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Quotes: Pay No Attention To The "Velvet Ropes" Surrounding Neighborhood Schools

Quotes2Between formally selective admissions policies and economically restrictive enrollment zones, many schools are effectively off-limits, particularly to our low-income families — surrounded, as it were, by invisible velvet ropes. -- NYC charter schools advocate James Merriman (in the NYDN), following up as it were on Elizabeth Warren's very similar point regarding neighborhood schools.

Maps: School Fundraising Vs. Federal Poverty Funding In San Diego

image from voiceofsandiego.org"Foundation money and Title I money balance each other out.  The schools in the middle... are being left behind." (Voice of San Diego: School Foundations vs. Title I Funds)

Video: EPI Panel On Effects Of Concentrated Poverty

Here's a recent EPI panel on the effects of concentrated poverty on various aspects of society, featuring the NAACP, EPI, and Tanehesi Coates from The Atlantic (link here).

Thompson: Kamenetz & Gallup Nail the Key to School Improvement

EngagedAs the Hechinger Report’s Anya Kamenetz notes in Almost 70% of Teachers Are Not Engaged. Here’s Why That Matters So Much, “there’s an intimate connection between the schoolroom engagement of students, and the workplace engagement of teachers.” She then cites the truism that has been lost on school reformers, “Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.” 

Kamenetz reviews a brilliant analysis by Gallup Education, The State of America’s Schools. My joy in reading the study, and Kamenetz’s explanation,  was tempered only by a sense of regret that its main themes were not the basis of the contemporary school reform movement.  

Data-driven reform, in part, was born of an ill-considered effort to sound macho. Testing, like attacks on teachers, allowed reformers to chant tough-sounding words like “accountability” and “outputs.” 

Gallup explains how reform produced “a rigid set of education standards.”  It created “a stranglehold on teachers and students.”  Consequently, “teachers are dead last among the occupational groups Gallup surveyed in terms of their likelihood to say their opinions seem to count at work.”

As Gallup’s Brandon Busteed reports, reformers got it backwards. The path to school improvement requires a commitment to “soft” measures, such as hope, feeling valued, emotional relationships, and being engaged in teaching and learning. Busteed says, “quote unquote ‘soft’ measures move the quote unquote ‘hard’ measures, like grades and test scores.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Kamenetz & Gallup Nail the Key to School Improvement" »

Maps: Charter School Reality Check [There Just Aren't That Many]

image from knowmore.washingtonpost.comNo, this isn't a map of T-Mobile's awful cell phone coverage.  It's an Urban Institute map of charter school participation posted by KnowMore.  Overall, charters make up just 4 percent of students and average 8 percent of urban districts. (Don't like charter schools? Move to the Midwest)

Morning Video: They've Re-Segregated In Tuscaloosa

"The district, once the model of racial integration, has moved back in time, such that "nearly one in three black students attend a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened." (Plus a long feature story in The Atlantic Magazine with ProPublica)

AM News: Teachers Suffer States' Common Core Uncertainties

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Teachers Anxious as Policymakers Waffle on Common-Core Decisions State EdWatch: The indecision about the common-core standards in many states has led some teachers to believe that policymakers are leaving them in the lurch.

Competing Views of Teacher Tenure Are on Display in California Case NYT: In a case that has drawn national attention, lawyers have been arguing over whether California’s laws on teacher tenure, firing and layoffs violate students’ constitutional right to an education.

Arne Duncan: "Inspiring" To See Children Cross The Border To Get An Education RealClear Politics: "They're our kids and they are trying to get a great education. These are children and families who are trying to live the American dream."

School Foundations vs. Title I Funds Voice of San Diego: In its simplest form, the conversation goes like this: Foundations don’t worsen inequities because schools in low-income neighborhoods get federal Title I money and other funds from the state government to meet the needs of disadvantaged students. The assumption, in other words, is that the differences are a wash.

Tennessee School Voucher Bill Fails to Garner Support From Lawmakers Parents/Public: Tennessee parents whose children attend failing schools won't get vouchers to send them to private school after the governor-penned bill can't muster enough political support.

