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Update: Network For Public Education & STAND Claim November Victories

Unnamed (14)The Network for Public Education has put out a list of electoral victories from earlier this month, including Helen Gym (Philadelphia, Suzie Abijian (South Pasadena), and several others.

The email acknowledges losses in Louisiana, blaming the defeat on lack of money. (There's no mention of labor or progressive backing of their candidates.) Click the link above for the full email. 

Meanwhile, there's an email from Stand for Children's Jonah Edelman touting recent election victories. As you can see, the focus is on Louisiana and Denver, where Stand and its allies generally prevailed.

There's no mention of races where things didn't work out so well -- I've asked for some additional information and will let you know what I get back. The full email is below. 

I'm still looking for a DFER brag sheet, and haven't seen a roundup from NEA or AFT now that I think of it. Tell them I'm looking, will you?

Related posts: States Where StudentsFirst Claims Victories - & What Comes NextWhere's Michelle Rhee (& What's StudentsFirst Up To Now)?Effective Advocacy Doesn't Stop With Policy Wins.

Continue reading "Update: Network For Public Education & STAND Claim November Victories" »

Maps: Which States Have Reported Common Core Scores

Here EdWeek rounds up which states have reported Common Core scores -- though some data are already outdated. Read the whole story here. Image used with permission.

Philanthropy: Funding Public Charters (Broad) Vs. Funding Private Schools (Geffen)

"And Eli Broad is the bad guy? Whatever you think of Broad strategy, he is trying to help kids who need it the most." Neerav Kingsland responding to news of David Geffen's $100 million donation to create a new private school at UCLA.

Morning Video: Struggling Schools Tries "Self-Organized" Learning

"A public elementary school in Harlem, New York, is adopting a radical idea that threatens the education industry as we know it, SOLEs, Self-Organized Learning Environments." From the PBS NewsHour -- includes reactions from teachers and a union rep. 

Charts: Impact Of Personalized Learning On Student Achievement

  Unnamed (1)
“The longer students experiences personalized learning practices, the greater their growth in achievement,” asserts a new report from the Gates Foundation (
Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning#inacol15


Maps: Most Grade 3-8 Students To Be Assessed Online in 2016

image from blogs.edweek.org"For the first time, most state-required summative assessments in U.S. elementary and middle schools will be administered via technology rather than by paper and pencil in the 2015-16 school year, according to a report released Thursday by EdTech Strategies, LLC, a research and consulting firm." Edweek (Paperless Testing: Most Grade 3-8 Students To Be Assessed Online in 2016). 

Quotes: Zuckerberg's Philanthropy "Not That Much Different"

Quotes2Whatever you may think of Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, in most ways it’s not that much different than that of a great many other funders who gone before him. The same can also be said of most tech leaders. A notable exception to this point is that Zuckerberg and other younger tech funders seem unlikely to create large bureaucratic organizations to give away their money.

- Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan (What Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Announcement Tells Us About the New Philanthropy)

Maps: How Many States Have "Repealed" Common Core, Again?

image from si.wsj.net
There's some energetic back and forth going on behind the scenes about the accuracy of this WSJ piece and how it codes the states (Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout), but that doesn't mean you can't read it and check out the map of states.

Charts: The Great Convergence (Of NAEP Scores, Demographically Adjusted)


"Once you control for demographics, nearly every state performs about the same," notes a recent post from Neerav Kingsland (NAEP and the Great Convergence). "only 4-5 states are outside of the +/- six month band... This feels like a great convergence of some sort."



Charters: When "Thin" Contracts Were All The Rage (2009)

There was a moment, maybe six or seven years years ago, when it seemed like charter schools with "thin" contracts were all the rage. 

They combined the autonomy and flexibility of a charter with the protections against unwarranted dismissal or arbitrary treatment from supervisors. But not all of the schools that had them performed as well as some may have hoped (just like teacher-run schools and every other type of governance option that's been proposed), and charter stalwarts and union hard-liners both hated them equally. 

I wrote about them in Harvard's Education Letter (RIP): Charters and Unions: What's the future for this unorthodox relationship?. But that was long ago. I declared them "so 2009" in 2011.

These days, pretty much only the Century Fund talks about them. Some giant percentage of the charters in Chicago are now organized, thanks in part to the efforts of a smooth-talking South African(?) union organizer who's never been seen or photographed. But not with thin contracts, as far as I understand. Much more common seem to be traditional (antagonistic) organizing/unionization efforts like the one currently going on in LA. 

Eventually, one would imagine, reform advocates and critics would get their acts together and return to an idea like this -- or a new generation of parents, funders, and politicians would get sick of the more rigid charter and union ideologies. But it's going to be a little while -- and going to take a lot of bravery. 

