"In 2000, 12 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 hadn’t graduated high school, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data," notes FiveThirtyEight (U.S. High School Dropout Rates Fall, Especially Among Latinos). "By last year, that figure had fallen to 7 percent. Among Hispanics, the drop-out rate has fallen from 32 percent to 14 percent over the same period." Image used with permission.
The new issue of The Nation (Saving Public Schools) includes a feature package of education stories that may pique your interest whatever your position or views. Some highlights include:
The Tough Lessons of the 1968 Teacher Strikes (Goldstein)
What It Takes to Unite Teachers Unions and Communities of Color (Fine and Fabricant)
It's interesting to note that, despite all the firepower that reform advocates have behind them, they rely almost entirely on occasional efforts in traditional mainstream journalistic outlets like Slate, The New Republic, NYT Sunday Magazine and the daily papers but lack moderate or centrist versions of the liberal-leaning outlets like Mother Jones, Jacobin, The Nation, The Washington Monthly, City Paper (DC), and The American Prospect to pump out sympathetic stories like these "on the regular."
This advantage in access to a slew of magazines -- combined with the social media influence advantage that reform critics have over reform advocates and the liberal leanings of many journalists, somewhat offset by the influence of journalism grants from funders like Gates and Broad -- makes for an interesting interplay of efforts.
Related posts: Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?; Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA; 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)
Image via The Nation.
As originally noted in Politico's Morning Education, the national Urban League is apparently backing the "equitable implementation" of the Common Core and thus putting at least a bit of pressure on critics to consider the issue from a minority parent perspective. I mean, check out the fierce expressionon the little girl's face:
Anyone seen a racial or SES breakdown of Common Core support among the public or parents? What other efforts has the Urban League been involved in, and to what effect (if any)?
The FBI's new report on the rise in mass shootings in recent years show the disturbing reality that many of them -- just under 25 percent -- take place at schools. Over all, there were 39 such shootings in education settings, second only to places of business like malls and offices. Story via The Wire. Image via the FBI.
"Last February, Jon Stewart on the The Daily Show ripped a state legislator in Kansas, Rep. Gail Finney, who was pushing legislation to allow teachers and parents to whack kids hard enough to bruise." (19 states still allow corporal punishment in school) via the Washington Post.
*Yeah, that's Jon Stewart, not Stephen Colbert as I originally had it in the headline.
From Vox: "Just over 40 years ago, only around 1 in 10 US adults had a four-year college education. Today, that rate has nearly tripled. This gif shows the geography of that explosion." Source: Reddit user metricmapsore. "Broadly speaking, the South remains the place where degrees are the least common. Meanwhile, cities — and particularly the northeastern Amtrak corridor — are where college graduates have concentrated." Used with permission.
In what's at least the 2nd journalistic goof-up that I know of during the annual back-to-school media deluge of rankings and other kinds of education coverage, Boston Magazine messed up its private school rankings badly and the Globe tells us all about it (Boston Magazine retracts school rankings).
Basically, the magazine ranked private schools using incorrect SAT score averages, using partial data since many schools didn't provide SAT results, thus pushing some schools up higher than they deserved and pushing others down.
This isn't a reason not to rank schools, though. It's just a motivation to rank them responsibly. Sloppy, inexplicable efforts like this just make everyone look bad. Apparently something similarly bad happened the last time the magazine ranked schools in 2009.
All is not lost, however. The public school list is up, and doesn't seem to have the problems with the private list. The issue also has a profile of union head Barbara Madeloni that you might want to read, and a piece about healthy school lunches that you will probably feel like you've already read. There's also an XKCD alternative list of schools that you might find amusing.
Image courtesy Boston Magazine
The latest issue of Scholastic Administrator includes my interview with TFA co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva-Beard. There's no breaking news but it's interesting to hear how they divvy up the work and how much harder the job seems to have been than they could have imagined a year ago.
Related posts: 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA); Howard Dean Touts TFA; Traditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFA; TFA Under The Microscope; Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel; So Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA
Yes, she has test anxiety. Yes, she has cried... I comfort her, but I tell her: ‘I make $14.42 an hour. What are you going to do to have a better life?.' - Success Academy parent Natasha Shannon in the NYT (The Battle for New York Schools)
What happens when orthodox Jews move into a suburban New York neighborhood with high property taxes and don't send their kids to private yeshivas -- or vote down school budgets-- as long as the district doesn't monitor the private schools and gives as much money as possible (up to $27,000 per kid)?
