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Quotes: NY Teacher Evaluation Results "Don't Reflect Reality," Says Cuomo

Quotes2It is incredible to believe [teachers' high scores are] an accurate reflection of the state of education in New York. I think we have to go back to work on the teacher evaluation process. - NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in Capital New York (Cuomo: High teacher scores 'not real')

Morning Video: Duncan Wasn't The Only One At Last Weekend's Protests

EdSec Arne Duncan may have marched for #blacklivesmatter last weekend, and his communications team may have posted a somber picture of him doing so, but AFT head Randi Weingarten gave a fiery speech to the crowd.  Uploaded by AFT. Not in the mood? Morning Joe has a segment about a school taking a blind kid's cane away as punishment, replacing it with a swimming pool "noodle."

AM News: Wisconsin Gov. Walker Backs Off Call For Common Core Repeal

Walker says he wants schools to have Common Core choice AP: Gov. Scott Walker is backing off his call for the Legislature to repeal Common Core academic standards, saying he simply wants to insure there is no mandate they be used.

Cuomo: High teacher scores 'not real' Capital New York: Teachers’ high scores under the state’s mandatory performance rating system show that it is “an evaluation system in name” and “doesn’t reflect reality,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday at a Capitol press conference.

Cuomo: 'Safety net' won't fix teacher rating system Capital New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested he won't sign a "safety net" bill that would shield educators from consequences of the rough rollout of the Common Core standards in New York, citing new teacher-evaluation data released on Tuesday.

GOP gives feds' college rating plan an F Politico: The goal is to yank funds from schools that fail to meet on federal requirements.

Mayor De Blasio's Charter School Dilemma WNYC: The state-mandated deadline for the city to respond is the end of December. The city has repeatedly declined to tell WNYC how many charters are seeking space in public school buildings but at least two others were rejected this fall.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Wisconsin Gov. Walker Backs Off Call For Common Core Repeal" »

Quotes: "Backwater" Issues Like Common Core Won't Sink Bush Chances

Quotes2The back-burner nature of education issues is particularly true for Republican voters. In 2012, 84 percent of people who voted for Obama said education was "very" important to their vote. Just 52 percent of Romney voters said the same. -- Vox's Libby Nelson (Common Core won't sink Jeb Bush's presidential run)

Charts: Dismal Poll Results For Charters, Vouchers, & Ending Teacher Tenure

image from s3.amazonaws.com

Private school vouchers and charter school expansion don't fare nearly as well with the public as various changes to improving classroom teaching -- but not ending teacher tenure -- according to this chart from last week's Third Way report (What Americans Want from Democrats on Education). Of course, the results might have been different if the language had been "streamlining" tenure or something else less absolute. Image used with permission.  

Charts: "Modernizing" Teaching Outpolls Poverty-Focused Agenda

image from s3.amazonaws.comAccording to last week's Third Way report (What Americans Want from Democrats on Education), modernizing the teaching profession outpolls a poverty-focused agenda not only among the general public but also among teachers, Democrats, and Millennials.  Liberals see the two options as roughly equal in importance. Image used with permission.

Thompson: Duncan & Other Reformers Should Apologize (Like Tony Bennett)

Mike Kline FlickrIt is hard to realize you are wrong on something important in the middle of a busy school day. But, many, many times, settling in at home, a light went on, and I realized that I owed a student an apology. 

Perhaps I’m naïve, but if President Obama would apologize for imposing the full, untested and dangerous corporate reform agenda on schools, wouldn’t teachers be as gracious as my students were when I would say, “I’m sorry?” 

Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has issued a series of non-apologies, criticizing the way that testing sucks the oxygen out of schools, but he has made little effort to curtail its damage.  

Why can’t Duncan and President Obama acknowledge that their policies were as insulated from education reality as those of the famously “tone-deaf” Indiana Chief for Change Tony Bennett?  The IndyStar’s Tim Swarens’ reports, in I Was a (Bleep) Candidate, that the hard-charging and defeated reformer is now remorseful and contemplative. Bennett is now candid about the way his daughter, a teacher, pushed back against his attacks on her profession. He admits, "I saw anyone who disagreed with me on an issue like vouchers as a defender of the status quo." 

Oops! I guess I’m still naively hoping that true believers will face up to the harm done by their self-righteousness and scorched earth politics. Tom LoBianco of the AP Press reports that Bennett now has no comment regarding the inspector general's report on his 2012 campaign activities that has been forwarded to federal prosecutors.

Continue reading "Thompson: Duncan & Other Reformers Should Apologize (Like Tony Bennett)" »

Quotes: Departing NY Superintendent Reflects On Polarized Education Debate

Quotes2I have gotten to see how hard it is in the current political climate to break through the tendency to polarize issues and how difficult it sometimes can be to get at nuance and to have conversations that are informed by nuance. - John King (Capital NY John King reflects on contentious tenure)

AM News: Duncan, Educators, Students Attend Weekend Civil Rights Protests

Arne Duncan Joins Al Sharpton's Civil Rights March PK12: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is among thousands of demonstrators who participated in a march through Washington, D.C. Saturday to focus attention on recent law enforcement actions that led to the deaths of unarmed African-American men, according to a tweet sent from his official account. See also here.

