About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Campaign 2016: Bush Gets Demerits From PolitiFact For Dropout Claims

Education types are all excited about the increasing possibility that Jeb Bush will run for President (though Vox's sober take on the role his education positions will take seems most accurate).

Meantime, Politifact notes some issues with  recent comments Bush has made about schools (Jeb Bush on the Truth-O-Meter). Bush's October fundraising letter contains some information about kids dropping out that Politifact deems mostly false.  "There is more than one way to measure dropout frequency, but whichever one you use, Bush’s number was off."  

Not everyone's so sure that PolitiFact has it right, however. Among them are Sherman Dorn, no particular fan of Bush's, who says on Facebook that Bush is closer to the right number than it may seem.

According to Politifact, Bush did somewhat better comparing US achievement to other countries.  

 

Quotes: NY Teacher Evaluation Results "Don't Reflect Reality," Says Cuomo

Quotes2It is incredible to believe [teachers' high scores are] an accurate reflection of the state of education in New York. I think we have to go back to work on the teacher evaluation process. - NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in Capital New York (Cuomo: High teacher scores 'not real')

Charts: Dismal Poll Results For Charters, Vouchers, & Ending Teacher Tenure

image from s3.amazonaws.com

Private school vouchers and charter school expansion don't fare nearly as well with the public as various changes to improving classroom teaching -- but not ending teacher tenure -- according to this chart from last week's Third Way report (What Americans Want from Democrats on Education). Of course, the results might have been different if the language had been "streamlining" tenure or something else less absolute. Image used with permission.  

Charts: "Modernizing" Teaching Outpolls Poverty-Focused Agenda

image from s3.amazonaws.comAccording to last week's Third Way report (What Americans Want from Democrats on Education), modernizing the teaching profession outpolls a poverty-focused agenda not only among the general public but also among teachers, Democrats, and Millennials.  Liberals see the two options as roughly equal in importance. Image used with permission.

Thompson: Duncan & Other Reformers Should Apologize (Like Tony Bennett)

Mike Kline FlickrIt is hard to realize you are wrong on something important in the middle of a busy school day. But, many, many times, settling in at home, a light went on, and I realized that I owed a student an apology. 

Perhaps I’m naïve, but if President Obama would apologize for imposing the full, untested and dangerous corporate reform agenda on schools, wouldn’t teachers be as gracious as my students were when I would say, “I’m sorry?” 

Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has issued a series of non-apologies, criticizing the way that testing sucks the oxygen out of schools, but he has made little effort to curtail its damage.  

Why can’t Duncan and President Obama acknowledge that their policies were as insulated from education reality as those of the famously “tone-deaf” Indiana Chief for Change Tony Bennett?  The IndyStar’s Tim Swarens’ reports, in I Was a (Bleep) Candidate, that the hard-charging and defeated reformer is now remorseful and contemplative. Bennett is now candid about the way his daughter, a teacher, pushed back against his attacks on her profession. He admits, "I saw anyone who disagreed with me on an issue like vouchers as a defender of the status quo." 

Oops! I guess I’m still naively hoping that true believers will face up to the harm done by their self-righteousness and scorched earth politics. Tom LoBianco of the AP Press reports that Bennett now has no comment regarding the inspector general's report on his 2012 campaign activities that has been forwarded to federal prosecutors.

Continue reading "Thompson: Duncan & Other Reformers Should Apologize (Like Tony Bennett)" »

Morning Video: Complicated Politics Surrounding Renewed Push For Early Childhood Education

This NBC Nightly News segment describes how quality early childhood education can be enormously beneficial, childcare costs as much or more than private college in many places, and President Obama rolled out a pared-down early childhood education expansion last week. But National Journal notes that the politics of early education are not nearly as straightforward as they may seem. 

Quotes: It Isn't Always The Best Nonprofits That Get The Big Money

Quotes2For every organization like Teach for America that catches fire and goes national, there are myriad smaller initiatives that struggle in the trenches for years, never quite breaking into the big time—and maybe missing their moments to do so. - Inside Philanthropy (After Years in the Trenches, Is This Ed Group Going to Break Out?)

Morning Listen: On Freakonomics, Housing Project Program Helps Kids Turn Around

"A program run out of a Toronto housing project has had great success in turning around kids who were headed for trouble." (How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps)

Maps: The More (Charter Authorizers) The Merrier?

image from www.qualitycharters.orgHere's a map from the new NACSA @qualitycharters report on state charter authorizers showing how many authorizers each state has.  The more the merrier, in general, though obviously that's not always the case since Ohio has lots and Arizona has few. Read the report here

Charts: Student Retention Rate Drops (Was Never That High)

Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 10.49.50 AMStudent retention has never been all that high, nationally. A new AERA study shows that, after peaking at 2.9 percent in 2005, overall retention rates for grades 1 through 9 declined to 1.5 percent in 2009-10 (Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010).

