From PBS NewsHour: "In India, an educational group called Pratham aims to change the perception of school as a solemn enterprise and to offer instead a love of learning to the youngest -- and poorest -- students."
From PBS NewsHour: "In India, an educational group called Pratham aims to change the perception of school as a solemn enterprise and to offer instead a love of learning to the youngest -- and poorest -- students."
Head Start Centers Feeling 'Sequester' Pain EdWeek: "These are, by far, the most serious cuts I've experienced," said Ms. Molloy, who has been involved for 40 years with Head Start, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The reduction in the number of children served through the program for low-income children will have a direct effect on schools, she believes."The emphasis on increased academic readiness for kindergarten is huge," Ms. Molloy said.
Sequestration Forces Cuts to National Social Studies Tests PoliticsK12: The executive committee of the National Assessment Governing Board, on the recommendation of the National Center for Education Statistics—which administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP—voted recently to indefinitely postpone the 4th and 12th grade tests in the three subjects for 2014. The exams will continue for 8th graders.
New Jersey Task force may look at full-day kindergarten in all districts Star-Ledger: A proposal to explore the idea of bringing full-day kindergarten to schools statewide advanced in a state Assembly committee Monday. While most of New Jersey’s elementary school districts offer full-day kindergarten, at least 114 districts still offer half-day only, according to the state Department of Education. The Assembly Education Committee approved a bill that would create a task force to explore full-day options.
Latino High School Grads Enter College At Record Rate NPR: Seven in 10 Latino high school graduates in the class of 2012 went to college, according to a recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center. That's a record-high college enrollment rate for Latinos, and it's the first time Latinos have surpassed white and black students, even as they lag behind Asian-Americans. The Latino high school dropout rate has fallen by half over the past decade — from 28 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2011.
Lawmakers Vote to Boost STEM Education in Immigration Bill PoliticsK12: Good news for STEM fans: There's even more federal resources for science, mathematics, engineering and technology in the big, comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill making its way through the U.S. Senate. The Senate Judiciary committee, which is holding a markup of the bill today, voted unanimously to take money collected on fees for labor certifications under the bill and direct the money towards STEM education at the U.S. Department of Education.
Discipline concerns flare in Denver schools EdNewsColorado: The aim of the discipline policy, revised in recent years, is to reduce in-school or out-of-school suspensions and expulsions so that students can continue to be in a learning environment. It also aims to erase the longstanding disparity between white students and students of color in terms of consequences for student misbehavior.
How Could a Sweet Third-Grader Just Cheat on That School Exam? WSJ: The line between right and wrong in the classroom is often hazy for young children, and shaping the moral compass of children whose brains are still developing can be one of the trickiest jobs a parent faces. Many parents overreact or misread the motivations of small children, say researchers and educators, when it is actually more important to explore the underlying cause.
I'm glad to see Michael Petrilli doing a guest stint over at Bridging Differences and I'm especially glad he dedicates some of his first column inches to defending the importance of knowledge in schools, even for very young children.
Unfortunately, he also commits an all-too-common error, conflating increasing absolute levels of academic achievement with closing achievement gaps between subgroups of students.
It is probably true, as Petrilli says, that it is important to expose even very young students to a broad, knowledge-rich curriculum. Knowledge deficits, including vocabulary deficits, play a major role in suppressing the achievement of many of the least fortunate students.
It is also quite possibly the case that schools serving the least-privileged students are especially likely to lower their standards for students (e.g., by using hand-wavy explanations about what is "developmentally appropriate") or otherwise cut subjects like science and history out of the curriculum.
So far so good. Read on to see where I think Petrilli goes wrong.
This is a guest post from MSU professor Sarah Reckhow:
A new article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review presents a quantitative framework to help philanthropists assess their advocacy grants. The authors all work with Redstone Strategy Group, a consulting agency that “helps philanthropies, non-profits, and governments solve the world’s most urgent social problems.”
Policy advocacy is a growing area of foundation giving, particularly in education. So it is not surprising that funders who view themselves as strategic or venture philanthropists would be eager to find ways to assess a “return on investment” for advocacy.
Unfortunately, this framework is based on a simplistic view of the policy process and it appears to overvalue short-term returns on investments.
The framework draws on a list of things that advocates, PR firms, political operatives, and philanthropists think work; it is not based on current evidence from political science or policy research.
Utilizing this framework could encourage philanthropists to continue making wasteful investments in short-lived advocacy campaigns.
