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Journalism: Researcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask

Granted, it was a busy week in Chicago news, what with the Columbus Day holiday and the unexpected sickness befalling CTU head Karen Lewis, but I see this happening with disturbing frequency lately:

A Chicago-focused charter school study from a couple of days ago was apparently funded in large part by the Chicago Teachers Union -- something that wasn't disclosed in the report and wasn't picked up on by any of the media outlets who passed on its results until now.  

The situation was picked up by Crain's Chicago reporter Greg Hinz in this post (Chicago teachers union paid part of cost of charter-school study), which noted:

Mr. Orfield conceded in a later interview with WTTW that the Chicago Teachers Union, a vehement foe of charters, picked up part of the tab. "It was funded by the teachers union," Mr. Orfield said. "And the Ford Foundation and Kresge Foundation and others."...

In a subsequent phone call, Mr. Orfield said the CTU had paid "about half" of the total bill. However, he added, the methodology he used for the Chicago study was "exactly the same" as in prior studies of charters in New Orleans and the Twin Cities."

Hinz himself didn't get around to checking it out in his initial story either (Chicago charter schools lag conventional public schools: Orfield report). The two dailies covered the study (Study: Charter schools have worsened school segregation | Chicago Sun-Times, and Study: Chicago charter schools lag traditional ones - Chicago Tribune -- but didn't address funding sources. Only WTTW, Chicago Public Television, got to the issue.

So what, you ask? The funding source doesn't necessarily undermine the results (though INCS and others have raised questions about the data and methodology), and Chicago's charters did somewhat better using Orfield's methodology than charters in New Orleans and Minneapolis.  

But still... this is pretty basic stuff. Given all the scrutiny given to funding sources and disclosure in the media and by reform critics in particular, disclosure from the researcher (Myron Orfield) -- and some journalistic checking about the funding source -- would have made a lot of sense. I don't know who to be more upset with -- the journalists or the researcher.   

Morning Video: Why Think Tankers Hate The Vergara Strategy

This video recently uploaded by AFT is mostly just a broadside against Campbell Brown but it also reveals something I've written about before -- that think tankers (Brookings, Fordham) don't seem to like the Vergara-style approach to school reform:

 Why not? Some of the concerns are substantive, but that's only a part of it.  Think tankers and others are feeling burned by the pushback against reforms of the recent era (the so-called "war on teachers"), they're not as nearly familiar with legal strategies (as opposed to policies, programs, and politics), and they probably think they're smarter than Campbell Brown, who's leading the charge.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Deasy Resigns From LA - Cortines Named Interim

Reaction to Deasy resignation as polarizing as his tenure #LAUSD http://wp.me/p2fzpD-7Rn 

LAUSD kids under @DrDeasyLAUSD outpaced other urban kids in gains on NAEP in reading & math, but raw scores still well behind big-city avg

State Education Funding Lags Behind Pre-Recession Levels - US News http://ow.ly/CRqlh  @alliebidwell

Jindal's teacher tenure law ruled constitutional by LA Supreme Court | http://NOLA.com  http://ow.ly/CSixi  @jwilliamsNOLA

De Blasio: Congratulations, @RahmEmanuel for taking steps toward bringing universal pre-k to Chicago’s kids next year.

Ravitch blog reaches 15M pageviews in just over 2 years blog http://ow.ly/CSjd7  Anyone else anywhere near her, including mainstream?

Charts: School Budgets (& Jobs) Still Not Where They Used To Be

My sense is that 260,000 jobs is a drop in the bucket compared to jobs lost in the overall economy, but not if it's your job that's been cut:

image from www.usnews.com

The graph (used with permission) is from a a US News story about a new CBPP report (State Education Funding Lags Behind Pre-Recession Levels). "Overall, 30 of the 47 states analyzed are providing less per-pupil funding for K-12 schools this school year than they did before the recession." Districts have restored 70,000 jobs since 2012.

Morning Video: New Report Highlights District-Based Testing/Test Prep Practices

Here's the video from CAP's event, during which you'll find out about CAP head sending her own kids to DCPS schools, plus link to the new report (Testing Overload in America’s Schools):

Basically, the report focusing on 14 districts in 7 states -- Colorado (Denver Public Schools and Jefferson Co. Schools),  Florida (Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Sarasota County Schools), Georgia (Atlanta Public Schools and Cobb County School District), Illinois (Chicago Public Schools and Elmwood Community Schools), Kentucky (Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville and Bullitt County Public Schools), Ohio (Columbus City Schools and South-Western City School District), Tennessee (Shelby County Schools and Knox Co. Schools) -- finds that there's lots of testing and too much test prep -- much of it district-mandated (not state or federal) -- but holds out hope that states and districts can streamline their testing and that Common Core assessments will make for fewer, fairer tests. #CAPedu

 

Quotes: Build Capacity & Let Schools "Improve Themselves"

Quotes2Let's just figure out how to build capacity in individual schools. ..That's the only thing that I think is scaleable, is talking about how to improve the capacity that schools have to improve themselves.

-- Holy Cross assistant professor Jack Schneider in US public schools are better than they've ever been (Vox). 

 

Thompson: Democratic Think Tank's Supposed Faith in Teachers' Expectations

The power of teachers’ expectations is an issue that must be carefully studied and discussed. It is especially important that educators engage in a sober self-reflection on the expectations we hold for students, especially poor children of color. 

That is why educators from all perspectives should join in condemning another simplistic paper by the Center for American Progress (CAP). After rejecting the latest example of the CAP's teacher-bashing, we should all double down on the study and discussion of teachers' expectations, and seek to improve our ability to improve education outcomes for all children, especially students who traditionally have been stigmatized. 