Related posts:Would Unions Ruin Charter Schools -- Or Vice Versa? (2009); Thin Contract At Locke High School.; The Return Of The "Thin" Contract? (2010); "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led (2014); 

Campaign 2016: A Teacher-Led Campaign PAC

More and more, it feels like it's going to take something new or different to break the current stalemate on education changes.

So it's hard not to be curious about America's Teachers, the teacher-led pro-Hillary PAC that popped up in the LA Times a few days ago. They two teachers behind the effort are TFA and union members. Take that reformers/critics.


 According to the America's Teachers site, "Teachers aren’t supposed to start Super PAC’s. That’s exactly why we created one." The priorities are universal preschool, college affordability, and education rights from DREAMers.

According to the LA Times (Meet the teacher lobby behind Hillary Clinton that's not the teachers union), the group's goals are to make sure that Hillary Clinton hears "from more than just unions or reformers." One main strategy is to focus on "friendlier, softer issues" rather than closing schools and limiting tenure.

What form "something new" is going to take, nobody quite knows. And not all of the new approaches coming along are going to be able to survive, much less thrive. Previous attempts at a middle-ground approach -- remember "thin" contracts for charters, anyone? -- have ended up being ignored even opposed by both of the major sides (who appear at times to prefer trench warfare to progress). And as soon as new people and approaches show up -- think Deray McKesson and Black Lives Matter -- they're claimed by one side and/or vilified by the other.

But eventually something/someone new is going to come along that's so compelling to the public and policymakers that entrenched interests can't ignore or avoid it any longer. The only real question in my mind is who/what will it be?

Quotes: Bloomberg Slams Duncan/Obama Testing Rollback

Quotes2Now that results from tests aligned to these standards are showing just how many students are not on track for college, the public backlash against the tests seems to have given Obama and Duncan a case of cold feet... That’s deeply regrettable. 

- Michael Bloomberg via Washington Post (Bloomberg: Obama and Duncan are making a wrong turn over testing)

Morning Video: Broadcast Outlets Pick Up Testing Reduction Plan

The blizzard of testing news coverage continues with this NBC News segment from last night. See also this PBS NewsHour segment featuring the NYT's Kate Zernike and this PBS NewsHour interview with Mike Casserly and Arne Duncan (click to the 8:30 mark).

Morning Videos: All Testing, All The Time

The Council of the Great City Schools released a new report on student testing in the U.S., followed by a panel discussion with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and others.


Watch the testing briefing above. (Click here if it's not displaying properly.) Or watch this PBS NewsHour segment about the study and the proposal (featuring the NYT's Kate Zernike):


Events: Grantmakers In Education (SF), Plus EWA x2 (Chicago)

2012-05-08-buddhaThis week's big education conference that I know of is Grantmakers For Education, which is meeting in SF and has a speaking appearance from Arne Duncan. The Twitter handle is @Edfunders, the hashtag is . EdSource's John Fensterwald is slated to do an interview with Duncan/King.

But it's not the only one.

Later this week, EWA is hosting two Chicago-based seminar/conferences for education reporters, one on covering poverty (Covering Poverty’s Influence on Education). Highlights from the agenda include an appearance from Alex Kotlowitz.

The second EWA event is called Ready for Day 1? Covering the Education of Teachers, which is being hosted by Northwestern University and "will examine the teacher pipeline, with a focus on how states can build a better route that attracts the best candidates, the extent to which states are — or aren't — taking adequate steps to ensure high quality preparation programs, and look more broadly at best practices to make sure new teachers are ready for Day One in the classroom." 

You can see the updated online agenda for highlights including a session with Dan Goldhaber and some advice from NPR's Steve Drummond about covering teacher shortages.

Any other events going on that we should know about? Anyone see or write a great summary of the Great Cities event last week? 

Charts: Do Schools Affect Economic Equality (And If So For Better Or Worse?)

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It used to be that everyone thought -- assumed/wished? --  that education was the great income inequality-reducer.

Then reform critics and others came along and pointed out that there were lots of non-school factors (parents' education level and income) that made as much or more of a difference, and that we shouldn't put all our hopes on schools to do any magic. 

Now, Michigan State researchers have issued a study written up by the Hechinger Report showing that US schools actually exacerbate the growing achievement gap between rich and poor (largely by teaching them very different material). "The researchers calculated that this educational content difference accounts for a third of the achievement gap, on average." 

The good news is that US is only about average when it comes to this unwanted effect, and that there are other countries out there that deliver a more equitable academic program to poor kids that we can try to learn from. 

Graphic via Hechinger Report and MSU.


