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Quotes: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker On Eliminating ISIS Teachers

Quotes2We must identify the people who are teaching ISIS their tactics – in other words, their teachers – and eliminate them. I did that in Wisconsin and I can do it in Iraq and Syria... Behind every problem, there are teachers you need to get rid of.

- Scott Walker (Walker Vows To Detroy ISIS Teachers via Andy Borowitz

Journalism: KPCC Shows The Right Way To Correct A Story In 2 Easy Steps

CORRECTION  LAUSD board president outpacing challengers in finances  endorsements   89.3 KPCC

Kudos to the team at KPCC Southern California Public Radio for showing how to correct a story online (and for reminding us that UTLA and SEIU have split on endorsing the sitting board chair, Richard Vladovic).

Step 1 is to indicate in the headline that the story has been corrected.  KPCC goes with CORRECTED, but in my view an asterisk is also fine.

Step 2 is to indicate at the top of the story that there's been a change and what it is. Regretting the error is a classy flourish, though many news outlets can't seem to bring themselves to do so. 

That's it.  Not so hard, right?

Corrections should be avoided at all costs, but they're also inevitable given the pace of work and complexity of the issues. How you respond to them makes all the difference to readers and sources.

Related posts: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The TopNYT Front-Pager Mis-Identifies Ed Trust PresidentFiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The GateNYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Program.

Common Core: Chicago Will Administer New Tests Next Week After All

CPS Letter to ISBE Feb242015

In a complete but not entirely unexpected reversal, CPS announced that it would require all schools to administer the new Common Core assessment next week, as required by the state and the USDE as a condition of funding. Sun Times here passes along speculation that the previous position was a City Hall-inspired effort to win votes from mostly white liberal parents concerned about overtesting for last week's election (in which case Rahm just gave his opponents a big issue). The Tribune here notes that technological limits are not the issue for most Chicago schools, and that CPS was under repeated funding threats from the state (though I'm not sure anyone believed CPS would be defunded over Common Core).

Update: New Voices Challenging Reform Critics' "Belief Gap" On Social Media

For the last few years, claims of success by reform supporters -- a high-poverty school where students are learning at high levels, say -- have regularly been met with detailed takedowns from the likes of Diane Ravitch or Gary Rubinstein, followed by a swarm of followups from reform critics and allies.

But over the weekend things took a somewhat different turn (at least on Sunday, when I last checked in), and it was the mostly white, mostly male reform critics like Rubinstein and Cody who were on the hotseat for expressing a "belief gap" from a handful of Chris Stewart kicked things off (and storified the exchange below).

A number of new voices showed up -- new to me, at least -- in addition to familiar names like Anthony Cody, John Thompson, and Gary Rubinstein.  As you'll see, the issue of research into teacher bias came up several times, including studies like this and this. And 

It wasn't pretty, or conclusive, or anything else. Both sides of this debate have long sufferered from too few black and brown voices and leaders, and still do. But it was somewhat different from the Twitter exchanges I've been following and writing about for the last few years.

Related posts: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Shame On Reform Allies Who Let Rhee Critics "Get Away With It"Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?

Continue reading "Update: New Voices Challenging Reform Critics' "Belief Gap" On Social Media" »

AM News: More States Begin Common Core Testing This Week

As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out NYT: About a dozen of their classmates, however, will be elsewhere. They will sit in a nearby art room, where they will read books, do a little drawing and maybe paint. What they will not do is take the test, because they and their parents have flatly refused. See also Yakima Herald: Common Core exams begin soon, and many school districts are ready to go; Philly.com: Monday the day for controversial student testing in New Jersey; WFLA: Florida Standards testing begins across state.

The snow conundrum: How a school system decides whether to open Washington Post: Todd Watkins had been following the snow forecasts closely. By the time he climbed out of bed in the darkness of 2 a.m., he didn’t think a storm would wallop the Washington region. But he thought it was possible that Montgomery’s schools would open after a delay. See also HuffPost: Teachers Ensure Poor Kids Are Fed On Snow Days When They Can't Get Free School Lunch

Contentious teacher-related policies moving from legislatures to the courts Washington Post: The latest foray into the courtroom began Feb. 13, when New Mexico teachers sued state officials over an evaluation system that relies heavily on student test scores. Tennessee teachers also sued their state officials this month, arguing that most teachers’ evaluations are based on the test scores of students they don’t actually teach. Florida teachers brought a similar lawsuit last year; it is now in federal appeals court, while other complaints are pending in Texas and New York.

Jeb Bush stands firm on controversial immigration, educationpolicies at CPAC Fox News: Rubio used his time to target Obama's foreign policies, focusing mostly on Iran's nuclear threat. During his speech, Rubio said America needed a leader who understands that the way to defeat the Islamic State “wasn't to give him a job,” referencing ...

