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Morning Video: Can Chicago Reach Labor Deal Like LA Just Did?

Can Chicago teachers and the district come to agreement over a new contract like UTLA and LAUSD recently did? PBS affiliate WTTW interviews union president Karen Lewis. Or watch this HuffPost Live segement on desegregation efforts in Connecticut, one of the few states in the nation where there's been some improvement. 

Chart: State Teachers Of Year Prioritize Out-Of-School Factors

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 10.24.03 AM

Two of the top three issues raised by teachers surveyed about obstacles to learning are non-school/classroom factors, according to this Scholastic chart.  The other is early learning. 

Live Event: Don't Miss Today's NY Ideas Panels On Race & "Invisible Children"

 

Maybe like me you missed this morning's #NYIdeas half hour chat with Eva Moskowitz and Amanda Ripley (was it any good?). Maybe (like me) you didn't make it to last night's invite-only roundtable dinner at the High Line Hotel including guests like Partnership for Education Justice's Campbell Brown, TC's Susan Fuhrman, Walton's Bruno Manno, Harvard's Martin West.

But all is not lost.  There are other education-related segments to come during today's event hosted by AtlanticLIVE and the Aspen Institute. And, assuming the video embed code works right, you can watch it all above (or click the link if not).

For example, there's Ta-Nehesi Coates and Michele Norris talking about race at 1:55 and a segment on "Seeing New York’s Invisible Children" at 2:40 featuring Andrea Elliott, Author and Investigative Reporter, The New York Times Faith Hester, Humanities Teacher, and Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts.

The Atlantic is big into live events these days, including next month's Education Summit in DC June 15.  It is going to feature folks like Peg Tyre, Author of The Good School, and Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools, 

This year's event is being sponsored in part by the Walton Family Foundation, and has also been sponsored by the AFT and others.  Over at The Grade, I wrote about the challenges for media outlets doing events that are sponsored by advocates on one side or the other: When Media Organizations Take Outside Funding for Events - But Not News Coverage. The Atlantic Magazine doesn't receive outside funding for its education coverage, far as I've been able to determine, and Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan notes that it would be cumbersome and perhaps unnecessary for the magazine to disclose event funding with its non-funded education writing. 

Meantime, I'm told that the Ripley/Moskowitz segment is going to be posted within 24 hours, so look for it tomorrow AM.

Morning Video: Baltimore School Of The Arts

From PBS NewsHour: "At the Baltimore School for the Arts, students are admitted solely on their artistic potential; notable alumni of the pre-professional high school includes Jada Pinkett Smith and designer Christian Siriano." Click here if video doesn't render properly.

Thompson: Why That John Oliver Testing Segment Hit a Nerve

My wife kept pestering me to watch John Oliver's 18-minute, hilarious indictment of standardized testing on HBO, but I had a long "to-do" list. Skimming the replies by Alexander Russo, Peter Cunningham and others, I thought they were challenging the substance of Oliver's routine. The Education Post, as usual, countered with some out-of-context numbers, disingenuously pretending that low-stakes test score increases in 1999 were attributable to the NCLB Act of 2001. Then, Cunningham concluded with the standard attack on "self-serving union leaders, and the complacent middle class." 

When I finally found time to watch the video, it became clear that Oliver had done his homework but that that wasn't what drove reformers up a wall. I had previously joked that reformers should have to watch videos of students reduced to tears and explaining how the testing mania had cost them a chance for a meaningful education. Oliver showed videos of the "human consequences" of test, sort, and punish. And, its not pretty. 

The real reason why Oliver hit a nerve, I believe, is that his opening videos were so sickening. Russo, the curmudgeon, sees school testing pep rally videos as "like something you might see on America's Funniest Home Videos." But, to many or most parents and educators, I bet they are viewed as documentation of the repugnant practices that "reform" has inflicted on children. 

Oliver hit a nerve by displaying the repulsive unintended consequences of high stakes testing. Under-the-gun (and I believe otherwise decent and caring educators) are shown mis-educating children, training them to be easily manipulated, outer-directed persons.  He shows children being indoctrinated into compliance. He shows children being socialized into a herd mentality. 

Its hard to say which is more awful - the way that stressed out children vomit on their test booklets or schools trying to root inner-directedness out of children. On the other hand, even reformers should celebrate the way that students and families are fighting back, demanding schools that respect children as individuals. Even opponents of the Opt Out movement should respect the way it embodies the creative insubordination that public schools should nourish.  

Before watching Oliver's indictment of high stakes testing, I assumed that it had merely provoked the standard corporate reform spin machine to spit out its off-the-shelf, pro-testing message. But, I believe this anti-Oliver campaign is more personal than that. How can reformers hear a child tearfully say that she feels like she has been punched in the stomach without accepting blame - or finding others to blame?

Continue reading "Thompson: Why That John Oliver Testing Segment Hit a Nerve" »

Charts: Half The Teacher Who "Leave" Are Just Changing Schools

munguia-feature-teachers-2

Check out FiveThirtyEight's latest education post (Are There Too Few Teachers, Or Too Few Good Ones?), which reiterates the latest data showing that not only are the percentages of teachers leaving (in red) much lower than previously thought but that many of them (in blue) are just changing schools. Image used with permission.