RIP FCAT, The Florida Test With A Chorus Of Detractors NPR: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, is being replaced by a test aligned to the Common Core State Standards. StateImpact Florida's Sammy Mack remembers FCAT and its controversial run.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Suffer States' Common Core Uncertainties" »

Charts: Hey, At Least Schools Fare Better Than Police In Perceived Fairness To Blacks

RACIALGAPCHARTOn the left is the percentage of whites who think blacks are treated less fairly (in schools, it's 15 percent).  On the right is the percentage of blacks (51 percent). From Charles Blow's NYT column this weekend.

Bruno: CCSS Supporters Beat A Hasty Retreat

200px-White_flag_waving.svgOnce upon a time, supporters of the Common Core argued passionately that the new math and English standards would, by virtue of their clarity and rigor, substantially improve education in the United States.

In recent weeks, however, supporters - in many cases the very same people - have changed their tone after finding themselves on the defensive about bumps in the road to CCSS implementation.

These days supporters seem to dedicate most of their time to assuring us that the CCSS are not to blame for "fuzzy" math curriculua or "whole language" or questionable history assignments. We are even told that it's just as well if states opt out of the Common Core altogether because they're unlikely to gain much from implementation anyway.

Arguably, all of these defenses of the Common Core are fair. They are also sorely disappointing for at least two reasons.

First, the argument that "standards are not a curriculum" - and therefore cannot be blamed for weak curricula - is essentially a dodge. The point of standards is precisely to motivate and improve curricula, so if bad curricula survive - or even thrive - under the CCSS, so much the worse for the standards.

Second, if the expensive, disruptive Common Core standards are merely "not to blame" for our educational problems, what, precisely, is the point of them?

We are currently in the midst of what may be the most important phase in CCSS implementation: assessment design and field testing. It is the assessments - even as much as the standards themselves - that will drive teachers' day-to-day work and help to realize (or not) whatever promise the standards hold.

So now is a particularly unfortunate time for Common Core supporters to raise the white flag in the battles that - not so long ago - they thought they were winning. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Quotes: Duncan Responds To Criticism Of Data Privacy Guidance

Quotes2We 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)

Politics: Your Favorite Liberal Lawmaker Supports Universal Vouchers*

image from www.newyorker.comMaybe you knew this already but liberal darling US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) supports private school vouchers -- for everyone.*

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.

Previous posts: Please Stop Talking About Banning Private SchoolThe Liberal Case Against Private Education; Failure, Voice, & ExitHow Vouchers Are Like Same-Sex Marriage

*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."

AM News: College Board Reveals Sample Questions From New SAT*

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College Board Provides A glimpse Of New SAT NYT: Sample questions for the new version of the college-entrance test were released on Wednesday. The College Board announced last month the test will include real-world applications and more analysis. See also WPost, HuffPost, Vox, LA Times.

[*Why is this such a big story other than it's a very slow week?]

Suspensions and expulsions: A close look at nine districts Seattle Times: Last year, the nonprofit Washington Appleseed had a difficult time finding out exactly how many students are suspended or expelled each year in Washington state.

Options likely to remain open, but DCPS will not manage it WPost: The District’s Options Public Charter School appears likely to continue operating at least through the end of the 2014-15 school year, but the city’s school system will not take over its management as previously hoped, D.C. government lawyers said in court Tuesday.

Louisiana Officials Squabble Over Fate of PARCC Tests State EdWatch: As in South Carolina, Louisiana is experiencing a dispute between state officials over whether PARCC tests should be given to students.

How One Michigan City Is Sending Kids To College Tuition-Free NPR: In 2005, a group of anonymous donors in Kalamazoo launched a bold program. It pays for graduates of the city's public schools to attend any of Michigan's public universities or community colleges.

Classes Resume A Week After Mass Stabbing At Franklin Regional High School AP via HP: Students planned to gather in prayer and in support of one another on the football field of a Pittsburgh-area high school where classes were scheduled to resume Wednesday, a week after a mass stabbing.

News and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

 

Numbers: Visualizing State, Local, & Federal Education Spending

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 2.13.50 PMFederal spending on K-12 education comes in at just under $60B, compared to local funding that's a whopping $464B, according to a blowup of the federal budget created by Visualizing.org (2013 Federal Budget).  Click the link to explore the methodology used and see the full chart in all its glory. 

Politics: Google Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 11.16.21 AMI know a lot of educators love to hate Microsoft and the Gates Foundation and love Apple and Google.  

