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

Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 3.13.20 PM
"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" »

#EdGIF Of The Day: Edmodo Co-Founder Nic Borg Talks Timing


Edmodo's Nic Borg is one of several education-related folks in Forbes' 30 Under 30 compiled by @CarolineLHoward. Plus SFER, Jeremiah, folks from NYCDOE, Khan Academy, and more.  In this video-turned-gif, Borg is talking about how successful startups are sometimes the product of lucky timing and have to innovate to figure out how to succeed in the long run. Indeed, I'm wondering how many of the 2007 version of this feature are still around, if there even was such a thing.

AM News: Whatever Happened To Central Falls High School?

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After Radical Change, R.I. School Shows Signs Of Improvement NPR: In 2010, Central Falls made headlines for firing every high school teacher. The firings were part of a federal program promising big changes at the nation's worst schools. Four years later, there are signs the program is helping, but there are also questions about whether the improvement will last.

Chicago reverses course, cancels school on Monday AP: Chicago Public School officials say they're cancelling classes ahead of Monday's bitter cold temperatures, after first saying they would be open....

L.A. Unified finally hiring teachers again LA Times: After an extended period of layoffs and hiring freezes, the Los Angeles Unified School District has resumed bringing on new teachers, while also being more selective about their quality than in the past.

Report gives local Teach for America educators high marks in math Baltimore Sun: Study finds that teachers in the alternative certification program are as effective at teaching math as their peers

GED Gets A Makeover To Keep Pace With Changing Workforce NPR: The GED test is getting an overhaul. The exam has historically served adults who have fallen through the cracks of the educational system. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, about the impact of the new GED exams.

NYC Schools Chancellor Pick Carmen Fariña Leaves More Questions Than Answers HuffPost: Farina only has two days between her appointment and the first day of her job. The quick turnaround means advocates and experts throughout the country are left to wonder whether -- and how soon -- the mayor and his new schools chief will be able to deliver on their progressive promises when tasked with the management of the city's largest agency. 

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course WNYC: One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

School Experiment That Burned Boy Was Focus of Federal Warning NYT: A video produced by a safety agency warned of the dangers of a chemistry experiment that went awry at a Manhattan school this week.

Update: Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy


image from d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net
Quick update on Steve Barr's Future Is Now nonprofit, given his scheduled appearance in New York City next week at the AFT/Atlantic event:
 
The organization has rebooted in the past few months -- new name (Future Is Now vs. the old Future Is Now Schools name adopted when Barr had to stop using Green Dot America) -- new staff -- three of them based in Chicago -- and a new focus on teacher advocacy than charter school development and operations.  Plus twitter @teacheraction.
 
According to FIN's communications director Gordon Wright: "We're organizing teachers with the goal of empowering them to take actions that will improve their schools and unions. Acknowledging the wisdom and professionalism of teachers has always been a hallmark of Steve's approach, and this new effort also taps into his deep roots as an organizer."
 
This makes sense in a lot of ways. Barr has always been more an organizer and mobilizer than a school operator (read my book for more about this), he's always been squarely in the middle between reformers and reform critics, and he's got more experience and track record working with districts and unions (in LA, NY, and NOLA) than some of the other groups. (Funding comes from Ford, Moriah, Gates, and high-value individuals, I'm told.)
 
Of course, there's no shortage of groups trying to help teachers gain voice and advocate effectively (in addition to the voice and advocacy that comes from the unions), so that's going to be a challenge. FIN claims it's going to help teachers better/differently than everyone else.
 
The website tells stories about teachers organizing their own contracts at the school level in NYC, starting their own schools in LA, and pushing for online union voting (for UTLA). 

AM News: USDE Withdraws SIG Report Due To Errors

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U.S. Department of Education to Redo SIG Analysis Due to Contractor Error PoliticsK12: The analysis, which was released just a couple of weeks ago, excluded about half of the schools that entered the newly revamped SIG program in its first year (the 2010-11 school year) and about a third of the schools that started in the second year (the 2011-12 school year.) It's unclear if the do-over will significantly change those conclusions. 

Head Start funding partially restored in federal budget deal EdSource Today: Head Start lost about 57,000 slots for children, including more than 5,600 in California, because of cuts under federal sequestration, a program of automatically triggered, across-the-board spending cuts. These cuts have continued to ripple through Head Start operations month by month as they cycle through their federal grant processes.

Arrest Leads to Shake-Up of Alexander's Leadership Team PoliticsK12: Longtime Capitol Hill staffer and edu-nerd extraordinaire David Cleary, the GOP staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has become the chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education, currently serves as the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate education committee. 

Mike Huckabee's "Common Core is Dead" Line Not What He Told State Chiefs State EdWatch:The former Arkansas governor said he is dissatisfied with the implementation of the common core and how it has become "hijacked" by other interests.

