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Thompson: What Explains the Remaining Support For NCLB Testing?

The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton, in Even As Congress Moves to Strip His Power, Arne Duncan Holds His Ground, begins her portrait of the last days of Arne Duncan with an anecdote documenting the sincerity with which he approached his job as US Secretary of Education. She also writes, "In a town where many like to talk, Duncan is regarded as a good listener. 'Arne is a great sounding board for the president,' said Valerie Jarrett, the president’s close friend and adviser."

It's too bad that Duncan listened so well to the Billionaires' Boys Club and ignored the professional judgments of teachers and education researchers. Now, even the Third Way, which seeks education policies consistent with corporate reform has to admit, “The question is not whether we’re going to put handcuffs on Arne Duncan,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky of Third Way, a centrist think tank. “The question is how many handcuffs.”

One top education expert, Jack Jennings, concludes in regard to Duncan's policies, “The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement, ... They also did considerable harm.”

And that is the essence of Duncan's competition-driven reform and its test, sort, and punish approach to education. Some students may benefit but only at the cost of inflicting harm on other children. 

Its ironic that the market-driven movement - that still pretends it is a civil rights movement - is going out with such an ignominious whimper. Output-driven reform not only damaged poor children of color by treating them as test scores, it has undermined liberals and Democrats who seek a larger agenda of equity and justice. So, a crucial short term battle is the civil war between progressives, with teachers determined to prevent Hillary Clinton (or anyone else) from repeating Arne Duncan's agenda.

Continue reading "Thompson: What Explains the Remaining Support For NCLB Testing?" »

Morning Video: Ta-Nehisi Coates' New Book, Plus Emanuel In Aspen

In this Atlantic video short, Ta-Nehisi Coates reads a short passage from his new book, Between the World and Me. Read an extended excerpt, "A Letter to My Son," here.

Or, watch Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and UofC's Tim Knowles talk education at the Aspen Ideas Festival (in which he claims no great admiration for school reform).

Thompson: We Need a Marshall Plan for Schools and Prisons

I grew up in the post-World War II era known as "Pax Americana." We all knew that our ambitious New Deal/Fair Deal era policies, ranging from G.I. Bill to the rebuilding of Europe with the help of the Marshall Plan, were not perfect. But, we knew in our bones that tomorrow would be better than today. Government and social science would both play a role in the campaigns to expand the promise of America to all.

The Marshall Project's Eli Hager, in What Prisons Can Learn from Schools, pulls two incredibly complicated social problems together in a concise and masterful synthesis. Hager's insights are deserving of a detailed analysis. This post will merely take a first step towards an explanation of why Democrats and liberals, especially, must heed his wisdom.

School and prison reform are both deeply rooted in the Reaganism and the lowered horizons of the 1980s. The defeat of the "guns and butter" approach to the Vietnam War demonstrated the limits of our power. The Energy Crisis of 1973, along with a decade and a half of falling or stagnant wages, was somehow blamed on liberalism. The U.S. entered the emerging global marketplace without the confidence that had marked our previous decades, meaning that we were more preoccupied with surviving competition than building community. 

Americans lowered our horizons. As Hager explains, we were loath to tackle the legacies to the "overwhelming unfairnesses of history."  So, we broke off schools and prisons into separate "silos," and sought less expensive solutions for their challenges. We rejected the social science approach to tackling complex and interconnected social problems that were rooted in poverty. Our quest for cheaper and easier solutions would soon coincide with the rise of Big Data as a substitute for peer reviewed research in service to a Great Society.

Continue reading "Thompson: We Need a Marshall Plan for Schools and Prisons" »

Afternoon Reading: Charters, Unionization, & The Annenberg Standards

Charter1_0
Kudos to Rachel M. Cohen [@rmc031] for her American Prospect piece about charter school unionization (When Charters Go Union), which is a timely update on a small but important issue no matter which side of the reform/critic divide you happen to occupy.

As Cohen lays them out, the challenges to both unions and charter advocates are pretty clear:

Traditional unions are grappling with how they can both organize charter teachers and still work politically to curb charter expansion. Charter school backers and funders are trying to figure out how to hold an anti-union line, while continuing to market charters as vehicles for social justice. 

The piece also helpfully explains the teachers unions' recent turn towards a dual strategy of critiquing low-performing charters (especially for-profit ones) via the Annenberg Standards while also embarking on a series of organizing efforts:

Beginning in 2007 and 2008, the AFT set up a national charter-organizing division, and today has organizers in seven cities: L.A., Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, and Philadelphia. 