Quotes: What Elizabeth Originally Wanted To Be When She Grew Up

Quotes2All I ever wanted to do was be a teacher. It must have been miserable to be one of my dolls, because I used to line them up and teach school. -- MA Senator Elizabeth Warren in the New Yorker (Elizabeth Warren’s Virtual Candidacy)

AM News: Little Common Core Pushback In KY (& CA, & ....)

In an Early Adopter, Common Core Faces Little Pushback WSJ: Kentucky is in its fourth year of testing linked to Common Core State Standards, at a time when most other states are counting the tests for the first time. While students here were slow to show improvement, scores on standardized tests have begun to pick up. Pushback from teachers unions, which has been fierce in a number of states, has been minimal here.

Anti-Common-Core Bills Diversify as Democrats' Skepticism Grows, Report Says State EdWatch: "To move from vague proclamations of support to full implementation requires highly specific decisions to be made about who to target, how much money to invest, and which stakeholders to engage," the researchers wrote in their Brookings Institution paper.

Enrollment in state pre-K inches up but disparities remain AP: Enrollment in state pre-kindergarten programs inched up slightly last year, but there's been little change in the overall percentage of children participating in the programs, according to a national study on early education released Monday....

Amid gridlock in D.C., influence industry expands rapidly in the states GovBlog: Lobbyists aren’t having much luck on a gridlocked Capitol Hill — so more and more, they’re opening their wallets in state capitols around the country. Not keeping pace with the surge, say watchdog groups: the disclosure laws that are supposed to keep the influence industry in check.

ACT to expand computer-based testing  PBS NewsHour: The ACT announced Friday that computer-based testing will be available next year in the 18 states and additional districts that require students, typically juniors, to take the ACT during the school day. About 1 million students could be affected.

This Movie Theater PSA Is Inspiring Kids To Become Teachers HuffPost:  A public service announcement encouraging young people to become teachers has been playing in hundreds of movie theaters around the country in recognition of national teacher appreciation week May 4 to May 9.

More news below (and throughout at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Little Common Core Pushback In KY (& CA, & ....)" »

Quotes: WashPost Editorial Page Urges More Charters For Baltimore

Quotes2Bad schools are only one element of urban dysfunction. But they are both a consequence and a cause of inequality, and improving them is essential to keeping another generation from being trapped by poverty. -- Washington Post editorial page (The schools Baltimore needs)

Books: The Rise of AVID ("America's Largest College Readiness Program")

image from media.wiley.comIn case you'd missed it (as I had), longtime Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews' latest book is out.

As you probably know, Mathews wrote the book that became Stand And Deliver, and also wrote Work Hard, Be Nice, a book about the KIPP network of charter schools. He writes the Post's Class Struggle blog.

Published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley, the book (Question Everything: The Rise of AVID as America's Largest College Readiness Program) focuses on a program that everyone's probably heard about but doesn't know very well.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. In his new book, Mathews describes how AVID "levels the playing field, helping underserved students come out ahead."

Even more notable, the book describes how AVID has grown in 30 years into an organization serving 400,000 middle- and high-school students in 47 states and 16 countries.

I can't think of another program that's so widespread but so little in the news (though last year's Teach of the Year was AVID).

Mathews admits that he's not an impartial observer here. "It is a very pro-AVID book, but I point out some flaws. Its tutoring programs are its best feature, the key to the whole system, but they are hard to get up to full speed right away and I saw some ragged ones."

Related posts:  Obama Introduces (AVID) Teacher Of Year (2014); Teaching Students Guided Note-Taking (Bruno 2012).

Morning Listen: Former Balto Supe Andres Alonso Reflects On Recent Unrest

There were lots of people -- too many -- using last week's unrest in Baltimore as an excuse to advance an agenda or generate attention - but former superintendent Andres Alonso is in a pretty unique spot to talk about what's going on there when it comes to the education system and its intersection with equity and justice -- though he's careful not to talk trash about those who are still there working in the system.

So here's a new Harvard EdCast to check out, featuring Alonso. You can also read this recent Seattle Times interview focusing on Alonso's efforts to overhaul discipline in Baltimore (School leader who overhauled discipline in long-troubled Baltimore looks back). Alonso was head for 6 years, during which dropout rates went down cooperation with teachers went up.

I'm getting mixed responses on whether things have gotten better or worse since he left two years ago, and whether that made any difference in how students and others reacted on Monday.

Related posts: Alonso's Smooth Approach To School Reform (2010); Alonso calls report done by school consultant 'objective' (Baltimore Sun 2012); Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally (2009). See also: BaltSun Education Reporter Gets Close To Cover #FreddyGrey Protests"Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led.

Thompson: Reformers to Teachers - Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Teachers have to think ahead. What questions do I ask, in what order? How do I pace instruction for seniors with 5th grade skills so they can master college readiness concepts? What classroom disruption should I ignore? What will happen if/when I make an issue of different sorts of misbehavior? 

I've long had great success in teaching students to plan their work and work their plans. I've failed consistently, however, in understanding why reformers never look before they leap. They seem to just dictate without anticipating the predictable results of their mandates.

Now, the anti-Opt Out soundbite is that teachers should relax, don't worry about what is in store for us in the near future. High stakes Common Core testing has barely begun to release its fury and, according to reformers, we should give it a chance because we might dodge a worst case scenario.   

