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Charts: Children On Food Stamps Doubled Since 2007, Says Census Bureau

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"The Census bureau finds about 16 million – or one in five – US children lived in families that received food stamps in 2014" Census image via The Guardian

AM News: Spending On K-12 Education Dropped - Again

Nation’s per-pupil K-12 funding fell for second consecutive year in 2012 Washington Post: After more than a decade of increases in per-pupil funding for K-12 public schools, the nation’s per-pupil spending dropped in 2012 for the second year in a row, according to data released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. See also HuffPost: Here Are The States That Spend The Most On Public School Students.

Number of US children living on food stamps nearly doubles since 2007 The Guardian: Census bureau finds about 16 million – or one in five – US children lived in families that received food stamps in 2014.

Obama's Budget Would Undo Broad, Automatic Cuts Made In 2013 NPR: The across-the-board spending cuts made in 2013, known as the sequester, reduced defense and domestic budgets by hundreds of millions each. Republicans are expected to fiercely defend that plan. See also Politico's: How Democrats killed Obamas college savings plan.

MoCo Schools Superintendent Could Be Let Go This Year WAMU: The county board of education is unlikely to renew Starr's contract, which is up in June, according to the Washington Post. See also Washington Post: Montgomery schools chief may face uphill battle on board.

Gov. Cuomo’s big fix for evaluations bucks national trend ChalkbeatNY: In Washington, D.C., state test scores dropped from 50 to 35 percent of evaluations two years ago. In Wisconsin, teachers have been given broad discretion in choosing how student performance was factored into their evaluations.

Teachers ask high court to hear union dues case EdSource Today: Attorneys for teachers who are challenging the right of the California Teachers Association to force them to pay union dues petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to hear their case this year. There’s a good chance that it will

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

Continue reading "AM News: Spending On K-12 Education Dropped - Again" »

Quotes: Vast Majority Of Testing Required By Teachers, Schools, & Districts

Quotes2Let’s be clear: 90% or more of the “testing” that occurs in schools is under the control of the teacher and the school district.  -- NH State Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather in testimony before Senate HELP Committe (as prepared)

Thompson: What Happens When Research Gets To The Schoolhouse

Jack Schneider begins his excellent From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse with the observation that academic research usually has a short-lived impact on the classroom. No matter how brilliant the scholar, research findings are "like names written on a steam-covered window, they fade from view."

From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse takes a "glass half-full" approach. It acknowledges that the "avalanche of disparate research" on education has usually not been intended for use by classroom educators." But, "Some of it is."

Schneider does not despair. He provides hope that, someday, we can create a "research-to-practice superhighway (rather than relying on a series of detours and back alleys)" in seeking the path toward school improvement. Probably the best we can do today is carve out a "research-to-practice pathway."

The education historian describes four successes in implementing ideas from the Ivory Tower, Benjamin  Bloom's Taxonomy, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, William Kirkpatrick's The Project Method, and Direct Instruction.  These three progressive concepts, and the final behaviorist approach, took root in public school classrooms, even though they did so "without altering the nature of the teaching profession." In contrast to similar concepts that failed to influence schooling, these successes shared four characteristics: Perceived Significance and Philosophical Compatibility with teachers' world views, Occupational Realism and Transportability to actual classrooms.

These concepts may not have transformed instruction, but they show that teachers can, and will, change and become active agents in their professional development. Moreover, they stand as a reminder that teachers can be as willing to be challenged by new ideas as other professionals.

Continue reading "Thompson: What Happens When Research Gets To The Schoolhouse" »

Think Tanks: UPenn Ranks Urban Institute, RAND, Brookings, Cato, NIEPR, CEPR*

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 1.46.43 PM
So apparently UPenn has been ranking think tanks for a while now, and added a special category for education-focused think tanks in 2012. The latest rankings put the Urban Institute at the top and put Cato and Heritage above AEI so make of that what you will. via Think Tank Watch. 

*Corrected: It's not NIEER, it's NIEPR who came in 5th. Sorry about that!