CAP's The Power of the Pygmalion Effect ostensibly supports Common Core while implicitly blaming teachers for the achievement gap. Authors Ulrich Boser, Megan Wilhelm, and Robert Hanna proclaim that the 10th grade students who they studied who “had teachers with higher expectations were more than three times more likely to graduate from college than students who had teachers with lower expectations.” 

Such a claim should require a complex research model which takes into account family, peer effects, and systemic factors that contribute to college readiness. Boser et. al, however, attribute those differential outcomes to teachers’ answer to a 2002 NAEP question about their students’ chances to succeed in higher education. Their definition of “expectations” was based on how teachers answered the question “'how far in school … [do] you expect this student to get,’ including high school, college, and beyond.” Their paper made only a cursory effort to parse the actual accuracy of those opinions. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Democratic Think Tank's Supposed Faith in Teachers' Expectations" »

Journalism: AP Reporter Moves To LA, Returns To Education Beat

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 12.44.04 PMAfter a two-year exile covering foreign affairs and international crises, Christine Armario (pictured) is slated to return to the education beat -- from LA -- starting next month.

As you may recall, AP tried a "team" approach to covering education for a time (roughly 2010-2012). Armario and others were responsible for digging out all those waiver letters in 2012, as you may recall (How AP Got Hold Of All Those Waiver Letters).  In recent times, AP has had Kimberly Helfing covering education nationally.

There's lots of education journalism going on already in LA, between KPCC, the LA Times, and others (LA School Report and the NYT's Jenny Medina occasionally).  But it's the second-largest school district in the nation and warrants much more attention than it usually gets.  

Related posts: Associated Press Names New Education Editor (2011); Another Twist And Turn For The AP Education Team (2012); Replacing The NYT's National Education Writer (2012); Meet AP Education Reporter Josh Lederman. Image courtesy AP.

AM News: NEA Spending Big On 2014 State Races

NEA Spends Big on State Races PK12: The increased emphasis on state races continues a 2012 trend set in motion by the rise of new and influential education reform groups, like StudentsFirst, that often come down on the opposite of education policy debates from teachers' unions and whose main goal is to impact policy at the local and state level.

Decision expected Thursday on next charter schools  AP: Washington's statewide charter schools commission plans to vote Thursday on a group of schools that want to open in 2015. A team of independent evaluators gave their endorsement to two proposals and said two more were not ...

Waiverless Oklahoma Navigates Tough Transition Back to NCLB PK12: Back in August, Oklahoma became the second state to lose its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, and accountability in that state has been unsettled ever since.

Report finds wide disparities in local per-pupil spending; D.C. charters spend most Washington Post: Charter schools in the District spent $18,150 per student during the 2011-2012 school year, while  PG County public schools spent $10,408 on each child it served, a significant difference between the highest and lowest spenders in the Washington region, according to a study released Wednesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
 
What Happens When Teachers Are at the Helm of a School? WNYC There are about 70 teacher-led schools currently operating in the country. 

The decision-making process at Renaissance can get pretty messy. Principal Stacey Gauthier said it’s her job to facilitate that mess.

 

 

 

 

Torlakson, Tuck Talk Federal Power, Teachers' Unions, in Calif. Chief's Race State EdWatch:  Incumbent Tom Torlakson stresses his opposition to some federal policies, while challenger Marshall Tuck says despite union opposition to him, he agrees with many positions held by the California Teachers Association.
 
Philadelphia Teachers Hit by Latest Cuts NYT: The state-appointed board that oversees the district canceled the contract of teachers and required them to contribute to health care premiums.

Advocates pushing city on struggling schools choose an unlikely champion ChalkbeatNY: Gassaway criticized the Bloomberg administration even as Boys and Girls avoided closure in recent years as the school’s reputation and enrollment declined during his five-year tenure. 

Lawsuit alleges students' instruction lacking EdSource Today: Los Angeles Unified school board member Steve Zimmersaid he expected the practice to be more widespread in the district. 

Why Kids Sext The Atlantic: Between them, the accounts included about 100 pictures, many of girls from the local high school, Louisa County High, in central Virginia. S

#EdGIF Of The Day: Watch School Segregation Grow Over 20 Years

Upworthy: When I Started Looking At This Map About American Schools, I Did *Not* Expect That Bar To Go Up

Quotes: Philly Reform Critic Accused Of Charter Double-Talk

Quotes2[Gym] went into attack mode, viewing everything as a privatization conspiracy. At the same time she would frequently call me to solicit money for her charter school. I found this to be odd and hypocritical. -- Jeremy Nowak in Philly Magazine (Gym denies this)

Morning Video: Did Republican Gov. Cut $1 Billion From Michigan Schools?

"[Democratic challenger] Schauer also started capitalizing on education concerns in Michigan, mentioning frequently that he’s the son of a teacher....Fueling the biggest controversy of the race, Schauer says Governor Snyder has cut $1 billion from education."

Journalism: Funding Disclosure Should Apply To Reform Critics, Too

Kudos to In These Times for updating its Harvard/TFA story (Student Activists Demand Harvard Sever Ties with Teach for America) to note that the group behind the effort received nearly $60,000 in AFT funding, as well as other labor backing.

The same can't be said for news outlets covering student protests against the Philadelphia school board for recent contract actions, in which union funding for student groups (albeit in small amounts) has gone unmentioned. The two main student groups, Philadelphia Student Union and United Youth for Change, received $80,000 from the AFT, according to Droput Nation's RiShawn Biddle (The AFT’s $2 Million Spree in Philly).

