About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Thompson: Project Fatherhood

978-080701452-3When writing her excellent Project Fatherhood, the UCLA gang expert Jorja Leap exposed herself to a daunting risk. Leap accepted a degree of physical danger but it was the professional risk that could have been intimidating. Leap defied academic convention and spoke honestly about race, family, child-rearing, domestic abuse and, even, the “P-stuff” or post-traumatic shock.

Much of the credit for Project Fatherhood’s open and candid discussion of some of the 3rd rails of social policy must go to “Big Mike” Cummings, who guided her and the quest they shared with felons and fathers in Watts. Big Mike was exceptionally astute in coaxing the project’s participants into an honest appraisal of the causes and the effects of domestic abuse, as well as fathers not holding up their share of family responsibilities.

Scholars and educators often shy away from the issues tackled by Leap and Big Mike, and correctly argue that it is not just fathers - of whatever backgrounds - who have failed our kids. The horrific conditions of the inner city are a legacy of history, of economic exploitation and oppression, and of abusive political and criminal justice systems.  It is often feared that a conversation about child-rearing will be seen as “blaming the victim” or excuse-making.

We cannot improve inner city schools without building trusting relationships, however, and neither can we establish those bonds with students and patrons without dialogues about fatherhood. As Leap writes, “These men – who routinely used guns and dealt drugs and brutalized women and went to prison and had no clue how to father their own children – needed first to be fathered themselves.”

One of the first things that an inner city teacher seeking to build relationships should learn is that students will test them. It should be clear that much of the chronic disorder of urban classrooms is due to high-risk kids acting out their pain. A crucial reason is less obvious, however, and it is made much more understandable by the chapter entitled “Are You Gonna Leave Us, Too?” Teachers aren’t being tested to see if we are tough enough; students, like their fathers before them, want to see whether mentors are “for real.” These fathers also doubt whether outsiders, who may seek to do good, will care enough to stick it out when the going gets rough.

Continue reading "Thompson: Project Fatherhood" »

Numbers: $831 Billion #BTS15

image from www.emarketer.com
Marketing research company eMarketer estimates that US retail back-to-school season sales will reach $831.33 billion in the months of July and August this year, "up 4.6% year over year and representing 17.3% of full-year retail sales." (Students Stuff Backpacks with Tech for Back-to-School)

Morning Video: Christie Swipes At Teachers Unions (Again), Missouri District Tries Integration (Again)

Here's Chris Christie's now-obligatory slap at the teachers unions from CNN.

But you really should spend your time listening to This American Life's latest podcast, about an unlikely and unexpected school integration experiment in Missouri. Streaming and download versions here.

 

Charts: Time To Rethink [Teacher] Licensing?

Kjgkjgjh

"Today, more than a quarter of American workers need a license to do their job, representing a fivefold increase relative to the 1950s," according to this recent Vox article. That's no surprise to anyone in education. We take licensing for granted. This chart has it coming in 3rd, after only health care and law, at about 60 percent of workers participating. However, licensing isn't all good. According to a new White House report, licensing can lead to higher prices for services & reduced opportunity for individuals (in the form of barriers to entry into a profession and the threat of license revocations based on student loan defaults in some states). Vox recommends state-level license review agencies and -- hah! -- bipartisan work at the federal level.  

Related posts:  19 States Adopting Tougher Licensing (2010); Helping New Teachers With The First Days Of School (Bruno).

Quotes: Defiance Or ADHD? Depends What Color The Kid Is

Quotes2White kids tend to get viewed as having ADHD, or having some sort of behavioral problem. Black kids are viewed as being unruly and unwilling to learn.

-- David Ramey, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State, quoted in Daily Beast via Vox (How schools push black students to the criminal justice system)

Charts: Together, AIR & Pearson Have 27 State Testing Contracts

GfshfsVia RealClear Education. Click here for interactive version.

Morning Video: Let's Talk About Segregated Housing & Segregated Schools

Click "play" on this recent panel featuring TCF fellows Stefanie DeLuca and Halley Potter and L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy of CUNY discussing the nexus of race, housing, and education in America. 

According to TCF's Potter, "segregation in housing and schools are intimately linked, and that we need to consider strategies that address both problems." She also notes that integrating schools doesn't really go far enough if classrooms aren't integrated, too, and choice alone isn't probably enough without equitable access to information and other supports. 

Maps: Handful Of States Like Indiana & Missouri Where Common Core/Testing Is Hotly Debated

Sdfgdfsgdfsgdfs"The landscape hasn’t changed drastically since the winter, as most of the Common Core climate has shifted more politically than legislatively. That, however, could change we enter election season and are faced with possible new implications in an NCLB rewrite, and as states reassess testing contracts and consider new legislation." (Where the Standards Stand- RealClear Education). Click the link for the interactive version (couldn't get it to embed properly).

Morning Video: Black Students More Likely to Receive "Stigmatizing" SPED Labels

"The data shows that black students are often times two or three times more likely than white students to be identified, especially in the most stigmatizing categories such as emotional disturbance, mental retardation or intellectual disabilities and some other categories," said Daniel Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies. "They are underrepresented in categories like autism, and perhaps other categories like speech and language." (The Complicated Problem Of Race And Special Education.)

