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AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down

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InBloom Student Data Repository to Close NYT: The student data warehousing venture that became a lightning rod for some parents’ data privacy and security concerns, announced it would close. See also WNYC: Sun Sets on Controversial Student Data Project inBloom. [EdWeek broke the story, far as I know.]

Vision, Reality Collide in Common-Core Tests EdWeek: A glass-half-full reading focuses on the exams' technological advances and embrace of performance-based assessment. On the flip side, a confluence of political, technical, and financial constraints have led to some scaling back of the ambitious plans the consortia first laid out.

U.S. News Releases 2014 Best High Schools Rankings HuffPost/ US News: Some familiar names joined Dallas-based School for the Talented and Gifted and the two BASIS schools in the top 10 this year, including the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools retained their third and fourth place rankings, respectively, while Pine View School in Florida also held onto its No. 6 position.

Teachers are losing their jobs, but Teach for America’s expanding Hechinger Report: Of the first 13 Seattle recruits whose two-year commitment is now over, Maldonado and 10 others remain in their classrooms. While he thinks TFA should have done a better job before bringing his cohort to the city, Maldonado says he still believes strongly in the organization and worked at its summer institute in New York City last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Talks To ABC News’ David Muir ABC News: "How did I go to a commuter college that cost $50 a semester? Because a lot of other people put a little something in that kept the costs low at a public school so I had a chance and a lotta kids like me had a chance to get an education, and go out, and do something with it."

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

Continue reading "AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down" »

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

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

Maps: 16 States With Fully-Implemented Teacher Evaluation Systems

image from www.nctq.org

"To date just 16 states have fully implemented these new evaluation systems with ratings for teachers that count, and most of those are just in the first year of full implementation," notes Sandi Jacobs of NCTQ (Teacher evaluation timelines)

Afternoon Video: Did CNN Treat Chicago Schools Fairly?

 

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

Quotes: Pay No Attention To The "Velvet Ropes" Surrounding Neighborhood Schools

Quotes2Between formally selective admissions policies and economically restrictive enrollment zones, many schools are effectively off-limits, particularly to our low-income families — surrounded, as it were, by invisible velvet ropes. -- NYC charter schools advocate James Merriman (in the NYDN), following up as it were on Elizabeth Warren's very similar point regarding neighborhood schools.

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

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

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

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

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

Maps: School Fundraising Vs. Federal Poverty Funding In San Diego

image from voiceofsandiego.org"Foundation money and Title I money balance each other out.  The schools in the middle... are being left behind." (Voice of San Diego: School Foundations vs. Title I Funds)

Video: EPI Panel On Effects Of Concentrated Poverty

Here's a recent EPI panel on the effects of concentrated poverty on various aspects of society, featuring the NAACP, EPI, and Tanehesi Coates from The Atlantic (link here).

Thompson: Kamenetz & Gallup Nail the Key to School Improvement

EngagedAs the Hechinger Report’s Anya Kamenetz notes in Almost 70% of Teachers Are Not Engaged. Here’s Why That Matters So Much, “there’s an intimate connection between the schoolroom engagement of students, and the workplace engagement of teachers.” She then cites the truism that has been lost on school reformers, “Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.” 

Kamenetz reviews a brilliant analysis by Gallup Education, The State of America’s Schools. My joy in reading the study, and Kamenetz’s explanation,  was tempered only by a sense of regret that its main themes were not the basis of the contemporary school reform movement.  

Data-driven reform, in part, was born of an ill-considered effort to sound macho. Testing, like attacks on teachers, allowed reformers to chant tough-sounding words like “accountability” and “outputs.” 

Gallup explains how reform produced “a rigid set of education standards.”  It created “a stranglehold on teachers and students.”  Consequently, “teachers are dead last among the occupational groups Gallup surveyed in terms of their likelihood to say their opinions seem to count at work.”

