Education Next has a state-by-state breakdown on duty-to-bargain laws, total earnings loss as a result of those laws, "and additional details about teacher unionization + political contributions." (How teacher collective bargaining affects students’ employment and earnings later in life). Click the link for the interactive version -- let me know if there's anything inaccurate or notable that you come across.
I have for a very long time also been against the idea that you tie teacher evaluation and even teacher pay to test outcomes... There’s no evidence. There’s no evidence. Now, there is some evidence that it can help with school performance. If everybody is on the same team, and they’re all working together, that’s a different issue, but that’s not the way it’s been presented…
-- Hillary Clinton at a November 9 New Hampshire AFT meeting (partial transcript)
"A public elementary school in Harlem, New York, is adopting a radical idea that threatens the education industry as we know it, SOLEs, Self-Organized Learning Environments." From the PBS NewsHour -- includes reactions from teachers and a union rep.
“The longer students experiences personalized learning practices, the greater their growth in achievement,” asserts a new report from the Gates Foundation (Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning) #inacol15
Here's a list of the top 200 local education foundations in the US, which is somewhat ironically led by Pinellas County (where there's been some pretty dramatic resegregation of schools lately). I can't vouch for the data, the methodology, or anything else. MSU's Sarah Reckhow notes on Twitter that it's not a lot of money that they're talking about in the larger scheme of things. The report is put out annual by Dewey and Associates. Thanks to Mesa's Joe O'Reilly for passing this along.
"For the first time, most state-required summative assessments in U.S. elementary and middle schools will be administered via technology rather than by paper and pencil in the 2015-16 school year, according to a report released Thursday by EdTech Strategies, LLC, a research and consulting firm." Edweek (Paperless Testing: Most Grade 3-8 Students To Be Assessed Online in 2016).
Whatever you may think of Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, in most ways it’s not that much different than that of a great many other funders who gone before him. The same can also be said of most tech leaders. A notable exception to this point is that Zuckerberg and other younger tech funders seem unlikely to create large bureaucratic organizations to give away their money.
- Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan (What Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Announcement Tells Us About the New Philanthropy)
As outlined yesterday, CAP and other groups have launched TeachStrong, an effort to revamp the teaching profession. See also TeacherBeat (Can a New Political Campaign to 'Modernize' Teaching Succeed?) and Washington Post (How to build a better teacher: Groups push a 9-point plan called TeachStrong).
There's some energetic back and forth going on behind the scenes about the accuracy of this WSJ piece and how it codes the states (Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout), but that doesn't mean you can't read it and check out the map of states.
"At least three states, Alabama, Texas, and New Hampshire again, told the federal Education Department that they use state test scores in teacher evaluations, but those policies only exist in their waivers." EdWeek writeup of NCTQ report ("Will Teacher Evaluations Through Test Scores Outlast Obama?)
"I worry about the folks who link every challenge public school districts face to "privatization." It's such an easy way to avoid issues." - Deray McKesson
I worry about the folks who link every challenge public school districts face to "privatization." It's such an easy way to avoid issues.— deray mckesson (@deray) November 5, 2015
There is no way you can blame socioeconomic status for the performance of the United States... When you look at all dimensions of social background, the United States does not suffer a particular disadvantage.
-- OECD's Andreas Shcleicher quoted in NYT column by Eduardo Porter (School vs. Society in America’s Failing Students)
Here's an figure from CAP's new report on improving the teaching profession: "Smart, Skilled, and Striving." Image used with permission.
There was a moment, maybe six or seven years years ago, when it seemed like charter schools with "thin" contracts were all the rage.
They combined the autonomy and flexibility of a charter with the protections against unwarranted dismissal or arbitrary treatment from supervisors. But not all of the schools that had them performed as well as some may have hoped (just like teacher-run schools and every other type of governance option that's been proposed), and charter stalwarts and union hard-liners both hated them equally.
I wrote about them in Harvard's Education Letter (RIP): Charters and Unions: What's the future for this unorthodox relationship?. But that was long ago. I declared them "so 2009" in 2011.
These days, pretty much only the Century Fund talks about them. Some giant percentage of the charters in Chicago are now organized, thanks in part to the efforts of a smooth-talking South African(?) union organizer who's never been seen or photographed. But not with thin contracts, as far as I understand. Much more common seem to be traditional (antagonistic) organizing/unionization efforts like the one currently going on in LA.
