learning programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — especially those in lower-income communities. Nationwide, 28 percent of America's 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program last year.

Why math might be the secret to school success NPR: Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years. See also ABC News, The Hill

A Battle Expected Over School Spending In Montgomery County WAMU: A budget battle is brewing between the Montgomery County school system and the county council.

On Verge Of Being Closed, D.C. Charter School Fights Back WAMU: A D.C. public charter school on the verge of being closed is asking for more time to prove that it can effectively educate its students — a request that's rarely granted in the fast-churning world of charter schools.

Losing students, neighborhood high schools caught in downward spiral Catalyst:  As schools lose students, they receive less money and must cut back the very features that could help attract and keep students-- counselors, honors classes, elective courses and extracurricular programs--and become shells of what they once were. 

State’s first charter school in disarray Seattle Times: Since it opened in September, the state’s first charter school has lost its special-education coordinator, principal, board president and half the rest of its board. By Wednesday, it must prove to a state board that it can solve problems in four major areas.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Universal Preschool Day At The White House" »

Journalism: So Long, NYT Labor Reporter Steven Greenhouse

He didn't cover teachers unions all that frequently. I didn't always admire his work when he did (and as I recall from a series of angry emails he didn't much care for my constructive criticism, either).

But I certainly appreciated that Greenhouse was out there doing what so few others do in education or mainstream journalism in general, and wish there were more folks out there doing the same.

In his exit interview with Gawker (A Q&A With Steven Greenhouse) Greenhouse includes some interesting tidbits about an uptick in labor coverage since 2010 and the potential impact of worker advocacy groups like Domestic Workers United, Make the Road in New York, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the Workers Defense Project in Texas. (Are any of these groups operating in the education arena?)

In Politico (Steven Greenhouse takes N.Y. Times buyout), it's noted that there's now just one other national reporter focused on labor -- at the WSJ. (What about BuzzFeed's Jacob Fischler?)

Related posts: Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?;  Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesCharts: Teachers = Teamsters?

Thompson: Common Core's Potential

The story line of NPR’s four stories on Common Core was entirely predictable. The excellence of reporting was equally predictable, as well as the great teaching it showcased. Even so, it left me more saddened than ever about the Common Core fiasco. 

Emily Hanford, in Common Core Reading: "The New Colussus," began the series with a teacher, Linnea Wolters, assuming that her students would not be able to handle the complexity of a sonnet. She keeps an open mind, teaches the lesson with fidelity and is pleasantly surprised, “Wolters was amazed. She'd rarely seen her kids so excited about learning. And she had no idea they could succeed with such a challenging text. She couldn't wait to tell her colleagues about what had happened.” 

This is consistent with my experience. Low-skilled students despise the “dummying down” of instruction. They want the respect that is demonstrated when they are taught for mastery of challenging materials and concepts. Moreover, many or most teachers welcome assistance in helping students “dig deep.”

Then, Corey Turner explains, we must wrestle with the question of how do we teach complex reading in a way that “doesn't just lead to tears and frustration?” He summarizes the findings of cognitive scientist Dan Willingham who explains why background knowledge is more important than a child's reading skills. "Kids who, on standard reading tests, show themselves to be poor readers, when you give them a text that's on a topic they happen to know a whole lot about, they suddenly look like terrific readers." 

The NPR reporter concludes that although some Common Core architects may deny it, background knowledge “is just too important to ignore” when teaching reading. “The trick is, don't overdo it.” 

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core's Potential" »

Quotes: Success Of Pro-Common Core Politicians Suggests 2015 Progress

Quotes2There were probably at least 10 states last spring that had tough fights, and you’ll have tough fights again, with the biggest ones in the most conservative states and mostly in the south. But politicians respond to voters, and pro-Common Core politicians won midterm elections across party lines...At least two-thirds of states will stick with Common Core. That’s pretty remarkable for a country that’s been allergic to common standards. - Fordham's Mike Petrilli (Will Common Core Survive Past 2016? RealClear Education)

Morning Video: Success Academy's Eva Moscowitz At AEI

Live-watch Rick Hess interview Moskovitz, whose charter network now includes 9,ooo students in 32 schools across NYC. Video not working? Link is here. Let us know if she or he say something newsworthy!

AM News: Handicapping The 2015 Common Core Debate

Will Common Core Survive Past 2016? RealClear Education: While most of those efforts have failed, some states are making changes, and about half have renamed the standards – to reflect state independence and to appease political critics. 

White House Focuses on Computer Science in Schools AP: The school districts encompassing New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, Houston and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are committing to offer the course in high school or middle school. While some large districts already have computer electives at limited campuses, all are now pledging to make computer science a standard offering district-wide.

Obama shout-out for Sherman Oaks students part of global event to help promote computer skills LA Times: Hundreds of Los Angeles Unified students participated Monday in a global event aimed at promoting computer skills, listening to speeches by industry leaders and receiving a video shout-out from President Barack Obama.