As Gallup’s Brandon Busteed reports, reformers got it backwards. The path to school improvement requires a commitment to “soft” measures, such as hope, feeling valued, emotional relationships, and being engaged in teaching and learning. Busteed says, “quote unquote ‘soft’ measures move the quote unquote ‘hard’ measures, like grades and test scores.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Kamenetz & Gallup Nail the Key to School Improvement" »

Maps: Charter School Reality Check [There Just Aren't That Many]

image from knowmore.washingtonpost.comNo, this isn't a map of T-Mobile's awful cell phone coverage.  It's an Urban Institute map of charter school participation posted by KnowMore.  Overall, charters make up just 4 percent of students and average 8 percent of urban districts. (Don't like charter schools? Move to the Midwest)

AM News: Teachers Suffer States' Common Core Uncertainties

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Teachers Anxious as Policymakers Waffle on Common-Core Decisions State EdWatch: The indecision about the common-core standards in many states has led some teachers to believe that policymakers are leaving them in the lurch.

Competing Views of Teacher Tenure Are on Display in California Case NYT: In a case that has drawn national attention, lawyers have been arguing over whether California’s laws on teacher tenure, firing and layoffs violate students’ constitutional right to an education.

Arne Duncan: "Inspiring" To See Children Cross The Border To Get An Education RealClear Politics: "They're our kids and they are trying to get a great education. These are children and families who are trying to live the American dream."

School Foundations vs. Title I Funds Voice of San Diego: In its simplest form, the conversation goes like this: Foundations don’t worsen inequities because schools in low-income neighborhoods get federal Title I money and other funds from the state government to meet the needs of disadvantaged students. The assumption, in other words, is that the differences are a wash.

Tennessee School Voucher Bill Fails to Garner Support From Lawmakers Parents/Public: Tennessee parents whose children attend failing schools won't get vouchers to send them to private school after the governor-penned bill can't muster enough political support.

RIP FCAT, The Florida Test With A Chorus Of Detractors NPR: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, is being replaced by a test aligned to the Common Core State Standards. StateImpact Florida's Sammy Mack remembers FCAT and its controversial run.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Suffer States' Common Core Uncertainties" »

Bruno: CCSS Supporters Beat A Hasty Retreat

200px-White_flag_waving.svgOnce upon a time, supporters of the Common Core argued passionately that the new math and English standards would, by virtue of their clarity and rigor, substantially improve education in the United States.

In recent weeks, however, supporters - in many cases the very same people - have changed their tone after finding themselves on the defensive about bumps in the road to CCSS implementation.

These days supporters seem to dedicate most of their time to assuring us that the CCSS are not to blame for "fuzzy" math curriculua or "whole language" or questionable history assignments. We are even told that it's just as well if states opt out of the Common Core altogether because they're unlikely to gain much from implementation anyway.

Arguably, all of these defenses of the Common Core are fair. They are also sorely disappointing for at least two reasons.

First, the argument that "standards are not a curriculum" - and therefore cannot be blamed for weak curricula - is essentially a dodge. The point of standards is precisely to motivate and improve curricula, so if bad curricula survive - or even thrive - under the CCSS, so much the worse for the standards.

Second, if the expensive, disruptive Common Core standards are merely "not to blame" for our educational problems, what, precisely, is the point of them?

We are currently in the midst of what may be the most important phase in CCSS implementation: assessment design and field testing. It is the assessments - even as much as the standards themselves - that will drive teachers' day-to-day work and help to realize (or not) whatever promise the standards hold.

So now is a particularly unfortunate time for Common Core supporters to raise the white flag in the battles that - not so long ago - they thought they were winning. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Thompson: How Seniority Reform Backfired In Minneapolis

LayoffsI have long held the counter-intuitive opinion that mending, not ending, seniority could have been the most doable and beneficial first step in school improvement. I must emphasize that the direct benefits of reforming the imperfect but pretty good seniority system would have been modest. Had we worked collaboratively to make incremental gains in that process, however, we could have built the trust necessary to tackle tougher issues. 

Instead, reformers made the uninformed snap judgment that “LIFO,” or the rule of “last in, first out,” must be ended. They didn’t even bother to ask why seniority serves as the teacher’s First Amendment. It is the best single protection that teachers will be able to express their professional judgments, thus protecting students from reckless educational experiments. 