However, there's a wild article in the Washington Post about how Google has gone "all in" with its lobbying efforts -- including funding think tanks and policy shops that cover education isssues.

So maybe there's room for a little more scrutiny and skepticism across the board?

Google's current lobbying and policy development effort "includes financing sympathetic research at universities and think tanks, investing in nonprofit advocacy groups across the political spectrum and funding pro-business coalitions cast as public-interest projects." There are fellows, 100 lobbyists, 140 funded nonprofits,  university-sponsored events, and $900K in campaign donations in 2012 alone (second only to Microsoft among edtech companies). 

As you can see from the chart at left (via WP), Google funded Brookings, Aspen, Heritage, New America, AEI, and PPI in 2010 (pictured) along with lots of other legal and edtech outfits The company added more funding for outside groups during the following four years such as the CAP Action Fund, People for the American Way, and ALEC.  

How much of Google's efforts are directly focused on education isn't immediately clear. But even if there aren't any direct edpolicy grants going out from Google there's enough overlap between tech and education these days to warrant some attention from folks interested in K12 education issues.

Previous posts: Jobs Vs. Gates - Who's Done More For Education?Google & Microsoft Duking It Out Over SchoolsGoogle Glass TeachingGoogle Launches Play For EducationThe Missing Steve Jobs / Apple Philanthropy.

Thompson: How Seniority Reform Backfired In Minneapolis

LayoffsI have long held the counter-intuitive opinion that mending, not ending, seniority could have been the most doable and beneficial first step in school improvement. I must emphasize that the direct benefits of reforming the imperfect but pretty good seniority system would have been modest. Had we worked collaboratively to make incremental gains in that process, however, we could have built the trust necessary to tackle tougher issues. 

Instead, reformers made the uninformed snap judgment that “LIFO,” or the rule of “last in, first out,” must be ended. They didn’t even bother to ask why seniority serves as the teacher’s First Amendment. It is the best single protection that teachers will be able to express their professional judgments, thus protecting students from reckless educational experiments. 

The Star Tribune’s Steve Brandt, in Poorest Minneapolis Schools Still Have the Greenest Teachers, explains how ending the “iron grip” of seniority backfired. (Hat tip to Sarah Lahm and Edushyster.) Brandt reports that a “Star Tribune analysis of teacher experience data by school found that, if anything, the experience gap between high- and low-poverty schools has widened” since so-called LIFO was ended. Six years ago, under the seniority system, the gap between average teaching experience at the highest- and lowest-seniority schools analyzed was 14 years, but it is now 15 years. The pattern is still, "poverty up, experience down."

Brandt describes inexperienced principals of high-poverty schools being stuck with even more inexperienced teachers. For instance, a second year principal finds herself with seventeen of her 31 of her teachers being probationary.

Continue reading "Thompson: How Seniority Reform Backfired In Minneapolis" »

Charts: Teachers' Incomes Exceed Childhood Income [Slightly]*

image from d1435t697bgi2o.cloudfront.netTeachers generally come from families near the 60th percentile making $60,000 a year, and end up in a somewhat higher percentile making somewhat more, according to this chart from Planet Money.  But other occupations (like artists) generally come from higher income strata and make less than their parents. Pacific Standard: The Not-So-Surprising Way Your Parents’ Income Predicts Yours) [*Corrected percentiles not dollar amounts]

Afternoon Video: EdTech Frenzy But Business Models Unclear

Bloomberg video from last week about the potential and pitfalls of selling edtech to schools. Via RCE. "Bloomberg’s Ari Levy looks into who’s backing education tech startups. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)"

Research: Minority Students Get Less Experienced/Less Effective Teachers

image from i.huffpost.com In Louisiana,“a student in a school in the highest-poverty quartile is almost three times as likely to be taught by a teacher rated ineffective as a student in a school in the lowest-poverty quartile.” In MA, students in high-poverty schools are three times as likely to be taught by a teacher rated "unsatisfactory" than students in low-poverty schools, the report notes. (CAP via HuffPost: Minority Students Don't Only Get Less Experienced Teachers, They Also Get Less Effective Ones).

Bruno: Actually, Statisticians Are Cautiously Optimistic About VAM

11442225495_9d9cc1cbc4_nIt's always nice when experts come together to help to articulate and clarify whatever scientific consensus exists around an issue, so I was glad to see the American Statistical Association put out a report last week on the promise and peril of value-added modeling of educational effectiveness.

