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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

Throwback Thursday: What Was Going On Five Years Ago Today (August 7, 2009)?

Throwback Thursday #tbt is a big thing on Facebook but why should they have all the fun?  

So I took a look at what was happening five years ago in education by checking out the blog archives.  

Right about now 5 years ago, I was still posting Duncan's weekly schedule.

Thompson was still (already) raising hell (The True NEA Revealed).

There were furloughs in ATL (Furloughs alter teachers' schedules, paychecks). 

I posted the opening monologue from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The Feds were investigating the use of clout to get well-connected Chicago kids into elite schools.

Readers still commented on posts rather than ranting on Twitter. (I was still telling people How To "Do" Twitter", and trying to fool you about undocumented TFA teachers. 

What else happened in August 2009?

There were lots of vacations taken. I was still reading ASCD's SmartBrief (is it still there?).

Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"

For me, the hands-down top new Twitter feed in education in 2014 is @thnkscommoncore, but I may be alone in that.

The much more official and deeply-considered Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014 are quite another thing, according to the folks at Education Next who put out the annual update.

This year's version includes three lists -- top overall, top individual, and top organization.  There's lots of overlap, and no doubt some of the accounts (Arne Duncan and USDE) are being run by the same social media manager.

On a related note, should individual accounts for folks like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee that are presumably run by more than one person be included in the list of "people"?

As in the past, the list focuses on Klout scores rather than numbers of followers.  It's not clickable, or re-sortable (by followers, say).  I've asked for a Twitter list so that you can subscribe to all these folks with a single click, and crossed fingers it might happen (yay!).

As Petrilli notes, here are a couple of newcomers in the form of the Badass Teachers Association and founder Mark Naison, which should yet again have reform advocates reconsidering their disinterest in becoming involved in social media.  (Newcomer Campbell Brown is on the list, but I don't think anyone's expecting her or her organization to carry the reform message on Twitter and Facebook single-handedly.)

CAP and New America also made it -- apparently their first time.

Other observations, profound and otherwise are below the fold.  A few folks made it on the list with high Klout scores but very few followers, about which I have mixed feelings.  Some venerable education policy types aren't on this year's list, lots of mainstream media journalists and journalistic outlets aren't included either (for lack of policy or lack of activity, it's not clear).

Continue reading "Influencers: 12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds" " »

Thompson: Common Core Will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation*

How did I miss it? The single most important study on Common Core implementation was published by the Carnegie Corporation in 2013, but its key finding has been ignored.

Hat tip to Tom Hoffman and Larry Ferlazzo for showcasing the evidence that is so unnerving.

Carnegie’s Leah Hamilton and Anne Mackinnon, in Opportunity by Design, and the McKinsey Group estimate that the implementation of Common Core (without first establishing a level of systematic supports that would clearly be impossible) would double the nation’s dropout rate.

Even if Common Core was implemented only by top-quartile teachers – who “'move’ student performance at the rate of 1.25 grade levels per year” – the best teachers “cannot possibly meet the demand to raise student achievement to Common Core levels.”

School reformers have long misused multi-colored graphs by the McKinsey Group to argue that improved teacher quality could drive school improvement. So, it is doubly important that Carnegie commissioned McKinsey to use the reformers’ data “to test whether or not it might be possible to avoid large drops in graduation rates using human capital strate­gies alone.”

A year ago, Carnegie and McKinsey concluded, “The short answer is no: even coordinated, rapid, and highly effective efforts to improve high school teaching would leave millions of students achieving be­low the level needed for graduation and college success as defined by the Common Core.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core Will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation*" »

Polarization: The Education Debate Could Be *Much* Worse

image from oaklandwiki.orgEducators and journalists like to talk about how extreme and polarized today's debate has become, and in some ways that's true.  Social media is full of extremism and polarization.  Democrats are fractured internally even as Republicans are being stretched to the right by the Tea Party movement (not dead yet!).

But still, it's almost entirely words and yelling and rallies and protests, painful and triggering to be sure but well short of property damage or physical violence that's taken place in the reproductive rights debate or even in education at times.

For a little bit of historical context , remember the murder of Marcus Foster, the superintendent of Oakland schools, in 1973.  