Teachers Protest Grand Jury Decisions At Police Precinct HuffPost: A.J. Hudson, an 8th grade biology teacher at KIPP Amp Middle School in Brooklyn, told The Huffington Post that the grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for killing black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Staten Island, New York, have been “upsetting everyone” at his school. 

Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Decries School Funding "Injustices" in Philly and Nation District Dossier: In a column printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, the Education Secretary says the nation should be embarrassed that the quality of children's public education is largely dependent on where they live and their parents' incomes.

Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? NPR: The number of students being held back has been cut nearly in half, and researchers have no idea why.

Two Years Later, Still Learning From Sandy Hook NPR: A new report on the 2012 Newtown school shootings says that school administrators failed Adam Lanza despite their best efforts. The authors say the district had a lack of special education expertise. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan, Educators, Students Attend Weekend Civil Rights Protests" »

Charts: Student Retention Rate Drops (Was Never That High)

Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 10.49.50 AMStudent retention has never been all that high, nationally. A new AERA study shows that, after peaking at 2.9 percent in 2005, overall retention rates for grades 1 through 9 declined to 1.5 percent in 2009-10 (Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010).

 

Update: USDE Alt Cert Report Now Over A Year Late

Way back in 2012, Congress called on the USDE to issue a report on the number and distribution of alternative certification teachers in US classrooms as a condition of extending the provision that makes alt cert teachers highly qualified under NCLB.  

The HQT waiver is good through 2016, which is why there wasn't any need for a rider in the 2015 spending bill currently under consideration.  (The union waiver, known as HOUSSE, is permanent and doesnt't require updating.)

But the report was supposed to come out in December 2013 -- a year ago.  But it hasn't been heard of.

Related posts: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" About Highly Qualified Teachers"Technical Amendments" In The Fiscal Cliff Deal?Alt Cert: TFA "Interns" Allowed To Keep Teaching ELLs (For Now)Budget Deal Gives TFA Another Two Years.

Continue reading "Update: USDE Alt Cert Report Now Over A Year Late" »

Morning Audio: "Freakonomics" Covers Teaching Debate

"Is the problem here that our students aren’t getting very bright simply because … our teachers aren’t very bright? That’s the question we ask in our latest Freakonomics Radio episode. It’s called “Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” The conversation features Kline, Levin, Goldstein, and Freidman. Transcript here. Other Freakonomics podcasts of interest: How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps. Other Freakonomics writing about education here.

Quotes: Jindal Touts Defeat Of Common Core Supporter Landrieu

Quotes2Mary Landrieu supported Common Core and was soundly defeated — the voters have spoken... We hope Secretary Duncan is coming to Louisiana to see how real education reform is benefitting kids and families in the real world, and we hope he wants to work with us. - LA Governor Bobby Jindal in Politico (Jindal blasts Duncan ahead of NOLA visit)

Morning Video: Project-Based Schools Competing With Charters In Philadelphia

Here's a two-parter from Learning Matters/PBS NewsHour last week that you may not have seen. Part 1 above, focusing on Science Leadership Academy and other project-based schools. Part 2 here.

AM News: Storms, Spending Bill Secrets, & Departure Of NY Superintendent

Storm warning prompts school closures EdSource Today: More than half a dozen school districts across California will close Thursday in anticipation of a major storm that is damaging the state’s collective calm.

New York State Education Commissioner to Leave for Federal Post NYT: John B. King Jr. said he would take the No. 2 job at the United States Education Department. See also WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.

From Potatoes To Salty Fries In School: Congress Tweaks Food Rules NPR: The giant federal spending bill that's expected to go to a vote Thursday will give schools some flexibility in implementing nutrition standards. Also a winner: the potato lobby. See also PBS.

Spending Bill Would Fund Preschool Grants, But Not Race to Top PK12: A few education programs would take a notable whack, including Race to the Top, one of the Obama administration's signature competitive grants, which appropriators sought to scrap completely.

Obama’s Race to the Top loses all funding in 2015 omnibus spending bill Washington Post: President Obama and firstlLady Michelle Obama both would see key initiatives whacked if the $1.01 trillion spending bill unveiled by congressional leaders this week passes without changes in these areas.

Leading Public Education Organizations Lack Diversity at Top, Report Finds District Dossier: The report does not name which groups participated in the survey but does highlight a few education nonprofits that have made building diverse leadership teams a top priority. TNTP and College Track are two that are featured.

Texas to Close 14 Charter School Operators Texas Tribune: Texas will shut down 14 charter school operators that failed to meet heightened financial and academic performance rules this year, state education officials announced Tuesday. 

Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue NYT: For graffiti on a Georgia school’s walls, two girls were suspended. Then one of them ended up in the criminal justice system.

