Social 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.
Alexander 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.
My 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 it; The Moral Complexities of Opting Out (Thompson).
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?
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?
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.
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):
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.
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.
So 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).
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.
Remember 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
The 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
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.
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).
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.
(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.
As 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
My 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.
Columba 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.
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.
For 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?"
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.
While 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.
Politico 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 Spokesperson; Campaign Consultants Win — Either Way; A Good – But Not Great – Campaign
Education 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.
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 Training; What Next for the Coalition for School Reform?; Endorsements, Garcetti — and Race.
Speaking 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]
Over at LA School Report, Hillel Aron has written a pretty fascinating look at the reform community's current predicament -- and how well it matches up to pretty much the same position they were in back in 2003.
Then as now, reform allies led by a sitting Mayor and with a lot of cash on hand lost two out of three school board races because they were out-organized, over-confident, and (my take) unwilling to villify their opponents as much as their opponents were willing to villify them.
What should they do next, with the cash on hand, the lame duck Mayor, and another four seats up for grabs in 2 years? It's not entirely clear but they've got some ideas.
Needless to say, there are some useful lessons for those of you not in LA, whether you be pro- or anti-reform (or just part of the frustrated middle).
Read all about it: What Next for the Coalition for School Reform? Look around, there's also some interesting coverage of the little-understood factors behind Monica Ratliff's surprise school board win, including racial polarization and Latino voter participation rates.
The latest LA Times piece on the parent trigger process at Weigand Elementaryfocuses its attention on the principal being pushed out (and the teachers who may go with her) rather than on the dismal results under her leadership and the frustrated low-income parents who petitioned for her removal.
The debate over the merits of the Weigand petition have gone national, in the form of dueling blog posts between two education pundits, Brooklyn-based NYU historian Diane Ravitch and Washington, DC-based Rick Hess.
A former Bush administration education official who has since switched views on school reform, Ravitch wrote two blog posts deploring the outcome of the process this past weekend. In response, right-leaning American Enterprise Institute education guru Hess wrote that — while he’s long been a Ravitch admirer and has questions about the trigger method of revamping schools — Ravitch was all wrong to call Parent Revolution “revolting” and Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin as “loathsome.”
As to the parents’ desire for speedy change at Weigand, Hess notes that, “despite [Principal] Cobian’s apparent popularity with the current staff, she has not been able to make a difference during nearly a half-decade as principal.”
Given how they’re being treated in the Times and by Ravitch (and by the teachers who appear to be more loyal to the principal than to the kids), the Weigand parents may be well be wishing that they’d opted for restaffing (Option A), or a charter conversion (Option C), instead of merely demanding a principal who could be responsive and effective for their children (Option B).
Meantime, UTLA is hosting a meeting this weekend to help prepare union representatives at other LAUSD schools where parents are similarly (or even more) frustrated than those at Weigand.
Image via StudentsFirst. Cross-posted from LA School Report. Response from The Chalk Face: Alexander Russo’s vicious attack on Weigand Teachers
The LA Press Club has named LA School Report as a finalist in two categories (group blog, online-only website) for this year’s Southern California Journalism Awards.
That’s pretty exciting news for a media outlet that launched just last August. Thanks to all the informal advisors and betters who helped us figure how to get this far.
Meantime, we're looking for a reporter and a news editor, if you or someone you know live in LA, have some great clips, and love education politics as much as you should.
Send to alexander at laschoolreport.com with editor or reporter in the subject line.
Read all about it here.
The recent discussion about David Brooks' column on "engaged" vs. "detached" writers reminded me that, little more than two years ago, I posted this respectful but critical entry about NYU education historian Diane Ravitch's views about school reform efforts, which were somethat new at the time:
Later on today, education historian Diane Ravitch is going to head out from her Brooklyn Heights home and make her way into the city to be a guest on tonight's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for the first time since May 2003.
The Comedy Central appearance will be a tremendous victory for Ravitch, who has been pushing to get on one of the two shows in the 11 p.m. time slot for almost a year now. It will be a happy moment, too, for all of the educators and parents who have welcomed Ravitch into their arms.
For me, however, Ravitch's appearance will be another moment to reflect on the nagging unease I have with what she's saying -- and in particular the absolute certainty with which she is saying it.
Full post: Diane Ravitch's Stunning Certainty
Clearly, Ravitch is the category of the engaged writer, and I'm probably more in the detached camp. Ravitch's response to my column was to call Jossey-Bass, the folks who were then publishing my book about Locke High School, and demand to have her blurb removed from the back cover of the book.
There's lots that's familiar about this year's NewSchools Venture Summit taking place tomorrow in Burlingame, California -- but at least one major change: livestreaming!
