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Charts: Urban Charters Vs. District School Demographics

Credo2015
This chart comparing district and charter demographics (SPED, ELL, poverty) is from last week's @credoatstanford study via Joy Resmovits. Of course, there are wide variations in student demographics within traditional district school districts, and charter school enrollments are generally much smaller than the districts in which they are sited.

Preview: New Faces At This Week's Yale Education Conference

Screenshot 2015-03-24 13.18.53This year's Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference could be particularly interesting, given where were are in the education debate. It looks like there are going to be some new faces and names -- Kalimah Priforce, anyone? The theme ("Back to Why") and official goal (to refocus on "the purpose and outcomes of education reform") are full of intrigue to people like me who follow these things too closely.  We all know that the fight for the hearts and minds of smart young do-gooder types (and entrepreneurs, etc.) is pretty heated, as is the rhetorical battle over who's more "social justice." WebsiteFacebook.For past events, look at the list here. Previous blog posts from me about the event here.

Morning Video: Will Restorative Justice Programs Lead To School Chaos?

 

In this recent segment from Fox News posted by Media Matters, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked efforts to decrease school suspensions and expulsions with programs known as "restorative justice," ignoring that these traditional punishments disproportionately target students of color." (Bill O'Reilly Attacks "Restorative Justice" Programs). Or, watch Charles Best's SXSWedu presentation below.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Will Restorative Justice Programs Lead To School Chaos?" »

Foundations: Six Years In, Is the Spencer Fellowship (Still) Worth It?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comNot counting this year's class (pictured), the Spencer Education Fellowship at Columbia University's Journalism School is now six years old. 

Wow, time has flown. I was in the first class (2008-2009). The seventh class (2015-2016) will be notified as soon as later today and announced in a few weeks. Here are the people making the decisions this year.

At the time the Spencer Foundation was considering what to do, I thought that a small, expensive program like the Columbia model was a bad idea.

The folks I talked to as part of some research I did on journalism education all told me that small, ongoing, community-focused training was better and more effective than flashy fellowships, and more likely to benefit those who really needed them, and I believed them.  

It's possible that they were right.  Some of the biggest books on education -- Amanda Ripley's book, for example, or Steven Brill's -- weren't a product of the Spencer Fellowship.  Several of the folks that have gotten Spencers aren't really focused on education journalism, per se.  A few of them already had book deals and might not have needed the fellowship in order to get their work done.  Given the current conversation about white privilege, it's important to note that we are many of us awfully white.

Then again, a bunch of the books and projects that have come out of the Spencer Fellowship have been helpful contributions to the field (as far as I can tell) and wouldn't otherwise have happened.  Some examples that come to mind include books and other projects by Goldstein, Green, and Solomon. Ideologically, the products of the Spencer Fellowship have been pretty mixed -- reflecting the advisory board that makes the final decisions.

The newest offshoot of the Spencer project is a reporting program through Columbia and Slate featuring work from Matt Collette and Alexandra Neason that seems like it's been pretty useful. And I'm pretty excited about whatever this year's class -- Lutton and Resmovits especially -- are going to do next, and S. Mitra Kalita's forthcoming endeavors at the LA Times. Toppos' education book is coming out any minute now. 

Related posts: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting Goldstein Taking Her Talents To The Marshall Project. Image used with permission.

People: Sun-Times Journo Wins University of Chicago Fellowship

Longtime readers already know that the Chicago Sun-Times' Kate Grossman is one of my favorite editorial page writers.  She (along with the LA Times' Karin Klein) report their own pieces and sometimes scoop or differ from their own beat reporters, which I think is healthy.  

Well the latest news is that Grossman and a few others (including Davis Guggenheim) have won a new fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, and will be teaching a course among other things.  Read all about it here: Sun-Times deputy editor Kate Grossman wins U. of C. fellowship. "Starting March 30, Grossman will spend 10 weeks on campus examining education issues and the debate over how best to improve schools."

Related posts: Two Great Education Writers You May Not Know AboutWhere's Ravitch's Research? Sun Times Edit Board Questions Narrow RttT Focus On Data Systems.

Speaking of fellowships, I'm told that today is the day that the Spencer Fellowships are being decided for 2015-2016.  Good luck to everyone who made it to the finals!

Morning Video: HS Kid's "Wheelchair Challenge" (Or Nancie Atwell's Private School Pitch)

Check out this inspiring student-focused PBS NewsHour segment about wheelchair accessibility for schools. Or watch $1 million prizewinning teacher Nancie Atwell talk literacy and tell kids trying to figure out what to do to not to go into teaching "unless an independent school would suit you." Wait, what?  