Joel Klein, Controversial as Chancellor of NYC Department of Education, Offers Lessons on Fixing Education WNYC: Klein writes about his eight-year mission of improvement: demanding accountability, eliminating political favoritism, and battling a powerful teachers union that seemed determined to protect a status quo that didn’t work for kids.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Quotes: Former NYC Mayor Blames Unions For Violence Against Black Males

Quotes2Maybe all these left-wing politicians who want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers so that we can drastically and dramatically improve education. - Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Giuliani Says Teachers Unions Are To Blame For Violence In Black Communities in HuffPost). See also Valerie Strauss.

Media: CJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" Myth

There are lots of myths in education and education reporting, and the Columbia Journalism Review highlights one of them in its latest post (The Texas school board isn't as powerful as you think), calling out Reuters, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Vice, and the Brownsville Herald (and praising the AP and the Houston Chronicle). 

"The Texas-textbook story is not the same as it was when the board approved materials in 2002. Reporters should not be telling it as if it is."

In a lengthy post, CJR points out that the familiar narrative of an all-powerful school board setting the textbook agenda for the nation is outdated and inaccurate "As far back as 2010, professionals in the textbook industry were already telling the Texas Tribune that the story about the state school board’s influence was “an urban myth.” But it's fun and easy to retell, focusing as it does on Texas, religion, and dysfunctional education bureaucracy. So folks jump on it, whether they know better or not.

What's CJR get wrong or leave out? What other myths are still getting passed along by education reporters and media outlets?  Vox's Libby Anderson recently highlighted 5 things about standardized testing that you don't always find in testing stories. I'm sure there are others out there.

Related posts: Why Journos Overstate Federal InfluencePlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos6 Key Critiques Of Media Coverage Of EducationHow Reporters Got Sucked Into Value-Added DebacleResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask.

 

Journalism: So Long, NYT Labor Reporter Steven Greenhouse

He didn't cover teachers unions all that frequently. I didn't always admire his work when he did (and as I recall from a series of angry emails he didn't much care for my constructive criticism, either).

But I certainly appreciated that Greenhouse was out there doing what so few others do in education or mainstream journalism in general, and wish there were more folks out there doing the same.

In his exit interview with Gawker (A Q&A With Steven Greenhouse) Greenhouse includes some interesting tidbits about an uptick in labor coverage since 2010 and the potential impact of worker advocacy groups like Domestic Workers United, Make the Road in New York, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the Workers Defense Project in Texas. (Are any of these groups operating in the education arena?)

In Politico (Steven Greenhouse takes N.Y. Times buyout), it's noted that there's now just one other national reporter focused on labor -- at the WSJ. (What about BuzzFeed's Jacob Fischler?)

Related posts: Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?;  Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesCharts: Teachers = Teamsters?

Thompson: Common Core's Potential

The story line of NPR’s four stories on Common Core was entirely predictable. The excellence of reporting was equally predictable, as well as the great teaching it showcased. Even so, it left me more saddened than ever about the Common Core fiasco. 

Emily Hanford, in Common Core Reading: "The New Colussus," began the series with a teacher, Linnea Wolters, assuming that her students would not be able to handle the complexity of a sonnet. She keeps an open mind, teaches the lesson with fidelity and is pleasantly surprised, “Wolters was amazed. She'd rarely seen her kids so excited about learning. And she had no idea they could succeed with such a challenging text. She couldn't wait to tell her colleagues about what had happened.” 

This is consistent with my experience. Low-skilled students despise the “dummying down” of instruction. They want the respect that is demonstrated when they are taught for mastery of challenging materials and concepts. Moreover, many or most teachers welcome assistance in helping students “dig deep.”

Then, Corey Turner explains, we must wrestle with the question of how do we teach complex reading in a way that “doesn't just lead to tears and frustration?” He summarizes the findings of cognitive scientist Dan Willingham who explains why background knowledge is more important than a child's reading skills. "Kids who, on standard reading tests, show themselves to be poor readers, when you give them a text that's on a topic they happen to know a whole lot about, they suddenly look like terrific readers." 

The NPR reporter concludes that although some Common Core architects may deny it, background knowledge “is just too important to ignore” when teaching reading. “The trick is, don't overdo it.” 

Continue reading "Thompson: Common Core's Potential" »

Quotes: Common Core Critics Lack Viable Alternatives

Quotes2My challenge to [Common Core critics] is, if you have a better idea, come forward. Don't talk about scrapping the whole effort...The debate has been hijacked by issues that are, at best, peripheral. - Former US Rep. Harold Ford in National Journal (Did Obama Screw Up Common Core?)

AM News: Mississippi Educators Question Common Core U-Turn

Educators question future progress if Mississippi backs away from Common Core Hechinger Report: Educators across Mississippi say the already-lagging state will “move backwards” if Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves throw out the Common Core academic standards and create new ones.

Military-Style Technology Finds Way Into School District Safety Measures NYT: Many experts say limited resources may be better spent on mental health services and training for teachers and students on what to do if their peers talk about bringing a gun to school.

LAUSD students hope for iPads, prepare for disappointment KPCC: It's been a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles Unified School District students who were promised iPads that would usher in a new chapter in how they'll learn and take tests in the digital age.