That's right-- this somewhat expensive, invitation-only event is going to be putting some of its main speakers and panels out onto the Internet where everybody can see them. Now if NewSchools would only dig up and send me the videotape of the heated 2008 exchanges between Randi Weingarten and Michelle Rhee, I'd be content.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given another$350,000 to the Coalition for School Reform, an independent expenditure (IE) group in Los Angeles supporting Antonio Sanchez for School Board in the East Valley District 6 LAUSD School Board race that will be decided May 21.
“For years, the funding in these sorts of races was only on one side with the union,” said Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna (pictured on the left). Mayor Bloomberg is “committed to providing a counterbalance.”
During the primary, Bloomberg gave $1 million to the Coalition, which supported three candidates: Monica Garcia, Kate Anderson and Sanchez. According to the LA Times, this was the largest campaign contribution in School Board history.
Anderson lost narrowly to incumbent Steve Zimmer; some blamed a backlash to big out-of-state donations from non-Democrats such as Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch.
When asked if Bloomberg had any second thoughts about giving to the Coalition after the primary results, LaVorgna replied simply: “No.”
So far, the Coalition has spent roughly $130,000 in support of Sanchez in the May 21 general election. SEIU local 99 and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor are also running IEs for Sanchez. His opponent, teacher Monica Ratliff, currently enjoys no IE support.
Cross-posted from LA School Report. Image via LinkedIn
Even before the misinformation and hacking of the last few days, there's lots of chatter in recent weeks and months about how Twitter is broken -- no longer as useful or fun as it used to be. (Here's one of several examples, via Ezra Klein The problem with Twitter.)
My experience has been pretty mixed.Sometime last week, my main Twitter feed (alexanderrusso) reached 10,000 Twitter followers -- the product of more than 17,000 tweets over the past two or three years. People used to ask about pageviews but now ask about Twitter followers. I'm happy and proud to be reaching a bunch of folks (in theory, at least).
I started out just Tweeting out blog posts - and that's still roughly half of what you see coming out from my Twitter feed. Then I started interacting on Twitter, retweeting things that seemed interesting and writing a few "original" messages out to friends and enemies. Most recently, I started sending out "Five Best Blogs" via Twitter, since there seemed no point in collecting the best posts I found until the end of the day (and I turned out to be too lazy to copy and paste them back into a blog post when Happy Hour was so close at hand). Most recently, I've been tweeting out things I find over the weekend, since I apparently don't have anything else to do.
The upside of the tool has been reaching and engaging with a broader audience who prefers short bursts of text vs. slightly longer blog posts. The downside is having folks I don't follow or don't think offer much useful information tweeting at me all day -- their messages showing up in Hootsuite as "mentions" when in reality they're just trying to get my attention and bait me into responding to them.
This used to happen in comments, of course, but seems to have gotten worse in recent years -- partly for reasons having nothing to do with Twitter (the debate has become more polarized.) Speaking of comments, twitter has also lowered comments posted directly on the blog, since readers now want and expect their responses be out in the world (viewable via Twitter, Facebook, etc.) My efforts to install social commenting have thus far been incomplete.
For whatever reasons, what happens less and less is me finding (or even looking for) good commentary or links on Twitter. There are only so many columns you can set up on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, and only so much time to follow along and hope not to have missed something good that came through five minutes earlier. And of course there are so many more folks on Twitter, so much more blathering. I like the equalizing/democratizing effect, and the theoretical access to new ideas and perspectives, but it's become a very noisy cafeteria. Image via CCFlickr.
Over the weekend, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy spoke at a TEDx school reform event, outlining the highs and lows of his nearly three-year stint as head of the nation's second-largest school system. Cross-posted from LA School Report. Remarks begin at 54:00.
Lots of magazine, website, and twitter action from over the weekend, including topics such as cheating, hypocrisy, technology, bullying, angry progressives, and miscellaneous. Some favorites:
"It would be hypocritical rail against private schools and then choose private schools." @AcmpCA_Teachers Agreed.
The hybrid educational model works via Tyler Cowenow.ly/jOkLv Even across subgroups (first gen, low-income, etc.)
With new report, America Achieves tries to refocus attention on middle-class students and schoolsow.ly/jOlCA
Check them all out below.
At 24th Street Elementary, a parent group has recommended a hybrid program for next year, including district control of the early grades and a locally-known charter for the upper grades.
A second trigger petition being filed this week at Weigand Elementary calls for changes to the structure and operation of the school but does not call for the removal of teachers, staff, or leadership, or for a charter conversion.
One of several things that remain unknown about these softer, more nuanced trigger variations is whether they'll result in substantial academic improvements at the schools. It's also unclear whether they will be blocked or opposed by UTLA, the local teachers union.