Eventually, one would imagine, reform advocates and critics would get their acts together and return to an idea like this -- or a new generation of parents, funders, and politicians would get sick of the more rigid charter and union ideologies. But it's going to be a little while -- and going to take a lot of bravery.
Related posts:Would Unions Ruin Charter Schools -- Or Vice Versa? (2009); Thin Contract At Locke High School.; The Return Of The "Thin" Contract? (2010); "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led (2014);
I think we may be reaching an end to those pitched, and pointless, battles... It is starting to feel that in a large and significant sense, all roads are beginning to converge on the educational definition of Rome: a public education system that clearly places students at the center by making learning more personalized, relevant, and real-world-situated.
- Sam Chaltain (Are We Finally Ending the Battle of the Edu-Tribes?)
Their colleagues saw them first as police officers and not teachers... Their colleagues only sought their help when it came to behavior management and not when it came to thinking about some of the content that they might have designed to engage students.
From NPR (Keeping Black Men In Front Of The Class)
Over at EdWeek, there's a recent post about how well big city school districts seemed to do, compared to state scores and national trends.
But others aren't so sure:
Over at the Hechinger Report, Jilly Barshay notes that rising numbers of high-scoring white students masked big declines in math [#thanksgentrification].
At Dropout Nation, RiShawn Biddle notes that district exclusion rates for SPED and ELL kids are all over place and could affect scores, as well.
"No school district grew more in 4th grade math in the past four years than DCPS!"
Then again, scandal-plagued Chicago Public Schools came in second on the same measure, and even LAUSD came in with some improvements. Did these districts make less movement towards Common Core in some way that advantaged them on NAEP 2015? Do they have participation/exclusion policies that are different from other cities?
"A report by the Justice Policy Institute found that, even controlling for a school district's poverty level, schools with officers had five times as many arrests for 'disorderly conduct' as schools without them." Vox's Libby Nelson (The school-to-prison pipeline, explained)
Rough Student Arrest Puts Spotlight on School PoliceNYT: As common as the officers and their arrests have become, there are no generally accepted standards for how they should be trained, used, armed or organized. No one even knows for certain how many there are — most experts estimate between 10,000 and 15,000 nationwide.
Assaulted S.C. Student Is A Recent Orphan Living In Foster Care, Attorney Says AP: The attorney for a 16-year-old student who was thrown across a classroom during an arrest says the officer should be jailed for his actions.
School Board Recall Vote in Colorado Tests Conservative Policies NYT: The vote here in Jefferson County, just west of Denver, has become a money-soaked proxy war between union supporters and conservative groups like the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, testing whether parents in an election-year battleground believe a rightward turn in their schools has gone too far.
Wisconsin holds steady while U.S. slips in national test report Journal-Sentinel Online: But, as is the case in so many measurements of academic success, the achievement gap between white and black students remains great in Wisconsin, ranking the second widest in the NAEP report for both reading and math.
Teaching the Common Core in China NYT: I learned some surprising things that day, as well as throughout the two years that followed. It was the last time, however, that I was invited to a parents meeting.
Fight over charter school signals philosophical differences in how schools are viewed WBEZ Chicago: For a decade, Chicago has followed the school reform strategy it laid out in its Renaissance 2010 program: improve the entire system by adding new “high quality” schools. But the city’s school reform strategy, and Noble’s expansion plans, have clashed this year with dire fiscal, political, and educational realities to a degree unseen before.
Montgomery County Schools To See Long Overdue Expansion And Modernization WAMU: School officials in Montgomery County are unveiling their construction plans for the next five years, and thanks to a backlog the northernmost part of the county will see a lot of construction. See also Washington Post.
LAUSD fires controversial lawyer in sex abuse case — again KPCC: W. Keith Wyatt represented LAUSD in arguing that a Los Angeles middle school student was mature enough to consent to sex with her 28-year-old teacher.
A Teacher Killed by Palestinians, Recalled as a Man of PeaceNYT: A civil rights activist and Connecticut elementary school principal, Mr. Lakin moved to Jerusalem with his family in 1984. He taught English to Israeli and Palestinian children, performed in musicals and, according to Rabbi Weiman-Kelman, never missed a peace rally.
