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Bruno: Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway?

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 2.51.06 PMWhen charged with "ignoring poverty", many education reformers will respond that in fact improving education is the best way to fight poverty. 

Arne Duncan once went so far as to say that "the only way to end poverty is through education."

Is that correct?

I'm skeptical. As Matt Bruenig has pointed out, educational outcomes have been improving for decades in the United States, and yet poverty rates haven't really budged.

And what about internationally? Certainly, many developed countries have much lower poverty rates than the United States. Is that a result of superior educational performance?

One preliminary way to look at the evidence would be to see if countries with better academic performance also have lower poverty rates.

Out of curiosity I decided to take a first crack at that using results from the 2012 PISA, which tested 15-year-olds in reading, math, and science.

Click below to see what I found. 

Continue reading "Bruno: Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway?" »

Afternoon Video: Without Comic Colbert, How Will We Learn Science?

All this may change when he moves over to broadcast TV, but comedian Colbert may have been our best science teacher in recent years, according to this Slate blog post (Stephen Colbert’s best science segments) which discusses among other things how some classroom teachers have used his clips and adopted his techniques.

Afternoon Video: Did CNN Treat Chicago Schools Fairly?


It's not quite at the level of "Scandal," but discussion surrounding CNN's "Chicagoland"reality series about Chicago schools, long-troubled Fenger High School (yes, that Fenger), and principal Elizabeth Dozier has been pretty intense in recent days and weeks. Get up to speed with this Institute of Politics panel from last night.

Media: Bullying, A Federal Civil Rights Complaint, & A Wealthy District's Response

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 17 23.08You might have missed this series of stories from Palo Alto Weekly about student bullying, a district's flawed response -- I certainly did -- but the Society of Professional Journalists gave the Northern California outlet one of its top awards for small media outlets.

Read more about the stories given the award here, or how the stories came about here. Interesting to note that the reporters unearthed a federal Office of Civil Rights case about halfway through the process, and in the end the complaint was made public (by the child's parents).

"The Weekly coverage included two cover story packages researched and written by Lobdell,"Out of the Shadows," (June 14, 2013) about bullying, and "Power to Hurt," (Aug. 16, 2013) on the use of social media by teens, and numerous news stories by Kenrick and Lobdell on the school district's handling of bullying complaints, federal investigations and the development of bullying policies."

The full list of SJP awardees is here -- I didn't see any other education-related stories but I might have missed some.

Site News: I Hate My New "Hot For Education" Tumblr Theme

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 11.15.34 AM

I started a Tumblr a few years ago to post more images, videos, quotes, and other ephemera related to education that isn't serious enough for here.  

I love it but don't worry, nobody else reads it, either.

In honor of one of my most popular posts of all time, a now-defunct annual "beautiful people" roundup, it's called "Hot...For Education." 

Recent posts include SF SPED teacher Jeffrey Katz evicted over Airbnb useAlways proofread your hatemail to English teachersThe Survival SelfieBlackmailed by Your Teacher?Word Cloud of The Catcher in the Rye.)

 In any case, I recently changed the theme (look) so that you can see two posts at a time instead of having to scroll down so far to get to each new post. What do you think?   Too much white space, right?  

Let me know -- what's a better Tumblr theme to try out? -- or just follow/send me ideas for posts at @hotfored or subscribe here.  

Media: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education

ColbertThere's been lots of reaction to the news that Colbert is going to leave Comedy Central and replace Letterman on broadcast television, but what does it mean for attention to education on TV? 

For years now, Colbert has been riffing off of education issues, bringing education-related guests on the show, and generally making us all feel like we're involved in something interesting and important. Just this week, he did a fun bit on the Common Core.

A search of "Colbert" on this site generates 571 hits. Memorable interviews include Roland Fryer, Arne Duncan, Davis Guggenheim, and Wendy Kopp.

