About this blog Subscribe to this blog

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

Lead_960 (1)

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?

Screenshot 2015-08-10 22.55.36
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. 

Morning Video: New Teachers, Job Prospects, Minority Retention

Here's last night's PBS NewsHour segment on teacher supply and demand, which describes how 200,000 newly-minted teacher education graduates might fare in the job marketplace. (The piece quotes the 40 percent/5 year departure statistic we've long seen for new teachers, though I thought that new research suggested that number might not be as high as we've been told.)

"If and when they do get hired, chances are at least 40 percent of them will leave teaching in the first five years. "

According to Ingersoll, the profession has become even more female-dominated, and minority teachers have doubled but have higher quit rates (largely due to the kinds of schools and districts into which they are hired).

Charts: Teaching Candidates Come From Less Wealthy Families

Who studies education

This chart from a recent Atlantic story about rich kids studying English seems to be a good reminder that those students who enter teaching as undergraduates tend to come from families with less income than those who study, say, English. I'm not sure if this has changed much in the last 10 years. Anyone know more?

AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools

Teachers allege problems at California virtual schools run by Va.-based company K12 Inc. Washington Post: A group of teachers at a network of California virtual schools has alleged a number of problems with the online operator, including inflated enrollment to increase per-pupil funding; violation of student privacy laws; misuse of federal funds meant to serve poor children; and inadequate services for children with disabilities. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Virginia Online High School Pilot Is Ahead of the Curve US News: Come this fall, 100 students from across Virginia will have the chance to participate in the commonwealth's first fully online high school through a pilot program recently announced by state officials. And if the program comes to full fruition after the pilot, it would be the first of its kind in Virginia, and only the second of its kind in the country.

Texas Law Decriminalizes School Truancy AP: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect.

Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States State EdWatch: A Smarter Balanced testing vendor has released completion rates in three states that had serious challenges giving the common-core aligned exam.

When Research Projects Replace State Tests WNYC: ICE is one of 48 [consortium schools] with a waiver from the state to offer alternatives to most of the five Regents tests required to graduate. Students still must take the English exam but for the others they can provide portfolios or special projects. 

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.

Poverty's enduring hold on school success WBEZ Chicago: Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty--2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty—where nearly every child in the school is low-income— has ballooned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools" »

Table: Smaller, Lower-Scoring Districts Had Higher Opt-Out Rates In NY

image from www.brookings.eduSo Brookings' Matt Chingos took a look at the available opt-out data for New York State, and then combined it with demographic information and 2014 test score results (Who opts out of state tests?).

What he found includes both the obvious ("relatively affluent districts tend to have higher opt-out rates," and "larger districts tend to have lower opt-out rates.") and the more surprising ("districts with lower test scores have higher opt-out rates after taking socioeconomic status into account.")

Why would lower-scoring districts have higher opt out rates, controlling for demographics?

According to Chingos, it might be "district administrators encouraging opt-outs in order to cover up poor performance, districts focusing on non-tested subjects to satisfy parents who care less about standardized tests, and parents becoming more skeptical of the value of tests when their children do not score well."

However, there's not enough data to determine whether lower- or higher-scoring students tended to opt out at higher or lower rates, notes Chingos. "It could be the higher-scoring students in those districts that are doing the opting out."

Where's All The Ed-Related Conversation About #RachelDolezal?

Has someone prominent been revealed to have been "passing" as black in education? Not that I know of. But I can't believe it hasn't happened -- and even if it hasn't, race and privilege are everywhere in education. 

And so I'm sad to note that there's surprisingly little being said so far about Rachel Dolezal among the education folks I follow on Twitter and Facebook, and via Feedly.

That seems like a shame. It's an opportunity, right?  Let's not have it pass us by just because Dolezal headed a NAACP local rather than a school district.

Below are a few comments by education-related people that I've found via Twitter, just to get things started:

Nekima Levy-Pounds:

Deray McKesson:

Morgan Polikoff:

Liz Dwyer:

Laura McKenna:

Motoko Rich:

Camika Royal:

Some of the folks I'd love to hear from (more) on this issue include Karen Lewis, Cami Anderson, Michelle Rhee, @TheJLV, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chris Stewart, Ray Salazar, RiShawn Biddle, Xian Barrett, Sabrina Stevens, Deray McKesson, someone from TFA, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Agree or disagree with you, we need more voices here. 