While education journalists and reform critics have increasingly noted when groups and individuals receive funding from reform-oriented foundations and individuals, the same can't be said about coverage of reform critics' efforts and ideas.  

But the correction/addition from In These Times -- a progressive outlet! -- points out that it can and should be done by mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Huffington Post, and others. It's not that hard to do: Ask where the group gets its funding from, or ask Biddle or Mike Antonucci, or look around online.

Related posts: Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesWho Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political StrengthMeet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"

AM News: Ailing Chicago Union Leader Decides Against Mayoral Run, May Have Brain Tumor

Karen Lewis has brain tumor, not running for mayor Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who just pulled out of mayoral contention, is suffering from a cancerous brain tumor that was diagnosed shortly after she experienced a severe headache last week.

Union Leader Will Not Run for Chicago Mayor NYT: Karen Lewis, the Chicago union leader who had been considering a bid to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will not run as she continues treatment after surgery for an undisclosed medical condition, her exploratory committee said Monday.

Chicago Union Head Decides Against Mayoral Bid AP: Emanuel issued a statement after her announcement wishing her a quick recovery. "I have always respected and admired Karen's willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city's future," said Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff. 

Karen Lewis not running for mayor WBEZ: Emanuel already faces several declared challengers, including his vocal critic in the City Council, Ald. Bob Fioretti; Dr. Amara Enyia, an urban development consultant; former Chicago Ald. Robert Shaw; Chicago police officer Frederick Collins; and conservative activist William J. Kelly.

As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works NYT: A charter school training program reflects the belief that teachers, like doctors, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can take the reins in classes of their own.

It's 2014. All Children Are Supposed To Be Proficient. What Happened? NPR:  No Child Left Behind law famously set this year as the date when, well, no children would be left behind. So now what?

Classes, homework and working with refugees USA TODAY: Typically, a college student's schedule is packed with classes, homework and maybe a job or two. For some, working with refugees is also on the list. There are nearly 300,000 refugees and 90,000 asylum-seekers currently residing in the U.S.

More national and local news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Ailing Chicago Union Leader Decides Against Mayoral Run, May Have Brain Tumor" »

Scheduling: Canceling School For Columbus Day Is The Worst Idea Ever

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.comCanceling school for Columbus Day is the dumbest idea ever, according to Vox, but I'm still taking the day off (reserving the right to post things on Twitter).  Really, really need a morning news roundup? Check out RealClearEducation, Annenberg Institute, or Politico. 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Reform Critics Gather In NYC

Reactions to @edtrust school rating report rounded up at @morning_edu http://ow.ly/3szUrN 

“The Educator and the Oligarch" - The Washington Post http://ow.ly/CAznt  @valeriestrauss interviews @anthonycody

How College Students Battled Textbook Publishers To A Draw, In 3 Graphs http://ow.ly/Cxka3 

Improve education by having teachers recite from e-readers? Hmm. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/10/is-it-okay-to-make-teachers-read-scripted-lessons/381265/ …

Can We Find A Truce in the Teacher Wars? | EdCentral http://ow.ly/CzIA2 

Philissa's Weekend Reads: http://feedly.com/e/K05pQg4V  @chalkbeatny

Morning Video: Weingarten, Finn, Darling-Hammond Debate School Progress

As you may already have seen via my Twitter feed, this week's @StanfordSOTU session featured the AFT president, Fordham guru Finn, and Stanford professor. Here's the video -- 90 minutes or so.  Click here if the video doesn't work. Search for #StanfordSOTU to see what folks were saying in real time.

AM News: Chicago Union Head Steps Down; Ed Trust Slams NCLB Waiver School Ratings

CTU President Karen Lewis 'not well,' but union mum on details Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is "not well" but under top-notch medical care, the union said Tuesday, refusing to detail the health crisis that has landed Lewis in the hospital. [Several more stories on this below the break]

Should a School Get an 'A' Even if Poor and Minority Students Underperform? PK12: In Florida, which rates schools on an A-F scale, the average proficiency rate for African-American students in "A" schools is lower than for white students who attend "C" schools.

NY State Commissioner Suggests a Way Around Charter Schools Limit WNYC: King said it was up to the governor and legislature to find a solution. But he added, "We have work to do to continue to grow high-quality seats, whether it's in charter schools or district schools." 

On Professional Development Days, D.C. Teachers Become Students WAMU: Today is the first of 10 professional development days for teachers at D.C. public schools, an opportunity for them to sharpen their skills as educators.

Video: SAT vs. ACT: What’s the Difference? NBC News: The ACT and the SAT are both standardized tests that help colleges evaluate students and are accepted by all schools. So what sets the exams apart? 

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Chicago Union Head Steps Down; Ed Trust Slams NCLB Waiver School Ratings" »

Events: Reform Advocates Meet In Chicago

From deep inside a Chicago hotel, the day after StudentsFirst announced Jim Blew as Michelle Rhee's replacement and at roughly the same time as CTU is announcing that Karen Lewis has a serious illness and her duties are being taken over by her deputy:

Related posts: 5 New Orgs Bring PIE To 49 MembersTalk About "Love" (Not "Rights")PIE Annual Summit (2013)State Advocacy Groups Talk Policy - Not Tactics (2012); Reform Celebration In Seattle (2011).