Yep, murder.  

Members of the group that called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army shot Foster and his deputy as they left a board meeting, killing Foster outright, in response to a student ID card proposal that Foster had actually helped water down, according to Wikipedia, anyway.

I didn't know about this either, by the way.  Just heard it on the radio and looked it up so I could wag my finger at everyone. Credit Oakland Wiki/CC BY 3.0

Morning Video: AFT Head Debates Former LA Mayor On Tenure

In a followup to the Campbell Brown/David Boies segment earlier this week, Randi Weingarten and Antonio Villaraigosa talk teacher tenureon MSNBC's Morning Joe. (Other cable news shows, where are you?). More about the substance -- and the political back and forth -- at TeacherBeat.

 

Quotes: Only Thing Worse Than The Common Core Is The Alternative, Says Ravitch

Quotes2This is a terrible idea. Legislators have no academic competence to write academic standards. This is a sure way to politicize American education. Politicians should do their work and let educators do their work. Educators are the experts on what students should know and be able to do. - Diane Ravitch (What’s Worse than Common Core? Legislators Writing State Standards)

Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?

As you might have noticed on Twitter, I've been enjoying a blog called Think Tank Watch that covers the industry -- trends, dynamics, comings and goings.  

It's not specifically focused on education -- and that's part of what makes it so useful.

Here's a recent post reviewing a new book (Why Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?) examing the rise of the think tanks.  Some of the main points include: 

  • Washington tanks tanks are not primary generators of original research; that function lies with universities.
  • Think tanks are known for their ability to scour the world for attractive ideas, to legitimate them, and to promote them through electronic communications.
  • Think tanks, over the past two decades, have emerged as a complement to, and in some cases a substitute for, lobbyists, due to the ability of think tanks to exploit the rapidly growing information search and propagation capacities of electronic communications.

I've got a whole category about education think tanks, which have supplemented/replaced universities in some regards thanks to their capacity to deliver new ideas quickly and say things more definitively than academics.  That's why we have think tanker Kevin Carey writing in the Times about higher ed rather than Professor So-And-So.  

Previous posts:  Power Couples: The Wonk & The Journo*Reform Debate Often Detached From Schools & ParentsSmarick Rails Against Anti-Democratic Attitudes & ElitesIt's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyBig Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]"Wait A Minute" [On Common Core].

Disclosure: I've written and done research for some foundations, nonprofits, and think tanks.

Campaigns: Those Union Spending Numbers Are Only Half The Story

Quotes2Unions are important financial powerhouses in elections, but much of their spending is done in such a way that it doesn't show up on FEC reports — it involves getting out the vote or internal communication with their members rather than paid TV ads.  Vox

John Thompson: Jal Mehta's Ten Inconvenient Truths

MehtaJal Mehta, in the Education Week blog Learning Deeply, discusses five inconvenient truths held by both reformers and education traditionalists. I'm not sure why he only mentions five minor blind spots held by reformers.

Perhaps Mehta is being diplomatic or maybe his excellent Allure of Order did such a great job of chronicling the failures of accountability-driven reformers that he didn’t see the need to repeat its diagnoses of their shortcomings. 

Frankly, I think Mehta has chosen a rhetorical path halfway between reformers and their opponents, and he believes he can do the greatest good by sticking to it. Metha is not playing politics; but he seeks consensus. 

I respect that. 

My five inconvenient truths ignored by reformers would be, first, high stakes testing and, second, increased segregation are inherently destructive, so reformers need a very strong reason for imposing either.

Third, education is an act of love and trusting relationships are the key but, fourth, the reformers’ politics of destruction and the demonization of teachers and unions undermine those relationships.

Fifth, reformers should have accepted the burden of proving that their policies would do more good than harm. 

Mehta’s critique of traditionalists, however, is profound.   Hardly a day passes when I don’t wrestle with his “Inconvenient Truth 1: Longstanding institutions are not good at doing things other than what they were initially designed to do.” Mehta’s insight applies to all social institutions, not just education.