No Child Left Behind debate in the House suspended Washington Post: The House suspended floor debate on a Republican bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind on Friday afternoon, with party leaders saying they had to shift the chamber’s focus to debate funding the Department of Homeland Security. See also AP: House Republican Leaders Scrap Education Vote.

Can 'Chuy' give Rahm a run for his money? Tribune: A 2012 teachers strike, among other confrontations, led Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to form an exploratory committee for mayor last year. After she withdrew for health reasons, she asked Garcia, a former state senator, alderman and ...  See also NBC: Karen Lewis: I Could Have Won

Jimmy Kimmel got doctors to swear at cameras to convince people to get vaccinated HuffPost: "Here in LA, there are schools in which 20 percent of the children aren't vaccinated," Kimmel said, "because parents here are more scared of gluten than they are of smallpox."

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

Continue reading "AM News: More States Begin Common Core Testing This Week" »

Quotes: SEIU Could Play Decisive Role In Chicago (As It Has In LA)

Quotes2Now that we have a runoff, we are going to take a very close, serious look at the race. The neutrality vote we took was a vote in the first round. This is now a different election.

--  SEIU Local 1 political operative Jerry Morrison in the Sun-Times (SEIU may join mayor race).

In Chicago's case, SEIU would likely join CTU in opposing Mayor Emanuel. In LA, SEIU Local 99 has been an independent player on education issues, joining with and splitting from UTLA depending on the issue and/or candidate.

Quotes: Chicago Illustrates Dangers Of Hasty Discipline Changes

Quotes2It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)

Events: Journalists Discuss Common Core (Coverage?) In Denver (Plus Map)

Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, JournosCan Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please? 

 

States: Few States Ban Or Freely Permit Testing Opt-Outs, Says ECS Roundup

Www.ecs.org clearinghouse 01 17 68 11768.pdf

ECS Rounds up state opt out rules: "Laws in some states — such as Arkansas and Texas — clearly prohibit opt-outs, while the law is less clear in other states. Legislation introduced in New Jersey would allow opt-outs. Similar legislation in Mississippi failed to progress. State laws in California and Utah allow parents to opt their children out of state assessments for any reason." Image used with permission.
 

AM News: Common Core Sabotage, Chicago Standoff, & ESEA Veto Threat

Unable to repeal Common Core, foes try sabotage Politico: Conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright.. See also NJEA launches ad campaign against PARCC.

White House Issues Veto Threat Against House GOP NCLB Rewrite PK12: Why doesn't the administration like this bill? For one thing, they're not happy about what they see as a big step on back on accountability, particularly for the poor and minority kids that NCLB was designed to help. See also AP,  Obama threatens veto of House education billWhite House threatens veto of GOP bill to fix No Child Left BehindNo Child Reauthorization Has No Shot.

CPS in a bind over snub of state-mandated test, official says Tribune: Chicago school board President David Vitale said during Wednesday's board meeting that the district's effort to administer the exam to just 66 of its more than 600 schools has been "clear and consistent." But, he acknowledged, "The response we've gotten from other authorities is also clear." See also Sun-Times: Which CPS schools will be tested in 2 weeks still unknown.

De Blasio calls for permanent mayoral control of schools ChalkbeatNY: Before mayoral control, the city’s school system was balkanized,” de Blasio said. “School boards exerted great authority with little accountability and we saw far too many instances of mismanagement, waste and corruption.” See also The Atlantic: NYC's Tale of Two Pre-Ks.

Rift escalates between Los Angeles teachers, district AP: Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district are in an escalating rift with Los Angeles Unified officials over higher wages. See also LATimes: Charter school group is political force in L.A. Unified board election, LA Weekly Charter Schools Take on Charter-Hating LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser

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

Former Montgomery schools chief Joshua Starr sets up business to open way for consulting Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former superintendent, Joshua P. Starr, has established a new consulting business, according to Maryland state records and a statement relayed through the school district.The limited liability company, called Education Solutions LLC, was registered with the state Feb. 17, a day after Starr’s resignation took effect, according to online records from the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation.

'Call Out Cuomo' teachers' rally at Massena High Saturday urging residents to ... North Country Now: Carlisto said the “Call Out Cuomo” events are expected to feature American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and others

Arne Duncan talks early childhood education at Alexandria school Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday got a first-hand glimpse of early childhood education in a busy Alexandria preschool classroom, where he got down on the rug with youngsters playing with blocks, chatted up students building a “neighborhood” with sand and talked to a young girl about her writing.

5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014 NPR: Lessons from a handful of the most viewed papers from the American Education Research Association last year.