"Results of the Trial Urban District Assessment, also released today, show D.C. as a standout performer, with fourth graders making significant gains in math and reading.... Baltimore and Maryland saw some of the biggest drops in scores, “but as counterintuitive as it seems, those are actually good news,” Duncan argued. “Why? Because some of those drops reflect the state including many more special-needs students.” (Morning Education) Image via NAGB. Used with permission.
Parents don’t really care about enrollment projections... What they care about is whether their child’s going to be safe and happy.
- InsideSchools' Clara Hemphill in the NYT (Manhattan Rezoning Fight Involves a School Called ‘Persistently Dangerous’)
American Kids Have Disappointing Reading And Math Scores, But There Are Some Bright Spots HuffPost: "One downturn does not a trend make, and that’s what we’re comfortable in saying about the data," Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of NCES, said on a call with reporters. "We’re trying not to read too much into a decline at this point."
Consistent with national trends, city and state NAEP results show little change ChalkeatNY: “We’re trying not to read too much in a decline in at this point ,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center of Education Statistics, which administers NAEP. “We understand it’s a pattern consistent across many states, but … we don’t know yet if these changes we’re talking about today are long-term. ”
A decade of academic progress halts, NAEP standardized test scores show LA Times: Overall, Los Angeles, where the test has been given since 2003, landed in the bottom third of the 21 big cities whose results were reported. In fourth-grade reading, 21% of L.A. Unified students reached or exceeded proficiency, compared with 27% in the big cities overall, 27% in Chicago and 26% in New York.
U.S. student performance slips on national test Washington Post: Recent demographic shifts mean that schools are grappling with the challenge of educating an increasing number of students who come from low-income families and are learning how to speak English. And in recent years, most states have adopted sweeping educational policy changes, including teacher evaluations tied to test scores and Common Core academic standards that have changed what and how students learn in the classroom.
Nationwide Test Shows Dip in Students’ Math Abilities NYT: Education officials said that the first-time decline in math scores was unexpected, but that it could be related to changes ushered in by the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states. For example, some of the fourth-grade math questions on data analysis, statistics and geometry are not part of that grade’s guidelines under the Common Core.
Anemic report card for nation’s school kids AP: "Having the higher academic standards caused the states and teachers and districts to change the way they’re teaching certain things,” CCSSO's Chris Minnich said in an interview. “We may be in a place where some of the questions that are asked on this national test aren’t being taught at the same time they were being taught before.”
Deputy Who Flipped Spring Valley High Student Acted Reprehensibly, School Officials Say HuffPost: Richland School District 2 Chair James Manning and Superintendent Debbie Hamm didn't mince words at a press conference to decry Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Fields' actions on Monday.
More Chinese students enroll in U.S. high schools WBEZ: Li is a senior at St. Laurence High School in Burbank, Illinois. He’s living with about 20 other Chinese high school students, dorm style, at the Write Inn in Oak Park. Chinese students alone make up 10 percent of the freshmen class at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Q&A: Inside the search for the next LAUSD superintendent KPCC: Hank Gmitro, the man who heads the hunt for the next Los Angeles Unified superintendent says the size of the 650,000-student school district and its high-profile search are adding to the challenge of finding a new leader.
7 percent of U.S. kids have had a parent in jail PBS NewsHour: More than 5 million children in the U.S. have had a parent in jail. That’s roughly 7 percent of the nation’s kids 17 and under, or one out of every 14 children.
Student suspended following lockdown of West Virginia school AP: Police say a student has been suspended after reports of a gun prompted the lockdown of a West Virginia school....
Oracle to Build High School on Its Silicon Valley Campus AP: Oracle adding public high school next to Silicon Valley headquarters to teach tech to students.
On Friday night, the PBS NewsHour ran this interview with Dale Russakoff about her Newark school reform book. Transcript here.
At the risk of committing mis-NAEPery, check out this chart (via Urban Institute) showing how state NAEP scores have progressed since 2003 -- adjusted and unadjusted.
As explained by Vox's Libby Nelson, "Hawaii made a dramatic leap between 2003 and 2013 that should at least in part offset concerns about its still-low adjusted scores. And Massachusetts continues to be a standout, with the best scores with or without the demographic adjustment, and one of the biggest leaps in adjusted scores between 2003 and 2013 — even though in 2003 it already had some of the best schools in the country." ("These are the states that really have the best schools in the US)
There is a dearth of research on how segregation impacts Latino students specifically, although there is plentiful data on how racial isolation impacts African-Americans. As efforts to address African-American segregation have faltered, public discourse on growing Latino segregation remains elusive.