Continue reading "John Thompson: Jal Mehta's Ten Inconvenient Truths" »

Books: The Unexpected Alliance Of Civil Rights & Women's Rights Groups

The best education-related article in the New Yorker of the past few weeks might not be Rachel Aviv's piece about the "burn-it-down-to-save-it" actions taken by some Atlanta teachers pressured to produce better results but rather Louis Menand's story about how women's rights and civil rights advocates came together uneasily.

Called The Sex Amendment, Menand's piece uses a couple of new books to tracethe work of women's rights advocates -- in almost total opposition from the rest of the liberal establishment (including civil rights leaders). "The last thing any of these people wanted was a group with a different agenda crashing the party."
 
Key takeaways for education types include the strong differences within the civil rights movement and with the women's rights movement, and the unexpected turns of events that created new opportunities and turned enemies into reluctant allies.
 
No time to recap or make all the connections, but trust me it's a good read for anyone trying to figure out how things end up getting done even when groups generally aligned (say, Democrats, or education advocates) have ended up in staunch opposition on the particulars.  I have no idea how or when this kind of thing could happen in education, but have the sense that it will -- some surprising set of events and alliances not currently part of the stalemated war between reformers and their critics.
 

Morning Video: Colbert Interviews Campbell Brown Over Tenure Lawsuit

Here's the interview -- how'd she do? How'd Colbert do? 

Choice: Chicago Teacher Rebuts Public Radio's "The Big Sort"

You may recall a big WBEZ Chicago Public Radio piece about student segregation at the high school level, which was passed around a lot last week. But not everybody thinks that students sorting themselves into different high schools is such a bad idea.  
 
Chicago teacher Ray Salazar outlined some concerns in a post titled School Choice Happens that noted the limits of neighborhood schools and the potential upsides of kids getting out of their home neighborhoods. Reporter Linda Lutton responded in comments, and the subject was further discussed on my Chicago site (Teacher Pushes Back On WBEZ “Sorting” Story).
 
Check it out -- what do you think?

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Hoboken Laptop Experience Unusual / Misleading

Lots of districts avoid Hoboken's unusually disastrous 1:1 deployment  saga  ow.ly/zKKxD @hechingerreport @pwillens

Chart: Top Liberal Campaign Spenders 2012 - via Voxow.ly/zKHsh includes Bloomberg, Soros, Fred Eychaner, etc.

Readers respond angrily to "practice" school-shooting story ow.ly/zKFno via @romenesko

Race to the Top, Wasn't : Frederick M. Hess ow.ly/zKJcZ@rhess99 via @DianeRavitch

Remembering Gene Maeroff - Education Next : Education Next ow.ly/zL69g (features audio interview)

Some Wisconsin schools oppose Common Core repeal ow.ly/zKF4h AP via @RealClearEd

I'm really enjoying the anonymous fun of #thankscommoncore @thnkscommoncore -- but I also want to know who started it??

Morning Video: Can After-School/Extended Day Programs Make A Difference?

"At Middle School 223 in the Bronx, the fun starts at the end of the regular day. All sixth graders are offered extracurricular activities like African drumming, latin dance and chess, plus personalized help in reading and math." (Why longer school days can be more fun for students)

 

John Thompson: An American Who Stinks at Math Wowed by Elizabeth Green's Explanation

MathI was slow to follow the link to Why Do Americans Stink at Math?, in the New York Times Magazine, and I did not see it as a "must read" until I realized it was written by the Chalkbeat's Elizabeth Green.

I’m bad at math and I don’t see Americans’ problems with math as that big of a deal. I’m much more concerned with the challenge of improving reading comprehension in the 21st century.

As I understand it, math is a precise language, combined with logic. Few teachers are prepared to holistically teach this language or explain to students what the purpose and meaning of the subject is. Besides, contemporary American culture is not at its best in terms of valuing non-English languages, much less translating words and concepts into numbers and symbols.

Green grabbed me when citing John Allen Paulos’s diagnosis of innumeracy— “the mathematical equivalent of not being able to read.” She then reports that on the NAEP, “three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression ‘15 + (2×15).’”

