Yep, the rumors are true. I'm going to this week's Gates Foundation education conference in Seattle and moderating a panel on "unlikely allies" in K-12 and postsecondary who have overcome easy antagonism and found ways to work together.
The event, called the Learning Forum, marks the Gates Foundation's 15th year in the education game, which some have found enormously beneficial and others have found seriously problematic. An estimated 250 folks are going to be there. It will include what the foundation is describing as Bill Gates "first major retrospective speech on education issues in almost eight years," as well as a Bill & Melinda interview with the PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill. Along with many of the usual suspects, the USDE's John King is currently scheduled to be in attendance -- wonder if he'll still be able to show up now that he's been named to succeed Duncan.
The "unlikely allies" who will be onstage with me sharing their experiences include Bill Hammond, CEO, Texas Association of Business; Richard Rhodes, President/CEO, Austin Community College; Jean Clements, President, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association; and Mary Ellen Elia, Commissioner of Education, New York State Education Commission (formerly of Hillsborough).
According to the foundation, you can watch via live stream starting Wednesday AM. The Twitter handle to use is @GatesEd and the hashtag is #GatesEd. They're also encouraging everyone to follow a few leaders on Twitter including @AllanGolston, @GPayneEDU, @drvickip, @dan_greenstein, & @davidbleysea.
Teachers, New York City public school teachers, are the reason that I am alive... They are the reason that I became a teacher. They are the reason I'm standing here today.
- Acting EdSec John King at the White House on Friday (Acting Education Secretary Says Teachers Saved Him)
"The Boston Teacher Residency, an AmeriCorps service program that recruits future teachers and places them in schools for practical experience is being heralded as a model for training teachers. And other cities have begun to take notice. NewsHour's Christopher Booker reports." (PBS NewsHour: How a Boston program is transforming the way we train teachers)
"Juan Salgado, who heads an organization called Instituto del Progreso Latino, was one of 24 recipients selected... http://t.co/VM6gGNXcw6— The Vine Events (@TheVineEvents) October 2, 2015
Little noticed in the annual flurry of attention given to MacArthur genius grant recipients -- including by me -- was that the Chicago nonprofit head who won is deeply involved in immigrant education and heads an organization that started a charter school a few years ago.
A day or so after the fact, the Charter Alliance made note of the event -- perhaps the first person involved with charter schools to win the award:
"In 2010, Mr. Salgado founded, Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy,a charter school located on the Instituto del Progreso Latino campus in Chicago for grades 9-12. The academy prepares students for success in competitive colleges and universities while simultaneously providing job readiness certifications in entry-level positions with higher wages at the healthcare sector."
Truth be told, there wasn't much interesting in the grants from the people I follow on Twitter this year, even though some awardees are super strong on race and inequality issues. The NYT's Amy Virshup noted that one of the 2015 awardees -- also involved in education indirectly -- named Alex Truesdell had been profiled in the paper the year before.
If and when someone solidly from the reform camp or its critics win the award, all hell will break loose. But most of the folks who seem to win these things aren't ideological combatants but rather maker/creators who work from the middle.
Related posts: Roland Fryer Wins MacArthur "Genius" Award (2011); Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius" (2007); Educator Wins MacArthur "Genius (2010); Will An Educator Win A 2012 MacArthur Grant?; The Genius Behind Teach For America (2007).
"According to the Bellwether report, 56 percent of charter-school students live in cities, versus just 29 percent of all U.S. children. (The remaining charter-school students are about evenly split between rural areas and the suburbs.) Relatedly, nearly two-thirds of the charter-school population is nonwhite, compared to about half of its regular public-school counterpart... Just a small percentage of Colorado’s charter-school population is identified as low-income, versus a solid majority of the students attending charters in D.C." Laura McKenna in The Atlantic (Why There’s Little Demand for Charter Schools in the Suburbs)
Check out this NPR segment I missed the first time around about home visits being done in some places:
Or, check out this WGN Radio segment about a new book by Amanda Lewis called "Despite the Best Of Intentions" (How does racial inequality thrive in good schools?) that sounds pretty interesting.
From the promo copy: "On the surface, Riverview High School looks like the post-racial ideal. Serving an enviably affluent, diverse, and liberal district, the school is well-funded, its teachers are well-trained, and many of its students are high-achieving. Yet Riverview has not escaped the same unrelenting question that plagues schools throughout America: why is it that even when all of the circumstances seem right, black and Latina/o students continue to lag behind their peers?"
