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Media: Boston Magazine Botches Rankings, Profiles Firebrand Union Chief

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy Boston Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image CC.

Teachers: Poor Leadership, Inflammatory Coverage Diminish Public Perceptions

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

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

Who or what is?

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

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

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

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Builds A Better Teacher*

Trust in teachers is down, and support for better (more rigorous, clinical) teacher prep is up. PBS NewsHour goes into it with Dana Goldstein Elizabeth Green. First broadcast last night. Online extra here.

AM News: Another CA Lawsuit Challenges Teachers Union Practices

Lawsuit challenges teachers’ compulsory dues EdSource Today: A lawsuit working its way through the courts is striking at the core of the California Teachers Association’s power: its authority to automatically deduct hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dues from the paychecks of both members and non-members.

LAUSD police to give up some weaponry obtained in federal program LA Times: Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. The move comes as education and civil rights groups have called on the...

Teachers union urges board to fire Deasy LA School Report: UTLA says it wants the board to downgrade Deasy’s performance to “unsatisfactory” at his annual evaluation, scheduled to take place behind closed doors on October 21. That would effectively spell the end to the superintendent’s contract which – at his own insistence – stipulates he meet performance targets set by the board.

What’s the best way to teach teachers? PBS NewsHour: An annual poll out today by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa finds that majorities of Americans believe teacher preparation should be more rigorous.  There was also support for stronger certification requirements and evaluations, more training and practice time for teaching candidates, and opposition to using student test results to evaluate teachers. A new book explores what better teaching may look like.

Bobby Jindal Trusts Science Except When He Doesn't Huffington Post: America needs a leader to bridge the widening gulf between faith and science, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a devout Roman Catholic with Ivy League-level science training, thinks he can be that person.

Wealthy L.A. Schools' Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan's Hollywood Reporter: Hollywood parents say not vaccinating makes "instinctive" sense. Now their kids have whooping cough.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Another CA Lawsuit Challenges Teachers Union Practices" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Shifting Public Opinion On Teachers, Teaching

Americans Want Teachers to Take a Bar Exam - The Atlantic ow.ly/Bz3Dd  @EmilyRichmond @EWAEmily

Tom Kane doubles down on combining #commoncore & teacher evaluation in @EducationNext ow.ly/BzlaA

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior - How long will it last? @smarick @rhess99 @MichaelPetrilli ow.ly/BzmJv

Time for Reformers, Educators to Work Together - @Eduflack http://ow.ly/ByFjZ  @edu_post

Vox raises possibility reformers let Rahm face Lewis/AFT alone bit.ly/1shNabk Repeat of Fenty/Gray? @dropoutnation @mikeantonnuci

Pension reform isn't the same as pension theft, @ChadAldeman reminds @DanaGoldstein Education Next ow.ly/BzkX7

Afternoon Video: Preview Of Tonight's PBS NewsHour Teacher Preparation Segment

Here's a preview of the PBS NewsHour segment on Elizabeth Green's teacher preparation book; the full version is slated to air tonight.

Books: I Trust That You Will Find This Useful

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 1.14.43 PMUlrich Boser's new book, The Leap, is about the science of trust and includes some education-related policy implications you might want to check out.

In the policymakers' guide that comes along with the book, Boser addresses some of the things that can be done to empower individuals through education, including:

• Support schools that lengthen the school day.
• Reform school funding so that it’s both more equitable and effective, and have school dollars follow children instead of programs.
• Make college more affordable through Pell Grants.• Allow college students to gain credit for learn-
ing outside the classroom.
 
There's also good reading on trust and public policy in Robert Putnam's writings such as here.
 
Most directly comparable of all is the work that Tony Bryk and others have done at the University of Chicago showing that trust among adults and kids is an important condition for effective learning. 
 
Boser is a longtime fellow/contributor at CAP and has another book after this one already in the works.
 