Thompson: Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

NPR’s Eric Westervelt, in Where Have All the Teachers Gone?, addresses the “alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs.” Westervelt is correct; the decline in the numbers of prospective teachers is “the canary in the coal mine.” 

In California, enrollment in teacher education programs is down by 53%, but the problem is more pervasive. TFA enrollment is also down.

Westervelt reports:

The list of potential headaches for new teachers is long, starting with the ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you've got the makings of a crisis.

Bill McDiarmid, the Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education, attributes the K-12 decline to teachers who “simply have less control over their professional lives in an increasingly bitter, politicized environment.” McDiarmid says that “the job also has a PR problem.”  Teachers are “too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media.” He concludes:

It tears me up sometimes to see the way in which people talk about teachers because they are giving blood, sweat and tears for their students every day in this country. There is a sense now that, 'If I went into this job and it doesn't pay a lot and it's a lot of hard work, it may be that I'd lose it.' And students are hearing this. And it deters them from entering the profession.

Continue reading "Thompson: Where Have All the Teachers Gone?" »

Morning Video: Google Vs. Apple Battle Over Amish Country Classrooms

 

Tech giants battle for classrooms in Amish country From PBS NewsHour. Click the link for the show transcript.

Charts: In Education A [Worthless] Master's Is Worth More Than Experience

A New Degree in Architecture  Computers or Health Is Worth More Than Decades of Job Experience   Real Time Economics   WSJ

"For education majors [pink rectangle], a new graduate degree is even better than experience, propelling earnings to $49,000 after completing the grad program and $62,000 by midcareer." (WSJ: A New Degree Is Worth More Than Decades of Job Experience)

Thompson: Oklahoma Education Battles Are Worthy of National Attention

This is a fascinating time for Oklahoma schools. As school funding was cut by more than 20% over the last five years, and in the face of a $610 million state budget shortfall, out-of-state corporate reformers, ranging from the American Federation for Children and ALEC to the Parent Revolution, have stepped up their attacks on traditional public schools. The most noteworthy assaults include the secretive local effort to cut funding for Oklahoma City Public Schools to pay for tax breaks for the downtown corporate elites, and the now-defeated state voucher bill.

On the other hand, a grass roots rebellion by parents against high-stakes testing swept out the former Chief for Change Janet Baressi. Now, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has rebuilt the partnerships with professional educators, started a public dialogue, and taken the first steps towards ending the test, sort, and punish policies that have been wrecking our schools.

A growing body of education bloggers along with innovative media outlets like the Red Dirt Report and Oklahoma Watch, as well as more Old School progressive institutions such as the Oklahoma Observer, the Oklahoma Gazette, and the Oklahoma Policy Institute, are publicizing the facts that, previously, the conservative press never deemed fit to print.

This week, the venerable Oklahoma Observer, under its masthead which promises to “Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable,” published an email informing Oklahoma City staff about SB 68 which had quietly passed the state Senate. (Scroll to the bottom of the post to read the memo.) It would allow Oklahoma City and Tulsa to unilaterally authorize charters. Republican Sen. David Holt emailed, “I wanted to give you a brief heads-up on a bill that passed the Senate today that has flown a bit under the radar, and that’s partly by design. But, the progress it is making might eventually be noticed, and I want you to hear from me what is intended. If it becomes law, it is a game changer for our city.”

Holt then explained, “Here at the Capitol, I have not portrayed the bill as a request bill, which of course it is not. I have told my colleagues it is important that OKC not publicly ask for the bill, as that may cause tension in the relationship with OKCPS.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Oklahoma Education Battles Are Worthy of National Attention" »

Quotes: "Now Teachers Are Paid For Classroom Performance"

Quotes2The second big reason for enrollment declines [at education schools] is the end of the credentialed pay raises that marked the old teacher salary formulas. For many decades a master’s degree offered a pay boost no matter its content. Now teachers are paid for classroom performance, not extra degrees.

-- Ball State professor Michael Hicks in the South Bend Tribune (Market forces change teacher education)

NB: North Carolina did away with them, according to EdWeek's Stephen Sawchuk. But according to NCTQ this hasn't happened (yet).

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour's [Seriously Flawed] Common Core Update

Check out last night's PBS NewsHour segment (Why some students are refusing to take the Common Core test), which in my opinion includes an unfortunate number of errors.  These include exaggerating the number of opt-outs, linking the Newark student sit-in to the Common Core, and minimizing the role of NJEA in opposing the tests (and Newark). That being said, there is some great footage and interviews by correspondent John Merrow.

