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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

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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.  

Charts: Finance Lawsuits Continue To Play A Big Role Behind The Scenes

image from www.edcentral.orgHere's another chart dug out by EdCentral you might want to see, showing that equity lawsuits may have flatlined the last 20 years but adequacy cases have been on the rise and have played an important role in shaping public education even as other approaches (like deseg and accountability and choice) have won the lion's share of public attention.

Bruno: The Evidence-Free Debate Over Teacher Preparation

5129607997_660a65a1fc_nIt's natural enough to assume that a professional who has received more job training will be more effective than one who has received less.

So when critics of alternative teacher certification casually assert that it would be "bizarre" to expect a "a five-week long TFA training camp" to be as effective as a year of traditional teacher training (as Anthony Cody does) or that traditional certification is required to make sure teachers are "fully prepared" (as Nancy Flanagan does), readers could be forgiven for assuming supporting evidence exists, even if the authors don't present any of it.

In reality, however, there is a considerable body of research on the effectiveness of alternatively-certified teachers, and taken as a whole it suggests that such teachers compare favorably to their traditionally-certified peers.

Indeed, just in the last few months at least two more studies on the subject have come out. One found that alternatively-certified teachers were about as effective - and in some cases more effective - than traditionally-certified teachers in North Carolina.

Another found that some of the most effective teachers studied (in Florida) were produced by alternative certification programs requiring the least pre-service coursework.

One could reasonably argue that any or all of these studies are limited in various ways. Most tend to focus on boosts to students' math or reading test scores, for example, and that may be an excessively narrow view of teacher effectiveness.

But that is not the debate that we are having. In fact, if you were to read mostly critics of alternative certification, you may not know that this research exists at all.

The result is a largely evidence-free debate about teacher preparation, with proponents of traditional certification relying almost exclusively on the intuitive appeal of their position rather than attempting to demonstrate its truth.

It is entirely possible that traditional teacher certification has virtues that are not captured by the existing research literature on teacher effectiveness.

Those virtues, however, should be demonstrated rather than assumed. That's unlikely to happen as long as one side refuses to acknowledge that the research matters - or even exists. - PB (@MrPABruno)(image source)

Thompson: Latest OK Testing Mess Generates Widespread Complaints

TestsOklahoma adopted the entire test-driven reform agenda promoted by Jeb Bush and Arne Duncan. It failed educationally, but it is producing a seemingly miraculous political outcome, pulling together all types of stakeholders in a grassroots backlash against corporate reform.

The Tulsa World’s Andrea Eger, in Schools Across Oklahoma Say Writing Test Results Deeply Flawed, describes something even more unpredictable. School systems are fighting back.

Eger reports that district officials are discovering “abnormally high rates of students receiving the exact same scores.” They are questioning whether the error-prone CTB/McGraw-Hill properly scored the tests. How is it that the testing company responsible for two breakdowns in online testing in the last two years also determines that over 81% of the 755 students at Jenks Middle School earned the same score in all five elements of its scoring rubric?

Last year, educators in Moore schools demonstrated their personal courage in the face of a massive tornado. Now, a Moore administrator says that “more than half of his district’s fifth-graders and an even higher percentage of its eighth-graders received the same score in every subcategory.” When teachers who were trained in the scoring rubric reviewed their students’ essays, “they determined that the proper scores were ‘nothing close to the scores that were assigned by CTB’s people.’”

The immediate question is whether these “widespread [test score] reductions” for “plagiarism” were penalizing students simply for following instructions to cite directly from reading passages, or whether students were not bringing enough of their personal opinions to the essay tests.

But, that raises a larger question about the transition to Common Core which is supposedly under way. A fundamental principle of Common Core is that “people don't give a shit” about students’ personal perspectives and that test answers must be rooted in the text. In their rush to impose Common Core, “Common Core-type” tests, and other high-stakes assessments, reformers have issued numerous mixed messages. Now, they want to punish students because their contradictory policies have sown widespread confusion.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

AM News: NEA Hopes Organizing Will Ease Membership Losses

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NEA Aims to Revive Organizing as Membership Drops EdWeek: It has launched a Center for Organizing to provide tools and training, has put millions of dollars behind local affiliates' plans, and is pushing regional support staff to lead the charge

Big Brother: Meet the Parents Politico: A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard.