Charter Leader Denies Insider's Advantage WNYC: “I’m not suggesting that I don’t know anyone at Tweed, I do,” she said, referring to the D.O.E.'s headquarters. “So if you’re saying can I pick up the phone and call folks, yes, I can. But does that mean from a policy perspective I’ve gotten any advantages? Absolutely not.”

Lots more news below.

Continue reading "AM News: USDE Withdraws SIG Report Due To Errors" »

AM News: Unions Launch Big PR Campaign Today

News2Teachers unions face moment of truth Politico: Support for labor unions in general has fallen steadily, dipping below 50 percent for the first time in 2012 before rebounding slightly this year, Gallup polls find. 

AFT Makes $1 Million Ad Buy Against Testing, 'Privatization' Politics K12: The National Education Association is also involved but its spending is smaller, Politico reports. That might be because membership losses at the NEA have cut back the amount it can spend on messaging and communications, as I've reported.

AFT, Partners Push National Day of Action to Oppose 'Privatization' of Schooling TeacherBeat: The national union has reportedly spent more than $1 million on advertising buys to promote the campaign.

Fletcher Facing 8 in Bid for LA Teacher Union Presidency LA School Report: The size of the field, which includes one current UTLA officer, Secondary Vice President Greg Solkovits, and one who also ran for president in 2011, Leonard Segal, suggests an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Fletcher’s policies, leadership style or both.

Lots more state and local news below.

Continue reading "AM News: Unions Launch Big PR Campaign Today" »

People: Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.25.43 PMSo as you may have seen, MSNBC's Chris Hayes did a segment on PISA13 last night.  

One of the guest panelists was Sabrina Stevens, along with AFT head Randi Weingarten and NJ reformer Derrell Bradford.  

Predictably, Hayes and Weingarten focused on the effects of poverty on student achievement and the flaws of the current reform movement. 

Onscreen and in the intro by Hayes, Bradford was ID'd by his organization's name and his work with Gov. Chris Christie and the state charter board.  He mostly played amicable defense -- he's a quasi-regular on the show. 

Stevens was ID'd merely as an education activist (see screenshot).   She got a word in here and there, and nervously chewed the inside of her mouth the rest of the time.

 What nobody said -- not host Chris Hayes, or Weingarten, or Stevens  herself, was that she was until recently an AFT communications staffer, and had worked for the Denver teachers union before coming to the AFT.  So basically there were two AFT folks on the panel (plus a pro-labor host). 

That's fine, I guess - it's not my show.  But viewers also weren't told -- by Hayes or anyone else -- that Stevens recently left AFT to launch a new progressive ed advocacy organization that's describing itself as "a marketing department for progressive education - a campaign that never stops."

Wait, what?

Continue reading "People: Meet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate" " »

Morning Video: Union Complains Over Evaluations Showing 7 Pct Failure

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"A new evaluation system finds 13.5 percent of teachers are exemplary and 79.5 percent are proficient. But 5.8 percent of teachers need improvement and 1.2 percent are unsatisfactory." (Click here - video isn't loading right). Via @annenberginst

Movies: 13 Things You (Prolly) Don't Know About "TEACH"

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#edgifs Earlier this week in class, President Obama raised his hand to ask a question about TEACH, the new Davis Guggenheim documentary about four dynamic teachers. Just out of my White House briefing session, I've now been cleared to share with you some of the key information I was able to glean (plus a ton of gifs).

Continue reading "Movies: 13 Things You (Prolly) Don't Know About "TEACH"" »

Thompson: The Moral Complexities of Opting Out

NsaI have long had conflicted feelings regarding teachers’ timidity in resisting test-driven “reform.”

Of course, it is disgraceful that we have barely resorted to direct actions ranging from work stoppages to boycotts or civil disobedience.  

I still can’t say where I should have drawn the line, much less determine at what point my fellow teachers should have fought back.

Above all, we must listen to students like California teacher/blogger Chris Thinnes' son, who decided to opt out of testing -- and then reconsidered.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Moral Complexities of Opting Out " »

Thompson: Roland Fryer's "No Excuses" Excuses

FryerThe Houston Chronicle's Erika Mellon, in Funder Puts Hold on $3 Million Donation to HISD, reports that the Houston Endowment notified the Houston school system that its last contribution to its expensive "Apollo 20" project has been put on hold. 

The endowment seeks a meeting with the district and Harvard University researcher Roland Fryer in regard to Fryer's delay in providing an evaluation of the controversial experiment's outcomes.

Fryer issued a heated reply which, in effect, said, Scientist at Work: Do Not Disturb. The MacArthur Foundation "Genius" said that the most important thing for him, professionally, is his academic reputation. Fryer said he doesn't yet have the data required for "real Science." 