Louisiana Supreme Court will not rehear Katrina teachers' layoff case NOLA.com: About 7,500 New Orleans school employees who lost their jobs after Hurricane Katrina appear to have exhausted their options in Louisiana courts. The state Supreme Court decided Monday to reject the plaintiffs' request for a rehearing. 

At age 16, accomplished — and homeless Washington Post: Youth outreach coordinator for the gubernatorial run of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D). She is home-schooling her way through her junior year of high school and taking classes at the University of Maryland under a concurrent enrollment program for exceptional students.

Kate Visits NYC Kids; Prince William Joins Obama ABC News: Kate tours child development center with NYC's first lady as Prince William meets with Obama.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Handicapping The 2015 Common Core Debate" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: The Myth Of The All-Powerful Texas School Board

Total cost of big 5 education ideas would be $130B/yrx20 but would generate $225T/80y, says Forbes ow.ly/FymGt 

Why reporters are still writing as if TX school board is all-powerful - CJR ow.ly/FyZk6

Forbes ed roundtable features @arneduncan@HendersonKaya @rweingarten and ... Andrew Cuomo? ow.ly/FyldN

Why Progressives Have Ignored Deaths Like Eric Garner's For Years ow.ly/Fz4g2

Departing NYT labor scribe @greenhousenytdescribes potential impact of non-union worker advocacy groups ow.ly/Fzble 

As if NY doesn't already have enough education coverage, Politico adds morning ed email "Capital Education" ow.ly/FyxrT

 

Charts: Common Core Implementation By The Numbers

image from s3.amazonaws.comIf you read the news too much or live in New York or Chicago you might be excused for thinking that Common Core was universally controversial and that the pushback was widespread. Here's a somewhat different way to look at Common Core, rather than focusing on the handful of controversial states and media coverage of conflicts, via centrist DC think tank Third Way.  Caveats: It's undated, and focuses on the standards not the assessments or their uses.

Quotes: Common Core Critics Lack Viable Alternatives

Quotes2My challenge to [Common Core critics] is, if you have a better idea, come forward. Don't talk about scrapping the whole effort...The debate has been hijacked by issues that are, at best, peripheral. - Former US Rep. Harold Ford in National Journal (Did Obama Screw Up Common Core?)

AM News: Mississippi Educators Question Common Core U-Turn

Educators question future progress if Mississippi backs away from Common Core Hechinger Report: Educators across Mississippi say the already-lagging state will “move backwards” if Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves throw out the Common Core academic standards and create new ones.

Military-Style Technology Finds Way Into School District Safety Measures NYT: Many experts say limited resources may be better spent on mental health services and training for teachers and students on what to do if their peers talk about bringing a gun to school.

LAUSD students hope for iPads, prepare for disappointment KPCC: It's been a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles Unified School District students who were promised iPads that would usher in a new chapter in how they'll learn and take tests in the digital age.

FBI at the door is just the latest bad news for L.A. school district LA Times: With three weeks left in December, I'm hesitant to jump the gun and suggest that we've seen the last of this year's troubles for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Nine-Year-Old’s Arrest Prompts Call for Change by Federal Judge WSJ: The increased involvement of police at schools has led to an increase in schoolchildren arrests, phenomena that make for shocking headlines (8-year-old arrested in school bomb threat) and have led to a new, funny-if-it-weren’t-true formulation: the school-to-prison pipeline.

CTU President Karen Lewis trying 'to resume some of her duties' Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Thursday, in her first interview since being hospitalized for a brain tumor that halted her plans to run for mayor, that she's eager to campaign for mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Mississippi Educators Question Common Core U-Turn" »

Site Schedule: Go Ahead, Start December Without Me

Sennhs1957Welcome back. I had a great time in Boston with my family this past weekend. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving break, too.

I'm going to be traveling again this first week of December, so you can wait until I'm back on Monday or check out the competition (Politico, RealClear, etc.) for a few days (which will tide you over but leave you with a nagging feeling of not being entirely satisfied).

I'll be back at it again on December 8th. I won't really be on email all the time but I can be reached at thisweekineducation@gmail.com if there's a problem that needs immediate attention.  Image of Senn high school in Chicago, where my dad went, circa 1957.

Thanks! / Alexander 

Giving Thanks: 6 Key Moments That Changed My Post-Grad School Career

That's me, feeling grateful at a Javits Center event earlier this year. So many people have been helpful and supportive of my career over the long haul, but there have been a few pivotal moments where people seemed like they changed the course of things:

Smiling AR at mediander event

(6) Senate staff veteran Ellen Marshall mentioned at the end of a book club meeting whose ground rules included "no work talk" that she was leaving her job as Feinstein's education LA to follow Tim Wirth to the State Department and that maybe I should apply for her job;

(5) Journalist David Seigel told a joke at a dinner party that made me laugh so hard I choked on a slice of pizza I was stuffing down my throat but then he gave me the Heimlich and I owe him much more than the occasional thank-you for doing that;