The Hechinger Report Lillian Mongeau, Emmanuel Felton, and Sarah Butrymowiez, in Stakes for "High-Stakes" Tests Are Actually Pretty Low, report that few students are currently subject to high-stakes Common Core tests, and most teachers are not yet subject to the sanctions that have already been codified into law.  Their graphic shows that only 11 states are already using test scores for teacher evaluations. However, their interactive graphic shows that all but eight have plans to do so. 

Mongeau et. al report that the Council of Chief State School Officers' Chris Minnich hopes that teachers "can continue to be part of an ongoing conversation about the best way to use measures of student learning in evaluations." But, that gets the issue backwards. Why wasn't there a real discussion about whether it was good or bad policy to include test score growth estimates to sanction individual teachers? Why were teachers ignored when non-educators decided how we should be evaluated?

Continue reading "Thompson: Reformers to Teachers - Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" »

Testing: Addition Of MA and RI Creates Big Week For PARCC EOY Testing

Screen shot 2015-04-29 at 5.34.57 PMSpeaking of standardized testing: With addition of MA and RI, all 11 @PARCCPlace states enter EOY testing window this week.  

I don't know if things have been especially lively in those states, in terms of glitches or opt-outs, or if the state and district agencies have done a particular good or bad job preparing for this round, but we shall see.

I've asked Smarter Balanced for a similar schedule but have yet to receive or see any such thing.

Conversations: It's About Time You Got To Know #Educolor

In case you hadn't noticed, the #educolor hashtag has been floating around a lot on Twitter lately and made the Twitter Trending list recently following last night's Twitter chat.

A teacher named Christina Torres (@biblio_phile) pulled together some highlights using Storify and you can read them all above.  The topic was code-switching. I'm sure there's a history of previously monthly chats and topics.

Torres and I don't know each other but I've been following her for a while now and have shared her updates with you since about a year ago. Check that out here

According to Topsy, the first use of the #educolor hashtag was by Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) two years ago, along with Xian Barrett and Jose Vilson.  Here's an early piece about the group from TakePart. Read more about the hashtag's history (yes, hashtags have history now) via MDA's September 2014 post here.

I don't know the hashtag well enough to say whether it's great or not, but I do know that both reformers and reform critics tend not to come from the poor and/or minority communities that they're arguing about, and that teachers too tend to be white and middle-class. So I can't help but hope that an ongoing discussion about racial awareness in schools might be a good thing.  Or not -- some of you may know better and think otherwise. 

Related posts: New Voices Challenging Reform Critics' "Belief Gap"; The Truth About Black Twitter (The Atlantic)

Charts: Charter School Closure Rate Holds Steady At Just Under 4 Percent

ScreenHunter_05 Apr. 28 16.24

Here's a screengrab from a new NACSA infographic and report showing that charter closings remain at about 4 percent a year and that non-renewal is more common a method than outright revocation (The State of Charter Authorizing). Click the link and read the report to get a deeper sense of what's going on.  Interesting to note that roughly 20 percent of charters faced with closure appeal the decision.

Maps: Yellow & Orange Show States Where Tests WIll Matter (Somewhat) For Teachers

Screenshot 2015-04-29 08.24.24"A majority of the states that have adopted Common Core won't use results to rate teachers this year. Of the 21 states that plan to use the tests as part of teacher evaluations in the future, many have already specified that the score will count for only a percentage of the evaluation." (Hechinger Report Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low).

Click the link and hover over each state for specific measures. 

As for stakes for students: "Three states will use the test scores as some portion of a graduation requirement... Only three states will be using this spring’s Common Core-aligned test to regulate grade promotion."

AM News: Stakes For Spring 2015 Tests Generally Low For Students & Teachers

Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low Hechinger Report: Very few states will be using this spring’s scores for any student-related decisions. And the stakes for teachers are only slightly higher.

Half of juniors opt out of Common Core tests in affluent high school EdSource Today: At Palos Verdes High School, 260 of the school’s roughly 460 juniors are skipping the tests that began last week and are continuing this week, Superintendent Don Austin said. Elsewhere in the 11,600-student district, an additional 222 students are sitting out of the tests in a different high school, as well as intermediate and elementary schools.

Gates Foundation to Expand Teacher-Preparation Grantmaking TeacherBeat: " In the coming years, we foresee many opportunities for partnership in the field of teacher preparation, with many types of organizations," Gates officials Tom Stritikus and Michelle Rojas  write.  As of late 2013, the Gates Foundation had spent nearly $700 million on efforts relating to teaching, including about $38 million on teacher-preparation efforts.

How one high school is closing the AP gap Marketplace: The AP invitation letters were part of a broader effort by the school district to get more students into AP courses, especially overlooked low-income and minority students who have the skills to succeed. To start catching those kids, Goins' district brought in Equal Opportunity Schools, a non-profit that works with schools to help identify kids who are being left behind in AP and International Baccalaureate programs, and help close the so-called participation gap.

How Young Black Men Are Boxed In FiveThirtyEight: Baltimore isn’t an outlier. There are other cities with more poverty, higher unemployment and greater inequality. The racial disparities evident in Baltimore are common across the country.

After Baltimore Rioting, Obama Urges Focus on Education Programs Education Week: President Barack Obama condemned rioters who looted and set ablaze several businesses in Baltimore Monday night following the funeral for Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody this month. 