 

Update: USDE Alt Cert Report Now Over A Year Late

Way back in 2012, Congress called on the USDE to issue a report on the number and distribution of alternative certification teachers in US classrooms as a condition of extending the provision that makes alt cert teachers highly qualified under NCLB.  

The HQT waiver is good through 2016, which is why there wasn't any need for a rider in the 2015 spending bill currently under consideration.  (The union waiver, known as HOUSSE, is permanent and doesnt't require updating.)

But the report was supposed to come out in December 2013 -- a year ago.  But it hasn't been heard of.

Related posts: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" About Highly Qualified Teachers"Technical Amendments" In The Fiscal Cliff Deal?Alt Cert: TFA "Interns" Allowed To Keep Teaching ELLs (For Now)Budget Deal Gives TFA Another Two Years.

Continue reading "Update: USDE Alt Cert Report Now Over A Year Late" »

Morning Audio: "Freakonomics" Covers Teaching Debate

"Is the problem here that our students aren’t getting very bright simply because … our teachers aren’t very bright? That’s the question we ask in our latest Freakonomics Radio episode. It’s called “Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” The conversation features Kline, Levin, Goldstein, and Freidman. Transcript here. Other Freakonomics podcasts of interest: How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps. Other Freakonomics writing about education here.

Charts: Decline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comBlack-white segregation is declining, notes the New Republic notes (Black-White Segregation Is Steadily Declining) but adults and school-age children are affected differently (see chart above) and schools remain something of a segregation holdout.

Media: CJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" Myth

There are lots of myths in education and education reporting, and the Columbia Journalism Review highlights one of them in its latest post (The Texas school board isn't as powerful as you think), calling out Reuters, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Vice, and the Brownsville Herald (and praising the AP and the Houston Chronicle). 

"The Texas-textbook story is not the same as it was when the board approved materials in 2002. Reporters should not be telling it as if it is."

In a lengthy post, CJR points out that the familiar narrative of an all-powerful school board setting the textbook agenda for the nation is outdated and inaccurate "As far back as 2010, professionals in the textbook industry were already telling the Texas Tribune that the story about the state school board’s influence was “an urban myth.” But it's fun and easy to retell, focusing as it does on Texas, religion, and dysfunctional education bureaucracy. So folks jump on it, whether they know better or not.

What's CJR get wrong or leave out? What other myths are still getting passed along by education reporters and media outlets?  Vox's Libby Anderson recently highlighted 5 things about standardized testing that you don't always find in testing stories. I'm sure there are others out there.

Related posts: Why Journos Overstate Federal InfluencePlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos6 Key Critiques Of Media Coverage Of EducationHow Reporters Got Sucked Into Value-Added DebacleResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask.

 

Thompson: Common Core's Potential

The story line of NPR’s four stories on Common Core was entirely predictable. The excellence of reporting was equally predictable, as well as the great teaching it showcased. Even so, it left me more saddened than ever about the Common Core fiasco. 

Emily Hanford, in Common Core Reading: "The New Colussus," began the series with a teacher, Linnea Wolters, assuming that her students would not be able to handle the complexity of a sonnet. She keeps an open mind, teaches the lesson with fidelity and is pleasantly surprised, “Wolters was amazed. She'd rarely seen her kids so excited about learning. And she had no idea they could succeed with such a challenging text. She couldn't wait to tell her colleagues about what had happened.” 

This is consistent with my experience. Low-skilled students despise the “dummying down” of instruction. They want the respect that is demonstrated when they are taught for mastery of challenging materials and concepts. Moreover, many or most teachers welcome assistance in helping students “dig deep.”

Then, Corey Turner explains, we must wrestle with the question of how do we teach complex reading in a way that “doesn't just lead to tears and frustration?” He summarizes the findings of cognitive scientist Dan Willingham who explains why background knowledge is more important than a child's reading skills. "Kids who, on standard reading tests, show themselves to be poor readers, when you give them a text that's on a topic they happen to know a whole lot about, they suddenly look like terrific readers." 

The NPR reporter concludes that although some Common Core architects may deny it, background knowledge “is just too important to ignore” when teaching reading. “The trick is, don't overdo it.” 

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core's Potential" »

Charts: Common Core Implementation By The Numbers

image from s3.amazonaws.comIf you read the news too much or live in New York or Chicago you might be excused for thinking that Common Core was universally controversial and that the pushback was widespread. Here's a somewhat different way to look at Common Core, rather than focusing on the handful of controversial states and media coverage of conflicts, via centrist DC think tank Third Way.  Caveats: It's undated, and focuses on the standards not the assessments or their uses.

Update: Cosby Allegations Raise Tough Education Issues

Last week, NPQ discussed the issue of Cosby's board memberships (Must Nonprofits Change Their Relationship with Bill Cosby?), and I'm told that StudentsFirst has now removed the entertainer from its board.

