Educator Jessica Waters, in “Results Matter More than Practice,” replied to my Education Post contribution, “A Teacher Proposes a Different Framework for Accountability,” with the claim that teachers should be evaluated by student “outputs.” She made no effort to address the most likely scenario where the use of test scores for teacher evaluation prompts even more destructive teach-to-the-test rote instruction and further increases the exodus of teaching talent from schools where it is harder to raise test scores.
In a longer piece (that I still hope the Education Post will publish), I argue that the willingness of supporters of high stakes testing to ignore a large body of social science has especially damaged poor children of color. This post will address Waters' stubborn demand that all states and schools comply with the same one-size-fits-all federal mandates for using tests to punish students and teachers.
Waters cites positive experiences with an elementary school with an eight to one student teacher ratio, and which seems to have far more resources than any schools I know. It is only 83% low-income. Less than 10% of my district's elementary schools and none of our neighborhood secondary schools have such low numbers of poor students.
Also, Water's state of Rhode Island spends nearly $15,000 per student. She should accept the burden of proof before insisting that my state, which spends nearly $7,000 per student less than that, must divert our scarce financial and human resources from science-based pre-kindergarten investments, for instance, to high stakes testing.
I had argued that data-driven accountability makes "the juking of the stats the #1 priority." But, "federal and state governments should encourage collaboration and experimentation in data-informed accountability. It could borrow from data-driven crime fighting to use metrics to identify 'hot spots' of schools, systems, or other areas that need additional patrols, or other forms of oversight."
Waters ignored my critique of data-driven oversight and said that her state already uses data to pinpoint areas that need further oversight. If that is the case, congratulations are in order for her state, but that reinforces my point. Waters should walk awhile in the shoes of educators who face different and, almost certainly, far greater problems before micromanaging the rest of us.
Bloomberg News' latest story on Amplify is enough to give us all pause to reconsider the enthusiasm (hype?) surrounding edtech in general and tablets in particular -- even if it wasn't following Bright's recent article on blended learning (also skeptical) earlier this week. GSV+ASU Summit, were you listening?
For example, the Bloomberg article (by Laura Colby) reminds us that it'll be 7 more years before schools all have high-speed Internet. And, as of last year, instructional materials in print still sell more than twice as much as digital materials.
But the Bloomberg article has some issues, both factual and rhetorical,which raise questions about the accuracy of the picture readers get of Amplify in the spring of 2015 and remind me of the seemingly prevalent trend in education journalism towards decontextualized fault-finding that's almost as annoying as the "gee, whiz!" coverage from five and ten years ago.
I'll lay it all out below.
Watch some Westchester County (NY) parents, teachers, and kids protest against testing above (click the link if the video isn't rendering properly, or read more about the event here). Or watch a DC school get ready for them (via PBS NewsHour) below:
How an underperforming school rallied to turn around test scores and conquer the Common Core PBS NewsHour: It’s pep rally day at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. There are prizes and gift certificates and lots of cheering, all meant to get children psyched about the high-stakes tests they’re about to take. Sixth grader Nazar Harper says it works.
Panel approves $1b allocation for Common Core SI&A Cabinet Report: A proposal adding $1 billion in state support for schools transitioning to Common Core State Standards won easy passage Wednesday from a key legislative committee.
Take a look inside the 600-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind Washington Post: The bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind that was crafted after months of negotiations between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would end federal high-stakes testing and grant more power to states to decide what to do about struggling schools and how or whether to evaluate teachers.
Senate’s effort to rewrite NCLB sparks cautious optimism Washington Post: Just about everyone with a stake in public education is weighing in on the Senate’s bipartisan effort to rewrite the nation’s main education law. And while there’s no consensus, a wide range of groups and people are exhibiting cautious optimism that the draft bill released Tuesday could be the first step toward reaching a bipartisan deal in an otherwise gridlocked Congress.
Teachers union starts legal battle to unionize L.A.'s largest charter school group LA Daily News: United Teachers Los Angeles has brought its fight to unionize the city's largest charter school organization to the state's top labor authority.
Teachers sue to join union without paying for political activities Los Angeles Times: An advocacy group has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop teachers unions in California from using member dues for political purposes unless individual instructors provide their permission.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso and on Facebook).
Wages for education (and health services) workers went up just 1.9 percent over the past year, less than the national average. Why's that? "Low-wage workers are earning more. Leisure and hospitality employees, mainly restaurant workers, saw a 3.6% hourly pay increase over the past year.... Higher-skilled workers are also doing well.... Several big employment sectors [including education] are being left out of better pay." Via WSJ (Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Raises?)
Today's the last day of the three-day GSV+ASU Summit in Scottsdale Arizona, which has some of the edtech aspects of SXSWedu, some of the venture capital/innovation feel of the NSVF event, and also seems to have some EIA (Education Industry Association) elements. It's big -- 2,500 -- but "much more focused on the deal-making/business [side] of education than other conferences," according to event organizers. (Yeah, Mark Cuban was there.)
