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Teachers: Poor Leadership, Inflammatory Coverage Diminish Public Perceptions

Veteran Chicago Public Schools teacher and blogger Ray Salazar -- who recently explained why he chose a charter school for one of his children -- now has an interesting take on yesterday's PDK/Gallup poll results on his blog (Three reasons people don’t trust teachers).  

Public trust in teachers is down (along with support for test-based teacher evaluation), notes Salazar. But teachers aren't in charge of how they're perceived, or many of the factors that shape public opinion.

Who or what is?

Ineffective and incoherent leadership at the district level -- including union leadership -- is factor #1, according to Salazar. "Honestly, as I stood on the picket line in 2012, I struggled to articulate why we were striking for the first time in 27 years," remembers Salazar. (Another strike is possible soon.)

Factor #2 is "inflammatory" coverage of the schools, fueled by "mostly white activists, many of whom haven’t taught in our schools," who are quoted as authorities in the media and teachers -- especially minority teachers -- are ignored. Salazar blames the media for focusing on relatively minor flaws in the system -- a front page story about teacher certification -- rather than reporting large-scale successes like teachers helping students win millions in scholarships.

Last but not least, district mandates are overwhelming classroom teachers with requirements. "Today, a typical Chicago high school teacher has 150 students and must enter 300-450 grades a week (2-3 per student) on a highly public and scrutinized gradebook system. Our teacher evaluation, while no longer a checklist that mentions bulletin boards, is a time-absorbing exercise that will not help a teacher improve if the administrator lacks instructional expertise.

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Builds A Better Teacher

Trust in teachers is down, and support for better (more rigorous, clinical) teacher prep is up. PBS NewsHour goes into it with Dana Goldstein. First broadcast last night. Online extra here.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Shifting Public Opinion On Teachers, Teaching

Americans Want Teachers to Take a Bar Exam - The Atlantic ow.ly/Bz3Dd  @EmilyRichmond @EWAEmily

Tom Kane doubles down on combining #commoncore & teacher evaluation in @EducationNext ow.ly/BzlaA

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior - How long will it last? @smarick @rhess99 @MichaelPetrilli ow.ly/BzmJv

Time for Reformers, Educators to Work Together - @Eduflack http://ow.ly/ByFjZ  @edu_post

Vox raises possibility reformers let Rahm face Lewis/AFT alone bit.ly/1shNabk Repeat of Fenty/Gray? @dropoutnation @mikeantonnuci

Pension reform isn't the same as pension theft, @ChadAldeman reminds @DanaGoldstein Education Next ow.ly/BzkX7

Books: I Trust That You Will Find This Useful

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 1.14.43 PMUlrich Boser's new book, The Leap, is about the science of trust and includes some education-related policy implications you might want to check out.

In the policymakers' guide that comes along with the book, Boser addresses some of the things that can be done to empower individuals through education, including:

• Support schools that lengthen the school day.
• Reform school funding so that it’s both more equitable and effective, and have school dollars follow children instead of programs.
• Make college more affordable through Pell Grants.• Allow college students to gain credit for learn-
ing outside the classroom.
 
There's also good reading on trust and public policy in Robert Putnam's writings such as here.
 
Most directly comparable of all is the work that Tony Bryk and others have done at the University of Chicago showing that trust among adults and kids is an important condition for effective learning. 
 
Boser is a longtime fellow/contributor at CAP and has another book after this one already in the works.
 

Thompson: How Chicago Increased Graduation Rates

The single most successful reform in any of my old schools was the establishment of Freshmen Academies. We had very little money to invest in school improvements, but our high schools got the biggest bang for the buck from a "High Touch," team effort to get 9th graders on track.

Our successes were consistent with the findings of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) which show, “Graduation is mostly determined in the ninth grade year.” 

The CCSR’s Tim Knowles, in Chicago Isn't Waiting for Superman,  reports that, for the second year in a row, Chicago’s graduation rate jumped 4%. It is now a record-high 69.4%. 

Chicago focused “on what research told school leaders would matter most," keeping freshmen on track to graduate" by improving their attendance and tailoring interventions to particular students’ needs. Knowles explains, “The new focus compelled greater problem-solving and collaboration among teachers and administrators committed to ensuring every single student was on-track for graduation.” 

He says that it “might sound small or obvious,” but “the focus on freshman on-track represented a major psychological and cultural shift for school leaders.” 

Policy people tend to lack an understanding of “promoting power,” and putting teens on "positive trajectories." Repeated failure does no good for anyone, but success breeds success.  