Can a Harlem ‘cradle to career’ program succeed in rural Mississippi? PBS NewsHour: The program is part of the Indianola Promise Community (IPC), a federally-funded, community-based effort. Nationwide, there are dozens of so-called Promise Neighborhoods, or zones, that aim to offer a continuum of “cradle to career” services to lift low-income children out of poverty and improve outcomes for families.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Stakes For Spring 2015 Tests Generally Low For Students & Teachers" »

Teachers: Beautiful Image From The Supreme Court

This is an Algebra teacher from Theodore Roosevelt High School, according to @MikaylaBouchard.

Maps: 10 Districts Using "Strategic Compensation" To Attract & Retain Teachers

ScreenHunter_04 Apr. 24 15.31Here are 10 districts out of the nation's 15,000 using strategic compensation to attract and retain teachers, according to a recent CAP report via DFER/ERN.  They include two in Colorado, a couple in New England, and a couple in the Mid Atlantic region. But only two of the 10 -- DC and Denver -- have a big enough focus on promoting equitable access for disadvantaged students to quality teachers. 

Morning Video: Is EdTech The Solution - Or A Scam?

"Word on the street is that public school districts are being hijacked by tech-loving, teacher-hating crusaders who are plotting to spend billions on technology. Can this be true?" (School Sleuth).

Or, watch Ravitch ask Weingarten where she stands on the opt-out issue at NPE last week. More here.

AM News: Teacher Union Heads + Ravitch Gather In Chicago, Talk National Strike

Lewis supports national teachers strike Sun Times: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said Sunday that she would support a national teachers strike. “I do. But I don’t want to organize it,” she said with a laugh while addressing an annual conference of the Network for Public Education, an anti-school privatization group.

The e-mails fly over One Newark, the controversial N.J. city school plan Washington Post: Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) exchanged letters Friday with Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent of Newark Public Schools and architect of a controversial school system overhaul in New Jersey’s largest city.

LA Unified teachers could finally 'exceed standards' next year under tentative contract LA Daily News: "It's a bit of a punt, which I think is understandable, because they weren't able to get what they wanted in negotiations," said Nancy Waymack, who monitors evaluation policies in 118 school district across the country for the NCTQ. 

In Texas, Questions About Prosecuting Truancy NPR: In 2013, school districts in the state filed 115,000 truancy cases. The problem is so big, state lawmakers and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating whether prosecuting children and teenagers in adult criminal courts is doing more harm than good.

Alternatives to Suspension: Inside a 'Restorative Justice' High School WNYC: Restorative justice is not always a substitute for suspensions. In serious cases, like bringing weapon to school or hurting another student, the city still requires an out of school suspension. But a school can choose to add mediation upon the student's return. For minor incidents, it can be used in lieu of an in-school suspension.

Bill Clinton Ends Role With Chain of For-Profit Colleges NYT: The former president left his position as honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities, part of a for-profit college industry that has drawn criticism over its students’ debt loads.

Public boarding school _ the way to solve educational ills? AP: Buffalo's chronically struggling school system is considering an idea gaining momentum in other cities: public boarding schools that put round-the-clock attention on students and away from such daunting problems as poverty, troubled homes and truancy....

Why one of America’s best schools eased off Advanced Placement courses? Washington Post: His charter is closed this year because the school board refused to renew the lease. This is the result of a turf war, mostly about money, not about AP, that happens even to the best schools. The charter students have found similar challenges at the regular school. Dunton said he is considering his options.

Colorado K-12 Chief Announces Retirement Amid State Board Shift State EdWatch: State board elections in 2014 led to new members and new tension between Commissioner Robert Hammond and board members, including over the common core and aligned tests.

Federal education department: No reprieve for opt-outs ChalkbeatCO: Federal officials said in a letter to Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond that not holding districts accountable for students who have opted out of tests will hinder efforts to improve schools and reduce inequities.

Questions After Indiana School Stage Collapse Injures 16 AP: Video supplied to The Associated Press by Zach Rader — who was in the audience — and consistent with the AP's reporting shows more than a dozen students dancing and clapping on stage while a female student sings along to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

Turning a Children’s Rating System Into an Advocacy Army NYT: James Steyer’s nonprofit organization, Common Sense Media, is known for offering parents guidance on games and videos, but he has a grander vision.

Is Reform Really Stalemated -- And Is Early Childhood Really That Easy?

Most folks have responded to this week's Nick Kristof NYT column (Beyond Education Wars) by focusing on two main things brought up on the column: the vicious in-fighting on education that's been going on for a while now and the possibility that the combatants (liberals, moderates, Republicans, and conservatives) could rally around early childhood education.

Many --including TWIE contributor John Thompson -- think Kristof is onto something. And they may well be right.  But left by the wayside is Kristof's claim that reform efforts are really stalemated (that everyone agrees as much), and to a lesser extent the very real obstacles that have kept political factions from rallying around early childhood education for several years now and may continue to do so.

Let's all take a look at both those things before packing up and pivoting (or thinking that others are going to). I am sad to report that I'm not so sure that the stalemate or the consensus are as clear as Kristof and others might wish them to be.

Continue reading "Is Reform Really Stalemated -- And Is Early Childhood Really That Easy?" »

Thompson: Kristof Points the Way Toward Ending the Education Wars

The New York Times’ Nick Kristof, in Beyond Education Wars, does what Babe Ruth supposedly did, and more. He points to where he'll hit a home run and then delivers a grand slam. Kristof articulates the best single suggestion for improving schools, and he offers the wisest political message I’ve heard.