Morning Audio: The Force Field Of Expectations & The Half-Second Too Soon Rescue

20150122_specials_invisibiliabatman

This recent episode of NPR's new show "Invisibilia" focuses on the "force field" that parent and adult expectations -- however well-intended -- can have on lowering kids' abilities and performance in school and for years later. On a literal level, the show is about rats, blind kids and echo-location. On a symbolic level, it's about how many of us intervene a half-second too early and interrupt an uncomfortable but important learning moment. Don't worry, it's not all symbolic. There's some Carol Dweck in there, too -- and a snippet from a song my dad wrote at the 2:30 mark. Download and transcript here.

AM News: Digging Out From Under All The Blizzard Hype

Snow Day: Blizzard Shutters Schools Across Region WNYC: Snow days for the New York City public school system do not come easily, but with forecasts predicting two feet of snow and wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour, yes: school's canceled.

For Students (and Some Adults), School Cancellation in New York Comes as Welcome News NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city schools would be closed on Tuesday because of the snowstorm, giving some students a reprieve from pending exams.

Hidden Day Care Records And Other State Secrets Seattle Public Radio: State inspection reports of day care providers are public record, but accessing them is still a problem for many parents. Washington state posts records online, but more than a dozen states don’t.

Obama Takes Heat For Proposing To End College Savings Break NPR: President Obama has proposed changing the tax treatment of college savings accounts known as 529 plans. Some are calling this a tax increase on the middle class. See also MMFA: What Media Miss On The Tax Breaks In Obama's Free Community College Plan 

Competency-Based Degree Programs On The Rise NPR: A new report says 52 colleges offer, or plan to offer, some credits based on learning, not just seat time.

Investigation into Md. ‘free-range parenting’ case unresolved after meeting Washington Post: The neglect investigation that started after a Silver Spring couple allowed their children to walk home a mile from a park could continue for another couple of weeks, despite the parents’ hopes that authorities would drop the case at a meeting Monday.

Yale police aim gun at NYT columnist’s son, turn spotlight on racial profiling on campus PBS: The debate over racial profiling — already a hot topic on many college campuses — gained renewed attention this weekend when Yale University police briefly detained a black male student Saturday evening.

Student 'Body Slams' Teacher Who Took Cell Phone (VIDEO) HuffPost: In the video, the 16-year-old suspect goes ballistic when his teacher confiscates his phone. The student appears to wrap his arms around the teacher and knocks him into an empty desk. The student then wrestles with the teacher before slamming him to the floor.

Quotes: Rethinking The Neighborhood School Ideal

Quotes2The neighborhood school might still be the best choice if this were a perfect world with ways to teach well each child wherever she or he might be. We don’t have that. -- Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews (The decline of neighborhood schools causes discomfort. Should it?)

Lunchtime Video: Testing Town Hall

In case you missed it (like I did), here's video of a 90-minute town hall on testing that  took place in Milwaukee in October at the Great City Schools' annual conference. I came across it trying to track down the details behind the overtesting numbers that are being used in the current testing/streamlining debate. Link is here.

Charts: Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor Kids

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 10.35.58 AMFollowing up on Christine Armario's January 15 AP story about the growth of schools offering after-school meals as well as breakfast and lunch, here's a chart and file from the USDA showing which states are serving how many of these kinds of meals.  

The program started in 2010 and served 104 million meals last year - much smaller than the breakfast and lunch programs. 

They call them after-school meals or suppers (which seems quaint, no?).

All states now participate, according to USDA - though as you can see the participation levels vary widely.

I'd love to know how it's worked at some schools to have that available -- for the kids, teachers, and parents. Has it made a difference?

Here's the full list of states (PDF). At Risk Suppers FY2014

 

 

Afternoon Video: PBS NewsHour Covers "The Test"

Here's last night's PBS NewHour segment featuring Anya Kamenetz's new book, The Test. (Is it a high of 113 tests K-12, or is 113 the average?) Not loading properly, or want to read the transcript? Click here.

Thompson: EdReform's White Collar Assault on Blue Collar Schools

The Center for Reinventing Education's Steven Hodas, in Clash of Cultures: Blue Collar, White Collar, and Reform, explains that we who oppose school reform are "correct to have sniffed a corporatist agenda ... but they [we] have fundamentally misconstrued the motive. It’s less about extracting profits than it is about advancing a cultural hegemony."
 