Today's lineup includes some familiar folks, like Arthur Levine, who's there to talk about the coming transformation of higher education. Colorado state senator Mike Johnston --apparently one of New Leaders' co-founders -- was also there. Common (the rapper) was there, too. (Did you see his performance on the Jimmy Fallon lip synch show vs. John Legend, BTW?). Miami-Dade's Alberto M. Carvalho was there. Duncan, of course. (The USDE Office of Education Technology got on the Medium bandwagon with this post from the event).
Michele Molnar's EdWeek writeup (Education Business Summit Explores Issue of Learning Equity) notes that reducing inequality is a big motivation for edtech hopes (perhaps attendees didn't read about education's limited impact on inequality or mobility). Betsy Corcoran's EdSurge writeup (Reporter's Notebook: ASU GSV Summit Packs in Edtech Fans) notes that there are lots more teachers there than in the past and that only the newbies go to the panels (everyone else is in meetings doing deals).
There's been some controversy surrounding the event, or at least GSV. One of its advisors is an Emanuel school board appointee to the school board ("Enough Is Enough": Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists). GSV's Mike Moe was an education advisor to Newt Gingrich in 2011.
The media coverage includes Nichole Dobo (Hechinger), Michele Molnar (EdWeek), Donnie Dicus (Bright), and EdSurge, WashPo, NYT, Inside Higher Ed I'm told. Broadcast crews from Bloomberg and PBS are apparently there, too.Bright is Gates-funded (so is EdWeek). EdSurge is GSV-funded.
Related posts: Test Prep & Instructional Materials $37B Of $789B K12 Spending.
Rahm Emanuel wins runoff in Chicago Politico: In an interview with The Atlantic, AFT President Randi Weingarten said that forcing Emanuel into a runoff was a win for labor — a point echoed by progressives after the vote. See also Emanuel wins re-election over Garcia in race for Chicago mayor (WBEZ), Emanuel Wins Second Term as Chicago Mayor After Tough Runoff (EdWeek).
Senate Plan to Revise No Child Left Behind Law Would Not Measure Teachers by Test Scores NYT: The proposal retains the requirement for yearly tests, but the federal government would no longer prescribe how the states handle schools with continuously poor scores. See also Sens. Alexander, Murray propose bipartisan measure to replace NCLB (WP), Senators Announce Agreement to Update Education Law (AP).
California teachers unions face new legal challenge over dues Washington Post: Four California teachers are suing their unions over the use of member dues for political activities, opening a new legal front against unions that are already facing a separate challenge to their ability to collect dues from all teachers
Mexican-American Toddlers: Understanding The Achievement Gap NPR: A new study finds Mexican-American toddlers are lagging behind their white counterparts.
First-Generation Students Unite NYT: These young pioneers, the first in their families in college, speak out about who they are, where they come from and the income inequality on campus.
As new teacher evaluation system looms, NY's Tisch defends need for state tests ChalkbeatNY: As state education officials have been tasked with crafting a new teacher evaluation system, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch on Tuesday continued to defend the need for a state test as a necessary measure to address longstanding inequities.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso and on Facebook).
"The richest 25 percent of school districts receive 15.6 percent more funds [$1,500 per student] from state and local governments per student than the poorest 25 percent of school districts, the federal Department of Education pointed out last month (March, 2015). The gap has grown 44 percent since 2001-02, when a student in a rich district had only a 10.8 percent resource advantage over a student in a poor district." (via Hechinger Report The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade) Image used with permission. Click the link to see the interactive map.
Closing schools means looking for new jobs, while eliminating automatic placements based on seniority makes it harder to find them. Most troubling, our efforts to hold teachers accountable threatened job security and lifetime pensions. - Former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein responding to criticisms of his book and accomplishments in the NYROB (Good Faith & the Schools)
If there's any doubt that we're going through an interesting and abundant time in education journalism, yesterday's return from Passover/Easter weekend might have put it to rest:
First, there was the NYT's in-depth look at Success Academies (At Success Academy Charter Schools, Polarizing Methods and Superior Results), by Kate Taylor. See above for Ashley Mitchel's favorite part (the side-eye).
Then there was Peg Tyre's equally long look into the current state of blended learning, published in a new outlet called Bright. (See also Matt Candler's response, if you're interested in how one of the story sources felt about the final result.)
Last but not least, there was another NYT piece about anti-cheating systems being used in conjunction with online testing (Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare). The Natasha Singer piece tells us about facial recognition software program called Proctortrack.
It's not so much that more is always better, or that longer pieces are better than shorter ones (some editing-down would help many pieces I see these days). I and others have issues with all of the above pieces, and may come back to one or more of them later this week.
But there's a lot to choose from out there -- new writers, new outlets, new topics (or at least new angles on familiar ones) -- and that's generally a good thing.
DonorsChoose is a well-known and generally well-regarded nonprofit that allows individuals to direct contributions to specific classroom projects. But does the 15 year-old operation lessen or even exacerbate resource inequalities among different schools within districts or among different areas? How targeted are the projects that get funding?