Like me, you have heard a bit about the Annenberg Standards for charter schools but not really known what they are or how they were being advanced. You may be surprised to learn that NACSA -- the association of authorizers comes out as more critical of them than NAPCS, the association of charter operators.  (Usually it's the other way around when it comes to quality and accountability issues.)  

And Cohen addresses the awkwardness for some teachers thinking about being represented by an organization that has previously seemed to deride their work and impact. She quotes on LA charter school teacher opposed to unionization:

How could I support a union that for the last ten years spent a good portion of their time attacking our right to exist?... They’ve spent the last ten years both supporting anti-charter school board members and fighting in Sacramento against what we do.

This tension remains or even grows with the unions' interest in promoting new legislation that would limit charter expansion.  And Cohen addresses that too. 

There's even a nice mention for Green Dot's unionized network of charters and the evolution of the relationship between UTLA and AMU -- gotta love that (especially if you wrote a book about Locke High School).

That's not to say that there aren't issues with the piece, however:

For starters, the evidence for the impact of unionization on student achievement (what little there is) is pushed to the bottom of the story when ideally it would have been touched on at the top (at least, right?). Readers should know early on that unionization or its absence doesn't seem to make a dramatic difference when it comes to student outcomes. 

Depth-wise, there aren't very many voices from principals and administrators who've worked with unionized charter teachers -- really just one at the end -- or really from teachers who've been at unionized charters for a long while. So we hear from lots of charter teachers talking about organizing (generally in positive terms) but get very little sense of what it's like working with unionized staff over the long haul.

It's perhaps a minor complaint but there's little or nothing until the very end of the piece about the difficulties that organizers have encountered in New York City when it comes to unionized charters (and no mention at all of the a well-publicized situation in which teachers at KIPP AMP voted to join the union then changed their minds). I'd be interested to learn more about organizing efforts that haven't panned out, and why.

Last but not least, Cohen resorts to speculation when it comes to describing the non-academic benefits of unionization, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining effective teachers.  If unionization doesn't dramatically affect student achievement one way or the other, does it at least attract more qualified teachers or increase retention? It's not clear.  Cohen speculates that it does but I could imagine it working both ways.

Still, it's a fascinating and helpful piece, over all, and I recommend it highly. 

Will Common Core Results Generate A New Wave Of Lawsuits?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charts: A Surge In Restarted Schools Shows Promise, Says MSDF

image from www.msdf.org
The folks at the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation are big into Restarted Schools, citing states like Louisiana, Tennessee, and Michigan, Georgia and Nevada, and (soon?) in Pennsylvania that have created Achievement School District laws, as well as NJ, MA, and IN where there are direct state takeovers. Charter management organizations, long hesitant to get involved with restarts (also known as turnarounds) are finally getting into the game thanks to strong signals from authorizers.

"We see more and more charter school authorizers in cities with large charter market shares (like Washington, DC, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New Orleans) are starting to encourage high performing charter school operators to take over and restart low performing charter campuses."

According to MSDF, most of the new schools in NOLA since 2009 have been restarts.

Afternoon Video: Worst Cautionary High School Speaker Ever

"I used to be like you. Used to clown around, make fun of the principal... I did a drive by at my own daughters quinceanera! Yeah shot up everybody!" Key & Peele "Consequences (Nov. 2014)

Quotes: Connecticut's Magnet Schools Erode Segregation

Quotes2It's pathetic that only one little state [Connecticut] is showing any leadership [by creating 84 magnet schools]...It shouldn't be so radical to think it might be better to have more diverse schools.
 
- UCLA's Gary Orfield in HuffPost Edu (Connecticut Makes Rare Progress As America Moves Backwards)

Books: First Look At Dale Rusakoff's Forthcoming "The Prize"

9780547840055_lresHere's a first look at Dale Rusakoff's forthcoming book about Newark, titled The Prize and scheduled for release in September. 

"Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, and Cory Booker were ready to reform our failing schools," proclaims the book promo copy. "What they got instead was an education."

"Their plans soon ran into a constituency not so easily moved — Newark’s key education players, fiercely protective of their billion-dollar-per-annum system. It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s students."

Rusakoff's writing on Newark has appeared in the New Yorker

"The Prize is a portrait of a titanic struggle over the future of education for the poorest kids, and a cautionary tale for those who care about the shape of America’s schools."

See more here.

Rusakoff is appearing at this week's EWA conference in Chicago. It's a big week for education book. Greg Toppo's book about learning games is out this week, as is Ken Robinson's book on schools and creativity.

Related posts: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat They're Saying About That New Yorker ArticleNew Yorker Reporter Talks NewarkFact-Checking Cami AndersonWhite Reporters & Students Of Color.