Maps: Immigrant Parents Face Barriers To Engaging In School

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

This map shows the percentage of kids under 9 with immigrant parents, and this Vox article highlights the barriers keeping immigrant parents from getting involved in their kids' education. They include language, educational background, and community hostility. Of course, it doesn't help that teachers are still majority white (and presumably monolingual.) Image used with permission.

Quotes: Both Sides Have "Lost Their Minds" On Annual Testing

Quotes2On one side, you have a group of reformers who say that getting rid of federal mandates for annual testing would be apocalyptic, and that’s crazy.... On the other side, you have people who think that getting rid of it would lead to utopia. I think both sides have lost their minds on this. -- Author and Emerson Fellow Amanda Ripley in the Washington Post (Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing)

Quotes: Hey, Guess What? Larry Summers Agrees With You

Quotes2It is not likely, in my view, that any feasible program of improving education will have a large impact on inequality in any relevant horizon... to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion. 

-- Larry Summers in The Washington Post (Robots are hurting middle class workers, and education won’t solve the problem)

Morning Video: Las Vegas Faces Looming 2,600-Teacher Shortage

 

Desperate for 2,600 teachers next year, Las Vegas is recruiting like mad.  Watch the video and read the HuffPost story: Why Las Vegas Is Desperate To Hire Thousands Of Teachers.

Charts: Educational Gains Steady & Long-Standing

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"True, there are some problems with the education system — inequality between schools, for example, not to mention skyrocketing college tuition costs — but that the majority of the population over 25 went from not having a high school diploma to at least having some college in the span of 40 years is astonishing." (Vox: 21 charts that explain how the US is changing) Image used with permission.

Morning Video: Rural Schools Grapple With Influx Of Migrant Children

 

"A federal law meant to protect children allows unaccompanied minors from countries that don't border the U.S. to stay on American soil during their deportation proceedings. While they wait, they're also entitled to a public education." (Migrant Children School | Al Jazeera America)

Quotes: When School Reform Meets Democracy

Quotes2If you begin from the premise that you can not convince parents, then I doubt the wisdom of your entire plan for their children. I say that as someone who is unconvinced that teachers should be tenured.

 - The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (When School Reform and Democracy Meet)

Journalism: White Reporters & Students Of Color

There's been a LOT of discussion this past week or so about important issues surrounding race, class, and privilege among school reformers and reform critics.

But what about the editors and reporters who cover education issues -- and whose work is read by the public and policymakers who are making real-life education decisions every day?

The truth of the matter is that it's not just the education reform movement and its critics who are predominantly white & appear otherwise privileged. 

I know, race is just a social construct. Class is probably more important. Not everyone identifies according to the apparent color of their skin or their national origin. A person doesn't have to be from the community they're writing about to do the job well. (For the record, this post is being written by a white male who has been private-school educated all for all but a few community college Spanish language classes.) 

But let's be clear. Many if not most of the journalists writing about education for a national audience are white, too, and do not appear to come from the neighborhoods and schools that they may spend much of their time covering. For example, there aren't any people of color covering national education issues at The Washington Post. The education team at Politico is entirely white (and female), though founding education editor Nirvi Shah may identify as a person of color. Last I looked, the education team at NPR is entirely white other than Claudio Sanchez (Juana Summers was briefly on the education team before moving over to covering Congress). 

You get the idea. And no matter how smart, hard-working, or privilege-aware these journalists may be, it seems hard to imagine that the cultural distance between reporters and poor minority students doesn't play a role of some kind.  

The issue of cultural sensitivity and journalism has come up most recently among a handful of critics of NPR's "Serial" podcast, which was (tangentially) about magnet school kids in Baltimore.  I wrote about this line of thinking -- and the lack of similar criticism for last year's This American Life segments on Harper High -- not too long ago (Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?).

But the best examples may come from the recent conflicts between reform advocates and critics in which race and class have been explicit topics of the debate - when Newark's Cami Anderson is under attack for being a white interloper in a black community, or when Chicago's Rahm Emanuel is accused of being a racist murderer by the head of the Chicago Teachers Union.

These are situations in which a white reporter is probably somewhat less comfortable than a person of color, and though I have no way of knowing for sure I'm imagining that there's some influence on the coverage that's produced.

The current reality is that most education reporters have more in common, racially and otherwise, with educators (still mostly white, college-educated women), and with well-educated parents who are making decisions about their own children's education.

The good news is that there are a handful of people writing about education who are (or may consider themselves to be) persons of color.Last year, EWA held a panel session on covering communitiees of color, which was to my knowledge the first such example.  

But there's obviously a lot more work to be done in terms of diversifying the community and educating it as well.  Let's get started!