(4) Longtime Hill guru Trudy Vincent hired me as Bingaman's education LA even though I was coming off a disastrous stint working for the NYC DOE and came in applying for a health care job (and she already had an education LA on staff);

(3) Former US News health reporter Stacey Schultz bought me the book "Bird By Bird" and told me I didn't have to spend 20 years on the Hill and could indeed write for a living if I wanted to, and so I did;

(2) Former Scholastic Administrator editor Kevin Hogan brought my blog over from EdWeek to Scholastic (though EdWeek's Jeanne Marcarelli McCann took a big chance and Scholastic's Dana Truby and Wayne D'Orio have been great as well); and,

(1) Former Spencer Foundation program officer (VP?) Paul Goren helped create the Columbia Education Journalism Fellowship through which (thanks also to Stephanie Banchero's timely decision to spend a year at Stanford) I was able to write a book about the rescue of Locke High School.

Thanks to you (and many others)! If anyone feels like sharing their pivotal career moments/thanks, I'd love to hear them.

Early Departure: Happy Thanksgiving 2014, Faithful Readers!

I'm taking an early trip up to Boston to see my family, and hope that you are wrapping things up and heading out soon or already on your way to wherever you're going (including staying home). Have a great next few days.  Thanks as always for reading and following and rebutting when necessary. Much appreciated. 

AM News: School Closures Worsen Things For Ferguson-Area Kids

The other injustice in Ferguson: Schools are closed Quartz: The list of closures affects schools that are rich and poor, black and white, emblematic of districts that are more segregated today than before Brown vs. Board of Education. 

Oklahoma: Education Waiver Is Restored for State NYT: The Department of Education announced Monday that Oklahoma — which lost its No Child Left Behind waiver after repealing Common Core — would have its waiver reinstated. See also WPost, PK12.

N.J. High School Cancels Midterm and Final Exams WSJ: In a move likely to make many New Jersey teenagers jealous, Glen Ridge High School has scrapped its midterm and final exams.

Thought Bubbles And One-Liners From An Ohio Classroom NPR: Art imitates life for Chris Pearce — English teacher by day, comic artist by night. Inspired by his students, the material practically writes itself.

Tools Of The Trade: The Presidential Physical Fitness Test NPR: For many, the now-retired national fitness test evokes dread. A timed mile run, pull-ups, curl-ups, a shuttle run and the V-sit. All for a small blue patch.

Before LAUSD travel ban, former superintendent flew 100k miles last year KPCC: Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy traveled more than 100,000 miles last school year, equivalent to circling the globe four times, according to a KPCC analysis of credit card records.

Debate Brews Over After-School Programs: Tutoring vs. Playing WNYC: Fort Greene Prep is part of New York City’s expansion of free after-school programs for middle school students. The city doubled the number of middle schools providing after-school programs this year, serving an additional 31,000 children — or more than 75,000 of the roughly 225,000 students in its public middle schools.

Update: Cosby Allegations Raise Tough Education Issues

Last week, NPQ discussed the issue of Cosby's board memberships (Must Nonprofits Change Their Relationship with Bill Cosby?), and I'm told that StudentsFirst has now removed the entertainer from its board.

But there's another, deeper issue, which is the reminder of our persistent collective refusal to acknowledge hard truths (or at least widespread allegations) that are uncomfortable or require a reconsideration of past beliefs:

What of today's deeply held beliefs or school practices do we arlready know are wrong, but just can't bear to acknowledge or change? And who is speaking hard truths but is being ignored - for now? 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Mourning Former DC Mayor Marion Barry

Union helps Jeb Bush build cred by calling him out - Washington Wire - WSJ http://ow.ly/EOsH2 

Marion Barry’s Complicated Education Legacy | Ahead of the Heard http://ow.ly/EOqSY  @saramead

NEA’s $132M Influence Spree - @dropoutnation http://ow.ly/EP49n 

What It Takes to Fix American Education - The Daily Beast http://ow.ly/EOXHZ  Universal preschool, apparently

Five Graphics That Show Why a Post-White America Is Already Here | New Republic http://ow.ly/ENjl3 

"Goldstein’s conclusions are loosely aligned with what we might label the Finland wing of the school reform debate." http://ow.ly/ENBJ3 

Quotes: Weingarten May Be Helping Bush By Calling Him Out

Quotes2

[Bush] says he wants to break up so-called ‘monopolies’ of public education, forgetting that public education is a public good, a moral imperative and a constitutional mandate in many of this country’s states, including Florida. - Randin Weingarten via WSJ (Fight With Unions May Benefit Jeb Bush)

Thompson: Joel Klein's Heedless Rush to Impose Transformative Change

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 11.47.57 AMThere is an old saying that tough judicial cases make bad law. Applying the legal maxim to education, challenging school districts like New York City, because of its size, might or might not resort to extraordinary measures. If leaders of those systems, rightly or wrongly, take extreme (not to mention extremely expensive) measures, they should not necessarily be seen as precedents or best practices to be scaled up nationwide. 