Over the weekend, I check magazines and other long-form sites and sometimes there are good things that come through:
Our schools and the truth about testing ow.ly/kULvD Deborah Gist
From Jay Mathews: A powerful term in U.S. high schools: DBQ: You may not know what a DBQ is. For most of my li... bit.ly/160GZTE
Study: Math Skills at Age 7 Predict How Much Money You'll Make - Lindsay Abrams - The Atlantic ow.ly/kW4SC
Obama administration seeks return of state education funds Hattiesburg American: Those funds served in lieu of the collection of local property taxes and subsidized schools, roads and first-responder services around the country — despite the fact that the local governments receiving the payments have long questioned the equity of taking the federal timber payments in lieu of property taxes.
“We Need To Be Wildly Successful” Says Arne Duncan In Detroit CBS Local: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent the day in Detroit, visiting a DPS school and an EAA school with Governor Rick Snyder. Duncan says the organization, invested in turning around failing schools, is doing good work.
Backlash of new education standards is rooted in suspicion of federal government STLtoday:
It does not reflect or recommend department policy, said Daren Briscoe, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education. The draft goes on to state the devices are “intrusive or impractical for use in school settings.”
Nation's Top Educator Visits Mission District Classrooms Kitsap Sun: “In some places, there's over-testing,” Daren Briscoe, press secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, told Mission Local. “But we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Briscoe added, referring to Duncan's view that certain elements of ...
Raise Your Hand Texas Wields Power on Charter Schools NYT: Raise Your Hand Texas has become a seasoned lobbying force on education issues, and its No. 1 legislative priority is fighting private-school vouchers.
Seeking Teachers’ Support, Mayoral Candidates Pledge Education Reform NYT:At a forum on Saturday, several candidates said they would scrap signature policies of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, including his A-through-F grading system for schools.
NYC Leadership Academy Takes National Stage EdWeek: The NYC Leadership Academy is a nonprofit that works to develop effective student-focused school leadership, particularly for high-needs schools. Today, one in six of New York City's principals is an academy graduate.
LAUSD fighting for zero-tolerance on teacher cheating Los Angeles Times: The school district says a decision by a state panel — determining there was test-score cheating but the teacher shouldn't be fired — sends the wrong message.
David Letterman, 10 TFA newbies, and Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher." via TQATE's Quick Hits. Gotta give TFA credit for snagging yet another chunk of free media.
A few months ago contributor Sarah Reckhow wrote a post about philanthropy-funded education advocacy efforts that asked a good question: "How does the Gates Foundation plan to evaluate its large portfolio of “advocacy” grants?"
Of course, this isn't just an issue for Gates or other reform-minded funders. Teachers unions (AFT, NEA) and nonprofits on the other side (Broader/Bolder Alliance, Shanker Institute, and the new Ravitch thing) are actively engaged in advocacy as well, and have to figure out if their spending is making a difference, too.
To get at some of the challenges advocacy evaluation involves, Reckhow recommended a 201 article in the Stanford Social Innoviation Review (The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy).
I promised myself I'd read it but -- big surprise -- never did. Then yesterday Fordham's Mike Petrilli sent over a link to a Spring 2013 SSIR article (Assessing Advocacy).
Malloy's Plans for Schools Face Budget Shortfall WSJ: Last year's legislative package set up several initiatives including a network to aid underperforming schools, statewide teacher evaluations and more spending on new state charter schools.Partnership aims for hybrid traditional-charter school in Southeast WPost: Chancellor Kaya Henderson is seeking to merge a long-struggling Southeast Washington elementary school with a high-performing charter school, creating what she describes as a first-of-its-kind partnership between the two types of schools.
Student-Achievement Goals at Issue in Senate NCLB Renewal Effort Politics K12: In including a requirement that states set student-achievement goals in the bill, Harkin is hoping that he can help build on the momentum of the waivers, which are now in place in 34 states and the District of Columbia, a Senate Democratic aide said. But Republicans see the overall direction of the still-in-progress bill as carving out too much of a role for the federal government.
Latinos Sharply Narrow Education Gap NYT: Last year, new Hispanic high school graduates became more likely than their white counterparts to go directly to college, according to a study.
A new documentary tracks the rise of the environmental movement, focusing on the Love Canal disaster and Greenpeace's "save the whales" campaign.
Two of my favorite education writers right now write a lot about education but you may not know their names because they don't usually have bylines. Karin Klein of the LA Times (right) and Kate Grossman (@kategrossman1) of the Chicago Sun-Times (left) are editorial page writers whose work often comes out in the form of unsigned editorial page positions.
What do I like so much about their work? They take nuanced, sometimes unexpected positions on the issues. There's not much extremism in their views (and they don't spend much time addressing extreme elements and positions that get so much coverage elsewhere). They write in plain English for a general audience that may or may not care about education in a day to day way. They're not trying to grab attention.