Dissecting A Frog: A Middle School Rite Of Passage NPR: In science classrooms across the country, middle-schoolers will take part in an iconic activity this year: frog dissection.

Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy Tribune: A CPS spokesman said the district makes training available to all schools on subjects including restorative practices and classroom management. Roughly 100 (of 600) schools have "restorative practices coaches" in the building weekly, and behavioral health teams work at 66 schools. Those resources are allocated to schools based on behavioral data, the district said.

Controversial Schools Tech Contract Wins NYC Approval WNYC: A contract to expand internet access in New York City schools as well as proposals for sharing school space moved forward despite concerns. Oh, and the cell phone ban was lifted.

Employee sues LAUSD superintendent third time alleging sexual harassment KPCC: The latest suit alleges Cortines made sexual advances to Graham in 2000 soon after Cortines helped Graham get a job with the school district’s real estate leasing operations. Cortines left the school district that same year and Graham didn’t report what allegedly happened, according to the suit.

The rise of Chicago's Casimir Pulaski Day WBEZ: The story behind this most “Illinois” of holidays involves Casimir, of course, but it’s more of a story about a strong community that was willing to spend political capital to honor him.

One District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days ABC News: A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren't too happy. The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its web site.

AM News: Teachers Force Mayoral Runoff In Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into April runoff election WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote Tuesday in his bid for a second term, an embarrassment for the former White House chief of staff who now faces a runoff this spring against CTU-endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

In Anti-Testing Push, Unions Turn to Polls, Ads TeacherBeat: The New Jersey and Connecticut state affiliates of the National Education Association are mounting aggressive campaigns.

Los Angeles Unified's teachers union faces test of organizing strength LA Daily News: The print shop below United Teachers Los Angeles' headquarters cranked out 7,500 signs for protestors to carry when they descend on downtown Thursday, demanding higher pay, fewer students per classroom and better working conditions.

The Great U.S. History Battle NPR: The College Board redesigned the framework for its Advanced Placement U.S. history course, and many conservative lawmakers aren't happy about it.

Feds Find Discrimination Against Female Athletes in NYC Schools WNYC: New York City denies violating federal law, but agrees to changes to expand high school sports options for girls.

Taylor Swift Gives $50,000 in Song Proceeds to NYC Schools AP: Global ambassador' Taylor Swift donates $50,000 in song proceeds to NYC public schools

Feds support transgender teen in civil rights suit against schools Washington Post: Federal officials have offered their support for a teen who has accused four Michigan school districts of discriminating against him because he is transgender.U.S. civil rights laws protect “all individuals from sex discrimination, including transgender individuals,” lawyers for the Justice and Education departments wrote in a statement filed in federal district court.

L.A. Schools Reboot Plan to Give Every Student a Computer District Dossier: The Los Angeles Unified district doesn't have the money to continue with plans to provide all students with a tech device, superintendent Ramon Cortines said.

D.C. Defends Plan For School That Would Serve Only Minority Boys WAMU: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to open up an all-boys high school for minority students is facing new questions from the ACLU.

Photos Of School Lunches From Around The World Will Make American Kids Want To Study Abroad HuffPost: Parents could model better eating habits and stock their crispers with fresh fruit and vegetables, but a viable starter solution might begin at lunchtime. Sweetgreen, a healthy quick-serve restaurant that values local and organic ingredients, clarified disparity between American student lunches and those of other countries by photographing typical school lunches from around the world. The visuals are eye-opening.

How Twitter is shaping the #CommonCore debate Hechinger Report: Supovitz says that ordinary citizens and grassroots groups have used Twitter to gain the type of influence – both with politicians and the mainstream media – that has traditionally been enjoyed by more established groups.

Social Media: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 10.38.29 AM
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:

*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.

*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)

*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.  

Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.

But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.

Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others.   Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.

Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.

Morning Video: "Imitation Game" Writer Urges Kids To Stay Weird

“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and different and I didn’t belong." Inspiring message that was sadly too late for Draven Rodriguez (the Laser Cat Yearbook kid). Or, watch the Moral March from North Carolina (via AFT). Got something better? Send it to me at @alexanderrusso@

Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"

Anya Kamenetz’s The Test is an awesome analysis of how “the test obsession is making public schools … into unhappy places.” But Kamenetz’s great work doesn't stop there.  In the second part of the book, she presents alternative approaches to high-stakes testing:
 
Team Robot tests conventional subjects (math, reading, writing) in unconventional ways (invisible, integrated, electronic).
 
Team Monkey tests unconventional qualities (mindset, grit) in conventional ways (multiple –choice surveys).
 