Charts: How Gerrymandered Attendance Zones Reinforce Segregation

37boundary-c1Here's a chart comparing actual Loudoun County (VA) attendance zones to model zones that balance student demographics as much as possible and aren't "gerrymandered" in ways that exclude certain groups. Via EdWeek (New Tool Maps School Attendance Zones). Used with permission. Credit Teachers College Record.

Thompson: Chris Barbic's Resignation & the Failure of School "Reform"

In 2009 and 2010, the contemporary school reform movement became the dog that caught the bus it was chasing. The Obama administration funded the entire corporate reform agenda. The wish list of market-driven reformers, test-driven reformers, and even the most ideological anti-union, teacher-bashers, became the law (in part or in totality) in 3/4ths of the states. Due to the Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, and other innovations, competition-driven reformers, and corporate reform think tanks were granted the contracts that they claimed would reverse the effects of poverty. 

Now, ideology-driven reformers are supposed to be announcing the increases in student performance that their gold-plated reforms promised. Instead, across the nation, outcome-driven reformers are delivering excuses about their experiments’ disappointing results. Some are completely contradicting themselves, as they announce gains in graduation rates that are attributable to more counselors and student supports. Accountability hawks conveniently forget that they previously derided those old-fashioned, input-driven programs as artifacts of the education “status quo,” and its “low expectations.”

Some defeated reformers, like Michelle Rhee and Cami Anderson, remain blunt in blaming teachers and persons who disagree with them for the failure of schools that accept every student who walks in the door to produce significant gains. Others, like Kaya Henderson and the true believers in the New Orleans portfolio model, predict that early education and wraparound services will turn the toughest schools around. In doing so, these reformers forget how they previously condemned advocates of those policies as the problem.

Perhaps the most interesting spin was issued by Chris Barbic  when he resigned as the superintendent of the Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD). Chalkbeat Tennessee’s Daarel Burnette, in Chris Barbic, Founding Superintendent of State-Run Achievement School District, to Exit, explains that “Tennessee used more than 10 percent of its $500 million windfall in federal education funds to launch the ASD. Those funds, which arrived through the Race to the Top competition to spur education policy changes, have now disappeared.” Moreover, the legislature has made a number of efforts to shift gears away from Barbic’s and the ASD’s approach to school improvement.

Continue reading "Thompson: Chris Barbic's Resignation & the Failure of School "Reform"" »

Quotes: Your School Attendance Boundaries Are Gerrymandered

Quotes2Everybody’s concerned about political gerrymandering, but nobody really blinks an eye at gerrymandered school districts.

-- SMU Professor Meredith Richards, quoted in Edweek (New Tool Maps School Attendance Zones)

Maps: All But 8 States Have NCLB Waivers Now

image from s3.amazonaws.com

In a piece titled Why No Child Left Behind must be fixed, in one map, the Washington Examiner (I know) notes that the waiver system we're operating under currently (thanks, Arne Duncan) has more strings than NCLB or its likely successor. 

Morning Videos: Teacher Heroes, White People, Bluetooth Teacher Coaching

Gov. Jindal praises heroic teachers - via Washington Post. Or, here's a new MTV documentary called "White People" by (undocumented) documentary filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas in which young folks talk about what it's like being white. Read about it here in NY Mag:

 

Are folks doing this with white educators, I hope? Please fill me in. 

Or, watch KIPP's Dave Levin talk about the now-controversial program in which teachers are given instructions/ideas via earbud to help improve classroom teaching:

Via Washington Post / Valerie Strauss

Charts: Who's Running All Those Charter Schools?

Presentation1

I don't know if it's been vetted by NAPCS or NACSA or anyone else yet, but Bruce Baker's maps and charts showing Who’s actually running America’s charter schools are pretty interesting to look at, and give a good sense of how narrow the conversation about charters can get given the distribution of providers/operators out there. 

Books: Hey, Leave Those Low-Scoring High Schools Alone!

 
It tells the story of Mission High, which has apparently enjoyed great success despite challenging circumstances -- including the possibility of being closed thanks (indirectly) to federal education law focused narrowly on test scores rather than other metrics:


"Based on four years of reporting with unprecedented access, the unforgettable, intimate stories in these pages throw open the doors to America’s most talked about—and arguably least understood—public school classrooms where the largely invisible voices of our smart, resilient students and their committed educators can offer a clear and hopeful blueprint for what it takes to help all students succeed."

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven't read the book yet, but longtime readers may recall that I critiqued the Mother Jones article Rizga wrote and the accompanying KQED feature that ran in 2012.
 
At that time, I wrote a post titled Everything You Read In That Mother Jones Article Is Wrong that praised Rizga for her writing but not for her fairness in terms of characterizing federal efforts to encourage districts to revamp schools that didn't appear to be doing well by students. I also suggested that Mission High might be something of an outlier, in terms of the apparent mismatch between test scores and other measures.
 