This is the smart middle ground that is so hard to find online these days -- even in traditional news coverage of education events. It's reasonable, reasoned writing that neither conveys nor quotes extreme views, focuses on immediate events rather than speculation, and is basically pragmatic. The focus is simple: What's the current situation, best as we know it, what are the viable options, and realistic outcomes?
In the past, there would be more of this kind of education writing in the news section and wire services also. (Used to be that AP education coverage was so frequent and so "down the middle" that it was sometimes hard to read. But it served as a useful reality check when political opponents and pundits were saying the sky was falling or that they'd discovered the next big thing.)
But the AP education team has been turned over and decimated for the past few years. Reuters' education coverage has been fascinating to follow but has seemed hyperbolic rather than steady since the arrival of Stephanie Simon. The Washington Post's coverage skews local rather than national. The Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits still does great work but is clearly under pressure to attract attention as much as to provide steady, reliable coverage. PBS's John Merrow seems more and more of a commentator than a moderating voice of late.
I don't always agree with Klein or Grossman. And being in the middle isn't glamorous or appealing when the next-door blogger can put out ten posts and generate scads of attention during the time it takes to write a careful editorial. But I, for one, am very glad they're out there right now. That steady, thoughtful voice, without any obvious self-interest or desire to advance a particular cause or outcome, is refreshing. Maybe there are others?
But recently I've learned that the GreatSchools profiles are incredibly popular among parents, that there's a new Facebook app that allows parents to find friends and friends-of-friends who are discussing certain schools and neighborhoods, and that there are blog posts like this one (When the melting pot boils over) that address core school reform issues like diversity and gentrification.
"Many middle-class parents enter public schools with a dogged determination to improve them. They want to do good, while also doing right by their children. Yet when such efforts — however well-meaning — carry the taint of entitlement, it doesn’t take much for the ordinary elementary school to become an ideological battleground waged around bake sales and play structures."
It doesn't hurt that I've written about the challenges and opportunities of diverse schools and live in a neighborhood going through massive gentrification right now, or that I met executive editor Carol Lloyd at #EWA13 last week. Image via GreatSchools.
Texas Senate Votes To Substantially Reduce Number Of Standardized Tests For Students HuffPost: The Texas Senate approved a bill Monday that would substantially reduce the number of standardized tests students need to take in order to graduate. The bill must be reconciled with an earlier House bill, which also loosens graduation standards for students, according to the Associated Press. The Senate bill, which was unanimously approved, would cut the number of end-of-year exams students must pass in order to graduate from 15 to five.
Schools in West Virginia Take On Social Work Amid High Unemployment, Drug Abuse AP: When school started this fall in this sparsely populated rural area at West Virginia's southern tip, 1 of 7 classrooms was without a teacher because leaders couldn't recruit enough educators. The American Federation of Teachers-guided effort is called Reconnecting McDowell, and leaders hope it will stem decades of suffering, both physical and economic. If successful and sustainable, this model could help despairing rural schools elsewhere.
L.A. mayoral candidates support making teacher evaluations public LATimes: City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti said they backed the release of individual performance evaluations based on so-called "value-added" formulas, which are controversial both locally and nationwide. These measures use the past performance of students on state standardized tests to help gauge a teacher's success, taking into account such factors as race and income.
Proper Role of Ed-Tech in Pre-K a Rising Issue EdWeek: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York-based children's digital-media research organization, studied the education category of Apple's app store, a slice of the more than 500,000 apps available in all subjects. Of about 200 top-selling apps in the education category, 58 percent were for toddlers and preschoolers.
Common Standards Set for Federal Education Research EdWeek: The criteria, rolled out last week at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting here, will guide all new research at the IES, the U.S. Department of Education's main research agency, and all NSF research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.
Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti may support publishing teachers’ performance ratings – and indeed the LA Times did just that a few years ago. But, according to this new Education Week chart, California is one of 22 states that currently exempt individual teachers’ ratings from open records laws. Via Twitter, EdWeek reporter Stephen Sawchuk says it’s California code Section 6524 that prohibits this. Cross-posted from LA School Report.
This is a guest post from Michael Maher [@mj_maher], who works at the NC State College of Education:
Once again, Mr. Duncan shows either his disdain for teacher preparation programs, his ignorance of the field of teacher preparation, or both. Is this just another example of the secretary making a bold, albeit factually inaccurate, statement or is there something more? Perhaps if Mr. Duncan spent a little more time talking with those of us who dedicate our lives to the work of preparing teachers, he might truly begin to understand where our interests lie.
There is no doubt that we need to increase the diversity of America’s teaching force. Since colleges of education continue to prepare the majority of America’s teachers it is incumbent on us to increase the number of diverse candidates enrolled in teacher preparation programs. The secretary needs to remember, however, that we can’t MAKE people become teachers; they have options. Lack of diversity is not just an education issue.
