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Common Core: Union Support For Implementation Continues Behind The Scenes

ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 29 10.57Rhetoric aside, and excepting a couple of spots like Chicago, the national unions and most union locals have continued to work with states, districts, and Common Core developers to familiarize teachers with the new standards being rolled out in schools around the country.  

That's the main finding from my new Education Next article just online today.  Behind the hyperbolic headlines, and despite the efforts of critics within the unions and from the outside, much of the work with unions nationally and locally seems to have continued - much to the frustration of social justice advocates who wanted to de-fund these efforts.  

The piece includes insights from advocates like Bob Rothman, developers like Sandra Alberti (of SAP), funders like Lynn Olson (Gates), and union officials like Marla Ucelli-Kayshup (AFT) and Donna Harris-Aikens (NEA) who have been working on the standards implementation process. One of the main points that came up repeatedly was that unions haven't generally joined with Republicans to oppose the Common Core process -- Chicago, New York, and Tennessee being exceptions. 

“The biggest threat to the Common Core is not that states will pull out” under union pressures, argues Rothman. “The biggest threat is states that stay in but don’t do much to implement the standards.”

Previous articles & appearances in Education Next: Diverse Charter SchoolsMayoral Control in the Windy CityPolitical Educator (Paul Vallas)Ed Next Book Club

Charts: Guess What? 34 States Are Still Doing Smarter Balanced Or PARCC

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 28 10.48You'd think from all the press attention that the Common Core assessments were all but abandoned, but if this new RealClear Education graphic is accurate that's not the case at all.  Thirty-four states are stlll working with one of the two main testing consortia. Just eight states have pulled out. More could do so in the near future, but it's also possible that some of the current midterm-generated Common Core fury will abate after next week. Image used with permission. See all the graphs and interactives at Mapping the Common Core

Books: Let's See The Unredacted Klein-Ravitch Emails

image from 645e533e2058e72657e9-f9758a43fb7c33cc8adda0fd36101899.r45.cf2.rackcdn.comAn apparent leak of former NYC chancellor Joel Klein's new book Lessons of Hope reignited the long-running debate over when and why Diane Ravitch turned against NYC's accountability-focused school reform efforts and gave reform critics a second thing (besides the TIME cover story) to rail against over the weekend.

I still haven't seen the book -- Newsweek'sAlexander Nazaryan tweeted about it first (as far as I am aware) -- but Klein and others have repeatedly suggested that Ravitch's turn against reform efforts like those in New York City was motivated at least partly in response to perceived poor treatment of her partner.

See the Twitter thread here.

Or, for a more traditional view of the issue, New America's Kevin Carey wrote about redacted emails in a 2011 magazine feature about Ravitch:

"Over the next two months, Klein and Ravitch exchanged a series of e-mails. Their contents were almost entirely redacted by the department when it responded to the FOIA request. But several people who worked for the department at the time, including one who saw the e-mails personally, say Ravitch aggressively lobbied Klein to hire Butz to lead the new program—and reacted with anger when he didn’t.

"Ravitch disputes this, saying she did not ask for Butz to be put in charge of the program, was not angry, and only urged Klein to call upon Butz for her deep knowledge and experience. She also told me she was glad Butz was no longer at the New York City DOE, because it had constrained her own ability to criticize the department." 

Steve Brill also went after Ravitch in his 2011 book, claiming that the fees she took in for speaking to teachers should have been disclosed, among other things.

Ravitch and others claim that this is merely an attempt to smear and discredit her, that her partner's departure from NYC's DOE came well before Ravitch's "conversion?" and that it had nothing to do with personal issues.

Who cares what two folks who aren't in charge of any schools have to say about each other? Well, the education debate is all about credibility, for better or worse, so questions about Klein and Ravitch's credibility are noteworthy.  There's also the ongoing tension within the reform movement about whether to attack critics or make nice with them, and the issue for both sides of whether attacks are powerful or alienating.

All that being said, I'd love to see the Klein book, and even the unredacted emails.  Klein or Ravitch could provide them.

Related posts:  Smearing Ravitch Could Blow Up In Reformers' FacesInsult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform Critics; Diane Ravitch's Reform Vilification Industry

Quotes: Greedy Reformers

Quotes2A firm that’s just in it for the money is as reprehensible as a teacher union that’s in it just to look after its members’ pay, pensions, and job security. - Fordham's Checker Finn (The State of Education Reform)

Morning Listen: Reed (Netflix) Hastings & Sal Khan Discuss Nonprofit Online Learning

In the most recent Bloomberg EDU, Jane Williams talks to the Netflix founder (and charter skeptic) and YouTube flipped classroom trailblazer (or whatever to call him). Link not working? Go here.