Interestingly, however, if you were to hear about this report only from the staunchest, most ideological opponents of VAM, you would think it says something else entirely. Valerie Strauss, for instance, claims the report "slammed" the use of VAM to evaluate teachers and Diane Ravitch seems to think it is a "damning indictment" of such policies.

The report itself is not nearly so hyperbolic.

For a useful summary check out Stephen Sawchuk, but the report itself is a mere seven accessible pages so I encourage you read it yourself.

The bottom line for the ASA is that they are optimistic about the use of "statistical methodology" to improve and evaluate educational interventions, but current value-added models have many limitations that make them difficult to interpret and apply, especially when evaluating individual teachers.

Continue reading "Bruno: Actually, Statisticians Are Cautiously Optimistic About VAM" »

Charts: Juking The Stats In Chicago (Again)

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 12.20.05 PMChicago Magazine's latest story about the precipitous drop in homicide stats during 2013 is alarming for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the realization that it's pretty easy to juke crime statistics without generating much attention (and if it's easy to reclassify murders as natural deaths then you can only imagine what's going on or at least possible when it comes to school stats).  

The other reason, of course, is that the effort to reduce crime in Chicago came in large part from student deaths like Hadiya Pendleton, and there are some students involved in The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates, including a Harold Washington College student named Michelle Manalansan.

Read the story and let us know what you think.  Then go back and read the related story:  Even the Data Have a Bias. Cross-posted from D299.

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Visits P-Tech High

 

From last night's broadcast: "Why six years of high school might pay off in the workforce Hari Sreenivasan tells the story of Pathways in Technology Early College High School"

Morning Video: First Lady's Alma Mater Featured In New Documentary

 

This trailer describes both the history of the school itself and the stunning inadequacy of supply of seats given the talent and the demand.  Via CPS Obsessed.

#EdGif Of The Day: How Do You Fix A School System Whose Middle Class Is Disappearing?

IncSegGIF

Some cities like DC and Chicago and NYC are way more appealing than they used to be and gentrifying like mad despite the Great Recession, but that doesn't mean the middle class is coming back. Here's a GIF showing the disappearance of the middle class (in grey) since 1970 in Chicago, which has resulted in a highly segregated, extremely unequal city (and a public school system that is overwhelmingly poor and minority). Read some coverage here and here. The spreading green shape represents the affluent.

Evaluation: A Revolt Against The "Randomistas"?

Flickr Meghan Carnavalet In These TimesAre you an unapologetic "randomista" -- an advocate of randomized controlled trials as a way to mesure the impact of social interventions -- or do you dare to consider some of the drawbacks behind what's commonly called the "gold standard" for evaluations in edreform circles? This recent Slate article by Joshua Keating might help you decide: Randomized controlled trials: Do they work for economic development?.

RCTs are increasingly popular with the public and policymakers -- with TED Talks and New Yorker profiles -- but also expensive and difficult to implement, strip away key contextual information, and lack generalizability. They're also over-adored by politicians and journalists. "Media and policymakers tend to overstate the conclusions of randomized controlled trials," according to Keating.

The piece focuses on evaluation of international development but also contains an interesting story about randomized trials in education improvement efforts in education. Specifically, it tells the story of an attempt to figure out whether more textbooks or other interventions worked best in improving education outcomes. It turned out they didn't.  Better teaching strategies and health care did. Other examples cited in the piece include one that found school uniforms helped prevent teen pregnancy more than sex ed. Very Malcolm Gladwell.

I don't personally believe that research can prove things in social sciences, in part because of evaluation limitations (and time delays, etc.) but also because of the tendence of people to disbelieve research findings that don't comport with their beliefs.  If something's proven but the proof isn't accepted widely, then -- for a time at least -- the issue remains unsettled in the public debate.  That's why my research category on this site is titled (Who Cares What) Research says.  I feel a bit anti-intellectual in writing that, but I only mean to be pragmatic.

Image via Flickr.

 

Morning Video: White House Pushes Tech Solutions

 

Here's a clip from Politico's edtech event yesterday, featuring Kumar Garg from the OSTP. Full video here. Story link here.