For the new book, there are blurbs from Dave Eggers, Jeff Chang, Dana Goldstein, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and LynNell Hancock. The book officially launches August 15.

Morning Video: New Teachers, Job Prospects, Minority Retention

Here's last night's PBS NewsHour segment on teacher supply and demand, which describes how 200,000 newly-minted teacher education graduates might fare in the job marketplace. (The piece quotes the 40 percent/5 year departure statistic we've long seen for new teachers, though I thought that new research suggested that number might not be as high as we've been told.)

"If and when they do get hired, chances are at least 40 percent of them will leave teaching in the first five years. "

According to Ingersoll, the profession has become even more female-dominated, and minority teachers have doubled but have higher quit rates (largely due to the kinds of schools and districts into which they are hired).

AM News: White House School Discipline Summit, Plus Free Online AP Lessons

White House Hosts School Discipline Summit PK12: The department's civil rights data collection shows that more than 3 million students are suspended or expelled each year (including 4-year-olds). See also Washington PostHuffPost.

Education Groups to Leaders in Congress: Get ESEA Rewrite Over Finish Line PK12: Begin conferencing the House and Senate ESEA bills now, said 10 major education groups in a letter sent Wednesday.

As states drop out of PARCC’s Common Core test, faithful carry on Washington Post: The tests from PARCC — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — has come under fire for its length, for its technical glitches and for efforts by its test publisher, Pearson, to crack down on cheating via social media.

Teachers' union gets schooled for violating campaign law Philly.com: The union was flagged for giving a $11,500 donation to its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers - Pennsylvania Chapter, whose political committee on March 9 wrote a check for that amount to Gym's campaign.

The new frontier for Advanced Placement: Online AP lessons, for free Washington Post: First came MOOCs, or massive open online courses. Now there are MOOLs -- massive open online lessons -- to help high schools teach some of the toughest AP topics.

Issue of collective bargaining threatens California evaluation reform EdSource Today: Democratic leaders’ efforts to rewrite the state’s teacher evaluation law have stalled over the same disagreement that upended the last big push in the Legislature three years ago: stark differences in who gets to decide what goes into an evaluation.

From an ‘Undocumented’ Boyhood to a Doctorate NYT: A new memoir hopes to further the debate on immigration policy.

A Geek Speaks Out Against Tech WNYC: Computer scientist Kentaro Toyama used to use tech to help the poor around he world. But slowly, he started believing it wasn't the answer. He explains why tech isn't doing much to educate the underprivileged or spur social change.

74 percent of high school students failed Algebra 1 final in a Md. district Washington Post: The exam results were better than they were last year, but failure rates remain steep for Montgomery Co.

Parent petition results in Prescott School new principal LA School Report: A wave of angry complaints by parents of students at a small elementary school has succeeded in convincing LA Unified to replace a principal whom the parents described as unfit for the job.

Report: Mass. Schools Bans On Junk Food Are Working Boston Learning Lab: The Northeastern study compared thousands of food and beverage options available in about 75 middle schools and high schools over a one-year period, before and after the standards took effect.

Calendar: Which States' Test Score Results Come Out When

Calendar
When are those Common Core test results coming back?  

Some have already come out, at least preliminarily. Think Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Others according to this **unofficial & unverified** cheat sheet are:

7/15 MT

7/31 WI

August VT, ID, WA, SD, NV, DE, ME, CA

September HI, ND, OR, NH

Oct-Nov MO & MI

Note that PARCC states will all come out at about the same time in October or November, based on cut scores that are being set over the summer.

Note also/again that these dates are unverified by me, so you should confirm them if it's really important to you.

Thompson: Rick Hess's (& My) Lessons from Race to the Top

Some academics persist in a strange ritual - gauging greatness by the effects that government office holders have on the political process, as opposed to the results of their policies for flesh and blood human beings. Andrew Jackson and Teddy "the Big Stick" Roosevelt have been categorized as "great" because they were so effective in stealing Indians' land and leaping into imperialism. Ronald "the Great Communicator" Reagan gets high marks for the transformative nature of his politics, as the Central American death squads he supported and the destruction of blue collar jobs are forgotten.

Now, some proclaim Arne Duncan as a great transformer because he completely changed the nature of education policy. Those who celebrate Duncan's political victories, like William Howell and Joanne Weiss, remain curiously silent about the possible benefits and the costs of his school improvement experiments.

Fortunately, conservative Rick Hess's contribution to the discussion in Education Next, Lofty Promises but Little Change for America's Schools, offers a real world critique of Duncan's gambles. Hess recounts the results that matter, concluding "the breakthrough wins touted so avidly by Race to the Top enthusiasts in 2010 and 2011 now look much more like pyrrhic victories—shot through with design flaws, tainted by federal compulsion, and compromised by half-hearted follow-through." 

Continue reading "Thompson: Rick Hess's (& My) Lessons from Race to the Top " »

AM News: Nearly 40 Percent Of Black Kids Growing Up In Poverty, Says New Report

The U.S. Is Letting Poor Kids Fall Further and Further Behind in Reading Slate: Break this figure into subgroups and the picture looks even grimmer, with 39 percent of black kids and 33 percent of Hispanic kids in poverty.