AM News: All Eyes On California (Deasy/Cortines, Tuck/Torlackson, San Diego)

CA Schools chief race may be election's tightest AP: Tuck has nearly matched Torlakson in campaign fundraising, with $1.9 million, while a Southern California businessman who often supports Republican candidates, William Bloomfield Jr., has independently picked up the tab for at least $900,000 worth of slate mailers and ads on his behalf.

Deasy's exit reflects other school battles across the U.S. LA Times: Top leaders in some of the largest districts — in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Texas and elsewhere — have come under tremendous pressure: some lost their jobs, one faced a massive teachers strike, and lawsuits have been filed against them, among other things.

New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser KPCC:  New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans for the school district’s most pressing problems won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy. “Dr. Deasy did many things well, but I will not be using his services,” Cortines said in an interview with KPCC’s Take Two on Monday.

The Short Shelf Life Of Urban School Superintendents NPR: If you're a 12th grader right now in the Los Angeles schools, that means you probably started kindergarten back in 2001. It also means that, as of this week, you've seen four superintendents come and go.

Teacher who flew to Dallas for Common Core seminar put on leave out of Ebola fear The Answer Sheet: A Maine teacher flew to Dallas to attend an educational conference — miles away from the hospital where three cases have been diagnosed — and was told to stay away from the elementary school where she works for 21 days.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On California (Deasy/Cortines, Tuck/Torlackson, San Diego)" »

Morning Video: New Report Highlights District-Based Testing/Test Prep Practices

Here's the video from CAP's event, during which you'll find out about CAP head sending her own kids to DCPS schools, plus link to the new report (Testing Overload in America’s Schools):

Basically, the report focusing on 14 districts in 7 states -- Colorado (Denver Public Schools and Jefferson Co. Schools),  Florida (Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Sarasota County Schools), Georgia (Atlanta Public Schools and Cobb County School District), Illinois (Chicago Public Schools and Elmwood Community Schools), Kentucky (Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville and Bullitt County Public Schools), Ohio (Columbus City Schools and South-Western City School District), Tennessee (Shelby County Schools and Knox Co. Schools) -- finds that there's lots of testing and too much test prep -- much of it district-mandated (not state or federal) -- but holds out hope that states and districts can streamline their testing and that Common Core assessments will make for fewer, fairer tests. #CAPedu

 

John Thompson: Restoring the "Clash of Ideas" in Public Schools

How is it possible that the New York Times food columnist turned education commentator who wrote The Trouble with Tenure could turn around and write nearly the opposite: The Wilds of Education?

Now, Frank Bruni praises the students, families, and educators in Colorado and elsewhere who are opposing standards that demand that schools be all on the same page when teaching a single ideologically-driven set of Standards.

Bruni writes, “When it comes to learning, shouldn’t they [schools] be dangerous?” Sounding like a teachers union building rep, Bruni asks, “Isn’t education supposed to provoke, disrupt, challenge the paradigms that young people have consciously embraced and attack the prejudices that they have unconsciously absorbed?”

I am curious about noneducators, who ordinarily support the clash of ideas, who contradict themselves by attacking tenure, due process, and the policies that are essential for protecting the free flow of ideas of public education. Do they not realize that the test, sort, reward, and punish reform movement is only viable when it is imposing tests where there is only one “right” answer? Do commentators like Bruni not understand that tenure is essential for protecting the debate and discussion in our schools?

Bruni’s ill-informed attack on teachers may help answer my question. It was based on an interview with – you guessed it – one ideologically-driven reformer. Bruni accepted the claims of Colorado Senator Mike Johnson at face value. It doesn’t seem to occur to Bruni that the efforts of Johnson et. al to destroy the rights of teachers (so that they cannot oppose his test-driven accountability schemes) also opened the door for Colorado's conservative reformers to micromanage the learning of students? Can he explain a difference between the way that rightwing censorship operates, as opposed to the way that corporate reform functions when it micromanages teachers’ instruction and students’ learning?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Restoring the "Clash of Ideas" in Public Schools" »

Charts: Pay No Attention To The Giant Funding Gaps Among Districts

A typical Chicago city school gets half the funding of one in the wealthy suburbs For all the policy chatter and debate out there about funding inequities (between charters and neighborhood schools is one favorite), you don't hear much talk about just how inequitable the funding gaps can be among the 15,000 or so school districts (or among schools within the same district -- don't even get me started). But that doesn't mean they've gone way. This USDE/CAP/Bruce Baker map shows that a typical Chicago city school gets half the funding of one in the wealthy suburbs. Yep, half.  Image used by permission.

Journalism: NYT Gets It Wrong On NCLB Tutoring Requirement

Motoko Rich's latest NYT piece isn't really focused on NCLB sanctions but rather the political standoff between Washington State officials and the Obama administration over use of test scores to help evaluate teachers.