The deal doesn't last forever.
The result is a situation that's "Like nothing you have seen in any school district anywhere," according to Ira Glass. NSFW (curse words).
Politics, budgets, religion, regulation -- it's all in there. Image via This American Life.
We have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids. - Tech mogul Chris Anderson about tech parents limiting kids' exposure (NYT: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent)
Here are some #TBT blog posts from previous years on this date that seem sort of interesting, both related to 9/11 and otherwise:
The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up: In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked. (2011)
Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?": Non-Educators Answer "What Is The Common Core?" 10 It's a diet. A set of exercises. A scientific term. A guide to behavior. (2013)
StoryCorps Teachers Starts Today: Today is the launch date for the StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative I told you about a few weeks ago (2011).
Or, look around for others that might be interesting here.
Some highlights from yesterday's NYT education conference (aka #NYTsft):
*Watching and then chatting with Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, who have a new book out about "smarter" charters (ie, diverse & teacher-led ones). Can't wait to read it.
*Chatting with Ben Nelson, the guy who founded the Minerva Project, who explained to me that MOOCs got overfocused on eye-popping signup numbers but actually have good results with folks who take the first couple of classes.
*Catching up a bit with Ted Mitchell, whom I interviewed for my book on Green Dot long long, ago, and meeting a tall smart-looking guy from the Council of Economic Advisors who was with him (sorry - bad with names and no time to look it up).
*Meeting NPR education blogger and fellow Brooklyner Anya Kamenetz (she's super-friendly, and taller than you might think!)
*Seeing familiar faces like Paul Tough and Michelle Rhee fly through the lobby (and lots of "looks-familiar" faces, too).
*Hanging out with Scholastic Administrator editor Wayne D'Orio (who got to see the US Open - jealous).
*Keeping a keen eye out for #thatJCrewginghamshirt but not spotting it on any of the dapper dudes in slender suits (maybe because it was a fancy event, or because it's fall?)
*Trying to recognize people from their tiny Twitter avatars (and usually getting it wrong).
Your turn -- best moments, tweets, quotes, fails?
There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness... I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - Ta-Nehesi Coates (‘I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me’ Atlantic Magazine via Longreads)
- E.D. Hirsch, profiled by Peg Tyre in Politico (along with David Coleman)
NB Diane Ravitch was also profiled.
"This is what goes through my mind: 'God has to be busy with everyone else. Eventually he will come into my life.' I hope it happens. If it doesn't it's going to break my heart."
With millions of children headed back to school, we asked reporters from member stations around the country to bring us the sounds of that first day:
- In Marfa, Texas, a 14-year-old who's been home-schooled all his life is about to enter a classroom for the first time. (Tom Michael, KRTS)
- Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School is celebrating its opening day in downtown Brooklyn. (Beth Fertig, WNYC)
- The Newcomer School is a school for kids who are on their first or second year in the U.S. (Devin Katayama, WFPL)
- At Noble Street-Rauner College Prep, a 22-year-old is preparing to teach his very first class. (Becky Vevea, WBEZ)
- Students at the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in Austin, Texas, are learning how to tie their own ties. (Kate McGee, KUT)
- Students at Bailey STEM Magnet School in Nashville prepare to launch their own hot air balloons. (Emily Siner, WPLN)
- A kindergarten class at Hazel Valley Elementary in the Seattle suburb of Burien starts the first day of school the way you might expect: with the ABCs. (Ann Dornfeld, KUOW)
Image Flickr CC via
There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness. I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (Acting French)
The Washington Post has a story about Peter Cunningham's new education group (Education Post aims to take the sting out of national conversations about school reform) that hints at but doesn't quite get to the real story behind the organization.
Described as "a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions," the $12 million Chicago-based organization (Cunningham, Mike Vaughn, etc.) is funded by Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton, among others.
It's an obvious (and long-needed) attempt to address the insufficiencies of the reform movement when it comes to shaping the education debate -- the reform version of Parents Across America or the Network for Public Education or Sabrina Stevens' group (though I haven't heard much from them lately).
The purely communication-oriented outfit ((RSS Feed, Twitter) is led by longtime Arne Duncan guy Cunningham and including blogger Citizen Stewart. A sampling of their blog posts (Public Education Needs a New Conversation; Speak Up, Don’t Give Up; The Right School for My Child; The Common Sense Behind Common Core
Versions of Education Post have been discussed for a while now, online and in the real world. A version of the same idea almost came to being 18 months ago, tentatively called "The Hub." Why another group? Advocacy groups get embroiled in pushing for changes, and lack time and resources to coordinate among each other or to focus on communications. They barely have time or capacity to defend themselves, much less put out a positive agenda across multiple groups.