But there's another, deeper issue, which is the reminder of our persistent collective refusal to acknowledge hard truths (or at least widespread allegations) that are uncomfortable or require a reconsideration of past beliefs:

What of today's deeply held beliefs or school practices do we arlready know are wrong, but just can't bear to acknowledge or change? And who is speaking hard truths but is being ignored - for now? 

Quotes: Weingarten May Be Helping Bush By Calling Him Out

Quotes2

[Bush] says he wants to break up so-called ‘monopolies’ of public education, forgetting that public education is a public good, a moral imperative and a constitutional mandate in many of this country’s states, including Florida. - Randin Weingarten via WSJ (Fight With Unions May Benefit Jeb Bush)

Thompson: Joel Klein's Heedless Rush to Impose Transformative Change

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 11.47.57 AMThere is an old saying that tough judicial cases make bad law. Applying the legal maxim to education, challenging school districts like New York City, because of its size, might or might not resort to extraordinary measures. If leaders of those systems, rightly or wrongly, take extreme (not to mention extremely expensive) measures, they should not necessarily be seen as precedents or best practices to be scaled up nationwide. 

Even though I would be afraid of allowing Joel Klein to offer guidance for my 90% low-income school system, which spends around $8000 per student per year, it might or might not be valuable to go deeper into Klein’s Lessons of Hope for insights from his years at the helm of NYC’s schools. By the way, Klein had as much new money to spend, per student, as our district spends in total. So, the next step might be a discussion of whether Klein’s approach was cost effective.

The prime issue, however, is whether it makes sense to eschew incrementalism and only aim for radical or “transformative” change.

Joel Klein does not claim he was the most mild-mannered of federal prosecutors, but he is most explicit in describing his time in the White House as preparation for his job as Chancellor of the NYC schools. During the Clinton administration, he experienced “a constant mix of strategy, hardball negotiation, and insider backbiting.” Clearly, he assumed that this take-no-prisoners mentality was necessary in order to produce rapid and disruptive change.

The cornerstone of the Klein approach to school improvement was his assumption that he must ramrod “transformational change.”  When he first met UFT President Randi Weingarten, Klein asked for her view of the appropriate pace of change. “Sustainable and incremental change,” was Weingarten’s reply. Klein didn’t seem to ask himself whether he should learn more on that subject from this far more experienced person. He responded, “No, no, it must be radical reform.”

The part of Lessons of Hope that has generated the most buzz are Klein’s lengthy quotations of emails with Diane Ravitch and his speculation that the personal dispute caused her to shift gears and oppose school reform in New York and elsewhere.  Even if those pages were to be read in a purely political manner, it seems questionable that a newcomer like Klein would not enthusiastically welcome the “smart and experienced” Mary Butz into his principal leadership team. As was often the case in these pivotal decisions, Klein sided with his inner circle because Butz’s approach “didn’t emphasize the type of transformational leadership that we thought was necessary.” (emphasis mine)

Continue reading "Thompson: Joel Klein's Heedless Rush to Impose Transformative Change" »

Media: Washington Post's Valerie Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves

It always makes me a little bit nervous when Valerie Strauss tries to go back to straight news reporting after all those weeks and months blogging and sharing material that's pretty uniformly critical of the current school reform movement. (New America's Kevin Carey once described Strauss's much-read blog as "The premiere Web destination for doctrinaire anti-reformist rhetoric and shoddy education research.") 
Then again she and others probably feel the same way about my work.

Earlier this year, the Post ran a front-page story by Strauss about allegations that Arne Duncan was trying to influence the choice of NYC chancellor under Mayor de Blasio.  I and others had some questions about the reporting, editing, and decision to assign the story to Strauss.

The latest example is a little story about changes within Team Duncan (Duncan’s communications chief leaving for Teach For America), which to my perhaps paranoid reading seems to be making a nefarious tragedy out of Massie Ritsch's departure for TFA.

Duncan is "losing" Ritsch after two years at the top communications spot within USDE. Duncan had the gall to praise TFA founder Wendy Kopp for highlighting the aspects of great teaching but ignored former NEA head Van Roekel. Duncan's first press secretary now works for Joel Klein at Amplify.

For some measure of balance, Strauss notes that Cunningham's accomplishments include getting Duncan on the Rolling Stone Agents of Change list. (She's wrong - getting Duncan on Colbert was Cunningham's biggest coup, or perhaps it was keeping Duncan away from the media after he jumped into the gay marriage debate ahead of the White House.) She also added Ritsch's "so, long" email after first publishing the post.

At TFA, Ritsch will be replacing Aimée Eubanks Davis as head of TFA’s Public Affairs and Engagement team. She's moving over to head Beyond Z, a new student leadership and 21st century skill building initiative she launched last year.