AM News: NYC To Get 17 More Charters, Despite District Opposition

SUNY green-lights 17 more city charter schools, 14 for Success Academy ChalkbeatNY: A State University of New York committee unanimously approved 17 additional charter schools to open over the next two years, with 14 of the charters going to Success Academy, the city’s largest and most controversial network. The other three charters went to Achievement First, a Brooklyn-based network of schools.

City Nears Charter Cap as 17 More Schools Win Approval WNYC: A State University of New York committee charged with overseeing charter schools authorized 17 more charter schools to open in New York City over the next two years, 14 of them operated by the city's largest and in many respects most controversial network.

17 Charter Schools Approved for New York City, Expanding a Polarizing Network NYT: The decision by a state committee substantially increased the size of Success Academy, one of the city’s largest and most polarizing charter networks.

Philadelphia Teachers' Union Vows to Fight Contract Cancellation District Dossier: The School Reform Commission cancelled the teachers' union contract on Monday, prompting backlash from some educators and other supporters of the union.

D.C. public schools enrollments continue to climb Washington Post: Enrollment is up in both D.C. charter and traditional public schools this year, according to unofficial numbers released this week by officials from the D.C. Public Charter School Board and D.C. Public Schools.

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan On Common Core WBUR: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was back in Massachusetts Wednesday visiting Springfield Technical College to talk about the important role that community colleges play in job training. 

Boston Superintendent's Job Draws Numerous Candidates District Dossier: Candidates hail from Canada to Florida. The majority have been superintendents, and the group is predominantly male.

Seattle School District Settles Rape Allegation AP: Seattle school district to pay $700,000 to family of girl who said she was raped on field trip

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: StudentsFirst Succession, Success Academy Expansion

California School Voucher Backer [& Democratc] To Head U.S. Education Reform Group ow.ly/CskGl

Major expansion for Success, growing dread in districts | Capital New York ow.ly/Csv18 @elizashapiro

Common Core Copyright: What Does It Really Mean? 5 Questions http://ow.ly/Crt8b  @minnichc @emmelinez

Here's Another Big Funder Swaying Education in One State - Inside Philanthropy http://ow.ly/CrZ68 

Chicago Schools Under Fire Over Dirty Conditions, Rotten Food ow.ly/CskTE @robojo features awful lot of CTU & ILRYH sources

What Keeps Women Out of Elite Colleges? Their SAT Scores – The Chronicle of Higher Education ow.ly/Cs4wG

“The starchy-vegetable lobby was quick to take offense" and other choice quotes from the NYT school lunch storyow.ly/CsjR8

Charts: Education Majors Enjoy Low Unemployment, High Satisfaction

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

Special education teachers are on the list of low-paying majors at mid-career ($47,000), and Elementary and Early education jobs pay even less (13 charts that explain why your college major matters). But on the other hand, unemployment rates for education majors are 5 just percent, second-lowest after health care and roughly the same as STEM.  Something to keep in mind when considering claims of massive layoffs, etc. And when it comes to meaningful work, early childhood, SPED, and even elementary teachers rank pretty high compared to other college-educated jobs. Check all the charts out via Vox.  Image used with permission.

John Thompson: Restoring the "Clash of Ideas" in Public Schools

How is it possible that the New York Times food columnist turned education commentator who wrote The Trouble with Tenure could turn around and write nearly the opposite: The Wilds of Education?

Now, Frank Bruni praises the students, families, and educators in Colorado and elsewhere who are opposing standards that demand that schools be all on the same page when teaching a single ideologically-driven set of Standards.

Bruni writes, “When it comes to learning, shouldn’t they [schools] be dangerous?” Sounding like a teachers union building rep, Bruni asks, “Isn’t education supposed to provoke, disrupt, challenge the paradigms that young people have consciously embraced and attack the prejudices that they have unconsciously absorbed?”

I am curious about noneducators, who ordinarily support the clash of ideas, who contradict themselves by attacking tenure, due process, and the policies that are essential for protecting the free flow of ideas of public education. Do they not realize that the test, sort, reward, and punish reform movement is only viable when it is imposing tests where there is only one “right” answer? Do commentators like Bruni not understand that tenure is essential for protecting the debate and discussion in our schools?

Bruni’s ill-informed attack on teachers may help answer my question. It was based on an interview with – you guessed it – one ideologically-driven reformer. Bruni accepted the claims of Colorado Senator Mike Johnson at face value. It doesn’t seem to occur to Bruni that the efforts of Johnson et. al to destroy the rights of teachers (so that they cannot oppose his test-driven accountability schemes) also opened the door for Colorado's conservative reformers to micromanage the learning of students? Can he explain a difference between the way that rightwing censorship operates, as opposed to the way that corporate reform functions when it micromanages teachers’ instruction and students’ learning?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Restoring the "Clash of Ideas" in Public Schools" »

Quotes: Teachers' Expectations & The Common Core

Quotes2All else equal, 10th grade  students who had teachers with higher expectations were more than three times more likely to graduate from college than students who had teachers with lower expectations.

-- New CAP report on teachers' expectations & the Common Core (click link to see report -- via HPEdu)

AM News: Flat SAT Scores, Philly Contract SNAFU, Lewis Hospitalized

SAT scores for Class of 2014 show no improvement from previous marks Washington Post: High school graduates this year fared no better on the SAT college admission test than their predecessors in 2013, a stagnant result that exam overseers said should sound an alarm for the nation to get more students on track for college. See also HuffPost, Baltimore Sun, AP.

Pennsylvania: Health Costs Imposed on Teachers NYT: Philadelphia teachers vowed to fight a sudden move by the district Monday that cancels their union contract and requires them to start paying health premiums of $55 to $140 a month. See also District Dossier.

