Yes, she has test anxiety. Yes, she has cried... I comfort her, but I tell her: ‘I make $14.42 an hour. What are you going to do to have a better life?.' - Success Academy parent Natasha Shannon in the NYT (The Battle for New York Schools)
What happens when orthodox Jews move into a suburban New York neighborhood with high property taxes and don't send their kids to private yeshivas -- or vote down school budgets-- as long as the district doesn't monitor the private schools and gives as much money as possible (up to $27,000 per kid)?
The deal doesn't last forever.
The result is a situation that's "Like nothing you have seen in any school district anywhere," according to Ira Glass. NSFW (curse words).
Politics, budgets, religion, regulation -- it's all in there. Image via This American Life.
We have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids. - Tech mogul Chris Anderson about tech parents limiting kids' exposure (NYT: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent)
There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness... I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - Ta-Nehesi Coates (‘I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me’ Atlantic Magazine via Longreads)
With millions of children headed back to school, we asked reporters from member stations around the country to bring us the sounds of that first day:
- In Marfa, Texas, a 14-year-old who's been home-schooled all his life is about to enter a classroom for the first time. (Tom Michael, KRTS)
- Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School is celebrating its opening day in downtown Brooklyn. (Beth Fertig, WNYC)
- The Newcomer School is a school for kids who are on their first or second year in the U.S. (Devin Katayama, WFPL)
- At Noble Street-Rauner College Prep, a 22-year-old is preparing to teach his very first class. (Becky Vevea, WBEZ)
- Students at the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in Austin, Texas, are learning how to tie their own ties. (Kate McGee, KUT)
- Students at Bailey STEM Magnet School in Nashville prepare to launch their own hot air balloons. (Emily Siner, WPLN)
- A kindergarten class at Hazel Valley Elementary in the Seattle suburb of Burien starts the first day of school the way you might expect: with the ABCs. (Ann Dornfeld, KUOW)
Image Flickr CC via
There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness. I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (Acting French)
Via FairTest and Diane Ravitch. Is this really the first time this has ever happened?
25 High Schools "Doing the Most With the Least" - includes Noble Street - The Daily Beast ow.ly/ANgzm
Most of Chicago's Little League Champs attend magnet or charter schools, reports ABC News http://ow.ly/AMc2L
As was apparent at last week's discussion of the Vergara case between Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane, the current generation of school reformers is generally dismissive of legal cases in search of school improvements.
Lawsuits don't work, or are at best crude measures compared to policies and statutes.Or, theyre good for quantity-related issues (like funding) but not for quality-related issues (like access to effective teaching). Check out Petrilli and McShane's responses to my Twitter query at the 30 minute mark.
They may be right. I'm no legal scholar, and it's certainly conventional wisdom that the wave of equity and adequacy cases of the 1970s and 1980s didn't result in any wholesale improvements in American education. Some would say the same about civil rights cases.
But the Vergara case, its successors, and a whole host of non-education advocacy (same-sex marriage, for example), suggest that the conventional wisdom might be worth reconsidering, or at least examining.
Historically, it seems to me that legal cases have played an important role in shaping education -- perhaps as much or more so than laws that have been passed. I don't see any big advantage of one forum over the other.
The choice debate often gets boiled down to district vs. charter schools, with district advocates claiming that they're being disadvantaged and charter schools claiming much the same.
But if you click "play" on this very recent Chicago Public Radio story you'll learn it's not quite as simple as all that. Neighborhood schools in Chicago are losing local kids not just to charter schools (and to dwindling enrollment in the district over all) but to other neighborhood programs.
According to the Linda Lutton piece, "52,963 grammar school kids choose neighborhood schools that are not their own. That’s almost as many kids as attend charters, gifted schools and magnets combined." (More Chicago kids say 'no' to their neighborhood grammar school)
What happens when Democratic education advocates on opposite sides of many policy issues attend the same campaign training events? Things get awkward. That's apparently what happend at a recent New Organizing Institute event when members of the AFT and Parent Revolution both showed up and -- I'm speculating here -- didn't much want to be put at the same table brainstorming ideas together.
The NOI is a relatively new outfit, and its work was written up earlier this week in the Post (Inside the Democratic party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry):
"With the real midterms fast approaching, Democrats areager to put more people in the field who've been trained in the latest campaigning techniques... Boot campers have gone on to some of the most prominent left-leaning organizations in the country — such as AFL-CIO, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood, not to mention the White House and political firms like Blue State Digital."