FBI at the door is just the latest bad news for L.A. school district LA Times: With three weeks left in December, I'm hesitant to jump the gun and suggest that we've seen the last of this year's troubles for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Nine-Year-Old’s Arrest Prompts Call for Change by Federal Judge WSJ: The increased involvement of police at schools has led to an increase in schoolchildren arrests, phenomena that make for shocking headlines (8-year-old arrested in school bomb threat) and have led to a new, funny-if-it-weren’t-true formulation: the school-to-prison pipeline.

CTU President Karen Lewis trying 'to resume some of her duties' Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Thursday, in her first interview since being hospitalized for a brain tumor that halted her plans to run for mayor, that she's eager to campaign for mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Mississippi Educators Question Common Core U-Turn" »

Quotes: Weingarten May Be Helping Bush By Calling Him Out

Quotes2

[Bush] says he wants to break up so-called ‘monopolies’ of public education, forgetting that public education is a public good, a moral imperative and a constitutional mandate in many of this country’s states, including Florida. - Randin Weingarten via WSJ (Fight With Unions May Benefit Jeb Bush)

Media: Washington Post's Valerie Strauss Mangles Duncan Staff Moves

It always makes me a little bit nervous when Valerie Strauss tries to go back to straight news reporting after all those weeks and months blogging and sharing material that's pretty uniformly critical of the current school reform movement. (New America's Kevin Carey once described Strauss's much-read blog as "The premiere Web destination for doctrinaire anti-reformist rhetoric and shoddy education research.") 
Then again she and others probably feel the same way about my work.

Earlier this year, the Post ran a front-page story by Strauss about allegations that Arne Duncan was trying to influence the choice of NYC chancellor under Mayor de Blasio.  I and others had some questions about the reporting, editing, and decision to assign the story to Strauss.

The latest example is a little story about changes within Team Duncan (Duncan’s communications chief leaving for Teach For America), which to my perhaps paranoid reading seems to be making a nefarious tragedy out of Massie Ritsch's departure for TFA.

Duncan is "losing" Ritsch after two years at the top communications spot within USDE. Duncan had the gall to praise TFA founder Wendy Kopp for highlighting the aspects of great teaching but ignored former NEA head Van Roekel. Duncan's first press secretary now works for Joel Klein at Amplify.

For some measure of balance, Strauss notes that Cunningham's accomplishments include getting Duncan on the Rolling Stone Agents of Change list. (She's wrong - getting Duncan on Colbert was Cunningham's biggest coup, or perhaps it was keeping Duncan away from the media after he jumped into the gay marriage debate ahead of the White House.) She also added Ritsch's "so, long" email after first publishing the post.

At TFA, Ritsch will be replacing Aimée Eubanks Davis as head of TFA’s Public Affairs and Engagement team. She's moving over to head Beyond Z, a new student leadership and 21st century skill building initiative she launched last year.

Related posts: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education)Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?About That Front-Page Washington Post StoryEducation's Huffington PostParent Trigger: An "Easy" Button For Parents & Kids.

TV: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, Too

image from cloudfront.mediamatters.orgMediaMatters notes that educators make up just one in ten of the guests on cable news segments related to education, which Valerie Strauss regards as a big problem.  

MSNBC does the best percentage-wise in terms of booking educators as guests -- but not by that much. CNN does the worst.  Fox -- this may surprise you -- comes in the middle.

What jumps out at me even more than this issue is that there are so few education segments, over all.

Granted, Morning Joe is not included -- a favorite for Randi Weingarten and Campbell Brown alike. And NBC News still does a fair amount of education coverage, along with PBS NewsHour.

But still. Looking at evening news shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, there were just 185 total guests in 10 months.  CNN booked the fewest - by far.  Fox and MSNBC came in much higher, quantity-wise.

Take a look at the full MM story here. Image used courtesy MediaMatters.

Related posts: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" ReportingWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder ContentRhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show.

 

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

Watching Newark superintendent Cami Anderson's interview with AEI's Rick Hess from last week, a few things are clear:

First and foremost is that Anderson's initiatives may be much more nuanced and less top-down than critics have claimed (and the media has repeated).  For example, she says that there have been no school closings as part of her plan, and that several revisions and changes were made in response to community input.  Is that accurate?  Someone needs to check.  By which I mean the WSJ, NJ Spotlight, Hechinger, ChalkbeatNY, or NYT.

Second, and just as important for someone to figure out, is whether her claims that there's a small but "well-funded" effort to block her efforts are accruate or not.  The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton chronicled the protest against her, (a busload of Newark parents) but doesn't tell us who was behind the effort, if anyone. Did they decide to go among themselves? Who paid for the bus? Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle notes that CWA, "which has been an ally if AFT's NJ affiliate, has funded NJ Communities United to tune of $251K."

Related posts: Last Night's Raucous Newark Schools MeetingNewark Officials Discuss School Improvement, Local ControlNew Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashUnion Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark.

#EdGif Of The Day: How To Avoid Your Elementary School Co-Worker Crush

image from 38.media.tumblr.com

Sure, there's a charter school plotline in" Parenthood," and school is in the background (so far) of "Black-Ish." "How To Get Away With Murder" is set at a law school. But "New Girl" remains the most school-focused show out there, and still sometimes the most amusing.