National Education Association PAC likes Clinton for 2016 Washington Post: The recommendation now goes to the NEA’s 174-member Board of Directors, which is meeting on Friday and Saturday. To win the endorsement, Clinton needs at least 58 percent of the board to vote for her, and most observers believe she’ll clear that hurdle. But that doesn’t mean there is unanimous support for Clinton among teachers. See also Teacher Beat, Politico, LA Times.
A look at deadliest shootings on or near US college campuses AP: A shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday left 10 people dead and seven wounded, authorities said....
Chicago lowers graduation rate after errors found WBEZ: One school, Curie Metropolitan High School, labeled more than 100 dropouts every year as leaving to be homeschooled. Another 1,300 of the so-called transfers had no explanation of what school they were supposedly transferring to or were vaguely listed as going to different states or countries.
Head of DC schools addresses teacher and principal turnover in annual event Washington Post: D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson focused on signs of progress during her third annual State of the Schools event Wednesday night, including a recently released uptick in graduation rates, new investments in electives and college-level classes in the city’s high schools, and more engaging courses systemwide.
Following Charter Schools' Lead, One D.C. Public School Adopts Longer Year WAMU: Raymond Education Campus in Petworth is the first D.C. public school to try an extended school year, keeping students in school for 200 days instead of the traditional 180 days.
Bengali Students Need Teachers Who Speak Their Language WNYC: Most Bangladeshi immigrant students in New York City do not have a teacher like Chowdhury to help ease their way. While the Bangladeshi population has exploded — the city’s schools now enroll more than 6,500 Bangladeshi students — the number of Bengali-speaking teachers and bilingual programs has not kept pace. There are only three Bengali bilingual programs in the New York City schools. By contrast, there are more than 40 Chinese programs and upwards of 400 Spanish ones.
Closures, Charter Conversions and New Schools Proposed in Philadelphia District Dossier: Two school closures, two new schools, three charter conversions, and up to three district-led turnaround schools. Those were among the proposals announced Thursday in Philadelphia as Superintendent William Hite presented updated plans for the school district's future, one shaped by diminishing resources and the urgent need to improve school options for more students.
Newark Teachers Express Frustration With Current Merit Pay System HuffPost: But three years later, the contract has expired, and the new president of the local union says that it hasn't worked and that it's not a sure thing the teachers union will agree to keep the provision in its current form. Several Newark teachers said that they had real problems with the contract and that the merit pay hasn't worked, though none were willing to speak on the record for fear of reprisals.Talks for a deal to replace it haven't started, and the contract with the merit pay remains in place.
Asians -- not Hispanics -- will emerge as the largest immigrant group in the future, according to this Pew chart via Travis Pillow. Meantime: The white population is growing in many U.S. cities for the first time in years (Washington Post).
There are lots of reasons not to read the latest Atlantic Magazine cover story, penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates: It's not about education. It's super-depressing. It's long.
But there are some really good reasons to read it, anyway: It's at least partly about education. You'll learn some things you didn't know, probably.
First and foremost, Coates reminds us that so many of the people who end up incarcerated have been failed not only by society but also by schools:
"They just passed him on and passed him on."
It -- along with The Case For Reparations and Coates' recent book, Between The World...., might well be the most-read and -remembered pieces of nonfiction writing of the last couple of years.
While we're waiting for the event to be discussed on WNYC's Brian Lehrer later this morning, let me tell you what a strange, interesting time it was to my eyes in Newark yesterday evening at the WNYC-hosted panel to discuss the past and future of the Newark schools.
As has already been reported, the news out of the event was that while there's no clear timeline for returning the district to local control -- and no clear legal mechanism for doing so -- Cerf says that there will be no attempt to increase the percentage of kids being served by charter schools, either.
That's probably reassuring to charter critics and those who are focused on the district schools that still serve two thirds of the Newark kids but tremendously disappointing to charter advocates who point to Newark charters' academic success and long waiting lists of parents. It may also have come as something of a surprise. At least one charter insider in the audience thought that Cerf was going to charterize the district.
Beyond that news, there were all sorts of moments and dynamics that felt "off" to me (though they may not have had the same effect on other audience members).
First and foremost, there was the visual of Newark mayor Ras Baraka sitting next to grey-haired Chris Cerf, the appointed head of Newark schools. How and why Chris Christie chose an awkward preppy white guy to replace Cami Anderson is unclear to me and can't have been welcome news to Baraka and his supporters. Contrast the move with what happened in DC, where Kaya Henderson succeeded Michelle Rhee.