- HuffPost's Rebecca Klein (The Big Education Problem That No One Is Talking About)
"The new analysis suggests that [white, affluent states] have better reputations than they deserve. They enroll a lot of students who come to school well prepared and thus excel on tests. But the schools themselves are not doing as good a job as their test scores suggest."
Urban Institute report featured in NYT (Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores)
Obama encouraging limits on standardized student tests AP: Hillary Rodham Clinton embraced the principles laid out by Obama. "We should be ruthless in looking at tests and eliminating them if they do not actually help us move our kids forward," she said in a statement.
See blizzard of testing coverage here:
Too Much Testing? Ed. Dept. Outlines Steps to Help States and Districts Cut Back PK12: The U.S. Department of Education has released some general principles for states and districts to help them figure out how to cut back on assessments and ensure that they're used to drive instruction.
Study says standardized testing is overwhelming nation’s public schools Washington Post: Typical student takes 112 required tests from pre-K through 12th grade; federal officials vow to help reduce redundant, low-quality exams.
Obama encouraging limits on standardized student tests AP: And from the 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic contender Hillary Rodham Clinton embraced the principles laid out by Obama. "We should be ruthless in looking at tests and eliminating them if they do not actually help us move our kids forward," she said in a statement.
Obama proposes capping standardized testing at 2% of classroom time Los Angeles Times: The Obama administration executed a significant about-face in its education policy Saturday, calling for a cap on the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests.
Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools NYT: The administration acknowledged its own role in the proliferation of tests, and urged schools to make exams less onerous and more purposeful.
Ed Dept.: Too Much Testing, Partly Our Fault Politico: The Education Department took some of the blame for the sometimes stressful, excessive and time-consuming testing at many schools and said Saturday that it hasn't done enough to help states tackle the problem.
A Standardized Test Parents Need to Take LA Times: The Obama administration has announced a plan to limit the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests -- and to ensure that such examinations are limited to "tests that are worth taking."
Obama Wants To Limit Class Time Devoted To Standardized Tests AP: Students spend about 20 to 25 hours a school year taking standardized tests, according to a study of the nation's 66 largest school districts that was released Saturday by the Council of Great City Schools. But it's not known how much class time students spend preparing for tests that became mandatory, starting in third grade, under the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind law and are a flashpoint in the debate over the Common Core academic standards.
Following President's Call, New York Touts Efforts to Reduce Overtesting WNYC: In New York, state education officials have taken steps to reduce over-testing, and indeed the Obama administration called New York a leader in this effort. These steps include limiting the amount of time students spend on required standardized tests and establishing a grant to allow administrators to review the assessments given to students.
Students Take Too Many Redundant Tests, Study Finds EdWeek: The comprehensive report by the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools examines testing in 66 of the council's 68 member school districts, looking at the types of tests administered, their frequency, and how they are used. The findings are expected to add hard numbers and evidence to the fractious national debate around whether U.S. students are being overtested.
President Obama Calls To Curb Number Of Standardized Tests NPR: The Obama Administration has a plan to limit the number of standardized tests that children take. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks to correspondent Anya Kamenetz about what changes the efforts might bring.
Teaching Teachers To Teach: It's Not So Elementary NPR: How are great teachers created? Practice, practice, practice, says Deborah Ball, dean of the University of Michigan School of Education.
The Online College That's Helping Undocumented Students NPR: There are no federal laws in this country that prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in college. But few can afford it. Now, one online college is offering them an option.
With Switch From Pencils To Computers, GED Gets Tougher For Inmates NPR: Formerly, the test to get a GED diploma was multiple-choice, and taken with a pencil. Not anymore: Now, it requires computer skills some inmates simply don't have.
Superintendents in Florida Say Tests Failed State’s Schools, Not Vice Versa NYT: Superintendents are arguing that student tests imported from Utah were flawed and should not be used to give schools A-to-F grades.
Grading on the Curve: Surprise: Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores NYT: A new analysis, taking into account student demographics, finds the states in third and fourth place, after Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Setting Bold Course, Delaware Serves Up Info on Teacher-Prep Performance Teacher Beat: The reports also contain data on some of the measures the U.S. Department of Education wants states to use to grade their preparation programs.