If the data is not good enough for an academic publication, he sniffed, then its not good enough to show a funder. "Perhaps my standards are too high," Fryer wrote, "but I am not going to lower them for HISD."

He agreed with the suggestion that a third party might evaluate Apollo 20, "if you can find a firm or an academic willing to use the current data and put their name behind that, perhaps the right thing to do is to hire them and insist they turn around a report quickly for you."

The Houston experiment with the mass removal of teachers and extending a "No Excuses" pedagogy to traditional public schools has not gone well.  Apollo 20's first year gains - modest as they were - were based on the scores of students who were tested in the spring of 2011. Second year results seemed to be even more disappointing, but Fryer did not publish a formal report on them.

Fryer protests too much. Social scientists usually are transparent in reporting the size and demographics of their original sample, as well as openly reporting the size of the sample that persisted through the full experiment. After all, it was the results of final test takers that the only formal evaluation was based on.

Continue reading "Thompson: Roland Fryer's "No Excuses" Excuses" »

NCLB: Roundup Of CA District Waiver Coverage

Flickr Meghan Carnavalet In These TimesThe $100M money angle shouldn't be ignored here, nor the 20-student subgroup size nor the 14-member council.  What happened to Clovis?

Arne Duncan gives No Child Left Behind waivers to California districts Washington Post:  The Obama administration will grant waivers to eight California school districts to free them from the requirements of No Child Left Behind, a precedent-setting move that  creates a direct relationship between the federal government and local school systems.

6 California cities get No Child Left Behind delay SF Gate: In San Francisco, the waiver will free up at least $700,000 that had to be spent on tutors or letters to parents about their "failing" school, said Superintendent Richard Carranza. 

U.S. Department of Education Grants California Districts' CORE Waiver PoliticsK12: For districts, the most important flexibility this waiver brings is financial. A waiver will free up about $100 million in federal funds a year among the districts—money that's now locked up in providing interventions such as tutoring and school choice in schools that do not meet annual academic targets.

CA Waiver Award Includes ‘Unique’ Oversight Panel* LA School Report: The 14-member oversight body will provide an “unbiased external compliance review” of each district’s progress after a series of self- and peer-evaluations.

Eight California Districts Get No Child Left Behind Waivers Wall Street Journal:  The Obama administration said Tuesday it will allow eight California school districts, including Los Angeles, to sidestep key provisions ...

California districts get special 'No Child' waiver Politico: Several prominent Republicans oppose the idea of district waivers, including Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, who chairs the House education committee. The CORE districts have committed to track progress of and hold themselves accountable for much smaller subgroups, with as few as 20 students per campus. 

Image via Flickr

Thompson: Gentrification Caused DC Test Score Increase, Says Merrow

KayaBy now, when any struggling school system continues to issue claims of dramatic gains in student performance, one would assume that those claims would be ignored. 

Until systems like Washington D.C. produce gains on the reliable NAEP assessments for students other than those at the top, one would think that it’s annual boasts about increased learning would draw yawns. 

John Merrow, in A Story about Michelle Rhee that No One Will Print, reaches the common-sense conclusion that D.C.’s latest improvements are largely due to gentrification.

Continue reading "Thompson: Gentrification Caused DC Test Score Increase, Says Merrow" »

Morning Video: New Book On DC's Historic Dunbar High School

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

Former MTV News reporter Alison Stewart (also CBS, NPR, PBS) has written a book about her parents' high school, Dunbar.

Thompson: Reform Stress Has Negative Effects On Kids & Educators

StressSymptomsNPR's Rachel Martin, in Superintendent's Effort To Do Right By His Kids nailed the essence of LA Superintendent John Deasy's zealotry, as well as the hubris that has distorted accountability-driven "reform."

Deasy says that one of the things that keeps him up at night is worrying how quickly is he can make good on the promise he made to the youth in Los Angeles. He acknowledges that his rush to transform the schools imposes stress on teachers.  He doesn't understand why everyone would not "get over" that stress.

Deasy warns that educators across the nation will soon be following his driven approach because, "LA is America," and "we are coming to a hometown near you."

Deasy closes his affirmation of stress-induced sleeplessness as a force for helping children with the claim, "the economic viability of LA in California is intrinsically linked to the ability for this country to move forward. And that is going to depend on whether I can live up to the promise of getting every single student college and career ready."

However, Deasy is clueless about what is takes to overcome the educational legacies of poverty. The problem is intense concentrations of poverty and trauma, and the stress that they impose. Inner city schools need more stress like we need another gang war.

Deasy ignores the first rule of school improvement that, "the feces stress rolls downhill." He and other high-profile accountability hawks are oblivious to the fact that their rush to "reform"  dumps extreme stress on adults, and that poison inevitably pollutes children's schools. - JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via. 