Part of the tension is structural. The two men are both deeply concerned about Newark schools, but neither is wholly in charge of Newark's mixed school system. The state oversees the school district, but the district doesn't really oversee the charter schools -- an ongoing governance problem raised several times in Russakoff's book. And of course, Cerf is pro-charter, an outsider, and all the rest.
Unsettling matters further, Baraka and Cerf couldn't seem to decide last night whether they were going rehash and continue past battles that were the subject of Dale Russakoff's book, The Prize, or focus on trying to create the impression of a unified front looking to the future and working together. They did a bit of both, but seemed like they were veering back towards old beefs as the night went on (and the audience's preference became clear).
Throughout, both men seemed to be resorting to sound bites and talking points rather than candor and honest reflection, though Baraka came off as a much better speaker in this context (and certainly had more of the audience members behind him). His mandate and responsibilities are much more focused. Cerf had the awkward task of defending the past, apologizing for it (including throwing some shade at Booker and Christie), and reassuring the public about future changes. (Cerf: "I suspect there were more than a few cases when now-Sen. Booker and Gov Christie overstated their case.")
By and large, Russakoff was woefully under-used during the 90-minute session, limited to a few initial observations and then left to the sidelines. It would have been especially interesting if Floyd had asked her to confirm or raise questions with the claims that Baraka and Cerf were making (several of which seemed possibly misleading or incomplete to me) or if she had just jumped in and said, "hey, wait a minute -- that's not right." But neither of those things happened.
Wearing a cropped white jacket and fun glasses, Floyd was an enthusiastic and engaged moderator but seemed to struggle to keep panelist's answers short (especially Cerf) and to deal with audience members who wanted to ask more than one questions or refute panelist's answers to their questions. Though she's spent a fair amount of time in Newark on this topic in the past few weeks, she also lacked the background information to question Baraka and Cerf's claims herself. (She also apparently had a panelist bow out at the last minute, and was unable to convince the head of the teacher's union to appear at the event though he did sit down for an interview earlier this year.)
She called Cerf out when he tried to glide past some of the past failures, but that was about it. Baraka admitted "of course there's bloating in the district" but that was about it. His answer to why more resources don't get into schools was incomprehensible (to me, at least). His sound bites were awesome, though. ("We can't fight inequality by creating more inequality," for example.)
So neither the moderate nor the journalist panelist was able or willing to do any live fact-checking against the claims being made onstage.
For me personally, it was fascinating to see some of the folks I'd been reading about and listening to in person up on stage, and to see a slew of familiar folks. My Spencer classmate Nancy Solomon was there -- she's currently heading the New Jersey bureau for WNYC. (I also got to meet Sarah Gonzalez, the NJ-based reporter who sometimes covers education for the station.) Former WSJ education reporter Barbara Martinez was in the audience. Jennifer (Edushyster) Berkshire was somewhere in the audience, too.
National Education Association Could Be Close to Endorsing Hillary Clinton PK12: Sources say that the National Education Association, the country's largest union, could endorse the Democratic candidate in a presidential primary battle as early as Friday.
LAUSD board to vote on $6.4M settlement proposal with Apple over iPad software KPCC: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines told board members this week he’s negotiated a $6.4 million settlement with Apple Inc. and tech company Lenovo to resolve a dispute over faulty software on the tablets they sold to the district.
Arne Duncan to Charter Schools: Here's Millions in Grants, Be More Responsible PK12: The U.S. Department of Education is awarding millions under the Charter School Program to fund new charters and expand high-performing networks. See also Washington Post.
School Choice Fan Rep. Kevin McCarthy Could Be Next Speaker PK12: The California Republican, elected in 2006, doesn't have nearly as long a resume on K-12 as did current Speaker John Boehner going into the job.
New numbers show teacher prep numbers still falling SI&A Cabinet Report: Despite school districts statewide complaining about a shortage of credentialed applicants, a new report shows enrollment in teacher preparation programs in California continues to decline.
Teachers Union Criticizes Charter Perk WSJ: The new ability of New York charter schools to set aside seats for employees’ children drew fire Monday from the United Federation of Teachers, which said such “nepotism” defied charters’ stated goals of serving the neediest children.
Michelle Obama highlights education with #62milliongirls CNN: On Saturday, first lady Michelle Obama announced a new campaign during the star-studded Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park to raise awareness of the issue.
As Worries Rise and Players Flee, a Missouri School Board Cuts Football NYT: With safety concerns growing and more students choosing to play soccer and other sports, the football team at a suburban St. Louis high school was disbanded.