Wasn't Sir Ken's PBS TED talk wonderful? Did Bill Gates stick around after his presentation and hear Sir Ken Robinson proclaim, "leadership should not be command and control?"
Does the first public education television TED signal that Gates is changing gears? After all, he downplayed the bubble-in accountability aspect of his talk, so maybe he is learning about the dangers of his test-driven approach to instruction. And, Geoffrey Canada directed his anger toward the lack of budgetary support, not unions. Neither did host John Legend seem like an enabler of Michelle Rhee. Maybe he is realizing that the "reformers" who he has supported are responsible for the curriculum narrowing that Sir Ken derided and driving music, hands-on science and media studies from public schools. Finally, wasn't Angela Duckworth fantastic and wasn't that young poet, Malcolm London, inspiring?
I kid myself. I know that sometimes a PBS program is just a PBS program. I know it is humiliating for teachers to continually be watching the tea leaves in the hopes that a billionaire or a media star will stop attacking us. Educators have to continually worry about the next Waiting for Superman or Won't Back Down, using teacher-bashing as a quick fix for urban ills. But, what we really want is to be a part of a constructive, reality-based effort to improve schools.
The first PBS Education TED did not mention the keys to accountability-driven "reform," standardized testing and top down mandates for drill and kill, except to criticize them. If veteran educators and researchers wrote the script, we couldn't have done a better job. Maybe we are seeing a new day or maybe we're just seeing a kinder, gentler spin. We might just be watching the same excellence that is expected on PBS, and it might have prompted "reformers" to be on their best behavior. Or, perhaps we are ready to discuss ways for teaching students to be empowered students, improving instruction, and making schooling into a team effort, as opposed to seeking scapegoats for the failure to meet growth targets.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Video from the NewSchools Venture Fund summit last week. Or, you can watch Laurene Powell Jobs interview Arne Duncan (his answers on parent trigger are at the 38:00 mark).
CPS School Closures: Independent Hearing Officers Oppose Closing 14 Schools On List AP: Independent hearing officers tasked with reviewing Chicago Public Schools' list of 54 slated closings are opposing 14 of the proposed shutterings saying those schools don't meet the state standards that warrant a shutdown. In the list that was made public Tuesday morning, hearing officers cited a wide range of reasons for opposing the 14 closures, including safety of students and lack of proof students were actually being moved to better-performing schools.
House Education Panel Discusses NCLB Renewal EdWeek: At a hearing today, U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, reiterated his criticism of the administration's plan for renewing the NCLB law, a system of waivers, which so far have been offered given to more than 30 states. "It's time to change the law," he said. "These waivers are a short-term fix for a long-term problem and leave states and districts tied to a failing law." He said that the committee would act on reauthorization "in the coming months."
In California, Push for College Diversity Starts Earlier NYT: Those states have tried a series of new approaches to choosing students, giving applicants a leg up for overcoming disadvantages like poverty, language barriers, low-performing schools and troubled neighborhoods. That process has drawn heavy scrutiny, but in California, it is only half of a two-pronged approach. Disadvantaged students in poor neighborhoods, like Erick Ramirez, a senior at Anaheim High School, are benefiting from the state university systems’ growing efforts to cultivate applicants starting in middle school.
Sandy Hook School Plans Divide Town WSJ: Newtown, Conn., officials are considering other options for the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School after some in the community objected to the possibility of reopening the site where 26 people, including 20 children, were shot and killed on Dec. 14. The committee making recommendations on the issue signalled a new direction Friday after at least one of its members, town First Selectman, E. Patricia Llodra, met privately with Sandy Hook teachers before the panel's public session.
Are Teacher Evaluations Public? Assessing the Landscape EdWeek: As the movement to overhaul teacher evaluation marches onward, an emerging question is splitting the swath of advocates who support the new tools used to gauge teacher performance: Who should get access to the resulting information? As evidenced in recently published opinion pieces, the contours of the debate are rapidly being drawn.
Filling In The Gap On Climate Education In Classrooms NPR: Polls show most U.S. students learn little about climate change at school, and even many adults have a fuzzy notion of what causes it. For the first time, new issued in April include climate change. But the standards, written by a consortium of science and education groups in consultation with 26 states, are only voluntary and could take years to roll out.
Watch Rita Pierson: Build Relationships With Your Students on PBS. See more from TED Talks Education.
David Kirp’s new book, Improbable Scholars, explains how Union City used research-based reforms to turnaround a school system that had been one of New Jersey’s worse. Kirp shows how we can build great schools on the strengths of our democracy. Their successes did not come from outside technocrats, but from a local culture of “abrazos” or caring. Rather than firing our way to the top, Kirp shows that school improvement must come from trusting relationships. The secret sauce of Union City’s success is “respeto,” or respect.