This week's episode of New Girl features Jess's attempts to avoid interacting with her crush, a teacher at the school where she's an assistant principal.  It also involves touchy-feely professional development, and male bonding gone awry.

Recap of the episode (including spoilers) here. I found this gif here. For more #newgirl gifs go here. It's on Fox on Tuesday nights.

Related posts: "New Girl" Jess Confronts The Cool Mean Teachers"New Girl" Gets Pink Slipped [Teacherpocalypse 2012]"New Girl" Deals With Bullying 5th Grader TV's "New Girl" Teacher Is She One Of You?

Journalism: Media Narrative Shifted Dramatically During Post-Midterm Period

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Check out my latest Scholastic column here if you want to read about how media coverage of the 2014 midterms shifted sharply during the first few days after the results were known -- and how upon examination nobody's claims of victory seemed as strong as was being claimed. 

One issue that didn't make it into the piece was just how flat-footed the teachers unions seemed initially in their responses to the reformers' claims of victory, as in the AFT canceling a press conference without considering how that would look (or whether there was an opportunity to counter the reform narrative before it got rolling).

Another key angle is that the media covering the midterms and some of those commenting on them initially seemed to take the reformers' claims of victory at face value rather than taking a more skeptical view of the claims or a harder look at the results. 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Chicago, LA Unions Both Run By Brown Alums

Any love for education at CAP's policy conference today? http://ow.ly/EyLWE  @EdProgress @ulrichboser

Meet The TFA Official Charged With Bringing Change To Ferguson And Beyond http://ow.ly/EyFBJ  #BrittanyPacknett

Report cites high suspension rates for charter schools - Metro - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/ExnFd 

Karen Lewis' replacement in @ctulocal1 is a Brown grad, as is @UTLAnow's Alex Caputo Pearl http://ow.ly/EyF0G  Any other Brownies?

Report Offers 'Lessons Learned' From Teacher-Residency Programs - Teacher Beat - Education Week http://ow.ly/EyaDV 

Meet the activist who says “unions get way too much blame” - http://Salon.com  http://ow.ly/EyvnH 

Thompson: A Teacher's Review of Kristof and WuDunn's A Path Appears

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 19 13.20I loved A Path Appears, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It deals with global issues and a variety of philanthropic and grassroots paths to tackling poverty, ignorance, and violence. I doubt that readers are very interested in my non-expert opinions on international issues, so I will limit this post to musing about Kristof’s and WuDunn’s approach to American educational challenges.

Chapter Ten, “Coaching Troubled Teens,” starts with a quote by Immanuel Kant, “Act so you treat humanity … always as an end and never as a means.”

The chapter begins with a visit to Tulsa where 8th graders were engaged in a curriculum focused on avoiding teenage pregnancy developed by Michael Carrera. This program, ranked as “top-tiered” in effectiveness costs $2,300 per student and it would be a bargain even if it didn’t get students started with a savings account, financial literacy, and medical care.

Kristof and WuDunn then breeze through a paragraph that includes the ridiculous – but oft repeated - soundbite that if African American students had teachers from the top 25% in “effectiveness” for four years, that the achievement gap would be closed. Those of us obsessed with education issues can anticipate what was cited in the footnotes, the economic theory of Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff that has been repeatedly misrepresented as research relevant to real world policy.

Educators, like me, are likely to get flustered and complain about the methodological flaws of Chetty et. al, and protest about the way they have allowed their regression studies to be used as intellectually dishonest props in a legal and political assault on teachers.

Perhaps Kristof and WuDunn take the wiser approach. They move on, writing “We must also rethink the role of schools in low-income communities.” The rest of the chapter argues for full-service community schools. Kristof and WuDunn may not have mentioned the way that the “teacher quality” focus of the corporate reform movement has undermined the science-based policies they advocate, but they make the case which teachers, education scholars, and unions have tried to make for overcoming the legacies of poverty.

Continue reading "Thompson: A Teacher's Review of Kristof and WuDunn's A Path Appears" »

Watch: "Schools Suck," Says Reporter (Voicing The Feelings Of Many Journalists)

Earlier this month, Milwaukee-based investigative reporter Meghan Dwyer was onstage receiving a Regional Emmy for a school bullying segment “Scared at School" when things went a bit awry. It's not the worst thing in the world, this gaffe, but it illustrates a larger issue: that sometimes reporters work so hard for so long on stories and experience such frustration and sympathy for their sources that they cross over into advocacy and then, quite understandably, their feelings occasionally slip out (or into their work).  That's apparently why some newsrooms used to rotate reporters from one beat to the next, to prevent journalists from becoming hostage to a beat or taking sides in an ongoing dispute between stakeholders. 

Polls: CA Public Views Of Common Core Show Wide Variations

PACE USC Poll Common CoreEast Coast types might think that how things are playing out in New York is how they're playing out nationally, but these new poll results from California (USC via EdSource) show widespread (though declining) unfamiliarity among the public about the Common Core and a wide range of views on the standards. To see the poll data itself, click here, find the link, download a copy and find the charts you want on page 2. Images used with permission. Anyone seen state by state polling data comparing views from one place to another?

