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Events: Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel

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This past weekend's media panel at the NJ TFA summit included Camika Royal (soon to be at Loyola University in Baltimore), USC's Doug Thomas, free agent (for now) Derrell Bradford, and WSJ metro education reporter  (to be) Leslie Brody (pictured above).  

The panel included comments from me about the complicated but important process through which most education stories are assigned, written, and massaged before they're published -- and how unrealistic a picture of the education debate you can get from social media (where reform critics rule).  

There were also much more useful observations from others:  how important it is to find a workspace where you can speak your mind (Royal); teachers are unfortunately reluctant to talk to reporters about what they're seeing even when they're willing to appear in photos (Brody); Twitter is much less constructive and useful than Facebook or other venues where anonymity and unwanted intrusions can be limited (Bradford). 

Oh, and Brody [@lesliebrody] told the audience that her new email will be leslie.brody@wsj.com -- though she's not there yet. More from the summit via #njsummit, @TFA_NJ.  Picture courtesy CR.

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: RealClearEducation Disclosure/Conflict Of Interest Statement

image from www.realcleareducation.com

In case you were curious, here's the "transparency" page for RealClear Education, in which it is explained that the editorial decisions and content that are produced by editors Andy Rotherham and Emmeline Zhao will be independent from not only funders (including the Arnold Foundation, the Hume Foundation, and the New Venture Fund --a sort of clearinghouse / intermediary for foundations) and advertisers but also clients of Bellwether Education (a "growing community of performance-driven education reform leaders, entrepreneurs, organizations, foundations and public institutions").


Social Media: Clearly, I Am Over-Tweeting [23 x a day!]

Grungy-social-media-icons-297x300Check out Tweetails and you can see how much you - or someone you know - is Tweeting.  

Apparently I send out about 23 tweets a day (including blog posts), which amounts to 29 hours a month, which makes me a Level 23 Tweet Paladin (and probably a fool).

Lots more details -- word frequency, folks I tweet to/with -- below.

Give it a try and tell me what you found?

Continue reading "Social Media: Clearly, I Am Over-Tweeting [23 x a day!]" »

Media: Update On LA School Report

image from laschoolreport.comNews got out this week that Hillel Aron was joining the LA Weekly as a full time staffer.  Though he stayed on for a time after my departure from the site at the end of last summer , the workhorse reporter (who did most of the daily writing for LA School Report during its first year of publication) had stopped writing for the education outlet earlier this winter.

So who's left? The masthead there currently includes Jamie Lynton (now listed as Executive Editor), Michael Janofsky (my replacement, as it turned out), and site manager Leigh Anne Abiouness. Vanessa Romo and Chase Neisner have appeared in recent weeks. Ellie Herman has been writing occasional commentaries.

There have been some notable improvements in the site.  Someone seems to have finally figured out how to livestream LAUSD board meetings. They've thankfully stopped capitalizing School Board (my fault, if I remember correctly). And they've added links to local news sites from around the sprawling district. 

And of course there's always lots of education news to cover in LA.  Current examples include the Vergara trial, the ever-contentious school board members, and the never-ending iPad debacle.

Chicago: The Story Behind The Rahm-Karen Lewis Food Fight

image from educationnext.org
As if the protesting teachers and parents and the new CNN documentary weren't enough, here comes my look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's tumultous first three years at the helm of the city and its beleagured schools system.  

The piece (which was originally titled "Reforming Rahm") makes note of just how incremental change had come during the Daley era -- especially the last few years during which a new contract was signed with the union and leadership turnover was the theme -- and what kind of a massive budget and pension deficit Emanuel inherited. 

But it also makes clear how Emanuel's rush to take action on things like a longer school day have often backfired, and how he inadvertently helped make a star out of rookie Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and alienated reform-inclined educators and parents like Seth Lavin as well as "enclave" parents and traditional educators.

Colorful personality conflicts aside, the piece notes that there are still several wortwhile things going on in Chicago, including a move to school-based budgeting, streamlining of testing requirements, a teacher evaluation system to replace the checklist of yore, and a difficult but long-necessary downsizing in response to demographic shifts.

Read the piece -- maybe also Neil Steinberg's recent Esquire profile, too -- and tell me what you think.

Site News: What Do You Think? Scholastic Wants To Know!

The good folks at @ScholasticAdms (who sponsor and host this site!) have rolled out a new feature called Top Five, in which they ask you to weigh in on Twitter with your thoughts about about recent news events.

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Use the hashtags to tell us what you think about  Duncan's controversial involvement in the recent NYC chancellor selection process (#DODinfluence), schools revamping discipline policies to try and lessen disparities and suspensions(#zerotolerance), the impossibly young innovators who created Edmodo and are scaling up Khan Academy ((#genYleaders), the next Boston superintendent (#urbanleader), and recent science lab explosions (#sciencesafety).

AM News: Live, From New Orleans #EWAearlyed

I'm at the EWA seminar on early childhood education today and tomorrow -- great people, great lineup -- and would be tweeting more than posting even if there was WiFi available right now:

Update: It All Began Ten Years Ago

Jacob riss dana goldstein Hard to believe that I started the weekly email roundup that became "This Week In Education" in November '03, starting with AOL, then moving to GMail (remember when it was so), then Blogger/Blogspot (your eyes still hurt).  