Quotes: Reformers "Don't Hurry To Claim" Chicago Or Emanuel

Quotes2While Emanuel is a supporter of charter schools who's generally seen as being a reform-friendly, reformers don't hurry to claim Chicago as a hotbed of change, which could blunt the election's symbolic weight. - Vox's Libby Nelson (What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics).

Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?*

The sad but unsurprising news from this recent On The Media segment (The Labor Beat) is that labor coverage has dwindled sharply in the mainstream press -- down to just a couple of fulltime labor beat reporters at major national papers (WSJ and NYT).  

What's fascinating to note is that there's so little labor-focused coverage in education newsgathering operations, too -- even as there are new (especially small nonprofit) education-focused journalism operations sprouting up all over the place.

The argument for labor coverage in education is pretty straightforward.  Union numbers may be dwindling sharply in the private sector and other parts of the public sector, too, but last I looked charter schools (most of them non-union) educate less than 10 percent of the students in America and union representation of district school teachers is at around 50 percent.

Labor is and will continue to be a big part of the K-12 education space for the foreseeable future, and yet other than the occasional controversy or flareup unions and laws surrounding them get surprisingly little coverage.

EdWeek's Steven Sawchuk handles the issue as best he can over at Teacher Beat, but he's also got every other teacher-related issue under the sun to cover (research, politics, etc.).  EIA's Mike Antonucci is the only full-time, labor-focused person out there that I know of -- and his coverage (if not his reporting) are generally critical-minded.

Given how many teachers there are -- and how important and influential (and in some corners controversial) teachers unions are, you'd think there'd be more regular, in-depth coverage.  

Or is there more ongoing coverage out there than I'm seeing?

*I should have included RiShawn Biddle's coverage of teachers unions at Dropout Nation, including updates like this one.

Thompson: How Chicago Increased Graduation Rates

The single most successful reform in any of my old schools was the establishment of Freshmen Academies. We had very little money to invest in school improvements, but our high schools got the biggest bang for the buck from a "High Touch," team effort to get 9th graders on track.

Our successes were consistent with the findings of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) which show, “Graduation is mostly determined in the ninth grade year.” 

The CCSR’s Tim Knowles, in Chicago Isn't Waiting for Superman,  reports that, for the second year in a row, Chicago’s graduation rate jumped 4%. It is now a record-high 69.4%. 

Chicago focused “on what research told school leaders would matter most," keeping freshmen on track to graduate" by improving their attendance and tailoring interventions to particular students’ needs. Knowles explains, “The new focus compelled greater problem-solving and collaboration among teachers and administrators committed to ensuring every single student was on-track for graduation.” 

He says that it “might sound small or obvious,” but “the focus on freshman on-track represented a major psychological and cultural shift for school leaders.” 

Policy people tend to lack an understanding of “promoting power,” and putting teens on "positive trajectories." Repeated failure does no good for anyone, but success breeds success.  

The focus on test scores has distracted adults from what really matters, helping students progress.  It might (or might not) be good when the average student correctly answers a couple more bubble-in test questions, but what do those numbers really mean? When educators and students work together, and kids make it over the finish line, however, we know something meaningful was accomplished. –JT(drjohnthompson) 

Quotes: A Parent's Response To Her Child's Test Anxiety

Quotes2Yes, she has test anxiety. Yes, she has cried... I comfort her, but I tell her: ‘I make $14.42 an hour. What are you going to do to have a better life?.' - Success Academy parent Natasha Shannon in the NYT (The Battle for New York Schools)

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AM News: Union Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark

CTU President Karen Lewis meets with Newark Mayor WGN-TV: The Chicago Sun-Times reports Chicago Teacher's Union President, Karen Lewis, another possible candidate for mayor, was in Newark, New Jersey over the past few days. She was talking with Newark's mayor, who also had a background in education.

Karen Lewis in Jersey to talk to Newark educator-turned-mayor Chicago Sun-Times: Possible mayoral hopeful Karen Lewis last week traveled to Newark and apparently took part in a series of meetings and seminars, including with the city's mayor, who happens to have a bit in common with Lewis. 