Chicago Teachers Union head Karen Lewis hospitalized WBEZ: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has been hospitalized after experiencing discomfort over the weekend. See also National teachers union contributes $30000 to Karen Lewis.

Microsoft and Other Firms Pledge to Protect Student Data NYT: The participating companies are publicly committing themselves not to sell information on kindergartners through 12th graders. See also Politico.

See the AP U.S. History course changes and take a sample exam Washington Post: Readers asked what specifically the College Board has changed in its Advanced Placement U.S. history course and what the questions on the exam are like.

Where Do We Stand on NCLB? A Progress Report for Congress Education Week: More than 40 states may have waivers from many of the mandates of the No Child Left Behind, but that doesn't mean the U.S. Department of Education is off the hook when it comes to reporting on states' progress toward meeting the goals of the NCLB law.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Flat SAT Scores, Philly Contract SNAFU, Lewis Hospitalized" »

Journalism: NYT Gets It Wrong On NCLB Tutoring Requirement

Motoko Rich's latest NYT piece isn't really focused on NCLB sanctions but rather the political standoff between Washington State officials and the Obama administration over use of test scores to help evaluate teachers.

Still, NCLB sanctions are the only real-world impact of the fact that Washington State schools are still operating under the original NCLB -- the only reason anyone cares, really -- and the exaggerations and misundertandings of that law are in many ways a precedent for the current confusions/criticisms surrounding Common Core.

So it's worth reminding everyone what NCLB did and din't require.  

Specifically, the law didn't require "private" tutoring for schools not making AYP repeatedly.  It required tutoring provided by someone other than the school, including nonprofits, community groups, commercial tutoring companies, and sometimes even school districts (like Chicago, which received a federal waiver to provide tutoring to non-AYP schools).*

Whether or not the tutoring was top-notch, many schools and districts lined up against it because it meant that someone else was teaching their kids (and possibly doing a better job) and that they got slightly less federal funding than in the past under their control. Some districts and students responded ungenerously, by making their own students travel to other locations for tutoring rather than making arrangements for in-school delivery. 

What NCLB *did* do, among other things, was require annual reading and math tests for schools receiving federal education funding, and require districts to test all students and report out data based on subgroups, and severely limit the use of non-certified aides and out-of-field teachers who were often assigned to low-income children and paid for with federal funding. It also encouraged federal lawmakers to increase Title I funding substantially, in order to help pay for things like extra tutoring that students at schools that weren't doing right by poor kids might need.

NCLB was far from a perfect law, to be sure. The student transfer provisions were ridiculously weak, and the law allowed states to continue to set their own cut scores on annual tests, making it seem like kids were doing much better than they really were.  But it -- like Common Core and the assessments -- shouldn't be so eaisly used as a convenient dumping ground for educators' and advocates' talking points.

*NCLB also didn't require districts to shutter schools, or fire teachers.  Those were possible options, sure, but Very little of that was done under NCLB, and even under the subsequent school turnaround initiative based on NCLB (SIG). But that's for another time.

Quotes: Schools Can't Be Graded, Says NYC Chancellor

Quotes2Schools have unique qualities that cannot be captured in a letter grade... They are not restaurants. 

- NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina explaining end of school report card grades

Charts: Hispanic Dropout Rate Plummets Despite Growing Student Population

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"In 2000, three Hispanic students had recently completed high school for every one who dropped out, according to Pew. Now nine times as many finish high school as drop out." (Vox: Latinos are driving a huge decline in the high school dropout rate) Image used with permission.

 

Watch: For One Miami Principal. Common Core Spurs Hope & Fear

 

Watch Bridget Mckinney, third-year principal of Miami's Allapattah Middle School, explain "her trepidations, as well as her support, for the common core itself." (Common Core Spurs Hope, Fear for a Miami Principal via State EdWatch).

 

Afternoon Video: Celebrities' Hilariously Bad Education Ideas

The Marshall Tuck campaign gets a few celebrity endorsements for his CA superintendent race -- plus some hilariously awful suggestions.

Morning Video: New Video Targets 371 "Failing" NYC Schools

It's not quite as moving as last summer's version -- and the one I saw last night during the news featured a kid who wanted to be a doctor -- but here's the new Families For Educational Justice video that's airing in NYC, focusing on 143,000 kids in low-performing schools, using the hashtag #donttstealpossible. "In vast areas of NYC [Brooklyn & the Bronx, mostly], children have little choice but to attend a failing school." There's also a map of 371 failing schools in NYC. There's a rally on Thursday.

Quotes: Progressive Dems Could Win With Education, Says Pollster

Quotes2The top testing turnout message overall emphasizes education, specifically Republicans' efforts to cut programs for students while giving tax cuts to the wealthy. - Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, quoted in TruthOut.

Morning Video: FL Mandates Extra 60 Mins. Reading Time For 300 Low-Performing Schools

 

"The state of Florida recently mandated the 300 lowest-performing elementary schools add an extra hour of reading instruction each day, the first in the country to do so. But while supporters are convinced the extra time will improve kids' reading, not everyone is convinced it's the right solution." PBS NewsHour

Charts: Pay No Attention To High Teacher Turnover In "Those" Parts Of District

Teacher Resignations in the Miami-Dade Public Schools (by voting district)

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality, "Unequal Access, Unequal Results," 2014 Click to enlarge

"In 2004-05, close to half of all public school teacher turnover happened in just one quarter of all public schools."  (Education Next: Teacher Retention Varies [Wildly] Within Districts)

Quotes: "Students Before Teachers." Says Harvard Law Prof

Quotes2Progressives should be part of the solution. We can't succumb to simplistic defenses of the distorted teacher protection schemes. We must confront the demonstrable effects of these laws. The future of public education and of the teaching profession can be brighter only when we place students' rights first and foremost on our list of priorities.-- Laurence H. Tribe in USA Today (Students before teachers)

Morning Audio: TFA Interviews MA Blogger Jennifer Berkshire (aka EduShyster)

There's lots of disagreement between TFA's Aaron French and EduShyster's Jennifer Berkshire, who used to work for the state union, but we're promised "no yelling." Here's a link in case it doesn't load for you.