What I'd forgotten along the way is the blog moved over to EdWeek in January '07 -- about six months after I moved to New York City and much later than I had remembered.   The Chicago blog moved over to Catalyst and ChicagoNow a little earlier. 

Way back then, blogs were still strange and new -- now they're strange and old.  Being able to comment immediately rather than write a letter to the editor was new -- now most folks simple Tweet or Facebook what they've got to say.

There was no Politics K-12 or Teacher Beat, no Huffington Post, no Answer Sheet, no GothamSchools/Chalkbeat. Rotherham didn't allow comments. Hess didn't even know what a blog was, much less have his own.

One thing hasn't changed, which is the basic aim of what I'm doing, which I summarized in the 2007 welcome message at EdWeek: "Too often, educators don't understand politics, politicians don't understand education, and education journalists don't understand -- or find ways to capture -- the interactions of these two different worlds. Everyone suffers as a result."

Jacob Riis image via Dana Goldstein's blog.

Media: EdSource Today's California-Sized Growth Spurt

image from edsource.orgWhile you might have been looking the other way, distracted by East Coast media outlets and the like. EdSource Today has quietly been emerging as one of the biggest nonprofit edmedia outlets out there.  

They describe themselves as "the leader in California education journalism." They're partnering with other nonprofit outlets like KQED and Hechinger.

Over the past year or two they've staffed up in Northern California (Fensterwald, Baron, Mongeau are the bylines you've been seeing most frequently.)  See the staf list here.

Now they're looking to expand in SoCal as well. 

Of course, there are other nonprofit education outlets covering California, like the KPCC education shop I've written about before. And a handful of commercial outlets like SI&A Cabinet Report and the LA Times that are still out there.  LA School Report has been plugging away, though seems like Hillel Aron isn't writing for them any longer.  

Click below for the job announcement. Here's their look ahead at 2014 (Top 12 education issues in the new year).


Continue reading "Media: EdSource Today's California-Sized Growth Spurt" »

Update: Schools' Ever-Expanding Uses Of TED Talks


TED Talks may or may not be the world's most intellectually rigorous form of idea-sharing for adults, as several recent blog posts and articles have suggested, but the format -- in full or just parts of it -- still has some appeal and potential benefits for teachers and students who want to try it out in schools.

image from hepg.org

This new Harvard Education Letter story I wrote explores schools' small but growing use of TED Talks. Classroom and in-school uses of TED Talks are turning into whole-school TEDx events and even (in at least one case) whole-district TED Talks

"Hosting a standalone TEDx event is no easy feat. For student organizers, the event requires the ability to organize and coordinate, to think through logistics and ideas, and to work with adults as well as other students... Organizers' duties include finding speakers and a venue that's appropriate, creating a program and TEDx event logo, deciding which TED Talks to play in between live presentations, scripting and shaping presentations, recruiting an audience, and arranging with teachers and administrators for students to attend. TEDx events are supposed to be filmed from three different angles, streamed live online, and uploaded to the Internet. (The head-mounted microphone, use of buzzwords, and dramatic pauses are optional.)"  
What do you think?  What do your schools do with TED Talks, if anything? From TED-ifying Schools Harvard Education Letter.  

Update: Happy New Year! See You Monday

2013 dubai fireworksHappy New Year!  Hope you're having a good one so far. I'm working hard on cool stuff for 2014 and will be back on Monday, January 6. See you then!

Scheduling: Happy Holidays, 2013!

image from ocalla.comI'm off to Boston for the holidays so you'll have to make do without me for a few days -- I'm sure you'll be OK.  Check EdWeek or GothamSchools or Politico's Morning Education or the Annenberg Institute for a news roundup.  I'm sure one or several of them will help you out.  Meantime, all the best, safe travels, and thanks as always for checking this site out. [Image via Superb Wallpapers]

Scholastic: What Happened To NCLB... Is Happening Again Now

image from www.scholastic.com

My latest Scholastic Administrator column is out, focusing on how the NCLB implementation and pushback history compares to the Common Core process we're going through now (Whither CCSS?).

"At the time, a number of states considered opting out. Several states (including Connecticut, Arizona, Utah, and Nebraska) and districts filed lawsuits against NCLB. So did the NEA and 11 districts scattered around the nation. Others sought accommodations, proposed legislation, or reported on the costs of complying with the new law. Three wealthy Connecticut districts opted out of the program entirely in 2003, followed by two districts near Chicago."

Back to the present: A few more states have slowed down their CCSS participation since the piece was written -- I think we're up to seven now, right? -- but the basic argument remains the same.

"If the history of NCLB is any guide, the vast majority of the current efforts to reconsider or roll back the Common Core will lose steam or result in some relatively minor accommodation well short of opting out. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on where you stand."

Update: Journalism Fellowship Applications Due Jan. 31

Spencer fellows 2010The annual Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship luncheon took place a couple of weeks ago and those alumni in attendance made up a veritable who's who of education reporting. They included Liz Bowie (Balt Sun), Greg Toppo (USA Today), Dana Goldstein (Slate, Nation), Sarah Garland (Hechinger), Trey Kay (NPR).  Those not able to make it -- Sarah Carr, Peg Tyre, Elizabeth Green, among others -- are an equally impressive lot.  (That's the 2010 crew pictured right.)