The question comes up with recent stories from NPR about the endeavor. As you'll notice, different versions of the story had different headlines: Fundraising Site For Teachers Illuminates Classroom Disparities (WAMU). Teachers fundraising site helps level classroom disparities (NPR).
Another lawsuit challenges teachers unions' dues EdSource: In a statement on Monday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten accused StudentsFirst of hypocrisy. See also SF Chronicle.
How Rahm Emanuel ended up in a fight for his political life Vox: If Garcia manages another upset? The ramifications will go beyond Chicago. The three largest cities in the nation will all have first-term mayors for the first time in generations — first-term mayors elected by populist, left-wing constituencies. And Rahm Emanuel, whose time here has long been seen as a stepping stone to more national ambitions, will be finished.
More Seattle students opt out of new Common Core tests Seattle Times: As many as150 students at one Seattle high school are refusing to take new Common Core tests mandated in Washington. Some teachers from Garfield High, the site of a 2013 testing boycott, are expected to announce their opposition to the tests Tuesday
Nation’s largest teachers union launches ad campaign as Congress debates No Child Left Behind Washington Post: As Congress debates how to rewrite No Child Left Behind, the nation’s largest teachers union is launching a $500,000 ad campaign urging lawmakers to reach a deal that reduces the focus on standardized testing.
How Struggling Schools Can Make Dramatic Improvements In Just A Few Years HuffPost: The CAP brief highlights four schools -- Frederick Douglass High School in Maryland, Leslie County High School in Kentucky, Emerson Elementary School in Kansas and Rose Ferrero Elementary School in California -- and the work they have done to make striking progress over a short time.
Just in time for Passover and Easter, the three new Spencers for 2015-2016 have been announced. They are LA-based Vanessa Romo, former New Yorker and NYT Magazine writer Sara Mosle, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Erin Richards.
Currently a Newark teacher and occasional contributor to the NYT etc., Mosle's proposed topic is the past, present and future of the national standards movement. (Her long-awaited book about a school explosion in Texas is forthcoming.)
On staff at the Milwaukee Journal, Richards is going to focus on voucher schools, which makes a lot of sense given Milwaukee's long checkered history with them and their recent resurgence of sorts.
A veteran of LA's local NPR affiliate KPCC and the LA School Report, Romo is going to focus on Standard English Learners (kids whose first language is English but who don't speak or read academic English used in classrooms).
Read the official bios/announcement here. Richards, Romo, and Mosle will replace this year's Spencers: Linda Lutton, Mitra Kalita, and Joy Resmovits, and while they may be sad about their imminent return to the real world the rest of us will be very glad to have them -- and their regular reporting -- back.
In other Spencer-related news, Greg Toppo's book about game-based learning -- The Game Believes In You -- is coming out later this month. Check it out - fascinating stuff.
Related posts: Six Years In, Is the Spencer Fellowship (Still) Worth It? (2015); Spencer Fellowships 2014-2015 Go To Lutton, Resmovits, & Kalita (Who?) (2014); New Spencer Fellows, New Research Topics (2013).
The big problem here is that somehow we have arrived at a point wherein placing value on student achievement results is mutually exclusive to respecting the voting rights of African-American communities... That is a fight that neither side can win, nor should want to fight. - Former Mass Insight head Justin Cohen @justcohen) on his new blog.
Once again, the convictions of the eleven surviving educators for their role in Atlanta's infamous cheating scandal provides a "teachable moment" in regard to the inherent harm of high stakes testing. The Guardian's Max Blau, in Why the Atlanta Cheating Scandal Failed to Bring National Reform, cites Fair Test's Bob Schaeffer who says, “Atlanta is the tip of the iceberg. ... Cheating is a predictable outcome of what happens when public policy puts too much pressure on test scores.”
During the NCLB era, other cheating scandals have occurred in Baltimore, Camden, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Houston, El Paso, Norfolk, Virginia and, yes, in Michelle Rhee's Washington D.C. As Schaeffer explained to the Christian Science Monitor's Stacy Teichner Khadaroo, in Atlanta Teacher Conviction: Do Standardized Tests Pressure Foster Cheating?, today's testing “creates a climate in school where you have to boost scores by hook or by crook.”
Khodaroo also cites Harvard's Daniel Koretz who explains why high stakes testing reveals just the tips of other dangerous icebergs. Koretz describes “shortcuts” that educators are encouraged to take, such as teaching to the “'power standards' – the types of items most commonly tested." He says that "states now routinely offer teachers old test items to use for test prep," even though that practice was frowned upon in the 1980s.
“'Clearly cheating is unethical, but at what point does this other stuff become unethical?'” Koretz says.
In my experience, these more subtle means of manipulating metrics are the most pervasive and thus the most destructive.
I can think of a handful of incidents in which mainstream news outlets got things wrong, and a couple of higher ed stories where facts and reporting were called into question. (There was the Tulane education study that was retracted not too long ago, and just last week the Times confused the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.)
But I can't off the top of my head think of anything approaching the Rolling Stone magazine UVA rape story, which has now been retracted after a lengthy investigation by Columbia. That's right - fully retracted.