Strained ties cloud future of Deasy, LAUSD LA Times: The controversy engulfing Los Angeles Unified's $1.3-billion technology project has inflamed long-held tensions between the Board of Education and Supt. John Deasy, who is questioning whether he should step down.

New York City Charter Schools Test New Rent Rules WNYC: Ascend is among the first wave of charters seeking to take advantage of a state law approved in April that requires the city to give charters free space in public school buildings or pay their rent.

For Teachers, Many Paths Into The Classroom ... Some Say Too Many NPR:  One in five newly hired teachers has skipped university preparation for teaching. Indiana is the latest state to make entering the classroom easier.

Room for Debate: How to Diversify Teaching NYT: What can be done to make a career in education more attractive to men and people of color?

With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise NYT: Parent groups and privacy advocates are challenging the practices of an industry built on data collection, and California has passed wide-ranging legislation protecting students’ personal information.

Schools move toward ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies to boost student tech use Washington Post: His iPhone is on his desk, out in the open, and Joshua Perez’s teacher does not take it away. Instead, she asks the eighth-grader and his classmates in honors geometry at Argyle Magnet Middle School to Google the words “vertex form parabola.”

Using tablets to teach reading Marketplace: We're kicking off a week-long series on how technology is changing reading.

Ready To Work WNYC: Next, we'll spend time at a vocational school in one of America's wealthiest school districts in Lexington, MA. Then: a trip to Nashville, where failing schools have been turned into so-called "career academies" that focus on technical education.

San Diego School District's New 18-Ton Armored Vehicle Creates Stir NPR: The mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, will have teddy bears in it, school police officials say. The MRAP is a piece of military surplus equipment that's worth around $733,000.

California School Cops Received Military Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Armored Vehicles HuffPost: A Los Angeles Unified School District spokesperson who requested anonymity confirmed school police received the gear noted in the report. The district, which has 400 sworn officers, has been receiving military weaponry since 2001, the spokesperson said.

Twitter Erupts as Nicki Minaj’s Offer to School Is Declined NYT: Students at the rapper’s alma mater, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, post their dismay after a visit falls through.

Books: Get Ready For 2015's "The Test"

The test book 2015Hey, everyone, so sorry if you're not done reading Goldstein, Green, Kahlenberg/Potter, or any of the other education books that have come out in recent weeks, but it's time to start getting ready for the next wave of titles coming down the pike.

First one that I know of for 2015 is Anya Kamenetz's The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be.

According to the understandably hyperbolic promo writeup (I haven't actually seen the book itself), many schools are spending up to 28 percent of their time on test prep, and the Common Core is going to require "an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year", and the nation's spending $1.4 billion a year on testing.

I don't know if any of that is accurate (or if $1.4 billion is a lot) but it's certainly pretty alarming -- and I guess that's the point. Not to worry, there are things that parents and educators to do to deal with the overtesting problem.  And there are celebrity profiles showing us how high tech folks like Gates and Bezos deal with overtesting in their kids' lives.

All snark aside, it'll be interesting to see what Kamenetz's book adds to the overtesting debate, which is sure to continue this year as states and districts and schools deal with Common Core assessments and parents' and teachers' concerns about testing, test prep, and use of test results. The timing couldn't be better.

Events: We All Missed #TheTeacherWars Confab In NYC Last Night

image from t.co

#edjourn Last Night at New America's SoHo offices there was a lively-sounding filled-to-capacity three hour discussion with Jose Vilson, Dana Goldstein, and Motoko Rich (pictured, courtesy Melinda Anderson).

I wasn't there and haven't heard about any audio or video to share -- there's apparently a podcast in the works for some time in the near future.

In the meantime there are lots of tweets you can catch up on via #theteacherwars, #NANYC, @newamericaNYC and @danagoldstein, @TheJLV, and @motokorich.

Or, if you were there or following along in real time, tell us what we missed or what jumped out at you.

Thanks again to @MDAwriter Melinda Anderson for the picture.

Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful

#edjourn  Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 4.31.15 PMIt's not hard to relate to Libby Nelson'spoint of view in a recent Vox piece (Ranking high schools tells you which schools are rich or selective ), in which she notes that the rankings from places like the Daily Beast  mostly function to tell us what we already know -- that wealthier, whiter communities generate higher-performing high schools and that news outlets put out the lists to generate web traffic rather than to shed light on any particular phenomenon.

"The public schools that top these lists are mostly selective magnet schools that get to pick which students they educate. If they're not, they're much likely to enroll fewer poor students than public schools as a whole." That -- plus the reality that few families move for high school like they do for college -- explain why ranking high schools like this "makes no sense at all."

But the high school rankings phenomenon isn't as recent as Nelson seems to imagine, isn't quite as empty of substance or usefulness as it might seem, and isn't all that different than stories that Nelson and her colleagues at Vox (and here) sometimes also run.

Continue reading "Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful" »

Thompson: TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It's Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union

TNTP has done teachers a great service in publishing “Rebalancing Tenure Rights.” 

I’m serious. Liberal non-educators who support anti-tenure lawsuits seem to assume that the strickened laws would inevitably be replaced by something better. Vergara supporters have been mum on what would replace today’s imperfect but necessary laws, protecting the rights of teachers. 

TNTP now makes it clear, however, that if Vergara and similar suits are upheld on appeal, it will push an agenda that is fundamentally anti-teacher and anti-union. It would strip teachers of their right to challenge their accusers’ judgment. In doing so, they would make it impossible for the teacher’s side of the story to be entered into evidence in a dismissal case, and call the survival of collective bargaining into question.

Of course, TNTP spins its position, claiming that it is only "good faith" judgments that should be all-powerful. In theory, an administrative judge, in an one-day hearing, could reject bad faith and false judgments of administrators. But, if teachers aren't allowed to cross examine those judgments, how could the judge make such a determination? And, why would teachers join unions that could not challenge claims against their members?

Non-educators who haven’t seriously studied education history may not understand why teachers should have the democratic rights - enjoyed by all other Americans – to use the political process to gain protections that are more than those of the weakest civil service protections. But, there are huge problems with their claims.

Continue reading "Thompson: TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It's Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union" »

Quotes: An Honest Conversation (Among Reform Critics)

Quotes2We play to crowds, portend allegiance, retweet and rewrite the same messages, and hero-worship with no critical thought... And all of this is OK because, well, we agree on something, whatever that one thing is, and that’s what matters, right?

- Jose Vilson (On Honest and Civil Conversation (Simmer Down Now))

AM News: De Blasio Forced To Accommodate NYC Charter Expansion

Mayor Agrees to Accommodate 4 Larger or New Charter Schools NYT: Under a new state law, New York City must offer free space in public buildings or or help with the cost of renting private space.

Palm Beach school leaders won't opt out of high-stakes testing Sun Sentinel: The Lee County board initially supported the anti-test stance, even though state officials said it's against the law and would affect funding, student grades, graduation and eligibility for athletics. The Lee board reversed itself earlier this month.

One Newark, Many Changes WNYC: Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson talks about why drastic changes are required, despite protests and opposition from the mayor.

In-seat attendance up in D.C. schools Washington Post: DCPS in recent years has shifted away from measuring “average-daily attendance” which counts students with excused absences as attending on any given day, according to Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works, a national organization that has worked with DCPS. The new “in-seat attendance” measure only counts students who are actually there, which is a more meaningful number, she said.

Playgrounds For All Children: Here's How To Find One NPR: For kids with disabilities, a simple activity like going down a slide can be a challenge. An NPR crowdsourcing project maps inclusive playgrounds — fun and safe for all — across the country.

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music. NPR: A new study suggests that learning to play a musical instrument helps improve the brain's ability to process language. That means music lessons could give kids from low-income communities a big boost.

Duncan Looks to Tennessee's Turnaround School District as Model for Country PK12: On the last stop of his back-to-school bus tour through three Southern states, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan used a panel discussion Wednesday to tackle the education crisis present in so many economically devastated communities across the country. 