Google Virtual-Reality System Aims to Enliven Education NYT: Expeditions, a field-trip simulation program, will be offered free to schools as Google works to further develop virtual-reality technology.
Why wealthy Loudoun County does not have universal full-day kindergarten Washington Monthly: The superintendent of Loudoun County schools wants to expand full-day kindergarten, but it will be costly.
Chicago principals blindsided by more cuts to special needs WBEZ: In an unprecedented move, Chicago Public Schools plans to cut another $12 million from special education based on official enrollment numbers released late last week. Typically, special education staffing is left alone once the school year begins.
3 years later, results of LAUSD's arts experiment are mixed KPCC: In 2012, Los Angeles Unified school board members made arts instruction a core subject, designating it as important as subjects like math and English. A KPCC analysis of the most recent district data found that at about 100 elementary schools, the vast majority of students get no arts instruction.
Aurora Bridge Crash: International Students Far From Family, But Not Alone Seattle Public Radio: Seattle-area community college students are planning a vigil this week to remember the five international students who lost their lives on the Aurora Bridge. That’s just one example of how students here help each other. Foreign students are thousands of miles away from their families, but they’re not alone.
Watch out, Khan Academy, TED Talks, Coursera, and all the others who are trying to educate America via video. According to the NYT, here comes MasterClass, in which folks like Serena Williams, James Patterson, Usher, and Dustin Hoffman share their knowledge for $90 a course.
"Twenty-one states [in green] currently allow unions to collect agency fees to cover collective bargaining costs, and the unions in those states would have to reorganize if the plaintiffs win the Friedrichs case." New article via Education Next.
Politico New York's Eliza Shapiro posted this video from Families For Excellent Schools and wrote about it last week (New charter ad hits de Blasio on race). Then came the followup story in which some folks denounced the ad as being overly divisive (Critics call new charter school ad 'racist').
While it makes some uneasy, descriptions and accusations related to race and racism are all over the place in the past few years, including recent comments from Derrell Bradford, Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book, #educolor, and the This American Life series related to school integration. Just last week, white affluent Brooklyn parents were being accused of racism in response to a proposed school zoning stage (and affluent white parents in Chicago were being praised for their open-mindedness). Over the weekend, Elizabeth Warren gave a speech related to #BlackLivesMatter.
On the substance of the matter, the NYT editorial page recently suggested that the DOE needed to move further, faster on failing schools. ProPublic recently slammed the universal preschool program for not adding enough low-income (minority) students. But he's also launched a big new initiative related to economic equality.
"Since the 1960s, enrollment at Catholic schools in the United States has fallen by more than 50 percent. Today, only about two million students attend Catholic school, and that’s due to a variety of reasons, including falling birth rates among Catholics, the rise of charter schools in urban areas, and more Catholics moving to the suburbs. But the one Pope Francis will visit and some others like it have found ways to keep their doors open."
From the PBS NewsHour: Struggling Catholic schools seek ways to set themselves apart.
Still want more? Try #popeschools
via Jezebel (Fall Is the Worst Season)
This chart from the NYT last year (The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest) notes that poor and middle-class Americans used to be relatively better-off than those in other countries, but since 2000 have fallen behind their counterparts in other countries.
"After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans."
No wonder everyone's so fearful and stressed-out, right?
But as some longtimers may recall, bottom-up (locally-driven, community-led) school reform funded by nonprofit sources has been tried before, most notably in the form of Walter Annenberg's $500M Challenge.
Take a minute to check out the case studies of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City that were written and published way back in 2000. (The Chicago chapter is one that I wrote. Carol Innerst and Ray Domanico wrote the others.)
Some of the folks who are pushing for bottom-up reforms now were actually part of these efforts, and should know better (or at least know that it's no guarantee of success of any kind).
While we're on the topic, the NYT's Kate Zernike is scheduled to interview Dale Russakoff about Newark tonight at 5.
One of the things that Michael Grunwald gives Team Duncan credit for in Politico's long feature about the not-yet-lameduck Education Secretary is seeing the anti-testing momentum building earlier than many (think 2011) and figuring out how to help his boss avoid unnecessary criticism:
“The union needed a target for its anger, and he was happy to take a bullet for the president.”
That's raised some eyebrows, including from EIA's Mike Antonucci.
Writes the observant union watchdog: "If true – and I would expect vigorous denials if anyone bothered to inquire – I might actually have to adjust my cynicism meter into the red zone. This is manipulation of the union’s most devoted activists on a grand scale."