See also Bloomberg News: Brain Scans Reveal How Poverty Hurts Children's Brains, AP More U.S. Children Are Living In Poverty Than During The Great Recession, HuffPost The Heartbreaking Physical Toll Of High Achievement Among Disadvantaged Teens.

Teachers May Be Staying In The Classroom Longer Than Expected, Says Study HuffPost: A recent federal study found that a much smaller percentage of beginning teachers leave the field in their first five years on the job than the widely quoted figure of 50 percent. It’s 17 percent, according to the new research.

The declining D.C. school system hired political strategists. It seems to have worked. Washington Post: Last year, consultants trained principals of traditional schools to knock on doors in a direct appeal to families, an effort that continues this summer. Now they are refining their pitch with messages based on the new market research, which included the parent survey, focus groups and polling data, a package that cost the school system $95,000.

The K-12 Record of New GOP Candidate Gov. Kasich PK12: Gov. John Kasich doesn't have the kind of high-profile and polarizing history with public schools that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker can claim. But he has an extensive record. See also ThinkProgress.

How The Big New Education Law Could Cut Testing Time NPR: Marla Kilfoyle is a teacher on Long Island, New York, a center of the opt-out movement, and the general manager of the Badass Teachers Association, a national group that opposes standardized testing. Hundreds of its members will be on Capitol Hill this week lobbying Senators and the Department of Education to halt standardized testing, among other ideas aiming to empower teachers.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Nearly 40 Percent Of Black Kids Growing Up In Poverty, Says New Report" »

Charts: How Much Did That Free Excellent Neighborhood School Cost You?

Screen shot 2015-07-21 at 3.10.01 PM

This Matt Yglesias article and accompanying chart are going around today. In the piece, the Vox honcho makes the case -- too simplistically, according to some like Chalkbeat's Maura Walz -- that the housings costs of homes near high-performing public schools (top right quadrant) make them inaccessible to many middle- and low-income families, and that there are strong disincentives to letting more people live in those areas or dis-connecting school assignment and housing. Chart by Ginger Moored via Vox.

Thompson: Why Did the TNTP Fail to Turn Around a High-Profile Tulsa School?

The Tulsa World’s Andrea Eger, in McClure Elementary School’s “Faculty Restart” Flopped, Educators Say, writes, “Last summer’s ‘faculty restart’ at one of the city’s toughest inner-city schools wasn’t the extraordinary new beginning it was hailed as. Educators and parents say it was a disaster.”

At the beginning of the school year, after replacing 3/4th of the school’s faculty, McClure School Principal Katy Jimenez said, “I have never experienced a vibe and energy like we have right now.” Jimenez said, “The team has come together in an amazing way. My returning teachers gave up their summer to build a team they wanted to be a part of. Their investment is very deep. We are exhausted but so excited.”

The principal borrowed a line from the corporate reform spin-meisters known as the TNTP and praised a second-grade teacher, Paige Schreckengast, as “an irreplaceable.” Ms. Schreckengast was featured the story’s photograph.

The Tulsa Public Schools had partnered with TNTP to help recruit teachers. It should be no surprise to educators familiar with its blood-in-the-eye assaults on veteran teachers that the hiring process was called “very strenuous, focused” and resulted in a staff where 88% had less than three years of experience.

Eger reports that even in this high-profile restart, “two vacancies went unfilled for much of the year because of a lack of applicants.” I’m not surprised by that, however, because many or most of the best teachers have heard the jargon before and many refuse to participate in such restarts because they know that the ideology-driven playbook is likely to fail. Neither am I surprised that “seven teachers bugged out mid-year; and then another seven left at the end of 2014-15.”

The irreplaceable also left.

Now, Tulsa says that the district officials learned from mistakes made in McClure’s faculty restart. The principal, Jimenez, says that she will no longer accept Teach for America candidates. According to Eger, Jimenez is balancing her remaining optimism with “a brutal, unrelenting reality.” The principal says:

I’m not hopeful for any more support this year. I say that because I’ve been in TPS for 13 years, … I don’t think people know what to do for a site like us. If you ask them at the district level, they think they’re giving us plenty of extra help. I don’t have enough students to qualify for an assistant principal, but I have one. I receive two discretionary (teacher) allocations. I have Reading Partners, a full-time therapist from Family and Children’s Services — but it’s still not enough for the day-to-day needs.

-JT (@drjohnthompson)

 

 

Numbers: Uptick In Violent Deaths & Threatened Teacher Reports At School

"According to new federal crime statistics, there were 32 violent deaths at elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. from July 2010 to June 2011 – the smallest number in almost two decades," notes SI&A Cabinet report (Crime stats show troubling trend at nation’s schools). "But the following year ending in June 2012 – the most recent year for which data is available – a total of 45 deaths were recorded."

The report also notes that "the percentage of teachers who said they had been threatened with attack – or actually attacked – by a student  has been slowly increasing since 2003 when less than 4 percent reported being physically attacked and about 6 percent reported being threatened."