The Star Tribune’s Steve Brandt, in Poorest Minneapolis Schools Still Have the Greenest Teachers, explains how ending the “iron grip” of seniority backfired. (Hat tip to Sarah Lahm and Edushyster.) Brandt reports that a “Star Tribune analysis of teacher experience data by school found that, if anything, the experience gap between high- and low-poverty schools has widened” since so-called LIFO was ended. Six years ago, under the seniority system, the gap between average teaching experience at the highest- and lowest-seniority schools analyzed was 14 years, but it is now 15 years. The pattern is still, "poverty up, experience down."

Brandt describes inexperienced principals of high-poverty schools being stuck with even more inexperienced teachers. For instance, a second year principal finds herself with seventeen of her 31 of her teachers being probationary.

Continue reading "Thompson: How Seniority Reform Backfired In Minneapolis" »

Charts: Teachers' Incomes Exceed Childhood Income [Slightly]*

image from d1435t697bgi2o.cloudfront.netTeachers generally come from families near the 60th percentile making $60,000 a year, and end up in a somewhat higher percentile making somewhat more, according to this chart from Planet Money.  But other occupations (like artists) generally come from higher income strata and make less than their parents. Pacific Standard: The Not-So-Surprising Way Your Parents’ Income Predicts Yours) [*Corrected percentiles not dollar amounts]

Afternoon Video: EdTech Frenzy But Business Models Unclear

Bloomberg video from last week about the potential and pitfalls of selling edtech to schools. Via RCE. "Bloomberg’s Ari Levy looks into who’s backing education tech startups. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)"

Research: Minority Students Get Less Experienced/Less Effective Teachers

image from i.huffpost.com In Louisiana,“a student in a school in the highest-poverty quartile is almost three times as likely to be taught by a teacher rated ineffective as a student in a school in the lowest-poverty quartile.” In MA, students in high-poverty schools are three times as likely to be taught by a teacher rated "unsatisfactory" than students in low-poverty schools, the report notes. (CAP via HuffPost: Minority Students Don't Only Get Less Experienced Teachers, They Also Get Less Effective Ones).

Bruno: Actually, Statisticians Are Cautiously Optimistic About VAM

11442225495_9d9cc1cbc4_nIt's always nice when experts come together to help to articulate and clarify whatever scientific consensus exists around an issue, so I was glad to see the American Statistical Association put out a report last week on the promise and peril of value-added modeling of educational effectiveness.

Interestingly, however, if you were to hear about this report only from the staunchest, most ideological opponents of VAM, you would think it says something else entirely. Valerie Strauss, for instance, claims the report "slammed" the use of VAM to evaluate teachers and Diane Ravitch seems to think it is a "damning indictment" of such policies.

The report itself is not nearly so hyperbolic.

For a useful summary check out Stephen Sawchuk, but the report itself is a mere seven accessible pages so I encourage you read it yourself.

The bottom line for the ASA is that they are optimistic about the use of "statistical methodology" to improve and evaluate educational interventions, but current value-added models have many limitations that make them difficult to interpret and apply, especially when evaluating individual teachers.

Continue reading "Bruno: Actually, Statisticians Are Cautiously Optimistic About VAM" »

Morning Video: Oklahoma Backpedals On Common Core

 

Via the PBS NewsHour's Friday show: "Last month, Indiana became the first state to drop the Common Core standards it had already adopted... This month, Oklahoma became the latest state to take a big step toward repealing the Common Core education standards."

Media: Colbert To Broadcast Move Probably Bad News For Education

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

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

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

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

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

Previous posts about Colbert here.

 

Afternoon Video: Stephen Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core

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

#EdGif Of The Day: How Do You Fix A School System Whose Middle Class Is Disappearing?

IncSegGIF

Some cities like DC and Chicago and NYC are way more appealing than they used to be and gentrifying like mad despite the Great Recession, but that doesn't mean the middle class is coming back. Here's a GIF showing the disappearance of the middle class (in grey) since 1970 in Chicago, which has resulted in a highly segregated, extremely unequal city (and a public school system that is overwhelmingly poor and minority). Read some coverage here and here. The spreading green shape represents the affluent.