 

Quotes: Unions Can't Organize Themselves Into Relevancy

Quotes2Unions must recreate themselves to be relevant not only to the leaders who thrive on internal and external political drama, but to the average member who is a school secretary in Washington, first grade teacher in Minnesota, or higher education faculty in Florida. Relevancy means focusing first and foremost on the learning lives of students and the professional lives of educators. - Former NEA bigwig Bill Raabe in EIA (Former High-Ranking NEA Staffer Speaks Out)

Journalism: Hits & Misses In NPR's "Overtesting" Story

So-called "overtesting" is probably the easiest story on the education beat to do right now, and I'm no saint I did one too last winter for the Atlantic's education page. But there aren't any real numbers out there and so it's very easy to fall into using eye-catching anecdotes that may or may not be representative and also to fall prey to the presumption that overtesting is a thing when we really don't know that is.

That's I think what happened to this new NPR education story (Testing: How Much Is Too Much?), which while far from the worst of the overtesting stories I've seen lately would have done better to focus less on critics of testing (Brockett and Jasper) and extreme examples and more on the reality that we don't know as much as we'd like about the prevalence of testing in schools over all and that there are folks out there (including civil rights groups) who think that testing is essential for school accountability and are worried about losing annual tests or going back to a previous era when the public didn't really know how students were doing. 

All that being said, there aren't any obviously sketchy or misleading numbers in the NPR piece like last week's NYT story included, and are some great bits, too: There are some vivid #edgifs showing a kid who has to take lots of end of year exams that are fun to look at (I've tweeted and Tumblred them but can't show them here without permission). I'm really glad that NPR used and linked to the Chiefs/Great Cities survey of large districts, and the CAP study of 14 districts. I didn't know that the White House had put out a statement on the issue. 

Last but not least, the NPR story addresses the notion that tests have gotten added without any attempt to remove their predecessors in a fun, stylish way: " The CCSSO survey describes testing requirements that have seemingly multiplied on their own without human intervention, like hangers piling up in a closet." The layering on of testing regimens without regard to burden or legacy testing will, I am guessing, turn out to be at the root of much of what some parents and teachers and testing critics are clamoring about.

Related posts: NYT Journo Tweets Out "60-80 Days" Of Testing ClarificationPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

Slideshow: Who Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn't

Here's an interesting look at who funds edtech pointing out that traditional funders don't all approach the sector the same way -- and that there are some challenges as a result.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Charts: Look At Kentucky & New York "Before & After" Scores

image from cdn0.vox-cdn.com
Thanks to Vox for pulling up these before (green) and after (yellow) bar graphs showing how Kentucky and New York kids did on Common Core-aligned assessments, which gives us a rough idea of how kids in other states will do this spring. Click here to read more about the projected dropoffs in 2015.  Image courtesy Vox.

Events: Inside The Secret World Of The Spencer Journalism Fellowship

Spencers2014-2015
Saturday was the occasion of the annual Spencer Journalism Fellowship reunion, during which the new fellows (pictured) are officially introduced to the alumni and given their secret instructions.  This year's fellows (Linda, Mitra, and Joy) are focusing on poverty, resegregation of schools, and special education respectively.  Read below for some notes and tidbits from the event, as well as encouragement to apply for the fellowship this winter and make us all proud with the project you produce.

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Books: The 2014 Teaching Book You Probably Haven't Heard Of

image from www.nybooks.comThe latest issue of the New York Review includes a roundup review of three education boooks, including two you probably already know (Goldstein and Green's) and one you may not have heard of.  
 
It's Garret Keizer's "Getting Schooled," and it's a year-in-the-life kind of book rather than a history or an overview like the other two.  
Read the book?  Tell us what you thought.  Think it's useful to understanding today's teacher prep and support quandries?  We want to know.
 
Read the group review here (full text requires subscription): Why Is American Teaching So Bad?

Read a review of Keizer's book: 'Getting Schooled' by Garret Keizer.

Or click below for a Harper's excerpt from the book which seems to have appeared way back in 2011.

 

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AM News: Nearly 30 State Supes Change Over In Under Three Years

What's the Turnover for State Education Chiefs in Recent Years? State EdWatch: In the past 33 months, 29 states have replaced their state K-12 chiefs at least once, or are officially scheduled to replace their state K-12 chiefs due to last week's elections or for other reasons. 

Montgomery schools chief cites both successes and urgency in closing gaps Washington Post: Montgomery County must redouble its efforts to close the achievement gap between students of different racial and socioeconomic groups, while preparing all students for success in a 21st century world, the school system’s leader said this week in his yearly “State of the Schools” address.

Smarter Balanced tests are still a work in progress EdSource Today: The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium provided a sneak peek for their final computer-adaptive tests in early October, tests to be administered to roughly 25 percent of the country’s grade 3-8 and 11 students in spring 2015 to measure, initially, status and, eventually, growth in achievement on the new Common Core academic standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Privacy Concerns for ClassDojo and Other Tracking Apps for Schoolchildren NYT: Many teachers say the ClassDojo app helps them automate the task of recording classroom conduct, but some critics say such apps are being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness.