Charts: Math & Computer Skills Not Enough In Coming Robot Age

Ed c


“Machines are automating a whole bunch of these things, so having the softer skills, knowing the human touch and how to complement technology, is critical, and our education system is not set up for that,” said Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, where he studies education - in the NYT (How the Modern Workplace Has Become More Like Preschool)

Morning Video: Standing Desks - For Students

Kids Are Now Using Standing Desks

Some classrooms are now using standing desks to keep kids active

Posted by NowThis on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Proving yet again that there's no trend or fad too ridiculous to import into education, standing desks are a thing for some classrooms and schools. This just emerges as some of the research about sitting has come under question. Oh, well. Give them laptops and standing desks and maybe a drone and they'll turn out fine. It's clear. It only costs $6,000 per classroom.

Next Week's Conferences: Grantmakers for Education (In SF)

If like me you can't go to many conferences but still really like to know when they're happening, it might be good to know that GFE's 19th Annual Conference is taking place next week in SF.

What do education grantmakers do?

"We cheer from the sidelines and influence from the inner circle. We bring people together when they are divided. We open forums for discussion and offer important opportunities—that no one else does—to take big risks, to make big gains. We are without limits in our vision of a future where outcomes for all learners improve and with them, the strength of our nation."

And what's the big deal with this conference?

"This unique gathering, like GFE’s flourishing network, is unrivaled in its size and focus. It brings together grantmakers from coast-to-coast, from organizations large and small. Together, we will seek answers to such questions as: What can we learn from trend research? Will present strategies create future inequalities? How will we exercise our power as grantmakers to empower future generations?"

I haven't posted a ton about GFE here but there are a bunch of references on Twitter here and some of the folks there were helpful with my chapter about "new" education philanthropy in education (for an AEI volume that's coming out.... sometime).

Meantime, anyone seen/written a writeup of the Council of Great Cities Conference that took place last week? I'm on a conferences binge.

Update: Here Comes NPR Education's New Series, "Ideas"

In case you hadn't seen it already, NPR's education team has launched a new themed series, dubbed Ideas.

Its motto: "There's nothing new under the sun in education. Except when there is. We'll explore how innovation happens, who drives it and what works."

So far, Ideas item include "An EdTech Buzzword Bingo Card, Higher Ed's Moneyball?, and (my favorite so far) The Mind-Reading Robo Tutor In The Sky.

The previous series, 50 Great Teachers, was apparently a big hit.

Check it out. Tell me what you think -- or what you hope they do or don't cover (drones! hoverboards!).

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Examines Primary School Suspensions

In his PBS NewsHour finale, John Merrow takes on NYC's Success Academy charter school network and its school discipline policies.

"At the largest charter school network in New York City, strict academic and behavior standards set the stage for learning. That doesn't exclude children as young as 5 or 6 years old, who can be given out-of-school suspensions if they don't follow the rules. Special correspondent for education John Merrow explores what that policy means for both the child and the school."

Watch it above or read the transcript here.

Quotes: Low Cut Scores "Killing" Employment/Competitiveness

Quotes2That mentality of saying let’s set proficient at a level where not too many people fail is going to kill us... The global standard of what proficient is keeps moving up.

- NCEE's Marc S. Tucker in the NYT via Education Dive (Are cut scores undermining Common Core's intent?)

Charts: Numbers Of Homeless Students On The Rise (Partly Due To Better Tracking)


"There were about 1.4 million homeless students nationwide in the 2013-14 school year, according to the Department of Education, twice as many as there were in the 2006-07 school year, when roughly 680,000 students were homeless." via FiveThirtyEight (There Are Way More Homeless Students Than There Used To Be)

Books: An Anthropological Look At School Fundraising

image from www.tinyspark.orgI don't know much of anything about this, but a new book called A Good Investment? is coming out and it's written up at Tiny Spark (When a School Markets Students as Charity Cases):

"Amy Brown’s forthcoming book examines how a NYC public high school managed its image to donors and critiques big philanthropy’s role in public education. A Good Investment? Philanthropy and the Marketing of Race in an Urban Public School is based on her two years at the pseudonymous “College Prep Academy.”

According to LinkedIn, Brown is a "Critical Writing Fellow at University of Pennsylvania Critical Writing Program."

Teaching: MasterClass Features Household Names Teaching What They Know


Watch out, Khan Academy, TED Talks, Coursera, and all the others who are trying to educate America via video. According to the NYT, here comes MasterClass, in which folks like Serena Williams, James Patterson, Usher, and Dustin Hoffman share their knowledge for $90 a course.

Maps: Where The 21 "Agency Fee" States Are -- For Now

image from educationnext.org
"Twenty-one states [in green] currently allow unions to collect agency fees to cover collective bargaining costs, and the unions in those states would have to reorganize if the plaintiffs win the Friedrichs case." New article via Education Next.

Charts: Should Education Advocates Work On Voting Issues? (Yes.)