The focus on test scores has distracted adults from what really matters, helping students progress.  It might (or might not) be good when the average student correctly answers a couple more bubble-in test questions, but what do those numbers really mean? When educators and students work together, and kids make it over the finish line, however, we know something meaningful was accomplished. –JT(drjohnthompson) 

Books: Get Ready For 2015's "The Test"

The test book 2015Hey, everyone, so sorry if you're not done reading Goldstein, Green, Kahlenberg/Potter, or any of the other education books that have come out in recent weeks, but it's time to start getting ready for the next wave of titles coming down the pike.

First one that I know of for 2015 is Anya Kamenetz's The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be.

According to the understandably hyperbolic promo writeup (I haven't actually seen the book itself), many schools are spending up to 28 percent of their time on test prep, and the Common Core is going to require "an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year", and the nation's spending $1.4 billion a year on testing.

I don't know if any of that is accurate (or if $1.4 billion is a lot) but it's certainly pretty alarming -- and I guess that's the point. Not to worry, there are things that parents and educators to do to deal with the overtesting problem.  And there are celebrity profiles showing us how high tech folks like Gates and Bezos deal with overtesting in their kids' lives.

All snark aside, it'll be interesting to see what Kamenetz's book adds to the overtesting debate, which is sure to continue this year as states and districts and schools deal with Common Core assessments and parents' and teachers' concerns about testing, test prep, and use of test results. The timing couldn't be better.

Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful

#edjourn  Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 4.31.15 PMIt's not hard to relate to Libby Nelson'spoint of view in a recent Vox piece (Ranking high schools tells you which schools are rich or selective ), in which she notes that the rankings from places like the Daily Beast  mostly function to tell us what we already know -- that wealthier, whiter communities generate higher-performing high schools and that news outlets put out the lists to generate web traffic rather than to shed light on any particular phenomenon.

"The public schools that top these lists are mostly selective magnet schools that get to pick which students they educate. If they're not, they're much likely to enroll fewer poor students than public schools as a whole." That -- plus the reality that few families move for high school like they do for college -- explain why ranking high schools like this "makes no sense at all."

But the high school rankings phenomenon isn't as recent as Nelson seems to imagine, isn't quite as empty of substance or usefulness as it might seem, and isn't all that different than stories that Nelson and her colleagues at Vox (and here) sometimes also run.

Continue reading "Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful" »

Throwback Thursday: September 11 Will Always Be Connected To Education

 

Here are some #TBT blog posts from previous years on this date that seem sort of interesting, both related to 9/11 and otherwise:

The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up: In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked. (2011) 

Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?": Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?" 10 It's a diet.  A set of exercises.  A scientific term. A guide to behavior. (2013)

StoryCorps Teachers Starts Today: Today is the launch date for the StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative I told you about a few weeks ago (2011).

Or, look around for others that might be interesting here.

Thompson: TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It's Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union

TNTP has done teachers a great service in publishing “Rebalancing Tenure Rights.” 

I’m serious. Liberal non-educators who support anti-tenure lawsuits seem to assume that the strickened laws would inevitably be replaced by something better. Vergara supporters have been mum on what would replace today’s imperfect but necessary laws, protecting the rights of teachers. 

TNTP now makes it clear, however, that if Vergara and similar suits are upheld on appeal, it will push an agenda that is fundamentally anti-teacher and anti-union. It would strip teachers of their right to challenge their accusers’ judgment. In doing so, they would make it impossible for the teacher’s side of the story to be entered into evidence in a dismissal case, and call the survival of collective bargaining into question.

Of course, TNTP spins its position, claiming that it is only "good faith" judgments that should be all-powerful. In theory, an administrative judge, in an one-day hearing, could reject bad faith and false judgments of administrators. But, if teachers aren't allowed to cross examine those judgments, how could the judge make such a determination? And, why would teachers join unions that could not challenge claims against their members?

Non-educators who haven’t seriously studied education history may not understand why teachers should have the democratic rights - enjoyed by all other Americans – to use the political process to gain protections that are more than those of the weakest civil service protections. But, there are huge problems with their claims.

Continue reading "Thompson: TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It's Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union" »

Media: FiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The Gate

#Edjourn Newish data-based journalism site FiveThirtyEight is rumored to be looking for someone to head its education coverage, and indeed posted a story last week about US kids spending lots of time in class (which I happily shared out). So far, so good, right?ScreenHunter_10 Sep. 05 16.16

Well, part of the story confused TIMSS test scores with classroom instructional time. We've all made mistakes, but ... Oops! At least they had the class to remove the data and issue this correction. And crossed fingers that the outlet joins other newish mainstream outlets like Vox, BuzzFeed, Storyline, and The Upshot in publishing education pieces that I can share with you. 