Latest Spencer news: Greg Toppo just got a book contract for his learning games book and is joining the Spencer advisory board. Dana Goldstein just turned in her completed manuscript. Sarah Garland has a very cute baby. Current Spencers Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Lauren Smith Camera, and Annie Murphy Paul were all there, too.

All this to say that the Spencer Fellowship is up again for 2014-2015 and if you think you have the stuff to make it through Evidence and Inference and Sam Freedman's book writing workshop you should apply.  Seriously.Your idea is great.  You're totally qualified.  The competition isn't too tough. (Plus which, the Nieman deadline is already passed.)


See the latest press release below. Don't forget.  

Continue reading "Update: Journalism Fellowship Applications Due Jan. 31" »

Update: Social Media Friday

Grungy-social-media-icons-297x300Today's a travel day for me, so I'll be on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else that will have me - but alas not here.  

Check those sites for updates, or go to GothamSchools or AISR or HuffPost Education or Atlantic Education for a morning news roundup. Or Politics K12, or Politico's Morning Read.

Have a great day, and see you back here Monday!


Updates: The 9 Most Notable Education Stories Of 2013

image from cdn.theatlantic.com

Over at the Atlantic's education page, check out my top education stories of the year and let me know if you agree or disagree.  There's something for everyone.  Or, try and guess my 9 and see how many you get right. I'm going with #ed2013 but that's probably already been used or won't take off. Image via the Atlantic.

Site News: Getaway Day (Brooklyn To Boston)

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I'm heading off for the holiday (along with everyone else). I'll see you back on Monday, December 2. I'll be checking Twitter and Facebook. Happy Thanksgiving / Hannukah.

Site News: Facebook & Twitter Buttons For "This Week In Education"

Social-media-channelSocial media isn't anything new, and TWIE has been on Facebook and Twitter long before many other sites. But as a few of you have noticed, there haven't been social media buttons on the site itself -- until now.  

All that's changed now.  Look below. Look above.  All around you, Twitter and Facebook buttons so you can "like" and Tweet out individual blog posts without fuss or muss -- thanks to Wayne D'Orio and the eScholastic folks who pulled it off. 

Thanks, and enjoy! Let me know if you have any issues.

Thompson: Of *Course* There's Too Much Testing

OptAlexander Russo's Atlantic Magazine article, When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests, begins with photographs of the signage that has become so ubiquitous in schools.  As the seemingly endless testing season begins, learning stops in schools full of posters stating, "Testing in Progress" and "Lab Is Closed."  

The article explains how teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School refused to give the district’s required tests and encountered the predictable pushback and quotes a Garfield teacher who anticipates “the biggest revolt against standardized testing in U.S. history” during this spring's three month long testing season. [He also cites the Brookings Institution’s Tom Loveless who recalls that parent protests against tests “pop up like wildfires” about every decade.]

I'm proud that that parents in Oklahoma are also helping to lead the backlash.  Russo cites the case of Jenks Middle School where 800 parents opted out of last spring's piloting of test questions. He quotes Deedra Barnes, who helped organize the boycott, and who is considering an opt out for the high-stakes testing in 2014.  Testing, she says, is out of balance.

So far, at least, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has decided to insult suburban moms rather than listen to them, but he's not alone. DFER's Charlie Barone “just doesn’t see the groundswell of opposition against testing that FairTest and others claim to exist.”

But how would they? What actual contact with real schools do Duncan and Barone have? Of course, there is far too much testing.  As Diane Ravitch said to comedian John Stewart, "The status quo today is test, test, test, pretest, posttest, data.” The only way to deny the anger felt by parents, teachers, and students is to hypothesize that we are all suffering from a mass hallucination. 

The magazine also links to a previous article by a teacher, Ben Orlin, When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning.   Orlin describes the destructive rote learning and cramming encouraged  high-stakes testing.  It is a reminder that as testing forces teachers to engage in more and more educational malpractice, the backlash is bound to grow.

-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Tests: Have They *Really* Proliferated (& Will Protests Matter)?

image from cdn.theatlantic.comMy new piece is just up over at the Atlantic education page, describing the spate of recent parent opt-outs.

Clearly, opt-outs and other forms of protest are on the rise to some extent, and have already had effects in a handful of places. But anecdotal reports don't mean that everybody hates testing (and even those who protest do so for very different reasons).

Teachers' concerns re tests being used for evaluations shouldn't be confused with parents' concerns about lost classroom time, for example.  

My biggest frustration reporting the story is that while there are lots of anecdotal reports of what seems like test proliferation there's no one I could find who's tracking the number of tests that states and districts are requiring so that we can see if the trend is up and if so how widespread it is. A little help, someone?

Just as frustrating, there's no accurate count of the percentage of parents who opt-out that districts, states, or anyone else is reporting -- though The Nation reports that the New York protests last spring amounted to just 1 percent of all parents. Again, some reliable numbers would be useful.

Thanks to experts like Bob Schaeffer, Anya Kamenetz, Tom Loveless, Charlie Barone, Michael Lomax, and the folks at Achieve and USDE for talking to me about the trend dynamics, as well as parents and teachers like Jesse Hagopian, Peggy Robertson, Liz Dwyer, Chris Thiennes, Rebecca Labowitz, and Deedra Barnes for talking to me about their opt-out experiences and everyone else who helped or offered to -- as well as Eleanor Barkhan and Julia Ryan for the helpful edits. Apologies to folks I didn't get to talk to (or whose best lines got left on the cutting room floor).