Morning Video: White House Pushes Tech Solutions

 

Here's a clip from Politico's edtech event yesterday, featuring Kumar Garg from the OSTP. Full video here. Story link here.

 

Afternoon Video: Teacher Criticized, Then Defended For Classroom Takedown

 

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

Thompson: How Common Core Is Being Defeated In Oklahoma

The Common_Core_Standards_Pushback_0ab1cNPR report Common Core Turns Business Leaders Against Oklahoma GOP, by Claudio Sanchez, must be understood within the context of business conservatives and Christian Conservatives having turned the state into a bastion of Republicanism.

Just a few months ago, it was inconceivable that Oklahoma would repudiate Common Core, but now the Republican Governor and Republican State Superintendent, Chief for Change Janet Baressi, are getting clobbered by what Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman calls the “unfunded nightmare” that is Common Core.

Sanchez stresses the anger and political fear felt by conservative business Republicans in reaction to the grassroots assault on Common Core. He quotes Chamber of Commerce leader Mike Neal who derides the conservative Restore Oklahoma Public Education and others as “fringe groups.”

Neal rejects as fear-mongering the claims that Common Core is a federal scheme, that “private groups will mine and profit from test results,” and that it will undermine local control. But, isn’t there more truth in those statements than Neal’s claim that it won’t take local control away "at all?”

Neal’s opponent is Jenni White, a former teacher, a published epidemiologist, and a Christian with two adopted children from Zambia, as well as her biological children. In my conversations with Ms. White and other conservative opponents of Common Core at the State Capitol, I did not hide my support for President Obama (while opposing his education policy).  I would never judge Ms. White as a fringe element and I don’t believe she judged me either.

Continue reading "Thompson: How Common Core Is Being Defeated In Oklahoma" »

Quotes: Reform Critic Disdains "Unhealthy Vilification" Of Reform

Quotes2When we're competing, we're not collaborating. That's what I find most disturbing. We're fighting battles in court when we should be working together to figure out what works for our children. - Pedro Noguera, an education professor at New York University in the WSJ via Pondiscio.

Teachers: Union Membership - The "Other" Kind Of Opting Out

Nun_teacher Michael 1952 flickrIt's not just parents who can try to opt out of aspects of the education system that they don't approve of.  Teachers can do it, too.  

Specifically, they can opt out of being a member of the teacher's union, depending on the state.  And if more than 5 percent of teachers opt out of being part of the union, there are NCLB sanctions (no, just kidding).

Usually, teachers who decline to join the union still have to pay dues, but some of them apparently aren't down with that, either.

As noted in Politico recently, "Several California teachers have brought a separate case aimed at overturning a requirement that they pay the union partial dues to cover the cost of collective bargaining, even if they choose not to become union members.

"The plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Individual Rights, say the union often takes political stances they disagree with while negotiating a contract. They argue that it violates their First Amendment rights to force them to support those positions with their dues. The case is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals."

As with parents opting out of standardized testing, the numbers of teachers opting out of unions or attempting to avoid having to pay dues are hard to pin down and likely very small.

Image via Flickr.

AM News: Teachers Compromise In CA -- Seek More Clout In NY

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New bill to streamline teacher dismissal process may succeed where others failed KPCC LA: The bill proposes that one administrative law judge hear egregious misconduct cases,  instead of a three-person panel.  It also calls for litigants to have no access to the Superior Court for suspension appeals.

New Head of StateTeachers Union Seeks Greater Political Clout WNYC: Magee told delegates over the weekend that she would be more vocal than her predecessor: “It is time for NYSUT to exert itself as a powerful political force once again."

Obama Announces Grants to Schools to Integrate Work Experiences NYT: President Obama traveled to a high school in the Washington suburbs on Monday to announce the winners of $107 million in grants intended to update curriculums to better integrate work experiences and real-world learning opportunities. See also KPCC LA, ChalkbeatNY.