No one knows for sure, but the most likely impact of Colbert's move to broadcast TV -- and out of character -- is a lot less of that. Book authors are already bemoaning the dearth of interviews that they will likely face with Colbert's move. 

There will be much less time for wonky bits, and lots more celebrities and network shows that have to be promoted -- though, arguably, any references to education will be amplified by the comparatively large audience that Late Night gets.

Previous posts about Colbert here.


Afternoon Video: Return to Montefiore Alternative School

Last week's premier episode of the VICE-produced documentary series "Last Chance High" was so rough it was hard to watch -- so be warned.  Here's this week's show.

Morning Video: First Lady's Alma Mater Featured In New Documentary


This trailer describes both the history of the school itself and the stunning inadequacy of supply of seats given the talent and the demand.  Via CPS Obsessed.

Afternoon Video: Stephen Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core

At first, Colbert is outraged at the idea of common standards and anything being promoted by the Obama administration, but then he begins to change his mind. TeachingNow Via @benjaminriley.

Afternoon Video: Teacher Criticized, Then Defended For Classroom Takedown


An LAUSD teacher was initially criticized but is now being defended for his classroom takedown of a student, caught on cellphone camera last week. via LA Times.

Afternoon Video: New Series Looks Inside Alternative High School


Be warned, this new documentary series from VICE about a "last chance" alternative school in Chicago is VERY rough to watch, even if you've watched a bunch of these. 

Morning Video: "All Ivy League" Kid Makes Letterman Appearance

"Top Ten Ways To Make Your College Application Stand Out" as presented by Kwasi Enin, who has been accepted into all 8 Ivy League schools.

Media: Documentaries About Chicago & DC High Schools Win Peabodies

image from www.peabodyawards.comThis year's Peabody Awards include This American Life's Harper High School (featuring Chicago Public Radio's Linda Lutton and Alex Kotlowitz, among others) and PBS's 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School -- both of which you've read and heard about on this page. 

Congrats to all for the much-deserved recognition. However, the celebration is necessarily bittersweet, given the difficult lives that are being chronicled. (Or, as Lutton put it on her Facebook page, "I would trade every prize in the world for them to live in a different reality.")

Afternoon Video: A Mashup (Supercut) Of School "Happy" Videos, Please?


Someone needs to edit all these great "Happy" videos together to create some sort of crazy happy breakthrough (Harmonic Convergence) that would result, right?  This one from Chicago's Legacy charter school is particularly informal and fun.

Morning Video: Too Much Focus On Testing, Agrees Michelle Rhee

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On the TODAY show, a Boston teacher tearfully resigns from her job (a story too good to check), and Michelle Rhee complains that teachers stopped teaching her kids after testing is over each spring. 

Movies: 'Ivory Tower' Documentary To Get June Release

Hollywood_1575288cA much-discussed documentary about higher education costs and quality is getting a full theatrical release this June, according to various Hollywood outlets ('Ivory Tower' Lands). Paramount and Samuel Goldywn are distributing theatrically and online, and Participant (TEACH, Waiting For Superman) is doing the social action campaign."Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), Ivory Tower questions the value of higher education among spiraling tuition fees and student debt."

Afternoon Video: A New Kind Of Playground Encourages Risk-Taking


Here's the trailer from a new documentary about kids and risks that accompanies Hannah Rosin's new Atlantic Magazine article about The Overprotected Kid.

Inspiration: Let Actor Kevin Spacey Get You Fired Up

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 3.18.18 PMYou don't have to know or like actor Kevin Spacey or his current political thriller, "House of Cards" to appreciate this speech he gave about creativity, teaching, innovation, and much more ('A Sense of Total Abandon').  

In the transcript of this 2013 speech, Spacey -- not known for playing nurturing characters -- credits a drama teacher who saw potential in him for directing him towards an acting workshop and a long-running mentorship with Jack Lemmon. He also talks about the efforts he made as head of the Old Vic theater to do school and community outreach to give kids a creative outlet in acting.