It makes sense that both groups would be there, given how hard everyone's trying to figure out/get better at campaign and mobilization work these past couple of years in particular. I've heard that similar things have happened at the Marshall Ganz boot camp, too.
Just because - let's say a fifth-grade teacher in Louisville, like we just heard, decides Minecraft is a great way to get his kids using grids. Well, that doesn't mean that teachers everywhere else are doing the exact same thing. -- NPR's Cory Turner (Debunking Common Myths About The Common Core)
Some celebrities shy away from taking a position that's going to bring them so much heat as well as some measure of admiration, and others simply don't agree that tenure is an issue, but Whoopi Goldberg seems to be up for the controversy. If only she'd been somewhat funny about it.... that always helps, right?
Here's Campbell Brown and David Boies on MSNBC's Morning Joe yesterday morning, with mention of a Weingarten appearance later in the week.
Riffing off last week's Campbell Brown appearance on Colbert, TIME's Haley Edwards has an interesting article about the differences between the Comedy Central comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stwart (The Celebrity Death Match Over School Reform).
If there's any doubt about Colbert's leanings, you only have to go so far as the Brown booking last week (and the protests that accompanied it), the Ravitch appearances on Stewart (but not Colbert), and Stewart's grilling of Michelle Rhee. Colbert's critique of the Common Core test questions was a slam on testing and those specific questions, in my opinion (see Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core).
The influence of the two comedians is well known (though hard to measure). One of them -- reform wins! -- is about to switch from basic cable to broacast TV. No word yet on whether Colbert's booker, Emily Lazar, is heading to the new show with him (The Most Important Media Insider You've Never Heard Of), or how much education-related bits we'll get to see in the future.
Previous posts: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education (2014); Colbert / Stewart Divide On School Reform (2011); Fear-Mongering Educators Dominate Colbert/Stewart Rally (2010).
Out-of-state group touting charter schools expands to Boston Boston Globe: Families for Excellent Schools , a nonprofit that has been mobilizing parents in New York City to push for more charter schools is expanding to Boston, a potential boost for local charter school supporters seeking to rebound after a crushing defeat last month.
Celebrated Trial Lawyer to Head Group Challenging Teacher Tenure NYT: Mr. Boies, the son of two public schoolteachers, is a lifelong liberal who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore and prosecuted Microsoft in the Clinton Administration’s antitrust suit. In aligning himself with a cause that is bitterly opposed by teachers’ unions, he is emblematic of an increasingly fractured relationship between the Democrats and the teachers’ unions.
Amid Criticism, States Gear Up For Common Core NPR: Delaware Gov. Jack Markell co-chaired the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He speaks with NPR's Scott Simon about the set of standards, and responds to its critics.
Legislatures taking state education into their own hands Washington Post: The backlash against the Common Core has prompted lawmakers in at least 12 states to get more involved in setting their own K-12 academic standards, injecting politics into a process usually conducted in obscurity by bureaucrats.
Debunking Common Myths About The Common Core NPR: Many people don't realize it's a set of standards, not a curriculum. NPR's Eric Westervelt talks with education reporter Cory Turner about other misconceptions about the Common Core standards.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Vox's Libby Nelson has a good starter list of 12 New Yorker education articles to read while the archives are free but I think she might have missed and/or gotten a few wrong.
No problem -- that's what I'm here for.
It recommends Kate Boo's story about the attempt to revamp Denver's Manual Arts (Expectations) but leaves out her amazing (2006 - I'm cheating) story about early childhood interventions (Swamp Nurse).
Steve Brill's The Rubber Room was an artful rehash of reporting done by others. Rachel Aviv's Wrong Answer is a fascinating look at how some teachers decided they had to cheat that loses out in the end with its lazy reliance on NCLB as the main reason.
Stories mysterious left out include the New Yorker's take on executive function (Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points) and Jill Lepore's fascinating revelation that liberal Icon Elizabeth Warren hates neighborhood-based school assignment (Your Favorite Liberal Lawmaker Supports Universal Vouchers*). Nick Lemann's 2010 turning point piece is left out, too (The overblown crisis in American education).
All that being said, kudos to Nelson for getting things started and including some ed-related stories like this summer's Jill Lepore takedown of "innovation" (The Disruption Machine), which I blogged about last month (The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"). Lots more examples from Gawande, Gladwell, etc. to be found. The Hit Man's Tale!?