The notion that people interested in making schools work better for kids should get involved in voter registration/equity issues will probably make some (on the reform side, mostly) howl and tear their hair out of their heads (except perhaps those Democracy Prep folks).

But social justice activists and organized labor have long been involved in these kinds of things (most notably in Chicago, where the CTU registered voters along with running candidates against City Hall).

There's a sliver of reform-side history on voter registration in the form of Steve Barr (and others?) being involved with Rock The Vote, which was a musician-focused effort to encourage people to register whose heyday was in the 1990's on MTV.

This forthcoming study on responses to poor AYP ratings suggests increases in voter turnout 5-8 percent (varying by income) -- almost as much effect as door knocking.

Plus which: schools are often used as polling places, so it's right there in front of your faces.

Parent engagement & mobilization is now recognized as a key aspect of efforts to make schools work better. Why not throw some voter registration/advocacy in the mix while you're at it?

Related posts: Harvard Students Fail 1964 Louisiana Voting Literacy Test Children's Academic Success Vs. Minority Voting RightsComputerized Voting To Change A ContractTurning Students Into Voters.

Reform: Why Was Community Engagement In Newark *So* Bad?

In a recent interview in The Seventy Four, former mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries described how woefully insufficient the communications and engagement effort was behind the Newark school reform effort: “There was absolutely not an infrastructure to communicate to parents... voters [and] the community.” 


Love or loathe the Newark reform effort, you have to admit that it's pretty notable that well-funded reformers who'd seen what happened to Michelle Rhee in DC and had to know the importance of informing and rallying community members to their cause didn't seem to do so (or did so ineffectively). Across the river, Families For Excellent Schools launched in 2011. There was nothing like that in Newark. 

In Dale Russakoff's book about Newark, the communications effort outsourced to consultant Bradley Tusk and others is described as a half-completed boondoggle:


Mysteriously Tusk's role in Newark -- and his effectiveness -- isn't mentioned in this recent Forbes profile (What Uber And Mike Bloomberg Have In Common).


I've invited Tusk and other consultants who worked on the Newark project to tell me more about their work, what if anything the Russakoff book gets wrong, and what readers need to know about the folks working on the opposite side of the issue (who don't get nearly as much attention as Tusk et al in the Russakoff book).

So far, few if any takers. But the lines are still open.  

Related posts: Meet Bradley Tusk, Reform StrategistWhy Organized Opposition Gets Less Attention.

Parents: Chicago & NYC Examples Highlight Promise & Challenges Of Integration

There are two contrasting stories going on around school integration right now -- one in Chicago where parents at an overcrowded high-achieving school are considering merging with a nearby low-achieving school and the other in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood where parents are apparently expressing concerns about changes in the attendance zone that would bring in more low-income kids. 

Read about the Chicago story at WBEZ and DNA Chicago: "Jenner principal Croston told the crowd that Jenner teaches children to “be neighborly. It’s one of the golden rules of every single world religion,” he said. “I think we are not doing our children a service when we continue to perpetuate stereotypes; when we continue to perpetuate myths.”"

Read about the Brooklyn situation at Gothamist (among other places):"At last night's meeting, most of the parental indignation was directed at the DOE, which proposed the rezoning plan on September 2nd, and planned only two town-hall meetings—one at each school—before a revised plan is expected to be presented on September 30th. The rezoning could be finalized before the end of the year."

The dynamics are a good reminder of what David Simon said recently: "White people, by and large, are not very good at sharing physical space or power or many other kinds of social dynamics with significant numbers of people of color."

Or Ravi Gupta in a recent Conor Williams commentary: "‘Neighborhood school’ is almost an Orwellian term. It sounds great—and can be great in a perfect world. But its history is a history of using neighborhood boundaries to segregate."

But it can and does happen -- in unlikely places including Greenwich, Connecticut (Who Knew That Greenwich, Conn., Was a Model of Equality?)

Related posts: School Integration's Nagging NIMBY ProblemNew Report Calls For Renewed Integration Effort (Can It Happen?)

Charts: Pinellas County Tops This 2014 District Education Foundations List

32544rrAfter Pinellas comes Clark County (Las Vegas), Omaha, Denver, Philadelphia, Hillborough, and NYC. Local (district) education foundations are either the best or worst thing ever, depending on whether you like what the fund is doing or not (and how you feel about equity). Here's a 2014 ranking by dewey & associates called "Stepping Up" which is billed as "the nation's only study and ranking of K-12 education foundations." h/t ED.

Charts: Education Doesn't Pay Much (But Field Still Dominated By White Grads)

Asfdff"African American and Hispanic students disproportionately earn more bachelors degrees in low-paying majors, putting them at higher risk for financial instability after graduation, according to a new study from Young Invincibles, an advocacy group," says the Washington Post (Racial disparities in college major selection exacerbate earnings gap).