Still, NCLB sanctions are the only real-world impact of the fact that Washington State schools are still operating under the original NCLB -- the only reason anyone cares, really -- and the exaggerations and misundertandings of that law are in many ways a precedent for the current confusions/criticisms surrounding Common Core.

So it's worth reminding everyone what NCLB did and din't require.  

Specifically, the law didn't require "private" tutoring for schools not making AYP repeatedly.  It required tutoring provided by someone other than the school, including nonprofits, community groups, commercial tutoring companies, and sometimes even school districts (like Chicago, which received a federal waiver to provide tutoring to non-AYP schools).*

Whether or not the tutoring was top-notch, many schools and districts lined up against it because it meant that someone else was teaching their kids (and possibly doing a better job) and that they got slightly less federal funding than in the past under their control. Some districts and students responded ungenerously, by making their own students travel to other locations for tutoring rather than making arrangements for in-school delivery. 

What NCLB *did* do, among other things, was require annual reading and math tests for schools receiving federal education funding, and require districts to test all students and report out data based on subgroups, and severely limit the use of non-certified aides and out-of-field teachers who were often assigned to low-income children and paid for with federal funding. It also encouraged federal lawmakers to increase Title I funding substantially, in order to help pay for things like extra tutoring that students at schools that weren't doing right by poor kids might need.

NCLB was far from a perfect law, to be sure. The student transfer provisions were ridiculously weak, and the law allowed states to continue to set their own cut scores on annual tests, making it seem like kids were doing much better than they really were.  But it -- like Common Core and the assessments -- shouldn't be so eaisly used as a convenient dumping ground for educators' and advocates' talking points.

*NCLB also didn't require districts to shutter schools, or fire teachers.  Those were possible options, sure, but very little of that was done under NCLB, and even under the subsequent school turnaround initiative based on NCLB (SIG). But that's for another time.

Watch: For One Miami Principal. Common Core Spurs Hope & Fear

 

Watch Bridget Mckinney, third-year principal of Miami's Allapattah Middle School, explain "her trepidations, as well as her support, for the common core itself." (Common Core Spurs Hope, Fear for a Miami Principal via State EdWatch).

 

Afternoon Video: Celebrities' Hilariously Bad Education Ideas

The Marshall Tuck campaign gets a few celebrity endorsements for his CA superintendent race -- plus some hilariously awful suggestions.

Journalism: Think Tanks Bypassing Media & Doing Their Own Version Of Journalism

In case you hadn't noticed, more and more think tanks are behaving in journalism-like ways: hiring journalists to write pleasant, engaging pieces as well as blogging and tweeting directly to policymakers and the public. [They also seem less focused on hiring only PhDs, or on doing their own original academic research, but that's another thing.]

The Think Tank Watch has a recent blog post (Think Tanks Doing Journalism) that highlights this trend:

"Many Washington think tanks have been hiring well-known journalists in recent years in an effort to beef up their efforts to get good writers, network with media-types, and better disseminate information and policy proposals to a wider audience. "

A recent Economist article (Think-tanks and journalism: Making the headlines) points out that it's not just opeds, papers and conferences anymore. 

Indeed.  we've seen bits and pieces of that from education think tanks like Education Sector, Fordham, Carnegie, Brookings, and New America all come to mind. Perhaps the best example of this is AIR taking over Education Sector (and its blog), or Bellwether helping launch RealClearEducation. ThinkProgress -- a division of CAP -- is another example (they were looking for an education reporter not too long ago).

Of course, some news outlets are blurring the line the other way, becoming more wonkish and policy-oriented and less, well, newsy.  Part of this is by necessity.  With their own writers and social media campaigns, think tanks need journalists less.  They've already got academic credibility (of a sort), they already validate ideas for politicians and policymakers. Now they're distributing their own ideas directly.

Related posts: AIR Taking Over Education SectorCarnegie Is The New Ed Sector[Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyGoogle Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy ConferencesExpert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?

Morning Video: Miami Supe. Carvalho Joins "Too Much Testing" Bandwagon

"Judy Woodruff gets debate from Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Partnership for Inner-City Education and Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho." (PBS NewsHour)

Morning Video: Watch Baton Rouge Teachers Implement Common Core

Debate aside, Core a reality in classrooms The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA). Click the link for the transcript and if the video doesn't load properly.

Charts: Child Disability Rates Rising Fastest Among Wealthier Families

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

"There's also some good news in these new figures: while mental disabilities are on the rise, there has also been a 11 percent decline in physical disabilities among children over the past decade. Much of this is concentrated in declines among respiratory diseases, like asthma, which have fallen by nearly a quarter just in the course of 10 years." (Vox, with permission)

Thompson: Has "Education Post" Already Changed Its "Kinder, Gentler" Tune?