Charts: NYT Ranks Top Colleges For Economic Diversity

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 09 13.07

"Colleges with similar resources admit very different numbers of low-income undergraduates. Some wealthy colleges admit many such students, but others do not." David Leonhardt on the NYT's new ranking. Image used with permission.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: So That FL District Reversed Itself On Testing Opt-Out

FL district rescinds testing opt-out vote WBBH News http://ow.ly/BiI4n

Former EdTrust/Obama/Kennedy/Pell guy @M_Dannenberg1 is joining Ed Reform Now, "think tank to DFER and others."

RT @hechingerreport: If there is a testing craze, @BarthRichard says his three NYC public school kids are getting tested more in soccer...

Key Players in the Future of Education - OZY http://ow.ly/Bi3pL  feat. Ruslyn Ali, John White, Roland Fryer, Mike Johnston, Poland.

Statement from Chancellor Henderson Regarding Washington Post Column http://ow.ly/3qqcDG 

Richard Kahlenberg of Century Foundation: “It’s not hard to be pro-union on this panel.” He’s with Michelle Rhee and Mitch Daniels. #nytsft via @scholasticadms

A Rare Virus Plagues Back-to-School Season - Atlantic Mobile http://ow.ly/3qqskJ 

 

Teaching: Vergara Decision Spotlights Administrator Practices As Much As Teachers

image from www.scholastic.comThe gist of my latest Scholastic Administrator column is that the Vergara decision in California -- and the slew of lawsuits that may follow -- put as much if not more pressure on school and district administrators as on teachers.

"The key task for educators is to decide whether to hunker down and keep doing what they’re already doing—a time-tested approach to change that is sometimes the wisest course—or take a hard look at what’s really possible under current law, start talking to counterparts about improving things in their districts in the short term and perhaps avoid the necessity of a wave of Vergara-like lawsuits in the first place."

But really, the star of the column is the graphic, right? A red apple with one of those small stickers on it (tenure) with an old-school wooden pencil crashing through the whole thing at high speed. 

AM News: NYT Ranks Top Colleges That Actually Enroll Low-Income Students

Top Colleges That Enroll Rich, Middle Class and Poor NYT: A new index measures which colleges [Grinnell, Wesleyan, etc.] have the most economically diverse student bodies — and charge the least to lower-income students.

Education secretary touts teacher diversity during Atlanta visit Atlanta Journal Constitution: During a visit Monday to Spelman College, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the country needs to increase the diversity of its teacher workforce to match the diversity of schoolchildren. 

Karen Lewis loans $40K to her own mayoral bid Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis put $40,000 of her own money toward a mayoral exploration effort in hopes of signaling to donors that she should be taken seriously. 

Karen Lewis puts $40000 of own money into mayoral bid Chicago Tribune: For weeks, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has said she is seriously considering a run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On Monday Lewis offered what she said is proof: $40,000 of her own money.

Universal preschool spending draws wide support in national poll KPCC: The telephone survey of 1,013 adults nationwide showed, not surprisingly, that Democrats love the idea of universal preschool, with 87 percent in support. But over half of the Republicans polled also agreed that public money should be used for preschool.  

Pa. Gov. Corbett Urges Review as Part of Effort to 'Roll Back' Common Core State EdWatch: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett releases a somewhat ambiguous statement about the future of the Common Core State Standards in the Keystone State.

Custodial contract causing problems at start of school year WBEZ: Belanger is just one of more than 230 principals recently surveyed by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The results reveal problems across Chicago Public Schools—dirty classrooms, damaged materials, theft and an overall lack of communication.

New Reduced Pricing For Amplify's All-In-One Tablet EdSurge: This week Amplify announced a price dip for it’s all-in-one tablet, which made headlines last year after some of its chargers melted.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning

CyberEven when I supported Common Core as a step toward improving instruction, critical thinking, and teaching for mastery, I suspected that it was a part of a failure of imagination. 

Forget the idiocy of seeking high-stakes tests to force teachers and students into the 21st century. Given the explosion of knowledge, why worry over a list of the facts and concepts that secondary schools should teach?

Why not help teachers teach with the greatest curriculum on earth – the web sites of PBS, NPR, our incredible newspapers and magazines, and our awesome national museums and parks?