Ed. Dept. May Lack Tools to Evaluate Promise Neighborhoods, GAO Says PK12: The GAO report, released Wednesday, explains that the department requires grant winners to collect extensive data on things like individuals they serve, services they provide, and related outcomes, as well as report annually on multiple indicators. However, the department told GAO's investigators that it needs to conduct a systematic examination of the reliability and validity of the data to determine whether it will be able to use the data for an evaluation.

Six more charter schools approved to open in New York City in 2015 Chalkbeat: The schools received the sign-off on Wednesday from the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, one of two bodies that can authorize charter schools in New York state. They are chartered to open in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and will serve more than 2,600 students when they reach full capacity.

Is Autonomy for All Schools the Next Wave of Reform for Boston? District Dossier: A new report argues for Boston education leaders to extend charter-like autonomy over hiring, budgeting, and curriculum to all of the city's 128 schools.

Wilson High principal comes out as gay at school’s Pride Day Washington Post: Wilson High School Principal Pete Cahall came out to his students as gay at a school-wide Pride Day event Tuesday, shaking as he said that he had “hid in the shadows for the last 50 years” but was inspired by his students to declare his sexual orientation openly.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NEA Hopes Organizing Will Ease Membership Losses" »

Common Core: A Peek Inside A "Field Test" Help Desk

Screen shot 2014-06-02 at 11.44.11 AMWhat's it like working at one of the four Common Core field test help desks that have been set up around the nation to handle calls about the tough new assesments?  Check out my latest piece and find out -- then come back here and let us know what you think.

Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers

Michelle2

I love Michelle Obama as much as I remain loyal to her husband, despite his awful test and punish education policy. When the First Lady is attacked, I am angered almost as much as when the Obama administration assaults public education.

The issues underlying both Michelle Obama's Let's Move healthy schools campaign, and President Obama's corporate school reform are equally complicated.

Time Magazine's Jay Newton-Small, in Michelle Obama Bites Back at Critics of Her Healthy School Lunch Standards, reports that a million fewer students ate school lunches in the first year of the program. The bigger problem is anecdotes and twitter photo campaigns featuring students who want their junk food back.

In light of the House Republicans' assault on anti-obesity efforts, Burkhard Bilger's 2006 New Yorker article, The Lunch Room Rebellion, should now be reread. As the First Lady explains, the "stakes couldn't be higher" in the battle to improve children's health, so the fight is worth it. But, given the difficulty Bilger described in providing nutritious meals in the affluent Berkeley, California schools, we must prepare for a long, frustrating struggle.  

Bilger told how a "haute cuisine chef," Ann Cooper, got schooled when she brought nutritious meals that were a hit in a progressive private school to a public system. Cooper's biggest problem was that children's food tastes (not unlike some of their learning habits) are established before they enter school. But, a seemingly absurd combination of political and institutional dynamics created unforeseen complications, even in a system where only 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Continue reading "Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers" »

Quotes: Test Score Teacher Evals Don't Stand Up To Scrutiny

Quotes2Using test scores to evaluate teachers seems like a great idea on the face of it, but it does not stand up to scrutiny... relatively few teachers will have any test data at all and that there aren’t enough students in most classes to yield reliable growth estimates. - Former Chicago schools testing director Carole Perlman (Using test scores to evaluate teachers creates problems)

Charts: Which 13 States Still Looking For A Test Provider?

ScreenHunter_01 May. 22 13.25
There are lots of Common Core maps and charts out there these days, but RealClear Education's Emmeline Z. has one that's particularly useful because it breaks down "what each state is planning in the coming years for its Common Core-aligned assessments for grades 3-8 and high school" -- and in particular which testing comany (Pearson, AIR, or someone else) they're going with ((Mapping Common Core in the States). Click on the link for lots of interactive goodies -- maps, charts, and circles.

Thompson: Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers

BookerDale Russakoff’s New Yorker article, Schooled, recounts the failure of the “One Newark” plan to transform Newark schools. One of the key contributions of Russakoff’s excellent narrative is her portrait of the personalized nature of the edu-philanthropy process. As one wealthy donor said, “Investors bet on people, not on business plans, because they know successful people will find a way to be successful.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million in seed money after being blown away by then-mayor Cory Booker. Zuckerberg explained, “This is the guy I want to invest in. This is a person who can create change.”