Related posts: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education)Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?About That Front-Page Washington Post StoryEducation's Huffington PostParent Trigger: An "Easy" Button For Parents & Kids.

Morning Video: Debating Rice's "Racist Liberals" Claim

 

In case you missed it from last week, here's Condoleeza Rice's claim that failing neighborhood schools and the inequality that comes with them are racist, along with a link to Citizen Stewart's examination of the claim.

AM News: NYC Debates Whether Charters Push Out More Students Than District Schools

New York Chancellor Is Criticized for Remarks on Charter Schools NYT: Carmen Fariña said at a conference that some charter schools push students out before they take state tests and later replace them with high-scoring children.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan's communications chief leaving for Teach For TFA Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is losing his second communications chief in two years. Massie Ritsch, the acting assistant secretary for communications and outreach, is leaving his job to take a new position at TFA.

At union rallies across L.A., teachers seek more than just a pay hike LA Times: The demonstrations were intended to make a statement about union solidarity over contract demands. United Teachers Los Angeles is seeking a one-year, permanent 10% raise, while also putting forward an agenda on staffing levels, classroom conditions and policies aimed at improving academic results.

Texas Approves Disputed History Texts for Schools NYT: Texas’ State Board of Education has approved new history textbooks, capping months of outcry over lessons that some academics say exaggerate the influence of Moses and negatively portray Muslims. See also WNYC.

Tennessee’s Common Core backtrack strands teachers, students Hechinger Report:  For the past three years, that’s included a significant shift away from the state’s traditional academic benchmarks and toward the Common Core, a set of more difficult standards.

School district near Ferguson cancels classes AP: A school district that includes some students from Ferguson, Missouri, is calling off classes Monday and Tuesday, citing potential unrest if a much-anticipated grand jury announcement occurs soon....

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Debates Whether Charters Push Out More Students Than District Schools" »

TV: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, Too

image from cloudfront.mediamatters.orgMediaMatters notes that educators make up just one in ten of the guests on cable news segments related to education, which Valerie Strauss regards as a big problem.  

MSNBC does the best percentage-wise in terms of booking educators as guests -- but not by that much. CNN does the worst.  Fox -- this may surprise you -- comes in the middle.

What jumps out at me even more than this issue is that there are so few education segments, over all.

Granted, Morning Joe is not included -- a favorite for Randi Weingarten and Campbell Brown alike. And NBC News still does a fair amount of education coverage, along with PBS NewsHour.

But still. Looking at evening news shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, there were just 185 total guests in 10 months.  CNN booked the fewest - by far.  Fox and MSNBC came in much higher, quantity-wise.

Take a look at the full MM story here. Image used courtesy MediaMatters.

Related posts: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show.

 

Journalism: Media Narrative Shifted Dramatically During Post-Midterm Period

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Check out my latest Scholastic column here if you want to read about how media coverage of the 2014 midterms shifted sharply during the first few days after the results were known -- and how upon examination nobody's claims of victory seemed as strong as was being claimed. 

One issue that didn't make it into the piece was just how flat-footed the teachers unions seemed initially in their responses to the reformers' claims of victory, as in the AFT canceling a press conference without considering how that would look (or whether there was an opportunity to counter the reform narrative before it got rolling).

Another key angle is that the media covering the midterms and some of those commenting on them initially seemed to take the reformers' claims of victory at face value rather than taking a more skeptical view of the claims or a harder look at the results. 

Maps: States Where Lots Of Students With Undocumented Parents Attend School

image from www.pewhispanic.org

No surprise that President Obama is going to announce his big deportation relief plan at a Las Vegas high school, given that a whopping 18 percent of kids in Nevada schools have at least one parent without documentation.  That's according to a Pew study that HuffPost's Rebecca Klein wrote about yesterday. Read all about it here. Image used with permission.

Quotes: Trapped In Failing Schools

Quotes2I’ll tell you what I think is the biggest problem of race today, it’s poor black children trapped in failing neighborhood schools. - Condoleezza Rice on Fox via Brietbart

Thompson: A Teacher's Review of Kristof and WuDunn's A Path Appears

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 19 13.20I loved A Path Appears, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It deals with global issues and a variety of philanthropic and grassroots paths to tackling poverty, ignorance, and violence. I doubt that readers are very interested in my non-expert opinions on international issues, so I will limit this post to musing about Kristof’s and WuDunn’s approach to American educational challenges.

Chapter Ten, “Coaching Troubled Teens,” starts with a quote by Immanuel Kant, “Act so you treat humanity … always as an end and never as a means.”

The chapter begins with a visit to Tulsa where 8th graders were engaged in a curriculum focused on avoiding teenage pregnancy developed by Michael Carrera. This program, ranked as “top-tiered” in effectiveness costs $2,300 per student and it would be a bargain even if it didn’t get students started with a savings account, financial literacy, and medical care.