Although Kristof still identifies himself as a reformer, he wonders whether the reform movement has peaked. We’ve seen a dozen years of an idealistic movement where “armies of college graduates joined Teach for America. Zillionaires invested in charter schools. Liberals and conservatives, holding their noses and agreeing on nothing else, cooperated to proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time.”

But, now, the education reform “brawls have left everyone battered and bloodied, from reformers to teachers unions.” Kristof observes that “the zillionaires are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. … The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity." Those expensive campaigns have left K-12 education "an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after.”

Kristof provides three reasons why we should, “Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.” He starts with the scientific evidence that “early childhood is a crucial period when the brain is most malleable, when interventions are most cost-effective for at-risk kids.” He writes:

Growing evidence suggests what does work to break the poverty cycle: Start early in life, and coach parents to stimulate their children. Randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of evidence, have shown this with programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, Reach Out and Read, and high-quality preschool. These kinds of interventions typically produce cognitive gains that last a few years and then fade — but, more important, also produce better life outcomes, such as less crime, fewer teenage pregnancies, higher high school graduation rates, and higher incomes.

Second, Kristof notes that reformers picked “the low-hanging fruit” of the K-12 world.

Continue reading "Thompson: Kristof Points the Way Toward Ending the Education Wars" »

Journalism: Chalkbeat Co-Founder Moving On

News is getting out that Chalkbeat co-founder Alan Gottlieb (pictured via Google Plus) is leaving the network of four local education news sites he helped start with Elizabeth Green.

Alan G photo

After eight years during which Gottlieb built EdNews Colorado, then merged it with GothamSchools and created the Education News Network which then became Chalkbeat, the Colorado-based Gottlieb is going to write, consult, and do other things.

"I’d like to do more writing (maybe another book or two some day, possibly/probably unrelated to education), editing and just helping people think through good communications strategies. And, truth be told, I’d like to spend less time traveling."

Gottlieb is a Peace Corps alumnus, a 15-year newspaper journalist before EdNews Colorado began, and has written two books, according to his official bio

There's been a surge of nonprofit education news coverage in recent years, and not everybody's convinced that it's making a difference or going to last. But Gottlieb says he's not worried about what happens next for Chalkbeat. It's over a year since he shifted over from the editorial side and became editor at large. "The leadership of the organization is so solid that I have every confidence Chalkbeat will survive and thrive without me." Rebecca Ross has been COO since early last year.  Green is now CEO.

"She’s indefatigable, she has a strong vision, and she turns out to be a fundraising prodigy," says Gottlieb. He says that the outlet is making "big strides" on earned revenue increases, and funder relations remain strong.

One of the most notable things about EdNews Colorado was that it attracted veteran journalists and was funded both by pro-reform groups and teachers unions. 

Related posts: NPR Expands Education Coverage;  Local NPR Stations Beefing Up Education CoverageBut Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?Why Catalyst & The Notebook Aren't Joining ENN (2012); Chalkbeat, USA!;  Education News Network Expands To IndianaTwo Local Ed News Sites Join Forces;  Where EdNews Network Is Heading.

Disclosure: I did a couple of freelance pieces for Gottlieb back when he was at the Piton Foundation, and have called on him for advice and feedback on various stories and endeavors over the years. 

Overtesting: Miami Superintendent Announces Big Testing Reduction

On Thursday, Miami's Carvalho announced an "aggressive decommissioning" of testing (such as end of course exams in elementary school). More details via Valerie Strauss and Miami Herald.

Has anyone dug into the announcement to see if it's as big as it's being presented? Have Bush or Rubio or anyone else close to the situation responded to the announcement?

Morning Video: "Daily Show Skewers" Harsh Sentences For ATL Educators Who Cheated

Here's Jon Stewart lastnight slamming the Atlanta judge who handed out harsh sentences to educators who cheated on state tests there. Annenberg Institute via Valerie Strauss. Three of the educators are supposed to get resentenced today.

Charts: Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers? (Very - But Then Again So Are You)

image from m.motherjones.comCheck out this graphic via Mother Jones (Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers?). The point is not to shame teachers, really, but to raise awareness about unconscious bias and structural problems that are an issue in classrooms regardless of type.

Events: #NPEChicago Is The Third Big Chicago Event In A Row

image from www.networkforpubliceducation.orgIt's been quite a week already for Chicago, what with AERA and #EWA15 (and all the local news as well).  

But it's not over yet.  

Up next is #NPEChicago, the 2nd annual meeting of this group, which will include authors of "some of the most celebrated books in recent years. (including those displayed to the left.

Featured speakers include Yong Zhao, Diane Ravitch, Lily Eskelson Garcia, Randi Weingarten and Chicago’s own Karen Lewis and Jitu Brown. 

The April 25-26 event is also going to be livestreamed via School House Live.

Know more about the event, or planning to go and report your experiences from there? Let us know.

Morning Video: Did Ohio's 3rd Grade Reading Initiative Work? (Plus 2 Extras)

Watch last night's PBS NewsHour segment on the Ohio reading initiative intended to ensure that students were proficient readers before moving on to the rest of elementary school. (Big hint: holding lots of kids back is controversial and expensive.) Or, watch a segment featuring Arne Duncan's interview in Chicago on WTTW Chicago Tonight. Or, watch Jeb Bush wiggle on Common Core via Tampa Bay Times.