Previous posts: Either you’re against the Common Core or you’ve never heard of itThe Moral Complexities of Opting Out (Thompson).

Celebrating Veterans Day

image from www.coe.fau.edu
You're on your own this Veterans Day for news and gossip about education, though comments are open and I may lose my resolve and post some links later in the day.

It also might be worthwhile to ponder the day's meaning for education.

At first glance, there's not much connection between education and veterans. But look below the surface and there connections start to emerge:

There are veterans all around schools these days -- classroom teachers, administrators, clerical and classified staff, and of course parents.

There have been various "Troops to Teachers" kinds of programs for recent and long-ago veterans -- though I've heard mixed things.

Veterans can also be found in central offices -- sometimes even leading school districts (it was very popular to hire military veterans to head school systems).

I haven't yet many veterans among the current school reform movement leaders, or among the leaders of those who are opposed to these efforts.  

Who'm I missing?

Media: Who Leaked Deasy's "Resignation" (& Why It Didn't Work)

image from farm8.staticflickr.comWait, what just happened?  First embattled LAUSD superintendent John Deasy was resigning, then he's being re-upped -- for another two years?

The two main theories behind the last few days of tumult and rumor in LA are (a) that Deasy authorized a leak to scare the board into keeping him (and it nearly got out of hand) or (b) that Deasy opponents (most likely Mike Trujillo in Richard Vladovic's office) leaked the story to try and create momentum around an early Deasy departure.

So which was it and why didn't the leak work?

Continue reading "Media: Who Leaked Deasy's "Resignation" (& Why It Didn't Work)" »

Afternoon Video: Common Core Meets "Hot For Education" '05

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There was an amusing exchange at about the 40 minute mark of the Hess / Knowles / Duncan Common Core confab yesterday in Chicago (pictured above left).

Coming onstage to join Knowles and Duncan, Hess expressed feigned unease at appearing with Knowles, who was named one of education's hottest advocates in 2005 (pictured above right).

Knowles' response? "You can see what happens in eight or ten years, right?"  

For the record, Hess was also suggested for Hot For Ed '05, but blogger Joanne Jacobs rejected the idea: "I've seen Rick Hess, and he's no Tim Knowles."

Click here for some local coverage or watch the video below.  I promised you a video, after all.

Continue reading "Afternoon Video: Common Core Meets "Hot For Education" '05" »

People: Gotta Love The Socks

Love the Common Core #CCSS or hate them (or somewhere in between), you gotta love David Coleman's colorful socks in the image accompanying the digital edition of my recent interview with him in Administrator Magazine (which sponsors this site):

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There are also lots of other great images from the magazine, which I'm taking the liberty of posting here just for the fun of it, along with the full image of Coleman.

Continue reading "People: Gotta Love The Socks" »

Site News: Long Weekend - Back Tuesday



I'm taking the long weekend and will be back on Tuesday.

Of course, there have been and will be a few Tweets if you are really desperate (or compulsive, as I am). 

Everyone else is working, I'm sure -- so check your other blogs, too. 

See you Tuesday AM!

Image via Scholastic Administrator.

Media: First Look At The Atlantic's Education Page [@TheAtlanticEDU]

Good news-bad newsSo it's been a few days now since the Atlantic education page launched, and while others may have been paying closer attention (tell me!) I feel like I'm beginning to get the sense of what it's going to be all about (at least for now).

Edited by Eleanor Barkhorn (veteran Atlantic.com channel editor) and staffed by Julia Ryan (@julialeighryan), you can read the introductory explanation from Barkhorn here (Introducing The Atlantic's Education Channel) and get a look at a recent post by Ryan here (How Much Homework Do American Kids Do?). 

So far, at least, it's basically shaping up to be an all-education version of the site's National page, which has has long carried education reporting from EWA's Emily Richmond (What Makes a Great Teacher: Training? Experience? Intelligence? Grit?) and Hechinger. For a long list of posts I've written about or with Atlantic.com material in the past, click here.

But that's not all.  There's also education-related commentary, which was previously verboten on the National page, such as this post from Robert Pondiscio (Poor Students Need Homework). That could be great, if it's smart and edgy stuff, or could devolve if it becomes predictable or is full of just the most self-serving kinds of viewpoints (a la Huffington Post).  Look also for personal narratives such as this one ('I Don't Want My Children to Go to College').
My favorite piece so far has been Todd Tauber's rant on education's latest latecomers (When Media Companies Try to Become Education Companies), partly because of the topic and also because of Tauber's obvious familiarity with the field and willingness to do some reporting.  Crossed fingers for more of like that, though it may be hard or expensive to find people who can do that kind of work.

Continue reading "Media: First Look At The Atlantic's Education Page [@TheAtlanticEDU]" »

Update: Diverse NOLA Charter Opens, Duncan Nixes ELL Preference

Pile-of-books-1Remember that school in the works a couple of years ago in New Orleans, where the goal was to take some of the best elements of private progressive and structured charter schools and make a diverse environment?  