Previous TWIE posts about the New Yorker: Learning From The Gay Rights Movement; Last Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt-Out Story; The New Yorker Takes Another Look At Coaching; Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points; Lessons From Earth Day 1970; If Doctors Can Do It, So Can Teachers, Coaching: Even Veterans & Star Teachers Could Benefit, Checklists: The Simple Solution No One Wants To Try.
"Here's somebody whose influence on ed policy is in no way related to their hotness, unlike that bimbo Campbell Brown," quipped NY Mag journo Jonathan Chait, linking to Matt Damon's appearances at various anti-reform events a few years back.
ICYMI, Ravitch questioned Brown's credibility on education issues about which the two people happen to disagree and in the process made several comments about Brown's looks.
Damon has appeared at various anti-reform events in recent years, based in large part on his good looks and celebrity (and views on education with which Ravitch happens to agree).
This week's PBS Frontline focuses on school de-integration, and it well worth a watch.
The impulse to want a neighborhood school for your children is understandable... [But advocates for neighborhood schools] are part of the problem not part of the solution. -- Warren Simmons, executive director of The Annenberg Institute for School Reform (The Uncomfortable Reality of Community Schools).
In case you missed it during last week's shortened workweek. Click here if the video doesn't load properly.
Here's something I've been thinking might happen for a while now -- a new national network of diverse charter schools has been announced.
Included among the founding members are several of the schools I profiled in Education Next a couple of years ago (Brooklyn Prospect, Bricolage (NOLA), Community Roots, DSST (Denver), and yes, Success Academy.
See the full press release below, and tune into (attend) the panel on diverse charters at 4pm local time in Las Vegas.
Previous posts: Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse NOLA Charter Opens; Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability; and Change Could Help Promote Charter Diversity.
ICYMI: Here's the video that went along with last week's NYT story (Common Core, in 9-Year-Old Eyes).
An adult job seeker whose Google search highlights his long-ago participation in a special education program is one of the examples cited in a new WNYC story about efforts to force Google and others to delete information from search results:
It's a variant on the student data privacy debate that's going on in education, which includes not only what data is collected but how it's safeguarded and what happens to it after a student's education is over.
Google and others believe that transparency and avoiding censorship are reasons not to allow deletion requests. European nations and privacy advocates believe that deletion requests are not nearly as problematic as has been suggested.
A 'Major Shift' In Oversight Of Special Education NPR: Education Secretary Arne Duncan announces new measures for ensuring that students with disabilities are making progress.
Shift in Law on Disability and Students Shows Lapses NYT: The Education Department said that it would evaluate growth in students with disabilities over time and will compare their test scores with those of students not designated with special needs.
MPS lacks capacity to provide basics to special-ed students, external audit finds MinnPost: At its Tuesday night meeting, the Minneapolis board of education will get harsh news about an external audit that found the district lacks the capacity to effectively provide even basic programming to its special-education students.
States' special education services face tighter oversight by the Obama ... Washington Post: The Obama administration is tightening its oversight of the way states educate special-needs students, applying more- stringent criteria that drop the number of jurisdictions in compliance..
We're off to the reauthorization races Vox: The Senate proposal focuses on easing the burden of student loan debt, plus holding for-profits accountable. The House proposal adopts some of the recommendations that outside groups have urged to help students complete college, mostly the less controversial ones, and calls for rolling back most of the Obama administration's regulatory agenda on higher education.
House Republicans to Begin Work on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act PK12: Republicans on the House Education and the Workforce Committee plan to introduce a series of bills this week as part of their efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, a sweeping piece of federal legislation that includes the entire student loan system.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
In response to yesterday's NYT oped from Rick Kahlenberg touting the Chicago model of income-based diversity enhancement, longtime Chicago special education advocate Rod Estvan wrote the following rebuttal suggesting that Chicago's results from the Kahlenberg plan haven't been all that good:
"Unfortunately Dr. Kahlenberg does not discuss the fact that Payton’s admission system which is in part based on census tracts is being advantaged by the middle class and even wealthier families who live in enclaves within overall poorer community census tracts. In 2013, only 31.4% of Payton students were from low income families regardless of race whereas back in 2002 the school had about 37% low income students when there was no social economic admissions process but only a race based process."
See the full response below the fold.