I'm sure we'll see other numbers and interpretations of this information over the next few days.

 

Morning Video: Charlie Rose Interviews Ta-Nehesi Coates

 

Here's the full interview from earlier this week, in which Coates talks about growing up and going to school in West Baltimore, and eventually getting to Howard University. I haven't seen or read him talk about in-school experiences (or teachers) who helped or hindered him along the way, but maybe it's out there. Thanks LF for pointing this out to me. 

Or, listen to this Philadelphia piece How a Philly school in a free-fire zone went from lockdown to hopes up. via AnnenbergInst.

Thompson: The Good, Bad, & Ugly of Chicago Grad Rate Improvements

The Atlantic's Kate Grossman, in What Schools Will Do to Keep Students on Track, asks the right questions, draws on some of the world's best social science research, reports on all sides of the key questions, and gives insights into whether Chicago's increase in graduation rates will be sustainable.

Even if I hadn't personally witnessed the benefits of my school's Freshman Team, I would still perk up and listen when a Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) scholar endorses efforts to help students transition into high school, saying “I’ve been arguing against silver bullets my whole career—but this is one.”

Even better, the CCSR has found more evidence of "a direct link between improved freshmen pass rates and dramatically improved graduation rates." Best of all, it studied "20 schools that had early success improving their on-track rates [and] did not find widespread gaming by principals eager to make their schools look good."

If data is used for diagnostic purposes, and real interventions by caring mentors are offered each step of the way in helping students to overcome failure, perhaps the single best approach to school improvement is helping students progress through school. Teachers should be able to "turn to the school’s 'care team,' which finds ways to get kids more intensive help." The team should help students "make up assignments they blew off or didn’t understand," and as long as extensions on deadline aren't "endless," everyone can benefit.

But, what happens when promoting power metrics and graduation rates are incorporated into formal or informal accountability systems?

Continue reading "Thompson: The Good, Bad, & Ugly of Chicago Grad Rate Improvements" »

Safety: At Least 28 Students Seriously Injured By School Police Since 2010

image from www.motherjones.com

"Over the past five years at least 28 students have been seriously injured, and in one case shot to death, by so-called school resource officers—sworn, uniformed police assigned to provide security on K-12 campuses," reports Mother Jones' Jaeah Lee (Chokeholds, Brain Injuries, Beatings: When School Cops Go Bad)

 

Morning Video: AT AFT Conference, Goldstein Compares Reform Efforts To "Moral Panic"

 

Not everyone will go so far as writer Dana Goldstein does here, comparing the current school reform era to a "moral panic," in a talk given at the AFT's TEACH15, but it's still a useful and interesting talk from earlier this week. You can also watch segments featuring Jose Vilson, Wes Moore, David Kirp, and WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza.

Charts: Expressions Of Concern Over Education Diminishing (Somewhat) Among Mayors

Screenshot 2015-07-13 15.27.02

Education ranks #5 in terms of importance to big-city mayors, according to this new analysis passed along from the Washington Post -- down from #4 last year. However, big-city mayors were "much more likely to discuss demographics, economic development, housing and education" than mid-sized mayors or small-city mayors. 

ICYMI: One New Orleans Kid Tries To Graduate

Screenshot 2015-07-13 14.13.09
ICYMI: Danielle Dreilinger's five-part series on education in New Orleans for the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Check them out -- let me know what you think. DJD is on vacation but you can find Twitter reactions at , #nolaed/#LaEd

Maps: These Are The States That Demand The Least Of Their Students

Screenshot 2015-07-10 13.13.56

As Congress considers relieving states from the push to set high, common standards for kids that NCLB never had, NCES comes out with a timely report and HuffPost's Joy Resmovits fills us in: States Still Differ Dramatically In Their Academic Expectations, Study Finds. Peachy orange states set lower standards, forest green states set higher ones. Image used with permission.

Thompson: What Explains the Remaining Support For NCLB Testing?

The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton, in Even As Congress Moves to Strip His Power, Arne Duncan Holds His Ground, begins her portrait of the last days of Arne Duncan with an anecdote documenting the sincerity with which he approached his job as US Secretary of Education. She also writes, "In a town where many like to talk, Duncan is regarded as a good listener. 'Arne is a great sounding board for the president,' said Valerie Jarrett, the president’s close friend and adviser."

It's too bad that Duncan listened so well to the Billionaires' Boys Club and ignored the professional judgments of teachers and education researchers. Now, even the Third Way, which seeks education policies consistent with corporate reform has to admit, “The question is not whether we’re going to put handcuffs on Arne Duncan,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky of Third Way, a centrist think tank. “The question is how many handcuffs.”

One top education expert, Jack Jennings, concludes in regard to Duncan's policies, “The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement, ... They also did considerable harm.”

And that is the essence of Duncan's competition-driven reform and its test, sort, and punish approach to education. Some students may benefit but only at the cost of inflicting harm on other children. 