Its founder, Josh Denson, spoke at the time about how frustrated he was with the dominant (90/90/90) charter school model, and yet  “In schools where it’s all about learning, discovery, and projects and teamwork, there seems to me to be an absence of or a reluctance to have any kind of accountability.”

Well, the school, Bricolage, opened this year.  It's goals are to "launch a new kind of school - one that advances educational equity and creates innovators who change the world."  I wrote about it in my November 2012 Education Next piece, Diverse Charter Schools

Meantime, the USDE has apparently pressured another set of folks trying to explore the diverse charter schools idea against setting up a lottery preference based on ELL status.  

As reported in GothamSchools (Facing federal funding freeze, Success to nix lottery preference), the Success network has been told to give up its ELL priority or lose charter school startup funding.  

Other diverse charters, including Brooklyn Prospect and Community Roots, might not face such pressures since they're not replicating startups, but it's still a bad signal to send to schools trying to do something interesting and potentially very powerful (ie, find a sweet spot between charters and district schools).  Brooklyn Prospect has now grown into the high school years, as originally envisioned, and also is opening an elementary school starting with kindergarten this year.

According to the GothamSchools article, other charters with preferences for single-parent kids, autistic kids, and other priorities could soon be affected.  Ironically, the USDE ruling on the lottery issue will indirectly encourage/allow charters to serve larger percentages of white/affluent families.

I'm checking around to see if other schools in NY or other states are being affected.

So far, at least, Bricolage hasn't needed a weighted lottery. The first class's demographics are roughly 45 percent free lunch, slightly lower than the application and lottery yields. 

Magazines: Administr@tor Goes Back To School

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Here are some of the big stories in the latest ("back to school" edition of Scholastic Administrator (@scholasticadms), the magazine that sponsors this blog (and runs a regular interview and column from me as well):

President Poses for E-Rate: Obama introduces E-Rate upgrade program, ConnectED. The goal? To bring high-speed Internet access to every school in the U.S.

The Future of a Shuttered School: School closures are on the rise, but what if student enrollment rebounds?

The Fantastic Five: Profiles of leaders who initiated radical, and successful, changes.

Are Tablets Better Than Laptops? Top educators debate which device fits students best.

Charlotte's Turnaround Artist: Ann Blakeney Clark: Ann Blakeney Clark on working with under-performing schools, strategic staffing and collaborating with fellow educators.

Is Your School Assessing Security? A look at which measures offer the best protection at a time of ever-shrinking budge

If you want to see the whole magazine in all its electronic glory, go here

Site News: Gone Camping (Labor Day Weekend)

1012730_630836396933994_225452274_nI know, I know -- so much time away from the blog this summer.  But with a place like this to go to -- a YMCA family camp weekend in Connecticut -- can you blame me?  

In my absence, follow @gtoppo at USA Today (he's even better on Facebook), or see if there's anything good at #reformy (my favorite word and little-used hashtag), or check out @gothamschools' morning roundup.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, and see you back here bright and early on Tuesday.

Reform: Secrets To Winning Elected School Board Races

image from www.scholastic.comHere's a bit of my latest column for Scholastic Administrator about the lessons for other school districts from the last year of turmoil in LA:

Candidate credibility matters to voters. Newspaper endorsements *can* make a real difference. Campaign money isn't magic. Internal polling can be *very* misleading. Absentee ballots and walking precincts matter.

To read the whole thing, cruise on over: Lessons from L.A.

Then come back here and disagree (or agree) with me. 

Image via Scholastic.

Site News: Gone Drivin' - See You Monday

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI'm off for the rest of the week but will be back on Monday.  

In between now and then, you might be able to find glimpses of me on Twitter or Facebook (but I hope not).

The 1955 Buick Special convertible I'll be driving -- originally my grandmother's -- isn't painted yellow (or in nearly as nice shape as this example) but it's still a lot of fun to drive.

See you Monday!

Update: Private School Hypocrisy Pro/Con

Screen shot 2013-08-06 at 11.56.09 AMToday's the first day of school for LAUSD kids, but Matt Damon's daughters aren't among them.  Do you care?

As I wrote last week, the testing critic and teacher advocate revealed last week during a publicity interview for Elysium that after agonizing over the decision he was sending his kids to a progressive private school.

The reactions thus far have been fairly predictable (see roundup below).

For me, the issue isn't so much that Damon chose a private school for his kids, but rather that (a) he espoused an outdated and narrow view of the Los Angeles education scene and (b) that reform critics make such a big deal about their opponents' private school choices and backgrounds and then can't deal when they're called out for having enjoyed or exercised some of the same choices.

There are scads of interesting public school options in LA, including among them many progressive options (see where Damon is probably sending his kids below).  

And if it matters where Michelle Rhee sent her children or where Jonah Edelman went to school then it matters where Damon (or Ravitch, or Haimsen) sent theirs. 

Continue reading "Update: Private School Hypocrisy Pro/Con" »

Social Media: Ed Writers Notably Missing From 2013 Klout List

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The main thing that jumps out at me looking at this year's Fordham Foundation Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy is what a great equalizer the social media service seems to be, lumping together individuals (Diane Ravitch, Mike Klonsky, Anthony Cody) with massive institutions, appointed officials and classroom (or former classroom) teachers -- and also the absence of mainstream media outlets/journalists.