Continue reading "John Thompson: An American Who Stinks at Math Wowed by Elizabeth Green's Explanation" »

Quotes: Teaching Isn't Rocket Science

Quotes2You don’t need to be a genius... You have to know how to manage a discussion. You have to know which problems are the ones most likely to get the lessons across. You have to understand how students make mistakes — how they think — so you can respond to that.

-- Author Elizabeth Green in Joe Nocera NYT column about improving teacher preparation

Quotes: "Don't Call [Common Core Opponents] 'Crazies'," Says Developer

I think then we make a great mistake by caricaturing the opponents of the standards as crazies or people who don't tell the truth... We will lose, and we'll lose things of great importance, if we dismiss this as an extremist position. - David Coleman in BloombergEDU interview via Politico

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Clinton Launches #BabyTalking Campaign

Clinton Launches Baby-talking Campaign In Oakland ow.ly/zxPJy #babytalking 

Unions put teachers on streets — for votes - http://POLITICO.com  Print View http://ow.ly/zxq4G 

Self-proclaimed "naive" NYC Teaching Fellow Florina Rodov aims to open her own school next yearow.ly/zxDgA @TheAtlanticEDU

Do the CAP teacher salary report & coverage seem misleading to you like it does to me? ow.ly/zyp7n@MrPABruno @SchlFinance101

New think tank started by CAP economist will fund Berkely's Jesse Rothstein on ed ineq, reports @TheStoryline ow.ly/zycgT

Ed tech promoters need to understand how most of us learn | The Hechinger Report ow.ly/zxWbN

Washington Post's @TheStoryline is latest entry in wonky explainer sites like @vox. RSS ow.ly/zycMu You're welcome

 

Maps: Which States Are Changing Which Charter Laws To Do What?

Screen shot 2014-07-24 at 12.18.16 PMFrom ECS: "42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have charter school laws. Important, evolving elements of these state laws include: Statewide authorizing bodies (33 states); Standards for authorizers (quality school authorizing) (15 states and D.C.); Requirements that authorizing bodies report annually on their portfolios of schools (15 states and D.C.); Explicit performance thresholds below which charters must be revoked or non-renewed (11 states and D.C.); Explicit attention to one type of charter: the Internet, or cyber charter (24 states define or permit; 20 outline elements of oversight)."

 Charter Schools Database via EdWeek.

Image Flickr CC via

Thompson: Burris Documents Damage Done By Tracking & School Reform

BurrisWe know Carol Burris for her insightful critiques of the contemporary school reform movement, but at first glance her On the Same Track seems to be a history of the bad old days. She presents an authoritative account of the severe damage done by “tracking” students, or assigning them to classes based on their so-called abilities. 
But, isn’t the fight to “de-track” classes and to offer the same opportunity for challenging instruction a distant memory from an ugly era? 
Burris begins with a photo of three English students. The color of their ties denotes their place in the school hierarchy. The one with the purple tie is “gifted and talented.” But, it is not a picture of Victorian times. It was taken in 2012. 
The beauty of On the Same Track is two-fold. Her history of the perpetuation of segregation through tracking of students in the second half of the 20th century, and of promising efforts to fight it, presents an overwhelming case against grouping students according to their achievement levels. It includes the research that market-driven, test-driven reformers should have considered before imposing their theories of school improvement on 21st century schools. 
Even better, Burris lets the evidence lead the reader to a startling realization. Reformers, who sought to help poor children of color, have recreated segregation patterns that rival those that grew out of the overt racism of previous generations. We now avoid the word tracking, and we don’t like to think of America as returning to the class-bound structure of England, but much of that evil is being revived in the name of school improvement.

Continue reading "Thompson: Burris Documents Damage Done By Tracking & School Reform" »

Maps: What 10-Year Veterans Make By State (Sort Of)

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com"The average teacher in South Dakota with a bachelor's degree and 10 years of experience earns $33,600 per year — less than the average South Dakotan auto-repair worker," writes Vox's Libby Nelson, working off a CAP report (After 10 years at work, teachers in some states make less than $40,000) that should provide more context (re cost of living, salaries for other bachelors'-level jobs, etc.), IMHO.