Thompson: Reckhow's and Tompkins-Stange's Analysis of Edu-Philanthropic Convergence

Sarah Reckhow’s and Megan Tompkins-Stange’s 'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad begins in the glory days of test-driven, market driven reform, from 2008 to 2010, when the Broad Foundation  proclaimed,  “We feel the stars have finally aligned. With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.” 

Reckhow’s and Tompkins-Stange’s excellent contribution to the American Enterprise Institute’s conference of edu-philanthropy, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, ends with an illustration of the power of Broad and Gates Foundations’ “purposeful convergence” on advancing their accountability-driven beliefs. They quote a Gates Foundation insider:

There was a twinkle in the eye of one of our US advocacy directors when the Obama administration's...education policy framework came out...this person said...“aren’t we lucky that the Obama Administration’s education agenda is so compatible with ours, you know?”...We wouldn’t take credit...out loud even amongst ourselves....But, you know, the twinkle… 

Rechkow and Tompkins-Stange add that “the notion of a “twinkle”—rather than claiming credit more openly—highlights one of the more problematic aspects of the concentrated influence of Gates, Broad, and other foundations in the policy realm.”

The Gates Foundation had been reluctant to commit to a coordinated federal advocacy campaign until the election of President Barack Obama and the appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Their Ed in ’08 campaign had fizzled but, during the Obama years, 2/3rds of the states made significant changes to their teacher evaluation process.

'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad shows that this dramatic change was conducted in the “absence of a robust public debate.”

It is beyond the scope of Rechkow's and Tompkins-Stange's study but after reading their work, I wonder even more how it would have been possible for the Gates Foundation to have engaged in an adequate, private discussion of the costs and benefits of their favored policy. Behind closed doors, insiders may or may not have exchanged their opinions on value-added evaluations, but since the evidence required for a meaningful debate over the real world effects of those evaluations did not exist, I wonder if the lack of research on the policy implications of value-added was considered. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Reckhow's and Tompkins-Stange's Analysis of Edu-Philanthropic Convergence" »

Events: Today's Education Philanthropy Event At AEI

In case you hadn't figured it out by now, I've been at AEI all day today talking about the "new" education philanthropy. That's me in the middle, flanked by Goldstein, Kelly, Blew, and Hess. #newedphil is the hashtag.  Video and draft papers to come.

TV: Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show

image from media.salon.comThe new David Simon show coming later this year will give us all a chance to think about residential segregation and the neighborhood school.

According to a recent Grantland article, the miniseries -- called "Show Me A Hero" -- surrounds the reaction in Yonkers NY to a 1985 court decision that the city had "'illegally and intentionally’ fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city.” 

The series is based on a Lisa Belkin book by the same name (book cover to left). The former NYT writer has since moved to HuffPost and Yahoo. You can read an excerpt here. Something in Salon here. IMDB for the show is here.

What's this have to do with education?  Well, residential segregation combined with neighborhood-based schooling is the main reason we have such inequitable & segregated schools and school systems (and charter networks, too). While everyone likes to talk about the joys of the neighborhood system, it's turned out to be class- and race-based in some pretty awful ways. See Nikole Hannah-Jones' work in ProPublica and The Atlantic if you don't think it's a current issue.   

So this show will give us at least a glancing chance of revisiting the issues of race, class, and the neighborhood school. 

Related posts: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose ChoiceWatch School Segregation Grow Over 20 YearsRethinking The Neighborhood School IdealDecline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta)The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools

Quotes: Show Taxpayers [Test] Results If You Want More Of Their Money

Quotes2Taxpayers provide about $600 billion each year to fund public education in America. They have a right to know if the system is working. And if we want the public to spend more money on education, we need to show them [test] results.

-- Ed Post's Peter Cunningham (Fewer, Better, Fairer Tests)

Maps: The More (Charter Authorizers) The Merrier?

image from www.qualitycharters.orgHere's a map from the new NACSA @qualitycharters report on state charter authorizers showing how many authorizers each state has.  The more the merrier, in general, though obviously that's not always the case since Ohio has lots and Arizona has few. Read the report here

Morning Video: Debating Rice's "Racist Liberals" Claim

 

In case you missed it from last week, here's Condoleeza Rice's claim that failing neighborhood schools and the inequality that comes with them are racist, along with a link to Citizen Stewart's examination of the claim.

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research: New Orleans Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study

Here's something you don't see every day - in fact I can't think of it happening ever before (though surely it must have): The ED of the Cowen Institute at Tulane, John Ayers, has resigned after a report came out and had to be withdrawn, according to Higher Education via Politico  (Education Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study). The study came out and was withdrawn 9 days later, and now Ayers is gone at the end of this month.  It's not clear why the study was withdrawn, or whether there were issues with its review as well as its methodology, or whether Ayers left because of the report or because of its withdrawal. Know more about the report or the circumstances? Let us know in comments or ping me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

Morning Listen: What's *Really* Going On In Philadelphia?