Education (see highlighted row) is of course a lower-paying job, but note that African-American and Latino representation in education is among the lower percentages (and one of the larger job categories). Education remains overwhelmingly white. The Shanker Institute recently reported that the percentages of minority teachers in 9 major cities has been dropping.

Quotes: Expanding Choice Not The Same As Fixing A District

Quotes2I thought that with [hundreds of millions] of dollars...that they knew how to reform a district, and how to help urban schools, not just charter schools... I thought they really knew how to take...the whole district and make all of those schools perform better for kids, and they really didn't know how to do that.

- Author Dale Russakoff about the reform effort in Newark, via WNYC (The Deal That Brought Mark Zuckerberg's $100 Million Gift to Newark's Schools)


Numbers: $1.5 Trillion US Education Industry "Ready For Investment"




US education is a $1.5 trillion industry and growing at 5 percent annually, according to this recent McKinsey report (Why US education is ready for investment).  However, "education is everywhere seen as a public good, entrusted to government and nonprofit institutions, and most spending is on personnel."

image from tse2.mm.bing.net

"For-profit companies have historically achieved scale by stepping in to provide education where society has left gaps—by acting as school operators in K–12 and higher education or by providing ancillary services such as tutoring, day care, and test preparation. Private companies have also found niches in corporate training and textbook publishing, though the latter is a heavily consolidated industry."

Maps: Preschool For All - With Lots Of Differences Among States

"Policymakers in Minnesota, like many across the country, have been impressed by studies that show early education can improve a child’s life and save taxpayers money over the long term. But while there’s a growing consensus on the value of preschool, states disagree on where the programs should be based, who should run them, or how the government should support them." via Stateline. Click the link if the map doesn't embed/display properly.

Quotes: Your Ideas About College Are Antiquated

Quotes2The world of college education is different now than it was a generation ago, when many of the people driving policy decisions on education went to college, and the theoretical ideas about why college should pay off do not comport well with the reality.

-- John Cassidy in the New Yorker (What's the real value of higher education?)



Charts: Extra Money "Meaningfully" Improves Student Outcomes


"Our findings provide compelling evidence that money does matter, and that additional school resources can meaningfully improve long-run outcomes for students." (Education Next: Boosting Educational Attainment and Adult Earnings)

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Returns To New Orleans (Plus "Teaching Teachers")


John Tulenko and the team (now with EdWeek) report on how much NOLA schools seem to have improved, and nagging concerns about problems with expulsions and special ed services. Or, listen to this hour-long American Public Radio documentary on teaching teachers

Charts: As Of 2010, DC Got More Foundation Funding Than Anyone Else (Per Pupil)

Eee"The [$31M] total represented an extra $705 per student — far more than any other school district in the country," notes this Washington Post story (D.C. schools attracted record amounts of philanthropy). Other districts with substantial private funding include(d) Nwark, Oakland, Seattle, & Boston. Image used with permission. Latest figures included are for 2010, and are presented on a per-pupil basis. 

Thompson: Greg Toppo Sees the Game's Future and It Works

image from images.macmillan.comI've always been confused by the seemingly absurd dichotomy. Brilliant computer geeks and digital geniuses create such potentially liberating technologies. But, they also became a driving force in corporate school reform and its efforts to turn schools back to the early 20th century.

Gosh, as Greg Toppo explains in The Game Believes in You, computer games were pioneered by a small group of mostly unconnected, visionaries, In the earliest days of the 1960s computer breakthroughs, some inventors were even influenced by LSD. So, why did such creative people commit to turning schools into a sped up Model T assembly line?

It would be too much to ask of Toppo, or any other single writer, to definitively answer this question but his excellent book helps us understand why so many architects of 21st century technological miracles helped impose test, sort, reward, and punish, bubble-in malpractice on our schools.

Toppo chose to study computer gaming after his still dynamic young daughter became disenchanted with reading, and after he tired of reporting on school reform wars.  The fundamental problem predates corporate school reform; for instance, 1/3rd of high school graduates never go on to read another book for the rest of their lives. And, as teacher and reading expert Kelly Gallagher says, the problem is both under- and over-teaching of reading. But, full-blown "readicide" has been made far worse by the test prep which was caused by output-driven, competition-driven reform. 

Toppo writes:

At exactly the same time that schools have taken the questionable path of implementing more high-stakes standardized tests keyed to the abilities of some imaginary bell-curved students, games have gone the opposite route, embedding sophisticated assessment into gameplay ... becoming complex learning tools that promise to deflate the tired 'teach to the test' narrative that weighs down so many great teachers and schools. 