 

Charts: How About "New Jersey Is The New Finland"?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comOver at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum suggests that we might be better off comparing our schools to New Jersey or even Massachusetts (Is it Time to Replace the Cult of Finland With the Cult of New Jersey?) and considers some tough cultural questions about why observers point to Finland instead of Shanghai (no, it's not about the sample).

Afternoon Video: Detroit Career Tech School Teaches Flying

"Devote three minutes to watching this, and see if it doesn't affect your view of the innovation and commitment underway in places or systems usually written off as struggling or troubled," writes The Atlantic's James Fallows about Davis Aerospace (A High School That Teaches Students to Fly).

EdTech: Startups On Track To Raise $2B Despite Challenges

HiresWhat's super-hard to pull off but really attractive to venture capitalists? Edtech, apparently. 

Creating and sustaining a successful startup is not nearly as easy as it may look, as described recently in EdWeek, focusing on Edthena & Autism Expressed. 

And yet, edtech startups raised over $500M in just the first quarter of 20014, according to TechCrunch, which mentions AltSchool, Schoology,as well as TeachersPayTeachers.

Image courtesy TechChrunch.

Quotes: There Will Be Glitches

Quotes2Will there be glitches? Absolutely, in fact one reason for administering a field test is to figure out where the bugs are, so we have time to work them out before the actual tests next year. -- CCSSO's Chris Minnich in HuffPost (A Big Step Toward a Worthy Goal)

Pretty Charts: Principals Don't Spend Much Time On Instruction

image from www.edweek.orgTotal instructional time: less than 13 percent, according to this Education Week story.  

 

Bruno: The Homework Dilemma From A Teacher's Point of View

image from paulbruno1.typepad.comWe seem to have arrived at another peak in the HAC [Homework Angst Cycle], with much hand-wringing about whether kids these days are over-burdened or under-challenged by homework.

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.

Continue reading "Bruno: The Homework Dilemma From A Teacher's Point of View" »

Charts: Outside Fundraising Undercuts School Equity In SF (& Elsewhere)

image from edsource.org

Reform critics like to highlight outside fundraising as a charter-only issue, but  this chart and article from EdSource Today shows that private fundraising is a major equity issue among district schools in SF (and by all accounts in other cities as well). 
 

Teachers: Hey, That Older Dude Doesn't *Look* Very TFA

Unnamed (6)Tucked in at the end of Motoko Rich's recent NYT story about career-switching teachers (Teaching as a Second Act, or Maybe Even a Third) was mention of military veteran Scott Graham, 49, who initially "laughed when his daughter, then a Teach for America corps member in San Antonio, suggested he try [TFA], too."

After he was done laughing, however, Graham applied, got in, and was sent to Houston for training just like everyone else.  Now he works in a San Antonio middle school and is training to become an administrator.

That's Graham with his daughter, pictured (courtesy TFA). You can read a blog post he wrote a couple of years ago, and another written by his daughter here

Media: Education Journalists In Fellowship Limbo Until May?

image from www.journalism.columbia.eduThe Spencer education journalism advisory board met on Monday to pick the next year's three fellows but the applicants --I know who got in but am holding off on saying for some reason-- are most of them still in the dark about whether they got the nod or not and the Columbia journalism school can't announce winners for another few weeks.  

Why the delay?  Two of the three top picks for the Spencer also applied for other prestigious journalism fellowships (Nieman, Knight, etc.), whose notification timelines could stretch as late as May. 

These fellowships -- as well as the New America program -- all serve slightly different purposes. I'm partial to the Spencer for many reasons, including that it is focused on education journalism in particular and also encourages the stream of long-form education writing that's come out in recent years.

If either of the two top picks gets into one of these other programs and decides to decline the Spencer, then one of the alternates would get a spot.  (That's what happened the first year, when I got a spot after Stephanie Banchero went off to Palo Alto for the year.  I think that it's happened at least a couple of times since then.)

A month of waiting seems wasteful and nerve-wracking.  Wouldn't it be nice if Michigan, Stanford, and Columbia could coordinate so that this doesn't happen?  I mean, if charter and district schools can coordinate application deadlines and forms in some places -- and colleges can agree on some sort of window for letting students know -- then so should a handful of journalism fellowship programs.

Meantime, congrats to the folks who got picked for next year, and no hard feelings if you decide to go to Ann Arbor or Palo Alto instead of Manhattan. Someone else will happily take your place. 