Duncan urges top students to teach at GW panel Washington Post: The event Monday was part of a recruitment program — TEACH — that is planned to extend to 21 college campuses to encourage high-achieving students to pursue professions in education. TEACH pairs the Education Department with national education organizations, teacher associations and corporations such as Microsoft and State Farm in working to recruit future educators.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Compromise In CA -- Seek More Clout In NY" »

Afternoon Video: New Series Looks Inside Alternative High School

 

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

Charts: How About "New Jersey Is The New Finland"?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comOver at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum suggests that we might be better off comparing our schools to New Jersey or even Massachusetts (Is it Time to Replace the Cult of Finland With the Cult of New Jersey?) and considers some tough cultural questions about why observers point to Finland instead of Shanghai (no, it's not about the sample).

Afternoon Video: Detroit Career Tech School Teaches Flying

"Devote three minutes to watching this, and see if it doesn't affect your view of the innovation and commitment underway in places or systems usually written off as struggling or troubled," writes The Atlantic's James Fallows about Davis Aerospace (A High School That Teaches Students to Fly).

Reform: Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?

In case you missed it, image from www.edexcellence.netFordham's Pamela Tatz published a BuzzFeed "Which Reformer Are You?" quiz the other day. The tagline:  "Saving the education system, one irrelevant question at a time."

These quizzes are wildly popular on Facebook, etc. -- and self-effacing humor (something reformers don't always convey) goes a long way.  Figures that Fordham would get in on it -- they're smart (and love attention).

If you haven't taken it already you should give it a try. (Doesn't really mean you're a reformer if you do.) Nearly 700 folks have already done so and shared the results on Twitter or Facebook.  But be forewarned: you'll probably end up being Andy Smarick.  The other options were Rick Hess, Michelle Rhee, David Coleman, Arne Duncan, or Diane Ravitch (which took some unusual answering). "A lot of folks did seem to get Andy Smarick," said Tatz via email.

Here's the Fordham page about the quiz. And click below to see the snarky writeups for each of the profiles (Smarick, Hess, Rhee, Coleman, Duncan, and Ravitch), which sound like they were written by .... Petrilli.

Continue reading "Reform: Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?" »

Thompson: Bill Moyers Interviews Diane Ravitch

MoyersWhat do you get when you combine Bill Moyers and Diane Ravitch? WISDOM!

Both are among the all-time greats of their professions. During the Iraq War, I sometimes tried to duck Moyers' reports because he spoke more truth than I wanted to handle.  Similarly, as Ravitch assembles her case that test-driven accountability had morphed into "corporate reform," I'm often afraid of her message. But, Ravitch and Moyers do their homework before speaking the truths that I sometimes don't want to confront.   

Moyers began his PBS Public Schools for Sale by reviewing the $3-1/2 million dollar campaign against populist Mayor Bill de Blasio. He cited the New York Times' report that de Blasio was "even dialing up billionaires to ask for a truce." Moyers' said that what is at stake is the future of public education.

Ravitch warned that within a decade public education could be dead in cities like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Kansas City, and Indianapolis. I've long worried about the same thing happening in my Oklahoma City. As choice in a time of cutthroat competition grows, it is easy to see how traditional public schools in those cities could become nothing more than "dumping grounds for the children that charters don't want."  Those are hard words, but can anyone on any side of our reform wars deny that the danger Ravitch describes is very real? 

Ravitch then articulated the single best principle for helping poor children of color, "Aim for equity and you get excellence."

Continue reading "Thompson: Bill Moyers Interviews Diane Ravitch" »

EdTech: Startups On Track To Raise $2B Despite Challenges

HiresWhat's super-hard to pull off but really attractive to venture capitalists? Edtech, apparently. 

Creating and sustaining a successful startup is not nearly as easy as it may look, as described recently in EdWeek, focusing on Edthena & Autism Expressed. 

And yet, edtech startups raised over $500M in just the first quarter of 20014, according to TechCrunch, which mentions AltSchool, Schoology,as well as TeachersPayTeachers.

Image courtesy TechChrunch.