BurrisIt was less than a month ago that Peter Cunningham, the former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education announced that his new organization, the Education Post, supposedly repudiated the playing of edu-politics and moved beyond name-calling.

Given its financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, and since it included reformers like Ann Whalen, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Paul Pastorek, those nice words needed to be taken with a grain of salt.

It didn’t take long, however, for the real the Education Post to come through. Ann Whalen’s The False Arguments of Carol Burris Against High Standards reveals the venom hidden just below their seemingly polite veneer.

Whalen countered a Washington Post piece by national Principal of the Year Carol Burris, Four Common Core "Flimflams." She characterized Burris’s position as “inexcusable,” as “resistance to common sense changes,” and “toxic.” Whalen’s counterargument was “when you can’t make an honest case against something, there’s always rhetoric, exaggeration or falsehood.”

For the record, Whalen didn’t even try to challenge much of the substance of Burris’s carefully-honed arguments. Burris explained that Common Core was not, in fact, internationally benchmarked or based on research.  Burris explained how Common Core “insists upon the use of a particular method of math instruction.” She then explained  that the prescribed  method “may be helpful in increasing understanding for some students, it should be up to a teacher to use it, or not use it, as a strategy. Instructional strategies have no place in state standards.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Has "Education Post" Already Changed Its "Kinder, Gentler" Tune?" »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image CC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media: This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters" Needs More Names*

A somewhat more diverse version of Education Dive's recent 12 education thought leaders you should follow on Twitter might include who(m), exactly? 

Off the top of my head -- without much concern for how much I agree or disagree with them (and vice versa) -- how about Chicago's Xian Barrett (@xianb8),LA's Liz Dwyer (@losangelista),NYC's Jose Vilson (@theJLV), NYCAN's Derrell Bradford (@Dyrnwyn), ProPublica's Nikole Hannah Jones  (@nhannahjones), The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (@tanehisicoates), The Lens' Jessica Williams (@williamslensnola), Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle (@dropoutnation), the NEA's Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) and Education Post's Chris Stewart (@citizenstewart).

Others to add, suggest, or critique?  There are two more spots to get to an even 12.  Or, take issue with the whole notion of creating such a list in the first place. 

Thanks for the suggestion, Heather Harding (@heatherHJ)!  Education Dive's original list includes a mix of men and women but only two POC that I know of (LDH and Michelle R.).

*Additional names that have been suggested (on Twitter and Facebook) since the original posting include @drsteveperry, @jmsummers, and @drkamikaroyal.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

AM News: Top Court Tells Wash. State To Get Cracking On School Funding

Legislature Is Held in Contempt Over School Funding NYT: The State Supreme Court held the Washington State Legislature in contempt on Thursday for its lack of progress on fixing the way the state pays for public education, but it withheld punishment until after the 2015 session. See also State EdWatch, Seattle Times

Judge Approves Merger of Teacher Tenure Lawsuits in New York WNYC: But that doesn't mean things will proceed smoothly. Davids has accused Brown of "bullying" the law firm Gibson Dunn into reneging on its offer to represent her group. The firm, which represented the plaintiffs in California, denied Davids' claim. She is represented by a local lawyer. The state is expected to ask the court to dismiss the case which could drag on for years. See also ChalkbeatNY.

What have states actually done in crusade against Common Core? Christian Science Monitor: Some states are rebelling against Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states, saying it is a sign of federal overreach. But few states are actually taking concrete steps, according to a new study.

New 'Leaders and Laggards' Report From U.S. Chamber: Which States Improved? State EdWatch: Seven years after its "Leaders and Laggards" report took states to task over their K-12 policy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows what it thinks of the K-12 landscape in 2014.

LAUSD's Deasy seeks records of board members' tech-firm contacts LA Times: In a bold challenge to his bosses, L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy has filed a public records request seeking emails and other documents involving school board members and nearly two dozen companies including those at the center of the controversial iPad project.

Giving Every Kid Equal Standing In The School Lunch Line NPR: For students who don't have enough money for a hot lunch each day, visiting the cafeteria can be a source of shame. In Houston, school volunteer Kenny Thompson decided he wanted to change that.

Teacher Hurt When Gun Accidently Shatters Toilet ABC News: Utah elementary school teacher hurt after her gun accidently fires, shatters school toilet

Charts: NYT Ranks Top Colleges For Economic Diversity

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 09 13.07

"Colleges with similar resources admit very different numbers of low-income undergraduates. Some wealthy colleges admit many such students, but others do not." David Leonhardt on the NYT's new ranking. Image used with permission.