Related posts: Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, TooRace, Reconstruction, & The Nation"Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"Sports Are What City Schools "Do Best".

Morning Video: A Different Kind Of (Charter) School Model

"Right away, when visitors walk into an Intrinsic Schools classroom, they notice its size. Each classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students." (A Charter School Model Different from Most WTTW Chicago)

Will Common Core Results Generate A New Wave Of Lawsuits?

In case you hadn’t noticed, most of today’s education debate takes place inside a very small, seemingly unchangeable stone box. But there are a few examples of advocates thinking big, going at fundamental problems that aren't just workarounds to the current situation:

In 2008, Matt Miller proposed ending local control of schools in an Atlantic Magazine article (First, Kill All the School Boards). He admitted that reducing the over-emphasis on local control “goes against every cultural tradition we have, save the one that matters most: our capacity to renew ourselves to meet new challenges.”

In 2012, former NYC chancellor Joel Klein (and Michelle Rhee, and Warren Buffett) half-jokingly floated the idea of “banning” private schools and assigning children to schools randomly (rather than by neighborhood or test score). I was annoyed at this spread of this "thought experiment" at the time and it still seems legally and politically unworkable but it expands the mind, suggesting other, possibly more achievable changes. It's apparently been discussed in other countries.

In the past few years, folks like Nikole Hannah-Jones (formerly of ProPublica, now headed to the New York Times) or Ta-Nehesi Coates of The Atlantic have reminded us of things like resegregation of schools in the South and the policy decisions that created the American ghetto

The most recent example I've come across is the notion of undoing the 1973 Rodriguez case that has seemed to have blocked progress on school funding issues for over 40 years now. Recently, civil rights leader Wade Henderson described the law as “a triumph of states’ rights over human rights.” Educator and activist Sam Chaltain wrote not too long ago that Rodriguez was arguably as important as the 1954 Brown decision may be and called for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing “an equal opportunity to learn.” 

Perhaps the most exciting (and terrifying) idea I've heard of in recent months is someone suing states based on their failure to achieve reasonable student proficiency percentages under the new Common Core assessments.  "All of a sudden the standards and test results [could] become something that state courts can refer to as a reasonable representation of states' Constitutional requirements," notes to school funding expert Bruce Baker (who's not particularly optimistic about this happening or working out well).

The point is simple: There are elements to the current education system that can seem so permanent, so intractable as to make them seem not work talking about. But that's a shame -- and a bit of an embarrassment.  What's the biggest, scariest, most fascinating education idea you've heard or thought of lately?

NB: This is a version of a post that was first published over at The Grade.  

Thompson: The Perils -- And Potential -- Of "Right-Click" Credit Programs

image from apps.npr.orgNational Public Radio committed fourteen reporters to an investigative series, The Truth about America's Graduation Rate, which identifies three major ways that school systems try to improve their graduation rates.

NPR finds that some districts did it in the proper way, by "stepping in early to keep kids on track." 

Too many improved graduation rates by "lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes when students falter," or "gaming the system by moving likely dropouts off the books, transferring or misclassifying them."

NPR's excellent series should push us to ask some tougher questions, such as what is the harm of "juking the stats" in order to graduate more students? Credit recovery is the alternative route that might have the most potential for helping students graduate, but when abused, it has great potential for harm.

In the early years of NCLB, my students shunned credit recovery as "exercising your right-click finger." But, as credit recovery expanded, the practice literally became dangerous. In many inner city high schools, most of the chronic disorder and violence is prompted by students who attend irregularly and/ or who come to school but don't go to class.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Perils -- And Potential -- Of "Right-Click" Credit Programs" »

Charts: In One Year, 41 Chicago Schools Raised $7.6M In Private Donations

image from catalystchicago.wpengine.netdna-cdn.comThere's a perception in some quarters that public schools within each school district are by and large equal in terms of how they're funded, and it's mostly charter schools that rake in the outside donations. 

Well, this new piece from Catalyst Chicago (The price of fundraising) pretty much explodes that idea:

"For a select but growing group of schools in Chicago’s wealthier communities, parent fundraising has risen to new heights." 