The Game Believes in You does a great job explaining the cognitive science behind computer games (and in doing so he may foreshadow an explanation why corporate school reformers became so obsessed with competition that they helped impose nonstop worksheet-driven, basic skills instruction on so many schools.)

Continue reading "Thompson: Greg Toppo Sees the Game's Future and It Works" »

Quotes: Delay & High Stakes Are The Problems, Not Testing Itself

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comBy using data insightfully, we can understand where students are at any point in time. This is done through realistic and sensible formative assessment measures of growth, and we are able to personalize learning in ways not possible in high stakes testing environments where results are delayed by months.

-- Philip D. Lanoue is the superintendent of the 13,000-student Clarke County School District in Georgia - via Washington Post (High-stakes testing is the ‘fool’s gold’ of accountability)

AM News: Vallas Calls Out Duncan & Daley For Chicago's Fiscal Mess

Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas blames successors [including Duncan] for $1B deficit ABC7 Chicago: "In 2001, the district had $1.2 billion in cash reserves," said Paul Vallas, former CPS CEO. "They had six years of structurally balanced budgets."

Dyett hunger-strikers vow to continue fight Chicago Sun-Times: Randi Weingarten, president of the Washington D.C.-based American Federation of Teachers — which boasts 1.6 million members — joined the hunger strikers Wednesday at a news conference outside of Dyett. See also Washington Post.

D.C. schools attracted record amounts of philanthropy in recent years Washington Post: D.C. public schools attracted more than $31 million from national foundations in 2010, far more than any other school district in the country.

State removes 15 years of test results before releasing new scores EdSource Today: Earlier this month, as the department got ready to send parents the initial student scores on the new tests sometime over the next few weeks, department officials deleted old test results going back more than 15 years from the most accessible part of the department’s website, impeding the public’s ability to make those comparisons.

This Company Just Started Offering Free, Customized Tutoring Online  BuzzFeed: The tech company, which has powered some of the largest education companies, breaks out on its own with a free online learning service, Knewton.com.

Embattled Albuquerque Schools Chief to Learn Fate AP: The embattled superintendent of New Mexico's largest school district is expected to learn Thursday if he'll stay on the job or be forced out just two months into his position. Board members are scheduled to vote on whether Luis Valentino will remain the head of Albuquerque Public Schools after he hired an administrator who faces child sex abuse charges.

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu: Charters Increased Equity In New Orleans Schools PK12: For the Louisiana Democrat, the most important story in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the enhanced equity in the New Orleans' education system.

New Orleans' Teaching Force Today: Whiter, Less Experienced, Higher Turnover Teacher Beat: The city's teaching force is now 49 percent black, compared to 71 percent black in 2005. About 60 percent of teachers in 2005 were trained in New Orleans colleges; in 2014, fewer than 40 percent were. Teacher experience levels dropped notably since 2003; the percentage of teachers with five or fewer years of experience increased from 33 percent to 54 percent over that time period. 

Knock Knock, Teacher's Here: The Power Of Home Visits NPR: There was a time when a teacher showing up on a student's doorstep probably meant something bad. But increasingly, home visits are being used to spark parental involvement.

There Are Kids Fighting Fires In Washington State Seattle Public Radio: Until a teen escaped last week, assaulted a supervisor and then shot himself, there were 20 youth working on the fire line at the Chelan Complex Fire in central Washington. Another crew of 10 made sandwiches and meals in Okanogan County.

'George' Wants You To Know: She's Really Melissa NPR: George is a transgender fourth-grader. She's the heroine of a new book intended for readers in grades 3 to 7 and published by Scholastic, one of the largest children's publishing companies in the world.

Here's the first of a weeklong series "Rethinking College" that the PBS NewsHour is running, this one focusing on why first generation and low-income students tend to drop out even when tuition has been taken care of. Transcript is here.

Walcott & Bradford: Folks Who Resemble Each Other & Are Both In Education

11892058_10153387018910218_8606453158210258242_n (1)Folks that look somewhat alike (usually a civilian and a celebrity) aren't that hard to find or think up.

Folks who look alike and are both in education, that's fun.

For example, that's NY-CAN's Derrell Bradford on the left and Dennis Walcott on the right. 

Some other #edudopplegangers out there? Joel Klein and Louisiana schools consultant Bill Attea, according to Peter Cook. Conor Williams and Glee teacher Matthew Morrison, according to Williams' colleagues.

Not sure who your lookalike might be? Just ask! We might have some ideas.

Extra points if the pair come from opposite sides of the education spectrum. 

Or, if you don't care about whether it's in education or not, there's a doppleganger-finding app/website out there now.