Common Core Reading: Difficult, Dahl, Repeat NPR: Backers of the Common Core say it's important for kids to tackle complex texts. Critics argue that reading shouldn't be a struggle for kids. We'll visit one classroom that borrows from both sides.

Info on 8,000 Seattle Schools students improperly released Seattle Times: Seattle Public Schools is asking for federal help to figure out how a law firm working for the district released the personal information about students receiving special-education services.

Child Homelessness on the Rise in US ABC News: New report details rise of child homelessness in US, says more affordable housing needed.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Nearly 30 State Supes Change Over In Under Three Years" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: More Research Showing Disparate Impacts Of Teacher Hiring/Transfer Practices

New Harvard/Kane study shows how teacher hiring/transfer practices in LAUSD puts black minority kids at a disadvantage - http://ow.ly/Eiwos 

Organizers behind students protesting against TFA deny that they are acting as surrogates for union funders http://ow.ly/EitSQ 

Call it "corporate reform" not because of profit-making, but because it's so top-down, says @drjohnthompson http://bit.ly/116bW7Q 

Five states have shut down/threatened to shut virtual charter company K12 Inc, reports @bloombergnews http://ow.ly/Ehhxc 

State warning parents against opting Illinois kids out of #PARCC test http://sun-tim.es/1ot8yPh " implies consequences

Baltimore-based RiShawn Biddle is covering Minneapolis better than local newsrooms, says MinnPost's @BethHawkins http://ow.ly/EiCqP

 

Morning Video: Before New Orleans (Or DC), There Was Chicago

Chicago Schools: Worst in the Nation? from Siskel/Jacobs Productions on Vimeo.

It was a cash-strapped city, a dysfunctional bureaucracy, and a national reputation for low-performing schools. But did Chicago deserve its reputation, and what's happened since to make things better?

AM News: Huffman Resigns From Top TN Spot; Newark's Anderson Visits DC

Kevin Huffman Leaving Post as Tennessee K-12 Chief State EdWatch: Huffman was appointed state education commissioner in 2011, and has overseen major changes in Tennessee education policy, many of them tied to the common core. See also ChalkbeatTN.

In DC to talk education, Newark schools chief faces protest over reforms Washington Post: Cami Anderson, who runs the largest school district in New Jersey, came to Washington on Thursday to give a quiet talk about education at a think tank. But the staid event quickly turned dramatic when a busload of angry residents followed Anderson from Newark in a display of the slugfest politics that have infused debate over public education across the country.

Common Core Reading: The Struggle Over Struggle NPR: This idea, that kids really need to grapple with complex reading material, says a lot about the soul of the Common Core. And it's controversial, raising fears among some parents and educators that kids, in the process, are being asked to struggle too much.

A Botched Study Raises Bigger Questions NPR: The report attempted to use an approach called value-added modeling. And value-added is currently the golden fleece for anyone questing after what's really working in education. Value-added models promise to provide a detailed, nuanced picture of school performance — to screen out the background noise and zero in on the impact of individual schools and even individual classrooms. But value-added modeling, it turns out, is really, really hard.

Decades of Neglect Show Starkly as Indian Schools Cry Out for Repairs NYT:  Officials are working to improve congressionally funded schools in 23 states on reservations with decaying facilities where students struggle to meet academic standards and teacher turnover is high. See also AP.

Young and inexperienced, a new principal tries to turn around a New Orleans charter school Hechinger Report: “We know effective teachers are crucial to moving our students forward,” says Hardy, pausing for a few seconds before she enters a second-grade classroom. “We have good teachers. My challenge is this: How do I, as a school leader, grow their effectiveness and grow it more quickly?”

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Huffman Resigns From Top TN Spot; Newark's Anderson Visits DC " »

Maps: Many States Now Provide "Early Warning" Reports For Struggling Students

image from a.scpr.org

Here's a map of states with early warning systems, described in this Marketplace story as the result of  a "steady stream of student data, like GPA, attendance, demerits, and test scores" that allow administrators to "peer into the future and spot the 7th and 8th graders most at risk of dropping out of high school in the future." (Using data to predict students headed for trouble). Image used with permission.

Morning Video: Here's Yesterday's Edweek/Pearson Midterm Re-Examination

Skip to the 22 minute mark to watch the video from yesterday's much-tweeted Edweek/Pearson event, After the Storm: What the 2014 Election Results Mean for K-12 Policy, featuring the likes of Brandon Busteed, Executive Director, Gallup Education, the PK12 team, Lamar Alexander's COS David Cleary and HELP staff director Jamie Fasteau among many others.  Watch it above, or look back at the Twitterstream #EdElect2014.

Magazines: More Disclosure Problems For "The Nation"

image from www.wikicu.com

Remember up-and-coming young reporter George [@georgejoseph94] Joseph wrote that big piece in The Nation about TFA a week or so ago?Yeah, you remember.

We already know that he didn't bother reporting that the group behind the anti-TFA campus protests, ASUS, is union-funded.  And -- thanks to New America's Conor Williams -- we also know that his main concern that TFA was tipped off about a FOIA request turns out to be standard operating procedure for federal grantees.  

