We created a new Chief Privacy Officer. We've put out guidance recently, and where it needs to be strengthened going forward -- and not just us, but everybody, states, districts, schools, myself as a parent trying to figure it out everyday with my kids. This is not one that you're going to issue some guidance and that's the Bill of Rights for the next 100 years. -- Arne Duncan (Arne Duncan Responds to Criticism Over Student Data Privacy EdWeek)
US News had the story in 2012 (Elizabeth Warren's Quiet Support for Public School Vouchers), and it comes up again in the latest New Yorker as part of a review of her new book (Reading Elizabeth Warren).
Warren doesn't just support vouchers in special circumstances, like special education placements or DCPS. She wants to give them to everyone, everwhere.
As quoted in the New Yorker piece, Warren has written that
“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs.”
According to Warren, those "public" schools in expensive enclaves aren't really all that public as their defenders like to make them sound:
"Schools in middle-class neighborhoods may be labeled 'public,' but parents have paid for tuition by purchasing a $175,000 home within a carefully selected school district."
Interestingly, Warren's argument is at least partly based on the high housing costs associated with the current zip code-based system of allocating scarce quality schooling. High housing costs, plus burdens on working Americans (mothers in particular) have been a scourge for decades, according to Warren. Breaking the link between housing and school quality would relieve pressure on families that have moved to expensive places just for the schools.
Warren's ideas have been debated on Diane Ravitch's site in recent days -- they're New Yorker readers too, it seems :-) -- though not surprisingly the idea is being met with shock and disappointment. And the New Yorker writer, Jill Lepore, calls Warren's proposal reckless.
*Correctification: Though she uses the term "voucher," which is commonly used to denote programs that include private and parochial schools, Warren is primarily focused on eliminating the link between neighborhoods and public school assignment. The 2012 US News article cited above calls Warren's proposal "public school vouchers." The original 2007 proposal excerpted by AFT Kombiz uses the same language (though it doesn't specificaly exclude private schools as I read it). "The public-versus-private competition misses the central point," writes Warren. "The problem is not vouchers; the problem is parental choice."
For years now, Colbert has been riffing off of education issues, bringing education-related guests on the show, and generally making us all feel like we're involved in something interesting and important. Just this week, he did a fun bit on the Common Core.
A search of "Colbert" on this site generates 571 hits. Memorable interviews include Roland Fryer, Arne Duncan, Davis Guggenheim, and Wendy Kopp.
No one knows for sure, but the most likely impact of Colbert's move to broadcast TV -- and out of character -- is a lot less of that. Book authors are already bemoaning the dearth of interviews that they will likely face with Colbert's move.
There will be much less time for wonky bits, and lots more celebrities and network shows that have to be promoted -- though, arguably, any references to education will be amplified by the comparatively large audience that Late Night gets.
Previous posts about Colbert here.
An LAUSD teacher was initially criticized but is now being defended for his classroom takedown of a student, caught on cellphone camera last week. via LA Times.
Dear my child's teacher: Don't you dare download a "study guide packet" filled with low-level comprehension questions from a failing school district and hand it to my kid as busy work because you aren't well planned (or worse, because you don't know what's important for 5th grade readers to be working on). It's not OK for my kid or any kid. - Cleveland parent (via Facebook)
The progress of the HAC seems to be more-or-less unrelated to actual changes in quantities of homework assigned. And analyses of homework burdens often seem limited by an over-reliance on the perspectives of students and parents.
Students and parents are, of course, affected by homework. The individuals most immediately responsible for assigning homework, however, are teachers.
And from a teacher's point of view, the "homework dilemma" is relatively straightforward and is rooted mostly in two decisions we are required to make: how much homework to assign and the extent to which it should impact students' grades.
To help illustrate the teacher's dilemma, I put together a simple chart and explain it below.