The equally good news is that school improvement is best achieved by the “grunt” work of “continuous improvement.” Rather that gambling on “disruptive innovation” and “transformative” change, real reform requires a modest ethic of “plan, do, and review.”
The worrisome news is that Union City’s turnaround was expensive. It was made possible by an activist New Jersey Supreme Court that ordered the state to produce equity. This allowed the funding of high-quality early education, reduced class sizes, professional development in English as a Second Language and methods of motivating and engaging students, and one-on-one coaching to struggling teachers and students.
The sobering news, however, is that Union City shows that it will take just as much planning, coordination, and trial and error to coordinate and align policies that work as we have squandered in the last decade on aligning instruction and testing.
The road for the Common Core initiative has been especially rough recently, with both conservative and progressive opposition growing louder and political and logistical setbacks becoming more noticeable.
This is understandably worrying to CCSS supporters, including Chester Finn who argues that "conservatives ought to applaud" the Common Core initiative.
I'm not by any measure a conservative - so my perception may be skewed - but it's hard for me to see much in Finn's argument that conservatives per se should find compelling.
Central to his argument is the point that the CCSS are better than most existing state standards, and so most states would be better off adopting them.
What, exactly, is conservative about that line of thinking? Isn't the conservative position that variation between the states is a virtue (either in itself or because it allows for greater flexibility and innovation)?
Similarly, while Finn tries to reassure conservatives that CCSS adoption is "totally voluntary", he also admits in the very same breath that federal pressure "complicated" the decision-making process for states.
Watch Maine School Engages Kids With Problem-Solving Challenges on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour."Teachers have swapped traditional curriculum for an unusually comprehensive science curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving, with a little help from some robots."
ACT to Move Toward Computer-Based Testing NYT: High school students will take the ACT college admissions exam by computer starting in the spring of 2015 — but at least for a while, the paper and pencil version will be available, too. “We are moving to a computer-based version, but for the foreseeable future, we will also have the paper and pencil test as an option for schools that don’t have the technological capability,” said Jon Erickson, the president of ACT’s Education Division.
Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S. EdWeek: All this change—and more—in education is happening against a backdrop of rapidly shifting demographics, technology that is changing lives at blazing speeds, and an economy still recovering from the Great Recession. At the same time, education is caught in a push for state and federal budget austerity and faces a Congress so gripped by gridlock that some educators are wondering if the withering Elementary and Secondary Education Act will ever get rewritten.
Teacher Pay Hurt by Recession, Report Says NYT: During the recession and its aftermath, public schools took a hit as both state coffers and local property taxes shriveled. That showed up in shrinking employment, but also in teacher salaries. According to a report being released Tuesday, the vast majority of teachers in the nation’s largest school districts took a pay cut or saw their pay frozen at least one year between 2008 and 2012.
Buena Vista Michigan Teachers Agree To Work For Free As District Goes Broke HuffPost: A small school district in Michigan has run out of money to pay its teachers. But the school year isn't over until June 23. The Buena Vista Education Association convened most of its 27 teachers on Monday for what some described as an emotional meeting. They voted to continue teaching, despite learning on Friday that the school district would be unable to pay their salaries starting in mid-May -- because it had run out of money.
Mississippi GOP Prepares New Push On Education Reform To Combat Poverty AP: Republicans' statewide solutions include making it easier to create charter schools and holding back third-graders who can't read. Other changes approved by lawmakers are state-funded prekindergarten and higher qualifications and merit pay for teachers. "All those categories that we see that have an effect not only on quality of life, but on our society and workforce, go back to beginning with a failure in the educational system," said Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who names education as key to improving Mississippi's weak economy.
The Case Against Grades Slate: A 2002 study at the University of Michigan found that 80 percent of students surveyed based their self-worth on academic performance—more than cited family support as a source of self-esteem. A 2006 study at King’s College showed adolescents with low self-esteem were more likely to have poor health, be involved in criminal behavior, and earn less than their peers.