Here's Bloomberg EDU's new interview with superintendent Bill Hite.

Charts: Top Quarter Of Poor Urban School Students Enroll In College

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"Among the top quarter of these low-income high schools, 60 percent or more of the students went to college in the fall." (Hechinger Report:  Twenty five percent of low-income urban high schools beat the odds). Image used with permission.

AM News: Gates-Funded Small Schools Work After All, Says New Study

Small high schools send larger shares of students to college, new study says ChalkbeatNY: The multi-year study examines a subset of 123 “small schools of choice” that opened between 2002 and 2008 with private funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and support from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

New Research Suggests Small High Schools May Help After All NPR: A New York City entrant in a long-running research controversy over the effectiveness of small high schools.

Deasy Resigns as Los Angeles Schools Chief After Mounting Criticism NYT: John E. Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, had clashed with the school board, and drawn flak for a flawed $1.3 billion plan to give iPads to students.

LA Schools Superintendent To Leave After iPad Controversy NPR: The Los Angeles schools superintendent is stepping down. John Deasy's resignation follows a contracting scandal that put him on the defensive. He talks to Steve Inskeep about why he resigned.

Deasy resigns as superintendent of LA Unified EdSource Today: Los Angeles Unified School superintendent John Deasy submitted his resignation this morning, after more than a year of turmoil and conflict with the seven-member elected school board. Deasy reportedly cut short a trip to South Korea to negotiate the terms of his departure. 

Los Angeles Unified announces Deasy's exit after secret vote to pay him through end of year LA Daily News: The separation agreement was approved in a 6-1 vote Tuesday. Board member Monica Ratliff, one of two elected officials representing the San Fernando Valley, cast the sole dissenting vote. Ratliff’s office declined to comment on why she voted against the agreement.

Cortines faces challenging tasks as he steps in behind departing superintendent KPCC: This time, Cortines may be in place for a long haul as the board searches for a permanent superintendent. There is little desire among school board members to send the district into more turmoil with another swift change at the top. 

How Schools Are Responding To The Threat of Ebola HuffPost: Schools around the country are taking steps against Ebola, screening students, passing out information and, with the air travel of an infected nurse between Texas and Ohio, closing schools in those two states.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Gates-Funded Small Schools Work After All, Says New Study" »

Morning Video: Update On Zuckerberg's $100M Newark Grant

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here's that NBC News segment about Newark I tweeted out yesterday, checking in on what the Zuckerberg gift has and hasn't done (Nightly News: Tracking Zuckerberg’s schools gift).  The gist of the story seemed to be that the changes have been small and slow-moving but potentially transformative. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly.

Quotes: Misunderstanding Accountability (The Fog Of Rhetoric)

Quotes2I get the desire for a clean break from NCLB’s bad reputation and the ever-changing, ever-more-complicated NCLB waivers... But before we rush to adopt a “new accountability,” let’s first make sure we understand the policies we have. -- Anne Hyslop (What NYT No Child Left Behind Story Missed)

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.

Thompson: Once Again, Mass Insight Explains What It takes to Turn Around Schools*

When I first read Mass Insight's The Turnaround Challenge, I was thrilled by its holistic explanation of what it takes to turnaround the most challenging schools. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the document was his Bible, but then he violated most of its principles when establishing School Improvement Grants, dooming his SIG to failure.

In 2007, Mass Insight showed that instruction-driven, curriculum-driven policies could not transform the schools with the greatest challenges, and that the mass dismissal of teachers was a bad idea. It emphasized the "Readiness Triangle," drawing upon the best social science to explain how and why a proper foundation must be laid for school improvement. Now, Mass Insight and Ounce of Prevention explain why today's accountability regimes are undermining school improvement.

Let's hope that reformers listen to Mass Insight's and the Ounce of Prevention Fund's Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies, by Elliot Regenstein, Rio Romero-Jurado, Justin Cohen, and Alison Segal. As it says in a previous study, Rethinking State Accountability and Support, Ounce proposes "the reverse" of the Arne Duncan value-added accountability regime. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Once Again, Mass Insight Explains What It takes to Turn Around Schools*" »

Morning Video: New Video Targets 371 "Failing" NYC Schools

It's not quite as moving as last summer's version -- and the one I saw last night during the news featured a kid who wanted to be a doctor -- but here's the new Families For Educational Justice video that's airing in NYC, focusing on 143,000 kids in low-performing schools, using the hashtag #donttstealpossible. "In vast areas of NYC [Brooklyn & the Bronx, mostly], children have little choice but to attend a failing school." There's also a map of 371 failing schools in NYC. There's a rally on Thursday.