Its ironic that the market-driven movement - that still pretends it is a civil rights movement - is going out with such an ignominious whimper. Output-driven reform not only damaged poor children of color by treating them as test scores, it has undermined liberals and Democrats who seek a larger agenda of equity and justice. So, a crucial short term battle is the civil war between progressives, with teachers determined to prevent Hillary Clinton (or anyone else) from repeating Arne Duncan's agenda.

Continue reading "Thompson: What Explains the Remaining Support For NCLB Testing?" »

Maps: Now You Can Compare Des Moines' Grad Rate To Detroit's (If You Dare)

GrrateI was hesitant to share last week's Hechinger Report map showing graduation rates from almost every school district given all the things we'd learned about grad rate reporting from the recent NPR Grads series.

A new piece from Chicago's Kate Grossman documents attendance rigging, mislabeled dropouts, and grading policy changes that are goosing the numbers in Chicago to some extent - though the overall improvement seems genuine.

But in the intervening days have been reassured somewhat that the data are good enough to compare districts in some sort of meaningful way.

Click the link, but be careful!

Quotes: Duncan Policies = "Minimum Improvement... Considerable Harm"

Quotes2The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement. They also did considerable harm. -- Jack Jennings in Washington Post profile of Arne Duncan (Even as Congress moves to strip his power, Arne Duncan holds his ground)

AM News: Accountability Divide Behind ESEA Reauthorization Push

Day One of Senate ESEA Debate: Rift Over Accountability Grows PK12: Below the surface of pleasantries and backslapping, a policy split continues to grow over whether to beef up accountability provisions in the bill to overhaul the education law. See also HuffPost, AP, NPR, Washington Examiner, Washington Post.

Conservatives likely to lose education reform battle in Congress Washington Examiner: But the amendments aren't likely to make it into law, and the underlying House bill will likely be pushed to the left by House and Senate leaders eager to move the bill out of Congress and onto the president's desk for signature.

PARCC test pros and cons debated at Massachusetts Board of Education hearing Mass Live: More than 100 people, most of them educators, attended the public hearing at Springfield Technical Community College. Some shared overall concerns about excessive testing and others argued the PARCC test is needed to ensure children are prepared for the future. See also Modesto Bee.

Texas Textbooks And Teaching The Civil War And America's History Of Racial Segregation WAMU: This fall five million public school students in Texas will use textbooks that critics say misrepresent the Civil War and the nation's history of racial segregation. The battle over how the Civil War is taught in public schools. See also Slate

Ken Wagner, top state ed deputy, a finalist for Rhode Island ed chief job Chalkbeat: Wagner has effectively helmed the department alongside acting Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin over the first half of 2015 after John King’s departure last year. Wagner would be the latest in a string of state education officials to leave over the last year, which has been marked by tumult over education policies and the end of the state’s Race to the Top funding, as well as the choice of new Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who started Monday.

Rahm Emanuel on Budget Cuts and Teacher Layoffs The Atlantic: At an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday, Emanuel was defiant. “Everybody’s going to hate what they’ve got to do,” he said. But the budget arrangement is “what we call a grand bargain, or a fair deal.” Emanuel made it clear that he harbors no love for the education-reform movement. For example, he said, the common debate that pits public schools versus charters is “nuts.” “I am not an education reformer,” he said. “My job as mayor is to make sure you have quality.”

Marco Rubio’s Education Plans Echo Some Obama Ideas NYT: Many of the ideas on higher education outlined by Senator Marco Rubio in an economic speech on Tuesday sounded similar to policies that President Obama has called for during his time in office.

On Talking Race to Young Teens, Teachers Say It's Been a Tough Year WNYC: One morning in May, Stephanie Caruso had a question for her seventh graders at West Side Collaborative Middle School. She wanted to know if they’d ever been stopped by police when leaving the Upper West side campus for lunch.

Thompson: Remembering The Full Horror of "Death at an Early Age"

Screenshot 2015-07-07 11.33.30
Thanks to Alexander and NPR's Claudio Sanchez for reminding us of the 50th anniversary of the firing of Jonathan Kozol for "curriculum deviation."

Everyone should (re)read this book. 

Rather than immediately using it to discuss the ways that education and racism has and has not changed in the last half century, we should first focus on the horror of Death at an Early Age.

Kozol was a substitute teacher in a class of 8th grade girls who were designated as "problem students" because they either had "very low intelligence" or were "emotionally disturbed."  In a 133-word sentence, Kozol recalls his reading of Langston Hughes's "The Landlord."

No transistor radios reappeared or were turned on during that next hour and, although some children interrupted me a lot to quiz me about Langston Hughes, where he was born, whether he was rich, whether he was married, and about poetry, and about writers, and writing in general, and a number of other things that struck their fancy, and although it was not a calm or orderly or, above all, disciplined class by traditional definition and there were probably very few minutes in which you would be able to hear a pin drop or hear my reading uninterrupted by the voices of one or another of the girls, at least I did have their attention and they seemed, if anything, to care only too much about the content of that Negro poet's book.

In subsequent years, most of the students forgot the poet's name, but they remembered the names of his poems and "They remember he was Negro."