Meet Caprice Young, though you probably knew her already. She's a former LAUSD school board member who helped right the ship at LA's troubled ICEF charter network then went to work for the Arnold Foundation. She also worked as a Deputy Mayor and for a distance learning company along the way, and was a Coro Fellow.
Young left the Arnold Foundation fulltime last year and did some consulting but then decided to join GreatSchools as a senior advisor because she things the site is fascinating and as yet under-used. You might not hear a lot about GreatSchools, but it's got impressive pageviews, according to Quantcast -- 5-6 million pageviews a month (much higher than Kahn Academy and other big-name sites, according to Young).
Now 15 years old, GreatSchools keeps adding features and collaborations like this week's Detroit rollout in partnership with Excellent Schools Detroit. Not too long ago, the site began producing its own stories (Diversity: "When The Melting Pot Boils Over"). They've partnered with real estate site Zillow and are fending off competitors like Niche and Education.com that do similar things just not as well, says Young. Next up after Detroit is an effort to deepen the school profiles using social media and qualitative data, and a spinoff dubbed GreatKids that is intended to help parents understand what it looks like when their children can do, say, 2nd grade math.
What would be really cool -- in the category of unsolicited suggestions -- would be if GreatSchools partnered with big-city districts who are doing universal/streamlined application and admissions processes, so that parents could see ratings, user reviews, and apply all in one place. Yeah, sort of like HealthCare.gov, I guess. Would make NSA spying on parents easier. Loaner tablets for parents who don't have computers?
Fourteen states already spend about $1 billion to send kids to private schools, reports Politico's Stephanie Simon.
As presented, this is an alarming notion (they're teaching Creationism!) that should be of concern to all.
However, some caution may be appropriate, too.
A billion dollars is a tiny amount, given then $500B-plus annual spending on education.
The number/percentage is much higher in higher ed, where we already have a mixed (public-private) system.
Some parochial schools do a better job than local district schools).
Most private and parochial schools aren't teaching Creationism.
Here's the trailer from a new documentary about kids and risks that accompanies Hannah Rosin's new Atlantic Magazine article about The Overprotected Kid.
" The shift in homework burden for elementary students is a significant one, and one that parents of primary school-aged children are likely to feel keenly." (New study: Elementary students are doing more homework than they used to Washington Post)
"The average American student does not face an extraordinary homework burden, the assignment load has not increased meaningfully over the past 20 years, and parents are generally satisfied with the amount and quality of schoolwork assigned to their children," says Brookings. [Of course, your individual experience (or something you read somewhere) probably suggests otherwise. I'd go with that.]
Students Probably Do Less Homework Than You Think, Study Says HufPost: Homework loads have actually been stable over the last 30 years, despite front-page reports of overworked kids and a century-old "war on homework," according to the report, one of three released Tuesday by Brookings' Brown Center on Education Policy. See also HUSA Today.
What Happens If a State Loses its NCLB Waiver? PK12: The challenge for the Education Department may be ensuring that Washington state doesn't get off easy—while not disrupting the strong work the state is already doing in intervening in its lowest-performing schools, a weak area of NCLB implementation for many other waiver states.
Duncan Talks High Stakes Tests, ESEA Renewal, and Common Core Politics PK12: In a morning speech during the second day of the event, Duncan urged state officials to be patient and to "overcommunicate" with the public during the transition to the new standards and new tests, particularly during the field-testing of common-core assessments taking place this spring. At the same time, he cautioned that some pushback on policies had little to do with education, but "everything to do with politics," and that not all critics could be won over.
Florida Picks Common-Core Test From AIR, Not PARCC State EdWatch: Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart has selected the American Institutes for Research to develop a new common-core aligned exam for the state's assessment.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
It has become popular among critics to argue that many education reformers are pushing for changes they would never subject their own children to because they do not really care whether "other peoples' children" receive quality educational opportunities.
The underlying logic of that argument has always puzzled me because it seems plausible that different kids have different educational needs and that the children of prominent reformers are likely to be systematically different than other children, particularly the least-privileged children who tend to be the focus of reform efforts.