Porter Ranch bucks trend of students flocking away from LAUSD LA Times:About a third of the campus' 1,100 students in kindergarten through eighth grade have come from nearby charter and private schools – a development that caught officials off-guard. "We didn't anticipate that; these students were off the grid," said Principal Mary Melvin.
How a growing Arkansas town avoided segregation in its two high schools PBS: In 2006, the Rogers school district faced a difficult choice. The student population had grown enormously over the past decade and school officials didn’t relish the prospect of a massive high school of more than 4,000 students. They wanted to open a new school, but they didn’t want schools to be segregated by ethnicity, which would surely happen if the schools were zoned by neighborhood. Nearby Springdale had been in the same position and had ended up with one school that had almost twice the percentage of Latino students as the other.
I think for a long time in our society we have used those set of challenges as an excuse not to do anything... I think often we overcompensate now by [now saying] none of those things matter, that teaching is teaching.
-- Deputy Mayor Richard Buery in Chalkbeat (Do schools need to tackle poverty or boost teaching? In that debate, Buery calls for truce)
"In the four years since we rolled out ACE at scale, we’ve seen about an 80 percent initial pass rate; we’ve offered extension plans to about another 10 percent, some of whom then pass in their second year. As of fall 2014, 170,000 students have been taught by teachers who passed the ACE screen in those seven cities." via TNTP (Teacher Prep…What’s Data Got to Do With It?)
Mobility is generally low but varies widely among different cities, according to Raj Chetty's research. That's one reason that candidate Hillary Clinton and others are interested in his ideas for encouraging low-income families to move to better neighborhoods (with, one assumes, better-performing schools). See more in WSJ: Proposals on Inequality Draw Interest on Both Sides of the Political Aisle.
This week's big education conference that I know of is Grantmakers For Education, which is meeting in SF and has a speaking appearance from Arne Duncan. The Twitter handle is @, the hashtag is
#edfunders15. EdSource's John Fensterwald is slated to do an interview with Duncan/King.
But it's not the only one.
Later this week, EWA is hosting two Chicago-based seminar/conferences for education reporters, one on covering poverty (Covering Poverty’s Influence on Education). Highlights from the agenda include an appearance from Alex Kotlowitz.
The second EWA event is called Ready for Day 1? Covering the Education of Teachers, which is being hosted by Northwestern University and "will examine the teacher pipeline, with a focus on how states can build a better route that attracts the best candidates, the extent to which states are — or aren't — taking adequate steps to ensure high quality preparation programs, and look more broadly at best practices to make sure new teachers are ready for Day One in the classroom."
You can see the updated online agenda for highlights including a session with Dan Goldhaber and some advice from NPR's Steve Drummond about covering teacher shortages.
Any other events going on that we should know about? Anyone see or write a great summary of the Great Cities event last week?
It used to be that everyone thought -- assumed/wished? -- that education was the great income inequality-reducer.
Then reform critics and others came along and pointed out that there were lots of non-school factors (parents' education level and income) that made as much or more of a difference, and that we shouldn't put all our hopes on schools to do any magic.
Now, Michigan State researchers have issued a study written up by the Hechinger Report showing that US schools actually exacerbate the growing achievement gap between rich and poor (largely by teaching them very different material). "The researchers calculated that this educational content difference accounts for a third of the achievement gap, on average."
The good news is that US is only about average when it comes to this unwanted effect, and that there are other countries out there that deliver a more equitable academic program to poor kids that we can try to learn from.
Graphic via Hechinger Report and MSU.
And so from the largest philanthropic foundation on the planet, we can expect not self-reflection but more of the same. Bill and Melinda Gates still believe that the academic playing field is made fair by three good teachers in a row and by charters schools in which six year olds robotically tell visitors what college they will attend.
- NEPC's Carol Burris in The Washington Post's Answer Sheet (What are Bill and Melinda Gates talking about?)
Former Mass Insight head Justin Cohen is writing a book "about the broken U.S. education system" and was recently named a fellow at the Carey Institute (which supports nonfiction writers).
According to the writeup, Cohen "aims to reinvigorate the debate about reform, and change the old arguments that perpetuate the brokenness."
If he achieves this end, it would be greatly welcomed. However, he's not alone in making the effort. Others working on books that might sound similar ideas include Kevin Huffman and journalist Sara Mosle.