Even though I would be afraid of allowing Joel Klein to offer guidance for my 90% low-income school system, which spends around $8000 per student per year, it might or might not be valuable to go deeper into Klein’s Lessons of Hope for insights from his years at the helm of NYC’s schools. By the way, Klein had as much new money to spend, per student, as our district spends in total. So, the next step might be a discussion of whether Klein’s approach was cost effective.

The prime issue, however, is whether it makes sense to eschew incrementalism and only aim for radical or “transformative” change.

Joel Klein does not claim he was the most mild-mannered of federal prosecutors, but he is most explicit in describing his time in the White House as preparation for his job as Chancellor of the NYC schools. During the Clinton administration, he experienced “a constant mix of strategy, hardball negotiation, and insider backbiting.” Clearly, he assumed that this take-no-prisoners mentality was necessary in order to produce rapid and disruptive change.

The cornerstone of the Klein approach to school improvement was his assumption that he must ramrod “transformational change.”  When he first met UFT President Randi Weingarten, Klein asked for her view of the appropriate pace of change. “Sustainable and incremental change,” was Weingarten’s reply. Klein didn’t seem to ask himself whether he should learn more on that subject from this far more experienced person. He responded, “No, no, it must be radical reform.”

The part of Lessons of Hope that has generated the most buzz are Klein’s lengthy quotations of emails with Diane Ravitch and his speculation that the personal dispute caused her to shift gears and oppose school reform in New York and elsewhere.  Even if those pages were to be read in a purely political manner, it seems questionable that a newcomer like Klein would not enthusiastically welcome the “smart and experienced” Mary Butz into his principal leadership team. As was often the case in these pivotal decisions, Klein sided with his inner circle because Butz’s approach “didn’t emphasize the type of transformational leadership that we thought was necessary.” (emphasis mine)

Continue reading "Thompson: Joel Klein's Heedless Rush to Impose Transformative Change" »

Media: Washington Post's Valerie Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves

It always makes me a little bit nervous when Valerie Strauss tries to go back to straight news reporting after all those weeks and months blogging and sharing material that's pretty uniformly critical of the current school reform movement. (New America's Kevin Carey once described Strauss's much-read blog as "The premiere Web destination for doctrinaire anti-reformist rhetoric and shoddy education research.") 
Then again she and others probably feel the same way about my work.

Earlier this year, the Post ran a front-page story by Strauss about allegations that Arne Duncan was trying to influence the choice of NYC chancellor under Mayor de Blasio.  I and others had some questions about the reporting, editing, and decision to assign the story to Strauss.

The latest example is a little story about changes within Team Duncan (Duncan’s communications chief leaving for Teach For America), which to my perhaps paranoid reading seems to be making a nefarious tragedy out of Massie Ritsch's departure for TFA.

Duncan is "losing" Ritsch after two years at the top communications spot within USDE. Duncan had the gall to praise TFA founder Wendy Kopp for highlighting the aspects of great teaching but ignored former NEA head Van Roekel. Duncan's first press secretary now works for Joel Klein at Amplify.

For some measure of balance, Strauss notes that Cunningham's accomplishments include getting Duncan on the Rolling Stone Agents of Change list. (She's wrong - getting Duncan on Colbert was Cunningham's biggest coup, or perhaps it was keeping Duncan away from the media after he jumped into the gay marriage debate ahead of the White House.) She also added Ritsch's "so, long" email after first publishing the post.

At TFA, Ritsch will be replacing Aimée Eubanks Davis as head of TFA’s Public Affairs and Engagement team. She's moving over to head Beyond Z, a new student leadership and 21st century skill building initiative she launched last year.

Related posts: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education)Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?About That Front-Page Washington Post StoryEducation's Huffington PostParent Trigger: An "Easy" Button For Parents & Kids.

Morning Video: Debating Rice's "Racist Liberals" Claim

 

In case you missed it from last week, here's Condoleeza Rice's claim that failing neighborhood schools and the inequality that comes with them are racist, along with a link to Citizen Stewart's examination of the claim.

AM News: NYC Debates Whether Charters Push Out More Students Than District Schools

New York Chancellor Is Criticized for Remarks on Charter Schools NYT: Carmen Fariña said at a conference that some charter schools push students out before they take state tests and later replace them with high-scoring children.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan's communications chief leaving for Teach For TFA Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is losing his second communications chief in two years. Massie Ritsch, the acting assistant secretary for communications and outreach, is leaving his job to take a new position at TFA.

At union rallies across L.A., teachers seek more than just a pay hike LA Times: The demonstrations were intended to make a statement about union solidarity over contract demands. United Teachers Los Angeles is seeking a one-year, permanent 10% raise, while also putting forward an agenda on staffing levels, classroom conditions and policies aimed at improving academic results.

Texas Approves Disputed History Texts for Schools NYT: Texas’ State Board of Education has approved new history textbooks, capping months of outcry over lessons that some academics say exaggerate the influence of Moses and negatively portray Muslims. See also WNYC.