So I'm not sure why we're supposed to recoil in horror at the thought that education should be differentiated, even if we can reasonably disagree about precisely what that differentiation should look like.
Even more puzzling is the fact that the "other peoples' children" argument only makes sense if you assume that "other people" don't want the proposed education reforms for their own children.
That assumption is often wrong as an empirical matter of fact. As Bonnie Eslinger reports this week, for instance, KIPP and Rocketship charter schools are often very popular among "other people" despite (or because of) the fact that they embody many reformy ideas.
Does their popularity among actual parents mean that those schools and ideas are necessarily effective or optimal as matters of public policy? Of course not. (Although there is some evidence to that effect.)
The folks on MSNBC's Morning Joe talk single-sex education and other "new" ideas for 2014 from TIME.
If the new version of the SAT was available now, I would definitely be taking this over the ACT... It's just like everything I've been learning in school, where we are analyzing documents and seeing how we came to that answer. The idea of condensed math makes it much easier to narrow down what you want to study. - Chicago high schooler quoted in WSJ story(College Board Shakes Up SAT)
Boulder parent Lisa McElroy tells the story in Slate about how freaked out administrators were when she told them she wanted to opt out of standardized testing -- but ends up wondering just what, exactly, she had accomplished or could hope to accomplish, and about the impact of opting out on schools and teachers.
One issue is the potential impact on the school or district if parents like her opt out: "Do I stand on my principles, both personal and political? Or do I put the interests of the very important people and institutions that educate my children above those of my kids?"
But the other, more fundamental issue is that the parent opt out numbers are still very small, and seem to trend towards white, college-educated parents rather than the poor minority parents whose children have traditionally endured inadequate education offerings in the absence of outside accountability.
Individual parents may not want to have their children tested, and to some extent should probably be accommodated, but their individual decisions -- like with immunizations -- could have unintended and unanticipated impacts on schools and other children that aren't limited to immediate financial impacts.
At last week's CPAC convention -- a conservative Republican beauty contest at which all the big contenders for the party nominee appeared -- Paul Ryan told a story about a kid who wanted a brown bag lunch instead of a federally subsidized school lunch because the home-made lunches showed someone who cared.
Except Ryan or his staff might have cribbed the anecdote from Invisible Threads, a book about a long-running relationship between a white woman and a black boy (now grown up).
Via The Atlantic Wire: Paul Ryan's Heartwrenching Tale of a Hungry Kid Also Appears in a Heartwrenching Book.
Here's some additional information, via ECS, detailing state opt out provision language for one state we already discussed -- California -- plus two others not previously mentioned -- Nebraska, and Wisconsin:
California: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent's or guardian's written request to school officials to excuse his or her child from any or all parts of the assessments administered pursuant to this chapter shall be granted. (West's Ann.Cal.Educ.Code § 60615)
Also, Cal. Admin. Code tit. 5, § 852
(a) Each year the LEA shall notify parents or guardians of their pupil's participation in the CAASPP assessment system in accordance with Education Code section 60604.
(b) The notification to parents or guardians, as defined in subdivision (a), shall include a notice of the provisions outlined in Education Code section 60615.
(c) A parent or guardian may annually submit to the school a written request to excuse his or her child from any or all parts of any test provided pursuant to Education Code section 60640 for the school year. If a parent or guardian submits an exemption request after testing has begun, any test(s) completed before the request is submitted will be scored and the results reported to the parent or guardian and included in the pupil's records. An LEA and its employees may discuss the CAASPP assessment system with parents and may inform parents of the availability of exemptions under Education Code section 60615. The LEA and its employees shall not solicit or encourage any written exemption request on behalf of any child or group of children.