Booker created a confidential draft plan to “make Newark the charter school capital of the nation.” Because it would be driven by philanthropic donors, no openness would be required.  “Real change requires casualties,” Booker argued, and stealth was required to defeat “the pre-existing order,” which will “fight loudly and viciously.”

Had they bothered to study social science research, cognitive science, and education history, hopefully the edu-philanthropists would have realized that Booker’s approach to “One Newark” could be great for his political ambitions but it was doomed as method of improving schools.

The corporate reformers’ lack of curiosity in an evidence-driven plan for improvement is doubly frustrating because, as David Kirp documented, a successful experiment in systemic improvement was conducted in the nearby Union City schools.

Continue reading "Thompson: Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers" »

Quotes: Reform Still Hasn't Done Much (For Better Or Worse)

Quotes2Despite all the sturm und drang of education reform debates, despite all the noise and nonsense, the trajectory of American public education hasn’t changed a whole lot. Even the biggest, most comprehensive reforms have mostly ended up as tinkering around the edges. - New America's Connor Williams (Taking Education Reform From Launch to Stable Orbit)

Maps: Advantaged Kids Not Doing So Well In Most States, Either

ScreenHunter_06 May. 13 14.00

We're not supposed to trust data just because it's presented in soothing map form, but according to EdNext "U.S. schools seem to do as badly teaching those from better-educated families as they do teaching those from less well educated families. " U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests. Click for the interactive version (and be sure to moust over to the arrow for better-educated families).

Quotes: When Vendors Calls Themselves "Partners"

Quotes2If you’re going to come sell us a product, don’t call yourself a partner. You’re not, you’re a vendor. If you want to partner with us, that means you have to listen to us and we have something that’s going to change you, and you have something that’s going to change us. -- Chris Lehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, at this year's SXSW (via EdSurge)

Philanthropy: $44 Billion/Year That Would Otherwise Fund Public Projects

Fist-of-Money-1Speaking of philanthropy, check out this new article in Businessweek if you want to be amazed and perhaps appalled at how little is known about some of the wealthy individuals who decide to create foundations and give their money away rather than pay it in taxes and let the government decide what's most important (Three Mysterious Philanthropists Fund Fourth-Largest U.S. Charity).

It's not so much that the grantmaking decisions are horrible -- some include education-related efforts, like LA's 9 Dots, which is always good to me.  

It's that there's a lot of money involved -- an estimated $44 billion per year -- and that the transparency isn't always as good as it should be.

 

Morning Video: MSNBC Focuses On Conservative Opposition To Common Core

Below, watch Chris Hayes try so very hard to explain the Common Core controversy and the entire history of education reform, focusing almost entirely on Conservative opposition (interesting!). The segment features a late-night clip I hadn't seen where Louis C.K. joking tells David Letterman that low-performing schools are going to be "burned to the ground"):

 

In a second segment there's some vaguely pro-con commentary from AFT head Randi Weingarten (she's ostensibly pro) and advocate Sabrina Stevens (who briefly worked for the AFT and made a controversial appearance on the show not too long ago - also with Weingarten).

Media: Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" Reporting On Education

Conspirator-FlickrHere's an interesting roundup of coverage and perspectives from various MSNBC shows that you might find interesting even if you don't agree with any or all of the interpretations and perspectives (OpEdNews).

Basically, the writer is taking MSNBC producers and hosts to task for not covering education thoroughly enough -- and critically, too.  It's quite comprehensive (and super paranoid in some elements). Parent company Comcast is a member of ALEC and plans to profit off of Common Core. 

The underlying question surrounding the lack of coverage is valid, even if the specifics are not.  I'd love to see a more straightforward and dispassionate analysis like this one.  

Previous posts: MSNBC Covers Suspended Preschoolers Study (Sort Of)Ravitch On MSNBCWhat's Wrong With Chris Hayes?Schools Conduct Newly-Required "Active Shooter" DrillsMeet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate". Image via Flickr.

Charts: Education & Training Helps Create All Those Self-Made Billionaires

image from static2.businessinsider.com

The US creates so many billionaires for lots of resasons, reports Business Insider, the larest factors being access to capital (think Silicon Valley) and an entrepreneurship culture (How The US Produces Self-Made Billionaires). But our education and training is also a leading feature, which is interesting to note.

Thompson: Merit Badges for Teachers? You've Gotta Be Joking

Skinner_box_scheme_01Perhaps the key purpose of schools is teaching children to become "inner directed" persons, who can control their own behavior. Its hard to think of a single more destructive aspect of data-driven reform than its seemingly unintended consequence of turning children into "other directed" persons, trained to just respond to carrots and sticks.