Last year, 8 schools raised more than $300,000 each. "Thirty brought in more than $100,000 and eight raised more than $200,000." One raised more than $600,000. 


AM News: What Next For NJ & Common Core (Plus Chicago Supe Resigns)

Former Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley Joins Democrats' Race for White House PK12: Among his education achievements as governor was signing into law a bill that made some undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition.

Real Test After Christie’s Call to Drop Common Core: What Happens Next? NJ Spotlight: Now what? In the aftermath of Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement on Thursday that he no longer supports the Common Core State Standards, what are the administration’s plans for setting its own standards for New Jersey’s public schools?

Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigation Chicago Tribune: Byrd-Bennett sent written notice of her decision to the city school board, a source told the Tribune late Sunday. An official CPS announcement was pending.

Deadline for Teacher-Distribution Plans Looms PK12: Attention state agency officials: Monday is the final deadline to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that address the equitable distribution of teachers.

Center for Union Facts says Randi Weingarten is ruining nation’s schools Washington Post: The writer, Richard Berman, is a D.C.-based corporate communications consultant who is waging a national campaign against Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Poll: Maryland Voters Concerned About Time Spent On Standardized Tests WAMU: When it comes to education issues, Maryland voters are worried about too much standardized testing of kids more than anything else, according to a poll commissioned and released by the state's teachers union. The survey shows rare bipartisan agreement on education in Maryland.

Chicago struggles to redesign neighborhood high schools Catalyst: Overall, the neighborhood high schools that small schools were intended to rejuvenate are still struggling. Many, especially on the South and West sides, suffer from sharply declining enrollment.

Charter-school backers resist state’s traditional financial-reporting rules Seattle Times: The state wants charter schools to follow the same financial-reporting rules as other public schools, but has encountered some unexpected backlash. It’s the first clash in an otherwise peaceful relationship with the state as charters ramp up in Washington.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Confounds Mayor Bill de Blasio WSJ: Aides to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have huddled for months trying to understand Gov. Andrew Cuomo, often as they scrambled to address perceived slights. They largely have come to one conclusion: There is very little to be done about him.

Reaching Kids Means Conquering Poverty in Mount Vernon WNYC: Educators on the front lines — those who work with the students in the schools that struggle most to pass reading and math tests — said Cuomo’s argument ignored a key factor, one beyond teachers’ control: poverty.

School surveillance video shows boxes of SAT exams were delivered to UPS Washington Post: On May 2, 263 teens sat for the SATs at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., the culmination of weeks of expensive test preparation for some students as they hoped to enhance their standing on the college entrance exams.

Blue-collar town leads Rhode Island’s tech-assisted learning revolution Hechinger Report: The students dive into the lesson, dragging empty domino shapes from the bottom of the screen and placing them at the top, where they add dots and create equations.

Hastert’s Name Removed by Alma Mater NYT: AWheaton College scrubbed J. Dennis Hastert’s name from its public policy center after the former House speaker’s indictment on charges that he lied to the F.B.I. about financial transactions.

Morning Video: Spring Testing Season Recap From PBS

Watch John Merrow and Motoko Rich discuss this past spring's Common Core testing season above, or read the transcript here. Merrow notes that Jersey City -- not a white suburban district -- had enough opt outs that it failed to reach 95 percent, which if confirmed would be the first such district I've heard about. Or maybe Albuquerque NM also?

Update: Panorama Unveils Teacher Survey (To Help Evaluate Principals)

Wide-deskThe idea that quick, candid surveys can be useful in schools and classrooms isn't new at this point. They've been popularized since a few years ago when it was reported that students' views of teachers correlated with teachers' abilities to improve student achievement.

But now one of the outfits that works on these kinds of things is taking it a step further -- or deepening the approach, you might say -- by developing quick and dirty survey instruments for administrators to ask teachers.

The new Panorama Teacher Survey is mean to help administrators understand what teachers are thinking and how they're doing. They can be used diagnostically, or for schools where teachers help evaluate principals. They're faster and cheaper than a big Gallup kind of poll.  Their competition is the New Teacher Center's TELL Survey.  