Nebraska: On or before July 1, 1995, each public school district in the state shall develop and adopt a policy stating how the district will seek to involve parents in the schools and what parents' rights shall be relating to access to the schools, testing information, and curriculum matters. (Neb.Rev.St. § 79-531) local policies must include Under what circumstances parents may ask that their children be excused from testing, classroom instruction, and other school experiences the parents may find objectionable (Neb.Rev.St. § 79-532)
Wisconsin: Upon the request of a pupil's parent or guardian, a school board, charter school, or governing body of a private school participating in school vouchers program shall excuse the pupil from taking an examination administered under sub. (1m). (W.S.A. 118.30)
Thanks again to ECS, NCSL, Fairtest, and United Opt Out. Image via Flickr. See previous post here.
At the risk of making a mountain out of a molehill, here's what I've been able to dig up since yesterday on the topic of parents' rights to opt children out of standardized testing, which I'd thought was pretty well-established (like field trips and sex ed) but is apparently not at all.
Officially, at least, states are required to test everyone who's at school on testing days (for civil rights reasons) and most states don't formally allow parents to opt out. That seems to be the basis upon which Illinois state officials have been telling Chicago parents that they can't just sign a form.
However, parents in most places seem to have figured out other ways -- religious exemptions and/or keeping kids out of school -- to avoid having their children tested if that is their wish.
Districts and administrators sometimes urge parents to reconsider or even in a handful of cases suggest scary effects if parents opt out, but they're bluffing. "We have yet to see a public school attempt to stop opt out when parents push back," notes United Opt Out's Peggy Robertson. "The school district always back down." Testing opponents sometimes try and pressure parents to join them, too (see previous post).
See below for very helpful details from Fairtest, NCSL, United Opt Out, and ECS. Tell CCSSO and USDOE to get over their Mardi Gras hangovers and email me back.
Parents are considered something close to the ultimate authority in most school situations, and can opt their children out of all sorts of things including sex ed, recess, and immunizations. They can take their kids out of school (within limits).
It hasn't always been the case, but in many states, they can now opt their children out of public education entirely, and homeschool.
But apparently the parental prerogative is not universal when it comes to standardized testing in Illinois, where the latest wrinkle in the opt out efforts of a relative handful of Chicago parents is the determination that they can't just sign a note or fill out a form.
Read on for more details -- and some questions.
Rather than having 14,000 school boards across America, it would get governors involved, big city mayors involved, and it would have a longer school day and a longer school year... It would look like a national system. - Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad describing his ideal education infrastructure (Eli Broad appoints head of philanthropic education efforts SCPR)
Carefully, in a word.Contextually. Skeptically. With much greater balance and insight.
Better than they did last year!
The testing protest/opt out coverage has already begun, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's testing season, after all, and we knew this was coming.
Teachers at a couple of schools in Chicago say they're not going to administer the state's lame duck assessment, and somewhere around 500 parents say they're going to pull their kids from the tests.
What last year's coverage often lacked, however, was care and context. Test proliferation claims thrown out by testing critics weren't verified (often it seemed as if no attempts at verification had been made). Claims that weren't in dispute -- say the number of parents who opted out -- often weren't presented in context (ie, as a percentage of parents in the school or district). The emphasis was on confrontation and consequences that were often overblown and/or speculative -- most of which didn't actually happen and were never likely to.
Parents and teachers who support testing are rarely found and presented to readers, resulting in grossly imbalanced coverage (especially since the vast majority of parents and teachers aren't actively involved in testing advocacy).
Let's not do that again. Or at least let's stop before it becomes a habit. Two recent stories from Chicago illustrate the challenges.
It’s hard to tell where the uproar over Common Core ends and the more general uproar over education in the United States begins. -- Jessica Leahy in the NYT Parenting Blog
I figure since I missed this 2011 WNYC segment featuring Mark ("Match On Dry Grass") Warren and Desiree Pilgrim Hunter (BCCC), maybe you did, too. I found it and lots of other videotape, etc. from the 2012 conference. Were you there? Did you already know about all these efforts? Have they been successful and effective, locally and/or nationally, since then?