Every Sunday, listening to NPR, I’m reminded of the tragic opportunity costs of the contemporary school reform movement. This week, American Radio Works reported on the great potential of Common Core to counter the drill and kill prompted by testing, as well as the primitive worksheet-driven pedagogy that preceded it. Ironically, the child of a teacher featured in the report complained that the introduction of Common Core into his high-performing school means that packets of worksheets are driving out engaging instruction in his favorite subject, science.

Reformers assume that high-stakes tests are essential to making teachers and students do their jobs, so they downplay the damage done by their test, sort, and punish mentality.

Then, NPR’s TED Talk Radio Hour (rerun) reminded us of what I would think that everyone - even reformers during their childhood - once knew.  Sugata Mitra started the discussion with the reminder that education is not about “making” learning happen, but by “letting learning happen.”

Continue reading "Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning" »

Morning Audio: ICYMI Common Core Documentary

 

Here's the full audio for the widely-admired embedded American RadioWorks documentary about teachers working with Common Core that came out last week. Or download or read it it here.

Charts: US Kids Spend 943 Hours In Class A Year - More Than All But 3 Other Nations*

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

Via Five Thirty Eight (American Kids Will Spend An Average Of 943 Hours In Elementary School This Year). Image used with permission. *Charts and text now corrected. New OECD figures coming out Tuesday.

Charts: Traditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFA

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.comAmerican school children are getting more and more diverse, as is TFA's small but growing band of merry teachers. But traditional classroom teaching remains super white. Image via Vox, used with permission.  Click here for the feature article about TFA's evolution.

Morning Video: Teachers Describe Common Core Transformation

 

Check out 7 minutes of video above feturing Reno (Washoe) teachers talking about their experiences with the Common Core. Your eyes might be opened.  Then go and read the sidebar story from American Radio Works about how things have played out there. Then -- almost done! -- listen to the full hourlong documentary, and several other sidebar stories (including Carol Burris and Lace To The Top). Last but not least, there's a second video from Washoe in which teachers reflect you can watch here, courtesy Torrey Palmer and Aaron Grossman.

AM News: Too Much Education News, All Published In One Short Week!

NEA Ad Buy Slams Republican in N.C. Senate Race on K-12 Spending PK12: The National Education Association launched a seven-figure TV ad buy Friday in North Carolina, slamming GOP Senate hopeful Thom Tillis for education spending cuts that occurred under his watch as state House Speaker. See also.

New Jersey Parents And Students Boycott First Day Of School HuffPost: A group of parents and students in Newark, New Jersey, boycotted the first day of school on Thursday to protest a new system that reorganized the state-run district this year. See also NJ Spotlight

Suspensions and expulsions down in D.C. charter schools Washington Post: The expulsion rate for D.C. public charter schools in the past school year was about half of what it was two years before, and the rate of out-of-school suspensions decreased by about 20 percent in one year, according to a report released Thursday.

Former MPS board member Chris Stewart to blog for Education Post Minn Post: Chris Stewart has left his position as executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) to become director of outreach and external affairs for a new national education reform communications effort.

Teach for America has faced criticism for years. Now it’s listening — and changing Vox: From the outside, Teach for America looked defensive, but internally, it was engaged in profound self-exploration and self-critique. 

The Battle for New York Schools NYT: The fight between two liberal crusaders with profoundly divergent ideas about how to aid and educate the disempowered.

The Myth Of The Superstar Superintendent? NPR: Superintendents make almost no difference when it comes to student success, according to a new report.

American Kids Will Spend An Average Of 943 Hours In Elementary School This Year Five Thirty-Eight: Only in Chile, Israel and Australia do elementary school students spend longer in class each year than their U.S. counterparts.

America's Schools Could Be More Efficient If Teachers Were Paid Less: Report HuffPost: GEMS Education Solutions, an education consulting firm, released its "Efficiency Index" and an accompanying report on Thursday, ranking the return on investment for 30 different nations' education budgets. The index "treats the educational system as if it were a company which attempts to obtain an output," according to the report.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Too Much Education News, All Published In One Short Week!" »

Maps: 18 of 22 Smarter Balanced States Expected To Sign Contracts This Year

  image from edsource.org"California and eight other dark green states have signed a contract to give the Smarter Balanced tests next spring. Nine light green states are expected to contract with the consortium. Four blue Smarter Balanced member states won't contract next year." (State awards Common Core test contract) NB: Smarter Balanced says it's going to be run by a unit within UCLA that is separate from CRESST (which is also at UCLA).

 

Quotes: From Pariah To Guru

Quotes2It’s hard to feel like a guru... I’ve been a pariah for so long.

- E.D. Hirsch, profiled by Peg Tyre in Politico (along with David Coleman)

NB Diane Ravitch was also profiled.