Most of all, he talks about finding and cultivating a sense of "abandon" and creative energy, which is appropriate for teachers, parents, innovators, and entrepreneurs. 

Image via Byliner.

Media: You're Missing All The Good Stuff On Tumblr

Don Harder via Flickr Creative CommonsIn case you hadn't heard, here's this awesome, somewhat lawless place on the Internet called Tumblr -- sort of halfway between a blog and Twitter.

It's over where I and others can post all sorts of images, cartoons (like this harsh NYC charter school example), videos, and GIFs that can't go here (because: copyright).  

You should check it out here, or follow it on Twitter (@hotfored), or simply friend me on Facebook and you'll see it on your timeline.  

Next up: All the good stuff on Facebook (it's true!) and Medium.

Image via Flickr.

Media: Scripps Honors This American Life's "Harper High" Series

Harper"This American Life receives $10,000 and the Jack R. Howard Award for In-Depth Radio Coverage for Harper High School," notes KyForward.com.

"The series by Ben Calhoun, Ira Glass, Alex Kotlowitz, Linda Lutton, Robyn Semien and Julie Snyder documented daily life in one of America’s most dangerous schools.

"Their work garnered the attention of President and Mrs. Barack Obama and prompted creation of an anti-youth-violence initiative for Chicago schools."

Baltimore: A New School Where "The Wire" Was Filmed

20140313HENDERSON-slide-PLMW-superJumboThere's an amazing-looking new $43M school that's been built and opened in a blighted neighborhood in Baltimore, part of a massive urban renewal project funded in part by Johns Hopkins University and the Casey Foundation (and in partnership with Morgan State), according to the NYT (Reading, Writing and Renewal). It's a contract school, not a charter, but there's been displacement of previous residents in the area and controversy over the admissions lottery priority system. Image courtesy NYT. Other stories here, here, and here.

Testing: Jimmy Fallon's One-Question SAT Test

1926772_10152338344592502_1505030887_n"The College Board says it's revamping the SAT to focus more on what students will need in college.  In fact, the SAT is now just one question: "How much money do your parents have?" via Robert Pondiscio and others on Facebook.

Afternoon Video: "New" Ideas From TIME Include Return To Single-Sex Ed


The folks on MSNBC's Morning Joe talk single-sex education and other "new" ideas for 2014 from TIME.

Quotes: New SAT Over Current ACT

Quotes2If the new version of the SAT was available now, I would definitely be taking this over the ACT... It's just like everything I've been learning in school, where we are analyzing documents and seeing how we came to that answer. The idea of condensed math makes it much easier to narrow down what you want to study. - Chicago high schooler quoted in WSJ story(College Board Shakes Up SAT)

Celebrity: IB Program Takes Victory Lap Over Oscar Actress Win

Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 12.02.25 PMLupita Nyong'o didn't mention her IB education during her Oscars acceptance speech, but that hasn't stopped IB from making sure we all know what kind of school she went to (before Hampshire, and Yale).

"Her successful completion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme at St. Mary’s School in Nairobi, Kenya, was foundational to her academic success," according to a press release from IB.

The connection has been noted in at least a couple of news accounts ( IB Graduate Takes Home Oscar for Performance as Best Supporting Actress.

See the full press release below -- thanks to EWAE for the tip.  Image via Twitter.

Continue reading "Celebrity: IB Program Takes Victory Lap Over Oscar Actress Win" »

Quotes: TFA Moves To Soften "Pervasive Sense" Of Reform Support

Quotes2There was a pervasive sense from the folks we spoke to that TFA has taken a side in education reform, taken the side of teacher evaluation and charters, and that their views were more complicated. We need to create a space that is much more welcoming of the diversity of opinions. -- TFA co-head Matt Kramer in EdWeek

Morning Video: New SAT Addresses Inequality, Market Share

Here's John Merrow on the PBS NewsHour talking about the new SAT, in case you just can't get enough.