Perhaps this is not a disgraceful byproduct of testing, but an embrace of a humiliating value system for both adults and children.  

The Tennessean’s Joey Garrison, in Merit Badge Idea for Nashville Teachers, Students Draws Ire, describes an incredible new way of supposedly bestowing respect on teachers – issuing merit badges.

He reports on the opportunity being granted to “earn ‘virtual badges’ — tokens, of sorts — for taking on additional professional development or demonstrating other accomplishments.” Garrison writes that the badge system might even be expanded and tied to compensation.

This is not an April Fools joke. The badges would be digital icons or logos on the district's computer system. But, they may also offer a physical badge, like those issued by the Boy Scouts.

Nashville’s chief academic officer, who pushes the idea, said that the district will solicit teacher input before developing its final proposal. They might tie the badges to pay in the 2015-16 budget.

There is talk of expanding this disrespectful idea to students, further teaching them to salivate before virtual treats. The kids could cash in virtual badges at online stores. The logic behind teaching students to devalue learning is, as usual, Orwellian, "We want kids to own their learning and own their experience, and this is a way to do it."-JY(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Afternoon Video: Netflix Founder Proposes Abolishing Elected Boards (Again)

Via The Real News (which I've never heard of before).

 

Celebrities: Louis C.K. Isn't Really The Next Big Angry Common Core Critic

image from www.thefashionisto.comComedian Louis C.K. has been all over the place this past few days, thanks to a series of Tweets in which he expressed his parental frustrations with homework, testing, and the Common Core -- gobbled up by Common Core critics and celebrity-starved education writers alike.

The rant was over pretty quickly and ended with "Okay I'm done. This is just one dumb, fat parent's POV. I'm pissed because I love NYC public schools. mice, lice and all." 

Note that he didn't claim any more knowledge than his immediate experience.  Note that he's not idealizing pre-Common Core public schools. And he didn't advocate and end to testing or opting out, either.

Of course, when you have 3 million followers and a national TV show you don't get to be "just a parent" for very long, and not everyone admired C.K.'s rant.  

His response to the criticisms directed at him -- and to the anger directed as his detractors -- plus some anecdotes taken from his new GQ profile all suggest to me that C.K. probably isn't going to end up a Common Core hater or opt-out proselytizer.

Read on for some of the reasons why. Or just go about your business believing what you've been told.

Continue reading "Celebrities: Louis C.K. Isn't Really The Next Big Angry Common Core Critic" »

Events: Live Updates From #NSVFSummit 2014

Pincus is out. Schorr is gone. Google is reversing itself. But nothing stops the annual NSVF Summit:

You can also check out the livestream here.

TV: Silicon Valley's Rubber Room Includes A Rooftop Grill

ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 28 10.26New York City and LAUSD aren't the only places that have rubber rooms for unwanted or problematic or unfairly judged employees who can't easily be fired.  Last night's episode of the HBO show "Silicon Valley" included the revelation that unassigned computer programmers convene on the rooftop of their office building to play hacky sack, grill, or figure out how to while the time away until their contracts end and their stock options vest.  

Afternoon Video: Petrilli Schools C-SPAN On Common Core

 

Via Fordham: "The best moment? Where Mike says our secretary of education has “some sort of Tourette Syndrome" when he mentions Common Core." Click here if the video doesn't work properly.

Events: They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This Year

image from www.newschools.org

The NSVF Summit in San Francisco is next week, and if you're not invited tough luck.  

But you can observe and participate virtually.  The public agenda is here. Lots of pre-reading here. Blog here. Twitter and hashtag (@NSVF  #NSVFSummit), too.  

And apparently they're going to be livestreaming at least parts of it as well (like they did last year). 

Some of the headliners include John King, New York State Commissioner of Education, and Joanne Weiss, former Chief of Staff, US Department of Education, and Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton. Other highlights include speakers like Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, a TEACH video booth, 20 NSVFseed grantees.

The big new wrinkle this year is that they're trying out a satellite event sort of like TEDx.  The New England SummitX invite is here

Previous summits (see below) have included tense words between Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, proposed COPPA changes from Mark Zuckerberg, and spacey interview questions and robotic sound bite responses from Laurene Powell Jobs and Rahm Emanuel. Reed Hastings famously declared that charters weren't cutting it, and Rocketship said it would open schools in DC if Kaya Henderson would give them space. Waiting for Superman was screened in Spring 2010. Sometimes, people wear fun outfits. 