Kristof and WuDunn then breeze through a paragraph that includes the ridiculous – but oft repeated - soundbite that if African American students had teachers from the top 25% in “effectiveness” for four years, that the achievement gap would be closed. Those of us obsessed with education issues can anticipate what was cited in the footnotes, the economic theory of Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff that has been repeatedly misrepresented as research relevant to real world policy.

Educators, like me, are likely to get flustered and complain about the methodological flaws of Chetty et. al, and protest about the way they have allowed their regression studies to be used as intellectually dishonest props in a legal and political assault on teachers.

Perhaps Kristof and WuDunn take the wiser approach. They move on, writing “We must also rethink the role of schools in low-income communities.” The rest of the chapter argues for full-service community schools. Kristof and WuDunn may not have mentioned the way that the “teacher quality” focus of the corporate reform movement has undermined the science-based policies they advocate, but they make the case which teachers, education scholars, and unions have tried to make for overcoming the legacies of poverty.

Continue reading "Thompson: A Teacher's Review of Kristof and WuDunn's A Path Appears" »

Polls: CA Public Views Of Common Core Show Wide Variations

PACE USC Poll Common CoreEast Coast types might think that how things are playing out in New York is how they're playing out nationally, but these new poll results from California (USC via EdSource) show widespread (though declining) unfamiliarity among the public about the Common Core and a wide range of views on the standards. To see the poll data itself, click here, find the link, download a copy and find the charts you want on page 2. Images used with permission. Anyone seen state by state polling data comparing views from one place to another?

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Interruptions Drain 25 Days/Year From Poor CA High Schools

Poor CA high schools lose 25 days/year to various interruptions, notes @jillbarshay http://ow.ly/EuwcR  @FordFoundation @hechingerreport

The Case Against Universal Preschool - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/EsJsT  @aliaemily FYI @conorpwilliams @ffyf

In New Republican Congress, Charters a Focus – But Not Much Else | National Title I Association http://ow.ly/EtwNv  @titlei

How Strict Is Too Strict? - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/EtqKv  What does Carr miss or get wrong, if anything?

Tomorrow in Chicago: The Atlantic's @tanehisicoates ("The case for reparations") will be at North Lawndale College Prep and the IOP 

All this and more throughout the day at @alexanderrusso

Journalism: Hits & Misses In NPR's "Overtesting" Story

So-called "overtesting" is probably the easiest story on the education beat to do right now, and I'm no saint I did one too last winter for the Atlantic's education page. But there aren't any real numbers out there and so it's very easy to fall into using eye-catching anecdotes that may or may not be representative and also to fall prey to the presumption that overtesting is a thing when we really don't know that is.

That's I think what happened to this new NPR education story (Testing: How Much Is Too Much?), which while far from the worst of the overtesting stories I've seen lately would have done better to focus less on critics of testing (Brockett and Jasper) and extreme examples and more on the reality that we don't know as much as we'd like about the prevalence of testing in schools over all and that there are folks out there (including civil rights groups) who think that testing is essential for school accountability and are worried about losing annual tests or going back to a previous era when the public didn't really know how students were doing. 

All that being said, there aren't any obviously sketchy or misleading numbers in the NPR piece like last week's NYT story included, and are some great bits, too: There are some vivid #edgifs showing a kid who has to take lots of end of year exams that are fun to look at (I've tweeted and Tumblred them but can't show them here without permission). I'm really glad that NPR used and linked to the Chiefs/Great Cities survey of large districts, and the CAP study of 14 districts. I didn't know that the White House had put out a statement on the issue. 

Last but not least, the NPR story addresses the notion that tests have gotten added without any attempt to remove their predecessors in a fun, stylish way: " The CCSSO survey describes testing requirements that have seemingly multiplied on their own without human intervention, like hangers piling up in a closet." The layering on of testing regimens without regard to burden or legacy testing will, I am guessing, turn out to be at the root of much of what some parents and teachers and testing critics are clamoring about.

Related posts: NYT Journo Tweets Out "60-80 Days" Of Testing ClarificationPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

Slideshow: Who Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn't

Here's an interesting look at who funds edtech pointing out that traditional funders don't all approach the sector the same way -- and that there are some challenges as a result.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Charts: Look At Kentucky & New York "Before & After" Scores

image from cdn0.vox-cdn.com
Thanks to Vox for pulling up these before (green) and after (yellow) bar graphs showing how Kentucky and New York kids did on Common Core-aligned assessments, which gives us a rough idea of how kids in other states will do this spring. Click here to read more about the projected dropoffs in 2015.  Image courtesy Vox.

AM News: Get Ready For Low Common Core Test Scores This Spring

Under half of students projected to test well EdSource Today: Projections released Monday predict that fewer than half of students in California and other states will score at grade level on tests next spring on the Common Core standards.