D.C. Teacher To Apologize For Asking Students To Compare Bush To Hitler WAMU: As part of a discussion on the book "War and Peace," a sixth-grade teacher asked their students to compare and contrast President George W. Bush and German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Chicago Mayoral Race: Lewis, Fioretti Turn Up the Heat NBC Chicago:Two of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most vocal critics are inching closer to making a decision on whether to challenge him at the ballot box this February.

UTLA tells LAUSD: 'The money is there' for 17.6 percent teacher pay raise LA Daily News: United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl on Tuesday told the Los Angeles Unified School board that it can clearly afford to give teachers a raise.

First Lady Michelle Obama Consoles Child Who Fainted ABC News:   The first lady called for paramedics and said, “If anyone is starting to feel tired standing up, bend your knees! And eat your breakfast, and lunch!”

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Even When #CCSS Critics Win, They Lose

CCSS critics out-debated advocates -- but [spoiler alert/trigger warning!] audience voted for CC anyway - EdWeek ow.ly/BlsUN

Common Core Advocates' Top 3 Mistakes - @yep-DC @BrainofMatter ow.ly/BkLHr Mistake #1: Ignoring materials and training.

Just 5 of 43 states with #CCSS are considering repeal of some kind, reports @ecs ow.ly/BkPt5 Though many have #renamed

Revamping tenure doesn't poll well in MO, reports @TeacherBeat ow.ly/BlMoO Then again, the state's already revamped tval.

Is It Time to Cash in on Charter Schools? I Don’t Think So - NJ Spotlight http://ow.ly/Bk3bU 

Newsweek: The Manhattan School That's Helping Immigrant Students Succeed ow.ly/Bl6dp

About 70 percent of America's elementary schools still rely on slow Internet connections. ow.ly/BkDTS

Video: Rhee, Kahlenberg, & Daniels Debate Common Core, Integration, & New iPhone Design

 Watch this panel featuring Michelle Rhee, Mitch Daniels, and Richard D. Kahlenberg from yesterday's NYT Schools For Tomorrow.  It's titled "Getting To College-Ready" and the Twitter hashtag was #NYTsft

Quotes: The Teachers Unions' Quandry

Quotes2The developments [Vergara, etc.] have left the nation's two largest teachers unions in a quandary: How to alter the perception that they are obstacles to change while holding on to principles such as tenure that their members demand. - WSJ (Teachers Unions Under Fire)

Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy

 

Or click below and watch Smiley interview Diane Ravitch.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy" »

Teaching: Vergara Decision Spotlights Administrator Practices As Much As Teachers

image from www.scholastic.comThe gist of my latest Scholastic Administrator column is that the Vergara decision in California -- and the slew of lawsuits that may follow -- put as much if not more pressure on school and district administrators as on teachers.

"The key task for educators is to decide whether to hunker down and keep doing what they’re already doing—a time-tested approach to change that is sometimes the wisest course—or take a hard look at what’s really possible under current law, start talking to counterparts about improving things in their districts in the short term and perhaps avoid the necessity of a wave of Vergara-like lawsuits in the first place."

But really, the star of the column is the graphic, right? A red apple with one of those small stickers on it (tenure) with an old-school wooden pencil crashing through the whole thing at high speed. 

Quotes: "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"

Quotes2There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness... I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - Ta-Nehesi Coates (‘I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me’ Atlantic Magazine via Longreads)

Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning

CyberEven when I supported Common Core as a step toward improving instruction, critical thinking, and teaching for mastery, I suspected that it was a part of a failure of imagination. 

Forget the idiocy of seeking high-stakes tests to force teachers and students into the 21st century. Given the explosion of knowledge, why worry over a list of the facts and concepts that secondary schools should teach?

Why not help teachers teach with the greatest curriculum on earth – the web sites of PBS, NPR, our incredible newspapers and magazines, and our awesome national museums and parks?