I agree, and I also agree that educators value "personal relationships gained through immersion and tenure in the workplace." We who oppose corporate reformers are acutely aware of chain of command and workplace rules, and we value "the knowing of the 'how', the 'who,' and the limits of getting things done." And, of course, we highly value the principle of "getting along."
 
Yes, we are rooted in blue collar cultures. That's one of the best things about a teaching profession which serves all types of people in our diverse democracy.
 
I won't speak for the NYCDOE where Hodas worked, but I agree with him that corporate reformers "saw themselves as missionary and insurgent," and they treated educators - who have the knowledge about the way that schools actually function - as "aboriginal cultures of practice" to be dismantled. Worse, they set out to salt the ground to prevent us from reestablishing ourselves.
 
Yes! Hodas is correct that the corporate reformers' "white-collar notions about work and value" are "expressed in endless wonky tweaking of measurements, incentives, and management structures that feel increasingly disconnected from the lived experience of students, parents, and teachers."

Continue reading "Thompson: EdReform's White Collar Assault on Blue Collar Schools" »

Quotes: Why Schools Aren't Using Simple "Nudges" To Help Students Learn

Quotes2Why aren’t schools, districts and states rushing to set up these measures? Maybe because the programs have no natural constituency. They are not labor- or capital-intensive, so they don’t create lots of jobs or lucrative contracts. They don’t create a big, expensive initiative that a politician can point to in a stump speech. They just do their job, effectively and cheaply. - UMichigan economist  Susan Dynarski, in the NYT (The Power of a Simple Nudge)

Journalism: Ten Large (& A Bowler Hat!) For High-Quality Reporting

image from www.edwingouldfoundation.org

The Edwin Gould Foundation has announced a new (to me) journalism prize to "the authors / producers / originators of works of journalism that help to further the national conversation about low-income college completion."

First prize: $10,000 and a bowler hat Two Honorable Mention Awards: $2,500 and a bowler hat.

Sounds pretty good to me, though I rarely write about what happens to kids after high school.

Read all about it here: The Eddie. Then send them your stuff and cross your fingers.  Image used courtesy EGF.

 

Morning Video: Let's Talk About Why Schools Are So Segregated (Again)

 

Here's an April 2014 C-SPAN interview with ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones about how schools in Tuscaloosa Alabama and many other places have resegregated since coming out from under court supervision. (Washington Journal School Desegregation)

Quotes: Don't Hate The [School Board] Players, Hate The Game

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe propose that state laws be amended so that local boards have only two powers: to approve an annual slate of schools to operate in their locality, and to employ a CEO... Individual schools, not the local board, would employ teachers, rent or buy facilities and technology, and decide how to deliver instruction.  - Paul Hill in Crosscut (Want to fix the school board? Change the job, not the people)

Related posts:  "First, Kill All The School Boards"First, Kill All The [Elected] School BoardsFirst, Kill All The Policy WonksPointy Headed Pundits Can't Make Local Control Go Away$100 Billion (A Year) To Get Rid Of School Boards.

Morning Video: Student Poverty Deepening & Spreading Nationally

 

Here's a PBS NewsHour segment on student poverty from Friday that you might not yet have seen. A majority of students in 21 states are now poor or near-poor, according to data passed on by Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton (whose paper's initial coverage of the numbers was critiqued somewhat predictably by Fordham's Mike Petrilli and somewhat unexpectedly by Mother Jones' Kevin Drum).

#EdGif Of The Day: How To Explain A Book To Your Students

"It's like an iPad, only thicker.  It entertains yo for hours.  It's like individual screens with words on it. It's like a movie you get to direct in your own head."  via
 
We may all have an exaggerated sense of kids' use and affection for e-reading (a new Scholastic survey shows that most kids read real books and like them better) but still this is pretty funny and brilliant (though not at all new). 
 
 

Journalism: Atlantic Story Highlighting "Racial Gerrymandering" Named Magazine Award Finalist

One of the handful of articles nominated for a national magazine award yesterday includes Nikole-Hannah-Jones' school resegregation story, which ran in The Atlantic and is a finalist in the Public Interest category. 

Longtime readers may recall Hannah-Jones from her appearance at an EWA panel on covering communities of color and inclusion on a list of diverse education tweeters I attempted to compile earlier this year. 

While both reformers and reform critics might want to claim her as one of their own, her reporting on racial gerrymandering of school attendance zones calls into question neighborhood- and school district-based policies that few professional education advocates are willing to challenge.