From ProPublica's Heather Vogell: "Public schoolchildren across the country were physically restrained or isolated in rooms they couldn’t leave at least 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, despite a near-consensus that such practices are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit. Many states have little regulation or oversight of such practices." (Can Schools in Your State Pin Kids Down? Probably.., Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will)
First things first: The last couple of episodes of Louie are full of flashbacks of Louie's classroom, lunchroom, and after-school experiences as an 8th grader, which include friends who pull him up and pull him back and a really sweet if somewhat misguided science teacher Mr. Hoffman who's just trying to reach the kids (and to get the administration to pay attention to the trouble kids are getting into after school).
It's memoir, at best, but it's pretty good -- and the parental reflections on how to deal with a temporarily-wayward child seem pretty powerful, too. For another good recap -- full of spoilers! -- go here.
In other Louis CK-related news, a recent interview in Medium with the comedian and father and Common Core critic gives us some helpful insight into CK's temprament through an anecdote about how he ended up not going to NYU film school:
"An old teacher of mine got me an interview at NYU film school, and I brought all these videos I’d made, and photographs, a portfolio — I’d gotten into photography and stuff, and they said that they would accept me to go to film school. So I quit my job with that in mind, and I’d been doing stand-up, but not well or successfully, and then I never filled in — I got these forms from this guy to fill in, on the floor of my apartment somewhere, but I couldn’t get my brain to…I was supposed to go back to my high school and get my transcripts, and the idea of doing all that, just that paperwork — going to NYU film school was this dream come true for me, but I couldn’t fill out the thing, couldn’t fill it out and go to the Xerox machine and put a stamp on an envelope, all that stuff. It made me want to vomit. That sort of thing has always been the case for me, I can’t get that done."
Something to keep in mind the next time you have the urge to present CK as the best example of a parent who might be able to help his daughters with homework, right?
Previous posts: Louis C.K. Isn't Really The Next Big Angry Common Core Critic; MSNBC Focuses On Conservative Opposition To Common Core (includes CK joke re burning low-performing schools to the ground); Jerry Seinfeld Explains Gettysburg Address To Louis C.K.
"Blue markers represent incidents in 2014; red markers are for incidents from 2013. You may have to zoom in to view separate incidents in the same city. Cities that were home to multiple shootings are Atlanta; Grambling, La.; Savannah, Ga.; Jackson, Tenn.; Roswell, N.M.; Milwaukee; Augusta, Ga." (There have been at least 74 shootings at schools since Newtown) Click the link to zoom in and get more information.
The Vergara decision came down -- largely in favor of the student plaintiffs -- but then the Gates Foundation came out with a statement in support of a Common Core delay (in terms of high-stakes implications), seeming to catch everyone by surprise:
College presidents express support for Common Core - Newsday http://ht.ly/xQJqY
A Black Father's Search for a Diverse Preschool - Education Week http://ht.ly/xF2s5
@AP: BREAKING: Police: Shooter used rifle in fatal attack at Oregon high school; teacher injured.
When we fail to right-size our reform efforts, we breed a sense of futility among teachers, parents and policymakers. We might as well be shooting bottle rockets at the moon. - Tom Kane (Overcoming the Legacy of Incremental Education Reform)
I see in this clip an allegory for overconfident reformers and/or overconfident reform critics, each of which group (a) looks a little bit too old for its grade, (b) tends to think they know the answer, (c) and fails to consider other options, and (d) rushes into action. Event roundup and who won via MSNBC here.
"Just nine states are using and reporting all five essential components of a strong accountability system identified by experts, according to a new report released by the Education Commission of the States. Those states are California, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin." via Politico.
Many others are "difficult to locate and often lack meaningful information for parents."
In discussing the merits of Common Core and their assessments, t's important (a) to be sure you're discussing a real Common Core field test item and (b) remember what the old/current test questions look like. Above is an example from PARCC (What Do They Look Like?) that seems pretty basic for today's 4th graders. What do you think?
Oklahoma’s Republican Legislature overrode the veto of Republican Governor Mary Fallin, and overwhelmingly rejected another cornerstone of Jeb Bush’s corporate reform agenda. The overall vote was 124 to 21.
As emphasized by the Tulsa World’s Legislature Overrides Fallin Veto on Reading Bill; Baressi Calls Decision a *Pathetic* Step Back, by Randy Krembiel and Barbara Hoberick, besieged Chief for Change Janet Baressi (who is still angry over Common Core defeats and pushback against Bush’s and her's A-F Report Card) condemned legislators as “pathetic.”