Reform: Another Call For A Nationwide Audit Of District Testing Practices

A couple of weeks ago PBS NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow rightly pointed out that the moratorium on high-stakes use of testing to judge teachers was a start of sorts at addressing the overtesting that seems to have creeped into some American schools -- but still lacked a plan for any future action (So There’s A Moratorium. Now What?).

"This very limited moratorium means that scores on the new Common Core standardized tests won’t be used to evaluate teachers in many places.  That’s what some might call a necessary but hardly sufficient action This moratorium doesn’t mean that a truce has been called between the warring sides in the battle over teacher job protection and evaluation. That war is ongoing, sadly. And this moratorium doesn’t mean that school districts are now going to examine the role or amount of standardized bubble testing."

Towards further examination of overtesting -- the numbers and definitions out there so far are thin and uneven -- Merrow proposes a quick fill-in-the-blank questionnaire for superintendents around the country and suggests the National State Teachers of the Year to popularize the effort:  

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 10.54.07 AM

Yes, it's another test :-)  But something like this is probably going to have to happen, eventually. We need more information about what's going on out there -- and it's not students who will have to take this one. 

Last winter, I urged EdSec Duncan to get out in front of this and do some sort of audit (Unsolicited Suggestions).  A former Hill insider clued me in that the Senate ESEA proposal included something along those lines (National Audit Of Testing Proposed By Senate). Still no word on whether the USDE would endorse or even implement such a thing.   

Charts: Big Rise In Mass Shootings -- Many Of Them At Schools

image from cdn.theatlantic.comThe FBI's new report on the rise in mass shootings in recent years show the disturbing reality that many of them -- just under 25 percent -- take place at schools.  Over all, there were 39 such shootings in education settings, second only to places of business like malls and offices. Story via The Wire.  Image via the FBI.

Morning Video: Miami Supe. Carvalho Joins "Too Much Testing" Bandwagon

"Judy Woodruff gets debate from Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Partnership for Inner-City Education and Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho." (PBS NewsHour)

AM News: NYC Charter Schools Flex Political/Parent Muscle (Again)

For a third year in a row, pro-charter groups plan large political rally ChalkbeatNY:  Calling itself the “Coalition for Education Equality,” a group led by the pro-charter Families for Excellent Schools announced they will stage a large education rally on Oct. 2 at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. 

Is there too much testing in the public schools? PBS NewsHour: Alberto Carvalho is the superintendent of Miami-Dade County School District, who’s calling for changes. His district is dealing with dozens of mandated tests throughout the year. And Kathleen Porter-Magee is with the Partnership for Inner-City Education. She’s also a fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

When the digital classroom meets the parents Marketplace APM: On a recent night at High Tech Los Angeles, a charter high school in Van Nuys, California, a group of parents got a lesson in just what that means. One of them was Nooneh Kradjain, who has two sons at the high school, and was busy scribbling notes. She said she was struck by how much things have changed since she was in school. 

Emanuel says he 'made a mistake' in naming school after Obama Sun Times: Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he “made a mistake” in his “rush to honor” President Barack Obama — which is why he dropped plans to name a new, $60 million selective-enrollment high school on the Near North Side after his former boss.

White high school dropouts are wealthier than black or Latino college graduates Vox: When it comes to building wealth, whites have a vast advantage over their black and Hispanic peers. Writing at Demos, Matt Bruenig dug into the Federal Reserve's latest Survey on Consumer Finances and found a huge wealth gap by race and ethnicity.

Center for Union Facts says Randi Weingarten is ruining nation’s schools Washington Post: The 11-page mailing, on expensive paper stock, was sent first class to 125,000 households across the country this week.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Charter Schools Flex Political/Parent Muscle (Again)" »

Media: Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThere's lots to love in Conor Williams' Daily Beast story (Stop Scapegoating Teach for America), at least some of which I feel like I and others have written several times in the past -- though perhaps with less stylishness.  

In essence, Williams is taking on TFA's critics for exaggerating the case against TFA and ignoring larger issues surrounding teacher preparation, diversity, and professionalism. More importantly, he's also taking on the reporters who keep citing these

In particular, Williams cites stories penned by NPR's Anya Kamenetz and former New America Foundation colleague Dana Goldstein in Vox, noting that TFA's diversity has long eclipsed that of the overall teaching corps nationally and that is has been evolving internally for several years now.  (He ignores last year's Politico story, which is just a well.)

"Both [stories] present alt cert in general—and TFA in particular—as a problem, as a project that urgently needs fixing. Read them, and you’re called to consider whether alt cert programs are worth having, and to wonder whether they can be saved."

This level of concern and urgency is senseless given the small size of the teacher corps TFA has in classrooms at any single time. "TFA is neither a lever for dramatically improving or ruining U.S. public education," notes Williams. "Dramatic reforms to TFA’s teacher training aren’t going to substantially shift the trajectory of American public education."