Poll: Voters know little about Common Core EdSource Today: More than half of California voters said they knew nothing or very little about the state’s new Common Core standards for English language arts and math, according to a newly released report by the Policy Analysis for California Education/USC Rossier School of Education.

Teachers union sees ‘surprising common ground’ with Lamar Alexander Tennessean: But while Eskelsen García supports a rewrite of No Child Left Behind that would do away with that waiver approach, NEA has long drawn a hard line against school vouchers and charter schools — two areas that Alexander has promoted legislatively.

Phila. schools see 40 applications for new charters Philadelphia Inquirer: After the Philadelphia School District announced that it would accept applications for new charter schools for the first time in seven years, it received 40, the district said Monday.

Walton Family Foundation Funds Parent-Engagement Efforts in New Orleans EdWeek: A $1.2 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation will help the Urban League of Greater New Orleans' increase its parent outreach efforts.

FCC Chair Wants Fee Hike to Expand Internet Access ABC: FCC chair proposes small hike in phone fees to expand Internet coverage to low-income areas.

Number of international students on U.S. campuses at an all-time high PBS NewsHour: More than 886,000 students came from foreign countries to study at U.S. colleges and universities during the 2013-14 school year, an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Get Ready For Low Common Core Test Scores This Spring" »

Events: Inside The Secret World Of The Spencer Journalism Fellowship

Spencers2014-2015
Saturday was the occasion of the annual Spencer Journalism Fellowship reunion, during which the new fellows (pictured) are officially introduced to the alumni and given their secret instructions.  This year's fellows (Linda, Mitra, and Joy) are focusing on poverty, resegregation of schools, and special education respectively.  Read below for some notes and tidbits from the event, as well as encouragement to apply for the fellowship this winter and make us all proud with the project you produce.

Continue reading "Events: Inside The Secret World Of The Spencer Journalism Fellowship" »

Charts: Experiences Of Sexual Violence In High School

image from america.aljazeera.com

Check out the startling statistics presented above (based on an AAUW study) and more at this Al Jazeera America story.  Harassment and related issues aren't a standard education policy topic but they're an important and real part of too many students' lives. 

Books: The 2014 Teaching Book You Probably Haven't Heard Of

image from www.nybooks.comThe latest issue of the New York Review includes a roundup review of three education boooks, including two you probably already know (Goldstein and Green's) and one you may not have heard of.  
 
It's Garret Keizer's "Getting Schooled," and it's a year-in-the-life kind of book rather than a history or an overview like the other two.  
Read the book?  Tell us what you thought.  Think it's useful to understanding today's teacher prep and support quandries?  We want to know.
 
Read the group review here (full text requires subscription): Why Is American Teaching So Bad?

Read a review of Keizer's book: 'Getting Schooled' by Garret Keizer.

Or click below for a Harper's excerpt from the book which seems to have appeared way back in 2011.

 

Continue reading "Books: The 2014 Teaching Book You Probably Haven't Heard Of" »

Morning Video: Harvard Students Fail 1964 Louisiana Voting Literacy Test

This video has been going around the past few days -- I have no idea if it's legit or not, but obviously the appeal is that it cuts a bunch of different ways: Tests are bad. Voting tests are bad. Racial discrimination is bad. Harvard students aren't as smart as they think they are. Take your pick. Link here.

AM News: Nearly 30 State Supes Change Over In Under Three Years

What's the Turnover for State Education Chiefs in Recent Years? State EdWatch: In the past 33 months, 29 states have replaced their state K-12 chiefs at least once, or are officially scheduled to replace their state K-12 chiefs due to last week's elections or for other reasons. 

Montgomery schools chief cites both successes and urgency in closing gaps Washington Post: Montgomery County must redouble its efforts to close the achievement gap between students of different racial and socioeconomic groups, while preparing all students for success in a 21st century world, the school system’s leader said this week in his yearly “State of the Schools” address.

Smarter Balanced tests are still a work in progress EdSource Today: The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium provided a sneak peek for their final computer-adaptive tests in early October, tests to be administered to roughly 25 percent of the country’s grade 3-8 and 11 students in spring 2015 to measure, initially, status and, eventually, growth in achievement on the new Common Core academic standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Privacy Concerns for ClassDojo and Other Tracking Apps for Schoolchildren NYT: Many teachers say the ClassDojo app helps them automate the task of recording classroom conduct, but some critics say such apps are being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness.

Common Core Reading: Difficult, Dahl, Repeat NPR: Backers of the Common Core say it's important for kids to tackle complex texts. Critics argue that reading shouldn't be a struggle for kids. We'll visit one classroom that borrows from both sides.

Info on 8,000 Seattle Schools students improperly released Seattle Times: Seattle Public Schools is asking for federal help to figure out how a law firm working for the district released the personal information about students receiving special-education services.