Not everyone's happy about the blame being passed around (see Erik Wemple Publisher Jann Wenner is in complete denial), but that's another issue. Has there ever been a big K-12 education story like this that turned out to be so wildly unfounded that had to be retracted and the reporter and editors' careers were in jeopardy? I can't think of any, but I can't imagine that it hasn't happened, either.
Related posts: Fraud Or Fabrication In Ed Research Industry? 2010; Big Retraction On Bennet Story From NYT; Charter Supporters Debate Online Behemoth K12, Inc.; New Orleans Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study (2014)
Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare NYT: School administrators say for online learning to be legitimate, testing has to be monitored. Proctortrack is a new anti-cheating program being used by some universities.
In the Name of Fairness, Special Needs Students Struggle Through Testing WNYC: Federal law requires that students with disabilities have access to the same material as their non-disabled peers, including state tests. But the end result may not be fair after all.
Readers: How our students spent their opt-out time ChalkbeatTN: We heard from people all over the state and the responses were varied. Some parents kept their students at home for the few hours student took the exams while others spent that time in the library working on homework.
First year of PARCC testing was no picnic for Ohio schools Columbus Dispatch: As Ohio schools transition to new, tougher state tests, this is bound to be a trying year, experts say. Scheduling struggles, glitches on the online tests and other issues are going to come up in the first year, said Chad Aldeman, associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit research and advisory group based in Washington.
Parents launch petition to take control at 20th Street Elementary LA Times: In this instance, parents say they want a district-managed pilot school, which would incorporate some of the freedoms of a charter school. Those campuses typically operate under a simpler union contract and teachers must opt in to the school’s new efforts. If they don’t prove a good fit, they can be forced to transfer to another campus.
The education model that fell apart Capital New York: Once considered a gold standard of charter operations, two Brighter Choice middle schools were closed by the state’s Charter Schools Institute after just five years in operation, because 80 percent of the students were not proficient in English and math. Other charter schools in Albany, including an all-girls high school with a graduation rate of 51 percent, could be shuttered in the near future for poor performance.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Sometimes, even when they record your words, you still end up with a lousy, out-of-context quote. I need to work on making that impossible.— Morgan Polikoff (@mpolikoff) March 12, 2015
USC's Morgan Plikoff: "Sometimes, even when they record your words, you still end up with a lousy, out-of-context quote. I need to work on making that impossible."
Way back in the early 2000's, Arne Duncan was still the new guy in town and folks were trying to figure out what had happened under Mayor Daley's first education czar, Paul Vallas. I edited a book about it for the Harvard Education Press, featuring several people who'd been inside the Vallas effort, and the Reader's Ben Joravsky was kind enough to review it. Take a look, and shake your head. Long time ago.
Newish NYT contributor @DavidKirp had only 85 followers as of a few minutes ago and is following just 30 folks. (I'm not one of them, are you?)
According to his NYT bio, Kirp is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools.” He wrote a book about Union City schools, and was on the Obama policy review team in 2008. His book was listed along with Ravitch and Kahlenberg's in this list of HuffPost favorite education books of 2014.
At the Times, Kirp's unofficial beat is education and inequality, and his pieces for the Times (going all the way back to 2012) include Make School a Democracy, Closing the Math Gap for Boys, Rage Against the Common Core, How to Help College Students Graduate, Here Comes the Neighborhood, The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools, Making Schools Work.
I haven't written very much about him here or elsewhere, though I did raise a question on Twitter about one of his recent columns:
Wait, what? David Kirp NYT column repeats unsubstantiated Washington Post claim Duncan lobbied against Starr http://t.co/I6z5Qfsg62— alexanderrusso (@alexanderrusso) January 2, 2015
It seems like Kirp will function as the Times' unofficial education columnist, which was written for better and worse for many years by Richard Rothstein, Sam Freedman, and Michael Winerip. I didn't always agree with those columnists but I appreciated the regular (and often intellectually honest) attempts to address complicated education issues fairly and with nuance.
Related posts: Underwhelmed By Union City Turnaround Story (Bruno); Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers (Thompson); Who's Who On The Obama Policy Review Team (2008).
My review criticized Klein not for his own good-faith works on behalf of our schools, but for his refusal to believe that his foes were also working in good faith. Nothing in his reply suggests that I was wrong.
-- Jonathan Zimmerman in the NYROB (Good Faith & the Schools by Joel Klein)
I'm sure not one of those "top liberals" cited by Politico's in Top Liberals Call for Warren Candidacy. But, I want to vote for Warren in the primary.
I also believe that the key short-term priority for teachers is sending an unmistakable message to the probable nominee, Hillary Clinton. Public schools and teachers unions can't stand another Democratic presidential administration that feels free to abuse us at will.
The New York Times' Maggie Haberman, in Hillary Clinton Caught Between Dueling Forces on Education: Teachers and Wealthy Donors, describes the dilemma that educators are loath to discuss. Hillary "is being pulled in opposite directions on education. The pressure is from not only the teachers who supported her once and are widely expected to back her again, but also from a group of wealthy and influential Democratic financiers." These deep-pocketed donors demand that she "declare herself."