Books: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led

image from tcf.orgI've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.

The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts: 

*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).

*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).

*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).

The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.

Related posts:  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.

Update: West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr

image from www.dfer.org

 

 

DFER California is re-launching operations for 2014 and beyond, kicked off with a few events and announcements (see press release below).  

As a big part of that effort, DFER has hired Steve Barr to be the state chapter head.  Former state legislator Gloria Romer was the previous head.  

Barr founded Green Dot Schools and more recently headed FIN Schools, which I'm told has been winding down its operations in recent months.

Previous posts:  Pro-Charter Dem PAC Expands To CA [2010]; Strange Times In California [2012]; Green Dot & Steve Barr Finalize Their "Divorce" [2011]; Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy [2013]

Continue reading "Update: West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr " »

Morning Video: New Efforts To Engage Emotional Support For Common Core

 

Here's an example of how Common Core supporters are going to try and engage the public with outrage over the current inequalities and inadequacies of the education system  - and inspiration about what the new standards can do. From NCLR via Politico. #whimsical

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Philanthropy Is Everywhere

The Expanding Role of Philanthropy in Education Politics http://ow.ly/zvgb6  @sreckhow and Jeff Snyder via @dianeravitch

Why Do Americans Stink at Math? - http://NYTimes.com  http://ow.ly/zuZMK  @elizabeth_green @elizwgreen

Apple Claims 85% of U.S. Education Market for Tablets http://ow.ly/zuqy8  [Even as iPad consumer sales flatline]

Setting the record straight on tenure  - NY Daily News http://ow.ly/zvMHG  #vergara @campbell_brown

Both @anniegilbertson & @mrpabruno think @libbyanelson's map http://bit.ly/1tBboQk  should be adjusted for COL etc 

This Aspiring Astronaut Might Be The World's Most Amazing Teen : Goats and Soda : NPR http://ow.ly/zvGZe 

Cato's Andrew Coulson slams Slate's Sweden School Choice article in @EducationNext http://ow.ly/zvn37 

High schools worse than colleges handling rape, reports Al Jazeera America http://ow.ly/zviOv  Harrowing story re Seatle's Garfield HS

 

Quotes: Neighborhood Schools "Part Of The Problem," Says Simmons

Quotes2The impulse to want a neighborhood school for your children is understandable... [But advocates for neighborhood schools] are part of the problem not part of the solution. -- Warren Simmons, executive director of The Annenberg Institute for School Reform (The Uncomfortable Reality of Community Schools). 

Magazines: New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School

I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker goes deep with its latest education story (A Struggling School Made a Shocking Choice), by contributor Rachel Aviv.

"Struggling to meet data-driven district targets, as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind, administrators and teachers at Parks first began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests in 2006.

"The resulting scores significantly raised the school’s percentage of eighth graders who met the state’s standards.

"The success created an ongoing cycle that fostered continuous cheating—by 2008, the practices had become what Christopher Waller, the school’s former principal, calls a “well-oiled machine.”

The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.  

Could it happen again soon? The story seems to suggest it's likely.

Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.

Previous New Yorker posts: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next.

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" »

AM News: Zuckerberg Donates $120M To SF Bay Area Schools

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Zuckerberg, Wife Gift $120M to CA Schools AP: The first $5 million will go to school districts in San Francisco, Ravenswood and Redwood City and will focus on principal training, classroom technology and helping students transition from the 8th to the 9th grade. The couple and their foundation, called Startup: Education, determined the issues of most urgent need based on discussions with school administrators and local leaders.

At a Glance: Biggest Tech Donors in 2013 AP: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, topped the list of the most generous American philanthropists in 2013 with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock that are now worth more than $1 billion. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it was the largest charitable gift on the public record in 2013. On Friday, they announced a $120 million gift to the San Francisco Bay Area public school system.

Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition NYT: The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to replace the Common Core standards with locally written versions, and Missouri is considering a related measure.

California's CORE Districts Faltering On Key Tenets of Waiver, Ed. Dept. Says District Dossier: Education Department officials flagged problem areas for the seven districts participating in the No Child Left Behind Act waiver, including delays and changes to strategies aimed at the lowest-achieving schools.

ACLU Sues California For 'Equal Learning Time' WNYC: The lawsuit names students including Briana Lamb as members of the class. In the fall of 2012, when Lamb showed up for her junior year at Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles, she says her schedule was full of holes. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Zuckerberg Donates $120M To SF Bay Area Schools" »

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)

Magazines: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash

ScreenHunter_02 May. 12 10.02Just in time for tomorrow's voting, the latest New Yorker has a Dale Russakoff piece on reform efforts in Newark:   "Schooled: Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg Had a Plan to Reform Newark’s Schools. They Got an Education."