Well, not so fast there.
What's not mentioned about the anecdote -- which I have not confirmed independently (Dorie? Justin? Massie? Daren?) is that the NEA isn't necessarily as dumb as it might look from this move. Its challenge was to express members' frustrations with the direction with the administration was taking without hurting the chances of the Democratic President they still wanted in the White House.
This strategy has been noted several times in the past -- Jonathan Chait from New York Magazine comes to mind. So however smart Duncan's staff was getting him involved in his own roasting, the union was arguably just as smart aiming its fire at Duncan not Obama.
Still reading? Here's the 13 things.
"What they tend to is teach you reading, writing, and arithmetic, then teach you reading, writing, and arithmetic again, then again, then again, just make it harder and harder, just to keep you busy. And that’s where I think they messed up." (via Bellwether Education Partners)
Unfortunately, there are schools that enter into coaching, but they put coaches in situations that will only foster resentment and not growth among teachers. Perhaps it's these days of accountability and point scales on teacher evaluations, but there is a lack of trust between many teachers and leaders.
-- Peter DeWitt in EdWeek (4 Reasons Instructional Coaching Won't Work)
As Chicago's public housing has been dismantled and gentrification has taken hold, white and college-educated parents have moved into neighborhoods with legacy neighborhood schools that are all-black and nearly all poor students. A proposal to merge one of these schools (200-student Jenner) with a nearby high-performing (and overcroweded) school (Ogden) with just 20 percent poor students raised some parental concerns.
WBEZ's Linda Lutton attended a meeting to air parents' concerns -- and optimism -- about a possible attendance zone change that would merge the schools into a racially and economically school. Both schools' principals are in favor. The proposal isn't endorsed by the central office, and hasn't yet been voted on by the Local School Councils that oversee the principals and budgets at each school.
Above, listen to Lutton talk about the possibility, which she calls precedent-setting, and click the link below to read and listen to more of the parent meeting.
You can also listen to the recent episode of This American Life in which school integration was proposed -- and opposed -- in Missouri last year.
The problems of the city’s struggling schools can be solved by real strategies, but not by political sloganeering. “Get tough on teachers” may warm the hearts of “reformers,” but it is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.
Pretty much everyone thinks teachers aren't paid enough. Well, except Republicans. But not everybody thinks that teachers should get tenure, either according to the latest PDK/Gallup results: "59% of all Americans and 54% of public school parents oppose tenure. However, responses from black Americans differ: More blacks (47%) support rather than oppose tenure (32%)." (PDK/Gallup Poll - October highlights). How do these results compare to those found in other polls?
"African American and Hispanic students disproportionately earn more bachelors degrees in low-paying majors, putting them at higher risk for financial instability after graduation, according to a new study from Young Invincibles, an advocacy group," says the Washington Post (Racial disparities in college major selection exacerbate earnings gap).
Education (see highlighted row) is of course a lower-paying job, but note that African-American and Latino representation in education is among the lower percentages (and one of the larger job categories). Education remains overwhelmingly white. The Shanker Institute recently reported that the percentages of minority teachers in 9 major cities has been dropping.
She moved to a public-housing property in a highly-segregated neighborhood, next to a cement-crushing plant. The ceiling leaks and trains rattle by all night, and the bathtub is caked with mildew. Her daughter, who is now 8, hates her new school, and said her teacher confessed that she only came to school for a paycheck. The same teacher told Smith that her daughter was the only second-grader in the class who knew how to read.
- Alana Samuels in The Atlantic (The Financial Toll of Mass Incarceration on American Families)
Seattle Teachers Reach Tentative Agreement To End Strike HuffPost: Initially, the district had offered teachers a 9 percent pay increase over three years, although the association countered by demanding a 10.5 percent increase over two years. Details of the latest agreement have not yet been revealed. See also AP, NPR, NBC News, PBS NewsHour, NYT, Seattle Times.
City Wants to Spend Millions to Make School Kids Tech Savvy WNYC: On Wednesday, the mayor will offer details on a plan to require that all New York City public schools offer computer science to students within at least 10 years. The city is planning to spend $81 million dollars to ensure that it happens, half of which will come from private contributions. See also New York Times, New York Post.
New York Mayor Outlines Education Policies AP: De Blasio, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, said he would outline a series of expansive new proposals meant to achieve three major goals: to have all children reading by third grade, to improve on-time graduation rates and to give all students a shot at attending college.