Livestream: NYT "Schools For Tomorrow" Conference

Link to agenda and previous segments here@NYTConf#NYTsft

Morning Video: Teachers Describe Common Core Transformation

 

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

Maps: 18 of 22 Smarter Balanced States Expected To Sign Contracts This Year

  image from edsource.org"California and eight other dark green states have signed a contract to give the Smarter Balanced tests next spring. Nine light green states are expected to contract with the consortium. Four blue Smarter Balanced member states won't contract next year." (State awards Common Core test contract) NB: Smarter Balanced says it's going to be run by a unit within UCLA that is separate from CRESST (which is also at UCLA).

 

Advocacy: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AM News: New Year, New iPad Plan For LAUSD

Calls grow for wider inquiry into bidding on L.A. Unified iPad project LA Times: A day after Los Angeles Unified abruptly suspended the contract for its controversial iPad project, there were growing calls for a more thorough investigation into whether the bidding process for the $1-billion program was improperly handled.

The LA School iPad Scandal: What You Need To Know KPCC: The Los Angeles Unified School District has shut down a half-a-billion-dollar deal with Apple and Pearson to provide classroom technology. Here's what happened.

LIVESTREAM: First LAUSD school board meeting of the year LA School Report

Primary Round-Up: Races Across the Country Showcase Education Issues EdWeek: High-profile governor and state education chief races in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, and Vermont highlight the common core and education funding as top campaign issues.

Despite Racial Disparity, Alumni Group Backs Test-Only Policy for Elite Schools NYT: Very few black and Hispanic students attend New York City’s eight specialized high schools, which base admissions solely on the results of a standardized test.

Teaching computer science — without touching a computer Hechinger:  It may not look like it, but the children engaged in these exercises are learning computer science. In the first activity, they’ve turned themselves into a sorting network: a strategy computers use to sort random numbers into order. And in the second activity, they’re acting out the process by which computer networks route information to its intended destination.

Youth seek solutions as Chicago’s violent summer persists PBS NewsHour:  Nine-year-old Antonio Smith was fatally shot at least four times in a South Side backyard just blocks away from his home, according to the Chicago Tribune.  This real-time map, created by Chicago-Sun Times before the the summer began, pinpoints and identifies every shooting recorded during each weekend, the most violent period of time.

Quotes: No, Transparency *Won't* Fix Things All By Itself

Quotes2When government seems to fail, Americans habitually resort to the same solutions: more process, more transparency, more appeals to courts. -- David Frum in The Atlantic (The Transparency Trap)

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

 

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

AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"

 LA schools cancel iPad contracts after KPCC publishes internal emails KPCC: Three days after KPCC published internal emails showing top L.A. Unified officials and executives from Pearson and Apple met and discussed bringing tablet-driven education software to the classroom, the school district announced Monday it will cancel the contract with Apple and Pearson and open its one-to-one technology project to new bids.

Rick Scott Unveils New Education Initiatives To Calm Common Core Critics Reuters: Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, unveiled two new education initiatives on Monday aimed at calming critics of "common core" national curriculum standards and countering his main Democratic rival's attacks on his record.

D.C. Extends Day At 25 Schools, Hoping That More Time Means Better Scores WAMU: Students at 25 D.C. public schools will stay in school longer every day, a move that city officials hope will help struggling students catch up with their peers.

Ferguson schools reopen, offer calm amid chaos AP: Schools in Ferguson welcomed back students from their summer breaks on Monday, providing the children with a much-needed break from the raucous street protests and police patrols that have gripped the St. Louis suburb since a white officer killed an unarmed black man more than two weeks ago.

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges NYT: A series of federal surveys of selective colleges found virtually no change from the 1990s to 2012 in enrollment of students who are less well off — less than 15 percent by some measures — even though there was a huge increase over that time in the number of such students going to college.

Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software NPR: One company and its algorithms are changing the way America's schools handle classroom ethics.

Is Google's Free Software A Good Deal For Educators? NPR: Classroom enables a teacher to create a "class" at the touch of a button. She or he can upload syllabus materials, whether text, audio, or video, and send out assignments on the class news feed.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"" »

Philanthropy: Case Studies Of 100 Grant-Funded Efforts (1900-2000)

Doing some research on foundation-funded education efforts (and still looking for an apples-to-apples comparison to the Ford era to the Gates era) this interesting collection of cases was recommended to me by Stanford's Rob Reich (Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret).  

It's 100 case studies focused on specific grant-funded efforts from 1900 to 2000. Some of the most interesting recent ones include: Charter Schools Funding: Walton Family Foundation, 1991Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000A Model for the New Inner-City School: KIPP Academies: Pisces Foundation, 2000. But there are lots of others.  