Every Sunday, listening to NPR, I’m reminded of the tragic opportunity costs of the contemporary school reform movement. This week, American Radio Works reported on the great potential of Common Core to counter the drill and kill prompted by testing, as well as the primitive worksheet-driven pedagogy that preceded it. Ironically, the child of a teacher featured in the report complained that the introduction of Common Core into his high-performing school means that packets of worksheets are driving out engaging instruction in his favorite subject, science.

Reformers assume that high-stakes tests are essential to making teachers and students do their jobs, so they downplay the damage done by their test, sort, and punish mentality.

Then, NPR’s TED Talk Radio Hour (rerun) reminded us of what I would think that everyone - even reformers during their childhood - once knew.  Sugata Mitra started the discussion with the reminder that education is not about “making” learning happen, but by “letting learning happen.”

Continue reading "Thompson: How To Stop Getting in the Way of Learning" »

Quotes: Top Obama Ed Official Endorsed Vergara Decision (ICYMI)

Quotes2

The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers. -- Arne Duncan responding to #Vergara decision as quoted in the WSJ (Teachers Unions Under Fire)

Morning Audio: ICYMI Common Core Documentary

 

Here's the full audio for the widely-admired embedded American RadioWorks documentary about teachers working with Common Core that came out last week. Or download or read it it here.

Quotes: Shame On Reform Allies Who Let Rhee Critics "Get Away With It"

Quotes2Her critics deserve shame for being so quick to paint her as the wicked witch. And the rest of us earned some shame for letting them get away with it a lot of the time. - TNTP's David Keeling (The High Price of Leadership)

Charts: Traditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFA

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.comAmerican school children are getting more and more diverse, as is TFA's small but growing band of merry teachers. But traditional classroom teaching remains super white. Image via Vox, used with permission.  Click here for the feature article about TFA's evolution.

Morning Video: Teachers Describe Common Core Transformation

 

Check out 7 minutes of video above feturing Reno (Washoe) teachers talking about their experiences with the Common Core. Your eyes might be opened.  Then go and read the sidebar story from American Radio Works about how things have played out there. Then -- almost done! -- listen to the full hourlong documentary, and several other sidebar stories (including Carol Burris and Lace To The Top). Last but not least, there's a second video from Washoe in which teachers reflect you can watch here, courtesy Torrey Palmer and Aaron Grossman.

Quotes: From Pariah To Guru

Quotes2It’s hard to feel like a guru... I’ve been a pariah for so long.

- E.D. Hirsch, profiled by Peg Tyre in Politico (along with David Coleman)

NB Diane Ravitch was also profiled.

Journalism: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting

Group-spencer1415-hpIt's been a busy few weeks for the folks at Columbia University's Journalism School, what with not one but two Spencer Fellow alumnae having books out and three new Spencer Fellows arriving on campus (pictured).

In addition, there's a new program that's launched alongside the Spencer Fellowship, with Spencer alumna Sarah Carr at the helm.

Called a "post-graduate reporting project," the new effort will focus on teachers and features the work of recent CSJ grads over the next year.

The first crop of reporters -- all CSJ 2014 graduates -- includes Madeleine Cummings (her first story is here), Matt Collette (his first story is here) and Alexandra Neason (coming soon!).  

Image used with permission. 

Books: If Teacher-Bashing Is Real, The Ford Foundation Started It

image from www.newyorker.comColumbia J-School professor Sam Freedman's New Yorker review of Up The Down Staircase (The Book That Got Teaching Right) makes at least one claim with which I disagree strongly -- that teacher-bashing "has become a major strain, even the dominant strain, of what passes for “education reform."

This may be the conventional wisdom among liberal Democrats and all too many education journalists, and there may be some teacher haters among the reform community but the vast majority of those that I have met and whose work I have followed are not so inclined.  It's essentially an idea that's been popularized by anti-reform advocates and teachers unions.