The National Magazine Award is a big deal and it's not often that an education-related publication or article gets nominated. In 2011, an Atlantic Magazine story about the discovery of autism was nominated. In 2013, Peg Tyre's story about teaching writing in Staten Island got the nod. Further in the past, a TIME story on ADD was also nominated.

You can read the May 2014 segregation story here, or watch her on C-SPAN here. Check out how your district may be resegregating over the past 60 years. 

Related posts: Atlantic Magazine Nominated For Autism StoryTeaching WritingThis More Diverse List Of Top Education Tweeters Needs More Names*

AM News: Pushing Lunch Until After Recess (& Offering School Dinner, Too)

With lunch after recess, fruits and veggies consumption increases by 54 percent PBS NewsHour: The study sampled seven schools containing grades 1 to 6 in a Utah school district. Three of the schools switched to putting recess before lunch, while the remaining four schools kept their original schedule of lunch before recess. In the schools that switch, the researchers observed — in addition to the 54 percent increase of fruit and vegetable consumption — a 45 percent increase in children eating at least one serving of the two. In the schools that didn’t switch, however, consumption of fruits and vegetables were observed to have decreased.

 More schools serve students dinner as demand expands AP: Thirteen states and the District of Columbia began offering students dinner as part of a pilot program expanded to all states after the 2010 passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Schools where at least half the students are low-income and qualify for free or reduced-price lunch are reimbursed for each supper by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at a rate often significantly higher than the cost of the meal.

Majority of US public school students are in poverty Washington Post: For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. 

AFT's Weingarten lays out new models for unions People's World: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten today laid out a framework for a renewed American labor movement. She was joined by U.S. labor secretary Thomas Perez and others at an Albert Shanker Institute conference.

Jeb Bush is running on his Florida education record. Here's what he actually did Vox: Bush's signature reform was testing students every year and grading schools based on the results of those tests. He also pushed to expand charter schools and supported voucher programs, as well as pioneering a program to hold students back who weren't reading in third grade. Some of these ideas are still well within the mainstream of the Republican party. But others, particularly mandatory annual standardized testing, have become much less politically popular in recent years. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Pushing Lunch Until After Recess (& Offering School Dinner, Too)" »

Quotes: Reform Crowd Getting Played On "Annual Testing"

Quotes2The more freaked out the “education-reform crowd” is about annual testing, and the more singularly they stay focused on “annual testing” to the exclusion of what are equally important issues, the easier it is for Kline and Alexander to take everything else off the table. - December blog post from DFER's Charles Barone (Annual Testing in ESEA Reauthorization: A Red Herring?)

Charts: Masters Degrees Are *All* The Rage

image from profitofeducation.org

The overall number of education degrees has gone up roughly 40 percent over the past two decades, even though student enrollment has only gone up about half that, notes UCSB's Dick Startz at The Profit Of Education (Ed degrees). Most of the growth has come from Masters degrees. 

A couple of years ago, former contributor Paul Bruno wrote about how expensive these degrees are -- and how little they seemed to help improve student outcomes (Paying Teachers For Master's Degrees Is A Bad Idea). Way back in 2007, Kevin Carey (the of Education Sector) blogged about the cost of all these Masters degrees to the public. The link is still alive over at AIR: The $8.5 Billion Master's Degree. I wonder how much bigger that number would be now.

Image used with permission.

Lunchtime Listen: When Students Of Color Have White Teachers

Do yourself a favor and listen to this NPR/Latino USA segment from a few days ago about the problems created by the predominance of white teachers teaching kids of color. It's not just a charter school problem, that's for sure. Want more? Check out this MSNBC segment about the issue. #YoweiShaw

Morning Video: Schools [Still] Try Teaching Willpower

 

This PBS NewsHour segment focused on KIPP Infinity features schools trying to teach grit. Clip and transcript here.

Upcoming: A 360-Degree Look At The "New" Education Philanthropy

Just a few weeks from now AEI is hosting an event looking at the ‘new’ education philanthropy that I think is going to be pretty interesting -- and not just because I'm going to be there talking about a series of interviews with program officers and academics.

AEI's Hess and Teachers College's Jeff Henig have rounded up 8 new studies and analyses from across the ideological spectrum.