Previous posts:  Google 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.

Charts: Record Numbers Of High School Grads Skipping College

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

"Just under 66 percent of the class of 2013 was enrolled in college last fall, the lowest share of new graduates since 2006 and the third decline in the past four years, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics," observes Five Thirty Eight (More High School Grads Decide College Isn’t Worth It).

Nonprofits: InBloom Joins Long List Of Failed Efforts

InBloom isn't the first foundation-funded nonprofit to fall flat or get swallowed up in larger social issues, it won't be the last, and its demise probably doesn't mean what you think it means.

Failstemp ccommon flickr

There are several recent reformy examples of failure or premature suspension of operations including the Gates small schools initiative, Yolie Flores' teacher advocacy organization (Communities 4 Teaching Excellence), Reading First, the Education Sector (now being revived at AIR), and EDIN'08.

But there have also been numerous failures of various types and descriptions from those who would generally be considered reform critics, including the mid-1990s Annenberg Challenge, the barely-alive Broader Bolder Alliance, and Parents Across America (remember them)? Other nominees from Twitter I'm not familiar with include Strategic Management of Human Capital and the Council for Basic Education. The whole reform movement is built on the failures of the era that preceded it (feat. Head Start, desegregation, etc.). 

You get the idea.  This is hard work, saving the world, and a certain amount of failure is to be expected. 

Even more important to remember is that short-term setbacks often lead to breakthroughs rather than collapses.  What lessons will reformers and reform critics learn from inBloom's demise?  What opportunities will arise from its implosion? Whomever learns inBloom's lessons fastest and puts them to good use stands the best chance of future success.

Previous posts: Key Members Depart "Parents Across America"The Successful Failure Of ED In '08Gates-Funded Group Hands Baton To SharptonMalcolm Gladwell On Failure, Voice, & ExitWaivers, Failures, And Redefining AYP. Image via Flickr.

Media: ProPublica Hires Another Reporter To Cover Education

With apologies for having missed this when it came out earlier this year, news from ProPublica is that they've hired a veteran AJC reporter Heather Vogell to cover education (ProPublica Hires Reporters).

image from www.propublica.org

From the announcement: "Vogell will join ProPublica from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she has been a reporter since 2005. Her work there on test cheating in the public school system resulted in the indictments of the superintendent and 34 others. A series she co-authored, “Cheating Our Children,” examined suspicious test scores in public schools across the nation, becoming a 2013 finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. Before the Journal-Constitution, she worked at The Charlotte Observer, The Chicago Tribune, and The Day, in New London, Conn."

The nonprofit site hasn't been particularly strong on education coverage, though it's got a big section on segregation and just published a long story about re-segregation last week. There's also a section for college loans, if that's your kind of thing. The section on for-profit schools hasn't been updated since 2011. The Opportunity Gap tool was big for a while last year but I haven't heard much about it since.

I haven't seen any stories from Vogell yet on the ProPublica site, so perhaps she's en route from Atlanta.  You can find her at @hvogell but she doesn't seem to be particularly active there. Vogell joins Marian (@mariancw) Wang, who was hired earlier this year.  

Previous posts:  Not Enough Education Goodies On ProPublicaProPublica's Education ReporterObama Staffers' Disclosure Forms Online. Image courtesy ProPublica.

Bruno: Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway?

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 2.51.06 PMWhen charged with "ignoring poverty", many education reformers will respond that in fact improving education is the best way to fight poverty. 

Arne Duncan once went so far as to say that "the only way to end poverty is through education."

Is that correct?

I'm skeptical. As Matt Bruenig has pointed out, educational outcomes have been improving for decades in the United States, and yet poverty rates haven't really budged.

And what about internationally? Certainly, many developed countries have much lower poverty rates than the United States. Is that a result of superior educational performance?

One preliminary way to look at the evidence would be to see if countries with better academic performance also have lower poverty rates.

Out of curiosity I decided to take a first crack at that using results from the 2012 PISA, which tested 15-year-olds in reading, math, and science.

Click below to see what I found. 