Meantime, here's a partial list that I'm hoping you can help me complete: 

Daarel Burnette II is the bureau chief of ChalkbeatTN. Brian Charles is a Chalkbeat New York reporter. ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones writes about education, as does Marian Wang.  More names, in no particular order: Juan Perez Chicago Tribune; Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle; Melissa Sanchez at Catalyst Chicago; Christina Armario at AP; Vanessa Romo at LA School Report; Motoko Rich at the NYT (also Brent Staples on the editorial page and columnist Charles Blow); Teresa Watanabe at the LA Times. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates doesn't write about education but he writes about issues that surround education.   

Related posts: This More Diverse List Of Top Education Tweeters Needs More Names*Atlantic Story Highlighting "Racial Gerrymandering" Named Magazine Award FinalistLast Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt-Out Story;

AM News: NYC's Diversity Problem, Districts' Teacher Assignment Problem

Lack of Diversity Persists in Admissions to New York City’s Elite High Schools NYT:  Five percent of the students offered placement in eight specialized high schools were black and 7 percent were Hispanic, according to statistics released on Thursday. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Study: Novices Often Teach the Youngest, Neediest Students in Their Schools EdWeek: A new study finds that novice math teachers in a large urban district are more likely to teach the youngest and neediest students in their schools.

Teacher union will consider supporting Galatzan's opponent in Los Angeles Unified election LA Daily News: While Los Angeles Unified School Board member Tamar Galatzan handily defeated a field of five challengers in Tuesday's primary election, the teachers union said it will now consider supporting her opponent in the May 19 runoff. See also LA School Report.

After a series of defeats, opponents of Common Core open new fronts in battle against standards Hechinger Report: Legislators 19 states introduced bills to repeal the Common Core this session. So far none have succeeded. Repeal bills in even the reddest states – states like Mississippi, Arizona, and both Dakotas – have failed to make it to governors’ desks this year. See also SI&A Cabinet Report:  Wyoming flips in support of science Common Core.

[For a roundup of actual opt-out numbers being reported in local NJ papers -- quite small in all but 4 affluent areas -- check out NJ Left Behind here.]

Gender Fluid Generation Medium: In many ways, it seems like gender non-conformity awareness is at all-time high. Last week Congressman Mike Honda announced via Twitter that he was the “proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild.” But schools are still catching up with the needs of gender nonconforming students. Last year, California’s first law protecting gender nonconforming students went into effect. It gives Jace the right to use the bathroom of his choice.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC's Diversity Problem, Districts' Teacher Assignment Problem" »

Quotes: Two Problems With Ed Journalism These Days, Says Charter Advocate

Quotes2First, education reporters too often do not have a firm enough grasp on the data for the issues which they are covering. Second, too much of education reporting is about raising or lowering the status of specific individuals, rather than examining the root causes of school system dysfunction.

- Neerav Kingsland (What We Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Charter School Performance)

Related posts: : Washington Post Doubles Down In National CoverageAbout That Front-Page Washington Post StoryThe Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County CoverageSan Diego Union-Tribune Corrects Washington Post Poverty Headline.

Morning Video: Realizing That Your Childhood School Experiences Are Different

 

"Here I was, right outside my elementary school, [and] somebody’s pulling out a gun. And it was very clear that that was different." In this Bill Moyers interview from last Spring, the Atlantic writer Ta-Nehesi Coates describes an after-school experience that raised his awareness and shaped his interest in journalism.

See the whole interview here. See below for my little collection of quotes and references to Coates and education. Tell me if I've missed any good ones at @alexanderrusso.

Related posts: What They're Saying About That New Yorker ArticleThis More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters"AFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"Bolstering The "Clueless Reformer" CritiqueHe's Referring To The NYC Department Of Education, Right?.

Afternoon Panel: Evaluating Advocacy In 3 States (LA, TN, and NC)



Figuring out whether advocacy efforts "work" -- or what that even means -- is one of education advocates' biggest challenges.  Executing an effective advocacy effort is another. With that in mind, you might want to check out today's panel on advocacy evaluation at Brookings, and read the report (Measuring and understanding education advocacy) that's being discussed, which focuses on Louisiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. 

Thompson: "A Place for Us"?

After NPR's Wade Goodwyn’s moving report, One Night Only, about two dozen homeless singers performing at the Dallas City Performance Hall, I wiped tears from my eyes and made a resolution. This wonderful event must be celebrated, but I vowed to not use it as ammunition in our edu-political civil war.

The orchestra began to play "Somewhere" from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," and the homeless singers were "still a bit wobbly" as they joined in. After all, only about five of them were regular members of the chorus.  Choral director Jonathan Palant had worked with 57 different choir singers over the last three months.