Haberman reports that the Democrats for Education Reform's Joe Williams, "recently circulated a memo to its board members highlighting the 'strong ally' the group has had in the White House over the past six years and describing the 'stiff pushback' the group and its allies are now facing."
On the other hand, "some progressives already view Mrs. Clinton as overly cozy with Wall Street. And should she align herself with the elite donors who favor an education overhaul, many of them heavyweights in the investment world, it could inflame the liberal Democratic base."
"An investigation had found systematic cheating in more than 40 schools. Judy Woodruff learns more from Kevin Riley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution." (How cheating on standardized tests can be a criminal act.) Or watch this video from Bright (Meet Nancy Davis, the Pirate Teacher).
Cuomo: Budget Was Victory Over 'Formidable' Opposition WNYC: Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a victory lap on Wednesday, claiming the new state budget includes a better teacher evaluation system despite tough opposition from the teachers union.
Christie and Teachers Spar Over Benefits WSJ: Gov. Chris Christie was confronted by multiple protesters during a town-hall meeting here Tuesday and undertook a long back-and-forth with a public-school teacher angry about his push to scale back pension and health benefits for state workers.
As NYSUT endorses testing opt-outs, city union holds back Chalkbeat Indiana: Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers, of which NYSUT and the UFT are both affiliates, quickly jumped in. She posted online that she would boycott New York’s tests if she had children in the public schools.
Stumping for Chuy, AFT's Weingarten says Garcia won't make 'scorched earth ... Chicago Sun-Times: Randi Weingarten told the crowd at a City Club of Chicago lunch that Garcia “understands that when it comes to making tough choices, communities are not our enemy — they need to be our partners.”
11 Ex-Atlanta Public School Employees Found Guilty In Cheating Scandal NPR: AThey were found guilty of conspiracy when they switched student test scores. The verdicts close a dark chapter for the school system and the city of Atlanta. One defendant, a teacher, was acquitted. See also NYT (Atlanta Educators Convicted in School Cheating Scandal), AP (11 Educators Convicted In Atlanta Test Cheating Conspiracy), NewsHour (How cheating on standardized tests can be a criminal act).
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Last week's EdWeek's review of Education Next (Policy Views, With an Edge) is a good opportunity to talk about what the 14 year-old magazine does -- and doesn't -- get right, and where it fits in the ever-changing education media landscape.
More and more education-focused outlets are coming online these days, from BRIGHT to the Boston Learning Lab. Each outlet has its strengths and weaknesses. RealClear Education does 2 great roundups a day but doesn't have much original content. The Hechinger Report doesn't have strong commentary to go along with its strong reported pieces. You get the idea.
Education Next's strengths seem to be smart well-chosen articles about policy and politics, and a general willingness to address topics that are controversial and don't necessarily support pro-reform positions. (*I should know, having written several of these over the years -- see at left.)
I'm also a big fan of "Behind the Headline," a blog feature that attempts to contextualize the day's big education story or debate, and of Petrilli et al's interest in tracking (and manipulating) the media (see Related Posts below).
Its weaknesses might be its offerings getting lost among all the other posts and reports and pieces being put out by Fordham (and Harvard, and Hoover) and coming out only quarterly. It could also be stronger and more distinctive on social media, I think. There's a blog and Twitter but they're relatively low-profile compared to Petrilli et al -- despite having 81,000 followers (jealous!).
In a perfect world, Education Next would produce broadly appealing feature stories (like the Atlantic's education page), be perhaps a bit more journalistic and less wonky, more distinct from Fordham and all it's offerings, and maybe take more chances. But it's still a strong magazine and a worthwhile part of the education media landscape.
Related posts: Best 5 Of Education Next's Top 20 Stories Of The Year (2103); 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" (2014); Petrilli's Surprise Apology (2105); But Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?.
Too often, it is hard to tell the difference between progressive school reformers and Scott Walker, ALEC, and the far right wing. Maggie Paynich's Teachers Should Have to Pay Union Dues Out of Pocket is based on even more misinformation than the National Rifle Association's attack on teachers' collective bargaining rights, but it is written in the same toxic spirit.
Paynich is unaware of both contract law and the ways that police, firefighters, and others negotiate common sense arrangements for collecting dues for unions and professional organizations. She incorrectly claims that, "Every other entity on the planet has to collect monies on their own, and unions should not get the unfair advantage of ease of payment."
Paynich inexplicably writes, "I see it as taxpayer dollars going directly into the hands of unions with little or no say or control from the teachers unions are supposed to be protecting." According to her reality-free appraisal of these contracts, "This seems like the LEA is paying the union to negotiate the contract with the LEA."
As Oklahoma conservatives attack the rights of teachers unions - but not other organizations - to engage in this type of legal contract with their employers, the OK2A pro-gun rights organization took a stand that is nearly as dubious as Paynich's in terms of education policy. It announced support for HB1749, which would halt automatic payroll deductions by state agencies for employee dues in any “public employee association or organization or professional organization that … collectively bargains on behalf of its membership.” They specifically attack the Oklahoma Education Association because "this politically leftist organization has made clear its stance against gun owners’ rights."