Continue reading "Bruno: Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway?" »

AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down

News2

InBloom Student Data Repository to Close NYT: The student data warehousing venture that became a lightning rod for some parents’ data privacy and security concerns, announced it would close. See also WNYC: Sun Sets on Controversial Student Data Project inBloom. [EdWeek broke the story, far as I know.]

Vision, Reality Collide in Common-Core Tests EdWeek: A glass-half-full reading focuses on the exams' technological advances and embrace of performance-based assessment. On the flip side, a confluence of political, technical, and financial constraints have led to some scaling back of the ambitious plans the consortia first laid out.

U.S. News Releases 2014 Best High Schools Rankings HuffPost/ US News: Some familiar names joined Dallas-based School for the Talented and Gifted and the two BASIS schools in the top 10 this year, including the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools retained their third and fourth place rankings, respectively, while Pine View School in Florida also held onto its No. 6 position.

Teachers are losing their jobs, but Teach for America’s expanding Hechinger Report: Of the first 13 Seattle recruits whose two-year commitment is now over, Maldonado and 10 others remain in their classrooms. While he thinks TFA should have done a better job before bringing his cohort to the city, Maldonado says he still believes strongly in the organization and worked at its summer institute in New York City last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Talks To ABC News’ David Muir ABC News: "How did I go to a commuter college that cost $50 a semester? Because a lot of other people put a little something in that kept the costs low at a public school so I had a chance and a lotta kids like me had a chance to get an education, and go out, and do something with it."

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

Continue reading "AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down" »

Quotes: K12 Education Fended Off Venture Capital Until 2011?

Quotes2No self-respecting venture capitalist would touch the K-12 education segment from 2000 to 2010-2011. -- QSV Advisors' managing partner (and CPS Board of Ed member) Deborah Quazzo in EdWeek

Media: NPR Ed Team Adds Staff (Still Needs Spiffy Name)*

Jobs-signAs you may already have heard via Twitter, the latest news on the NPR education team expansion front is that they've hired Anya Kamenetz to be one of two education bloggers for the new, expanded education page.  

Starting next month, the Brooklyn-based freelancer (Fast Company, Forbes, Hechinger, and many other outlets) will be joining on-air correspondents Eric Westervelt (in SF) and Claudio Sanchez (DC) plus editorial staffers Matt Thompson, Steve Drummond, and Cory Turner (in DC) for a team that will eventually number about 10 people in all (including production staff).  

No word yet on what they're going to name the new site (my bad idea is that they should call it "Planet Education") or who the other blogger is going to be, though rumors have it that the competition has been intense. (I put my name in for the job but they were too smart to fall for that.) 

So far, it seems like the new team is doing well. Contributor Paul Bruno and I had some issues with one of their SAT stories (Media Getting SAT Story Wrong (& Who Funded It, Anyway?). But they seemed to be first to have a reporter take a Common Core field test (sort of like the mom who did SAT prep in The Atlantic), and they've got a great model in Planet Money for smart, fun coverage of a complex topic.

Ironically, education hiring and coverage are expanding all over the place -- Marketplace, Vox, Politico, FiveThirtyEight, NPR, RealClear Education, etc. -- just as the education debate has stalemated/stalled out.  Hopefully, there will be enough real-world change going on for all these new and/or expanded outlets to tell interesting and useful stories. Hopefully there will be enough sharp reporters to give readers the real stories not just the ones handed to them.

Image via Flickr. Previous posts: NPR Expands Education CoverageLocal NPR Stations Beefing Up Education CoverageWhere Does That Public Radio Coverage Come From, Anyway?. And also:  Colbert Move Probably Bad News For EducationMarch Madness Pits 16 Sites Against Each Other.

*Correction:  Kamenetz says she's never written for Forbes.  My apologies.

Quotes: Duncan Responds To Criticism Of Data Privacy Guidance

Quotes2We created a new Chief Privacy Officer. We've put out guidance recently, and where it needs to be strengthened going forward -- and not just us, but everybody, states, districts, schools, myself as a parent trying to figure it out everyday with my kids. This is not one that you're going to issue some guidance and that's the Bill of Rights for the next 100 years. -- Arne Duncan (Arne Duncan Responds to Criticism Over Student Data Privacy EdWeek)

Afternoon Video: EdTech Frenzy But Business Models Unclear

Bloomberg video from last week about the potential and pitfalls of selling edtech to schools. Via RCE. "Bloomberg’s Ari Levy looks into who’s backing education tech startups. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)"

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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.