Then, Goodwyn reported, "Suddenly, a world-famous opera singer appears on the stage, seemingly out of nowhere. Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade walks into the middle of the Dallas Street Choir and puts her arms around two of the singers."

Together, they sing, There's a place for us. Somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air wait for us somewhere.

Goodwyn noticed "a lot of surreptitious wiping of eyes.” As a hundred other trained voices joined in, the homeless singers grew far more confident and melodious. "It was an evening they said they'd remember the rest of their lives."

But, Goodwyn's final words were nearly as striking in their pessimism, "For a night, two dozen of Dallas's homeless were lifted from the city's cold streets and sidewalks to bask in the warm glow of spotlights. For the usual hostility and indifference to their fate, they were traded love, respect and goodwill - one performance only."

Then, I read Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue post on the Gates Foundation’s new effort to address complex and interrelated housing problems.

Continue reading "Thompson: "A Place for Us"?" »

Quotes: Governor Walkers Education Accomplishments, Fact-Checked

Quotes2Our school scores are better. Our ACT scores are second best in the country. Graduation rate’s up over the past four years. Reading scores are up over the past four years, because we put the power back in the hands of the hard working taxpayers and the people they elect to run their school boards. - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at last week's CPAC (Washington Post Scott Walker’s exaggerated education claims)

“.”

Morning Video: Universal Preschool In Iceland Helps Reduce Child Poverty

Opinion: What the United States can learn from Iceland
 "Meet the poorest kids in Iceland, a country with a low child poverty rate and nearly universal enrollment in early education, starting at age 2. In America, meanwhile, despite advances in many states, only 40% of 3-year-olds are enrolled." (How to end child poverty in America CNN).

Parents: Housing-Based School Assignment Gets A Black Eye In The Bay Area

That's parent Hamlet Garcia, whom as you may recall was taken to court over his daughter's attendance at a wealthy high performing school district.  

The latest example of parents accused of "stealing" a better education for their children (and the problems of housing-based school assignment comes from Orinda, California, where the child of a live-in nanny was disenrolled by the district and told to attend school where she lives on weekends. A new state bill aims to prevent kids of live-in caregivers from being booted from local schools. Read more about it here and here.

Remember also that Elizabeth Warren, the liberal left's favorite non-candidate for President, is against housing-based school assignment. (See:  Your Favorite Liberal Lawmaker Supports Universal Vouchers*More Questions About Warren's Pro-Choice Views)

Related posts: 8 States Where Faking A School Address Can Get Parents Jail Time [OK, MO, IL, MI, OH, NY, PA, DC].

Maps: Why Won't Anyone Make A Map Of Common Core Test Start Dates?

Common Core Status Map   College and Career State Standards  State Legislation UpdateI still haven't found a map giving start dates for states' Common Core testing windows but in the meantime check out this NCSL map showing where states are on Common Core implementation. The state-by-state assessment consortia map from NCSL is here. Images used with permission.

NB: ME and TN are conducting a review at the request of a state agency. NB2: Other than some big problems in Dade and Broward Counties (FLA), I haven't seen or read about any districtwide testing problems (yet). 

AM News: Tuesday Common Core Testing Canceled In Dade & Broward (Anywhere Else?)

New Assessment Tests Canceled In Dade & Broward For Tuesday CBS Miami:  While some schools were not able to log into the online system, others that were able to access the system found that it worked so slowly that it was very difficult to proceed. See also FSA News: FSA Writing Test Postponed Amid Technical Issues | Sunshine State News;The Blaze: Test Based on Common Core Standards Sees Tech Glitches, Protests

LAUSD board president outpacing challengers in finances, endorsements KPCC: He did not get the endorsement of UTLA, the teachers union, which did not throw its support behind any candidate in the District 7 race.[But] the California School Employees Association, Service Employees International Union and the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles have all endorsed Vladovic. Vladovic has also won endorsement from the California Charter Schools Association,which advocates for charter school expansion. See also LA School Report.

Robert Gordon Leaves as Ed. Dept. Advisor PK12: Gordon will be joining the College Board, a nonprofit organization. He'll serve as senior vice-president of finance and strategy. 

Pennsylvania Governor Appoints New Head of Philly School Commission District Dossier: The move comes nearly two weeks after the commission approved five of 39 applications for new charter schools. The governor wanted all the applications denied.

Hundreds attend rally to 'Call Out Cuomo' in Massena North Country Now: Hundreds of people attended a Saturday afternoon "Call Out Cuomo" educational rally at Massena High School. About a dozen speakers, including American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, stood onstage... See also Capital New York: Charter, union messaging creates New York echo chamber

Ex-Atlanta School Superintendent, Charged In Cheating Case, Dies At 68 NPR: In 2009, Beverly Hall was named national superintendent of the year largely based on her district's improved standardized test scores. But those scores soon came under scrutiny. See also NYT, AP, District DossierAJC.