Used with permission. #Edu-Dopplegangers15

Related posts: Education Dopplegangers (2010)

Charts: Preliminary Test Results From 4 States Better Than Expected

"All four of these states [Missouri, West Virginia, Oregon and Washington] did better than that field test on the English exam and all but West Virginia and Missouri’s eighth graders improved on the math exam... The drops in their scores from old state exams were much smaller than the 30-plus percentage points declines in New York and Kentucky." (The surprising initial results from a new Common Core exam).  Used with permission.

Update: Re-Segregation & Recovery In Pinellas County, Florida

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com
Earlier this week over at The Grade, I shared out an amazing set of graphics showing the dramatic impact of one Florida County's abandonment of integration efforts.

All by itself, the slides told a powerful, clear story about the resegregation of some racially isolated schools and the academic consequences that followed. My favorite -- the red lines showing a cluster of schools becoming more racially isolated over time -- is above.

Now there's a beautifully-rendered 5,200-word feature story to go along with the graphics, all from the Tampa Bay Times, including both the sad challenges that these schools and students have experienced and recent attempts to make things better.

Related posts: Steal This School Segregation Story

Books: New Franzen Novel Features Loan-Burdened Protagonist

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Good news, all of you concerned with crushing student loan debt (your own or the issue): According to this review in The Atlantic, Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Purity, features a main character who's faced with large loans and no obvious way to pay them off:

"Her mother broke off contact with her family before Pip was born, and Pip hasn’t been able to persuade her to reveal the truth about her past or the identity of Pip’s father. She’s burdened with $130,000 in student loans, lives in a squatter house in Oakland, and works for a company that fleeces energy consumers with misleading environmental rhetoric. Like her Dickensian original, she has the idea that if she were to discover her own backstory, something wonderful might happen—maybe even the zeroing-out of those student loans."

Author Franzen isn't particularly interested in education, but he and his work have come up several times here over the years. His 2010 book, Freedom, raised some issues related to Education, Parenting. There was the amazing speech he delivered at Kenyon in 2011 (Of Songbirds And Public Education) -- which prompted me to write perhaps the most sincere and least prickly thing I've ever published (Education Will Break Your Heart).

AM News: Principals Critique Walker, Media Critiques Clinton Debt Relief Plan

Scott Walker's War on Big Government Isn't Helping Schools, Principals Say PK12: A group of 35 principals from the southern Wisconsin area wrote to Gov. Scott Walker arguing that in the current policy and political climate, districts simply don't have enough power. See also HuffPost, Washington Post.

Hillary Clinton’s student debt video misses the biggest problem with paying for college Vox: The people featured — who have unusually high levels of debt, sky-high interest rates, or both — are outliers, and they're not necessarily the people Clinton's plan would do the most to help. The video includes four young adults who mention specific numbers in connection with their own student debt. Their stories are scary. But, thankfully, they're not typical.

Bernie Sanders's Nurses' Union Endorsement Comes Despite Labor Concerns National Journal: "I think most people don't think Bernie is going to be president." AFT president Randi Weingarten, who sits on the board of the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action, tweeted last month.  See also The Blaze, Bloomberg Politics.

Authorities accuse 5 GAO employees of school lunch fraud AP: Five employees of the U.S. Government Accountability Office have been indicted on charges of fraudulently securing reduced-price school lunches for their children in a Maryland county.

Some Districts Battle Shortage of Teachers as School Begins AP: Many schools — particularly in places with growing populations and difficult working conditions — are having an especially tough time getting enough teachers to fill all their jobs. Remote areas, and high-poverty districts like Detroit with uncertain budgets and difficult working conditions, also have trouble.

Lazy days of summer? Not for these students gunning for a make-or-break exam WNYC: In New York City, like in other parts of the US, some students spend their break digging into algebra equations, hoping to ace a test that will get them into a top public high school. But some question whether a single test unfairly leaves some students out.

City’s incoming Teach for America class hits five-year low ChalkbeatNY: All told, the city will have about 5,500 new hires this fall, 100 of which will come from TFA, according to education department spokesman Jason Fink.

For second year in a row, test scores soar at low-income Arlington school Washington Post: Some grades at Carlin Springs Elementary saw double-digit increases in their state test passage rates for the second year in a row, following a deliberate effort to prepare disadvantaged students for the exams and to closely track student performance on practice tests throughout the year. The repeat success suggests that the school’s efforts might be paying off, boosting scores among groups of students whose success has proved elusive on standardized tests.

Media: EdWeek Acquires Nonprofit Supplying PBS NewsHour Segments - Who Will Replace Merrow On Air?

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There are lots of exciting angles to the news that Editorial Projects in Education (the nonprofit outfit that runs EdWeek) is acquiring Learning Matters (which is John Merrow's long-running nonprofit education media organization), but the most immediate and fun aspect that I can think of about the deal is speculation over who will replace Merrow as one of the on-air correspondents (who introduces segments, asks questions, nods in response to answers, etc.).