Team Butterfly, which Kamenetz would use as the basis for a new system, integrates learning with assessment and covers twenty-first-century skills without quantifying the outcomes in a way that’s familiar or easily comparable …
 
Team Unicorn, which is still emerging, relies heavily on video games. She offers an intriguing distinction between Team Unicorn and Team Robot: “the former understands the limitations of what they are doing.” (Sign me up for the more adventurous approach, whose metrics also should be the most incompatible with stakes being assessed.)

The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"" »

Flashback Friday (#FBF): "Keep Calm & Continue Testing"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

"A test season riff on the WWII poster "Keep Calm And Carry On" via @mikeklonsky.  Is this for real, or even new?  I have no idea but would love to know.  There's an ACT logo and they're getting back to me about whether it's official or not.  If this was done by ACT rather than bootlegged it would be all the better.  Other versions of the same idea are here." (2012: "Keep Calm And Continue Testing")

Media: NYT Fills Labor Beat Spot With TNR Alum Noam Scheiber

Politico reported yesterday that the NYT will be filling the spot once held by Steven Greenhouse with TNR alum Noam Scheiber.

I'm no expert on Schieber and his work on politics and labor, but a quick Google Search shows up stories and Tweets about Cory Booker, Karen Lewis, and New Jersey politics that suggest that he's going to provide different coverage than his predecessor.

There are precious few reporters assigned to cover the labor beat, including folks at BuzzFeed and EdWeek and indie bloggers like Mike (EIA) Antonucci, and perhaps depending on how you view his work Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle. I don't think there's anyone covering labor for the Washington Post or NPR. 

Related posts: So Long, NYT Labor Reporter Steven GreenhouseWe Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?;  Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesCharts: Teachers = Teamsters?

Morning Video: Charter Advocate Says Critics Are Rooting For Failures

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Charter advocates and critics debated their role in Chicago earlier this week, including a few moments when INCS president Andrew Broy (far left) claimed that charter critics want Chicago schools to fail. Click here if the video doesn't load. Click here for the Sun-Times coverage.

Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story

Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do. 

Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).

But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.  

There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide). 

The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.

By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments. 

But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.

Continue reading "Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story" »

Quotes: Former Montgomery County Supe Talks Testing Moratorium

Quotes2I think more and more people have come around to the point of view I expressed a few years ago. -- Starr in NPR talking about his 2012 call for a moratorium on high-stakes testing (Exit Interview With A Nationally Known School Leader)

 

Charts: School Board Members Average 5+ Years

Www.nsba.org sites default files SBcirca2010_WEB.pdf

"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics. 

Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"

Almost every paper presented at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, made me somewhat more hopeful that the Gates Foundation, at least, will learn and back off from insisting that stakes be attached to standardized tests, and start down more promising policy paths. The exception is Alexander Russo’s Inside Foundations: Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees on Education Giving

According to Russo’s astute article, the lessons of this new generation of philanthropy are:

1. Policy and advocacy are great tools—to a point.

2. New approaches complicate measurement/evaluation issues. 

3. Newly-created organizations bring focus and fidelity but can lack credibility and engagement.       

4. “Strategic” philanthropy is a powerful way to narrow priorities—unless it’s applied too rigidly.  

5. Setting clear metrics helps—until you take them too far.

6. Fail fast—but don’t overreact to bad news, either.

7. Don’t forget/underplay “the grind.”

8. Little more coordination, please (but not too much!)

In a rational world, this witty and insightful call for balance would contribute to better policy-making. In contrast to the statements made by other insiders to the other contributors, however, I fear that the several elites interviewed by Russo are concluding that, yes, we lose credibility with each of our risky policy gambles -- but we will make it up on volume.

Continue reading "Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"" »

Quotes: David Carr's View Of Teachers

Quotes2You will meet this schlumpy lifer who five minutes into the conference makes you just feel like killing yourself, and you think, ‘I leave my child with this kid?’ And the next person you meet will be this incredibly charismatic person who sees every young person before them as this unique piece of clay about to be molded.

- Recently-deceased NYT media critic David Carr in The Answer Sheet (What David Carr told me

Morning Video: The Heroin-Dealing Principal (& Other Options)

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

From NBC News: "Missouri police seek a former elementary school principal, they now believe was running a heroin trafficking ring. " Click here if the video doesn't load properly. Or watch AFT video of UTLA event last week here, or Scott Walker's critique of going to college as a requirement for being President here, or Fordham's lavender-shirted Petrilli talking about the same topic over the weekend here.

Charts: An Education U-Turn For Third-Generation Latinos?

Www.urban.org UploadedPDF 413239 Immigrant Youth Outcomes.pdf

"After progress from first to second generation, there are retreats in outcomes, such as voter participation, school attendance, educational attainment, trust in institutions, trust and interchanges with neighbors, and disconnectedness from work and school." Urban Institute via Vox.