There may be an unintended benefit of the loose talk of reformers and gun rights union-bashers, as they make it clear that they are specifically targeting one type of union because of its political positions. It bolsters the legal case that will likely be filed by the AFT/OK, probably alleging discriminatory intent in drafting a law aimed at a single target.-JT(@drjohnthompson)
Even if [education] doesn’t do much to reduce overall inequality, [the study's authors] find it does reduce inequality within the bottom half of the income distribution, by increasing the earnings of those near the 25th percentile of earnings (in 2013, those making $6,100 a year, compared with $8,720 in the simulation with higher education).
- The Upshot NYT (Why More Education Won’t Fix Economic Inequality)
"Hundreds of Okla. Teachers Protest Lack of Funding Chopper aerials capture the scene at the Oklahoma State Capitol where hundreds of teachers have gathered to ask state lawmakers to appropriate more taxpayer dollars to public education." via NBC News. Too short for a video, too long for a gif:
New York Budget Increases School Funding, Amends Teacher Eval Rules WNYC: Under deadline pressure, Democrats in Albany reluctantly agreed to a deal on how teachers are evaluated despite opposition from educators and policy makers acrossdiv the state.
Cuomo Gets Deals on Tenure and Evaluations of Teachers NYT: The final budget bill, to be voted on Tuesday, also includes new measures for improving chronically struggling schools.
Arne Duncan Gives Five States 'Early Bird' Renewal of NCLB Waivers Education Week: The five states that applied early—under a special, fast-track process—for renewal of their No Child Left Behind Act waivers have all gotten approved by the U.S. Department of Education Tuesday.
Half the Teachers in America Use One App to Track Kids WNYC: What data security and privacy obligations do techies have to today's kids? Legally speaking, for the most part, it's what they set for themselves.
The Perfect Classroom, According to Science Bright: It’s bright, quiet, and 72 degrees. And it makes every student feel valued.
States Use Cameras To Crack Down On School Bus Scofflaws HuffPost: At least 12 other states—Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia—have laws that authorize the use of cameras on the outside of buses to catch fly-by drivers, according to the NCSL.
Poverty linked to brain structure in children, new research shows Washington Post: A provocative new study suggests that poverty affects brain structure in children and teenagers, with children growing up in the poorest households having smaller brains than those who live in affluence.
Time to cool it with bashing schools SI&A Cabinet: Before the upcoming presidential race’s political climate gets too warm, let’s moderate the heated rhetoric about the dismal state of American education with some cold facts and careful analysis.
Michelle Obama Delivers Inspiring Speech at Black Girls Rock! Event AThe Root: The star-studded event, which occurred against the backdrop of Women's History Month, was co-hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, who helped celebrate the accomplishments of women of color in education, social justice, music...
"As the data and chart show, the Northeast is most-dominated by the education and health services industry, which accounts for more than 20 percent of all non-farm jobs in Rhode Island (the leader, at 22 percent), Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont." (Washington Post: The distribution of jobs in every state, in 2 charts)
Simon came to Politico via Reuters and the WSJ. The news of her departure was greeted with a certain amount of sadness from some (and probably a bit of muted cheering from others):
Politico's education team has been in flux pretty much from the start. Nirvi Shah was the founding section editor but quickly moved up to Deputy ME. Mary Beth Marklein came in from USA Today to edit the page but has since left (and may not yet have been replaced). Libby Nelson left to join Vox.
According to Simon, "The Politico ed team remains intact & will be expanding. So keep reading!" Caitlin, Allie, and Maggie are still there, far as I know.
Anyway, there's a job opening at Politico if anyone is looking. And there's also a job posting at ChalkbeatNY. (In the case of Chalkbeat, I'm not sure if someone left or if they're expanding the staff.) And then there's that mystery job posting for editors and reporters posted on Mediabistro among other places that all of you keep sending me (please stop!).
Related posts: Who Covered Yesterday's House NCLB Markup Best? (February 2015); Politico Launching "Pro" Education Site Monday (July 2013); Maggie Severns Fills Out Politico Education Team (November 2013); 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA) (October 2013); Politico Takes More Hits, Promotes Education Editor (February 2014): Reuters' Simon Wins National Education Coverage Award.
"Looking back on a frenetic first year, Fariña talks about recentralizing control under regional superintendents, addressing parents’ concerns about overtesting, encouraging more sharing of ideas among teachers and schools, and avoiding ed-tech mishaps like Los Angeles Unified School District’s iPad debacle." From the latest issue of Scholastic Administrator magazine (Interview with Carmen Fariña). Also: Congrats to everyone at Administrator for winning Best Single Issue in this year's Neal Awards.
Can parent triggers help schools without ever being "pulled"? Listen to the story above or read about it here: What's Next for the Parent Trigger Movement?