Kozol was fired, his students' parents protested, and the career of a masterful education writer began. The details of the dismissal, however, are also noteworthy.

Continue reading "Thompson: Remembering The Full Horror of "Death at an Early Age"" »

Charts: Teaching Candidates Come From Less Wealthy Families

Who studies education

This chart from a recent Atlantic story about rich kids studying English seems to be a good reminder that those students who enter teaching as undergraduates tend to come from families with less income than those who study, say, English. I'm not sure if this has changed much in the last 10 years. Anyone know more?

#TBT: A Bold Experiment To Fix Our Schools [Vouchers, 1999]

Embedded image permalink

Check out this 1999 Matt Miller story about vouchers: A Bold Experiment to Fix City Schools. The idea may be dead in name, but another version called ESAs just got approved in Nevada and is allowed in four other states.

Morning Video: Oh, No! A Blue-Haired Teacher Does "Whole-Brained" Teaching

Here's the latest from the PBS NewsHour on "whole-brain" teaching. It involves a teacher in a blue wig (both in front of the students and later doing an interview). Those of us who remember brain-based learning may be cautious about this. Link here just in case (or for the transcript). Let the video keep running and you'll also see a segment about a Seattle high school trying to go "all IB" like some Chicago schools have attempted. 

Quotes: That Giant Sorting Sound

Quotes2You can’t tell me that only kids in high-wealth, white neighborhoods have the ‘college DNA’ — that’s ridiculous... There’s something about how we’re structured that is sorting opportunity.

- Illinois state schools chief Tony Smith in this WBEZ Chicago story Poverty's enduring hold on school success.

Thompson: We Need a Marshall Plan for Schools and Prisons

I grew up in the post-World War II era known as "Pax Americana." We all knew that our ambitious New Deal/Fair Deal era policies, ranging from G.I. Bill to the rebuilding of Europe with the help of the Marshall Plan, were not perfect. But, we knew in our bones that tomorrow would be better than today. Government and social science would both play a role in the campaigns to expand the promise of America to all.

The Marshall Project's Eli Hager, in What Prisons Can Learn from Schools, pulls two incredibly complicated social problems together in a concise and masterful synthesis. Hager's insights are deserving of a detailed analysis. This post will merely take a first step towards an explanation of why Democrats and liberals, especially, must heed his wisdom.

School and prison reform are both deeply rooted in the Reaganism and the lowered horizons of the 1980s. The defeat of the "guns and butter" approach to the Vietnam War demonstrated the limits of our power. The Energy Crisis of 1973, along with a decade and a half of falling or stagnant wages, was somehow blamed on liberalism. The U.S. entered the emerging global marketplace without the confidence that had marked our previous decades, meaning that we were more preoccupied with surviving competition than building community. 

Americans lowered our horizons. As Hager explains, we were loath to tackle the legacies to the "overwhelming unfairnesses of history."  So, we broke off schools and prisons into separate "silos," and sought less expensive solutions for their challenges. We rejected the social science approach to tackling complex and interconnected social problems that were rooted in poverty. Our quest for cheaper and easier solutions would soon coincide with the rise of Big Data as a substitute for peer reviewed research in service to a Great Society.

Continue reading "Thompson: We Need a Marshall Plan for Schools and Prisons" »

Maps: Most States (43) Still On Board With Common Core - But What About Tests?

image from www.edweek.org

Big thanks to EdWeek for this handy dandy map of states and Common Core standards, which shows that most states are still participating in the Common Core state standards.  You might think otherwise from the overheated news coverage this past year.  The map of where states are on tests is the one I really want, though -- and where there's been much more action. Anyone seen a current version of that (or a timetable of when states start getting scores back in July and August)?

Ideas: Turning Schools & Prisons Into a "Production Function"

Screenshot 2015-06-26 14.12.53
"The [schools/prison] problem is a “production function” that needs to be made more efficient, such that it can begin producing smart kids and rehabilitated ex-prisoners on the back end — no matter who comes in the front." -- Eli Hager in The Marshall Project (What Prisons Can Learn From Schools)

 

Numbers: Parents Average 2.4 Minutes Per Day Reading To Kids

"From 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day, and they read to their kids for 2.4 minutes per day (about one picture book’s worth)," according to FiveThirtyEight's look at the American Time Use Survey.

Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?

Let’s recall the excitement in 2007 when Bruce Fuller, Katheryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, and Joseph Wright published Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working?  Fuller et. al showed that NAEP test score growth had largely declined after NCLB took effect, but states reported huge gains on their standardized tests. Oklahoma, for instance, posted a 48 point gap between its 4th grade reading NCLB scores and its NAEP results. After NCLB, the state’s 4th grade reading scores increased 2.3% per year while its NAEP results dropped by .3 per year.

Fuller’s blockbuster was a definitive indictment of the reliability of state NCLB test scores; it even got the test-loving Education Trust to question whether bubble-in accountability was working. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before testing received a unanimous verdict as guilty of being a hopelessly misleading metric. I thought the idea that state test score growth, during an age of test-driven accountability, could stand alone as evidence of increased learning would soon be discredited. 