Tennessee’s Common Core backtrack strands teachers, students Hechinger Report:  For the past three years, that’s included a significant shift away from the state’s traditional academic benchmarks and toward the Common Core, a set of more difficult standards.

School district near Ferguson cancels classes AP: A school district that includes some students from Ferguson, Missouri, is calling off classes Monday and Tuesday, citing potential unrest if a much-anticipated grand jury announcement occurs soon....

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

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5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Undocumented Kids & Parents, Plus: Bring Back School Funding Reform

How many K-12 students are illegal immigrants? - The Washington Post http://ow.ly/EGcVW 

School Funding Reform: Hard Work and Fraught with Potential | Ahead of the Heard http://ow.ly/EGKzC 

Not another test! Yes, but a valuable one - Chicago Tribune http://ow.ly/EGgAc 

Could Minnesota Be Next for a Vergara-Style Lawsuit? - @teacherbeat - Education Week http://ow.ly/EFC0U 

Uh, oh, reform types. Ravitch is mobile again - Ed Dive http://ow.ly/EGTHr 

A Complete Guide to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson - The Intercept http://ow.ly/EGX3T 

TV: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, Too

image from cloudfront.mediamatters.orgMediaMatters notes that educators make up just one in ten of the guests on cable news segments related to education, which Valerie Strauss regards as a big problem.  

MSNBC does the best percentage-wise in terms of booking educators as guests -- but not by that much. CNN does the worst.  Fox -- this may surprise you -- comes in the middle.

What jumps out at me even more than this issue is that there are so few education segments, over all.

Granted, Morning Joe is not included -- a favorite for Randi Weingarten and Campbell Brown alike. And NBC News still does a fair amount of education coverage, along with PBS NewsHour.

But still. Looking at evening news shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, there were just 185 total guests in 10 months.  CNN booked the fewest - by far.  Fox and MSNBC came in much higher, quantity-wise.

Take a look at the full MM story here. Image used courtesy MediaMatters.

Related posts: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show.

 

Morning Video: Exposing State "Education" Lotteries

Watch John Oliver make a mockery out of 44 state lotteries, which are ostensibly supporting education but in reality don't seem to have much if any positive effects on school resources. Warning: it's long, and has bleeped swear words -- volume down, earbuds in.

AM News: Undocumented Parents, Duncan's Chicago "No Comment," & Bush Speech

Obama’s Immigration Plan Mostly Covers Parents FiveThirtyEight: According to numbers calculated by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a nonpartisan think tank, the bulk of that five million — about 3.7 million — will consist of undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have been in the U.S. for at least five years. Obama’s plan would also expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), making another 300,000 undocumented immigrants eligible for the program.

Arne Duncan not taking sides on CPS' seeking delay on PARCC test Chicago Sun-TimesU.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Thursday he's staying out of a tussle between the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools over whether CPS students will take a new Common Core-aligned standardized test this spring.

Bush Seeks Common Ground With Common Core Critics AP: "For those states choosing a path other than Common Core, I say this: Aim even higher, be bolder, raise standards and ask more of our students and the system," Bush said. See also Washington Post, Washington Times, NPR.

Teachers Union Showcases Community Schools Model in Manhattan WNYC: There's been intense debate lately about whether struggling schools benefit more from additional services or by studying their data. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration closed down low-performing schools to get rid of ineffective teachers and supervisors. But Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña have embraced more professional development and the community schools model, while reserving their right to close schools as a last resort. 

Charter CEO: Fariña has ‘obligation’ to release enrollment data after push-out claims ChalkbeatNY: “The NYC DOE has access to enrollment and discharge data and now has an obligation to release such data not just for every charter school but for every district school as well,” he said. “I call on the Chancellor to instruct the DOE to do so promptly.”

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: 30 States Scheduled To Use Common Core Assessments This Spring

30 states using Common Core assessments this spring, says @ecscommreport ow.ly/ECmFc

Accomplishments & post-game analysis from @MarshallTuck re CA Supe Race ow.ly/EChbn

Third Way: Creating a Consistent & Rigorous Licensure Process ow.ly/ECjYM @ThirdWayEDU 

Opt out advocates want to use COPPA to oppose testing - National Public Ed Network ow.ly/ECiVc 

Jeb Bush's Delicate Dance with Common Core - Bloomberg Politics ow.ly/ECm3h@MichaelCBender

Do we know who organized & paid for busload of Newark protesters to travel to DC? ow.ly/ECnWy  We don't - yet. 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso

 

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

Watching Newark superintendent Cami Anderson's interview with AEI's Rick Hess from last week, a few things are clear:

First and foremost is that Anderson's initiatives may be much more nuanced and less top-down than critics have claimed (and the media has repeated).  For example, she says that there have been no school closings as part of her plan, and that several revisions and changes were made in response to community input.  Is that accurate?  Someone needs to check.  By which I mean the WSJ, NJ Spotlight, Hechinger, ChalkbeatNY, or NYT.