Quotes: There Will Be Glitches

Quotes2Will there be glitches? Absolutely, in fact one reason for administering a field test is to figure out where the bugs are, so we have time to work them out before the actual tests next year. -- CCSSO's Chris Minnich in HuffPost (A Big Step Toward a Worthy Goal)

Pretty Charts: Principals Don't Spend Much Time On Instruction

image from www.edweek.orgTotal instructional time: less than 13 percent, according to this Education Week story.  

 

Events: Yale Education Summit Features Fuller & Duncan-Andrade

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 25 16.50Another week, another conference. Next up for me is the Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference held in New Haven today and tomorrow.

Notable panelists include Matt Candler, Founder and CEO, 4.0 Schools, Jim Balfanz, President, City Year, Jonathan Gyurko, Co-Founder, Leeds Global Partners, Dave Low, Vice President - High Schools & School Reform, New Haven Federation of Teachers, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President & CEO, Community Coalition (LA), Ken Wong, Professor of Education, Brown University, Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent, Burlington Public Schools (MA). Keynote speakers at the 8th version of this event are Dr. Howard Fuller and Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade.

There will also be an edtech lab (3D printers for everyone!?) and a bunch of event sponsors, and a lot of recruitment and hiring going on behind the scenes.  As always, feel free to come up and say hi if you see me there. Or follow along on Twitter (@YaleELC).

Previous posts: Live From The Yale SOM Education Conference (2009); Yale Conference Takeaways (2010); Notes From Yale SOM 2011;  Big Shift In Focus For Yale Education Event (2012), Tweets From Yale 2013How Organizers See The Parent Trigger.

 

Bruno: The Homework Dilemma From A Teacher's Point of View

image from paulbruno1.typepad.comWe seem to have arrived at another peak in the HAC [Homework Angst Cycle], with much hand-wringing about whether kids these days are over-burdened or under-challenged by homework.

The progress of the HAC seems to be more-or-less unrelated to actual changes in quantities of homework assigned. And analyses of homework burdens often seem limited by an over-reliance on the perspectives of students and parents.

Students and parents are, of course, affected by homework. The individuals most immediately responsible for assigning homework, however, are teachers. 

And from a teacher's point of view, the "homework dilemma" is relatively straightforward and is rooted mostly in two decisions we are required to make: how much homework to assign and the extent to which it should impact students' grades.

To help illustrate the teacher's dilemma, I put together a simple chart and explain it below.

Continue reading "Bruno: The Homework Dilemma From A Teacher's Point of View" »

Charts: Outside Fundraising Undercuts School Equity In SF (& Elsewhere)

image from edsource.org

Reform critics like to highlight outside fundraising as a charter-only issue, but  this chart and article from EdSource Today shows that private fundraising is a major equity issue among district schools in SF (and by all accounts in other cities as well). 
 

Thompson: 25,000 Rally for Education in Oklahoma

Rally I was one of 25,000 to 30,000 teachers, students, and parents rallying at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

No, this is not an April Fool's joke!

After education spending was cut more than any other state, while the full load of test-driven reforms were imposed, we are pushing back. Despite attacks by the Daily Oklahoman and some legislators on teachers for "abandon(ing) their posts ... for no good reason," the rally showed that public education supporters aren't going to take it anymore.

Signs protesting nonstop testing and budget cuts were everywhere. The Tulsa World's Kim Archer, in Rally for School Funding Draws 25,000 Teachers, Parents, Students, reports that two students, Erika Vinson and Asher Nees, "both spoke eloquently about how teachers have changed their lives."

Vinson compared teachers to gardeners who "have more flowers to look after with fewer resources in drought-like conditions." She explained the stress that high-stakes testing puts students, especially 3rd graders.  She proclaimed, "I am, not —absolutely not — the end-of-instruction tests."

Jeffrey Corbett, president of the Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association, echoed the opposition to the testing mania. He said, "It is time for the era of standardized testing as the dominant force in education to end."

John Tuttle, president-elect of the National School Boards Association, even used the P-word, opposing efforts to "privatize" public schools, "I believe that public education is a civil right and the cornerstone of our democracy." 