Every weekend I search far and wide for interesting, off-beat, longer pieces on or about education issues, and tweet them out. Then, each Monday, I gather and post them here for you:
Bringing Finland to Texas seems like a distant dream now, but who knows? A lot can happen in ten years. Texas Monthly ow.ly/kIPsc
Online review culture (Yelp for Schools!) -- is it helping or hurting? The Wilson Quarterly via A&L Daily ow.ly/kIQKp
Feeding the Paranoid Right [and Left] - The American Prospect ow.ly/kIQcz
From Jay Mathews: Did D.C. schools cheat? Ask the students.: Dear D.C. parents and grandparents: Want to uncov... bit.ly/13fgDZm
BloombergEDU: Charbonneau on Teacher of the Year, Lyles on Columbine (Audio) ow.ly/kIP3l
How to talk to teens about sexting and Steubenville-like cases. - Slate Magazine ow.ly/kIPRy
College Without High School, a teenagers’ guide to skipping high school and going to college via Utne Reader ow.ly/kIRdm
Chicago Students Worried 'About Their Own Death' (CBS Sunday Morning via DNA Info)
Obama Delivers Message of Optimism to Class of ’13 NYT: Acknowledging that commencement addresses are no place for partisanship, President Obama nonetheless skirted close to that political line on Sunday, telling graduates at Ohio State University to ignore antigovernment arguments that “gum up the works” and instead aspire to be citizens who value both individual rights and community responsibilities.
Hispanics Now Largest Ethnic Group In Texas' Public Schools HuffPo: Hispanics have passed whites as the largest ethnic group in Texas schools, making up almost 51 percent of public school enrollment. The influx of Hispanic students, many from poor families, has brought about many changes in classrooms, with more expected as that population continues to grow. Some schools already struggle with how to teach an increasing number of poor children who don’t speak English. Others are preparing for a day when their enrollment primarily is made up of low-income students, most of them Hispanic.
TED Teams Up With PBS on Ideas for Education NYT: In its first television foray, TED has joined forces with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the New York public broadcaster WNET for a one-hour special, “TED Talks Education,” to be broadcast on PBS on Tuesday. If it is successful, the program could become a template for future joint projects, said Juliet Blake, one of the show’s executive producers and the TED official charged with bringing the conferences to television.
Rewards for Schools Key Facet of NCLB Waivers EdWeek: One of the chief complaints about the No Child Left Behind Act has been that districts and schools that fail to meet achievement targets face serious sanctions, while schools that do a good job of closing the gaps between traditionally overlooked groups of students and their peers essentially get little in return. To help alleviate those concerns, the U.S. Department of Education asked states to identify so-called "reward schools" in their applications for waivers easing demands of the NCLB law, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which Congress has yet to revise.
With an Old Factory, Philadelphia Is Hoping to Draw New Teachers NYT: A Victorian-era dye factory is taking on a new role to help this city’s troubled public school system attract and retain teachers. Two redbrick buildings in the up-and-coming but still gritty South Kensington section of Philadelphia are being converted into apartments and offices intended to house teachers and nonprofit educational organizations in what the developers hope will become a cohesive community.
The new marshmallow test: Resisting the temptations of the web HechingerReport: Living rooms, dens, kitchens, even bedrooms: Investigators followed students into the spaces where homework gets done. Pens poised over their “study observation forms,” the observers watched intently as the students—in middle school, high school, and college, 263 in all—opened their books and turned on their computers. For a quarter of an hour, the investigators from the lab of Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, marked down once a minute what the students were doing as they studied.
Two updates from California to end the week, both via LA School Report: The first is an update on the "miscommunication" between DFER national and DFER California over the issue of a district waiver for LAUSD and other California districts (Reform Group Splits over Federal Waiver for LAUSD). No doubt, running a national organization with strong state leaders is no easy feat. This is just one of several examples of the kinds of concerns and considerations that take place.
The second is an update from Sacramento, where six state senators on the senate education committee voted "abstain" on a proposed teacher evaluation bill that was being touted by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst and opposed by the teachers unions and the state superintendent of instruction. The six abstentions effectively killed the bill, and were all the more notable since five of the six had voted for or gainst it just a week before. You can watch one of the members try and explain his decision to abstain to voters in the video above. (Senators' Silence Dooms Teacher Evaluation Bill)
I agree and disagree with Alexander’s take on David Brook’s New York Times’ Op Ed, Engaged, or Detached? Brooks argues that today we mostly have engaged writers who are less concerned about persuasion than mobilizing people who already agree with them. Engaged writers can be repetitive as they seek immediate political influence. A detached writer, however, is more like a teacher. He or she prods people to think.
Also, detached writers have more realistic goals. Detached writers generally understand that they are not going to succeed in telling people what to think. It is enough to prod people to think about “underlying concepts, underlying reality and the underlying frame of debate.” A detached writer understands that politics is a “bipolar struggle for turf.”
I agree with Brooks and, presumably, Russo, in drawing that distinction, although I would offer a more nuanced view. If a detached writer is like a teacher, what is a detached teacher like?
I disagree with Russo that Diane Ravitch should be defined as an engaged writer under Brook’s definition. Fundamentally, she is bilingual. Ravitch has long demonstrated fluency in the language of scholarship. Her research is presented in vivid prose. It is as solid as that of any detached writer. It is her ability to cut through the jargon and articulate a mass message that "reformers" can't stand.