Second, and just as important for someone to figure out, is whether her claims that there's a small but "well-funded" effort to block her efforts are accruate or not.  The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton chronicled the protest against her, (a busload of Newark parents) but doesn't tell us who was behind the effort, if anyone. Did they decide to go among themselves? Who paid for the bus? Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle notes that CWA, "which has been an ally if AFT's NJ affiliate, has funded NJ Communities United to tune of $251K."

Related posts: Last Night's Raucous Newark Schools MeetingNewark Officials Discuss School Improvement, Local ControlNew Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashUnion Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark.

#EdGif Of The Day: How To Avoid Your Elementary School Co-Worker Crush

image from 38.media.tumblr.com

Sure, there's a charter school plotline in" Parenthood," and school is in the background (so far) of "Black-Ish." "How To Get Away With Murder" is set at a law school. But "New Girl" remains the most school-focused show out there, and still sometimes the most amusing.

This week's episode of New Girl features Jess's attempts to avoid interacting with her crush, a teacher at the school where she's an assistant principal.  It also involves touchy-feely professional development, and male bonding gone awry.

Recap of the episode (including spoilers) here. I found this gif here. For more #newgirl gifs go here. It's on Fox on Tuesday nights.

Related posts: "New Girl" Jess Confronts The Cool Mean Teachers"New Girl" Gets Pink Slipped [Teacherpocalypse 2012]"New Girl" Deals With Bullying 5th Grader TV's "New Girl" Teacher Is She One Of You?

Journalism: Media Narrative Shifted Dramatically During Post-Midterm Period

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Check out my latest Scholastic column here if you want to read about how media coverage of the 2014 midterms shifted sharply during the first few days after the results were known -- and how upon examination nobody's claims of victory seemed as strong as was being claimed. 

One issue that didn't make it into the piece was just how flat-footed the teachers unions seemed initially in their responses to the reformers' claims of victory, as in the AFT canceling a press conference without considering how that would look (or whether there was an opportunity to counter the reform narrative before it got rolling).

Another key angle is that the media covering the midterms and some of those commenting on them initially seemed to take the reformers' claims of victory at face value rather than taking a more skeptical view of the claims or a harder look at the results. 

Maps: States Where Lots Of Students With Undocumented Parents Attend School

image from www.pewhispanic.org

No surprise that President Obama is going to announce his big deportation relief plan at a Las Vegas high school, given that a whopping 18 percent of kids in Nevada schools have at least one parent without documentation.  That's according to a Pew study that HuffPost's Rebecca Klein wrote about yesterday. Read all about it here. Image used with permission.

AM News: Obama Plan's Impact On Students With Undocumented Parents

Obama's Forthcoming Immigration Plan to Protect Millions From Deportation PK12: President Obama on Thursday will announce steps he will take to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States from deportation, a move that could have implications for millions of America's K-12 schoolchildren. See also Vox story on impact on K-12 students with undocumented parents.

No Child Left Behind, Pre-K Programs Could Be On New Congress' Agenda NPR: With Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Congress may push for change on several big education issues, including a rewrite of the law known as No Child Left Behind. But it's also clear that, even on classroom issues that seem to have bipartisan support — including Pre-K funding — Democrats and Republicans may have trouble compromising.

Passing Rate Declines by 20% as State Uses New Certification Exams for Teachers NYT: The fall in certifications resembles, in some respects, the state’s experience with the Common Core, a set of more rigorous learning standards for students that has been adopted by New York and most other states.

Wash. school district tries arming administrators to protect students from shootings PBS NewsHour: A school shooting north of Seattle last month left five students dead, reviving questions of safety and violence for students and teachers. Another school district in Washington State is answering that question in an unconventional manner: arming school administrators.

Obama Makes Pitch to Expand High-Speed Internet Access to Schools NYT: The president, in a respite from the gridlock and sniping in Washington, also signed a bill that changes the child care rules for low-income families.

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

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5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Chicago, LA Unions Both Run By Brown Alums

Any love for education at CAP's policy conference today? http://ow.ly/EyLWE  @EdProgress @ulrichboser

Meet The TFA Official Charged With Bringing Change To Ferguson And Beyond http://ow.ly/EyFBJ  #BrittanyPacknett

Report cites high suspension rates for charter schools - Metro - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/ExnFd 

Karen Lewis' replacement in @ctulocal1 is a Brown grad, as is @UTLAnow's Alex Caputo Pearl http://ow.ly/EyF0G  Any other Brownies?

Report Offers 'Lessons Learned' From Teacher-Residency Programs - Teacher Beat - Education Week http://ow.ly/EyaDV 

Meet the activist who says “unions get way too much blame” - http://Salon.com  http://ow.ly/EyvnH 

Quotes: Trapped In Failing Schools

Quotes2I’ll tell you what I think is the biggest problem of race today, it’s poor black children trapped in failing neighborhood schools. - Condoleezza Rice on Fox via Brietbart

Thompson: A Teacher's Review of Kristof and WuDunn's A Path Appears

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 19 13.20I loved A Path Appears, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It deals with global issues and a variety of philanthropic and grassroots paths to tackling poverty, ignorance, and violence. I doubt that readers are very interested in my non-expert opinions on international issues, so I will limit this post to musing about Kristof’s and WuDunn’s approach to American educational challenges.