"We're piloting with a number of schools right now and over 50 schools have already started using the free teacher survey platform since we launched," says Panorama's Jack McDermott. Meantime, the Student Survey has been "accessed by over 4,000 educators worldwide" and has been "district-wide in several of the largest districts in country and has been approved by several states for use in evaluation measures."

Related posts: Yeah, But What's Your Panorama™ Score? (2012), State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class (NYT 2014)

People: EdTech Startup Exec Feared Injured In Philly Amtrak Crash

There are lots of education types who travel up and down the Boston-DC corridor on Amtrak, and Rachel Jacobs of AppreNet is being reported as missing after the Philadelphia Amtrak crash last night. She's described as a 39 year old Swarthmore grad & mother of a young child. You can follow updates via Twitter here.

Morning Video: Three White Guys (Including Gates & Buffett) Talk Education (Again)


From CNBC Monday, here's seven minutes from Gates, Buffett, and Charlie Munger talking about education. 

Events: NewSchools 2015 Summit Live Twitter Feed

Seems like a slow day, so maybe you'd be best off spending the rest of it watching #NSVFSummit updates scroll by. It's mostly folks chronicling the event, rather than reacting pro or con, and it may or may not be NSVF's best summit ever. But it's good to know what folks are doing and saying, whether you agree or not. Let me know if something unusual happens!

Morning Video: Taking A Look At The Latest Charter School Waiting Lists

It's both Charter Schools and Teacher Appreciation week at the same time, and yet the sky seems not to have fallen (yet). So maybe that means something good. 

However, the charter schools folks are pushing the waiting list numbers thing hard again, and that has me nervous.  The latest Charter Alliance report looks at waiting lists in 10 districts and has generated some news coverage including the NY Daily News (NYC has longest wait for charter schools in the country); EdWeek (Urban Charter School Wait Lists Swell Nationally, Report Says); WSJ (Waiting for Charter Schools).

Charter school waiting list numbers tend to look misleadingly high, sort of like lots of other numbers in education: charter school graduate percentages, college acceptance rates, pre-Common Core state proficiency rates. All these numbers -- like rents in Brooklyn -- are too damn high to be believed (though the rents are for real).

That's not to say that there aren't thousands of parents who want to get into some charters, and that there won't be more of them applying soon thanks to universal enrollment agreements that are slowly but surely spreading among urban districts. What we need is some sort of standardized definition and practice for waitlist numbers among different charters and districts, as was done a decade or so ago about graduation and dropout statistics. 

There's also the issue of some charter schools not backfilling classes when kids exit during the school year or even between years. It'd be interesting to match up the backfill numbers with the waiting list numbers and see what you came up with.

Until then I would urge everyone to look at the numbers being provided with caution. The demand is real, and the parents are sincere, but the specific numbers...I'm just not very confident in them.

Still curious? According to the report, "More information is available at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ data dashboard. Data sources for the number of student names on wait lists for each district are available in the Technical Note." Tell us what you find.

Related posts: Charter Schools Claim Million-Name Nat'l Wait-List (2013); Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting* (2013); Charter school demand in Mass. disputed (Boston Globe 2013); Well-Connected Parents Slip Past Lottery (2011).

Charts: Nearly 20,000 High Schools Now Offering AP

image from www.marketplace.org

The number of schools offering AP has nearly doubled since the mid-1990s when my old boss Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and others were touting it as a great way to raise expectations and accelerate learning for low-income and minority kids. Here's a chart showing the growth via a story that ran on APM Marketplace yesterday. For other stories in the series: How one high school is closing the AP gapSpending $100 million to break down AP class barriers.

The courses and tests are obviously no silver bullet, and it's unclear to me what happens to AP in the Common Core era. But they are a good reminder that more kids than we think can learn to challenging levels, and that school systems often don't serve kids equally without being nudged or forced to do so. Image used with permission.

Related posts: Advanced Placement offerings vary widely in D.C. high schools (Washington Post)

AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins

Ga. Schools Chief: Testing Snafu With Unknown Impact Is 'Unacceptable' State EdWatch: Problems with common-core-aligned exams mirror those in Montana and Nevada, but the Associated Press reports that the glitches are not as severe as in other states.

Louisiana Common Core tests resume with few boycotts, state says NOLA.com: During five days in March, more than 4,300 students boycotted the first set of Common Core exams, part of a political uprising against the math and English benchmarks. That's about 1 percent of the total number of students in the testing grades.