People: Meet The Teacher Who Started #IWishMyTeacherKnew

Screen shot 2015-04-20 at 10.49.41 AM

Meet Kyle Schwarz, the Denver 3rd grade teacher who apparently started the #IWishMyTeacherKnew meme that has spread to at least 17 states, according to CBS News. Image via Twitter. @kylemschwartz.

Books: First Look At Dale Rusakoff's Forthcoming "The Prize"

9780547840055_lresHere's a first look at Dale Rusakoff's forthcoming book about Newark, titled The Prize and scheduled for release in September. 

"Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, and Cory Booker were ready to reform our failing schools," proclaims the book promo copy. "What they got instead was an education."

"Their plans soon ran into a constituency not so easily moved — Newark’s key education players, fiercely protective of their billion-dollar-per-annum system. It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s students."

Rusakoff's writing on Newark has appeared in the New Yorker

"The Prize is a portrait of a titanic struggle over the future of education for the poorest kids, and a cautionary tale for those who care about the shape of America’s schools."

See more here.

Rusakoff is appearing at this week's EWA conference in Chicago. It's a big week for education book. Greg Toppo's book about learning games is out this week, as is Ken Robinson's book on schools and creativity.

Related posts: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat They're Saying About That New Yorker ArticleNew Yorker Reporter Talks NewarkFact-Checking Cami AndersonWhite Reporters & Students Of Color.

Afternoon #TBT Video: Homey The Substitute Teacher

It's a Thursday afternoon that feels like a Friday afternoon -- so balmy outside, and such post-ESEA markup euphoria -- so here's a #TBT segment from In Living Color in which Homey D. Clown tries his hand as a substitute teacher:

 

via Grantland: Bragging Rights

Pop Culture: Meet "Primary School Problems," One Of The UK's Most Viral Twitter Feeds

The account is one of several run by a group of young entrepreneurs in the UK whose company, Social Chain, regularly takes over social media, according to this BuzzFeed article. Other popular accounts are Exam Problems. The company has been accused of stealing others' content and -- more problematically -- functioning as an advertiser without sufficient disclosure.  

Why should you care? Because your Twitter feed isn't just accidentally filling up with updates about things. Whether advertisers or advocates, the Twitterverse if increasingly filled with folks paid to influence your opinion or make you think things are bigger or smaller than they may be in real life. 

Related posts: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"How Twitter Has Helped & Hurt.

Morning Video: In Iowa, Hillary Clinton Talks Common Core

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton named Ann O'Leary as one of her top policy wonks for the campaign, and I predicted that the candidate might make it until Memorial Day before talking about Common Core. Well, she talked about it yesterday in Iowa, and the good folks at PJ Media's Tatler shared the clip (starts at 5:33), asked by a teacher. “You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful,” she says.

Thompson: Building on Common Ground

In their joint Huffington Post contribution Is There a Third Way for ESEA?, Linda Darling-Hammond and Paul Hill acknowledge that they are "members of very different 'camps' on school reform," but "we think there is more common ground than has yet been evident in the political process." They drew upon the efforts of two "distinct groups of scholars and policy experts that met separately to rethink educational accountability."

Perhaps the most important point of agreement was Darling-Hammond's and Hill's statement:

We agreed that, because a student's learning in any one year depends on what was learned previously and on the efforts of many professionals working together, the consequences of high and low performance should attach to whole schools, rather than to individual educators.

State and federal governments can provide data and research, as well as systems of support, and can incentivize improvement. But they should not make decisions about how to evaluate individual educators or manage individual schools. 

I just wish they had taken their impeccable logic one step further and applied it to individual students; for the same reasons, a student should not be denied a high school diploma simply because he failed a college-readiness test. 

In my experience, many or most reformers understand that value-added evaluations are a big mistake, but they sometimes are reluctant to openly call for a reversal of that failed policy. Sadly, in my experience, liberal reformers are often more uneasy about separating themselves from this crumbling cornerstone of Arne Duncan's term.

So, when I followed their link to Fordham Foundation's and The Center for Reinventing Education's Designing the Next Generation of State Education Accountability Systems, was only somewhat pleasantly surprised. The CRPE cites their "emerging consensus about state accountability systems providing a light (or lighter) touch on districts and schools." It also acknowledges that the "lack of autonomy forced by consequences can also drive high-performing teachers away from the schools that need them the most."

I was more pleasantly surprised by Robin Lake's Time for Charters to Lead on Special Education.

Continue reading "Thompson: Building on Common Ground" »

Reality Check: Restorative Justice Not As Easy As It May Seem

Check out this new story from Bright about the realities behind "restorative justice," the approach meant to replace zero-tolerance school discipline policies.

Quotes: Why Those Cali. Poll Numbers Looked So Bad For Tenure, Seniority

Quotes2This poll happens in a certain context, which is that over the last number of years, there’s been a well-funded, concerted effort to attack teachers’ seniority, to misrepresent it—and to scapegoat teachers for problems in the classroom.

-- Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, in the LA Times (Unions critical of poll on teachers tenure and seniority-based layoffs)

AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch

Senate Attempts To Revise No Child Left Behind Measure NPR: A Senate committee begins work on a bill that would overhaul the education law. That measure — once considered a great uniter of politicians on the left and right — has since become a great divider. See also NPR

Parents Get An Earful on Opting Out of the State Tests WNYC: Last year, 1,925 students opted out, according to the city's Department of Education. In 2012, 113 students opted out of the tests, education officials said.

Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but Not in Practice NYT: Even parents who are uncomfortable with the exams are discovering that it is hard to push the button on the nuclear option — refusing to have their own children take them.

Atlanta Judge Urges Talks on Sentences in School Cheating Case NYT: Judge Jerry W. Baxter said, he thought an appropriate sentence for educators convicted of altering test scores would mean sending them to jail. But then he had a change of heart. See also Washington Post: Judge urges Atlanta educators to accept plea deals in test cheating case.

Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's Fusion:  and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch" »

Pop Culture: The Middle School Teacher Who Played "Unhittable Sidd Finch"

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Thirty years ago this month, Sports Illustrated pulled off one of the biggest media hoaxes imaginable at the time, presenting a long feature story by George Plimpton about a mysterious buddhist with a 168 mph fastball who was going to propel the Mets to World Series success. As revisited in this ESPN documentary short (Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball), the man who played the mysterious pitcher was actually a middle school teacher from Chicago named Joe Berton. The explanation starts here.

EdTech: Here Come the Chromebooks

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One more thing about tablets: Here Come the Chromebooks.  This story from Scholastic Administrator (site sponsor) and Michelle Davis describes how Chromebook sales have skyrocketed in recent months even as tablet sales and uses have come under pressure. Check it out!

Quotes: Thinking You're Part Of The 99 Percent Might Make You Part Of The Problem

Quotes2Don't consider yourself part of the 99 percent if you live near a Whole Foods. If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth... If any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that, actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem. -- Anand Giridharadas (7 signs you are clueless about income inequality)

Morning Video: You Might Already Understand Common Core Math More Than You Think

Thanks to this handy Vox video, I think I just realized that my 1970's Montessori education taught me Common Core's infamous "number sense." (Common Core math, explained in 3 minutes).  Check it out.  Or, watch this PBS NewsHour segment about campus design balancing learning and safety (including cool overhead [drone?] footage).

Journalism: Unsolicited Observations On Bloomberg's Amplify Takedown

News Corp.’s  1 Billion Plan to Overhaul Education Is Riddled With Failures   Bloomberg BusinessAbove: Correction appended to Bloomberg News story about Amplify.

Bloomberg News' latest story on Amplify is enough to give us all pause to reconsider the enthusiasm (hype?) surrounding edtech in general and tablets in particular -- even if it wasn't following Bright's recent article on blended learning (also skeptical) earlier this week. GSV+ASU Summit, were you listening?

For example, the Bloomberg article (by Laura Colby) reminds us that it'll be 7 more years before schools all have high-speed Internet. And, as of last year, instructional materials in print still sell more than twice as much as digital materials. 

But the Bloomberg article has some issues, both factual and rhetorical,which raise questions about the accuracy of the picture readers get of Amplify in the spring of 2015 and remind me of the seemingly prevalent trend in education journalism towards decontextualized fault-finding that's almost as annoying as the "gee, whiz!" coverage from five and ten years ago. 

I'll lay it all out below.

Continue reading "Journalism: Unsolicited Observations On Bloomberg's Amplify Takedown" »

Morning Video: This Is What An Opt-Out Protest Looks Like

Watch some Westchester County (NY) parents, teachers, and kids protest against testing above (click the link if the video isn't rendering properly, or read more about the event here). Or watch a DC school get ready for them (via PBS NewsHour) below:

Continue reading "Morning Video: This Is What An Opt-Out Protest Looks Like" »

Charts: Education Wages Not Climbing As Fast As Low- & Higher-Wage Sectors

Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s  Wal Mart Raises    Real Time Economics   WSJWages for education (and health services) workers went up just 1.9 percent over the past year, less than the national average.  Why's that? "Low-wage workers are earning more. Leisure and hospitality employees, mainly restaurant workers, saw a 3.6% hourly pay increase over the past year.... Higher-skilled workers are also doing well.... Several big employment sectors [including education] are being left out of better pay."  Via WSJ (Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Raises?)

AM News: Emanuel Wins Chicago Re-Election, Plus Senate ESEA Plan

Rahm Emanuel wins runoff in Chicago Politico: In an interview with The Atlantic, AFT President Randi Weingarten said that forcing Emanuel into a runoff was a win for labor — a point echoed by progressives after the vote. See also Emanuel wins re-election over Garcia in race for Chicago mayor (WBEZ), Emanuel Wins Second Term as Chicago Mayor After Tough Runoff (EdWeek).

Senate Plan to Revise No Child Left Behind Law Would Not Measure Teachers by Test Scores NYT: The proposal retains the requirement for yearly tests, but the federal government would no longer prescribe how the states handle schools with continuously poor scores. See also Sens. Alexander, Murray propose bipartisan measure to replace NCLB (WP), Senators Announce Agreement to Update Education Law (AP).

California teachers unions face new legal challenge over dues Washington Post: Four California teachers are suing their unions over the use of member dues for political activities, opening a new legal front against unions that are already facing a separate challenge to their ability to collect dues from all teachers

Mexican-American Toddlers: Understanding The Achievement Gap  NPR: A new study finds Mexican-American toddlers are lagging behind their white counterparts.