Chapter Ten, “Coaching Troubled Teens,” starts with a quote by Immanuel Kant, “Act so you treat humanity … always as an end and never as a means.”

The chapter begins with a visit to Tulsa where 8th graders were engaged in a curriculum focused on avoiding teenage pregnancy developed by Michael Carrera. This program, ranked as “top-tiered” in effectiveness costs $2,300 per student and it would be a bargain even if it didn’t get students started with a savings account, financial literacy, and medical care.

Kristof and WuDunn then breeze through a paragraph that includes the ridiculous – but oft repeated - soundbite that if African American students had teachers from the top 25% in “effectiveness” for four years, that the achievement gap would be closed. Those of us obsessed with education issues can anticipate what was cited in the footnotes, the economic theory of Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff that has been repeatedly misrepresented as research relevant to real world policy.

Educators, like me, are likely to get flustered and complain about the methodological flaws of Chetty et. al, and protest about the way they have allowed their regression studies to be used as intellectually dishonest props in a legal and political assault on teachers.

Perhaps Kristof and WuDunn take the wiser approach. They move on, writing “We must also rethink the role of schools in low-income communities.” The rest of the chapter argues for full-service community schools. Kristof and WuDunn may not have mentioned the way that the “teacher quality” focus of the corporate reform movement has undermined the science-based policies they advocate, but they make the case which teachers, education scholars, and unions have tried to make for overcoming the legacies of poverty.

Continue reading "Thompson: A Teacher's Review of Kristof and WuDunn's A Path Appears" »

Watch: "Schools Suck," Says Reporter (Voicing The Feelings Of Many Journalists)

Earlier this month, Milwaukee-based investigative reporter Meghan Dwyer was onstage receiving a Regional Emmy for a school bullying segment “Scared at School" when things went a bit awry. It's not the worst thing in the world, this gaffe, but it illustrates a larger issue: that sometimes reporters work so hard for so long on stories and experience such frustration and sympathy for their sources that they cross over into advocacy and then, quite understandably, their feelings occasionally slip out (or into their work).  That's apparently why some newsrooms used to rotate reporters from one beat to the next, to prevent journalists from becoming hostage to a beat or taking sides in an ongoing dispute between stakeholders. 

Polls: CA Public Views Of Common Core Show Wide Variations

PACE USC Poll Common CoreEast Coast types might think that how things are playing out in New York is how they're playing out nationally, but these new poll results from California (USC via EdSource) show widespread (though declining) unfamiliarity among the public about the Common Core and a wide range of views on the standards. To see the poll data itself, click here, find the link, download a copy and find the charts you want on page 2. Images used with permission. Anyone seen state by state polling data comparing views from one place to another?

 

AM News: Mixed Common Core Signals For Jeb Bush 2016

Jeb Bush, Common Core and 2016 WSJ: Races in which Common Core was raised as a campaign issue in the midterm election produced a mixed verdict. School superintendents who raised concerns about the national standards won in Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. Arizona also elected an anti-Common Core governor, Republican Doug Ducey. On the other hand, Democratic governors criticized by their opponents for supporting Common Core, including Andrew Cuomo in New York and John Hickenlooper in Colorado, won re-election.

Department Of Education Investigating K-12 School Districts For Mishandling Sexual Assault HuffPost: As of Nov. 12, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights was investigating 24 elementary and secondary schools for potential mishandling of sexual violence incidents under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, according to numbers provided by the department to The Huffington Post [see list below]. One of these districts is under investigation for two cases, meaning that a total of 25 incidents are being investigated. Thirteen of these investigations were initiated in 2014.

Sen. Tom Harkin, Force on Education Policy, Begins Retirement Farewells PK12: Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who's set to retire after nearly four decades in Congress, gave what sounded like his closing oration late Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor. Though I've been assured it wasn't his official swan song, it was some dress rehearsal.

Billions more in spending for school Internet connections under FCC proposal Hechinger Report: Afte If the additional funding is approved, it would bring the cap on total yearly spending on this program to about $3.9 billion.

Pearson Charitable Foundation to Close Its Doors EdWeek: The activities of the charitable foundation came under harsh scrutiny last year, when the not-for-profit organizaiton agreed to pay $7.7 million in a settlement with New York state, which accused it of improperly using assets to benefit its for-profit arm, Pearson Inc. 