While I must emphasize how much I admire the work of Douglas Harris, I’m dismayed by one passage in his report on the New Orleans model of reform, The Urban Education of the Future?. I’ve got no problem with Harris et. al reporting that New Orleans increased student performance, as measured by Louisiana’s embarrassingly primitive state tests, by .2 to .45 std. It is a scholar’s responsibility to report such data. However, why would Harris speak as if he assumes that those numbers mean anything? They might mean something or they might not, but certainly they don’t provide evidence that New Orleans portfolio model has increased student performance more than early education would have. 

Even when they are valid, test scores measure a narrow band of skills and knowledge.  They rarely or never reveal what information was retained by a student, or what went into one of a student’s ears and out the other. Neither are NCLB-type test scores likely to say much about whether any alleged learning was meaningful. So, I have been searching for a metaphor to illustrate why test scores, alone, during a time of test-driven accountability, can’t be used to argue that a pedagogy that focuses on raising objective outputs is more effective than early education or any other approach to holistic learning. 

NFL running backs share a lot of athletic skills with their counterparts in rugby. So, what would we say about a quantitative analysis estimating that football halfbacks are .2 to .45 std more effective in racking up the metrics (yardage, scoring etc.) on NFL fields than Australian rugby runners would be in competing in the American game under our rules and referees? Wouldn’t the response be, Well Duh!?

Continue reading "Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?" »

Quotes: Anderson Laments Inadequate Response To Misinformation

Quotes2We were constantly having to repair and undo and clarify facts... It is incredible to me how misinformation gets spread so effectively. Our response to combat that could have been better. We underestimated that.

- Cami Anderson in the NYT (Schools Chief in Newark Says Debate Lost Its Focus)

Quotes: A Call For Blending Kids & Dollars In NYC

Quotes2Unfortunately, in cobbling together different funding sources and different types of preschools, the city has unintentionally reinforced barriers that keep rich and poor children apart, even in economically mixed neighborhoods. -- Clara Hemphill & Halley Potter in the NYT (Let Rich and Poor Learn Together)

Morning Video: Howard Fuller Reflects On #NOLAed

"Some attendees were opponents who questioned the reforms. But far louder was the self-questioning by the very people who championed the changes." (Success at what cost? New Orleans education reformers discuss the revolution via Times Picayune).  Click the link if the video doesn't load. 

Or watch and read all about Icahn Charter in NYC -- second to Success Academy but rarely in the press. Reason via ChalkbeatNY.

AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools

Teachers allege problems at California virtual schools run by Va.-based company K12 Inc. Washington Post: A group of teachers at a network of California virtual schools has alleged a number of problems with the online operator, including inflated enrollment to increase per-pupil funding; violation of student privacy laws; misuse of federal funds meant to serve poor children; and inadequate services for children with disabilities. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Virginia Online High School Pilot Is Ahead of the Curve US News: Come this fall, 100 students from across Virginia will have the chance to participate in the commonwealth's first fully online high school through a pilot program recently announced by state officials. And if the program comes to full fruition after the pilot, it would be the first of its kind in Virginia, and only the second of its kind in the country.

Texas Law Decriminalizes School Truancy AP: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect.

Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States State EdWatch: A Smarter Balanced testing vendor has released completion rates in three states that had serious challenges giving the common-core aligned exam.

When Research Projects Replace State Tests WNYC: ICE is one of 48 [consortium schools] with a waiver from the state to offer alternatives to most of the five Regents tests required to graduate. Students still must take the English exam but for the others they can provide portfolios or special projects. 

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.

Poverty's enduring hold on school success WBEZ Chicago: Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty--2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty—where nearly every child in the school is low-income— has ballooned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools" »

Back & Forth: Reformy Researcher's Mind Boggled By Thompson, NOLA, Me

USC's Morgan Polikoff has a blog post you might want to read, in which he takes on contributor John Thompson's recent critique of the New Orleans school reform model and a recent Washington Monthly article about the last 10 years there.

In large part, Polikoff takes issue with various claims and observations made by Thompson about, for example CREDO as a pro-charter organization: 

Unless by “pro-charter” he means “uses advanced statistical methods and concludes that charters marginally outperform traditional public schools in recent reports but not in earlier reports,” this characterization of CREDO is absurd.

On Thompson's claim that there is no evidence to support claims of progress:

You might argue with those statistics–that they’re based on creaming, or that the poorest of the poor have been driven out of NOLA, or some other critique (though my read of the evidence on this is pretty clear). But they’re not no evidence. They’re actually quite a bit of evidence.... Perhaps it wouldn’t work elsewhere, but it’s not nothing.

On the idea of "withholding judgement" pending further evidence:

If the facts come back that charters are outperforming traditional public schools in New Orleans, you can bet your bottom dollar there won’t be a followup post about how the reforms were right all along.

Last but not least, Polikoff takes aim at the perceived disconnect between Thompson, whose writing according to Polikoff betrays "an agenda that will not change with any amount of research evidence," and my writing here and at The Grade.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.