"In 2010, Zuckerberg pledged a hundred-million-dollar challenge grant to help Booker, then the mayor of Newark, and Christie overhaul the school district, one of the most troubled in the country.

"Four years later, “improbably, a [school] district with a billion dollars in revenue and two hundred million dollars in philanthropy was going broke,” and Newark is at war over its schools."

Closing quote:" Shavar Jeffries believes that the Newark backlash could have been avoided. Too often, he said, “education reform . . . comes across as colonial to people who’ve been here for decades. It’s very missionary, imposed, done to people rather than in coöperation with people.” Some reformers have told him that unions and machine politicians will always dominate turnout in school-board elections and thus control the public schools. He disagrees: “This is a democracy. A majority of people support these ideas. You have to build coalitions and educate and advocate.” As he put it to me at the outset of the reform initiative, “This remains the United States. At some time, you have to persuade people.” 

Check it out and let us know if it's interesting, fair, etc. 

Afternoon Video: Return to Montefiore Alternative School

Last week's premier episode of the VICE-produced documentary series "Last Chance High" was so rough it was hard to watch -- so be warned.  Here's this week's show.

Movies: 'Ivory Tower' Documentary To Get June Release

Hollywood_1575288cA much-discussed documentary about higher education costs and quality is getting a full theatrical release this June, according to various Hollywood outlets ('Ivory Tower' Lands). Paramount and Samuel Goldywn are distributing theatrically and online, and Participant (TEACH, Waiting For Superman) is doing the social action campaign."Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), Ivory Tower questions the value of higher education among spiraling tuition fees and student debt."

Chicago: The Story Behind The Rahm-Karen Lewis Food Fight

image from educationnext.org
As if the protesting teachers and parents and the new CNN documentary weren't enough, here comes my look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's tumultous first three years at the helm of the city and its beleagured schools system.  

The piece (which was originally titled "Reforming Rahm") makes note of just how incremental change had come during the Daley era -- especially the last few years during which a new contract was signed with the union and leadership turnover was the theme -- and what kind of a massive budget and pension deficit Emanuel inherited. 

But it also makes clear how Emanuel's rush to take action on things like a longer school day have often backfired, and how he inadvertently helped make a star out of rookie Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and alienated reform-inclined educators and parents like Seth Lavin as well as "enclave" parents and traditional educators.

Colorful personality conflicts aside, the piece notes that there are still several wortwhile things going on in Chicago, including a move to school-based budgeting, streamlining of testing requirements, a teacher evaluation system to replace the checklist of yore, and a difficult but long-necessary downsizing in response to demographic shifts.

Read the piece -- maybe also Neil Steinberg's recent Esquire profile, too -- and tell me what you think.

Books: New Book Chronicles Chicago Union Successes

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 20 09.47The folks at Jacobin (and Kickstarter supporters) have helped put out a new book called Class Action that will be of great interest to many who've followed the Chicago Public Schools saga over the past two or three years.

"Our project with the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus and other allies ran long — the final supplement is 118 pages, more than the 50 we had budgeted for. But it was so fantastically designed by Remeike Forbes, and the photography by Katrina Ohstrom and written contributions by CTU President Karen Lewis, economist Dean Baker, Jacobin editors Megan Erickson and Shawn Gude, Joanne Barkan, Lois Weiner, and many others were so strong, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut it down more or reduce our planned run.

"The booklet will be distributed to educators and school support staff in Chicago, New York, Portland, Newark, Washington DC, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and elsewhere in March to help support rank-and-file activity."

It's been an interesting week in Chicago, what with Neil Steinberg's "pull no punches" profile of Mayor Rahm and Tribune columnist Eric Zorn's turnabout call for CTU head Karen Lewis to run for mayor (rather than resign). 

Take a look and let us know what you think of the book -- a quick scan reveals that it's beautifully designed and photo illustrated.  Might be a good read whether you're inclined to sympathize or criticize.

Quotes: "Enclave" Parents Vs. Other Parents

Spy-vs-Spy-without-bombs-775529[1]The most influential and well-educated people either have their kids in private schools, or they have their kids in an enclave inside the high school that are called honors courses... and so, if we go to a school and say, let’s change things here, they say, no way, you’re going to mess our little enclave up. - Bill Gates quote (from several years ago) about the challenges of changing schools (Education Week).