The number of black teachers has dropped in nine US cities Washington Post: The study by the Albert Shanker Institute, a think tank funded by the American Federation of Teachers, looked at teacher data from nine cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
School bus crash kills 2 students, seriously injures 3 AP: A school bus plunged off a highway overpass in Houston after being hit by a car driven by a teacher Tuesday, killing two students and seriously injuring three other people, police and school officials said....
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
"The latest homeless count, an 8 percent increase over the 2012-2013 school year... offers a glimpse of the growing challenges that public schools face nationwide as they seek to educate an increasing number of low-income children." - Washington Post (Number of homeless students in U.S. has doubled since before the recession). See also this Pacific Standard story about a preschool serving homeless toddlers.
The Today show is running a back to school series focusing on alarming issues like why school buses don't have seat belts and what a high-tech school security system looks like. Click above for the school bus segment, or here for the school intruder prevention system segment.
Looking for something a bit more substantive, watch this NewsWorks segment about Delaware's efforts to keep great teachers in the classroom (featuring a TOTY who's just become an AP). Interesting interview with the state teachers union head talking about her changing views on the single salary schedule.
White hipsters sipping drinks on the roof of a closed (and beloved) Philly high school -- what could look more wrong? I posted about this on HotForEd last week when I came across a post in The Awl (The Hottest Bar in Philly Is on Top of a Shuttered Public School), and couldn't stop reading. There were think pieces, protest flyers. Then, yesterday, alumni of the school (Bok) showed up at the restaurant wearing alumni gear.
Follow #lebokfin for lots more. Follow @hotfored or subscribe to the Tumblr here.
Check out this APM documentary about Expeditionary Learning, the network of schools developed using some of the ideas from Outward Bound (A vision for a new kind of public school in America). Then go read some of the accompanying essays about schools that have taken this approach, the connections to popular current ideas like "grit," the guy behind it all.
Not your thing? Listen to this WBUR segment about Boston's effort to bring teacher diversity in line with student diversity.
Or, check out one of these education-focused Frontline documentaries from previous years.
Whatever you do, don't watch that viral video of the high school cheerleaders paying homage to 9/11.
Curious about where BLM and education overlap? Here's a helpful roundup of school-related BLM articles to check out, courtesy of Catherine Bellinger, D.C. Director at DFER:
‘Neighborhood school’ is almost an Orwellian term. It sounds great—and can be great in a perfect world. But its history is a history of using neighborhood boundaries to segregate.
I thought that with [hundreds of millions] of dollars...that they knew how to reform a district, and how to help urban schools, not just charter schools... I thought they really knew how to take...the whole district and make all of those schools perform better for kids, and they really didn't know how to do that.
- Author Dale Russakoff about the reform effort in Newark, via WNYC (The Deal That Brought Mark Zuckerberg's $100 Million Gift to Newark's Schools)
Less Than Half of Students Achieve Proficiency on Calif. Common-Core Exams State EdWatch: California students performed better on the English/language arts section of the Smarter Balanced exam than in math, according to scores released by the department Sept. 9. See also KPCC, LA Times, Bakersfield Californian.
Obama Promotes College Affordability Plan on Michigan Trip NYT: At an event near Detroit, Mr. Obama announced the creation of a national advisory board to push the idea that community college should be free for many students across the country. “Education has always been the secret sauce, the secret to America’s success,” Mr. Obama said to a small but enthusiastic crowd of students at Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich. “Every American willing to work hard should have a shot at higher education.” See also The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post.
Rep. John Kline is still optimistic on No Child Left Behind rewrite this year Washington Post: House Education Committee chair wants bipartisan deal that Obama will feel “a lot of pressure” to sign.
No classes Thursday as Seattle strike continues AP: There will be no classes again Thursday for tens of thousands of public school students in Seattle as teachers will remain on strike. District spokeswoman Stacy Howard said both sides would be back at the negotiating table Thursday morning. See also NPR, HuffPost, EdWeek, Seattle Times.
One of Teach For America's Top Executives Is Stepping Down TeacherBeat: The organization had been run by co-chief executive officers, but now one of them is stepping down. More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso)
People are often of two minds. They're putting their kids in charters but that means the district schools need to right-size by cutting jobs, and that affects their cousin. Everyone in Newark is affected by both trends.
- Dale Russakoff in Newark Star-Ledger (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book on Newark School Reform)
Seattle Teachers Strike On First Day Of School AP: Members of the Seattle Education Association, which represents about 5,000 teachers and support staff, said they will picket at all 97 schools Wednesday. See also NPR, NYT, Seattle Public Radio.