Chicago ends standoff, agrees to give new state test WBEZ: Indeed, there are just three weeks between now and the end of the school year when CPS will not be giving some kind of standardized test. One of those weeks is spring break. Of course, not all students will have to take all of the tests and not all students are taking the test every day. But, Katten said, it’s still disruptive to the school environment. See also District Dossier.

Decision in ‘free-range’ case does not end debate about parenting and safety WAMU: The Maryland parents who let their children walk home from a park in Silver Spring were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over their views on parenting and children’s safety.

Congress-Watching: 5 Lessons From Friday's Embarrassing "Surprise" ESEA Reauthorization Meltdown

The AP called it a "political embarrassment" for Republicans in charge of Congress, but it might just as well have been called an embarrassment for pundits and journalists covering the process.  

On Friday afternoon, the House scuttled debate on the reauthorization of ESEA, the federal education law currently known as No Child Left Behind. -- and it seems like nobody other than Dropout Nation's Rishawn Biddle seems to have anticipated that such a thing might happen. 

That's right. Not Politico.  Not Politics K-12.  Not AP.  Not the Washington Post. Not Petrilli, Hess, Smarick, or any of those Fordham/AEI folks, either. (Not anyone on the D. side, either, that I know of.)

Looking back, it seems obvious that this was a possibility.  The House and Senate were dealing with a tough political issue with much greater urgency. Conservative Republicans hated the Committee-passed version of the bill. This has happened before.  In 2013, a Republican ESEA reauthorization got pulled.  

And to be fair, political reporters and pundits were surprised about the DHS funding failure, too. Even Boehner said he didn't know what was going to happen on DHS. Education issues don't get on the floor that often, and annual spending amendments are a thing of the past, so things like this are a bit of a wildcard for everyone.

Still, what happened, and how could we get better advance notice in the future? Check out my 5 Lessons below - and add or correct them here or at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "Congress-Watching: 5 Lessons From Friday's Embarrassing "Surprise" ESEA Reauthorization Meltdown" »

Thompson: Oklahoma City Makes Top Ten (Suspending Black Secondary Students)

I didn’t want to blog about Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? by Daniel Losen et. al. I support the efforts of Losen and the Center for Civil Rights Remedies to close the racial “discipline gap.” Students can’t learn if they are not in class and we need to invest in Restorative Justice, and other alternatives to suspensions.  

We can’t punish our way to improved classrooms. Neither is it possible to systematically teach and learn for mastery in violent and chaotic schools, and Losen’s report calls for the remedies necessary to create safe, orderly, and caring learning environments. I just worry about the lack of an explicit push for the resources that would be necessary to replace the failed suspension-oriented approach to discipline.

I didn't want to touch the issue of disparate suspensions because I fear that systems will respond with data-driven pressure on teachers and principals to ignore disruptive and dangerous behavior, and refuse to invest the money and the focus necessary to replace suspensions with positive interventions. 

Then, I read the Oklahoma Gazette’s summary of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies’ report, and its link to data from my last year in the classroom, 2009-2010. Ben Felder reports that the “Oklahoma City Public Schools is one of the top ten highest-suspending districts at the secondary level for all students, and is the highest suspending district in the nation for black secondary students.” Moreover, between 2010 and 2012, “overall suspension rates at the high school level also increased from 24.7 percent to 45.2 percent during the same period.” 

The latest database shows that at the secondary level, OKCPS “suspension rates for black students climbed dramatically from 36.3% to 64.2%.” That increase of 27.9 points means that the district had a seemingly unbelievable increase in the black secondary student suspension rate of 80% in two years. 

At the risk of angering many friends, who often blame teachers’ “Low Expectations” for discipline problems, I must still argue that the racial disparities in Oklahoma City are primarily due to segregation by race and class, and poverty made worse by underfunding of schools.

Continue reading "Thompson: Oklahoma City Makes Top Ten (Suspending Black Secondary Students)" »

Quotes: SEIU Could Play Decisive Role In Chicago (As It Has In LA)

Quotes2Now that we have a runoff, we are going to take a very close, serious look at the race. The neutrality vote we took was a vote in the first round. This is now a different election.

--  SEIU Local 1 political operative Jerry Morrison in the Sun-Times (SEIU may join mayor race).

In Chicago's case, SEIU would likely join CTU in opposing Mayor Emanuel. In LA, SEIU Local 99 has been an independent player on education issues, joining with and splitting from UTLA depending on the issue and/or candidate.