Weekend Reading: Best Education Articles You Probably Missed

Not really excited by any of the day's education news?  Take a peek at stories and features that came in over the weekend, when I can't seem to stop looking for good items to share with you:

Scott Walker Joins the Common Core Wars | Mother Jones http://ht.ly/tbyhK  @timothypmurphy #CCSS

Why Some Teachers May Question ‘New’ Education Trends | MindShift http://ht.ly/tbfqp  @mindshiftKQED

Coming soon: The Nation review of Ravitch book by Joseph Featherstone http://ht.ly/tbxFh 

Friday's Story Corps was about a bullied kid who killed himself and his dad's efforts to raise awareness since then http://ht.ly/tbvQp 

Rich people, social policy, and very bad ideas - @mattyglesias http://ht.ly/tbEHS 

The influence of union membership on political participation and social capital - Harvard Shorenstein Center http://ht.ly/tbyLO 

BASIS charter network is opening up a school in Brooklyn -- as a for-profit private school [like Avenues] http://ht.ly/tbuR6 

Pete Seeger got blacklisted for his beliefs http://ht.ly/tbyAE  Has anyone in education - Ravitch at Columbia, for example?

Confessions of a TSA Agent - Politico http://ht.ly/tbxrN  If only a school security guard would do the same, right?

Why League Tables [School Rankings] Are Good For Students - Forbes @nsdmorrison http://ht.ly/tbcZB 

Someone redo Buzzefeed's viral "What Type Of Parent Are You" post http://ht.ly/tbuWH  for teachers, please?

Dreaming Big in South Carolina: A Public Boarding School for the Arts -@jamesfallows - The Atlantic http://ht.ly/taMx9 

There was also some fun back and forth on Friday about which SuperBowl district was more reformy than the other -- Denver with all its unified enrollment programs or Seattle with its new charters.  Check all that out via #schoolperbowl14 (perhaps the worst hashtag ever).

Thompson: Henry Ford's School Reform Lesson [Stability]

FordNPR’s Sarah Cwiek, in The Middle Class Took Off 100 Years Ago ... Thanks to Henry Ford?, noted the centennial of Henry Ford’s policy of paying his workers $5 a day.

The policy of paying a living wage sparked a positive feedback loop which helped create middle class prosperity. Ford was not being charitable. He wanted a stable workforce. 

Education research confirms the value of stable teaching forces. This is especially true of high-poverty schools where students face extreme instability in their neighborhoods. 

Even so, some school reformers claim to believe that “churn” or high levels of turnover is a virtue. 

Two recent studies have added to the evidence that high-dollar efforts to turnaround challenging schools have disappointed because they do not recognize the value of stability.

And a recent post from Andy Rotherham notes that class issues play a role in how reformers view stability differently than others.

Continue reading "Thompson: Henry Ford's School Reform Lesson [Stability]" »

Weekend Reading: Houston Goes Laptop, DC Streamlines Testing

There's always good reading that comes in over the weekend (or that I miss during the week), but I know that some of you have lives and/or don't take your jobs seriously enough to check the Internet 24/7, so here are some of the best things you might want to check out or at least know about:

Houston Launches Ambitious 1-to-1 Computing Initiative - @BenjaminBHerold @EdWeekEdTech http://ht.ly/sW6EI 

DC Public schools are exploring ways to streamline, make best use of standardized tests http://ht.ly/sVFkf  via @Morning_Edu [also via @washingtonpost! http://wapo.st/1c8J0Pm]

For Kids With Low Self-Esteem, Praise Has Unintended Consequences - @PacificStand http://ht.ly/sXzLj 

How Tumblr and GitHub could be the future of education | Reuters @felixsalmon #edtech http://ht.ly/sXzjs 

Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next [Teaching] Job? : Planet Money : NPR http://ht.ly/sXDrS 

Against the Rage Machine http://ht.ly/sXxCi  Why so many of us are outraged so often, and feel the need to say so via n+1

From Jay Mathews: Students won’t learn? Go visit their parents: D.C. is trying to see if visiting parents at h... http://tinyurl.com/krcektz 

Young Catholics at Eastside High Revolt, Ctd: http://wp.me/p33JF9-Ue7  via @DishFeed

A week later, I'm still not much national coverage of unlawful teacher dismissal lawsuit in NOLA. Also, no one's biting on my prediction that if the new Ezra Klein / Matt Yglesias endeavor has an education component, Dana Goldstein is most likely to head it.   

Afternoon Video: "Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less"

 

“Taking a test on material can have a greater positive effect on future retention of that material than spending an equivalent amount of time restudying the material.” Remarkably, this remains true “even when performance on the test is far from perfect and no feedback is given on missed information.” (Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less The Atlantic)

Charts: How People Respond To School Performance Information

image from educationnext.org"When respondents learn how their local schools rank in comparison to the performance of schools elsewhere in the state or in the nation as a whole, they become more supportive of school choice proposals, such as making school vouchers available to all families, expanding charter schools, and giving parents the power to trigger changes in their local school." (from Education Next:  Information Fuels Support for School Reform)
 

Thompson: Countdown to Universal NCLB Proficiency

NclbAs we begin another spring testing season, educators will further highlight the educational malpractice being imposed on our students by bubble-in accountability. This year, we will also showcase the countdown to the failure of NCLB to meet its accountability targets. 