"The distribution will be funded by TV host Montel Williams in partnership with New Regency, Penguin Books and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Williams was also largely responsible for the incorporation of the Civil War film "Glory" into school curriculum." ('12 Years A Slave' To Be Incorporated In High School Curriculum)
You'd think that Chicago would be a prime place for a parent opt-out protect against standardized testing, given the amount of success that the teachers union has had convincing the media and parents that what teachers want and what parents want are the same thing.
But that didn't seem to be the case when the opt out press conference held on Monday revealed that only about 500 kids would be exempted from standardized testing that begins next week:
Testing requirements vary somewhat across Chicago because the district allows regions and schools to make some of their own decisions regarding assessments. A recent report from TeachPlus found that Chicago has one of the lower testing burdens on paper and in teachers' experiences in the classroom. The union and several other groups pushed to recruit parents for the effort for several weeks ahead of the event.
Be sure to check out Big Score, Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker article about what happens when Mom takes the SAT.
It's based in part on Debbie Stier's book The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT, in which the 46 year old mom decides "to devote herself full time to the test, with the goal of achieving the maximum possible score of 2400."
TLDR? Here's the last graf: "Whatever is at the center of the SAT—call it aptitude or assessment or assiduousness or ambition—the exam at this point represents an accident. It was conceived for one purpose, adapted for another, and somewhere along the line it acquired a hold on American life that nobody ever intended. It’s not just high-school seniors who are in its thrall; colleges are, too. How do you know how good a school is? Well, by the SAT scores of the students it accepts... As befits an exam named for itself, the SAT measures those skills—and really only those skills—necessary for the SATs."
I've asked the College Board if they feel there's anything wrong or missing in the piece - will let you know if I get any interesting response.
The most influential and well-educated people either have their kids in private schools, or they have their kids in an enclave inside the high school that are called honors courses... and so, if we go to a school and say, let’s change things here, they say, no way, you’re going to mess our little enclave up. - Bill Gates quote (from several years ago) about the challenges of changing schools (Education Week).
"Dr. Newman is at the leading edge of creating the perfect educational environment for children, and all he requires is a hefty tuition—and your child at the age of six months."
Could be good -- could be way over the top. What do you think? Anyone plopped down the $2.99 it costs to download and read the thing, or know who Charles Swift is?
The longtime news host left CNN last spring and is now producing education-related segments on Al Jazeera America and also teaching a class at the Harvard ed school (Boston Globe). The HGSE course is called "Advancing the Public Understanding of Education” (co-taught with Joe Blatt). She's taught on Dream School (Los Angeles Times), in which celebrities taught kids (sort of). She's also a mother of four and a regular guest on HBO and will be moderating the National Geographic Bee (replacing Alex Trebek). Image via HGSE.
Perhaps a new form of educational choice will drive the next era of school improvement. One would think that advocates for school choice would be consistent and support the rights of parents and students to choose whether to be subjected to standardized tests - or not.
We should seriously contemplate William Hiss's Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions. Hiss studied 123,000 students at 33 institutions over eight years and he found there was virtually no difference in college grades and graduation rates between students who submitted SATs and ACTs or not. He also explains, "Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it."
NPR's Eric Westervelt, in College Applicants Sweat the SATs: Perhaps They Shouldn't, reports that "Some are calling this study a potential game-changer that may prompt schools to evaluate whether there is value in requiring standardized tests." Of course, he is reporting on colleges, not the bubble-in tests that are used to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, and there is a difference between the two types of assessments. The difference is that the ACT and SAT tests are more reliable and defensible, and the younger the test taker, the greater the potential damage of the test.