Morning Video: None Of The 10 Best Teachers In The World Is From Finland

Check out this video via Forbes' Jordan Shapiro, featuring the USA's own Stephen Ritz, who's apparently well known in the U.S.A for a TED Talk and classroom food production program in NYC.

Quotes: Chicago Teachers Union Blames Mayor For Jackie Robinson Little League Scandal

Quotes2Mayor Rahm closed half a dozen schools in Jackie Robinson West’s part of the city, and tried to close the school where the founder of JRW worked. Then CPS cut funding for high school freshman sports, laid off a thousand teachers.

-- CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey in The Nation (Gentrification Is the Real Scandal). Quote slightly edited for clarity.

Charts: Union Coverage & Membership Fall Below 50 Percent

image from imgur.comIt's not just union membership that's declining, reports USA Today, but also the percentage of teachers who are covered by a union contract. Image used with permission. 

Quotes: Bolstering Executive Function To Help "Problem Readers"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe need to start not just giving flashcards, letters, and sounds the way we now do, but, especially if we know someone might be a problem reader, look at these other skills, at cognitive control and self-regulation.

-- UCSF researcher Fumiko Hoeft in The New Yorker (How Children Learn To Read) #stealthdyslexia

AM News: Chicago School Board Appointee Defends GSV Education Investments

"Enough Is Enough": Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists BuzzFeed: In an email yesterday, a prominent education technology investor encouraged industry supporters to fight back against a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that was critical of her role as a member of the Chicago school board. See also EdSurge.

Jeb Bush Talks Immigration, Education, Releases Emails As He Eyes 2016 Bid Huffington Post: In a visit to Florida's state capital on Tuesday, Republican Jeb Bush focused on the politically explosive topics of immigration and education reform, while emails were released from his time as governor there in an effort to burnish his credentials as he eyes a 2016 presidential bid. See also Palm Beach Post, PK12.

In Iowa, Chris Christie said he now has 'grave concerns' about Common Core Des Moines Register: Today, reporters and political operatives are talking about how Christie has in the past supported Common Core. Time magazine politics reporter Zeke Miller on Monday night tweeted a link to a video of Christie saying in 2013 that "we are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we're going to continue."

Five States Encounter Problems With PARCC Tests EdSurge: Connection issues, malfunctioning video players, error codes--these are just a few of the problems encountered on TestNav, PARCC’s student testing platform, as Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, New Mexico and Maryland conducted “infrastructure trials” in preparation for testing season in March.

Fewer than half of teachers now covered by unions USA Today: For the first time since the rise of teachers unions in the 1980s, the percentage of USA teachers represented by unions in public and private schools has fallen below 50%, suggesting that the demographics of the teaching profession and the shift away from traditional schools are taking a toll on union membership.

High-School Equivalency Degree Loses Its Dominant Position WSJ: The new GED, which is more expensive in many states and harder to pass for test takers, has provided an opening for competing products. Already, 10 states have chosen an alternative to the GED, seven additional states offer two or three tests, and state officials in Washington and New Mexico are considering new options. See also Hechinger Report.

Pro-charter school group estimates 14 percent enrollment gain nationwide Washington Post: The National Alliance of Public Charter Schools estimates in a new report that 2.9 million children now attend U.S. charter schools, up 14 percent from last school year.More than 500 new charter schools opened in the 2014-2015 school year and 200 charters were closed for reasons ranging from poor academic performance to financial problems, according to the organization.

Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget WSJ: Mr. de Blasio has said he supported a proposal to require city schools to serve breakfast inside the classroom—instead of just the cafeteria—a shift supporters say would increase participation rates in the city’s free breakfast program. But the program has yet to get off the ground under Mr. de Blasio. More than a year into the mayor’s first term, advocates say their frustrations are growing.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Chicago School Board Appointee Defends GSV Education Investments" »

Morning Video: Language Immersion Programs

 

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

Learn more about native language programs from this NBC News segment (above or click here ). Or, watch and learn about dual immersion programs from the NY local NBC affiliate (via WNYC) here.

Quotes: "Fix The System Rather Than Applying A Patch"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. -- Woodrow Wilson Institute's Arthur Levine in the NYT (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) via GT

Thompson: OK's Grassroots Revolt Against Testing Continues to Grow

Last week brought more evidence that the voices of students, parents, and teachers are being heard, in many or most places, and we are all fed up with bubble-in accountability. The Daily Oklahoman’s Tim Willert, in Oklahoma City School Leaders Hope Tour Will Give Elected Officials a New Perspective, reported that Superintendent Rob Neu, an eloquent opponent of test, sort, and punish, took newly-elected State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and other governmental leaders on a tour of schools. They visited my old high school, Centennial, hearing from some great student leaders and one of my best former colleagues.