Cohen was a 2008 Obama campaign adviser and DC schools advisor. He's on Twitter at @juscohen and his blog is Justin C. Cohen. He also co-hosts The Beard Brothers Dope Show, "a muscular and witty podcast covering the public education wars" that I must admit has made me laugh a couple of times though I have only listened to a few minutes.
Cohen has been mentioned before on this blog, including this quote: "The big problem here is that somehow we have arrived at a point wherein placing value on student achievement results ismutually exclusive to respecting the voting rights of African-American communities... That is a fight that neither side can win, nor should want to fight."
"Cohen’s work focuses on the intersection of race, class, social justice and education in a country that is once again wrestling with the original sins of racism and white supremacy," notes the Carey Institute writeup.
“Machines are automating a whole bunch of these things, so having the softer skills, knowing the human touch and how to complement technology, is critical, and our education system is not set up for that,” said Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, where he studies education - in the NYT (How the Modern Workplace Has Become More Like Preschool)
Proving yet again that there's no trend or fad too ridiculous to import into education, standing desks are a thing for some classrooms and schools. This just emerges as some of the research about sitting has come under question. Oh, well. Give them laptops and standing desks and maybe a drone and they'll turn out fine. It's clear. It only costs $6,000 per classroom.
Schools across US find alternatives to suspending students AP: The school districts in New York, Los Angeles and Denver are just some of those that have moved away from discipline policies that relied heavily on suspensions. State governments have also been taking action: This year, Connecticut limited out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students up through the second grade, Texas decriminalized truancy and Oregon limited when suspensions and expulsions can be applied to students up through the fifth grade.
Why Test Prep May Be Key to Improving School Diversity WNYC: WNYC spent the summer and fall talking with students across the city, many of whom hope to attend a specialized high school. We wanted to know who prepared for the test and how. Now that the high school application season is about halfway through, with the deadline on Dec. 1, we've created five short vignettes about the pressure city students face to get into a good school.
For two sharply divided Manhattan schools, an uncertain path to integration ChalkbeatNY: In order to stem overcrowding at 199, where soaring demand created the city’s longest kindergarten waitlist this year, the city education department has proposed new zone lines that would reroute some would-be 199 students to 191, which has many open seats. In that way, a solution to overcrowding could spur integration.
The Evidence That White Children Benefit From Integrated Schools NPR: It's long been established that poor and minority children do better in integrated classrooms. But there's more and more to suggest that the benefits spread to all students.
As Charter Schools Become Divisive, Two Parents Give Their Take NPR: The number of charter schools that are suing the Baltimore City Public Schools is increasing and some parents need to make a choice between two big options: district vs. charter.
The surprising power of the ninth grade WBEZ Chicago: Years ago, researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that how students perform during their freshman year is the best predictor of whether they’ll graduate — better than their previous grades or attendance or their family’s income.
A Tiny School District Reaches Far And Wide For New Teachers NPR: Across the country, school districts are struggling to find new teachers. One rural town in Colorado is reaching outside the 50 states.
Are School Dress Codes Sexist? WNYC: Parents in some public school districts in New Jersey are saying the dress codes are sexist: they argue it singles out girls and shames them, saying their bodies are a distraction to the boys.
LAUSD iPad settlement now coming out of Pearson’s pocket KPCC: But on Thursday, the district said it will be Pearson that will pay the settlement. The company will pay $4.2 million directly to LAUSD and reimburse Lenovo for a $2.25 million account credit that Lenovo is providing the school district.
Some Mississippi educators told to stay quiet on school funding battle Hechinger Report: Tucker is among the Mississippi educators, including teachers and superintendents who say they’ve been pressured to keep quiet about Initiative 42, which will be on the ballot on Nov. 2 along with a competing amendment filed by lawmakers who are against 42 and want to keep funding fully in the hands of legislators.
If you haven’t checked out the new book Despite The Best Intentions by Amanda Lewis, you really should do so – at least, based on a fascinating phone call I had with her earlier this week.
As you may recall, there's a long interview from WGN Chicago here: How does racial inequality thrive in good schools?. There's also mention of the book in this EdWeek piece How Does an Equity Audit Work?.