However, Freedman complicates matteers in some interesting ways when he (a) highlights some of the book's sections that deride teachers who found the career "an excuse or a refuge" and (b) goes on to describe how teacher-bashing has a long, illustrious career and its proponents (intentional and otherwise) include liberal philanthropy like that of the Ford Foundation, who allied themselves with low-income communities in a "pincer movement" that focused on white middle class teachers (most of them women).

It's an intersting notion -- one that's surely embedded in Dana Goldstein's history of conflicts surrounding teaching if only I'd gotten that far --that progressives and liberals are partly to blame for over-focusing on teachers and are thus making claims against reformers that could well be made against them.  (Certainly, teachers unions and low-income parents haven't always gotten along or had the same ideas about what schools needed most.)

But I still don't really buy the teacher-bashing argument is at the heart of Freedman's review and that's so prevalent out there among liberal critics. Yes, there are some strains of class criticism in there (elites criticizing middle-class teachers.) But if uou want to see real teacher-bashing, take a look at what Republicans and Tea Party candidates want to do with public education.  The rest, in my opinion, boils down to exaggerated claims (re layoffs in particular) and disrespect promulgated for political advantage, media complacency (too good to check!), and the occasional self-inflicted wound by reformers (Rhee's broomstick magazine cover, for example).

Morning Video: Teaching Teachers Reading

 

From PBS NewsHour:"When Liz Woody’s son Mason was in third grade, he struggled to read basic words. After Woody moved Mason to a specialized school, she set out to transform techniques to reach struggling readers."

AM News: All Eyes On NYC's First Day Under De Blasio

NYC School Year Starts with New Mayor's Imprint WNYC: While his signature campaign initiative to expand pre-kindergarten classes has received the most attention, it is just one of several policy changes expected to ripple through the system. 

Final Touches Range From Flowery to Frantic as Expanded Pre-K Awaits Start NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promised free prekindergarten for every 4-year-old, and his administration has invested mightily in quickly bringing that plan to life.

Gentlemen, Preschool Is Calling NPR: New York City is scrambling to make good on its promise to provide preschool for all. That means hiring roughly 1,000 new teachers. But few will likely be men.

Texas Mimics New York in Pushing Back State Tests' Impact on Students State EdWatch: Texas is considering a timeline for phasing in the impact of new tests on students that resembles an approach recently adopted by New York state.

State awards Common Core test contract EdSource Today: With the State Board of Education’s approval, California became the ninth state Wednesday to award a contract to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for the standardized tests in the Common Core State Standards that students will take next spring.

Michael Bloomberg to Return to Lead Bloomberg L.P. NYT: When he left politics, Mr. Bloomberg, 72, was expected to devote most of his time to giving away his $32.8 billion fortune.

State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class NYT: Panorama Education, aided by prominent tech investors, is refining student feedback through innovative data collection. School systems are embracing the concept.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On NYC's First Day Under De Blasio" »

Quotes: Reno Teachers Love The Core, Worry About The Tests

Quotes2For many teachers in Washoe County, Common Core has been liberating. They are free from the way textbooks, and tests, had come to define education... But new tests are coming. -- American Radio Works (Teachers embrace the Common Core)

Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking

Wow! I agree with Mike Petrilli on two big issues in one week! The revocation of Oklahoma’s NCLB Waiver, based on our repeal of Common Core, is a “terrible decision.”

I mostly agree with Petrilli’s thoughtful address to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. In an effort to understand the anti-reform backlash, he asks where his movement went wrong.

Most schools aren’t failing; the bigger problem is mediocrity. Most “failing” schools have teachers who are probably as good as those in higher-performing schools. 

I taught in “dropout factories, the dangerous schools …,” and my colleagues were far better teachers than those of my childhood. In the 1990s, our Curriculum Department and professional development were awesome.

But, Petrilli gets the second part of his diagnosis backwards. My schools responded to “wave after wave of reform.”  Those half-baked reforms made them worse.

I share Petrilli’s doubt that districts can replicate the few successful high-performing charter schools. He might also be right; in ten or twenty years, high-poverty systems may be dominated by charter schools.