LA School Report: LA Parents Opting for Varied “Trigger” Options; LA Times: Proposal for Parent-Trigger Overhaul at L.A. School Well-Received. Image via LASR.
Proponents say it has to be done, due to enrollment declines and demographic shifts within the city. Critics say it doesnt, and that Mayor Emanuel is off skiing.
Follow live updates about #CPSClosings from the various news outlets on Twitter.
#CPS is another hashtag to try, though you'll also get Persepolis and other topics that way.
But it's still a good occasion to learn a tiny bit about the underlying magic behind Google Reader -- called RSS -- and consider whether you're getting as much of the Internet as easily as you could be.
A surprising number of folks -- including those who write online regularly -- don't know about RSS and are working harder than they need to (and failing to provide readers with as much quality content as they could).
Check out this new Scholastic Administrator profile of philanthropist Eli Broad (Impatient Philanthropist) in which you will learn that Broad says he doesn't want to privatize public education and read some of the ways that Broad's approach differs from the Gates Foundation on several key issues (the parent trigger, Michelle Rhee, and TFA, among other things).
Hate philanthropist reformers on sight? It won't make any difference to you. Curious about how they differ and what makes them tick? You might be interested.
Other articles worth clicking from Administrator (which sponsors this blog) include The Homeschool Twist: Districts experiment with partial homeschooling for gifted students. Kentucky: The First Domino? Early Common Core results show a steep drop. Is your state next? Interview With Terry Grier: A plainspoken leader takes Houston ISD in innovative directions—and holds all parties accountable, Sell Your Schools: Figuring out your schools’ return on investment can be a big selling point when it comes to board and public buy-in.
How anticlimactic. In a showdown that's fast approaching 2007's $7 million campaign spending record, the teachers union and reform groups each succeeded in protecting one of their key supporters on the LAUSD School Board last night -- but failed to score any decisive victory against the other side.
Board member Steve Zimmer -- one of the main targets of the Coalition for School Reform -- led from the start despite being outspent at every step. The outside attacks on his performance on the Board didn't stick. His challenger was a competent candidate who failed to distinguish herself sufficiently from the reasonable-sounding if indecisive Zimmer (who was endorsed by Mayor Villaraigosa the last time around).
Board President Monica Garcia -- the main target of the teachers union -- jumped out to an early lead over her four challengers despite a scathing LA Times endorsement, and kept it throughout the long process as more votes came in. The union's strategy of endorsing three of her four challengers was intended to force a runoff but may have backfired by failing to give Garcia opponents a champion to back.
There were nasty mailers and misleading TV and radio ads, to be sure, but the candidates didn't fight during public appearances, and the issues over which they disagree -- charter expansion, making student achievement 30 percent of teacher evaluations -- appear somewhat mild on the surface compared to disagreements in other places (or in LA at other times). Conventional wisdom has been that Superintendent John Deasy's job is on the line, though a recent LA School Report story suggests the real question may be how well Deasy can tolerate having one or two Board members who agree with him most -- but not all -- of the time.
There will be a runoff for the third open seat in May. The union endorsed but didn't fund both of the candidates who made the runoff, but one of the two also won a surprise endorsement (and tons of cash) from the Coalition so it seems likely that the union will focus on supporting his opponent.
Coverage: Incumbent L.A. Unified School Board members poised to keep seats KPCC, In L.A. school board race, 2 backers of Deasy take early leads LAT, Two reform candidates leading in Los Angeles school board race Reuters.
Two weeks to go before primary election day, and the teachers union and the reform coalition in LA have already spent $2.2M on flyers, mailers, and TV ads -- and already raised more than double that.
AFT head Ranid Weingarten slammed NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg for putting $1M into the race -- but state and AFT are considering contribuing to the UTLA campaign fund themselves.
The LA Times editorial page endorsed two out of three reform candidates -- but in such harsh terms that the pull quotes will be worth more to their opposition than the endorsements themselves.
Celebrity endorsements are all the rage -- Eva Longoria is backing one reform challenger (and might be dating LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa).
Superintendent John Deasy issued a teacher evaluation guidance on Friday telling principals to make student achievement 30 percent of the teacher evaluation -- a reasonable figure given what's being done in other states and districts -- but the district neglected to tell the teachers union ahead of time, and the underlying union-district agreement lacked any specific percentage.
Last but not least, it's not all campaign battles and conflict in LA. The school board recently approved 12 new "pilot" schools -- an in-district alternative to autonomous charters and parent triggers. It's union's least favorite of the three autonomy models that have been negotiated, but appears to be popular among teachers.
All this and more at LA School Report.