Books: If Teacher-Bashing Is Real, The Ford Foundation Started It

image from www.newyorker.comColumbia J-School professor Sam Freedman's New Yorker review of Up The Down Staircase (The Book That Got Teaching Right) makes at least one claim with which I disagree strongly -- that teacher-bashing "has become a major strain, even the dominant strain, of what passes for “education reform."

This may be the conventional wisdom among liberal Democrats and all too many education journalists, and there may be some teacher haters among the reform community but the vast majority of those that I have met and whose work I have followed are not so inclined.  It's essentially an idea that's been popularized by anti-reform advocates and teachers unions.

However, Freedman complicates matteers in some interesting ways when he (a) highlights some of the book's sections that deride teachers who found the career "an excuse or a refuge" and (b) goes on to describe how teacher-bashing has a long, illustrious career and its proponents (intentional and otherwise) include liberal philanthropy like that of the Ford Foundation, who allied themselves with low-income communities in a "pincer movement" that focused on white middle class teachers (most of them women).

It's an intersting notion -- one that's surely embedded in Dana Goldstein's history of conflicts surrounding teaching if only I'd gotten that far --that progressives and liberals are partly to blame for over-focusing on teachers and are thus making claims against reformers that could well be made against them.  (Certainly, teachers unions and low-income parents haven't always gotten along or had the same ideas about what schools needed most.)

But I still don't really buy the teacher-bashing argument is at the heart of Freedman's review and that's so prevalent out there among liberal critics. Yes, there are some strains of class criticism in there (elites criticizing middle-class teachers.) But if uou want to see real teacher-bashing, take a look at what Republicans and Tea Party candidates want to do with public education.  The rest, in my opinion, boils down to exaggerated claims (re layoffs in particular) and disrespect promulgated for political advantage, media complacency (too good to check!), and the occasional self-inflicted wound by reformers (Rhee's broomstick magazine cover, for example).

Morning Video: Teaching Teachers Reading

 

From PBS NewsHour:"When Liz Woody’s son Mason was in third grade, he struggled to read basic words. After Woody moved Mason to a specialized school, she set out to transform techniques to reach struggling readers."

Quotes: Reno Teachers Love The Core, Worry About The Tests

Quotes2For many teachers in Washoe County, Common Core has been liberating. They are free from the way textbooks, and tests, had come to define education... But new tests are coming. -- American Radio Works (Teachers embrace the Common Core)

Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking

Wow! I agree with Mike Petrilli on two big issues in one week! The revocation of Oklahoma’s NCLB Waiver, based on our repeal of Common Core, is a “terrible decision.”

I mostly agree with Petrilli’s thoughtful address to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. In an effort to understand the anti-reform backlash, he asks where his movement went wrong.

Most schools aren’t failing; the bigger problem is mediocrity. Most “failing” schools have teachers who are probably as good as those in higher-performing schools. 

I taught in “dropout factories, the dangerous schools …,” and my colleagues were far better teachers than those of my childhood. In the 1990s, our Curriculum Department and professional development were awesome.

But, Petrilli gets the second part of his diagnosis backwards. My schools responded to “wave after wave of reform.”  Those half-baked reforms made them worse.

I share Petrilli’s doubt that districts can replicate the few successful high-performing charter schools. He might also be right; in ten or twenty years, high-poverty systems may be dominated by charter schools.

But, that would be the double nightmare scenario - bad for more kids in "No Excuses" charters and worse for students left behind in even more awful concentrations of poverty and trauma. High-performing charters have contributed to a “neo-Plessyism” which is bad for all constituencies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking" »

Advocacy: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism

image from educationpost.orgThe Washington Post has a story about Peter Cunningham's new education group (Education Post aims to take the sting out of national conversations about school reform) that hints at but doesn't quite get to the real story behind the organization.

Described as "a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions," the $12 million Chicago-based organization (Cunningham, Mike Vaughn, etc.) is funded by Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton, among others.  

It's an obvious (and long-needed) attempt to address the insufficiencies of the reform movement when it comes to shaping the education debate -- the reform version of Parents Across America or the Network for Public Education or Sabrina Stevens' group (though I haven't heard much from them lately).

The purely communication-oriented outfit ((RSS FeedTwitter) is led by longtime Arne Duncan guy Cunningham and including blogger Citizen Stewart. A sampling of their blog posts (Public Education Needs a New ConversationSpeak Up, Don’t Give UpThe Right School for My ChildThe Common Sense Behind Common Core 

Versions of Education Post have been discussed for a while now, online and in the real world.  A version of the same idea almost came to being 18 months ago, tentatively called "The Hub." Why another group? Advocacy groups get embroiled in pushing for changes, and lack time and resources to coordinate among each other or to focus on communications. They barely have time or capacity to defend themselves, much less put out a positive agenda across multiple groups.  