But now there's more -- not a lot more, but still. I'm procrastinating here and this is helping.  Joseph's bio blurb at The Nation says he's a Columbia undergrad and who he's written for.  All good there.  But his bio at In These Times is a little different, noting that he organizes with a student activist group called Student Worker Solidarity (that's their logo - nice!).

Why wasn't that disclosed in his TFA story, and why is The Nation taking stories from people with what seems like obvious conflicts of interest. Identifying as a member of a student activist group is something that I, at least, want to know when I'm reading a story about student activism -- and something that the editors at The Nation should have considered before taking or assigning the story and in its bio blurb of the writer. 

Video: While Away The Afternoon WIth Khan, Hastings, & Williams, Vanity Fair-Style

Here's a half-hour talk with Sal Khan, Reed Hastings, and Jane Williams - plus a link to the Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair portrait of Khan and a profile by EdSec Arne Duncan.

AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ

Teacher Training Is A Ridiculously Easy Way To Ace College, Report Says Huffington Post: At 58 percent of 509 schools, "teacher preparation programs are much more likely to confer high grades than are other majors on the same campus," the report says. While an average of 30 percent of all students graduated "cum laude," 44 percent of teacher preparation students received the honor. The report calls the results "a wake-up call for higher education."

What Obama’s Inequity Nudge Means for San Diego Schools Voices of SD: The new union president, Lindsay Burningham, made clear when we talked with her in August that she didn’t see much need to change the evaluation process, putting any room for error on the administrator carrying out each review.

Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts WSJ: As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

Seeking Big K-12 Plans From Governors for 2015? Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Delivers State EdWatch: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has presented a wide-ranging package of education initiatives that include a focus on early education, reading, and English-language learners.

Portland Schools Urged To Scrap Transfers To Boost Racial Diversity Huffington Post: These allow students to switch to schools in different neighborhoods, but they must enter a lottery if spots are limited. There is also a separate lottery system for students hoping to transfer to selective "magnet" schools which offer advanced curriculums.

Goodbye, Snow Days: Students Study From Home ABC: Goodbye, snow days: Students across the nation increasingly hit the books from home.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Common Core Politics Not As Complicated As You May Think

This @cpre look at the midterms/CommonCore overlap seems notably clear, no? http://ow.ly/E8hDo 

3 reasons Common Core is especially controversial in New York - Vox http://ow.ly/E7lXk 

EdWeek bill tracker shows 2 Common Core rollback proposals have made it into law (so far) http://ow.ly/E7yIU  They're MO & NC

Obama's Fragile Education Legacy http://ow.ly/E7tMf  by @conorpwilliams

New report from Urban Teacher Residency United features Aspire & Denver Teacher Residency http://ow.ly/E8vjK  @utrunited

Head of Tulane-affiliated think tank (& former Chicago charter guru) John Ayers quits after release of flawed study http://ow.ly/E7EWc 

Salman Khan is changing the way kids learn - Portrait by Annie Leibovitz http://vnty.fr/11e1mfV 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

Reform: Education Post Marks Up Your Work At "Red Pen Page"

Red Pen Archives   Education PostEducation Post, everybody's favorite new education nonprofit, recently debuted its Red Pen Page, where it rebuts ridiculous claims made by advocates and fact-checks horrible stories reported by journalists.  

In the first few entries, which debuted last week, EP takes on Change the Stakes in NY and the Poughkeepsie Journal for various perceived errors and unsubstantiated claims.

 It's an interesting and potentially useful strategy that mirrors a lot of the writing I've done here in recent weeks and months.  

There are lots of claims being made by advocates (on both sides) and mistakes being made by journalists (of all kinds). And the format -- red pen marks in faux handwriting in the right margin (look where the green arrow leads you) is visually appealing.

However, the approach still relies on people to find the posts on EP's site (rather than sending them out via email or clogging up everybody's Twitter feed), and I'm not sure whether EP has enough reach or credibility (yet?) to make folks stand up and pay attention to what they say.

Related posts: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism;  Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

 

Video: TIME Editor Defends Controversial Vergara Story & Cover

Here's an MSNBC segment from a couple of weeks ago that you (like me) may have missed at the time, in which the TIME editor Nancy Gibbs explains the story -- including the notable use of the courts to bypass a broken legislative process - and reflects on the response to the story:

 

Gibbs rejects the notion that the story is anti-teacher -- a frequent claim made against reformers and journalists who write about reform -- but fumbles a bit I thought when she's asked why there weren't more apples on the cover, or a question mark along with the headline. For this and more of a view from the conservative side of things, check out the Media Matters roundup (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story). Meantime: pageviews!

Afternoon Video: How Moskowitz "Outmuscled" The Teachers Union

Here's a pro-charter segment on Success Academy via ReasonTV.  Can't bear the thought?  Watch the NEA president talk about the union's hopes for teachers and tireless commitment to kids following last week's drubbing of teachers unions Democrats. Play them backwards or mash them up into a single video if you dare.

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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.