Child Homelessness on the Rise in US ABC News: New report details rise of child homelessness in US, says more affordable housing needed.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Nearly 30 State Supes Change Over In Under Three Years" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: More Research Showing Disparate Impacts Of Teacher Hiring/Transfer Practices

New Harvard/Kane study shows how teacher hiring/transfer practices in LAUSD puts black minority kids at a disadvantage - http://ow.ly/Eiwos 

Organizers behind students protesting against TFA deny that they are acting as surrogates for union funders http://ow.ly/EitSQ 

Call it "corporate reform" not because of profit-making, but because it's so top-down, says @drjohnthompson http://bit.ly/116bW7Q 

Five states have shut down/threatened to shut virtual charter company K12 Inc, reports @bloombergnews http://ow.ly/Ehhxc 

State warning parents against opting Illinois kids out of #PARCC test http://sun-tim.es/1ot8yPh " implies consequences

Baltimore-based RiShawn Biddle is covering Minneapolis better than local newsrooms, says MinnPost's @BethHawkins http://ow.ly/EiCqP

 

Journalism: Looking Back At The First Year Of The Seattle Times' EdLab

It's been a year now since the Seattle Times and the Solutions Journalism Network launched EdLab, a Gates-funded effort to focus less on conflict and failure and delve deeper into what's working in public schools.  

And according to this SJN blog post (Moving the needle) things seem to have been going pretty well. Quantity-wise, the Times has produced "more than a dozen major features, accompanied by video documentaries, guest opinion pieces, Q&As, and hundreds of shorter articles and blog posts – all informed by the solutions lens."

And, according to an online surveys of readers,"People have noticed. They do seem to care. For many, solutions coverage does seem to be changing the perceptions of problems in schools and how they might be addressed." Just as important, they seem to be able to tell the difference between a solutions story and normal newspaper coverage.

There's no mention in the post about the controversy -- real or ginned-up -- earlier this year about the Times accepting Gates funding (Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?), or the concern about student data sharing that came up between the EdLab and Seattle Public Radio last winter (8 Cool Things I Learned At #EWAEarlyEd). Indeed, there are times when the Times is covering the Gates Foundation (Rush-hour protest by teachers to target the Gates Foundation).

What happens next? I have no idea.  But the LearningLab in MA has recently popped up on my radar screen, so maybe I'll write about them next. 

Morning Video: Before New Orleans (Or DC), There Was Chicago

Chicago Schools: Worst in the Nation? from Siskel/Jacobs Productions on Vimeo.

It was a cash-strapped city, a dysfunctional bureaucracy, and a national reputation for low-performing schools. But did Chicago deserve its reputation, and what's happened since to make things better?

Maps: Many States Now Provide "Early Warning" Reports For Struggling Students

image from a.scpr.org

Here's a map of states with early warning systems, described in this Marketplace story as the result of  a "steady stream of student data, like GPA, attendance, demerits, and test scores" that allow administrators to "peer into the future and spot the 7th and 8th graders most at risk of dropping out of high school in the future." (Using data to predict students headed for trouble). Image used with permission.

Journalism: Replacing "Reformers" & "Reform Critics" With What?

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn raises the nagging issue of journalists using the word "reform" in their work, noting that it's unfair and misleading (in education and other contexts).  

It's not a new concern.  Some newsrooms have already decided against it.  Via Twitter, EdWeek's Sawchuk tells us that reporters there are banned from using it.  

And it's not just those who aren't reformers who might be ready for a change. Some reformers -- notably John Deasy -- came to hate the highly charged term, since it lumped him in with others he thought were more extreme or had other agendas.

I'm open to using another term, and have toyed with alternatives to reform/reform critic in the past.  But 2010's "reformy" never took off like I hoped it would, and 2013's "reformsters" was also a dud.  

So what to call them, and what to call them who oppose them?

 

 

AM News: School Funding Lawsuits On The Move In CO & PA

Denver court rejects dismissal of education funding lawsuit Colorado Public Radio: A Denver trial court has rejected the state of Colorado’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that has major implications for how much money school districts get from the state.  

Common Core Reading: The High Achievers NPR:The Common Core State Standards are changing reading instruction in many schools. And that means new challenges for lots of students, even traditional high achievers.

Why so few white kids land in Chicago Public Schools — and why it matters WBEZ: Roughly half of all white children who could go to CPS do, while the other half gets their education somewhere else. We’ll get into the ramifications for the district a little later, but first let’s take a closer look at how white parents make this decision.

Using data to predict students headed for trouble Marketplace: These school interventions take a lot of forms, everything from special-ed evaluations, to behavioral counseling, to mentoring, to intervention classes in a subject area back at Principal Birch’s middle school in Vacaville.