Over all, the debatre over TFA is a sideshow, notes Williams, distracting our attention from the reality that little-trained TFA recruits come near to doing as well as fully-trained traditional candidates.

Related posts:Teach for America Not Directly Displacing Veterans In ChicagoKey Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Goldstein Puts TFA Under The Microscope. Vox image used with permission.

Morning Video: Watch Baton Rouge Teachers Implement Common Core

Debate aside, Core a reality in classrooms The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA). Click the link for the transcript and if the video doesn't load properly.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: RI Teachers Fight To Retain "No Layoffs" Guarantee

Providence RI Teachers Want Contract To Retain "No Layoff" Provision | Rhode Island Public Radio http://ow.ly/BOEXQ 

Parent group allied with @ctulocal1 asks questions about group allied with charters and choice http://ow.ly/BOAFV  @ILRaiseYourHand

23 states still allow teachers to hit students - & it's still common in Mississippi and Arkansas - @libbyanelson Vox http://ow.ly/BPTom 

Lessons from Guilford County’s @amplify Tablet Rollout | EdSurge News http://ow.ly/BPT6T  @EdSurge

More parents join suit to overturn tenure laws | New York Post http://ow.ly/BPJrs  via @Dyrnwyn

Debate aside, Core a reality in classrooms | News | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, Louisiana http://ow.ly/BPDqQ  @WillSentell

State Auditor has a very different take on #CommonCore than Bobby Jindal | http://NOLA.com  http://ow.ly/BPCKh 

Broad panel frustrated at incremental progress, notes @benweider at @FiveThirtyEight http://ow.ly/BPsJw 

Being pro-reform -- and pro-labor -- in the Vergara era, by Ama Nyamekye http://ow.ly/BPoG9  @ed4excellence

Quotes: Blame/Credit Chicago Mayor For Mobilizing Teachers, Says Weingarten

Quotes2Rahm was in some ways the best organizer that the Chicago Teachers Union had. He created the conditions by which the union had no other choice. - AFT head Randi Weingarten (Are Chicago — and Rahm Emanuel — Ready for Karen Lewis?)

Thompson: Has "Education Post" Already Changed Its "Kinder, Gentler" Tune?

BurrisIt was less than a month ago that Peter Cunningham, the former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education announced that his new organization, the Education Post, supposedly repudiated the playing of edu-politics and moved beyond name-calling.

Given its financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, and since it included reformers like Ann Whalen, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Paul Pastorek, those nice words needed to be taken with a grain of salt.

It didn’t take long, however, for the real the Education Post to come through. Ann Whalen’s The False Arguments of Carol Burris Against High Standards reveals the venom hidden just below their seemingly polite veneer.

Whalen countered a Washington Post piece by national Principal of the Year Carol Burris, Four Common Core "Flimflams." She characterized Burris’s position as “inexcusable,” as “resistance to common sense changes,” and “toxic.” Whalen’s counterargument was “when you can’t make an honest case against something, there’s always rhetoric, exaggeration or falsehood.”

For the record, Whalen didn’t even try to challenge much of the substance of Burris’s carefully-honed arguments. Burris explained that Common Core was not, in fact, internationally benchmarked or based on research.  Burris explained how Common Core “insists upon the use of a particular method of math instruction.” She then explained  that the prescribed  method “may be helpful in increasing understanding for some students, it should be up to a teacher to use it, or not use it, as a strategy. Instructional strategies have no place in state standards.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Has "Education Post" Already Changed Its "Kinder, Gentler" Tune?" »

Media: Boston Magazine Botches Rankings, Profiles Firebrand Union Chief

image from cdn1.bostonmagazine.comIn what's at least the 2nd journalistic goof-up that I know of during the annual back-to-school media deluge of rankings and other kinds of education coverage, Boston Magazine messed up its private school rankings badly and the Globe tells us all about it (Boston Magazine retracts school rankings).  

Basically, the magazine ranked private schools using incorrect SAT score averages, using partial data since many schools didn't provide SAT results, thus pushing some schools up higher than they deserved and pushing others down.

This isn't a reason not to rank schools, though.  It's just a motivation to rank them responsibly.  Sloppy, inexplicable efforts like this just make everyone look bad.  Apparently something similarly bad happened the last time the magazine ranked schools in 2009.

All is not lost, however.  The public school list is up, and doesn't seem to have the problems with the private list. The issue also has a profile of union head Barbara Madeloni that you might want to read, and a piece about healthy school lunches that you will probably feel like you've already read. There's also an XKCD alternative list of schools that you might find amusing.

Image courtesy Boston Magazine

Related posts: FiveThirty-Eight StumblesActually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful.

AM News: Chicago's Emanuel Backs Down On Obama High School

Connecticut Governor To Arne Duncan: Let's Start a Dialogue About Testing PK12: He's considering allowing eleventh graders who, he writes, may be among the most overtested students, to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT, during the school day, in lieu of the Smarter Balanced high school exam. 

Amid controversy, Emanuel drops plan to name school after Obama Sun Times: Top mayoral aides stressed that the selective enrollment high school — with space for 1,200 high-achieving students — would still be built on the Near North Side, but the park location may change in response to community concerns.

DC mayoral candidates clash over education AP: Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser has pledged to speed up school reform in the District of Columbia, where hundreds of teachers have been fired for poor performance under an evaluation system installed by the previous chancellor, Michelle Rhee. Bowser has pledged to retain Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who is less politically polarizing than Rhee but has maintained and fine-tuned her policies. The chancellor reports solely to the mayor.