The statement that gained the most attention was that of an elementary student who criticized high-stakes exams.  He said, “We’re just 10 years old, and we’re getting stressed out in the fourth grade.”

The Oklahoma PTA, which has also criticized stakes attached to standardized tests, encouraged parents to Opt Out of field tests. Moreover, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association responded to this parental pushback by issuing a reference guide on opting out. The Tulsa World’s Nour Habib, in OSSBA Issues Guidance to Opt-Out Requests by Parents, reports that veteran Superintendent Lloyd Snow said that the PTA’s call to parents to opt-out is “pretty telling.” He noted, “It’s a pretty strong message to policy makers that parents don’t like this environment.”

The week’s third big story is a “stinging new report” from the Southern Regional Education Board about opposition to value-added evaluations. The SREB conducted focus groups in 58 Oklahoma school districts and found a “lack of buy-in and trust in the system.” It found “a remarkable portion of teachers and principals interviewed in focus groups” question the validity of Oklahoma’s standardized test data. There was even more distrust of the metrics for teachers of non-tested classes. Tulsa, which is focused on its Gates Foundation teacher quality grant, didn't participate in the process.

The Tulsa World's Andrea Eger, in Commission Hears Report Critical of Oklahoma's Handling of Teacher Evaluations,  reported that State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister “shares some of those concerns and questions.”

Continue reading "Thompson: OK's Grassroots Revolt Against Testing Continues to Grow" »

Charts: Big Cities Will Get Much Less Money Under Alexander Bill, Says CAP

Screenshot 2015-02-04 14.29.26Enough with these high-minded policy debates over annual testing and teacher evaluations and vaccinations (!). Let's talk about the Senate bill's formula "portability" provisions determining which states and districts get more or less funding than under current law. According to CAP, the Alexander bill would be a big loser for large districts and high-poverty states. Click the link to get all the details. No response yet (that I know of) from the Alexander office. Image used with permission.

Morning Video: Heart-Warming Story Of Unemployed Photographer & Bronx Middle School

Here's Ellen Degeneres interviewing the man behind "Humans of New York" and the student and principal who have become unintentional superstars. Target is jumping on the bandwagon, too.

Unions: Making Sense Of That Strange NEA Strategy/Polling Memo

Kudos to New America's Conor Williams for digging up (or cultivating sources who sent him) the results of a $170,000 NEA-funded strategy memo which he details in The Daily Beast (Union to Teachers: Say ‘Right ZIP Code,’ Not ‘Rich’).

This is the second interesting document that's been surfaced by a non-national education reporter in recent days. The other was the letter from the USDE to the Illinois state board of education about districts not complying with annual assessment requirements which Crain's Chicago reporter Greg Hinz shared last week. (National education reporters, strike out on your own. Don't let yourselves be turned into White House correspondents or spoon-fed by smooth-talking advocates playing on your over-worked, underpaid sympathies.)

However, Williams may be guilty of milking the significance of the document he's found ("Persuading the People on Public Schools”) for somewhat more than it's worth.  

The NEA memo he describes includes poll-driven recommendations to use simpler language (ZIP codes vs. inequality).  But it's not clear that there's anything particularly nefarious or unusual about that.  Williams also revisits his previous post about the overheated coverage of a similar TFA memo dug up and reported on a few months ago, which somewhat undercuts his argument that it's no big deal that the NEA does communications and strategy work. And his conclusions -- that the NEA will both use softer language and that "the NEA is planning to be as confrontational as possible in the coming years" -- don't really go together, if I understand them correctly.

How does the NEA intend to use softer language and rally the base at the same time? Perhaps it's more about simpler language, or clearer language, than any stepping away from the issues.  (Someone who's read the memo through would be able to tell us that.) Though the NEA does have to be careful in how it rallies its base, given that there are so many aspects of the current system -- attendance zones, seniority transfers, and local school boards -- that result in inequitable services and outcomes for kids.  And, of course, the obvious differences between the priorities of college-educated, mostly-white teachers working with a student population that is increasingly poor and now majority-minority.

"What does it mean when a major education organization would rather not discuss inequality, equity, research, or effectiveness in 2015?" asks Williams. "It means that the organization wants to muddy public education debates and resist changes to the status quo." About that we might agree. 

Thompson: Teachers Despise Differentiated Instruction -- But It's Invaluable For Others

Perhaps the greatest innovation in the annals of school administration are the words, “differentiated instruction.”  When teachers complain about the difficulty of teaching students with college-level skills in classes where most students read on a 5th or 6th grade level, administrators have an easy answer – write a memo mandating “differentiated instruction.”