Morning Video: District & Charter Schools Sharing Classrooms, Teachers, & Even Test Scores

From last night's PBS NewsHour: "In Houston, Texas, the superintendent of one school district [Spring Branch] has invited competing charter schools to set up shop alongside a regular middle school. Special correspondent John Merrow reports on their evolving partnership." (Transcript here.)

Charts: Not Nearly As Many Poor Kids As US Principals Seem To Think

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"Only 13 percent of American children meet an international definition of disadvantage, lower than in many other countries. [And yet] in a survey of 29 countries, more principals in the United States reported having at least 30 percent of students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged homes than in any other country."  (NYT Principals in U.S. Are More Likely to Consider Their Students Poor).

 

 

AM News: American Principals Hyper-Focused On Student Poverty, Says OECD

Principals in U.S. Are More Likely to Consider Their Students Poor NYT: American principals are much more likely to describe their students as disadvantaged than principals in many other countries — including some countries that are significantly poorer than the United States.

Florida counts down to new Common Core standards, exams Hechinger: Although the teachers at Monroe Middle School are optimistic, many teachers and school leaders think the switch to Common Core is the biggest change in education now, and it’s taken a lot of work.

Waiverless Washington State's Request for New NCLB Flexibility Denied PK12: Washington state can't seem to catch a break these days when it comes to No Child Left Behind Act waivers. 

No go: Feds deny state request to reinstate part of WA No Child waiver Seattle Times: The U.S. Department of Education has denied Washington state's request to reinstate one piece of the state's former No Child Left Behind waiver.

New political action committee forms in L.A. school board race LA Times: A new political action committee has formed to influence the outcome of Los Angeles school board races, filling a gap created when a group of civic leaders, which includes former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, decided to sit out next month's key upcoming election.

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

Continue reading "AM News: American Principals Hyper-Focused On Student Poverty, Says OECD" »

Journalism: Virginian-Pilot Wins Common Core Grant

Among several news outlets awarded a Knight Foundation "prototype" grant is the Viginian-Pilot:

image from www.pbs.org

Pilot for School by The Virginian-Pilot (Project lead: Shawn Day):

Building a targeted digital system that will allow Virginia teachers to search newspaper content and use it to complement class curricula; content will align with Virginia’s Standards of Learning and help students apply academic concepts to what’s happening in their community.

When Storytelling Meets Civic Action (via PBS)

Does it make sense for newspapers to try and guide teachers and parents on Common Core materials, or is there a danger it's going to be misleading or overkill?

 

Bruno: Performance Pay Doesn't Necessarily Discourage Collaboration

6052852063_240c0d2e86_nAustralian teacher Harry Webb (not his real name) has four big objections to performance pay.

I'm more sympathetic to differentiated compensation than many teachers, but I very much understand his first three concerns.

Measuring teacher effectiveness is definitely hard, for example, even if we're making progress on that front. And subjective assessment of teachers remains a huge problem, especially given the "faddish nature of school improvement".

Harry's fourth objection to performance pay, though, is a very common one that I do not understand: that it will "reduce incentives to collaborate" due to "competition for a limited pot of bonuses."

Read on for more (below).

Continue reading "Bruno: Performance Pay Doesn't Necessarily Discourage Collaboration" »

Morning Video: So What's It Like To Take The OECD Test for Schools?

Following up on the fascinating topic of the OECD Test for Schools, the PBS NewsHour just recently aired a new segment about the test's spread, how it differs from most annual assessments (and even the Common Core assessments), and some of the reactions of the kids who've been taking it. Transcript here. You can also read all about the test's development and impacts in my recent Harvard Education Letter article. Don't forget that Frontline's segment on resegregation airs tonight.

Magazines: New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School

I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker goes deep with its latest education story (A Struggling School Made a Shocking Choice), by contributor Rachel Aviv.

"Struggling to meet data-driven district targets, as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind, administrators and teachers at Parks first began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests in 2006.

"The resulting scores significantly raised the school’s percentage of eighth graders who met the state’s standards.

"The success created an ongoing cycle that fostered continuous cheating—by 2008, the practices had become what Christopher Waller, the school’s former principal, calls a “well-oiled machine.”

The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.  

Could it happen again soon? The story seems to suggest it's likely.

Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.

Previous New Yorker posts: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next.

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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.