Detroit schools' progress cited as emergency manager Roy Roberts announces his exit Detroit Free Press: He said that because of the progress, along with the announcement in April of a five-year strategic plan to retain and recruit students, he expects the financial emergency will be over in the next three years.
Nation’s Top Educator Visits Mission District Classrooms Mission Local: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan paid a visit Wednesday to 826 Valencia, the Mission-based writing nonprofit founded by educators and authors Níneve Calegari and Dave Eggers.
Education formula fight likely to split lawmakers The Hil: But to change the funding formulas, Democrats from rural states will have to overcome opposition from lawmakers representing major cities and affluent suburbs. This puts them on a collision course with members of the leadership, such as Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.).
Critics Up Pressure To Keep Targeted Chicago Schools Open NPR: A marathon series of public hearings over school closings in Chicago is over and the city is a step closer to conducting what could be the nation's largest shutdown of schools. Fifty-three elementary and one public high school are on the chopping block. Parents, educators and others say they're not ready to give up the fight.
Debating How to Give Texas Teachers Useful Feedback NYT: When Texas lawmakers rolled out a framework for evaluating public schoolteachers more than 15 years ago, they intended to identify ways to strengthen the state’s teaching corps.
Grading the teachers’ teachers Hechinger: So far, eight states have policies requiring them to do a similar analysis, most of them adopted in the last few years, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.
Video: Expert: 'Catastrophic' education will haunt kids NBC Nightly News: After an audit of ELL classes in the Las Vegas school system found 69 out of 70 classes failed to meet expectations, parents and experts demand action be taken. KSNV's Sandra Gonzalez reports.
USDA Rolls Out New School Brunch Program For Wealthier School Districts (The Onion via GothamSchools)
I have no idea how to take Evaluating Evaluations by Ross Weiner and Kasia Lundy. The report they wrote was issued by the Aspen Institute and the Parthenon Group and they have seemed supportive of the contemporary school "reform" movement.
But, Weiner and Lundy describe its “teacher quality” approach to school improvement in the third person. They repeat its factually incorrect statement that teachers have the most impact on learning. So, it is hard to tell whether Weiner and Lundy believe that, or if they are just summarizing the logic of using improved teacher quality as the driving force of school improvement. My sense is that they are trying to diplomatically push towards more realistic methods of improving instruction.
For the record, teachers are responsible for only a small part of student learning so there are many other ways of improving schools other than gambling the farm on teacher evaluations. But, Weiner and Lundy seem to assume that we have no choice but to ride the teacher quality horse until it wins, or collapses. They thus offer constructive criticism of the abusive way that it has been implemented.
Still, Evaluating Evaluations makes numerous belated but smart suggestions. It says that systems must start listening to teachers and even adjust their plans after contemplating our input. They describe surveys of teachers' attitudes, such as those conducted in New York, Washington D.C. and, especially, Tennessee. They should have been wake-up calls.
The recent discussion about David Brooks' column on "engaged" vs. "detached" writers reminded me that, little more than two years ago, I posted this respectful but critical entry about NYU education historian Diane Ravitch's views about school reform efforts, which were somethat new at the time:
Later on today, education historian Diane Ravitch is going to head out from her Brooklyn Heights home and make her way into the city to be a guest on tonight's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for the first time since May 2003.
The Comedy Central appearance will be a tremendous victory for Ravitch, who has been pushing to get on one of the two shows in the 11 p.m. time slot for almost a year now. It will be a happy moment, too, for all of the educators and parents who have welcomed Ravitch into their arms.
For me, however, Ravitch's appearance will be another moment to reflect on the nagging unease I have with what she's saying -- and in particular the absolute certainty with which she is saying it.
Full post: Diane Ravitch's Stunning Certainty
Clearly, Ravitch is the category of the engaged writer, and I'm probably more in the detached camp. Ravitch's response to my column was to call Jossey-Bass, the folks who were then publishing my book about Locke High School, and demand to have her blurb removed from the back cover of the book.
Today begins the Education Writers Association annual conference, being held this year at Stanford University's school of education.*
Last year's version was at UPenn's school of education, and this one is apparently going to be even bigger and better-attended. Some folks are fresh off the airplane or road, but many seem to be combining the event with AERA and/or NSVF and/or GreatSchools. Follow along at #ewa13. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman will be here to speak - he's everywhere in education these days.
Already last night I had the chance to catch up with the College Board's Peter Kauffmann and to meet David Coleman, as well as to meet a journalist named David Bornstein who writes "Fixes" for the New York Times and has an interesting new solutions-oriented journalism project he's working on.