Without rigorous research, think tanks just repeat talking points, trying to be more clever in their phrasing and more persistent in their communication so they can be heard above the din of everyone else doing the same.
- Jay Greene (The Death of the Think Tank, R.I.P.)
"White children account for 29 percent of the city's population age 19 or younger, but only 13 percent of students in public schools... The district's school "lottery," intended partly to promote diversity in classrooms, has apparently had the effect of concentrating white students in the best elementary schools." Washington Post (White kids are winning San Francisco’s school lottery)
The new Daily Show host Trevor Noah mocks Oprah's scandal-ridden African school. "You're getting a beating! Everybody's getting one!" There may be other, better examples, but this one will help you make it to lunchtime.
Common Core Critics Are Loud But Losing Governing: Most states are now four or five years into the process. Ending Common Core would mean a lot of wasted effort and money. In places like Indiana, the brand name may have gotten dropped, but the essential elements remain intact. This spring, standardized tests based on the standards are being rolled out in schools all over the country.
Top liberals call for Warren candidacy Politico: Most labor leaders have yet to weigh in, but many have a long history with Clinton and some have appeared with her at recent events. Just last week, Clinton spoke on a panel in Washington co-sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which endorsed her early in her failed bid for the 2008 nomination. She sat next to AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and close by the American Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten.
AFT’s Anti-Rahm Spend Dropout Nation: Within the last month, AFT has directly and indirectly supported Garcia’s quest to unseat Emanuel to the tune of $649,503.20. This includes a massive $300,000 donation to Garcia’s campaign on March 12, along with another $349,503.20 spent on get-out-the-vote efforts on the challenger’s behalf.
Stretching One Great Teacher Across Many Classrooms NPR: A Nashville middle school is test-driving a big idea: To put a great teacher in charge of multiple classrooms.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.)
This year's education conferences seem like they're doing better and better modeling diversity and finding new & authentic voices to talk about education, but there's still lots of room for additional improvement.
So here are some ideas to help -- or maybe you've got better ones to suggest?
6 -- If you're organizing a conference or panel, make sure you include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds when you're picking speakers, even if it means reaching out to new connections or recruiting new participants. #Wetried is not enough.
5 -- If you're invited to participate in a panel, tell the organizer it's important to you that the panel includes a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and be so bold as to suggest some folks who might fit the bill if the organizers seem unfamiliar.
4 -- If you're invited to open or close a conference, or function as a keynote speaker, tell the organizers how important diverse panels and perspectives are to you.
3 -- If you somehow find yourself on a panel that's all white (or even all white and male), don't just lament the situation. Give up your time to someone in the audience who has a valuable perspective not otherwise represented on the stage, or do something really bold and give up your spot.
2 -- If you're someone who's used to being asked to speak on panels or give talks, consider giving up your spot to give someone else a chance and -- just as important -- come to the event anyway, sit in the the audience like a normal person, and you might learn something.
1 -- If you're attending a conference or panel in the audience and you happen to notice that the panel is, say, all white (or that the conversation is being dominated by men) say something. (Be nice about it -- the organizers are probably very tired and doing their best -- but still say something.)
Bottom line: Talking about diversity is great but insufficient at this point. Programs aimed at diversifying the pipeline of teacher and leaders are great but way in the future in terms of their impact.
Finding and elevating new and diverse voices to speak at conferences and sit on panels could make a small but concrete difference to the success of the movement. And those of us who've been privileged enough to sit on panels and speak at conferences should take the lead in helping make these shifts, rather than resisting them or even appearing to undercut them.
*For those of you not following along on Twitter, the question of diversifying panels and the responsibilities of conference organizers and convening organizations came up in a series of tweets this morning. The PIE Network's Suzanne Tacheny Kabach and I talked more about it this afternoon and that conversation was the inspiration for some of the above.
I'm at @yaleELC #backtowhy today, mostly on Twitter (Snapchatting an event is not so easy or fun as it sounds). You can check out all the updates here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). You won't miss a thing, plus you can see the fun things people Tweet at me all day. Tweets about "@alexanderrusso"
Laurene Powell Jobs linked to Jeb and Hillary Business Insider: Business Insider obtained Powell-Jobs' resignation letter from a source. In the letter, which was personally addressed to Bush and began "Dear Jeb," Powell-Jobs attributed her decision to leave the foundation's board of directors dto time commitments.
How do schools respond to competition? Not as you might expect. Washington Post: The school-choice movement is built on the philosophy that competition forces schools to improve.But new research on New Orleans — arguably the nation’s most competitive school market — suggests that school leaders are less likely to work on improving academics than to use other tactics in their efforts to attract students.
Evaluation stalemate, looming changes fuel teacher frustration ChalkbeatNY: The future of teacher evaluations in New York state appears more unclear than ever. With six days left to craft an on-time state budget, lawmakers have only just begun to seriously negotiate how to overhaul the state’s nascent teacher-grading system.
Technology is the focus of first-time Smarter Balanced implementation Concord Monitor: Schools are used to administering standardizedtests, but the tests corresponding to theCommon Core State Standards are a new experience for both...