Meantime, a small but dedicated group of reform critics and groups(many of them union-funded or - affiliated) has managed to embed themselves in the minds of reporters and generate an enormous amount of resistance to reform measures.
I remember being so immune to death, so immune to shootings, killings. I just remember wanting them to rush, like get the body out the way so we can get back to playing hopscotch or dodgeball. -- Monica Jaundoo Of Parkville, Md. (NPR Race Blog)
Some celebrities shy away from taking a position that's going to bring them so much heat as well as some measure of admiration, and others simply don't agree that tenure is an issue, but Whoopi Goldberg seems to be up for the controversy. If only she'd been somewhat funny about it.... that always helps, right?
Riffing off last week's Campbell Brown appearance on Colbert, TIME's Haley Edwards has an interesting article about the differences between the Comedy Central comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stwart (The Celebrity Death Match Over School Reform).
If there's any doubt about Colbert's leanings, you only have to go so far as the Brown booking last week (and the protests that accompanied it), the Ravitch appearances on Stewart (but not Colbert), and Stewart's grilling of Michelle Rhee. Colbert's critique of the Common Core test questions was a slam on testing and those specific questions, in my opinion (see Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core).
The influence of the two comedians is well known (though hard to measure). One of them -- reform wins! -- is about to switch from basic cable to broacast TV. No word yet on whether Colbert's booker, Emily Lazar, is heading to the new show with him (The Most Important Media Insider You've Never Heard Of), or how much education-related bits we'll get to see in the future.
Previous posts: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education (2014); Colbert / Stewart Divide On School Reform (2011); Fear-Mongering Educators Dominate Colbert/Stewart Rally (2010).
Vox's Libby Nelson has a good starter list of 12 New Yorker education articles to read while the archives are free but I think she might have missed and/or gotten a few wrong.
No problem -- that's what I'm here for.
It recommends Kate Boo's story about the attempt to revamp Denver's Manual Arts (Expectations) but leaves out her amazing (2006 - I'm cheating) story about early childhood interventions (Swamp Nurse).
Steve Brill's The Rubber Room was an artful rehash of reporting done by others. Rachel Aviv's Wrong Answer is a fascinating look at how some teachers decided they had to cheat that loses out in the end with its lazy reliance on NCLB as the main reason.
Stories mysterious left out include the New Yorker's take on executive function (Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points) and Jill Lepore's fascinating revelation that liberal Icon Elizabeth Warren hates neighborhood-based school assignment (Your Favorite Liberal Lawmaker Supports Universal Vouchers*). Nick Lemann's 2010 turning point piece is left out, too (The overblown crisis in American education).
All that being said, kudos to Nelson for getting things started and including some ed-related stories like this summer's Jill Lepore takedown of "innovation" (The Disruption Machine), which I blogged about last month (The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"). Lots more examples from Gawande, Gladwell, etc. to be found. The Hit Man's Tale!?
Previous TWIE posts about the New Yorker: Learning From The Gay Rights Movement; Last Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt-Out Story; The New Yorker Takes Another Look At Coaching; Delayed Gratification = 210 SAT Points; Lessons From Earth Day 1970; If Doctors Can Do It, So Can Teachers, Coaching: Even Veterans & Star Teachers Could Benefit, Checklists: The Simple Solution No One Wants To Try.
Marketplace reporter Amy Scott has launched a Kickstarter to finish out a documentary about a Cincinnati school that's transformed itself into a K-12 community center (OYLER). Watch the trailer above and click the link to contribute (@oylerdoc)
The formless young protagonist of Richard Linkalter's new film, "Boyhood," gets a number of talkings-to during his 12 years growing up onscreen, but none of them is better than the one delivered by his photography teacher (Mr. Turlington, played by actor Tom McTigue) about two thirds of the way through the movie. Part lecture, part pep talk, the teacher clearly has established a relationship with his troublesome student and is able to drop some wisdom about talent vs. effort without being overly alienating. Image via NY Mag. A million Internets to anyone who has the script and/or the scene.
"Here's somebody whose influence on ed policy is in no way related to their hotness, unlike that bimbo Campbell Brown," quipped NY Mag journo Jonathan Chait, linking to Matt Damon's appearances at various anti-reform events a few years back.