Previous posts: What's Next For The Spencer Fellowship?New Spencer Fellows, New Research TopicsSpencer Fellow Gets Big Book DealNew America Fellow Writing Book On "Future Of Testing".

People: Young Joins GreatSchools [Plus Unsolicited Advice]

image from m.c.lnkd.licdn.comMeet 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? 

Previous posts: Was Bloomberg Article Fair To Bullis Charter?Is GreatSchools Helping, Or Hurting? A Yelp (Or Facebook) For Schools?New NYT-WNYC Site [SchoolBook] To Cover New York City

Afternoon Video: MSNBC Covers Suspended Preschoolers Study (Sort Of)

It wasn't Rachel Maddow (who rarely books education segments) or even Chris Hayes (somewhat more frequent) but rather newbie Ronan Farrow (son of Mia) who got the job of covering last week's big disparate discipline & teaching experience study.

Charts: Education Majors Make Top 20 Money-Losing Schools List

Yikes! Getting an education degree from a place like Virginia Commonwealth or Bowling Green State University isn't a good idea, earnings-wise, according to this chart from The Atlantic based on self-reported earnings published yesterday by an outfit called PayScale. Even big-name schools like Indiana and Ohio State are on the list.  Read the story for cautions and caveats in interpreting the data (including colleges' impacts on student outcomes). There are also charts about colleges and degrees with the highest impact on earnings (none of them are education degrees, obv.).

Afternoon Video: Can Home Visits & Portable Gadgets Help Close The Word Gap?

This video from Motoko Rich's NYT home visits story today shows a cloud-based device that tracks word use at home.

People: Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education Guy

image from newamerica.netI had the chance to meet New America's Conor Williams the other day, during a reporting trip he took to Brooklyn.  (For the record, the Tea Lounge on Union Street is still there and doesn't smell as bad as it used to.)

He's got the tweed jacket professor thing down, though he's only been at New America for about a year and came to them pretty much straight from grad school.  

Since then, he's been writing up a storm: You probably saw his recent post at The Atlantic (What Applying to Charter Schools Showed Me About Inequality“). Or maybe it was this one from the Daily Beast (The Charter School Trap).  He also writes for the Talking Points Memo (Why Doesn’t English Language Learning Have The Same Cachet As Pre-K?).

But his writing goes back well before his current stint at New America.  You may remember him being mentioned here in the past, going all the way back to 2011: "One of the most frustrating things about the current education reform wars is the cults that form around dominant personalities." (Twilight for Education Policy's Idols). Or: "Want to hear that you hate teachers? Claim that those that do their jobs poorly should be dismissed... Want to hear that you don't care about students? Claim that poverty might be a factor worth considering for educators working with low-income students." (Ending the Education War).

More recently, on reform critics: "They need a message that goes beyond critiquing reformers and defending the miserable status quo." (The Charter School Trap)

Increasingly, his writing mixes policy, journalism, and personal narrative (Why Men Shouldn’t Wait to Have Kids). But he can go deep when the need arises; he's got a Phd in political science (take that, all you MPPs!). He's a dad, and he has some classroom experience, too. (He's a TFA alum, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from his writing.) Image courtesy New America.  Tweet him at @ConorPWilliams. Personal blog here.

Maps: Scared, Or Not So Scared By This Creationism Map?

Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 1.36.14 PM

This map showing where Creationism might be taught using public voucher funds at private schools should scare you, because it's so dark and scary-looking.  Or, perhaps it will remind you of the worst cell phone coverage map ever, and you will resist being scared by the people who are (and want you to be ) scared. PS This is where Politico's Stephanie Simon apparently got much of her recent story.