Anyone seen case studies of more recent grant-funded efforts (say, since 2005)? As you know, I think it can be fascinating to look back and examine efforts like these, however they turned out. These cases aren't comprehensive -- some are quite short -- but the approach is appealing.  It also reminds us that the Gates era is just the most recent one, and that previous efforts have struggled with impact and in some cases been wrong-headed, too.

Media: 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Finding great public radio content online is getting easier and easier, thanks to there being more of it available in more places.  

This recent Poynter article touts a new streaming (think Pandora) service (NPR One app potential is huge) out of the national NPR shop plus six big local stations.  I've tried it a little and it's OK but not my favorite (yet).

There's also the WNYC "Discover" app, which lets you pick some categories of story that you like (both local to New York City and national) and download them before you get on the subway or into your bunker as the case may be.  There's more and more WiFi on subway platforms, but still not much by way of service in between stations.  The key is remembering to download the material ahead of time (and finding it once you have).

However, I'm still a big fan of the basic NPR News app, in large part because it lets me livesream whatever station I want to listen to, and also allows me to listen via program -- catching up on All Things Considered, for example -- after hours or even the next day.  For any given program, just hit "Add All To Playlist" and - boom! -- it's all there.)

I'm not sure if that's technically considered a podcast or not -- some of these distinctions are lost on me -- but I know that I like being able to go back and hear the most recent version of a show I missed if I was out, or busy, or napping, or whatever.  That they're mobile is great, but I must admit that a lot of the time I'm listening to them sitting at my desk or in front of a laptop.

Last but not least, since my policy is that no post should lack at least a smidgen of controversy, check out Peter Cook's critique of NPR's recent New Orleans charter schools piece, which contained not only a big error that had to be corrected on air but also a few other wiggly aspects.   Early on, NPR's education team was sometimes accused of being pro-reform because it's funded by some pro-reform foundations.  In Cook's piece, he raises the question whether it (or its newsroom) lean the other way.

Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?

As you might have noticed on Twitter, I've been enjoying a blog called Think Tank Watch that covers the industry -- trends, dynamics, comings and goings.  

It's not specifically focused on education -- and that's part of what makes it so useful.

Here's a recent post reviewing a new book (Why Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?) examing the rise of the think tanks.  Some of the main points include: 

  • Washington tanks tanks are not primary generators of original research; that function lies with universities.
  • Think tanks are known for their ability to scour the world for attractive ideas, to legitimate them, and to promote them through electronic communications.
  • Think tanks, over the past two decades, have emerged as a complement to, and in some cases a substitute for, lobbyists, due to the ability of think tanks to exploit the rapidly growing information search and propagation capacities of electronic communications.

I've got a whole category about education think tanks, which have supplemented/replaced universities in some regards thanks to their capacity to deliver new ideas quickly and say things more definitively than academics.  That's why we have think tanker Kevin Carey writing in the Times about higher ed rather than Professor So-And-So.  

Previous posts:  Power Couples: The Wonk & The Journo*Reform Debate Often Detached From Schools & ParentsSmarick Rails Against Anti-Democratic Attitudes & ElitesIt's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyBig Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]"Wait A Minute" [On Common Core].

Disclosure: I've written and done research for some foundations, nonprofits, and think tanks.

Quotes: "Don't Call [Common Core Opponents] 'Crazies'," Says Developer

I think then we make a great mistake by caricaturing the opponents of the standards as crazies or people who don't tell the truth... We will lose, and we'll lose things of great importance, if we dismiss this as an extremist position. - David Coleman in BloombergEDU interview via Politico

Magazines: 5 Ways The SF Protests Can Help You Understand Education

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comNow that you're done reading this week's New Yorker story about cheating in Atlanta, time to circle back and read last week's piece (California Screaming) about the conflicts in San Francisco over class, culture, and education.  

Why, you ask?  I'll tell you"

1- The opening protest highlights the impact of gentrification and other inequities on a career educator:

Benito Santiago, a sixty-three-year-old special-education teacher, is being evicted from the apartment he’s lived in since 1977.

2- The piece describes a conflict between two groups who are remarkably similar in their ideals and goals -- but not their methods.  They're mirror versions of each other, only one is younger and richer and more entrepreneurial than collective than the other:

What’s going on in San Francisco has been called a “culture war,” and yet the values each side espouses can sound strikingly similar. 

Sound familiar?

Three more to go -- the best ones! -- click the link and see.

Continue reading "Magazines: 5 Ways The SF Protests Can Help You Understand Education" »

Morning Video: So What's It Like To Take The OECD Test for Schools?

Following up on the fascinating topic of the OECD Test for Schools, the PBS NewsHour just recently aired a new segment about the test's spread, how it differs from most annual assessments (and even the Common Core assessments), and some of the reactions of the kids who've been taking it. Transcript here. You can also read all about the test's development and impacts in my recent Harvard Education Letter article. Don't forget that Frontline's segment on resegregation airs tonight.