Advocacy: 50CAN Does Reformy Things (Somewhat) Differently

2015 Policy Goals   50CANAs you may recall, 50CAN launched in 2010 at roughly the same time as StudentsFirst, but has followed an interesting and somewhat distinct path in the intervening five years compared to other national networks of reform-minded advocacy groups like StudentsFirst and Stand For Children and DFER that all seemed to sprout up around the same time.  

Check out the organization's new state-by-state goals Policy Goals, which are largely state-developed rather than predetermined by the national or its funders, and you'll get a sense for what I mean.  I'm also told that the organization doesn't pick states to go into anymore, but rather gives out planning grants to folks who think they might be interested in putting something together -- 80 in 28 states last year -- and go from there.  Call it an advocacy incubator. They're also running a Policy 101 course (there's still time to sign up), and advocacy workshops.

Related posts: AEI Philanthropy/Advocacy Event (HotSeat Interview: 50CAN Creator Marc Porter Magee50CAN Action Fund Focuses On RI & MNWinn Leaving 50CAN To Head New TFA InitiativeWhere The Shiny New Advocacy Groups Are* [were].

 

 

Journalism: Let's Focus On What Actually Happens -- Not What *Might* Happen*

As Politico recently noted, statehouse efforts to turn the Common Core and its assessments back seem to have peaked since last year. The number of states with repeal efforts repeated this year is down from 22 to 19.  "So far, they’ve fared poorly," notes Stephanie Simon.

But you wouldn't necessarily know this from reading national education news stories, which tend to focus on the handful of rollbacks that have taken back and the slew of proposed rollbacks that have been proposed, or passed out of committee, or made it out of a legislative chamber.  In other words, proposals that *might* happen, but haven't yet become reality -- and probably won't, given the way these things usually pan out. 

I have yet to see an AP, Washington Post*, New York Times, or NPR story about this -- or for that matter anything along these lines from Huffington Post, Reuters, Hechinger, etc. (Please let me know if I've missed anything relevant.*) The issue might have been discussed at yesterday's #EWAcore media training in Denver but the focus there seemed to be on the substance of the standards and tests rather than the national trends and coverage thereof. 

None of this is to say that repeal and slowdown efforts are gone: NSCL says that there are roughly 450 CCSS-related proposals in the works this session. "Total number of bills that would halt implementation of Common Core State Standards: 39 bills (in 19 states) Total number of bills that would halt use of Common Core State Standards-related assessments, i.e., PARCC or Smarter Balanced: 36 bills (in 17 states)."

But if this year is like last year, these new efforts will fare just as badly as last year's.  And if this year is like last year, most newspaper and news site readers will hear mostly about the proposals and what they would do, rather than the actual track record of these proposals and their actual chances of enactment.  

Proposals are great, people -- easy to sell to editors and full of hope or fear for those involved -- but enactment (or at least a realistic chance at passage)  is what counts.  We do readers and ourselves a disservice when we lose track of the larger storyline, creating an impression (in this case, of widespread rollbacks) that doesn't match reality.

NCSL's CCSS tracker is here. There's a spreadsheet showing what's been proposed and whether it's moved here.

*UPDATE: Earlier this week, the Washington Post's GovBeat page (never heard of it!) had a story about failed Common Core repeal efforts.

Quotes: Chicago Illustrates Dangers Of Hasty Discipline Changes

Quotes2It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)

Events: Journalists Discuss Common Core (Coverage?) In Denver (Plus Map)

Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, JournosCan Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please? 

 

States: Few States Ban Or Freely Permit Testing Opt-Outs, Says ECS Roundup

Www.ecs.org clearinghouse 01 17 68 11768.pdf

ECS Rounds up state opt out rules: "Laws in some states — such as Arkansas and Texas — clearly prohibit opt-outs, while the law is less clear in other states. Legislation introduced in New Jersey would allow opt-outs. Similar legislation in Mississippi failed to progress. State laws in California and Utah allow parents to opt their children out of state assessments for any reason." Image used with permission.
 

Charts: Gentrification & Suburban Poverty Dominate Education Demographics

Screenshot 2015-02-25 15.32.16"In 1990, the highest level of education was found in the suburbs, seven to eight miles distant from the heart of Charlotte. By 2012, the Charlotte city center itself had the highest percentage of residents with college degrees." Thomas Edsall in the NYT, citing UVA research (The Gentrification Effect).

Media: So-Called "Experts" Not All That Expert (Say Experts)

Screenshot 2015-02-25 14.39.55
A new study out suggests that education 'experts' may lack expertise, in terms of academic qualifications.  The study, authored by the UofIllinois' Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, suggests that media prominence and academic qualifications aren't closely related.