Quotes: Lay Off Those Local Assessments, Says NY State Superintendent

Quotes2It is our hope that as you, your principals and teachers get more comfortable with the new state assessments, you will reduce local standardized testing or test prep programs and dedicate as much learning time as possible to providing a well-rounded curriculum that meets our highest expectations of a great education. -- John King (King urges districts to pull back on local testing ChalkbeatNY)

People: Big Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]

Flickr albastrica mititicaLongtime education guru Cynthia Brown -- I first met her when she was at the state chiefs (CCSSO) -- is now listed as a Senior Fellow at the Center on American Progress.  She's cutting back on her work time, she says via email.  Meantime, former Kennedy and Duncan staffer Carmel Martin is VP for policy, overseeing education and other policy areas. Which means that CAP needs a new Vice President, Education Policy. Could be an interesting gig, considering CAP's prominence and presumed role in supporting the Clinton Democratic campaign for President in 2016.  Or, alternately, could be a tough spot given Martin's connections on the Hill and in the White House.  Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: De Blasio Says NYC System "Broken In So Many Ways"

"We need to be able to say, that despite the good efforts of so many, the school system is still broken in so many ways," admitted de Blasio according to a Gothamist roundup of coverage (De Blasio Doesn't Totally Hate Charter Schools, Okay?) "Our brothers and sisters in the charter movement point to this reality. And I acknowledge that many people of good will in that movement are trying to shake the foundation. And we will work with them in good faith. But we need to work on solutions for the whole."

Afternoon Listen: Latest Common Core Shifts Challenge For Teachers

20140324_atc_indiana_cuts_the_core_without_telling_teachers_what_comes_next

 

Here's today's NPR All Things Considered segment on the Common Core turnaround in Indiana, which infuses the political debate with real-world practical considerations. Reported by Elle Moxley of WFIU.

Charts: Vouchers Coming Back (Should You Be Alarmed?)

image from images.politico.comFourteen 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.  

Morning Video: "Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"

Here's PBS NewsHour's coverage of the big Office of Civil Rights report (first in 15 years, apparently) that came out on Friday, plus an online explainer. The segment features USDE's Catherine Lhamon and doesn't mention differences in patterns by type of school.

Charts: Public Schools' Discipline & Teacher Quality Problems

image from images.politico.comYou might have been told that charter schools were the only kinds of schools that struggled to provide a equitable, quality education to everyone, but this new discipline and teacher quality data suggests that the problem is much more widespread. Via Politico

AM News: Minority Students Receive Tougher Discipline,Weaker Teaching

School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines NYT: Racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school and be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience, according data released by the Department of Education.

American Schools Are STILL Racist, Government Report Finds HuffPost: Most minority students and English language learners are stuck in schools with the most new teachers. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.

Bleak picture for minority kids in public schools USA Today: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, left, speaks after a roundtable discussion at Family Source Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Duncan's visit aimed to highlight excellence in education and the importance of community involvement and support.

Black Students Less Likely to Be Taught By Certified Teachers, Ed. Dept. Data Show TeacherBeat: Students of color are more often taught by unqualified, inexperienced, and lesser-paid teachers, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Maryland and DC schools to begin field-testing new Common Core exams next ... Washington Post: Tens of thousands of students in Maryland and the District are slated to log on to computers this spring to take practice versions of a new standardized test, exams meant to gauge their performance

New Schools Squad Will Try to Broker Peace WNYC: Starting within the next two weeks, the first protocol that we're putting in place is that schools will not be fighting each other in a building," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told the City Council's education committee Thursday. She said the D.O.E will be sending "campus squads" to settle questions such as who gets what room on what floor in a shared school, and how to use the rooms.

'Horndog High' teachers fired after sexy romp get their jobs back: court NYDN: A Manhattan appeals court ruled language teachers Alina Brito and Cindy Mauro can have their jobs back at James Madison High School in Midwood, Brooklyn, because the pair has ‘unblemished’ discipline records and had a ‘lapse in judgment’ on the day in question.

Afternoon Video: A New Kind Of Playground Encourages Risk-Taking

 

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.

Inspiration: Let Actor Kevin Spacey Get You Fired Up

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 3.18.18 PMYou don't have to know or like actor Kevin Spacey or his current political thriller, "House of Cards" to appreciate this speech he gave about creativity, teaching, innovation, and much more ('A Sense of Total Abandon').  

In the transcript of this 2013 speech, Spacey -- not known for playing nurturing characters -- credits a drama teacher who saw potential in him for directing him towards an acting workshop and a long-running mentorship with Jack Lemmon. He also talks about the efforts he made as head of the Old Vic theater to do school and community outreach to give kids a creative outlet in acting.

Most of all, he talks about finding and cultivating a sense of "abandon" and creative energy, which is appropriate for teachers, parents, innovators, and entrepreneurs. 

Image via Byliner.

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