Views: Malcolm Gladwell On Failure, Voice, & Exit

image from upload.wikimedia.orgWill it work, that thing you're putting so much time and hope and energy into?  

You have no idea.  

It might work -- but it probably won't.  

And in the long run, it -- that class, or program, or app, or reform -- might work out better if you fail miserably in the short run.  

These are some of the many thought-provoking ideas in Malcolm Gladwell's recent New Yorker article about economist Albert Hirschman (The Power of Failure).

The piece tells about how Hirschman became fascinated by large-scale mishaps that worked out really well in the end -- entirely unexpectedly.  

Longtime readers of this site know that I'm fascinated and horrified by failure (my own and others').  

The idea that failure can turn into success is lovely -- as is the idea that many failures stem from the belief that the task "looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be."  

Sound familiar, reformers current and old-school?  

But that's not all.  The Gladwell article ends with a discussion of Hirschman's views on private school vouchers, about which he differed starkly with Milton Friedman.  

Continue reading "Views: Malcolm Gladwell On Failure, Voice, & Exit" »

Update: Fenger Fights Back

76390232Treat yourself to this recent Chicago Tribune story about the four years since Fenger High School student Derrion Albert was killed, which includes a massive turnaround effort (featuring counselors) and the school's biggest graduating class in recent memory.  

Obviously, there are still lots of problems -- the SIG "cliff" being an obvious example -- and Chicago isn't doing so well these days over all, but all the more reason to take a moment to enjoy some measure of success.

(Image courtesy Chicago Tribune)

Thompson: Turnaround School Ignores Misbehavior All Over Again

Media bias bias colin dunn flickrSara Neufeld's first Hechinger Report article on Newark's Quitman Street Renew School, "A Newark School Prepares - Again - to Reinvent Itself," began with Principal Erskine Glover's belief that weeding out subpar instruction is the single most important factor in school improvement.

Now, Neufeld's "Perseverance in a Newark School Despite Mid-Year Teacher Turnover," reports that half of Quitman's core middle school teachers have left -- including some of Glover's most promising, handpicked teachers.

The last straw for some teachers was the January decision to demand more work of teachers for an additional hourly wage comparable to a fast food job. But, middle school teachers had already been worn down by the continued tolerance of chronic misbehavior.

Continue reading "Thompson: Turnaround School Ignores Misbehavior All Over Again" »

Documentaries: Could Principal Minor Have Done More?

image from wamu.orgBelow are some interesting things I learned chatting Monday afternoon with Jacquie Jones, ED of the National Black Programming Consortium, about last week's "180 Days."  

NBPC is the outfit behind the documentary, which was also funded in part by the Ford Foundation, and according to Jones was conceived of as a way to deepen the school reform conversation but not necessarily as a response or rebuttal.

Jones puts the core question the film raises this way:  "How could this person [Principal Minor, pictured] who se so clearly smart in a real pratical way as well as passionate about these kids -- working at full capacity every day -- how could she be doing all this and it still sucked like this?"

I came away from the conversation much enlighted about some of the issues that had intrigued me -- especially the question of what if anything could have been done differently -- and informed about the thinking behind the scenes that were (and weren't) shown. 

Continue reading "Documentaries: Could Principal Minor Have Done More?" »

Thompson: The Tragic Endings of "180 Days" (Plus DCPS Response)

RUFUSViewers had been warned, but the tragic conclusion of PBS's 180 Days was more excruciating than anticipated.  The first two hours balanced the sorrows that students had endured with their concrete displays of grief and coping.   Delaunte was covered in tattoos in a way that could terrify outsiders. They are tributes to his deceased mother, Viola. His "FOE" tat is not a gang symbol; it means "Family over Everything." Raven shows us her private shrine for deceased loved ones, as well as symbols of triumph.

Similarly, the educators at D.C. Met alternative school prepared conscientiously for the best practices of demonstrating abstract concepts in concrete and understandable ways. Sports and the music program (which was destined to be cut) played essential roles.

Early in part two, the educators' efforts to keep Rufus in school died when his mother transferred him.  It was the only scene that I could not watch, forcing me to twice leave the room.  The goodbyes were interminable because everyone knew what the future would be for the kid with that captivating personality. Rufus was in a daze, a doomed student walking, not noticing a classmate he bumped into.  As Rufus exited his last loving sanctuary, he looked to be preparing for his cruel fate.

D.C. Met did the opposite when trying to avoid its predestined outcome.  In panic, a helter-skelter approach to test prep was thrown together.  Hands-on instruction became a parody of itself as the rush to remediate morphed into the syndrome known as "lost in activity."  Students were forced to drink from a firehose with only a desperate hope that enough disembodied facts would stick in their brains until testing concluded.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Tragic Endings of "180 Days" (Plus DCPS Response)" »

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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.