What makes a public school public? Washington state court finds charter schools unconstitutional Washington Post: Opponents of charter schools have long argued that the schools are private because they don’t have to answer to the public and in some states aren’t subject to key rules that apply to government agencies, such as open meetings and public records laws.
2 WA charters say they will stay open this year despite Supreme Court ruling Seattle Times: Charter schools are organizing parents to lobby the Legislature for a long-term fix to the state Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday that such schools are unconstitutional.
Poll: California voters still unsure about Common Core EdSource Today: About one-fourth say they have not heard about the new standards. See also Hechinger Report.
Rand Paul Links Jeb Bush to Former President George W. Bush's Edu-Record PK12: The Kentucky senator wants to paint rival GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and the former Florida governor's brother with the same brush on education policy.
New York City Mayor Goes All-In On Free Preschool NPR: NPR's Robert Siegel talks with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about the early days of his effort to provide free, high-quality preschool to all of the city's 4-year-olds. See also Washington Post.
Parents May Spend Less This Year on Back-to-School Supplies, Despite Growing Need NYT: In the last decade, the average amount families spent on school items grew 42 percent, according to the retail federation’s projections this summer. It estimated that families with children in grades K-12 would spend an average of $630 this year, about 6 percent less than in 2014.
One of nation’s largest school districts ditches high school final exams Washington Post: Maryland’s Montgomery County will replace the two-hour tests with shorter assessments taken during the quarters.
Traffic on first day of school is smooth in Fairfax despite new start times Washington Post: Shift in bell times gives students more sleep but push more buses onto roads during rush hour.
Five big questions facing New York City schools as a new year begins ChalkbeatNY: This is school year number two for the mayor, who will be trying to pull off a number of complicated education initiatives at once.
How an unconventional principal turned around a struggling urban school Hechinger Report: Since then, the first-time principal and her team have made significant strides in student achievement, teacher satisfaction, technology upgrades and parent involvement. Today, due to improved test scores and a positive school culture, the school is one of only four of 33 that is on track to emerge from intervention status in Rhode Island.
A Door-to-Door Push to Get Parents Involved at Struggling Schools NYT: With the second full school year of his administration beginning on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio is already under pressure to show improvement at these schools, which are among 62 low-performing schools targeted by the state for possible takeover. One of the keys to transforming them, his administration believes, is to get parents to show up more by turning schools into one-stop community centers offering services like medical and dental clinics, adult courses and counseling.
National union leader calls for settlement for Scranton teachers Scranton Times-Tribune: Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.6-million member national union, told the board that education is the “great equalizer,” and teachers only want to make a difference in the lives of their students.
Perhaps the best two pieces I’ve come across are from the Newark Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran including an opinion piece on where things stand that notes district progress along with charter school improvements and reformers' misguided focus on the parts of the story Russakoff leaves out (Newark students are better off, despite the political noise) and also a Q & A with Russakoff in which the author rebuts a deeply flawed NYT review, proposes a forensic audit of Newark's $23,000-per student spending, but calls the Zuckerberg-funded reform efforts a “wash” over all (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book). These are both well worth reading, for what Moran writes and for Russakoff's responses.
There have also been four big mainstream reviews of the book: Chicago Tribune (Diane Rado); The Seventy Four (Conor Williams); NYT (Alex Kotlowitz; NYT (Jonathan Knee). Of these earlier reviews, I found the second NYT review (by Knee) to be the most interesting, taking a business-oriented view of what happened that's no less critical of the process and the outcomes than anyone else.
Perhaps the best two pieces I’ve come across are from the Newark Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran including an opinion piece on where things stand that notes district progress along with charter school improvements and reformers' misguided focus on the parts of the story Russakoff leaves out (Newark students are better off, despite the political noise) and also a Q & A with Russakoff in which the author rebuts a deeply flawed NYT review, proposes a forensic audit of Newark's $23,000-per student spending, but calls the Zuckerberg-funded reform efforts a “wash” over all (Author Dale Russakoff discusses new book).
These are both well worth reading, for what Moran writes and for Russakoff's responses.
Of these earlier reviews, I found the second NYT review (by Knee) to be the most interesting, taking a business-oriented view of what happened that's no less critical of the process and the outcomes than anyone else.
Last but not least, here's NYT columnist Joe Nocera's piece on the book (Zuckerberg’s Expensive Lesson), which notes among other things that "almost half" of the Zuckerberg effort went to Newark teachers in the form of back pay, salaries for teachers who weren't assigned to a classroom, and bonuses. "Apparently, Zuckerberg has learned his lesson. What will it take for the rest of us to learn?"