Either because they were exluded or didn't make the cut, there's nobody from the New York Times this year, USA Today, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal (or Politico).  Of course, these mainstream media folks crush everyone else when it comes to overall influence and readership, given the size and prominence of their outlets. And of course they're limited by their roles in terms of what they can do and say in between reporting stories.

Among journalist types, HuffPost's Joy Resmovits is way ahead of me in Klout but lags behind in followers (not sure why that is).  The PoliticsK12 team is a smidgen ahead of me on Klout but way ahead in followers (makes more sense, right?).  Note that TWIE contributors John Thompson and Paul Bruno among others deserve credit for helping attract followers and boosting "my" Klout number.

Author Mike Petrilli points out the rough balance between individuals and institutions, as well that the list has changed little in recent years, reveals little racial diversity and is dominated by men, and contains only a few newcomers (@carrischneider, @getting_smarter both new to me). NCTQ zoomed into the top echelon, with other newcomcers like John Bailey.

Friday Social

93-Underhill-Sanborn-1906It's a long summer weekend for me, so you're on your own for education news, commentary and gossip.

But not to worry - lots of stuff to talk about on Twitter and Facebook, or you can always email me at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

Have a safe and fun weekend -- see you Monday.

Image from a 1906 map of my Brooklyn neighborhood.

People: "The Fantastic Five"

Curious about where some new names and faces, or wondering what some familiar folks are up to?


Check out this collection of mini-profiles from blog sponsor Scholastic Administrator, featuring

Miami-Dade’s Alberto Carvalho

Tennessee principal Eric Jones

Dayton Superintendent Lori Ward

Arkansas superintendent Matt McClure, and

Texas CIO John Alawneh

Read the whole thing here:  The Fantastic Five

Media: EdWeek To Launch New Pop Culture / Media Blog

image from farm2.staticflickr.comThe folks at EdWeek have asked longtime writer Mark Walsh to launch a new pop culture / media blog starting later this month, including both mainstream references to education reform (movies, songs, etc.) and media industry developments (new sites, comings and goings, etc.).

I happen to know this because Walsh was kind enough to call and let me know, ask for some blogging advice (don't do it!), and interview me about my untimely departure from LA School Report.  

I'll be eager and curious to see what Walsh comes up with that's new or different.  The site will join an already crowded field, including this site, Hot For Education, and all the other outlets that post or link to pop culture and media news.  Few of them (besides occasionally me) do much original reporting, so that might be the main value here. 

There's no final name for the blog yet -- any suggestions? -- and it doesn't sound like it's going to be a daily blog but rather two or three times a week.  It will include some original reporting, however, so that's good.  Walsh pens the School Law blog for EdWeek and has recently been contributing to the Supreme Court blogcalled SCOTUSBLOG. Image CCFlickr Torley

People: Duncan Staffer Named One Of DC's "Hottest" (2013)

image from thehill.com
Paul Kendrick has been named to this year's edition of The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful. The single 29 year-old is from West Hartford and previously worked for Geoff Canada's Harlem Children's Zone. 

Hard as it may be to believe, but I did a popular and mildly controversial annual "Hot For Education" post during the early years of this site: 2009200820072005.

Check and see who's on the old lists, if they're still in education, and whether they're still hot (for education, at least). 

In 2010, I launched Hot For Education as a standalone Tumblr (with a 2012 Pinterest interlude).

Previous posts: Ed Finance Council Makes Hill Beauty ListPS22 Choir Instructor Tops Salon List

Update: Goodbye (& Good Luck) To LA School Report

Here's a copy of an email that I sent earlier this morning to a handful of LA educators, advocates, and journalists I've been working with for the past 18 months:


Friends and colleagues:

As you may already know, my stint building and running LA School Report ended earlier this month, just short of the site's first anniversary.

In December 2011, longtime Democratic political activist Jamie Alter Lynton called me wanting help getting a new local education site started.

She had the energy and resources to help get something up and running.  I had the know-how to make it happen.

Lynton initially wanted the site to be advocacy-based, providing readers with enough information to get them to do something (sign a petition, call a politician, appear at an event, donate to a campaign); however I was able to convince her that an independent news site covering all sides fairly would be more effective in the long run (and was necessary to attract quality writers).

When it came time to launch the site last summer, Lynton asked me to take the reins.

Continue reading "Update: Goodbye (& Good Luck) To LA School Report" »

Media: Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comUsed to be, the term "troll" was a pejorative term limited to commenters who wrote inflammatory responses to blog posts, hijacking threads and getting everyone all angry and red-cheeked.

(v.) (1) To deliberately post derogatory or inflammatory comments to a community forum, chat room, newsgroup and/or a blog in order to bait other users into responding.

These days, as this Salon article points out (Everything is “trolling” now), bloggers and writers who tend towards inflammatory blog posts and articles are considered trolls, too.

It's a compliment, of sorts.

To some extent, the term's expanded use reflects the reality that publishers and respondents share many of the same goals these days -- to win your attention and response.

It's also a result of the flattening effect of social media -- publishers, writers, and respondants are all operating in the same spaces now (ie, Twitter, Facebook).

I'm as guilty of trolling as anyone else. A reader of my Chicago site wrote in not too long ago that I "trolled like a boss," which was meant as an insult but felt like a compliment.