But, that would be the double nightmare scenario - bad for more kids in "No Excuses" charters and worse for students left behind in even more awful concentrations of poverty and trauma. High-performing charters have contributed to a “neo-Plessyism” which is bad for all constituencies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking" »

Quotes: Surrounding Poor Kids With High-Achieving Adults

Quotes2There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness. I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (Acting French)

Advocacy: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism

image from educationpost.orgThe Washington Post has a story about Peter Cunningham's new education group (Education Post aims to take the sting out of national conversations about school reform) that hints at but doesn't quite get to the real story behind the organization.

Described as "a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions," the $12 million Chicago-based organization (Cunningham, Mike Vaughn, etc.) is funded by Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton, among others.  

It's an obvious (and long-needed) attempt to address the insufficiencies of the reform movement when it comes to shaping the education debate -- the reform version of Parents Across America or the Network for Public Education or Sabrina Stevens' group (though I haven't heard much from them lately).

The purely communication-oriented outfit ((RSS FeedTwitter) is led by longtime Arne Duncan guy Cunningham and including blogger Citizen Stewart. A sampling of their blog posts (Public Education Needs a New ConversationSpeak Up, Don’t Give UpThe Right School for My ChildThe Common Sense Behind Common Core 

Versions of Education Post have been discussed for a while now, online and in the real world.  A version of the same idea almost came to being 18 months ago, tentatively called "The Hub." Why another group? Advocacy groups get embroiled in pushing for changes, and lack time and resources to coordinate among each other or to focus on communications. They barely have time or capacity to defend themselves, much less put out a positive agenda across multiple groups.  

Meantime, a small but dedicated group of reform critics and groups(many of them union-funded or - affiliated) has managed to embed themselves in the minds of reporters and generate an enormous amount of resistance to reform measures. 

Related posts: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

Morning Video: Teaching Kids To Build Things (Not Apps)

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

Lunchtime Video: FLA School District Opts Out Of Testing

Via FairTest and Diane Ravitch.  Is this really the first time this has ever happened?

Morning Video: Teaching Computer Literacy - Without A Computer

Via Hechinger Report's Annie Murphy Paul.

Books: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led

image from tcf.orgI've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.

The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts: 

*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).

*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).

*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).

The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.

Related posts:  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.

Morning Video: College Dispenses With Courses -- Should K12 Schools Follow?

 

"College for America, an online degree program, has no classes, professors or credit hours. It's been cited as an innovative way to make college more affordable. But how do its students qualify for a degree?" (Via PBS NewsHour).  The idea might sound crazy or not work at scale, but then again traditional colleges aren't doing any better at graduating poor minorities and are resisting government ratings showing how well they perform, so maybe it's time for some changes.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Everybody -- Let's Put Cameras On Teachers, Too!

The case for cop AND teacher cams - Chicago Tribune ( Reihan Salam) ow.ly/AHgIY

Reform advocacy groups like DFER & Stand evolving strategies, reports EdWeek's @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHiHg

Why DFER's staying out of Tuck/Torlakson (and Vergara, too), via @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHjk1

New Orleans' charter school system ill-prepared for jump in Central American immigrants | NOLA.comow.ly/AGFNs

Sometimes the school down the block makes you nervous - The Post reposts Jay Mathews' 2000 columnow.ly/AHxUv via @EducationNext

Two Spencer Fellow books reviewed in same edition of the NYT -- including one written by a 3rd Spencer 

Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early - The Atlantic ow.ly/AHff7

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

 

Quotes: Why Unions Attack Obama Proxies For Reform Efforts

Quotes2Asking teachers to choose between Obama and the union line runs the risk that many teachers will decide the union is wrong. - Jonathan Chait in NY Magazine (The Proxy Fight for the Democratic Party Future)

Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments

Quotes2It's like saying you're for interstellar travel but against warp drive.

- NYCAN's Derrell Bradford via Facebook on NEA Common Core position(s) -- see full quote below.

Continue reading "Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments" »

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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.