Continue reading "Thompson: 25,000 Rally for Education in Oklahoma" »

Events: So Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA

image from 30daystox.comIt is with *extremely* mixed emotions that I'm announcing that, as of midnight tonight I'm shutting down this site, the related Facebook and Twitter pages, and also my Chicago blog and Tumblr. [Some auto-scheduled tweets from over the weekend may appear in your feed or on your Facebook page, but I officially sent my last tweet last night.]

Wow, that's hard to write. But I'm done.  You don't need me doing this every day.  I don't need to be doing this every day. It's been a long, amazing ride. I'm really proud of what I've done, and incredibly grateful to have been allowed to do it. Thanks to everyone who's helped make it happen.

What am I going to do instead of blogging?  Good question. You see, on a lark this past fall I applied to Teach For America. I told myself it was just for the book I was writing. Nobody was more surprised than I was when I actually made it through and got picked. I had to think long and hard whether or not to quit blogging and accept the spot.  But finally I said yes and so I'm going to Houston this summer and starting teaching -- here in Brooklyn, I hope -- in the fall.   Wish me luck - I'm going to need it!

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

 

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

Teachers: Hey, That Older Dude Doesn't *Look* Very TFA

Unnamed (6)Tucked in at the end of Motoko Rich's recent NYT story about career-switching teachers (Teaching as a Second Act, or Maybe Even a Third) was mention of military veteran Scott Graham, 49, who initially "laughed when his daughter, then a Teach for America corps member in San Antonio, suggested he try [TFA], too."

After he was done laughing, however, Graham applied, got in, and was sent to Houston for training just like everyone else.  Now he works in a San Antonio middle school and is training to become an administrator.

That's Graham with his daughter, pictured (courtesy TFA). You can read a blog post he wrote a couple of years ago, and another written by his daughter here

Thompson: LA School Report Misstates On Vergara Lawsuit

DemocracyLA School Report's Michael Janofsky, in Analysis: Vergara Approaching Time for Tru Judgment, fundamentally misstates the issues in Vergara v. California, which seeks to overturn the state's tenure, seniority, and due process laws.

Janofsky claims that the question is, "Are the laws, as they exist, the best and only way for the state to provide California school children access to a quality education, as the state Constitution provides?"

No! Even the best of laws are the flawed results of the imperfect sausage-making that is self-government. In our constitutional democracy, Janofsky, the corporate reformers, and the economists who testified for the plaintiffs have a right to believe whatever they want about the best ways to help poor children of color. The issue is whether they proved their case, supporting their opinion that duly enacted laws, passed with the intent of helping teachers, but not hurting students, should be stricken. 

If those laws are stricken, who will determine the best and only way to provide a quality education?  

Janofsky also claims that the plaintiffs' arguments are more "systemic," while the defendants' are more "granular."  Perhaps he means that the plaintiffs' experts are economists viewing schools from 30,000 feet, but unaware of education research or facts on the ground. He is correct, however, about their tactic of "using the experiences of nine students as a motif" for showing that California needs better legislation for firing teachers. "The fact that one child’s education could be compromised," writes Janofsky, repeating the plaintiff's public relations spin, "means all children are at risk."

Yeah, that's an interesting motif and a nice soundbite, but it is completely divorced from reality.

I'd say that the demand for a system where no terminations could be mishandled  and no students could be assigned an ineffective teacher is a pretty granular goal, and it is downright utopian to boot. Where did we get this idea that because voters haven't cured all our social ills, the elites should determine the laws of the land? Why believe that the corporate funders of Vergara would not, once again, take inequities and make them worse?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via

Charts: Education Majors Make Top 20 Money-Losing Schools List

Yikes! Getting an education degree from a place like Virginia Commonwealth or Bowling Green State University isn't a good idea, earnings-wise, according to this chart from The Atlantic based on self-reported earnings published yesterday by an outfit called PayScale. Even big-name schools like Indiana and Ohio State are on the list.  Read the story for cautions and caveats in interpreting the data (including colleges' impacts on student outcomes). There are also charts about colleges and degrees with the highest impact on earnings (none of them are education degrees, obv.).