Articles: Adult Ed's Secret Buzzwords & Lingo

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 14 10.07So you think that edtech (and school reform in general) are full of buzzwords and hot new trends? Well, that may be true. But edtech’s got nothing on adult education, which freely adopts jargon and innovation from the K-12 and postsecondary worlds and then adds its own particular set of terms and approaches.

Some of the developments – flipped, blended, gamified, mobile learning – are familiar trends generally mirroring those taking place in other sectors. Others trends and concepts – contextualization, “braided” funding, and “bridge” programs – are more specific to the needs of low-skill adults and adult education programs who serve them.

That's the opening from my latest EdSurge article, which came out a couple of days ago (So You Think You Can Educate Adults?). The first article is here. Image via EdSurge.

AM News: LAUSD Adds Laptops To Its Tablet Deployment

News2

LAUSD board agrees on testing alternative laptops LA Times: With minimal discussion, Los Angeles school officials this week authorized contracts for the purchase of six different laptop computers to determine which device and curriculum works best for high school students.

Common Core test anxiety Politico: Attempts to apply standards in different states spark a testing revolt across the country.

Teachers, postal workers weigh Staples boycott USA Today: Postal workers picket in front of a Staples store April 24, in Concord, N.H. Postal workers around the country protested in front of Staples stores, objecting to the U.S. Postal Service's pilot program to open counters in stores.

In New Orleans, a case study in how school, health care decentralization affect neediest children Hechinger:  In recent years, New Orleans has become a case study in how children and families are affected by rapid decentralization of public education and mental health systems.

Do Teachers Really Hate Common Core? From the Floor of ISTE 2014 EdSurge: Teachers can live with--or work through--the standards. But the biggest worry? It’s not the standards that are the problem--educators are feeling stifled by the testing.

Summer school enrollment falls sharply after city reduces role of state tests ChalkBeat: In his first six months in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has had a nearly singular focus on providing needy students with expanded education services. But thousands fewer struggling students will be attending summer school this year after city officials changed the way students qualify for the program.

Emerging Themes at NEA: 'Toxic Testing' and Union Threats TeacherBeat: The board of directors will propose a New Business Item calling for a campaign against "toxic testing."

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

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Adds Laptops To Its Tablet Deployment" »

Maps: Where The Charters Are

ScreenHunter_09 Jul. 01 21.32Here's a map from Marketplace, which also ran a segment on the state of charter schools featuring quotes from Nina Rees, Dennis Van Roekel, and Jack Schneider. Click the link to get the interactive version.

Quotes: EdTech Hubris Undermines School Improvement

Quotes2Either this is a co-operative project, funded by experience, evidence and expertise, as well as the mutual passion for integrity, education and innovation (and yes, venture capital). Or it’s a series of expensive and limiting failures where working-stiff educators have to pick up the pieces.(A Distemperate Response to Silicon Valley’s ‘Edtech Revolution’

Quotes: Smarick Rails Against Anti-Democratic Attitudes & Elites

Quotes2In too many other cases, our field has succumbed to the derision of politics, giving the impression that technocracy is preferable to democracy... I worry that too often education reform is falling on the wrong side of the democratic-technocratic divide. -- Andy Smarick (Has America Lost Democracy to Technocracc?)

Bruno: The Trade-offs of Tenure (Possibly Good & Bad Outcomes)

430890004_98639b3bb7_nSince the Vergara decision was handed down in California reactions have been predictably partisan and extreme. Reformers are ecstatic over what they believe if a "huge win" and their critics are equally confident that the decision was "anti-teacher" and "exactly backwards".

It's not really surprising that the reactions would shake out this way. Education debates are often highly-polarized, and there are political reasons for activists to exaggerate the stakes.

In reality, the most reasonable position to take about the consequences of Vergara is agnosticism. Even if the decision survives appeal it will be many years before schools feel its effects, and then it is likely that the overall impact will be quite modest.

This case may still spend years winding its way through the legal system, and its ultimate fate in the judiciary is not at all obvious. If the ruling eventually remains intact, the California legislature could potentially satisfy its requirements without making major changes to the statutes in question.

More than that,  it's not clear why we should be confident that changing the rules governing teacher tenure or seniority privileges will have major, easily-predictable consequences.

On the contrary, the effects of those rules are complex and often cut in opposite directions. Below the fold, I'll consider the trade-offs involved in tenure reform specifically and try to show why it's hard to know whether the benefits will outweigh the costs.

Continue reading "Bruno: The Trade-offs of Tenure (Possibly Good & Bad Outcomes)" »

Morning Video: Why's College So Expensive? ("Ivory Tower")

Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night about the new Participant documentary about college costs and outcomes.