ClassDojo Adopts Deletion Policy for Student Data NYT: The maker of ClassDojo, a popular classroom app, said that starting in January it plans to keep students’ behavioral records for only one school year.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Interruptions Drain 25 Days/Year From Poor CA High Schools

Poor CA high schools lose 25 days/year to various interruptions, notes @jillbarshay http://ow.ly/EuwcR  @FordFoundation @hechingerreport

The Case Against Universal Preschool - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/EsJsT  @aliaemily FYI @conorpwilliams @ffyf

In New Republican Congress, Charters a Focus – But Not Much Else | National Title I Association http://ow.ly/EtwNv  @titlei

How Strict Is Too Strict? - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/EtqKv  What does Carr miss or get wrong, if anything?

Tomorrow in Chicago: The Atlantic's @tanehisicoates ("The case for reparations") will be at North Lawndale College Prep and the IOP 

All this and more throughout the day at @alexanderrusso

Quotes: Unions Can't Organize Themselves Into Relevancy

Quotes2Unions must recreate themselves to be relevant not only to the leaders who thrive on internal and external political drama, but to the average member who is a school secretary in Washington, first grade teacher in Minnesota, or higher education faculty in Florida. Relevancy means focusing first and foremost on the learning lives of students and the professional lives of educators. - Former NEA bigwig Bill Raabe in EIA (Former High-Ranking NEA Staffer Speaks Out)

Journalism: Hits & Misses In NPR's "Overtesting" Story

So-called "overtesting" is probably the easiest story on the education beat to do right now, and I'm no saint I did one too last winter for the Atlantic's education page. But there aren't any real numbers out there and so it's very easy to fall into using eye-catching anecdotes that may or may not be representative and also to fall prey to the presumption that overtesting is a thing when we really don't know that is.

That's I think what happened to this new NPR education story (Testing: How Much Is Too Much?), which while far from the worst of the overtesting stories I've seen lately would have done better to focus less on critics of testing (Brockett and Jasper) and extreme examples and more on the reality that we don't know as much as we'd like about the prevalence of testing in schools over all and that there are folks out there (including civil rights groups) who think that testing is essential for school accountability and are worried about losing annual tests or going back to a previous era when the public didn't really know how students were doing. 

All that being said, there aren't any obviously sketchy or misleading numbers in the NPR piece like last week's NYT story included, and are some great bits, too: There are some vivid #edgifs showing a kid who has to take lots of end of year exams that are fun to look at (I've tweeted and Tumblred them but can't show them here without permission). I'm really glad that NPR used and linked to the Chiefs/Great Cities survey of large districts, and the CAP study of 14 districts. I didn't know that the White House had put out a statement on the issue. 

Last but not least, the NPR story addresses the notion that tests have gotten added without any attempt to remove their predecessors in a fun, stylish way: " The CCSSO survey describes testing requirements that have seemingly multiplied on their own without human intervention, like hangers piling up in a closet." The layering on of testing regimens without regard to burden or legacy testing will, I am guessing, turn out to be at the root of much of what some parents and teachers and testing critics are clamoring about.

Related posts: NYT Journo Tweets Out "60-80 Days" Of Testing ClarificationPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

Slideshow: Who Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn't

Here's an interesting look at who funds edtech pointing out that traditional funders don't all approach the sector the same way -- and that there are some challenges as a result.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Charts: Look At Kentucky & New York "Before & After" Scores

image from cdn0.vox-cdn.com
Thanks to Vox for pulling up these before (green) and after (yellow) bar graphs showing how Kentucky and New York kids did on Common Core-aligned assessments, which gives us a rough idea of how kids in other states will do this spring. Click here to read more about the projected dropoffs in 2015.  Image courtesy Vox.

AM News: Get Ready For Low Common Core Test Scores This Spring

Under half of students projected to test well EdSource Today: Projections released Monday predict that fewer than half of students in California and other states will score at grade level on tests next spring on the Common Core standards.

Poll: Voters know little about Common Core EdSource Today: More than half of California voters said they knew nothing or very little about the state’s new Common Core standards for English language arts and math, according to a newly released report by the Policy Analysis for California Education/USC Rossier School of Education.

Teachers union sees ‘surprising common ground’ with Lamar Alexander Tennessean: But while Eskelsen García supports a rewrite of No Child Left Behind that would do away with that waiver approach, NEA has long drawn a hard line against school vouchers and charter schools — two areas that Alexander has promoted legislatively.

Phila. schools see 40 applications for new charters Philadelphia Inquirer: After the Philadelphia School District announced that it would accept applications for new charter schools for the first time in seven years, it received 40, the district said Monday.

Walton Family Foundation Funds Parent-Engagement Efforts in New Orleans EdWeek: A $1.2 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation will help the Urban League of Greater New Orleans' increase its parent outreach efforts.

FCC Chair Wants Fee Hike to Expand Internet Access ABC: FCC chair proposes small hike in phone fees to expand Internet coverage to low-income areas.

Number of international students on U.S. campuses at an all-time high PBS NewsHour: More than 886,000 students came from foreign countries to study at U.S. colleges and universities during the 2013-14 school year, an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Get Ready For Low Common Core Test Scores This Spring" »

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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.