School district scraps religious names on calendar AP: Presented with the opportunity to recognize a Muslim holiday on the school calendar for the first time, leaders of Maryland's largest school district went a different direction: They removed all mention of religious holidays from the calendar.... See also WashPostVox.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: School Funding Lawsuits On The Move In CO & PA" »

Magazines: More Disclosure Problems For "The Nation"

image from www.wikicu.com

Remember up-and-coming young reporter George [@georgejoseph94] Joseph wrote that big piece in The Nation about TFA a week or so ago?Yeah, you remember.

We already know that he didn't bother reporting that the group behind the anti-TFA campus protests, ASUS, is union-funded.  And -- thanks to New America's Conor Williams -- we also know that his main concern that TFA was tipped off about a FOIA request turns out to be standard operating procedure for federal grantees.  

But now there's more -- not a lot more, but still. I'm procrastinating here and this is helping.  Joseph's bio blurb at The Nation says he's a Columbia undergrad and who he's written for.  All good there.  But his bio at In These Times is a little different, noting that he organizes with a student activist group called Student Worker Solidarity (that's their logo - nice!).

Why wasn't that disclosed in his TFA story, and why is The Nation taking stories from people with what seems like obvious conflicts of interest. Identifying as a member of a student activist group is something that I, at least, want to know when I'm reading a story about student activism -- and something that the editors at The Nation should have considered before taking or assigning the story and in its bio blurb of the writer. 

Video: While Away The Afternoon WIth Khan, Hastings, & Williams, Vanity Fair-Style

Here's a half-hour talk with Sal Khan, Reed Hastings, and Jane Williams - plus a link to the Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair portrait of Khan and a profile by EdSec Arne Duncan.

Update: NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing Clarification

Kudos to NYT Miami bureau chief Lizette Alvarez, who tweeted out last night that the eye-popping 60-80 days per year figure she cited for testing days in Florida in her Monday story wasn't an "every kid, all day situation."

It's not quite a formal correction, but to be fair you could read the original line different ways.  Here's the post that generated at least some of the questions about the original NYT story:  Are There *Really* 60-80 Days "Dedicated" To Testing In FLA?

Thanks also to everyone at FairTest, the FLDOE, EWA, and ExcelinED for helping try and dig out the facts behind the figure, which turned out to be the total number of days during which testing could be conducted -- the "window" of time rather than the actual number of days kids spend testing. Obiously, we still need a simple, comprable way to talk about testing burdens from district to district and school to school.  Where's the NCEE when you need them?

Related posts: Please Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

 

 

Research: New Orleans Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study

Here's something you don't see every day - in fact I can't think of it happening ever before (though surely it must have): The ED of the Cowen Institute at Tulane, John Ayers, has resigned after a report came out and had to be withdrawn, according to Higher Education via Politico  (Education Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study). The study came out and was withdrawn 9 days later, and now Ayers is gone at the end of this month.  It's not clear why the study was withdrawn, or whether there were issues with its review as well as its methodology, or whether Ayers left because of the report or because of its withdrawal. Know more about the report or the circumstances? Let us know in comments or ping me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ

Teacher Training Is A Ridiculously Easy Way To Ace College, Report Says Huffington Post: At 58 percent of 509 schools, "teacher preparation programs are much more likely to confer high grades than are other majors on the same campus," the report says. While an average of 30 percent of all students graduated "cum laude," 44 percent of teacher preparation students received the honor. The report calls the results "a wake-up call for higher education."

What Obama’s Inequity Nudge Means for San Diego Schools Voices of SD: The new union president, Lindsay Burningham, made clear when we talked with her in August that she didn’t see much need to change the evaluation process, putting any room for error on the administrator carrying out each review.

Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts WSJ: As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

Seeking Big K-12 Plans From Governors for 2015? Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Delivers State EdWatch: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has presented a wide-ranging package of education initiatives that include a focus on early education, reading, and English-language learners.

Portland Schools Urged To Scrap Transfers To Boost Racial Diversity Huffington Post: These allow students to switch to schools in different neighborhoods, but they must enter a lottery if spots are limited. There is also a separate lottery system for students hoping to transfer to selective "magnet" schools which offer advanced curriculums.

Goodbye, Snow Days: Students Study From Home ABC: Goodbye, snow days: Students across the nation increasingly hit the books from home.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ" »

Video: TIME Editor Defends Controversial Vergara Story & Cover

Here's an MSNBC segment from a couple of weeks ago that you (like me) may have missed at the time, in which the TIME editor Nancy Gibbs explains the story -- including the notable use of the courts to bypass a broken legislative process - and reflects on the response to the story:

 

Gibbs rejects the notion that the story is anti-teacher -- a frequent claim made against reformers and journalists who write about reform -- but fumbles a bit I thought when she's asked why there weren't more apples on the cover, or a question mark along with the headline. For this and more of a view from the conservative side of things, check out the Media Matters roundup (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story). Meantime: pageviews!

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.