Media: School-Related Tidbits From Sunday's Oscars Telecast

image from a.scpr.orgThe red bracelet on "12 Years A Slave" director Steve McQueen's right write was a shout-out to the NSBA, reports the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss.

As you may recall, McQueen and the NSBA and Montel Williams among others have arranged to have the movie brought into high schools around the nation.

In other Oscars-related education news, the students from Hamilton High School who got to perform the song "Happy" with Pharrell Williams are pretty excited about the experience, according to SCPR.


It's a magnet school that's part of LAUSD whose expulsion rates and SPED services percentages are unknown.

The students did have to try out for the experience, and were prohibited from posting anything about it on social media ahead of the broadcast.

Media: Please Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!

Journalism1-395x420How should reporters write about testing protests and parents opting out this year?

Carefully, in a word.Contextually.  Skeptically.  With much greater balance and insight.

Better than they did last year!

The testing protest/opt out coverage has already begun, and there's nothing wrong with that.  It's testing season, after all, and we knew this was coming.

Teachers at a couple of schools in Chicago say they're not going to administer the state's lame duck assessment, and somewhere around 500 parents say they're going to pull their kids from the tests.

What last year's coverage often lacked, however, was care and context.  Test proliferation claims thrown out by testing critics weren't verified (often it seemed as if no attempts at verification had been made).   Claims that weren't in dispute -- say the number of parents who opted out -- often weren't presented in context (ie, as a percentage of parents in the school or district). The emphasis was on confrontation and consequences that were often overblown and/or speculative -- most of which didn't actually happen and were never likely to.  

Parents and teachers who support testing are rarely found and presented to readers, resulting in grossly imbalanced coverage (especially since the vast majority of parents and teachers aren't actively involved in testing advocacy).

Let's not do that again. Or at least let's stop before it becomes a habit. Two recent stories from Chicago illustrate the challenges.

Continue reading "Media: Please Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!" »

Bruno: Chicago Video Isn't The Real Reason Teachers Hate PD

By now there's a very good chance you've seen this video of a teacher professional development session in Chicago:


The instant consensus was that this must have been among the worst PDs in the history of the teaching profession. I'm actually agnostic about the quality of this particular workshop - we only see one minute of it, after all, and frankly the teachers there seem more engaged than at others I've attended - but I can understand why this clip is making people cringe.

It's worth stopping to point out, however, that even if this is an example of a lousy PD, it's probably not really illustrative of why teachers don't like professional development in general. The reality has nothing to do with an over-reliance on group recitation or choral responding, neither of which are common in teacher workshops.

One major reason teachers tend to dislike PD is that most workshops are, if anything, less clear and less practical than what we seem to be seeing in this clip.

Continue reading "Bruno: Chicago Video Isn't The Real Reason Teachers Hate PD" »

Pop Culture: Pretty Soon, Kanye West Is Going To Have A Charter, Too

image from www.washingtonpost.comThe Washington Post magazine notes that a small but growing number of celebrities start, support, and even send their kids to charter schools these days:

"The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy started in Las Vegas in 2001. Oprah Winfrey spent $40 million to open her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007, and has donated millions to other charters domestically. Former NBA star (and ESPN commentator) Jalen Rose founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit in 2011. Prime Prep Academy, co-founded by former NFL star (and current NFL Network analyst) Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, opened campuses in Dallas and Fort Worth in 2012. Pop star John Legend is vice chairman of the board for the Harlem Village Academies, and Hugh Jackman and Katie Couric are board members. Sandra Bullock (born in Arlington, living in New Orleans) was awarded the People’s Choice Favorite Humanitarian Award in 2013 for her contributions to the Warren Easton Charter High School in the Crescent City."

I think there a few more, including the charters celebrities support or send their kids to in LA (it's fairly common there), and of course the actor who portrays Mike Gomez in Breaking Bad. Magic Johnson?