Surprisingly, true believers in high-stakes testing aren't ignoring the law's anniversary and its target of 100% proficiency. The Democrats for Education Reform Statement Marks the Twelfth Anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act press release brags that "NCLB’s policies are now a permanent part of the education policy landscape."

DFER's Charlie Barone was an architect of NCLB and yet he proclaims the truth that reformers usually prefer to duck. He compares "current reform efforts on issues like standards, assessments, choice, teacher evaluation, and tenure" to NCLB.

If you liked NCLB, you will love DFER's, Arne Duncan's, and the Billionaires Boys Club's versions of NCLB-type testing on steroids. I'm curious, however, about the data that DFER cites to celebrate the output-driven mandates of the last twelve years. It links to data produced by "its inexorable march forward" to top-down micromanaging of our diverse nation's schools. It shows the $1000 per low-income student, per year increase in Title I, input-driven spending.  DFER remains silent about any supposed increases in student performance.  

The noneducators who gave us NCLB and the even worse policies of the Duncan administration remain preoccupied with their political fights.  Their lesson from NCLB is focused on "those pushing back," i.e. their adult nemeses. Once again, reformers show themselves oblivious to real-world outputs, the effects of their handiwork on poor students of color.-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via. 

Afternoon Video: Teachers Try To "Reinvent Shop Class" In Rural School

The documentary feature film IF YOU BUILD IT opened in NYC on Friday. Made with Kickstarter funding behind the folks who created Wordplay and IOUSA, it depicts the efforts of two teachers to reinvigorate a rural school in North Carolina -- and themselves. Read more here: Public Interest Design. via David Wald.

Morning Video: Awesome Student Introduction Of President Obama

Harlem Children's Zone student introduced President Obama at last week's Promise Zone announcement:

Remember, Promise Zones and Promise Neighborhoods are different things and that claims surrounding the original Harlem Children's Zone have been challenged and attempts to replicate it have been difficult. New York Daily News Via HuffPost and ChalkbeatNY

 

AM News: States Struggle, DeBlasio Vs. Cuomo, & More

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States Struggle To Overhaul Schools After No Child Left Behind HuffPost: The department on Monday released results from audits of the way six states -- New York, Delaware, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi and Connecticut -- are replacing No Child Left Behind. ALSO: Waiver States Struggle With Priority Schools, English-Learners, Ed. Dept. Finds PoliticsK12: 

Cuomo, de Blasio, and Universal Pre-K WNYC: Liz Benjamin, host of Capital Tonight, blogger , fiscusses the showdown between Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio over Universal Pre-K. ALSO: Gov. Cuomo Denies He Will Propose Statewide Universal Preschool Plan On Wednesday HuffPost.

New Schools Chancellor Gets a Homecoming Queen's Welcome WNYC:  spoke for less than 10 minutes in what felt like a homecoming, and steered clear of Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposals to charge rent to charter schools and to put a moratorium on co-locating schools in the same buildings. 

The Common Core Is Tough on Kids Who Are Still Learning English Hechinger Report: The work is challenging. But the deeper they get into it, the more school leaders are becoming convinced that the methods encouraged by the Common Core will help all their students get better at math as well English. [headline/conclusion mismatch?]

Test Scandal in Atlanta Brings More Guilty Pleas NYT: The focus is shifting to the former schools superintendent, who is being portrayed as the mastermind of a scheme that led to charges against 35 educators accused of manipulating test scores. ALSO: 6 educators plead guilty in test cheating scandal AP.

L.A. Unified should appoint a successor to LaMotte LA Times (editorial): Delaying until an election to pick a replacement for Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who died last year, risks shortchanging students at a vulnerable time.

Bowser noncommittal on Kaya Henderson Washington Post: Bowser, one of four D.C. Council members challenging incumbent Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) in April’s Democratic primary, faced that question twice on Friday during [a radio show].

Slow Broadband Internet Speeds Vex Nation's Schools Wall Street Journal:Students in Dory Fravel's fourth-grade Iowa classroom got knocked offline while taking mandatory state achievement exams. Vermont teacher Marcia Blanco whiled away the night while the school's slow-as-syrup Internet connection downloaded software.

More news below.

Continue reading "AM News: States Struggle, DeBlasio Vs. Cuomo, & More" »

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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.