Challenges, optimism in learning Common Core in Spanish KPCC LA: Imagine if you don’t spend your day learning in the English language. How do dual immersion students grasp the Common Core concepts? It turns out that once educators had time to think about how Common Core could be taught in the classroom, they saw dual immersion learning as aligning surprisingly well with concepts like problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration.

How Common Core tests are scored Cleveland.com:  If your third grader took the PARCC math exams this spring, there's a good chance that one of their answers was scored [on] a laptop here at this Westerville office.

Inside the School Silicon Valley Thinks Will Save Education Wired: And so, if you are truly fed up with the school status quo and have $20,875 to spare (it’s pricey, sure, but cheaper than the other private schools you’ve seen), you might decide to take a chance and sign your 7-year-old up for this little experiment in education called AltSchool. Except it’s not really so little anymore. And it’s about to get a lot bigger. See als NPRTechChrunchNYT

The changing role of Advanced Placement classes Marketplace: If annual growth rates hold true, during the next two weeks, more than two million high school students across the country are expected to take AP exams. A passing score could mean earning college credit while still in high school. Research shows that students who take rigorous courses in high school are more likely to get into, and succeed, in college.

Most Americans Think Public School Teachers Are Underappreciated And Underpaid HuffPost: The survey results suggest most Americans think teachers deserve a week dedicated to appreciating them, if only because this group does not get enough respect the other 51 weeks of the year.  

Gates' Teacher-Prep Grants Will Fund Cooperatives to Scale, Share Practices TeacherBeat: The most notable feature of this approach is is that it's a change from one-off grants to individual providers and institutions, the strategy the foundation has used up to this point for teacher preparation. 

Higher Ed Lobby Quietly Joins For-Profit Schools to Roll Back Tighter Rules ProPublica: Traditional colleges and universities have become unlikely allies of the beleaguered for-profit industry as each group tries to fend off the government’s push for more accountability. See also FirstLook story on PACs and think tanks Corinthian gave money to before going bankrupt.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins" »

Events: What's New At NewSchools 2015?

image from www.nsvfsummit.com
I may or may not make it to the annual NewsSchools Venture Fund summit this year, but thought you might like to know about the annual confab held most frequently in San Francisco.  

This year's headliner is "author, researcher and TED Talks sensation Brené Brown." Other highlights include an appearance from Gates'  Sara Allan who will unveil "a new, interactive platform designed to better connect ed tech entrepreneurs with the needs of teachers and students," and an interview with newish NewSchools CEO Stacey Childress.

Of particular interest to me is a panel on diverse/progressive charters being led by Kriste Dragon, Citizens of the World Charter Schools, and parents from Citizens and Bricolage and RI's Mayoral Academy. and Renita Thukral, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Information about Summit, including the comprehensive schedule, can be found at www.nsvfsummit.com.  Follow @nsvf and #nsvfsummit on Twitter for event updates.This year's event is being held May 6. Unusual for education conferences, it's an invite-only event. 

Related posts:  They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This YearGoogle Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013Thoughts On NSVF 2012Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon ValleyFashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF SummitAnother Spring, Another Summit (2009)NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit. Image via NSVF webpage. 

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

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

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

Overtesting: Miami Superintendent Announces Big Testing Reduction

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

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

Update: What *Really* Happened At #EWA15 This Year? (According To Me)

I'll let the good folks at EWA tell you the official version of this week's goings-ons, and try to focus on the things that you won't find out about elsewhere.  

No, not the mundane stuff like my surreal Friday afternoon visit to Noble Street's new Speer campus on the Near West Side, how strangely intimidating I find EWA staffers though they're mostly very friendly, or my unexpected Monday night bunkmate (it's not as bad as it sounds).

I mean the good stuff.  You know -- newsroom changes, comings and goings, subtle trends and dynamics going on behind the scenes that folks might not have said out loud or tweeted but were (it seemed to me) going on.

Take a look, and then let me know what I missed or got wrong.  Send your tips (anonymous and otherwise) to me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com

Continue reading "Update: What *Really* Happened At #EWA15 This Year? (According To Me)" »

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

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



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.