Oklahoma’s victory over the test and punish approach to 3rd grade reading is a win-win team effort of national importance. The override was due to an unexpected, grassroots uprising started by parents, joined by superintendents and teachers, organized on social media, and assisted by anti- corporate reform educators and our opposite, Stand for Children, as well as Tea Party supporters, and social service providers who are increasingly coming to the rescue of the state’s grossly underfunded schools.
Nearly 8,000 children, including nearly 30% of Oklahoma City and 1/3rd of Tulsan 3rd graders, failed their high-stakes tests. Now, they can be provided remediation as they are promoted to the 4th grade.
And, that is just the beginning of the good news. Retired librarian/reading expert Claudia Swisher finally gained traction in her effort to fact check reformers, and raise the consciousnesses of lawmakers about the dangers of the misuse of inappropriate tests.
When advocates of a particular education policy are victorious in the legislative arena, they have only won a battle, not a war. Opponents will show up again and again during implementation—in schools, or before school boards, or in other local forums—to continue the battle. - Brookings' Tom Loveless via Robert Pondiscio
An anonymous Montclair New Jersey blog called "Montclair Schools Watch" noted earlier this week that Maia Davis, apparently one of the most prominent critics of the district and its implementation of the Common Core, has been quoted repeatedly in local media (like the Bergen Record) and started a group critical of reform efforts there without being identified as a UFT communications staffer.
"It’s probably not a coincidence that one of their most aggressive spokespeople is really a professional spokesperson, employed by the massive teachers union across the river that has been one of the most aggressive in fighting reform efforts."
That's pretty much all I know. Someone with the same name as Davis IDs herself as such on Twitter (@maia_davis). On Twitter, WSJ reporter Lisa Fleisher says that neither she nor her successor Leslie Brodie quoted Davis in their pieces but that Davis' views shouldn't necessarily be discounted if a reporter says where she works: "Hopefully people strongly believe in their work, so it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that in a story."
Should reporters ask (and pass along) what parent advocates do for their day jobs? Should advocates identify themselves by where they work or what kind of work they do if it's relevant? My inclination is to say "yes." The issue has come up in the past, for example in Chicago where parents and teachers were quoted without any indication of their affiliations. Reporters often reach out to the closest, most convenient, and most vocal stakeholders for quotes (rather than the most typical ones), and fail to ID them as such.
Of course, the blog making this point doesn't have any names attached to it, so the point is somewhat undercut. Whether it's "reformy astro turf" (as described by a critic on Twitter) or balanced and responsible, we don't know. And, the person who sent me the item comes from the reform side of the aisle, so there's that, too.
Civil Rights Laws Apply Equally to Charters, Says USDE PK12: The "Dear Colleague" letter by Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon includes specific guidance for charter schools related to admissions, students with disabilities, English-language learners, and discipline.
In speech on school integration, King takes a dig at the city’s enrollment rules Chalkbeat: “There are places where you can look, including New York City, where blocks away students are separated by economic status,” King said. “Schools that serve mostly wealthy students blocks away from schools that serve mostly high-needs students, and we know that that segregation breeds inequality.”
De Blasio quietly adds hundreds of millions for charters Capital NY: Tucked in a 291-page document related to the Fiscal Year 2015 budget he unveiled on May 8 are two increases to charter schools: $26.9 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and an extra $219.7 million for next year. Those figures reflect spikes from the preliminary fiscal plan he unveiled in February. That brings the total amount his administration plans to spend on charters in FY2015 to nearly $1.3 billion, up from $1.06 billion this year.
Instead of getting ready for the tech revolution, schools are scaling back Hechinger: For schools that haven’t yet made technology an integral part of every student’s school day and every teacher’s lesson planning, the problem is often basic: Their Internet connection is too weakand their laptops (if they even have them) are too old to handle whole classrooms of students spending most or even part of their day online.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks teaching before giving ASU ... Phoenix Business Journal: Before giving the commencement speech for more than 10,000 graduates at Arizona State University in Tempe tonight, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan met with a dozen Phoenix-area principals to talk about how teachers can play a more central role
Are student files private? It depends. Politico: The laws may sound iron-clad, but there are huge loopholes. See also: Data mining your children Politico: Private-sector data mining is galloping forward - perhaps nowhere faster than in education.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).