First-Generation Students Unite NYT: These young pioneers, the first in their families in college, speak out about who they are, where they come from and the income inequality on campus.

As new teacher evaluation system looms, NY's Tisch defends need for state tests ChalkbeatNY: As state education officials have been tasked with crafting a new teacher evaluation system, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch on Tuesday continued to defend the need for a state test as a necessary measure to address longstanding inequities.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Emanuel Wins Chicago Re-Election, Plus Senate ESEA Plan" »

Quotes: Pushback Was Nearly Unavoidable, Says Klein (But Still No Emails)

Quotes2Closing schools means looking for new jobs, while eliminating automatic placements based on seniority makes it harder to find them. Most troubling, our efforts to hold teachers accountable threatened job security and lifetime pensions. - Former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein responding to criticisms of his book and accomplishments in the NYROB (Good Faith & the Schools)

AM News: New Union Challenge In CA (Plus Chicago Election)

Another lawsuit challenges teachers unions' dues EdSource: In a statement on Monday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten accused StudentsFirst of hypocrisy. See also SF Chronicle.

How Rahm Emanuel ended up in a fight for his political life Vox: If Garcia manages another upset? The ramifications will go beyond Chicago. The three largest cities in the nation will all have first-term mayors for the first time in generations — first-term mayors elected by populist, left-wing constituencies. And Rahm Emanuel, whose time here has long been seen as a stepping stone to more national ambitions, will be finished.

More Seattle students opt out of new Common Core tests Seattle Times: As many as150 students at one Seattle high school are refusing to take new Common Core tests mandated in Washington. Some teachers from Garfield High, the site of a 2013 testing boycott, are expected to announce their opposition to the tests Tuesday

Nation’s largest teachers union launches ad campaign as Congress debates No Child Left Behind Washington Post: As Congress debates how to rewrite No Child Left Behind, the nation’s largest teachers union is launching a $500,000 ad campaign urging lawmakers to reach a deal that reduces the focus on standardized testing.

How Struggling Schools Can Make Dramatic Improvements In Just A Few Years HuffPost: The CAP brief highlights four schools -- Frederick Douglass High School in Maryland, Leslie County High School in Kentucky, Emerson Elementary School in Kansas and Rose Ferrero Elementary School in California -- and the work they have done to make striking progress over a short time. 

 More news below (and throughout the day via Twitter or Facebook).

Continue reading "AM News: New Union Challenge In CA (Plus Chicago Election)" »

Thompson: Atlanta Is Still Just the Tip of the Testing Icebergs

Once again, the convictions of the eleven surviving educators for their role in Atlanta's infamous cheating scandal provides a "teachable moment" in regard to the inherent harm of high stakes testing. The Guardian's Max Blau, in Why the Atlanta Cheating Scandal Failed to Bring National Reform, cites Fair Test's Bob Schaeffer who says, “Atlanta is the tip of the iceberg. ... Cheating is a predictable outcome of what happens when public policy puts too much pressure on test scores.”

During the NCLB era, other cheating scandals have occurred in Baltimore, Camden, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Houston, El Paso, Norfolk, Virginia and, yes, in Michelle Rhee's Washington D.C. As Schaeffer explained to the Christian Science Monitor's Stacy Teichner Khadaroo, in Atlanta Teacher Conviction: Do Standardized Tests Pressure Foster Cheating?, today's testing “creates a climate in school where you have to boost scores by hook or by crook.”

Khodaroo also cites Harvard's Daniel Koretz who explains why high stakes testing reveals just the tips of other dangerous icebergs. Koretz describes “shortcuts” that educators are encouraged to take, such as teaching to the “'power standards' – the types of items most commonly tested." He says that "states now routinely offer teachers old test items to use for test prep," even though that practice was frowned upon in the 1980s.

“'Clearly cheating is unethical, but at what point does this other stuff become unethical?'” Koretz says.

In my experience, these more subtle means of manipulating metrics are the most pervasive and thus the most destructive.

Continue reading "Thompson: Atlanta Is Still Just the Tip of the Testing Icebergs" »

People: Berkeley Professor Becomes NYT Contributor, Joins Twitter

Newish NYT contributor @DavidKirp had only 85 followers as of a few minutes ago and is following just 30 folks. (I'm not one of them, are you?)

According to his NYT bio, Kirp is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools.”  He wrote a book about Union City schools, and was on the Obama policy review team in 2008. His book was listed along with Ravitch and Kahlenberg's in this list of HuffPost favorite education books of 2014

At the Times, Kirp's unofficial beat is education and inequality, and his pieces for the Times (going all the way back to 2012) include Make School a DemocracyClosing the Math Gap for BoysRage Against the Common CoreHow to Help College Students GraduateHere Comes the NeighborhoodThe Secret to Fixing Bad SchoolsMaking Schools Work.

I haven't written very much about him here or elsewhere, though I did raise a question on Twitter about one of his recent columns:

It seems like Kirp will function as the Times' unofficial education columnist, which was written for better and worse for many years by Richard Rothstein, Sam Freedman, and Michael Winerip. I didn't always agree with those columnists but I appreciated the regular (and often intellectually honest) attempts to address complicated education issues fairly and with nuance. 

Related posts: Underwhelmed By Union City Turnaround Story (Bruno); Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers (Thompson); Who's Who On The Obama Policy Review Team (2008). 

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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.