However, it's no big surprise that education policy has turned away from academic expertise (and academic research, for that matter).  That's been going on for quite a while.

More importantly, the study doesn't name names, and it seems to include more individuals from the more conservative think tank experts -- AEI, Cato -- and fewer liberal or moderate ones.  For reasons I'm not quite clear on (though I'm sure others could understand), EPI is included, but not CAP or New America, or Brookings (or Fordham).  

For a list of institutional affiliations, look here. For MMFA's writeup, look here. The issue has been addressed before -- last winter in InsideHigher Ed, for example. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Image courtesy EPAA. 

Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing

The Shanker Institute's Matt DiCarlo, in The Debate and Evidence on the Impact of NCLB,  issues a typically nuanced, precise and (I'd say overly) cautious summary of what quantitative researchers may have proved about the meager positive effects of NCLB, as he overlooks the extreme "mis-naepery" of non-educators who support test-driven accountability.  

DiCarlo correctly asserts that it is invalid to "use simple, unadjusted NAEP changes to prove or disprove any policy argument." But, he ignores a more meaningful and relevant reality. It is possible to use NAEP scores to disprove disingenuous claims that NAEP shows that NCLB worked. 

DiCarlo concludes that "(test-based) school accountability in general" (emphasis in the original) "tends to have moderate positive estimated effects on short-term testing outcomes in math, and typically smaller (and sometimes nil) effects in reading. (emphasis mine)

The quantitative researcher then concludes, "There is scarce evidence that test-based accountability policies have a negative impact on short-term student testing outcomes." Such a narrowly worded statement is not false.

But, DiCarlo then states that "the vast majority of evaluations of test-based accountability policies suffer from an unavoidable but nonetheless important limitation: It is very difficult to isolate, and there is mixed evidence regarding, the policies and practices that led to the outcomes." That conclusion ignores the vast body of qualitative evidence by journalists and scholars who do not limit themselves to regression studies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing" »

Social Media: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 10.38.29 AM
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:

*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.

*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)

*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.  

Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.

But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.

Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others.   Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.

Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.

Update: School Breakfast Struggles In NY & LA - But Not Chicago

School breakfasts for low income students -- especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms -- can be controversial, even though it's not that new.  (The newer thing is school dinner.)

Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn't been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here). 

Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).

One place school breakfast hasn't been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.  

The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS.  Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn't as big as the school lunch program but it's much newer.  Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools. This is Chicago's first year as part of the USDA's Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.

Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don't Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor KidsLunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.

Movies: Best Education/Oscars2015 Tweet (That I Saw)

It's from Morgan Polikoff: "Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen." Any other good #Oscars2015 mashups that I might have missed?

Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"

Anya Kamenetz’s The Test is an awesome analysis of how “the test obsession is making public schools … into unhappy places.” But Kamenetz’s great work doesn't stop there.  In the second part of the book, she presents alternative approaches to high-stakes testing:
 
Team Robot tests conventional subjects (math, reading, writing) in unconventional ways (invisible, integrated, electronic).
 
Team Monkey tests unconventional qualities (mindset, grit) in conventional ways (multiple –choice surveys).
 
Team Butterfly, which Kamenetz would use as the basis for a new system, integrates learning with assessment and covers twenty-first-century skills without quantifying the outcomes in a way that’s familiar or easily comparable …
 
Team Unicorn, which is still emerging, relies heavily on video games. She offers an intriguing distinction between Team Unicorn and Team Robot: “the former understands the limitations of what they are doing.” (Sign me up for the more adventurous approach, whose metrics also should be the most incompatible with stakes being assessed.)

The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"" »

Morning Video: Charter Advocate Says Critics Are Rooting For Failures

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Charter advocates and critics debated their role in Chicago earlier this week, including a few moments when INCS president Andrew Broy (far left) claimed that charter critics want Chicago schools to fail. Click here if the video doesn't load. Click here for the Sun-Times coverage.

Movies: Follow Up To Documentary Criticizing School Reform

Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.

Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story

Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do. 

Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).

But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.  

There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide). 

The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.

By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments. 

But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.

Continue reading "Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story" »

Charts: School Board Members Average 5+ Years

Www.nsba.org sites default files SBcirca2010_WEB.pdf

"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics. 

Update: Sites & Blogs To Follow (Plus Twitter Advice)

Www.hanoverresearch.com media K12 Education Market Leadership Report 2014_final.pdfBig thanks to Hanover Research for including me (and several others) in its list of folks to follow in K-12 education.  You might find some names and sites you don't already know on this list. And always remember to tweet your story more than once.  Guy Kawasaki and others swear by it, and it's sort of fun.

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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.