Bill would let parents initiate school reform process Tennessean: Currently, the state does not identify schools in the bottom 10 percent but does identify schools in the bottom 5 percent based on academic achievement. Most of the schools in the bottom 5 percent, known as priority schools, are in Davidson County and Shelby County.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
I won't be the first person to try this. Earlier this week, BuzzFeed's Molly Hensley-Clark interviewed a teen using Snapchat. And lots of different news outlets are trying their hands at the mobile video approach, according to the Online News Association (Can Vine and Snapchat be reporting tools?). The Nieman Journalism Lab rounds up several efforts (How 6 news orgs are thinking about Snapchat) many of them focused on experimenting with live coverage. Huffington Post, Fusion, Mashable, NPR, Philly.com, and The Verge are all Snapchatting. The Knight Lab has another roundup (How news organizations are using SnapChat to report and distribute news) focused on NowThisNews, the Washington Post, NPR, and Mashable. In fact, Snapchat and Vine are no longer the new kids on the mobile video block, now that Meerkat and Periscope have launched. (These new versions offer live-streaming options.)
First things first: The most notable thing about Tuesday's much-tweeted NYT story about Hillary Clinton and education (Hillary Clinton Caught Between Teachers and Wealthy Donors) might be that Team Hillary put Ann O'Leary out in front to represent the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.
"Both the teachers’ union and the reformers will really feel like they have her ear in a way they haven’t,” said Ann O’Leary in the NYT piece. "She believes we need to have some kind of ways that we can measure student progress,” Ms. O’Leary said.
But she said Mrs. Clinton was “also sympathetic that the test regime has become very burdensome in driving the education system in ways that many people think is problematic.”
Longtime readers of this site already know about her (see related posts, below). And longtime Hillary-watchers know her, too. She's on Politico's top Hillary Clinton influentials. Need to know more? Check out her official Next Generation bio
After the article came out, O'Leary (@Ann_OLeary) tweeted " It's true: I do believe ed community will be pleased @HillaryClinton's someone who listens to all good education ideas."
As for the piece itself, well, it's obviously a good media "get" for DFER and the like to have the NYT talking about reformy pressures that are (supposedly) being put on the presumptive Democratic candidate. The "leaked" memo worked again!
But there's an undertone of fear and uncertainty just below the surface, and let's be clear: reformers like the unions don't really have anywhere else to go. They can threaten to stay home or focus on other races but they're pretty much all Democrats and don't really have any interest in having a conservative Republican win the White House. Team Hillary wants their money, sure, and will listen to them, sure.
However, I can't imagine folks as smart and experienced as Team Clinton are feeling any real pressure to do something "crazy" (like coming out hard for the Common Core or even annual testing) anytime soon. (Coming out in favor of vaccinations was already a bit of a surprise.) So if anything, the Clinton folks might not like the public display that DFER et al are trying to put on here, and Team DFER could get some cold shoulder. For a little while. Nobody can hate nice-guy Joe Williams for long.
Related posts: A Clinton Ed Staffer On The High Court? (2010), Power Couples In Education, The Update (2007), More Agency Review Team Names (2008), West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr, Winners & Losers of 2008 (According To Me).Image via Twitter.
Or at least, so says Factcheck via HuffPost: "In an ad released on March 18, Garcia stands in front of a closed school and states that the mayor “took the money from these schools and gave it to elite private schools founded by his big campaign contributors." (Chuy Garcia Mayoral Ad Stretches The Truth About Rahm Emanuel's School Funding Decisions). Not really impressed? Read about last night's debate, or about Garcia and De Blasio are and aren't alike (on mayoral control, among other things).
Nation’s largest labor union: We want 2016 hopefuls talking about schools Washington Post: The National Education Association, the largest U.S. labor union, is pushing to make public schools a front-burner domestic issue throughout the 2016 presidential race, union leaders said Wednesday. “We have 3 million members who want desperately to know what the candidates have to say to really, seriously improve public education,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told reporters. “We intend to activate those 3 million members, the parents, even the students. See also Huffington Post, EdWeek (anyone else).
Unions and Garcia push for $15-an-hour minimum wage WBEZ Chicago: Garcia, members of the CTU, and activists with the national movement “Fight for 15” rallied outside the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. They want all companies who do business with Chicago Public Schools to agree to a wage increase.
LAUSD educators typically earned $75,504 last year LADN: The typical Los Angeles Unified educator collected $75,504 in 2014, according to pay records obtained by this news organization -- the first time the school district has released the pay and name of every employee. [yikes!]
About 20,000 sign in favor of teacher-evaluation bill Seattle Times: Parents delivered a petition to legislative leaders in Olympia on Tuesday supporting a bill that would require student scores on state tests to be used in evaluating teachers.
New York Dreamers Begin Hunger Strike As State Budget Deadline Looms Huffington Post: A group of 10 undocumented youths launched a hunger strike Wednesday, vowing to pressure New York lawmakers to put funding for a proposed state version of the Dream Act back into next year's budget.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).