ICYMI, Ravitch questioned Brown's credibility on education issues about which the two people happen to disagree and in the process made several comments about Brown's looks.
Damon has appeared at various anti-reform events in recent years, based in large part on his good looks and celebrity (and views on education with which Ravitch happens to agree).
Here's a Bloomberg segment on school preparations for migrant Central American kids who have been in the news so much the past couple of weeks. Haven't seen tons written on this - which districts are being most affected? Did the White House ask for schools funding as part of his refugee relief package?
Now that you're done reading this week's New Yorker story about cheating in Atlanta, time to circle back and read last week's piece (California Screaming) about the conflicts in San Francisco over class, culture, and education.
Why, you ask? I'll tell you"
1- The opening protest highlights the impact of gentrification and other inequities on a career educator:
Benito Santiago, a sixty-three-year-old special-education teacher, is being evicted from the apartment he’s lived in since 1977.
2- The piece describes a conflict between two groups who are remarkably similar in their ideals and goals -- but not their methods. They're mirror versions of each other, only one is younger and richer and more entrepreneurial than collective than the other:
What’s going on in San Francisco has been called a “culture war,” and yet the values each side espouses can sound strikingly similar.
Three more to go -- the best ones! -- click the link and see.
Here's a new PBS NewsHour segment on learning games. Find out more here.
ICYMI: Here's the video that went along with last week's NYT story (Common Core, in 9-Year-Old Eyes).
This latest estimate includes "all violent deaths that occurred on school grounds, or during travel to or from school or a school-sponsored event." (More details at Vox)
Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night about the new Participant documentary about college costs and outcomes.
The movie's called "Dear White People" and it's about racial politics on a college campus. Watch the trailer, then read a Variety review here. It's for work!
The big think piece of the week so far has to be Jill Lepore's New Yorker cover story attempting to debunk (or at least contextualize) the current fancy for things labeled "innovative" and/or "disruptive."
Basically, Lepore is saying that "innovation" is today's version of the word progress, that the Clay Christensen book that has promoted much of the furor is based on some shaky anecdotes, that innovator/disruptor types tend to rely on circular logic (innovations that fail weren't disruptive enough), and that disruptors' insights aren't much good at predicting future successes and may be particularly inappropriate to public efforts (and journalism).
In several places, the piece notes that schools and other public endeavors have been touched by the innovation craze:
"If your city’s public-school district has adopted an Innovation Agenda, which has disrupted the education of every kid in the city, you live in the shadow of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”
And also: "Christensen has co-written books urging disruptive innovation in higher education (“The Innovative University”), public schools (“Disrupting Class”), and health care (“The Innovator’s Prescription”).
There's also a funny description of the MOOC panic of 2012-2013.
Over at Slate, Will Oremus thinks that the case against innovation/disruption is being overstated and that the New Yorker writer just wants folks to stop trying to disrupt her industry.
There are lots of angles related to education here. Are things as bad as we're being told by reformers -- bad enough to warrant attempts at "blowing up" the current system? What happens to the legacy system when inno-disruption efforts fail to make much improvement (MOOCs), or (as in charters) succeed only partially?
Before he started Waiting for Superman, non-educator Davis Guggenheim read and reread the definitive but tedious Organizing Schools for Improvement, and went on to study the entire body of work of the Chicago Consortium for School Research. Guggenheim became an expert in economic regression studies so that he could parse the language in papers for and against value-added models. Starting with the work of Larry Cuban, he became an expert on education history.
I kid Guggenheim, of course.
Alexander Russo’s How Waiting For Superman (almost) Changed the World, published by American Enterprise Institute, tells the real story about a pro-union, pro-teacher award-winning filmmaker making a documentary that Jay Mathews described as “one of the most anti-union I had ever seen.”
Russo’s narrative on the making of the film that so deeply offended so many is consistent with my experience. Guggenheim had a lot compassion and he made some political inquiries, but he seemed to have the same disinterest in social science that has long been shown by outsiders seeking to reform schools. It is a testament to the disrespect bestowed on teachers by non-educators that they are consistently uncurious about academic education research. Surely the sponsors of An Inconvenient Truth would not have endorsed that film if Guggenheim was similarly uninformed about global warming.
Worse, Guggenheim and other reformers show even less interest in studying more than one side of the story before pontificating about the cure for inner city educational underperformance.