Meantime, a small but dedicated group of reform critics and groups(many of them union-funded or - affiliated) has managed to embed themselves in the minds of reporters and generate an enormous amount of resistance to reform measures. 

Related posts: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

Morning Video: Teaching Kids To Build Things (Not Apps)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maps: Most White Kids Still Attend Majority-White Schools

  image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"Even as students become more diverse, many are attending classes with other kids who look like them," notes Vox's Libby Nelson (3 maps that show school segregation in the US).

Morning Video: Teaching Computer Literacy - Without A Computer

Via Hechinger Report's Annie Murphy Paul.

Books: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led

image from tcf.orgI've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.

The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts: 

*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).

*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).

*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).

The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.

Related posts:  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.

John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts

NationatriskMany or most problems in urban education are rooted in Ronald Reagan’s “Voodoo Economics.” Yes, schools declined after the 1973 Energy Crisis started the deindustrialization of America. But, Reagan’s “Supply Side Economics” accelerated the tragedy by offering tax incentives for closing still-profitable factories. Families cratered in the face of the subsidized and rapid destruction of jobs, erasing so many hopes.

The implicit message of Sarah Garland’s Hechinger Report, Why Is a Reagan-Era Report Driving Today’s Education Reform?, is that the failure to improve schools is also rooted in Reaganism.

Garland notes, “the Republican-driven revolution is being driven home, as never before, by a Democratic president.” She recalls that many of the proposals in Obama’s RttT and  SIG programs seem to be “copied right out of the 1983 report [Reagan’s A Nation at Risk.]

Garland begins by linking the dubious policy of value-added evaluations with A Nation of Risk. I would gladly lay the blame for today’s testing mania on Reagan, but in the only weak part of her thought-provoking piece, I don’t think she nailed down the case for such a linkage. Clearly, however, Garland is correct in her observation, “the Obama administration appears to be doubling down on the standardized testing that critics say was a misinterpretation of A Nation at Risk.”

Similarly, Garland illustrates the test and punish mentality when quoting Chester Finn. Finn supports testing for teacher and student accountability because, “If there’s no sanction or punishment for not learning, then why work harder to learn more?”

I wonder if there is a reason, besides avoiding pain, why human beings might teach and learn?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts" »

Numbers: 27 State New Ed Reform Groups In 5 Years

Over the past five years, national K-12 advocacy organizations created 27 state affiliates, according to a May 2014 report  quoted in EdWeek (Leadership, Political Winds Buffet Education Advocacy Groups).  

That's up from 8 such groups created in the decade 1997-2007. 

You can read the report here.

I've asked them for updated figures, since some of the affiliates have closed up shop and others have opened since then.

Quotes: No, Transparency *Won't* Fix Things All By Itself

Quotes2When government seems to fail, Americans habitually resort to the same solutions: more process, more transparency, more appeals to courts. -- David Frum in The Atlantic (The Transparency Trap)

Philanthropy: Case Studies Of 100 Grant-Funded Efforts (1900-2000)

Doing some research on foundation-funded education efforts (and still looking for an apples-to-apples comparison to the Ford era to the Gates era) this interesting collection of cases was recommended to me by Stanford's Rob Reich (Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret).  

It's 100 case studies focused on specific grant-funded efforts from 1900 to 2000. Some of the most interesting recent ones include: Charter Schools Funding: Walton Family Foundation, 1991Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000A Model for the New Inner-City School: KIPP Academies: Pisces Foundation, 2000. But there are lots of others.  

Anyone seen case studies of more recent grant-funded efforts (say, since 2005)? As you know, I think it can be fascinating to look back and examine efforts like these, however they turned out. These cases aren't comprehensive -- some are quite short -- but the approach is appealing.  It also reminds us that the Gates era is just the most recent one, and that previous efforts have struggled with impact and in some cases been wrong-headed, too.

EdTech: 8 Ways to Protect Student Data

image from hepg.orgMy latest "Tech Talk" piece in the Harvard Education Letter is now online, and -- thanks to critics and advocates and regular old practitioners who filled me in -- it's got what seems like some extremely useful advice about how educators can proceed explore education technology without either locking everything down or giving it all away.