As always, it's great seeing familiar faces -- including Linda Lenz, Stephanie Banchero, Greg Toppo -- and fun to meet people I've only talked to on the phone or emailed (like Russlynn Ali and David Lomax yesterday at NSVF). Please feel free to come up and say hello (with apologies if I can't talk because I have to do some blogging).
*Funny sidebar about the Stanford education school: As a sophomore here, I walked in and asked if I could major in education and they said 'nope.' At the time (mid 1980s) many ed schools like Stanford were Masters'-only -- a situation that has long since changed. I don't know if I would have followed up if the answer had been different, or would have liked the courses very much, or followed a different path after college. As a senior I gave a bit of thought about moving to LA and teaching there under an emergency certificate -- the only option that existed. But I heard bad things from friends who'd taken the emergency route, and so I taught private school instead, and went to grad school, and etc.
Here's the full list of courses that have been developed for Coursera's first foray into K12 education. I assumed these MOOCs would be asynchornous/on demand. Instead, they have start dates and "last" a certain number of weeks. (There's no "House of Cards" option for on demand bingeing.)
Chicago Charter Schools Unionize WSJ: Teachers in one of the country's largest nonprofit charter-school groups voted to unionize, fortifying efforts by organized labor to expand in an area of public education where it has been largely unwelcome.
Will new teacher evaluations help or hurt Chicago’s schools? Hechinger Report: As of early April, Boran and two assistant principals had collectively done 98 observations using the city's new teacher evaluation system. Boran's assessments take her three hours apiece, from reviewing pre-observation lesson plans to a post-evaluation conference and data entry.
Dissatisfied, Parents In Indianapolis Start Their Own School NPR: Some parents in Indianapolis, Ind., are taking school choice to an extreme. Bruised after the mayor closed the public charter school their kids attended, and disgruntled with existing school options, they started their own school. It has made it through the first year with 35 students, despite lacking both funding and a permanent home.
Video: ‘Kids need more than test prep’ NBC Nightly News: Chris Plunkett, a visual arts teacher at Orchard Gardens school in Roxbury, Mass., spoke with NBC’s Katy Tur about the success of the arts program that led to an inspiring turnaround for students.
School's 'Redneck Day' sparks anger USA Today: The event meant to build school spirit instead has angered civil rights leaders.
Is Avenues the Best Education Money Can Buy? NYT: At Avenues, the $85 million bet on for-profit schooling is meeting its first real test — parents.
Specifically, Duncan described the trigger as "an important tool" for parent involvement -- but not the only or even the most important one.
Duncan's answer will likely disappoint trigger proponents and opponents alike.
If the contemporary school “reform” movement really seeks to improve schools, as opposed to defeating unions or, perhaps, privatizing education, then Randi Weingarten's proposed moratorium on Common Core high-stakes assessments is common sense. (It is described here in Stephanie Banchero's Wall Street Journal piece, Learning Goals Spur Backlash.)
Only diehard opponents of Common Core have an educational reason for opposing Weingarten’s compromise. If Common Core proceeds on schedule, it will be quickly thrown into the dustbin of history. But, if we have a victory over the hurried implementation of tests, it would likely be a pyrrhic one.
My previous opinions on Common Core, like my current ones, are contradictory. I have long believed that unless someone like Weingarten takes charge and convinces the big boys that they need to face facts, its standards are doomed. Unless poverty is addressed, Common Core would crater before any real instructional improvements could occur in urban schools. Common Core assessments would likely be a trainwreck.
Maybe we should step back, watch the dramatic debacle and blame it on market-driven "reformers." But, primitive bubble-in testing is a slow-motion smashup.
This is a guest commentary from longtime journalist Richard Lee Colvin comparing the current debate over the leadership of LAUSD to a similar one that took place more than a decade ago -- in San Diego:
But, in this one, philanthropists and other moneyed interests spent big money backing reform candidates whose opponents enjoyed the strong support of the teacher union. It featured lots of partisan campaign ads, some that pushed right up to the edge of truth. The fate of the aggressive superintendent, who had made improving teacher effectiveness the centerpiece of his administration, seemed to hang in the balance.
The election I’m talking about took place in 2000 in San Diego, not Los Angeles earlier this year. But the similarities are such that an analysis of the former yields insights that may be relevant to the latter as well.
In Los Angeles, Superintendent John Deasy had deep-pocketed supporters including New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist Eli Broad contributed nearly $4 million to support friendly candidates in the primary. (Another $600,000 has been put into a run-off for one of the seats.) The results were mixed in the primary, with one Deasy supporter winning and the incumbent union loyalist retaining his seat.
The superintendent in San Diego was Alan Bersin, who had been the U.S Attorney in San Diego before being hired in 1998 as one of the country’s first non-traditional superintendents.
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.