#worldcupED Only two other World Cup nations outrank the US when it comes to degree attainment, notes the Education Trust -- but that's still not good enough.
The World Cup has just started but Ghana -- one of the teams the US will face to start things out -- has already won the World Cup of Education Spending as a percentage of GDP. The US doesn't even make it out of the first round. Via WSJ.
Writer Dana Goldstein has landed at The Marshall Project, a newish endeavor with lots of strong names behind it, where she'll write about criminal justice and school-to-prison.
She was a Spencer Fellow at Columbia University, and has written for Slate, The Nation, The Atlantic, and lots of other folks. Her book, The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, is coming out in September.
I haven't always agreed with Goldstein's take on issues, but I've always admired her reporting and writing. [Her 2011 line, "Welcome to the beat, Brill!" sticks in my mind as a particularly delightful moment.] And she's always had other interests and topics -- and there'll be a big book tour etc. this summer -- so maybe the dropoff won't be as bad or immediate as it seems.
Previous posts: Goldstein & Carey Debate Test Proliferation; Testing Dana Goldstein's Latest Testing Article; Just How Stressful Are Midyear Assessments, Really?; Power Couples For 2014; The Cheating "Crisis" & Teacher Culpability.
First things first: The last couple of episodes of Louie are full of flashbacks of Louie's classroom, lunchroom, and after-school experiences as an 8th grader, which include friends who pull him up and pull him back and a really sweet if somewhat misguided science teacher Mr. Hoffman who's just trying to reach the kids (and to get the administration to pay attention to the trouble kids are getting into after school).
It's memoir, at best, but it's pretty good -- and the parental reflections on how to deal with a temporarily-wayward child seem pretty powerful, too. For another good recap -- full of spoilers! -- go here.
In other Louis CK-related news, a recent interview in Medium with the comedian and father and Common Core critic gives us some helpful insight into CK's temprament through an anecdote about how he ended up not going to NYU film school:
"An old teacher of mine got me an interview at NYU film school, and I brought all these videos I’d made, and photographs, a portfolio — I’d gotten into photography and stuff, and they said that they would accept me to go to film school. So I quit my job with that in mind, and I’d been doing stand-up, but not well or successfully, and then I never filled in — I got these forms from this guy to fill in, on the floor of my apartment somewhere, but I couldn’t get my brain to…I was supposed to go back to my high school and get my transcripts, and the idea of doing all that, just that paperwork — going to NYU film school was this dream come true for me, but I couldn’t fill out the thing, couldn’t fill it out and go to the Xerox machine and put a stamp on an envelope, all that stuff. It made me want to vomit. That sort of thing has always been the case for me, I can’t get that done."
Something to keep in mind the next time you have the urge to present CK as the best example of a parent who might be able to help his daughters with homework, right?
Previous posts: Louis C.K. Isn't Really The Next Big Angry Common Core Critic; MSNBC Focuses On Conservative Opposition To Common Core (includes CK joke re burning low-performing schools to the ground); Jerry Seinfeld Explains Gettysburg Address To Louis C.K.
"Blue markers represent incidents in 2014; red markers are for incidents from 2013. You may have to zoom in to view separate incidents in the same city. Cities that were home to multiple shootings are Atlanta; Grambling, La.; Savannah, Ga.; Jackson, Tenn.; Roswell, N.M.; Milwaukee; Augusta, Ga." (There have been at least 74 shootings at schools since Newtown) Click the link to zoom in and get more information.
Why did the film come out the particular way it did?
What effects, direct and indirect, did the film have on funding, events, and public perception? (How do you measure a "social impact" film, anyway?)
Where are the 5 kids profiled in the film now -- whatever happened to them?
These are some of the topics my long-awaited, much-anticipated re-examination of 2010's controversial documentary, Waiting for Superman, will attempt to address when it's published -- perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Long curious about whether the film was as big a success (or failure) as commonly presented, I pitched the idea of a look back at the Gates-funded Davis Guggenheim documentary to AEI and they kindly commissioned the piece (without any clear sense of what I'd end up having to say). I've written two other case studies published by AEI -- the first about the 2008 campaign to make education a big issue in the Presidential campaign, and the second about TFA's near-death experience being disqualified under NCLB.
I see in this clip an allegory for overconfident reformers and/or overconfident reform critics, each of which group (a) looks a little bit too old for its grade, (b) tends to think they know the answer, (c) and fails to consider other options, and (d) rushes into action. Event roundup and who won via MSNBC here.