So, who are education's biggest trolls? Read on for the list, tell me who I'm missing and I'll add them in an update. Yes, I'm trolling you with this post.

Continue reading "Media: Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?" »

NCLB: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval

LAUSDlogoAs reported yesterday in LA School Report, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and others are in Washington today, making a final push to persuade the Obama Education Department to approve its revised application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the 2002 federal education law.

Superintendent Deasy has said that a NCLB waiver would free up as much as $80 million in federal funding for other purposes.

Thus far, at least, neither Board members nor the local teachers union have been critical of the district’s pursuit of the NCLB waiver.

Publicly, at least, Obama’s education team has been signaling its support for the application, and the California Department of education is nominally supportive of the effort, too.

But there’s an unusually high level of conflict on education issues right now between Sacramento and Washington.  Conflicts between Washington and Sacramento — combined with objections from state and local teachers unions to certain requirements for waivers, and practical concerns  – could have some effects, direct or indirect, on whether LAUSD and eight other districts win approval from Washington to change some of the current NCLB requirements – or the final form of the waiver that is approved.

Read the full piece at LA School Report: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval

Audio: Yes, TFA Has A Podcast. No, You Can't Hear It.

Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 11.21.28 AMMy interview with Aaron French (@AaronMoFoFrench) on TFA's The Blank Show (@BlankShowRadio) has now been published.

For all of you who operate inside the TFA firewall, you can find it here.  The rest of you are out of luck, for now at least.  

The Blank Show is TFA's relatively new (and so far in-house only) interview podcast with newsmakers, wonks, and folks like me who might be of interest to TFA's 1,500 staffers.

It started last year, brought to life through the efforts of TFA's internal communications team (@TFAInternal).  There's a video version, too.  Read all about it here, and see some unlocked videos here.

Occasionally, internal becomes external, as in last year's"Sh*t TFAers Say" video. 

How'd this all happen, you ask?  Internal communications guru Justin Fong introduced himself to me at this year's Yale SOM Education Summit, and through him I met TFA's EVP for Communications, Aimee Eubanks Davis, and then the show's host, Aaron.

Previous posts:   If This Is A Civil War, It's Not A Particularly New OneWhat Next for TFA?;  TFA's Engagement & Ideological Diversity Campaign

Books: Columbia J-School Prof Explores Segregation Through Sports

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 2.13.45 PMColumba J-School professor Sam Freedman (who advised me during my Spencer Fellowship) has a new book coming out next month, Breaking the Line, about black college football and much, much more, says Kirkus Reviews:

"Freedman memorably revisits an era when, due to still-widespread segregation, black colleges were at their athletic apogee.

"Tigers’ coach Eddie Robinson and A&M’s Jake Gaither had already sent scores of players to the NFL, but, notwithstanding their distinguished tenures, campus militants harshly criticized both for their public silence on civil rights.

". . . As he takes us through the season for both teams and recreates their bowl matchup, Freedman mixes in revealing information about the cultures of the schools, their rivalries with other black colleges, sensitive portraits of the coaches and players, and an evocative description of a racial and political climate that Robinson and Gaither, each working quietly, did so much to alter.

Much more than just a sports book."

Read more about it here


Update: Harassment Accusations Roil LA School Board

News broke earlier this week -- just a few days before the scheduled installment of new board members in LA --  that one of its current members was being investigated for harassment.  The board member in question, Dr. Richard Vladovic, had been accused of harassment and the district had hired an outside firm to investigate, according to LA Daily News reporter Barbara Jones, who broke the story.  Vladovic's also been a top contender to replace longtime reform champion Monica Garcia as board President.  But now all that's up in the air, as we report in LA School Report: Harassment Allegations Could Hurt Vladovic’s Chances.  While news of the accusations and investigation have been known to board members since earlier this month, the fact that the events became public so soon before the Board president elections strikes some observers as fishy.

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 1.57.22 PMFor me, the most chilling part of the story (besides that Vladovic is known to some as "Dr. Death") is that his colleagues were told about the accusations and investigation at the beginning of the most recent board meeting, while Vladovic waited in the board meeting room.  Here's what LA Schools Report contributor Hillel Aron tweeted at the time: "Dr. Vladovic now just sitting alone in the horseshoe. Wonder if everyone else is somewhere talking about him?"

Field Trips: A Peek Into The Future Project

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comBefore too much more time passes, I wanted to tell you about something new (to me) called  The Future Project, which I learned about a couple of weeks ago at a brainstorming session called Impactor.  

According to the email I had received: "The Future Project is on a mission to transform America's high schools into the most inspired places on earth. Magical places that ignite passion, not apathy. That empower students to define success on their own terms, not ours. That leave behind innovators, not conformists. That inspire happiness, not only success." 

As you can see from the above group picture, the room was full of social entrepreneurs, digital marketing gurus, media folks, nonprofit types, students -- and me.  The kids especially -- high school students from Green and Democracy Prep -- and the folks who work in the schools with them -- were particularly fun to talk to and hear from. Once in a while, it's good to get out and interact with real people, I guess. 


Update: "Let's Hire Everyone Back," Says LA School Board

Bus-LAUSDWhile laid-off teachers and ardent reform critics may be all aglow over LAUSD school board member Steve Zimmer's "Pacino-esque speech on behalf a proposed teacher hiring/ class size reduction proposal last week, perhaps it's not quite yet time to declare success.  