Magazines: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth" (New Yorker Vs. Slate)

image from www.newyorker.comThe big think piece of the week so far has to be Jill Lepore's New Yorker cover story attempting to debunk (or at least contextualize) the current fancy for things labeled "innovative" and/or "disruptive."

Basically, Lepore is saying that "innovation" is today's version of the word progress, that the Clay Christensen book that has promoted much of the furor is based on some shaky anecdotes, that innovator/disruptor types tend to rely on circular logic (innovations that fail weren't disruptive enough), and that disruptors' insights aren't much good at predicting future successes and may be particularly inappropriate to public efforts (and journalism). 

In several places, the piece notes that schools and other public endeavors have been touched by the innovation craze: 

"If your city’s public-school district has adopted an Innovation Agenda, which has disrupted the education of every kid in the city, you live in the shadow of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”

And also: "Christensen has co-written books urging disruptive innovation in higher education (“The Innovative University”), public schools (“Disrupting Class”), and health care (“The Innovator’s Prescription”). 

There's also a funny description of the MOOC panic of 2012-2013.

Over at Slate, Will Oremus thinks that the case against innovation/disruption is being overstated and that the New Yorker writer just wants folks to stop trying to disrupt her industry.

There are lots of angles related to education here.  Are things as bad as we're being told by reformers -- bad enough to warrant attempts at "blowing up" the current system? What happens to the legacy system when inno-disruption efforts fail to make much improvement (MOOCs), or (as in charters) succeed only partially?

 

Update: Low-Skill Parents Need Better Educating, Too

Skylab learningThere are an estimated 36 million low-skill adults in the US - not counting undocumented immigrants or incarcerated adults.  

Only about 5 percent of them are getting anything by way of help with their numeracy, literacy, or English language skills.  

Sometimes it's nothing more than a weekly course taught by a volunteeer in the library. 

No surprise, then, that adult ed waiting lists are long, and persistence/retention is low. 

Rather than thinking about them as a separate population, howver, think about them as your students' parents -- the folks your kids go home to each day, who could help out with schoolwork or not, depending.

That's not the only connection, however.

Read about recent efforts to reboot adult education nationally and locally in my first article for EdSurge (New Urgency Around Adult Education) and you'll see lots that mirrors what's going on in K-12 education -- from the trends (flipped, mobile, gamified, etc.) to the struggle to maintain funding to the widely varying results.

 

Previous posts:  The Story Behind 2010's "Waiting For 'Superman'"Common Core: A Peek Inside A "Field Test" Help Desk. Image via Skylab Learning.

 

People: It's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]

HiresCatherine Brown has been named to head the education policy team at the Democratic think tank Center on American Progress.  

At CAP, Brown will report to Carmel Martin, who held the job until she was promoted to head of domestic policy.  

Martin's previous job was as head of policy and planning at the USDE.  

That's the job Brown's husband Robert Gordon has been named to take.

To recap: Brown replaces Martin. Brown's husband replaces Martin. 

Plus: Does this mean Clinton's looking left for education advice in 2016?

Previous posts: Policy Wonk Named OMB Education PADFlashback To 2005 (How Much Has Changed?)On The Move: Miller Staffer Heads ...NYT Covers Wedding of NYC DOE & DFER Couple Power Couples: Emily & David Sirota.

Quotes: Teachers Deserve Reasonable Protections - But Not Ironclad Ones

Quotes2Teachers deserve reasonable due process rights and job protections. But the unions can either work to change the anachronistic policies cited by the court or they will have change thrust upon them. - NYT Editorial Page (A New Battle for Equal Education)

Media: Carrie (Caroline?) Porter Is Writing Education Stories For The WSJ

Caroline porter WSJ 2014

Chicago-based WSJ reporter Caroline Porter (pictured) has been writing a bunch of national education stories in the time since Stephanie Banchero abdicated the throne left for the Joyce Foundation. Some recent examples: 

Campus Crime Has Dropped, Report Finds

Illinois Governor Signs Pension Bill for Chicago

Admission Testing Undergoes Revamp

Oklahoma Dumps Common Core Standards

Child Stabbing Raises Alarm About Web and Youths

Study: About 1 in 6 Teachers Out 18 Days or More

No word yet on whether she's temporary, permanent, or getting a summer tryout for the job, which is traditionally operated out of the Chicago office. According to her WSJ bio, Porter graduated from Northwestern University and has a master’s degree from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Follow her on Twitter: @carolineporter.

Charts: Ghana Wins World Cup Of Education [Spending]

ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 13 10.39The World Cup has just started but Ghana -- one of the teams the US will face to start things out -- has already won the World Cup of Education Spending as a percentage of GDP. The US doesn't even make it out of the first round. Via WSJ.  

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.