But, in his Education Week Commentary Differentiation Doesn’t Work, James Delisle writes about education substance, and he correctly argues, “Differentiation is a failure, a farce, and the ultimate educational joke played on countless educators and students.” The only people who advocate for it are theorists with no experience in the classroom. In reality, differentiation “is harder to implement in a heterogeneous classroom than it is to juggle with one arm tied behind your back.”  

Even so, differentiated instruction is a godsend to bureaucrats. In high-challenges secondary schools where chronic disorder and frequent violence make it hard to teach for mastery and manage classrooms at the same time, differentiated instruction also comes to the rescue. Rather than accept any responsibility for out-of-control school cultures, the central office merely reissues the memo stating that the use of best instructional practices, engaging instruction, and the personalization of whole class instruction will make disruptions disappear. Even better, when behavior doesn’t improve, it is the teachers who are then to blame.

When students, teachers, and parents rebel against soul-killing, teach-to-the-test, the research-based solution is renaming those mindless worksheets as the “best practice” of “differentiated instruction.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Teachers Despise Differentiated Instruction -- But It's Invaluable For Others" »

Charts: "Sky's The Limit" For Spend-Happy Elected School Boards

"A Crain's analysis of the 20 biggest U.S. school systems with elected and appointed boards found that half of those with elected boards carry even more debt than Chicago does, compared with revenue, while all but one of the largest systems with appointed boards have borrowed relatively less." (Elected or appointed? Pick your poison).

 

Morning Video: Republican Divide Over Common Core (Mirrors Democratic One)

Here's an 11-minute Fox News segment featuring Texs Governor Greg Abbott and former EdSec Bill Bennett on the Republican divide over Common Core, the Presidential politics shaping candidates' positions, etc. Transcript here.

Charts: TFA State Budget Line Items Look Big - Until You Compare Them

Though this Dallas Observer piece on TFA reads pretty reasonable to me compared to many others I've come across recently (Teach for America Finds Growing Support in Texas), the chart of state budget line items for TFA is pretty eye-catching and simplistic:
Teach for America Finds Growing Support in TexasIt'd be helpful to have some context here. How much do these states spend on other alternative programs, for example? (The Illinois "Grow Your Own" program spent $20M over 10 years and generated 100 certified teachers.) How much do these states spend on teacher recruitment overall? (My guess is that it's tens of millions in many cases.) Image used with permission.

TV: Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show

image from media.salon.comThe new David Simon show coming later this year will give us all a chance to think about residential segregation and the neighborhood school.

According to a recent Grantland article, the miniseries -- called "Show Me A Hero" -- surrounds the reaction in Yonkers NY to a 1985 court decision that the city had "'illegally and intentionally’ fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city.” 

The series is based on a Lisa Belkin book by the same name (book cover to left). The former NYT writer has since moved to HuffPost and Yahoo. You can read an excerpt here. Something in Salon here. IMDB for the show is here.

What's this have to do with education?  Well, residential segregation combined with neighborhood-based schooling is the main reason we have such inequitable & segregated schools and school systems (and charter networks, too). While everyone likes to talk about the joys of the neighborhood system, it's turned out to be class- and race-based in some pretty awful ways. See Nikole Hannah-Jones' work in ProPublica and The Atlantic if you don't think it's a current issue.   

So this show will give us at least a glancing chance of revisiting the issues of race, class, and the neighborhood school. 

Related posts: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose ChoiceWatch School Segregation Grow Over 20 YearsRethinking The Neighborhood School IdealDecline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta)The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools

Charts: Children On Food Stamps Doubled Since 2007, Says Census Bureau

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"The Census bureau finds about 16 million – or one in five – US children lived in families that received food stamps in 2014" Census image via The Guardian

Campaign 2015: LA School Board Candidate Won't Attend United Way Debates

Screenshot 2015-01-28 12.48.02
Pay no attention to the mis-captioned candidate pictures (the names for Rodriguez and Thomas were switched but have now been fixed) or or the hipster spelling of "yamaka" (I blame Hillel) or even the sloppy screenshot job of the original version of the captions (courtesy: me).

The real news is that incumbent LAUSD District 5 member (and charter target) Bennett Kayser announced that he was pulling out of two United Way-sponsored debates against challengers Thomas and Rodriguez. Why?  No one knows exactly. But it may well be that United Way LA “isn't exactly neutral” as it has been in the past, says LA Weekly's Hillel Aron. Yep, that's right.  United Way.

In LA and a few other places, United Way organizations aren't just gathering donations and providing services.  They're joining or leading coalitions, conducting parent information initiatives, and -- unavoidably -- taking sides.  

As one Kayser supporter put it (in the LA Weekly article), “Anybody who thinks the United Way [LA] has run even-handed candidate forums should look into buying land in Florida." 