Of course, as the article points out, the results are mixed (Pitbull’s school: star promotes a radical idea for at-risk kids). Via EdWeek's Mark Walsh.

Charts: Your SAT Scores Are Back In Vogue Among Employers

image from si.wsj.net

Employers are asking for SAT scores -- and job applicants are putting them on resumes and LinkedIn profiles, according to this WSJ story. Meantime, the College Board says that it will be announcing changes to the SAT next week. 

TV Shows: LA Vouchers May Be Root Of Evil On "True Detective"

image from i.kinja-img.comI thought TWIE contributor John Thompson was joking when he told me there was an education angle in HBO's gritty serial killer / murder mystery, True Detective.  But it's true: 

"Turns out that the root of all evil may be Christian voucher schools," notes one of several blog posts about the recent turn of events -- a plot twist that mirrors the current voucher debate going on in real life.  

The Onion's AV Club notes the show is "taking aim at Louisiana's very real, and very awful school voucher system."

I'll leave the details out since they'll be spoilers for many folks.  But folks are asking about it on Quora, and of course you can find out more on Wikipedia. There's a creepily administrative scene between Reverend Tuttle and one of the detectives you can watch here.

This isn't the first time that an HBO show has taken on a school reform issue.  David Simon's Treme included a rap about TFAers taking career educators' jobs in New Orleans.  The Wire described how violent and impersonal Baltimore schools could be.

Morning Video: "12 Years A Slave" Going To High School

"The distribution will be funded by TV host Montel Williams in partnership with New Regency, Penguin Books and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Williams was also largely responsible for the incorporation of the Civil War film "Glory" into school curriculum." ('12 Years A Slave' To Be Incorporated In High School Curriculum)

Audio: Smartest Kids' Author Missed Just One Question On PISA

Ripley also talks about why Finland is doing so much better than Norway and Sweden (teacher prep has something to do with it). On WNYC's Leonard Lopate show.

Afternoon Video: President Won't Give Up Student's iPad

Taken at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland on February 4, 2014

Books: A Dystopian Education Thriller!

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 19 12.57"It’s the near future and education has become big business," according to the promo copy for @Charles_Swift's dystopian education thriller, The Newman Resident.

"Dr. Newman is at the leading edge of creating the perfect educational environment for children, and all he requires is a hefty tuition—and your child at the age of six months."

Could be good -- could be way over the top.  What do you think?  Anyone plopped down the $2.99 it costs to download and read the thing, or know who Charles Swift is?

People: Soledad O'Brien's Ed School Teaching Gig

image from isites.harvard.eduThe longtime news host  left CNN last spring and is now producing education-related segments on Al Jazeera America and also teaching a class at the Harvard ed school (Boston Globe). The HGSE course is called "Advancing the Public Understanding of Education” (co-taught with Joe Blatt). She's taught on Dream School (Los Angeles Times), in which celebrities taught kids (sort of). She's also a mother of four and a regular guest on HBO and will be moderating the National Geographic Bee (replacing Alex Trebek). Image via HGSE.

Quotes: Pre-Eminent Astrophysicist Still Angry At Local Elementary School

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 18 11.49

I am where I am not because of what happened in school but in spite of it, and that is probably not what you want me to say.  Call me back, and I will address your teachers and give them a piece of my mind. -- Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on why he declined a speaking invitation from his former elementary school (P.S. 81) in a recent New Yorker profile.

TV: Breaking Bad's Pro-Charter School Board Member

image from c.o0bc.comSorry, all of you charter critics who love "Breaking Bad." Your enjoyment of the show -- like your use of Apple devices and Amazon Prime -- is more complicated than you might like it to be.

On the right, that's real-life charter school parent and Albuquerque school board member Steven Michael Quezada, who plays DEA agent Steven Gomez on "Breaking Bad."

Yep.  It's true. According to his official Albuquerque Public Schools bio, the longtime actor was on the board for the Public Academy for the Performing Arts charter school (where his children attend school).