Some of those who have written chapters and/or will be there at the event include Stacey Childress, NewSchools Venture Fund, Jay P. Greene, University of Arkansas, Sarah Reckhow, Michigan State University, and Jeffrey W. Snyder, Michigan State University.  Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine,  Larry Cuban, Stanford University, Howard Fuller, Marquette University, and Michael Q. McShane, AEI, will also be there. Wrapping things up will be a panel featuring me, Jim Blew, StudentsFirst, Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project, and Andrew P. Kelly, AEI.

The conference is part of AEI Education's revisiting of the decade-old volume looking at education grantmaking ("With The Best Of Intentions").  How much has education philanthropy changed, in terms of funded activities and/or effectiveness?

Related posts:  Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban (Thompson); It Isn't Always The Best Nonprofits That Get The Big MoneyWho Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn'tHave Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?No More "Give Money To Someone Really Smart" For Foundations

Maps: Is Mayoral Control The Exception Or Is It Pretty Common?

Twenty years after the state legislature gave control over Windy City schools to City Hall, mayoral control is hotly debated in Chicago. The local PBS station takes a look and gives us this map. (Appointed vs. Elected School Board | Chicago Tonight | WTTW).

Morning Video: Real-Time Videoconference Translation

Launched last month, Skype and Microsoft have a videoconferencing program that allows real-time translation (seek English-Spanish demo above). The Times says that Google is not far behind. Anyone tried it yet in real life, or have any thoughts about what this does to, say, foreign language requirements?

Update: A Kinder, Gentler StudentsFirst In 2015?

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 3.17.47 PMOver the weekend, newish StudentsFirst head Jim Blew sent out an email explaining the need for what he describes as "controversial, sometimes uncomfortable work" and outlining some of the his plans for the organization in 2015.

"At its core, StudentsFirst is a political and advocacy operation targeting a few states," writes Blew, who identifies himself and much of the senior staff as Democrats, with a common focus on performance systems and choice.

As has been reported previously, StudentsFirst is pulling back in some places and staying out of others and so won't be operating in big states like Texas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana.

At the national level, says Blew, "We will continue to speak the truth about our broken system and the need for policy changes, but we will also endeavor to do so with diplomacy and without malice."  He says that teachers unions and their allies spent an estimated $500M over the last two years to block reform and push their own ideas.

Related posts: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like FigureReviewing StudentsFirst's Union PositionsRhee Takes On Testing Opt-OutersInsult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform CriticsToo Much Focus On Testing, Agrees RheeNew PBS Documentary Humanizes Rhee's TenureRhee Cites DC Precedent On Collaboration. Image used with permission.

 

Thompson: Can School Reform Learn from Failure?

The November, 2014 New York Times Magazine special edition on innovation focuses on failure. As explained in its introduction, most innovations are like Esperanto. They fail.  As they say in that long-forgotten language, “Oh, Well, Gravas la penso (it’s the thought that counts).”

Some of the best parts of the issue involve the inflated hopes of 1990s Big Data and corporate-style innovations and how they failed in similar ways. From the mapping of the human genome to output-driven, market-driven school reform, innovators learned that the world is far more complicated than they had anticipated. 

Virginia Hefferman explained how 1990s Virtual Reality mediums failed to live up to their marketing hype because, real world, they felt “like brain poison.” After a reworking of these technologies, virtual reality should now live up to its promise by creating “’a deep hunger for real-life experience.’”

Kemia Malekvilibro recalled the 1990s promise of DNA sequencing, and concluded that the “golden road to pharmaceutical riches as target-based drug discovery has often proved to be more of a garden path.” Its approach to improving health outcomes relied too heavily on Big Data. It needed more old-fashioned inductive research, where scientists formulated hypotheses and tinkered with their experiments.

In both cases, pioneers faced up to facts and adjusted to reality. They looked again at the phenomenon they were studying and asked questions. Education seems to be the exception; its true believers have refused to acknowledge the failure of their beautiful first generation theories.