Just this morning, WNYC's Sarah Gonzales gave us an update on how some of the characters in the book are doing (How Booker, Christie Spent the $100 Million Facebook Donation), including a breakout of spending (most of which went to teachers and principals, not consultants).
"More than 8,000 students were stuck on a waiting list, with no idea whether they’ll go to class just weeks before the first day of school," according to WGBH (Boston's Back To School Debacle). "As of today, all students from 1st to 12th grade have a school but parents aren’t happy with their assignments or the last-minute process."
“Pretty soon, kids my age who live in wealthier districts will start testing better than me in every subject, so I might as well try to make the most of this parity while I have it,” said Williams. (via The Onion 5-Year-Old At Underfunded Kindergarten Enjoying Last Few Weeks Before Achievement Gap Kicks In)
"In the past ten years, much has been said, rightly, about the resilience and the spirit of those who chose to rebuild the neighborhoods they had lost. It is time to appreciate as well the courage of those who, faced with the same disaster, decided to make a fresh start."
- Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker (What Social Scientists Learned from Katrina)
"Supporters of desegregation won the Yonkers battle—but the high cost of victory lost them the war," writes former NYT writer Lisa Belkin, whose book about a Yonkers NY housing fight is the subject of a new David Simon HBO miniseries, Show Me A Hero that's been written up by EdWeek's Mark Walsh. "Few in this country had the will to risk another divisive, ugly municipal bruising anytime soon."
This isn't the first time Simon has addressed school-related issues. The Wire included a whole season focused on a group of middle school boys. (No surprise given his writing partner's career as both a cop and a geography teacher). More recently (by which I mean 2010-211), the NOLA-based Treme series included a few biting references to post-Katrina school reform. (Remember "Four years at Radcliff is all you know..."?)
Meantime, someone should go to Yonkers and follow up on how the integration plan and kids are doing, right?
There are real perils to prioritizing local control over ensuring that all schools and districts are actually educating all children. Look no further than Pinellas County, Florida, where a recent story detailed the systematic neglect and denial of opportunity to poor students of color by the local board of education.
-- Former StudentsFirst VP Eric Lerum in Education Post (The Odd Couples of Education)
When I first read the Education Research Alliance (ERA) report on the effectiveness of the competition-driven New Orleans model of reform, it was clear that true believers in "relinquishment" and market-driven reform would be disappointed by its findings. However, they have still spun the mixed results from the NOLA corporate reform model as a great success.
I have left the fact checking of the ERA's methodology and data to the experts. I've mostly limited myself to fact checking the reformers' spin - the soundbites they use to put the NOLA record in the best possible light, and to use its model to break unions and extend test-driven reform across the nation.
I admit to being surprised that analyses such as those of the NEPC, Andrea Gabor, The International Business Times, In These Times, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Mercedes Schneider, Gary Rubenstein, and others have found so many problems with the ERA research. I still remain most shocked by the soundbite of the respected researcher Douglas Harris who has contributed to headlines asserting that the reforms "worked."
At first, I assumed Harris was just being diplomatic when he said that the "typical elementary- or middle-school student's scores rose by 8 to 15 percentage points," and that "We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time."
In fact, I'm not aware of many districts that haven't made dramatic increases in bubble-in test scores over a short time, and then saw those illusory gains disappear.
It is hard to believe that any scholar would be so quick to trust bubble-in data after reading Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working? by Bruce Fuller, Kathryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, Joseph Wright. Fuller et. al assemble a much greater batch of test score growth claims by entire states, not just a district with an unflinching focus on bubble-in accountability.
How could scholars forget the New Jersey Miracle, where 4th grade reading scores increased 7.9 points per year for nearly as long as NOLA produced gains? NOLA can't hold a candle to Arkansas's miracle where 4th grade reading scores increased by 19 points between 2001 and 2002, and where there was nearly a 75% increase in those scores in four years. In fact, Fuller et. al calculate an average of the average of gains in fourteen states and find 2.6 and 2.7 points per year for the decade preceding NCLB!
"Our findings provide compelling evidence that money does matter, and that additional school resources can meaningfully improve long-run outcomes for students." (Education Next: Boosting Educational Attainment and Adult Earnings)
John Tulenko and the team (now with EdWeek) report on how much NOLA schools seem to have improved, and nagging concerns about problems with expulsions and special ed services. Or, listen to this hour-long American Public Radio documentary on teaching teachers.