The first couple of items in the piece (Eight Ways to Protect Student Data) include basics like inventorying student data collection that's going on already and putting someone in charge of student data policies (a "privacy" officer or someone with those responsibilities).  

For the remaining 6 recommendations, click the link.

Image courtesy Harvard Education Publishing Group.

 

 

Morning Video: "Teacher-Led" Schools Increase Retention (But Not Test Scores)

On last night's PBS NewsHour, John Tulenko took us to Mission Hill in Boston, where teacher retention is high (but test scores aren't -- at leats not so far). There are roughly 70 of these consensus-run schools nationwide.

 

Quotes: NYC Mayor De Blasio Praises Predecessor For Common Core Focus

Quotes2They were right to focus on the Common Core curriculum. -- NYC Mayor De Blasio on Bloomberg decisions that led to NYC test score increases (WNYC Five Things You Need to Know About NYC Scores on State Tests)

Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?

As was apparent at last week's discussion of the Vergara case between Fordham's Mike Petrilli and AEI's Mike McShane, the current generation of school reformers is generally dismissive of legal cases in search of school improvements. 

Lawsuits don't work, or are at best crude measures compared to policies and statutes.Or, theyre good for quantity-related issues (like funding) but not for quality-related issues (like access to effective teaching). Check out Petrilli and McShane's responses to my Twitter query at the 30 minute mark.

They may be right. I'm no legal scholar, and it's certainly conventional wisdom that the wave of equity and adequacy cases of the 1970s and 1980s didn't result in any wholesale improvements in American education. Some would say the same about civil rights cases. 

But the Vergara case, its successors, and a whole host of non-education advocacy (same-sex marriage, for example), suggest that the conventional wisdom might be worth reconsidering, or at least examining.

Historically, it seems to me that legal cases have played an important role in shaping education -- perhaps as much or more so than laws that have been passed. I don't see any big advantage of one forum over the other.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Reformers (Too) Quick To Dismissal Ed-Related Lawsuits?" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: US Teachers Double OECD Classroom Average

US teachers' classroom hours (double OECD avg) prevent changes @elizwgreen book promotes, writes @smosle http://ow.ly/AjTnG 

Green's new book ultimately rejects reflects on @Doug_Lemov's methods touted in 2010, notes @smosle http://ow.ly/AjSq6 

45 pct of teachers think CC *tests* will improve achievement; nearly 70 pct believe CC = improved instruction http://ow.ly/AjVGk 

Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe will join board of pro-Vergara group @studentsmatter, reports @Morning_Edu 

Valerie Strauss's annual break from criticizing reform efforts is out today: #thankscommoncore ow.ly/Al2Ww

Wait, what? Kansas comes in #5 among states with best school systems http://ow.ly/Akgvx  @huffpostedu @rklein9

All this and much much more at @alexanderrusso.

 

Bruno: A Goodbye & Retrospective

I've been contributing posts to This Week in Education since January 2012, when Alexander kindly invited me to begin writing. This, however, will be my last post here.

Last week I submitted my resignation at my teaching job which, for a variety of reasons, was not a good fit for me.

I don't have firm plans for what I'm going to be doing next - possibly teaching, possibly some consulting work, probably something education-related - but investigating other opportunities was going to be easier for me if I wasn't simultaneously working full time. (And if you've got suggestions for cool jobs I should be applying for, let me know!)

While I make these transitions - including, potentially, the transition out of the classroom - I'm going to be scaling back the blogging.

To some extent this is about time constraints and focus, but it is also because it's less clear what "point of view" I will represent going forward - teacher? former teacher? consultant? interested citizen? - and I don't want to have to worry about my credibility in the eyes of readers.

I may still write at my personal site, and you can always find me on Twitter, but I will no longer be contributing here.

With that being said, now is also a good opportunity for me to reflect on the last two-and-a-half years. Below the fold, I'll reflect and offer a short retrospective.

Continue reading "Bruno: A Goodbye & Retrospective" »

Morning Video: "Freedom Schools" Still Needed, 50 Years Later

From the PBS NewsHour: 50 Years On, Freedom Schools Still Teaching Most Vulnerable includes interview with founder of the program, who went on to start the Children's Defense Fund.

Tenure: Public Divided On "Too Easy/Hard To Fire" Teachers

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 1.18.40 PM"Only 31 percent of respondents said they thought it is too difficult to fire public school teachers in their state. Conversely, 12 percent of respondents said it was is too easy to fire teachers, and 27 percent said the difficulty level was about right." (HuffPost). Image used with permission.

Lunchtime Video: Paying Kids For Learning In Memphis

Here's the video that goes along with the story in Politico. Click here if the video doesn't load properly.