Continue reading "Thompson: Can School Reform Learn from Failure?" »

Charts: Suburban Poverty Is A Thing, ICYMI

image from www.brookings.edu

"Since 2000, poverty has grown twice as fast in America's suburbs as in America's cities. That is one of the findings from research on suburban poverty in America conducted by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube. (Top Brookings Infographics of 2014)

 

Lunchtime Video: Why No One Wants To Talk About Ending Neighborhood School Segregation

Here's a short video and writeup via The Atlantic about the 1974 Boston public school integration effort, and recent efforts to revisit segregation in public schools. Click here if the video doesn't load.

Journalism: No, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School Shootings

image from static.politifact.com.s3.amazonaws.comGiven the pace of work being produced and the complexity of the issues, it's pretty easy for mis-statements and errors of fact to creep into education stories -- and very hard to correct them once they're out in the wild.  

That's why it's helpful that Politifact covers Education statements.  

Just recently, the site took a look at the claim made that GA "leads the nation in school shootings since Sandy Hook." The claim was made by Everytown For Gun Safety and passed along by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The issue is how Everytown defines school shooting (very broadly).

Any other bad numbers or unverified claims out there that you think need to be addressed?  Send them to me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student Scam;NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationOops!? Results From The Equity Project Same As Other NYC ChartersMissing Context From ProPublica Charter School "Sweeps" Story.

Charts: Elementary Ed Majors Make Less Than Associate's Degree Majors

image from www.brookings.eduWow.  Something's clearly gone wrong here.  Lifetime earnings for Elementary Education degree holders are lower than average and lower than even Associate's Degrees (the purple line towards the bottom of the chart), according to this Brookings graph.  However, art and music ed majors do somewhat better, and language and drama do better, too. 

Quotes: "Being Against Something Isn't Enough"

Quotes2I wish that the critics of testing and ‘test-based accountability’ would get together with their opponents and agree on some fair, effective and efficient ways of evaluating teachers. Just being against something isn’t enough, in my book, and teachers deserve to be fairly evaluated. - PBS NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow (What’s Ahead in 2015)

People: Forbes' 30 Under 30 Education List Goes EdTech

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 07 13.36The 2015 version of Forbes' #30Under30 education list came out on Monday, featuring members of familiar organizations and companies including Kano, Chegg, Amplify, Aspire, TFA, College Board, & FFEPS. Folks like TFA and EdPioneers were understandably enthusiastic about the list, since it includes so many of their current and former folks. Others -- including at least one of the judges -- weren't so enthusiastic. Some reasons for concern or complaint included the lack of classroom teachers on the list, the focus on edtech, and the lack of diversity (racial and ideological, I suppose). 

Related posts: Meet Jeremiah Kittredge, Forbes' Under-30 Honoree (2012);  Who's *Not* On The Forbes 2011 Reformer List?;  Forbes Tackles School Solutions (2008).  Image used with permission of Forbes.

Thompson: Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban

Stanford Professor Emeritus Larry Cuban, in Another Educated Guess about Philanthropy and School Reform, looks back at “thirty years of market-driven and donor-supported school reform,” and speculates on the vestiges of reform that he guesses “will be quietly incorporated into public schooling.”

Cuban predicts that charter schools will survive, standardized testing will be scaled back, a downsized version of national curriculum standards will endure, as technology will be routinely used in classrooms. Accountability regulations and penalties will be reduced.

I can live with that. Cuban essentially predicts that we will scale standards-based, outcome-based reforms back to 1990s levels. Those policies could be annoying, but they did not cause the harm inflicted by NCLB and the even worse test, sort, and punish regimes of the Duncan era.

More importantly, he envisions the demise of “the idée fixe of schools concentrating on producing human capital first and civic engagement second or third will persist but lose its potency.” I hope this means that the approach that Cuban has long dismissed as “deputizing” teachers as the agents for countering poverty will be replaced by science-based policies such as early childhood education and full-service community schools.

Most importantly, Cuban predicts: "Other current reforms such as evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores, ending tenure and seniority, calling principals CEOs, and children learning to code will be like tissue-paper reforms of the past (e.g., zero-based budgeting, right- and left-brain teaching) that have been crumpled up and tossed away."