To Get More Out of Science, Show the Rejected Research NYT: A proposal aims to address the problem of studies that go unpublished even though their findings can be important.

Karen Lewis on CTU and mayoral run: 'Yes, I can do both jobs' Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said on Thursday she doesn't see a problem with staying put in her high-profile position with labor should she decide to run for mayor. 

Report critical of charter school oversight EdSource Today: A lack of oversight of the nation's charter schools has led to too many cases of fraud and abuse and too little attention to equity, according to a new report that offers recommendations to remedy the situation

Karen Lewis Tweets for Donations: 'Help Me Make a Decision' NBC Chicago: Still undecided on running for mayor, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewisis soliciting supporters on Twitter to help pad her campaign war chest with enough money to go up against Rahm Emanuel's millions.

Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do The Atlantic: Grading policies were revamped and school officials smartly decided to furnish kids with two separate grades each semester. One grade was given for good work habits and citizenship, which they called a “life skills grade.” A “knowledge grade” was given based on average scores across important tests. Tests could be retaken at any point in the semester, provided a student was up to date on homework.

Districts Faced Challenges Implementing Federal Performance-Pay Grants Teacher Beat: Teachers seem to have been confused about some of the details of a federally financed bonus-pay program.

How do you find high school dropouts? WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bunch of promises three years ago when he was running for office—especially when it came to education. He’s checked off some of them – a longer school day, more preschool, a focus on principals. But now his administration is ramping up attention to one the stickiest challenges: re-enrolling the city’s more than 50,000 dropouts.

Embrace The Common Core NPR: This episode of Intelligence Squared comes on the heels of four weeks of education specials from American RadioWorks aired on WNYC.Airs Saturday, September 20 at 6am on 93.9FM and 7am and 2pm on AM 820.

Quotes: Reform Critic's Anti-Democratic, Ad Hominem Attacks (Might Be Working)

Quotes2Non-teachers don’t count (unless they’re Diane Ravitch). Parents’ voices are only permitted so long as they avoid direct challenges to failing schools. - New America's Conor Williams (Campbell Brown Is Getting The Same Treatment Michelle Rhee Got)

 

Media: Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comProfessional journalism has always been paid for -- by subscriptions, retail purchases, and advertisers -- and journalists have always had to defend their integrity both internally and to the public.  

The arrival of foundation-funded journalism has re-ignited some of those discussions, understandably, but without alas any seeming awareness of the long (and sometimes awkward) history of previous ways of paying for journalism.  

Pretty much every outlet that's taken foundation funding for education coverage -- Chalkbeat, NPR, NBC, PBS come to mind -- has had its credibility questioned.  Others -- Marketplace! ProPublica!-- will surely soon hear the same complaint.

The latest concern is the Seattle Times' "Education Lab" experiment, which has for the last year or so focused on something called "Solutions Journalism" using funding from the Gates Foundation. A blogger who goes by the name Deutch29 wrote a post about the effort, claiming that the stories being produced were obviously influenced by the Gates Foundation's agenda, and that the Times wasn't being open about how much money it had received.

Comments from journalists involved with the effort (reporter Claudia Rowe among them) attempted to reassure readers that there was "zero communication" between the foundation and the newsroom and pointed out that the blog posts pointed to as evidence were just a handful out of hundreds. SJN co-founder David Bornstein (who spoke at a recent EWA conference) weighed in with a comment that the foundation's support allowed the paper to assign reporters to deeper, more investigative pieces than would otherwise have been possible.

What's left out of all the back and forth is any clear sense of whether coverage at the Times or more generally is skewed one way or another -- my seat-of-the-pants sense is that it has swung in recent years from pro-reform credulity to anti-reform credulity -- and the understanding that reform critics such as these -- who swarm journalists' Twitter feeds and complain to editors and anyone else they can find -- are themselves trying to influence the coverage of education initiatives much the same as they believe the Gates Foundation and others are trying to do indirectly.  

They're just doing it directly, at much lower cost -- and at times it seems much more effectively.

Image CC.

Teachers: Poor Leadership, Inflammatory Coverage Diminish Public Perceptions

Veteran Chicago Public Schools teacher and blogger Ray Salazar -- who recently explained why he chose a charter school for one of his children -- now has an interesting take on yesterday's PDK/Gallup poll results on his blog (Three reasons people don’t trust teachers).  

Public trust in teachers is down (along with support for test-based teacher evaluation), notes Salazar. But teachers aren't in charge of how they're perceived, or many of the factors that shape public opinion.

Who or what is?

Ineffective and incoherent leadership at the district level -- including union leadership -- is factor #1, according to Salazar. "Honestly, as I stood on the picket line in 2012, I struggled to articulate why we were striking for the first time in 27 years," remembers Salazar. (Another strike is possible soon.)

Factor #2 is "inflammatory" coverage of the schools, fueled by "mostly white activists, many of whom haven’t taught in our schools," who are quoted as authorities in the media and teachers -- especially minority teachers -- are ignored. Salazar blames the media for focusing on relatively minor flaws in the system -- a front page story about teacher certification -- rather than reporting large-scale successes like teachers helping students win millions in scholarships.

Last but not least, district mandates are overwhelming classroom teachers with requirements. "Today, a typical Chicago high school teacher has 150 students and must enter 300-450 grades a week (2-3 per student) on a highly public and scrutinized gradebook system. Our teacher evaluation, while no longer a checklist that mentions bulletin boards, is a time-absorbing exercise that will not help a teacher improve if the administrator lacks instructional expertise.

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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.