As you may have noticed, Learning Matters -- whose segments often appear on the PBS NewsHour -- has had two correspondents sharing duties over the past few years: Merrow and John ("JT") Tulenko. According to EdWeek, Tulenko will stay on as a correspondent and will like the rest of the Learning Matters team remain in New York City. The second, as-yet-unnamed correspondent will work out of Washington DC (well, Bethesda), which is where EdWeek is located. That's where the fun part comes.

Neither Kathleen Kennedy Manzo nor Virginia "Ginny" Edwards would tell me who the new correspondent might be -- I don't think they quite know themselves -- but here are some guesses at who might be in the running:

It's possible that they'll pick someone already on the EdWeek payroll, especially given that some of the current staffers have broadcast experience and obviously know education fairly well. Ben Herold did some radio when he was in Philadelphia. Arianna Prothero came out of public radio in Miami. It's also possible that there's someone at the NewsHour who's interested enough to move over to EdWeek (since nobody calls it EPE). 

My guess is that they'll look for someone who knows education at least a bit, has some broadcast experience (radio or TV), who's already in DC. That could include someone from the NPR national team, or -- my guess -- WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza (whom I've met socially as well as heard on air). Maybe they'll try and lure WNYC's Yasmeen Kahn down to try out for the job. There's a great young public TV correspondent from Chicago's WTTW, Brandis Friedman, who might be interested and ready or might like where she is. Former KPCC LA education reporter Vanessa Romo just accepted a Spencer Fellowship but that only lasts until May, really, so maybe she's a candidate, too?

Let me know if you have any other, better ideas -- or if my ideas are all wrong.

Other tidbits that I can tell you with greater certainty include that Edwards says she has raised $4.5 million to support the new operation over the next three years, led by a commitment from the Wallace Foundation, and that EdWeek is building a new studio in the Bethesda office to do more video for online and broadcast.  

There's no money changing hands between EdWeek and Merrow, and just one board member from Learning Matters is coming over to EdWeek, which is apparently why it's an acquisition rather than a sale or merger.

Edwards also tells me that there's an MOU with the NewsHour spelling out the collaboration between the two organizations, which have for many years operated on little more than a handshake between Merrow and his counterparts at the NewsHour. Learning Matters without the NewsHour isn't nearly as appealing as the two of them together, so that makes sense to nail that down as part of the deal. 

The idea of merging the two organizations has been around for years, according to Edwards, but talks started in earnest last Spring when Merrow told insiders (including me) that he was going to retire soon but hoped to find a way for Learning Matters to continue. Edwards had been on Merrow's board for a time. Learning Matters has been a content partner to EdWeek. "There is only one organization with the expertise, talent, and reputation to continue this work, and that’s EdWeek," says Merrow in a press release.

EdWeek has experimented with video content over the years, and won an award from EWA for a feature focused on Native American education, but has never done all that much with it -- and has never had access to a broadcast outlet like the NewsHour.  

The NewsHour has experimented with online coverage of education in between broadcast segments, and has an education page but no dedicated staffer covering the beat to my knowledge. For what seems like forever, the vast majority of its field segments (those including coverage of schools and live events outside the studio) have been provided by Learning Matters. 

Given all the other options that the NewsHour could have explored -- including handling education internally or farming it out to any number of other production companies who would have jumped at the chance -- and the challenges of the last few years in journalism over all, EdWeek can be forgiven the swagger in its release:  

"At a time when many news organizations have struggled to sustain their audiences and even their businesses, the nonprofit Education Week is a success story," brags EdWeek. "The legacy news operation has not only survived the media disruption, but leveraged it, catalyzing its authoritative coverage with even more engaging and diversified forms of journalism."

I've put out calls to Merrow and to the NewsHour and will let you know what if any additional information I get back from them.

Related posts: Last Night’s PBS NewsHour May Have (Wildly) Overstated the Dropout Rate for New TeachersSome High-Poverty Districts Exceed Federal Opt-Out Limit.

Morning Video: Teachers As Free Agents, Paid Based On Test Scores

Here's a Key & Peele sendup of SportsCenter in which teachers are highly-paid free agents who are wooed from one school to another based on salaries partly based on test scores. Includes a horrifyingly realistic in-video ad promoting BMWs for teachers.  Via Toppo

Charts: Who's Running All Those Charter Schools?


I don't know if it's been vetted by NAPCS or NACSA or anyone else yet, but Bruce Baker's maps and charts showing Who’s actually running America’s charter schools are pretty interesting to look at, and give a good sense of how narrow the conversation about charters can get given the distribution of providers/operators out there. 



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.