It’s not so much that the general topic of the book is so new or different. We all know about implicit racial bias at this point, and there are several much-discussed efforts underway to reduce suspensions and other practices that give some kids a much tougher time in school than they may already have.
But Lewis and her co-author bring some additional attention to the problematic role that white, privileged parents (and others) sometimes bring to making changes in schools that would help make them fairer or work better for other students.
“People don’t talk about this as much, how much white parents play a role in maintaining things as they are,” says Lewis.
They understandably behave towards the school in ways that benefit them and their kids, even if they originally started out with the goal of providing a diverse, equitable experience for their children. Perhaps they want that on one hand, “but on the other hand -- even more than that -- they wanted their kids to have an advantaged experience.” As a result, they’re “worried about any changes that could affect their children’s protected experience of being in what is essentially a school within a school.”
Like others involved in making schools the way they are, these parents aren’t explicitly or consciously behaving in ways that exhibit racial bias or malice. And they’re not the sole culprit here – teachers, administrators, district policies all play a role -- and of course the larger society. But their function in protecting or preserving advantages for their children are highlighted in ways that I don’t often see discussed.
What’s clear to Lewis and others is that Black and Latino kids aren't breaking the rules more often, “they're just getting punished more often.” They also may not be getting as much time as other kids to try and answer a question, or the same reaction from a teacher when they get a “B” on a test, or the same exceptions or accommodations as other kids if they fall short or break a rule.
These observations remind me of several similar remarks made over the years by folks as diverse as Bill and Melinda Gates and Dale Russakoff. The Gates funders have talked about the pushback their grantees have gotten from parents within schools, especially privileged enclaves. In her book about Newark, Russakoff noted that reformers who expected help from parents sometimes found that the parents best positioned were focused on finding or maintaining advantages in terms of teacher assignment and other things for their own children, not the school as a whole. (In this case, the parents were African-American, but the dynamic seems to be roughly parallel.)
“There’s this perception that having a desegregated space is going to benefit all kids,” says Lewis. But that’s not what often happens in practice. Paraphrasing an educator she worked with, Lewis says “The white kids always have to be understood and the black kids have to be disciplined.” And the exemptions and accommodations for the white kids mean that there’s little pressure to change an overly strict or unworkable rule. Just as white, college-educated parents disadvantage neighborhood schools by finding other options, white college-educated parents undercut diverse schools by seeking special treatment.
So far, at least, Lewis says that the school has responded positively to being portrayed in the book, and that at a recent talk at the Minority Student Achievement Network several superintendents said they thought Riverview sounded like it might be one of theirs. (I can imagine that the folks at the Consortium of Large Countywide and Suburban Districts would be interested in this, research, too.)
What can be done? Lewis and her co-author are working on a book trying to pull examples of changes that schools are trying that seem to have gotten some traction. For example, making sure to hire teachers who believe in a growth mindset, tracking informal disciplinary referrals that aren’t captured in official data, creating “earned” honors programs rather than standalone programs.
“There has to be some entity who's looking out for the larger common good,” says Lewis. “Our general societal commitment to the common good is not where it should be.” And it seems like parents’ commitment to the good of other children might not be there, either, she says.
“Parents aren't going to be the force for equity in our schools.”
"Those different paths are clear if we compare charts that track what happened to schools ranked in the bottom 5% of their state over three years in three cities: Memphis, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. via CPRE (More Than One Path Out of the Bottom)
Education reformers are so united behind the Common Core standards, and yet 1) those very standards explicitly endorse scientifically based reading instruction, and 2) the focus on the importance of “reading complex text” appears to come at the expense of early reading instruction.
- NCTQ's Kate Walsh via Fordham (Curriculum: The great divide among education reformers)
There's nothing particularly nuanced or persuasive about this @choicemediaTV video that's been going around this week, but at least it's (trying to be) funny. I'm a big fan of attempts to use humor to make a point -- a strategy that's woefully underused in education (but also very hard to pull off).
Of course the reality is that there are lots of K-12 choices being exercised by more privileged families beyond whatever neighborhood school they happen to be assigned to -- and lots of evidence that higher-performing schools (magnets, themed schools, test-in schools, etc.) don't serve low-income minority students proportionately. More choice may not be the answer, but the current system isn't defensible, either. (See, for example, The Onion's recent headline: 5-Year-Old At Underfunded Kindergarten Enjoying Last Few Weeks Before Achievement Gap Kicks In).