Related posts:  "Education Mayors" Headline West Coast SummitLetter Opposing Publication Of Value-Added ScoresSchool Board Candidates Debate DeasyLos Angeles School Board Candidate Forum

 

Quotes: Parents Should "Protect Your Children" From Common Core Exams

Quotes2Moms and dads, you have the inherent right and responsibility to protect your children. You can choose to refuse the top-down Common Core racket of costly standardized tests of dubious academic value, reliability, and validity. - National Review's Michelle Malkin (Choose to Refuse on PARCC/SBAC Testing)

Quotes: Vast Majority Of Testing Required By Teachers, Schools, & Districts

Quotes2Let’s be clear: 90% or more of the “testing” that occurs in schools is under the control of the teacher and the school district.  -- NH State Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather in testimony before Senate HELP Committe (as prepared)

Morning Audio: The Force Field Of Expectations & The Half-Second Too Soon Rescue

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This recent episode of NPR's new show "Invisibilia" focuses on the "force field" that parent and adult expectations -- however well-intended -- can have on lowering kids' abilities and performance in school and for years later. On a literal level, the show is about rats, blind kids and echo-location. On a symbolic level, it's about how many of us intervene a half-second too early and interrupt an uncomfortable but important learning moment. Don't worry, it's not all symbolic. There's some Carol Dweck in there, too -- and a snippet from a song my dad wrote at the 2:30 mark. Download and transcript here.

Quotes: Rethinking The Neighborhood School Ideal

Quotes2The neighborhood school might still be the best choice if this were a perfect world with ways to teach well each child wherever she or he might be. We don’t have that. -- Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews (The decline of neighborhood schools causes discomfort. Should it?)

Lunchtime Video: Testing Town Hall

In case you missed it (like I did), here's video of a 90-minute town hall on testing that  took place in Milwaukee in October at the Great City Schools' annual conference. I came across it trying to track down the details behind the overtesting numbers that are being used in the current testing/streamlining debate. Link is here.

Afternoon Video: PBS NewsHour Covers "The Test"

Here's last night's PBS NewHour segment featuring Anya Kamenetz's new book, The Test. (Is it a high of 113 tests K-12, or is 113 the average?) Not loading properly, or want to read the transcript? Click here.

Quotes: Why Schools Aren't Using Simple "Nudges" To Help Students Learn

Quotes2Why aren’t schools, districts and states rushing to set up these measures? Maybe because the programs have no natural constituency. They are not labor- or capital-intensive, so they don’t create lots of jobs or lucrative contracts. They don’t create a big, expensive initiative that a politician can point to in a stump speech. They just do their job, effectively and cheaply. - UMichigan economist  Susan Dynarski, in the NYT (The Power of a Simple Nudge)

Thompson: Misgivings About NYC's New Cell Phone Policy

Like most teachers who I know, I have strong opinions about cell phones in school – I’m agin em.

But, I support Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, so why should I intrude into New York City’s cell phone debate? Edu-politics is the art of the possible and cell phones aren’t going away. At some point we will have to find a way to incorporate those hand-held computers into the learning process. So, I had decided to bite my tongue and hope for the best.

Then, I stumbled across TechCrunch and Joe Mathewson’s prediction for 2015, “Teachers will embrace student’s Smartphone addiction.” Such candor cannot be allowed to go to waste. Regardless of where we come down on cell phones in school, we should face the fact that we are welcoming a dominating compulsion into our classrooms.

NY Chalkbeat’s Brian Charles, in Educators Remain Cautious as City Prepares to Lift Cell Phone Ban, quotes a principal who asks, “How do we enforce the use of cell phones in class, if we have 500-plus kids with cell phones who are taking calls or text during class time?” The principal then makes the point that too few non-educators fully understand, “We have laid a whole new burden on teachers who have to make sure children get the instruction they need.”

I must emphasize that NYC is not only opening the door to an incredibly disruptive device. It is inviting teenagers to bring patterns of behavior, that often could be described as addictions, into classrooms. When teachers, alone, cannot manage the cell phone challenge, they are likely to be scapegoated.

I would never bet against technology. The reason why digital technologies have failed to improve teaching and learning, I believe, is that we have not laid the foundation for the new types of learning. We must all take responsibility for helping students develop a learning culture and the self-control necessary to successfully engage in blended learning. New York City is dumping a massive and complex challenge on teachers and principals, while it is not likely to accept any responsibility for the epidemic of distraction and disorder that probably will result.

On the other hand, school improvement is a team effort. I'm not going to second guess teammates like de Blasio and Farina and I will hope for the best.  -JT (@drjohnthompson)    

 

 

 

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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.