Thompson: How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate

I received an enthusiastic response, especially from educators, regarding last week's TWIE post Common Core Will Double the Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation.  

The piece also produced some pushback from persons who question the Carnegie Corporation projection and who assert that districts would do whatever is necessary to avoid such an increase in dropouts.

Before addressing research and testing issues, I would like to explain why so many urban educators anticipate that an unconscionable number of low-skilled students will be pushed out of school by the botched implementation of Common Core.

For over a dozen years, too many students have only been taught to parse simple, straightforward sentences and paragraphs, and to answer primitive right-wrong questions. These students need to unlearn these deplorable habits that were worsened by education malpractice encouraged by bubble-in accountability.

The transition from these simple, but counterproductive, worksheet-driven behaviors to meaningful learning is necessary. But, it won't be quick, cheap or easy. The rate by which low-skilled students unlearn the legacy of rote instruction, and master authentic learning, will first be determined by the time it takes for students to rebound from inevitable setbacks. The pace by which teachers help students master new learning skills will be determined by their success in rebuilding the confidence of students after they face defeats.   

As has long been explained by the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, the job of counseling and remotivating students to meet much higher standards is far beyond the capacity of teachers in high-poverty schools. The supports students need require a "second shift" or teams of educators.

Continue reading "Thompson: How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate" »

Is a Hard Life Inherited? - NYTimes.com

Quotes2Just as wealthy Americans inherit opportunity, working-class men inherit adversity. -- Nick Kristof (Is a Hard Life Inherited?)

 
 

Morning Audio: 53K Chicago Parents Choose Other *District* School Over Neighborhood Assignment

 The choice debate often gets boiled down to district vs. charter schools, with district advocates claiming that they're being disadvantaged and charter schools claiming much the same.  

But if you click "play" on this very recent Chicago Public Radio story you'll learn it's not quite as simple as all that.  Neighborhood schools in Chicago are losing local kids not just to charter schools (and to dwindling enrollment in the district over all) but to other neighborhood programs.

According to the Linda Lutton piece, "52,963 grammar school kids choose neighborhood schools that are not their own. That’s almost as many kids as attend charters, gifted schools and magnets combined." (More Chicago kids say 'no' to their neighborhood grammar school)

Quotes: In Violent Neighborhoods, Kids Become "Immune" To Death

Quotes2I remember being so immune to death, so immune to shootings, killings. I just remember wanting them to rush, like get the body out the way so we can get back to playing hopscotch or dodgeball. -- Monica Jaundoo Of Parkville, Md. (NPR Race Blog)

Campaigns: Parent Revolution & The AFT Walk Into The Same Organizing Event

What happens when Democratic education advocates on opposite sides of many policy issues attend the same campaign training events?  Things get awkward.  That's apparently what happend at a recent New Organizing Institute event when members of the AFT and Parent Revolution both showed up and -- I'm speculating here -- didn't much want to be put at the same table brainstorming ideas together. 

The NOI is a relatively new outfit, and its work was written up earlier this week in the Post (Inside the Democratic party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry): 

"With the real midterms fast approaching, Democrats areager to put more people in the field who've been trained in the latest campaigning techniques... Boot campers have gone on to some of the most prominent left-leaning organizations in the country — such as AFL-CIO, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood, not to mention the White House and political firms like Blue State Digital."

It makes sense that both groups would be there, given how hard everyone's trying to figure out/get better at campaign and mobilization work these past couple of years in particular.  I've heard that similar things have happened at the Marshall Ganz boot camp, too. 

Related posts:  NYC Parent Organizing Group Expands To BostonCommunity Organizing & School Reform;  The Left's Getting Itself Organized, Too.

 

 

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: "Half-Day" Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

Lets retire the full day and half day#ECE labels. bit.ly/1vg4q7U @NewAmerica

Six Myths in the NYT Math Article | Brookings Institution http://ow.ly/A45td 

Common Core Is Boring - @conorpwilliams in TPM http://ow.ly/A4vsu 

Tests That Look Like Video Games : NPR Ed : NPR http://ow.ly/A4qVO 

15 Strategies for Placing Excellent Teachers in High-Need Schools - EdWeek ow.ly/A4w3b 

Is the Duolingo language app good enough to prep students for the TOEFL? ow.ly/A4SKO  

Writeup of @dfer CA re-launch in Long Beach last weekow.ly/A4WAe @SteveBarrLA

Who does @campbell_brown think she is, asks @citizenstewartow.ly/A4RYX +41 comment

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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.