As with previous eras, “bits and pieces” of reforms will stick. But, Cuban guesses that “contemporary policymakers and philanthropists who have invested much time, energy, and monies into these market-driven reforms … will not break out the champagne for these remnants.”-JT (@drjohnthompson)

Charts: States' Current Standards Vary Widely (& Are Often Looow)

image from i58.tinypic.com"The percentage of proficient students for most states declined when compared with international standards. In Grade 8 mathematics, for example, Alabama went from 77 percent proficient to 15 percent; Colorado from 80 percent to 35 percent; Oklahoma from 66 percent to 20 percent; and New Jersey from 71 percent to 50 percent." (Proficient in One State May Not Mean Proficient in Another (AIR Ed Policy Center)

Morning Video: New GED Is Harder (& More Expensive)

The new test is harder, and more expensive -- but is that necessarily a bad thing? PBS NewsHour looks into the situation.  Transcript here.

Thompson: Can Testing Be a Learning Tool?

image from www.perceptualedge.comI don't know what is the best thing about Make It Stick, by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel. Perhaps it is its concise explication of new cognitive science findings, or maybe it is the reinterpretation of education research.

Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel make a great case for forcing learners to practice “retrieval” skills. They argue for quizzes and other graded and ungraded assessments to help students draw from long term memory and to engage in “reflection” on the learning process. They don’t argue that testing is the only way to help calibrate students’ judgments, but they seem to believe it is one necessary tool that should be used frequently and, preferably, with some stakes attached.  

I worry that education reformers will misuse Make It Stick. Rather than reflect on the many ways that this outstanding book explains why test-driven accountability failed. I’m afraid it will be cited in support of the new reform meme that we need “tests worth teaching to.” But, if that happens, it is not the fault of this though-provoking analysis. 

I also read Brown et. al for advice regarding my own classroom instruction. This new synthesis of cognitive science is very consistent with the professional development I received during the last 25 years. Rightly or wrongly, my current teaching position requires frequent quizzing, and I have started to share the book’s recommendations with my students. I also wonder if I should have tried harder to incorporate frequent quizzing into my instruction when teaching regular high school history classes.

Continue reading "Thompson: Can Testing Be a Learning Tool?" »

Morning Audio: Despite Potential, School Finance Lawsuits Lack Sizzle

Mp_20150106_seg_06_64

If you're like me, you probably have no idea which 13 states are currently under pressure to increase education funding overall or for poor students. School finance lawsuits have a long and checkered history, and are super unsexy when it comes to policy.  But if states are where the action is, and if money (among other things) matters, then perhaps we all should be paying a little more attention to the approach. Via Marketplace.

Charts: Fordham's View Of What's In & What's Out In NCLB

image from edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.comI'm still not quite as convinced as others seem to be that an NCLB rewrite is going to make it through the House and Senate anytime soon --what a mess for Team Duncan and all the waiver states, plus 2016 politics -- but this helpful chart from Fordham gives a sense of what might be left out and what might be retained. Image used with permission.

Magazines: The Hype Cycle Created By Innovators & Journalists

image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker is no longer my go-to magazine or site for deep and smart writing, but one of the best magazine stories I've read recently was in a December edition of the magazine.

It wasn't focused on education but rather on graphene, a substance whose invention generated tremendous scientific, academic, and journalistic attention but whose widespread application has lagged and is only now on the horizon (The New Yorker). 

Of particular interest, the piece describes the Hype Cycle, which "begins with a Technology Trigger, climbs quickly to a Peak of Inflated Expectations, falls into the Trough of Disillusionment, and, as practical uses are found, gradually ascends to the Plateau of Productivity."

“Nobody stands to benefit from giving the bad news,” [Guha] told me. “The scientist wants to give the good news, the journalist wants to give the good news—there is no feedback control to the system.”

Tour concurs, and admits to some complicity. “People put unrealistic time lines on us,” he told me. “We scientists have a tendency to feed that—and I’m guilty of that. A few years ago, we were building molecular electronic devices. TheTimes called, and the reporter asked, ‘When could these be ready?’ I said, ‘Two years’—and it was nonsense. I just felt so excited about it.”

Much the same could be said for many education-related inventions, both technological and policy-related, right?

Related posts about hype can be found here. See also The Innovation/Disruption "Myth. Related posts about the New Yorker: New Yorker Slips Anti-Reform Straw Man Into Teacher Training Column;  12 New Yorker Education Stories Vox MissedNew Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School; ; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next. Image via New Yorker Magazine.

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)

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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.