So, if parents and students should be allowed to opt out of college admissions tests, shouldn't that choice be extended to all students? Of course, a study of college outcomes, alone, is not definitive proof that public school testing has failed. It just adds to the evidence that the data-driven reform movement was a historical dead end. Once we offer students headed to college the choice of whether they want to endure more of the testing rat race, the next logical step is to ask parents whether they want high-stakes testing dumped on their children. It leads to a common sense approach to school improvement; Let students and adults opt in or opt out of standardized testing. And, if they give a test and nobody comes ..., reformers should honor that choice.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
I am where I am not because of what happened in school but in spite of it, and that is probably not what you want me to say. Call me back, and I will address your teachers and give them a piece of my mind. -- Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on why he declined a speaking invitation from his former elementary school (P.S. 81) in a recent New Yorker profile.
On the right, that's real-life charter school parent and Albuquerque school board member Steven Michael Quezada, who plays DEA agent Steven Gomez on "Breaking Bad."
Yep. It's true. According to his official Albuquerque Public Schools bio, the longtime actor was on the board for the Public Academy for the Performing Arts charter school (where his children attend school).
He's going to appear at an upcoming charter school conference (here).
Some of the flip-flops are bizarrly complete and public -- Ravitch, for example.
Others are partial and more subtle -- Camika Royal, say, or Chicago's Seth Lavin.
To the second category add Philadelphia's Helen Gym, the parent activist who's profiled in a recent edition of Philly Magazine (The Agitator).
Gym battles the Mayor, and the school district. She might run for Mayor on an education agenda.
But she also helped found a charter school (Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures School), is married to one of its board members, and sent her children there.
I don't know anything more about Gym than what I read, but I have to say I like the nuance that's suggested. There are all too few people who admit to having doubts or concerns about whatever views they're espousing -- online, especially -- and even fewer who will admit to compromises or complications in their own lives and decisions.
What about reform critics turned supporters? There aren't any vivid examples that come to mind, but it could be said that many if not most of those past the age of 40 who supports reform positions now (regarding charters, accountability, teacher evaluation) probably started out (ie, grew up) wanting to be for the traditional education system.
What's hot and what's not in the Common Core, via GreatSchools.
"In Chicago, for instance, students will spend 38.8 hours on state and districts tests by 8th grade, while in Denver that total will top 159 hours. At the 3rd grade level, differences in testing time could amount to as much as three instructional days: each year in Chicago, children spent five hours on tests, while in Cleveland they spent 25 hours." (EdWeek: Study: Districts Vary Widely in the Amount of Time They Spend on Testing)
MSNBC's Craig Melvin interview's Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and talks about parental choice for good schools (charters, magnets) and positive pressures created by choice - but stops short of endorsing vouchers or saying that choice itself is the top priority in education. 6:49 via EducationNation
Read more about the contest and the possible implications from MSNBC here.
This interview with the author of Random Families was on NYC public radio last week. It's a good listen, hether or not you've read the book (which I -- you -- should definitely do).
I already posted this satirical (and very gory) mock anti-truancy PSA on Hot For Ed, but since then it's been all over Facebook, Digg, etc. so I guess the Internet has decided that your eyes will survive. Remember: NSFW (gore).
In Chicago, the push is on to get funding to expand the program even as the research is being continued. The Mayor has pledged a small amount. For the pilot, the combo program cost about $4,400 per kids per year including both the tutoring and the social skills program (Becoming A Man). At scale, the tutoring would probably cost just $2,500 or so -- and wouldn't have to continue year after year for each participant.
Ironically, if IL gets a NCLB waiver it could either reduce funding available for tutoring (via SES) or in theory create a new avenue for CPS to fund the program at scale. So far, at least, the feisty teachers union hasn't come out against the program, which would be in its nature to do (since the Mayor has endorsed it). CPS still has a $65 million SES program (no waiver) but the Match program isn't eligible.
Meanwhile, there's a related effort called MS ExTRA going on NYC, via TASC funded by Robin Hood and the DOE and Ford. In NYC, it's small-group vs. Chicago's 1:1, it's 20 middle school literacy not 9th grade algebra at 12 high schools, and it's Harvard's EdLab not UChicago's Crime Lab.