Quick recap: last Tuesday, the LAUSD board debated and ultimately passed a resolution calling for a return to 2007 staffing levels -- despite the fact that LAUSD has a budget deficit and has lost enrollment in the years since then.

According to folks like Diane Ravitch, the proposal is brilliant and its most impassioned defender -- Zimmer -- is to be greatly admired for his lengthy remarks on its behalf.  (According to one observer, Zimmer's performance was Pacino-esque.)

Alas, not everyone would agree with such a kind view of the proposal, including the LA Times editorial page, which noted that the proposal Zimmer was advocating "made no sense," and LA Superintendent John Deasy, who mocked the teacher rehiring proposal as a “directive to hire every human being on the West Coast."

Perhaps Deasy was a bit too candid, considering that the board was already shooting itself in the foot on this one (and he's already facing a board that isn't going to be as amenable to his ideas as it was during his first two years).  Ever-impatient, Deasy has pulled rhetorical and procedural gambits like this before.  Sometimes, they work, sometimes not.

But the facts remain: across the board re-staffing, which is what Zimmer et al have proposed, would bring back scads of positions and staff that the schools don't want or need any more; the district doesn't need (and can't afford) to hire all the laid-off teachers back. 

Cross-posted from LA School Report.

Politics: Booker Hires Education-Hardened Campaign Manager

image from www.50p1.comPolitico reports that Senate hopeful Cory Booker has hired Obama campaign veteran Addisu Demissie (pictured) as his campaign manager and lists many of Demissie's campaign experiences -- but not his recent stints as a consultant and then spokesperson for LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Coalition for School Reform.

Demissie's Sacramento-based firm 50+1 was hired to field work during the LAUSD school board election primaries, in which the Coalition outspent the union-endorsed candidates but only won one of three races outright.  

For the runoff, Demissie was brought on as spokesperson for the Coalition, whose candidate (a former Villaraigosa aide) lost to a 5th grade classroom teacher.  

For more about Demissie, see LA School Report: Reformers Try to Match Union "Ground Game"Reform Coalition Hires New SpokespersonCampaign Consultants Win — Either WayA Good – But Not Great – Campaign

People: Behind The Scenes Players In Los Angeles

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 4.15.48 PMEducation is full of behind-the-scenes players whose influence is much greater than their notoriety.  Two such examples in Los Angeles are David Tokofsky, a former teacher and school board member who has the ear of pretty much everyone in town but keeps his fingerprints off of nearly everything, and Joan Sullivan, a former NYC principal and nonprofit head who's just now finishing up a three-year stint as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's education deputy.  Check out profiles of each in LA School Report: Behind the Scenes with David Tokofsky, and Villaraigosa Deputy Transitions to New Challenges.

Monica Ratliff: The Most Powerful Woman in LA?

Ratliff deasy LA Weekly 060613A new feature in the LA Weekly claims LAUSD Board member-elect Monica Ratliff “may be the most powerful woman in Los Angeles” (given the loss of mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel and the dearth of female elected officials on the City Council) and compares LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy to former police chief William Bratton.

Written by LA School Report contributor HIllel Aron, the piece notes that Coalition for School Reform campaign veterans charged with defeating Ratliff in last month’s runoff may have been limited by “wildly naive” Coalition donors who didn’t want to attack Ratliff. They also believed erroneous poll projections putting Sanchez safely in the lead and ignored Ratliff’s controversial positions on teacher dismissal.

Of particular note are some juicy quotes from former Mayor Richard Riordan, who’s quoted saying the Coalition picked a political hack as its candidate (in large part because of SEIU opposition to another candidate, Iris Zuniga), “had the wrong people running our campaign” (a reference to losing campaign consultants SCN’s Ace Smith and Sean Clegg), and failed to focus on making losing candidate Antonio Sanchez more likable.

Image via LA Weekly.  Cross-posted from LA School Report.  Read more about it here.  Previous posts: Board Member-Elect Highlights Vocational TrainingWhat Next for the Coalition for School Reform?Endorsements, Garcetti — and Race.

Commencement: Education Will Break Your Heart

image from dribbble.s3.amazonaws.comSpeaking of commencement speeches, here's the closest I've ever come to giving one -- a 2011 Huffington Post piece riffing off of Jonathan Franzen's amazing speech at Kenyon that spring.  I'd nearly forgotten about it until Sara Mosle read and reminded me.

It's called Education Will Break Your Heart, and it's my attempt to reflect on the challenges of working on education issues, which can be such a daunting and heartbreaking endeavor (yes, even for someone who spends most of his time behind a laptop).

In case it isn't clear, I find education issues pretty much endlessly fascinating -- even as efforts to make it better confuse and vex me.

True, I spend most of my time annoyed at what I see going on around me (the efforts to fix things, the coverage of those efforts, the political and cultural reactions). And yes, the problems education faces may not be solved or even improved in any dramatic way anytime soon.  (Seriously, you know that, right?)

But occasionally enough I'm inspired or even just interested in something new or different, and there's always more to learn (especially about drones).   And occasionally I feel like I've captured something, helped explain it, or even just introduced it in a useful way.  

[Image courtesy Ryan Mulligan]



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.