He's going to appear at an upcoming charter school conference (here).  

Morning Video: Schools Conduct Newly-Required "Active Shooter" Drills

Watch the segment from a Missouri school's drill above, read the NBC.com article here, or watch MSNBC host Chris Hayes and reporter @Nona Willis Aronowitz discuss it here

Love Is Just A Domestic Version Of Classroom Management (Right)?

Shamu husband nyt 2006What happens when classroom management guru Doug Lemov's wife starts using his techniques around the house?

I’d like you to try again at the end of the day to nail the laundry in the basket thing we’ve been working on.  I’m giving you the opportunity to show me how much you’ve improved!

POW!  Technique 39.

Find out by clicking here.

Lemov's wife isn't the only one to consider these kinds of things. Remember the 2006 New York Times piece (What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage)?

And pretty much every teacher I've ever met (or gone out with) has tried to use classroom tricks --the eerily calm"teacher voice" and the incessant praise -- to get their way (make life better, etc.)

Image via NYT.

Quotes: Don't Forget Florida Reform School Victims

Quotes2Difficult and delinquent boys are so easy to forget about. - New Yorker article on long history of abuse at Florida reform school  (and lack of charges being filed against perpetrators)


Morning Video: 28 Reasons to Hug a Blacky Guy


SNL Does Black History Month: "Common Core, y'all." says Beachwood Reporter #CCSS

Afternoon Video: Girl-Focused Toy Startup Won SuperBowl Ad Spot From Intuit


Read more about the contest and the possible implications from MSNBC here.

Bridgegate: The Jock (Chris Christie) Vs. The Nerd (David Wildstein)

Everything you need to know about the current Christ Christie abuse of power flap goes back to high school, according to The Atlantic Wire (Chris Christie Will Never Escape High School), which notes that the embattled NJ Governor's relationship with his accuser goes back to high school and replays some of the dynamics of those years:

image from cdn.theatlantic.com"You know, I was the class president and athlete," Christie now-famously said at his long press conference explaining Bridgegate. "I don't know what David [Wildstein] was doing during that period of time."

TV Shows: Thinking "West Wing" In A "House Of Cards" World

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 1.03.12 PMThere are lots of lessons reformers might glean from the NYT Sunday Magazine preview of season two of House of Cards -- greatest among them the dangers of imagining they're working in a "West Wing" world where good ideas, research results, and smarts prevail when the reality is much more "House Of Cards" (in which idealism and book smarts matter less than street savvy and knowing how to work the media).

Of particular note, the article focuses on the young(ish) show-runner, who worked on the Howard Dean campaign and watched as it responded to the press frenzy surrounding the "Dean Scream" by taking the higher ground rather than responding vigorously -- and in the end let Dean's opponents (and the media) define him and derail his campaign.

Sound familiar? 

To be sure, both shows are exaggerated, fictionalized versions of reality.  But there are real-world historical lessons to be gleaned from the show and article.  

For reform opponents, the dangers illustrated by the show are the ever-present possibility of public revulsion and political excommunication that would likely follow revelation of cut-throat tactics no matter how worthwhile or well-intended the aims.   

 Previous posts:  House Of Cards Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization EdWeek's Take On "House Of Cards"

Afternoon Video: This Is What Might Happen If You Cut Class


I already posted this satirical (and very gory) mock anti-truancy PSA on Hot For Ed, but since then it's been all over Facebook, Digg, etc. so I guess the Internet has decided that your eyes will survive. Remember: NSFW (gore). 

Morning Video: "What'd You Learn In School, Today?"


Big thanks to the Beachwood Reporter (@beachwoodreporter)'s Steve Rhodes for sending me this link showing Pete Seeger singing his anti-war song.  I've been wanting to read or see  something about Seeger and schools all week (if there's more, please pass it along). Thanks!

Afternoon Video: A Cappella Group Sings "Sesame Street"

via Huffington Post



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.