Morning Video: Kaya Henderson Talks DC School Progress On MSNBC

Afternoon Video: Can Home Visits & Portable Gadgets Help Close The Word Gap?

This video from Motoko Rich's NYT home visits story today shows a cloud-based device that tracks word use at home.

People: Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education Guy

image from newamerica.netI had the chance to meet New America's Conor Williams the other day, during a reporting trip he took to Brooklyn.  (For the record, the Tea Lounge on Union Street is still there and doesn't smell as bad as it used to.)

He's got the tweed jacket professor thing down, though he's only been at New America for about a year and came to them pretty much straight from grad school.  

Since then, he's been writing up a storm: You probably saw his recent post at The Atlantic (What Applying to Charter Schools Showed Me About Inequality“). Or maybe it was this one from the Daily Beast (The Charter School Trap).  He also writes for the Talking Points Memo (Why Doesn’t English Language Learning Have The Same Cachet As Pre-K?).

But his writing goes back well before his current stint at New America.  You may remember him being mentioned here in the past, going all the way back to 2011: "One of the most frustrating things about the current education reform wars is the cults that form around dominant personalities." (Twilight for Education Policy's Idols). Or: "Want to hear that you hate teachers? Claim that those that do their jobs poorly should be dismissed... Want to hear that you don't care about students? Claim that poverty might be a factor worth considering for educators working with low-income students." (Ending the Education War).

More recently, on reform critics: "They need a message that goes beyond critiquing reformers and defending the miserable status quo." (The Charter School Trap)

Increasingly, his writing mixes policy, journalism, and personal narrative (Why Men Shouldn’t Wait to Have Kids). But he can go deep when the need arises; he's got a Phd in political science (take that, all you MPPs!). He's a dad, and he has some classroom experience, too. (He's a TFA alum, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from his writing.) Image courtesy New America.  Tweet him at @ConorPWilliams. Personal blog here.

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

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

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

Maps: Scared, Or Not So Scared By This Creationism Map?

Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 1.36.14 PM

This map showing where Creationism might be taught using public voucher funds at private schools should scare you, because it's so dark and scary-looking.  Or, perhaps it will remind you of the worst cell phone coverage map ever, and you will resist being scared by the people who are (and want you to be ) scared. PS This is where Politico's Stephanie Simon apparently got much of her recent story.

Thompson: Musings on This Year's Spring Break Grand Canyon Trip

Brandy%20standing%201[1]I just returned from another Spring Break trip to the Grand Canyon, although my travel companions are now thirty-somethings. It was a reminder of the wonders of teaching in the inner city. Whether it is playing basketball with students, or being schooled by the kids and by former students on cutting edge digital innovations, there is nothing like the joy of teaching.

Being quick (some say too quick) to see something new on a trip and to turn it into an outdoor lesson, I'm reminded of how much I loved classroom instruction. Even so, it is only one part of the job. It is no more than the point of the spear in the war on underperformance. And, that prompted a first musing.

Marveling at the Grand Canyon, I could ignore the problems with teacher evaluation regulations, described by Education Week's Michelle McNeil's Arne Duncan on Who's Winning the Race to the Top.  The RttT, like his School Improvement Grants, and other innovations were drafted by noneducators who did not understand that teaching and learning are acts of love, not the results of rewards and punishment. Those expensive programs were doomed because the wisdom of veteran educators, who understand the need for trusting relationships, were shunned by the programs' architects. So, even though I did my best to not think about school reform while at the Grand Canyon, I could not resist a thought experiment.

How many students' lives could have been transformed if the $5 million SIG grant at my old school of Centennial had been invested win-win solutions to our real problems? Our educational defeats were due to the predictable result of too many poor children, with too few adult role models, being segregated in a world with too few opportunities for hopes and dreams. What would have been the result of well-funded, well-planned, high-quality field trips inside and outside of the city? A series of intergenerational adventures would have nurtured the bonds necessary to learn for mastery and prepare for life after school.

Continue reading "Thompson: Musings on This Year's Spring Break Grand Canyon Trip" »

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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.