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Quotes: Charters For Everyone!

Quotes2There was a period of time where it was as if almost anyone who wanted to open a charter school could get a grant of $100,000 from the Waltons. It ran like that for a number of years, until eventually they looked at the results and decided this wasn’t working.

NACSA's Greg Richmond in The American Prospect (Education Reformers Reflect at 25)

Morning Video: Education Reform's Common Ground?

Watch folks talk about "common ground" in education reform at Fordham earlier this week, or read transcript here or read up here


Events: Previewing Next Week's EWA National Conference In Boston

image from www.ewa.org

The 69th Education Writers Association National Seminar is taking place starting Sunday, and all your favorite education journalists are scheduled to be there: members of the NPR education team, the NYT's Peabody-winning Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Tampa Bay Times' Pulitzer-winning Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner, the the NYT's Kate Zernike, WSJ's Leslie Brody, etc. Plus there will be many big-name policy wonks and education leaders, such as Boston superintendent Tommy Chang, Stanford's Sean Reardon, UPenn's Angela Duckworth, the AFT's Randi Weingarten, MA's Mitch Chester, and EdSec John King.

The vast majority of the upcoming EWA annual conference in Boston starting this weekend is dedicated to helping journalists understand hot topics in education. There's an app. There's a print program. There are "lightning talks." There's a hashtag: #EWA16.

But there are also a slew of few panels and events focused on education journalism itself, including of course the annual EWA awards.  The first morning of the conference is focused on journalists describing how they reported a challenging topic, using data, adding audio, and getting access. The afternoon session includes journalists like Kristina Rizga and Dale Russakoff talking about their book-length projects. Some of the "Lightning Talks" -- 5 Mistakes Journos Make When Covering Ed Research, How to Really Talk with Boys from Diverse Backgrounds, Maximizing Digital Media for Reporting -- focus on the tools of the trade.

The only topics missing that I can see are writing for social media (Snapchat, Facebook Live) and using images and graphics.

Teachers and education reporters have lots in common, notes EWA head Caroline Hendrie in the program introduction: "In both education and journalism, interest in addressing inequality and injustice – social, economic, and institutional – is on the rise. Both educators and members of the news media face demands for greater fairness from the communities affected by their work. Concern about inculcating cultural competence in both educators and reporters is keen. How to diversify both fields’ workforces remains a stubborn problem. At the same time, the two sectors are struggling to meet ever-changing standards of quality. After all, both fields are traversing periods of transformation, as new technologies and standards of excellence continuously redefine success."

Indeed, as has been noted before, the overlap between education reporters and educators -- including lack of diversity -- raises some interesting issues.

The results of the EWA member survey will be released on Sunday. For more on #edJOC read Why Nikole Hannah-Jones Matters (To Education Journalism In Particular) or read some of the related posts at the bottom of the page. 

Another notable angle: For the first time in recent memory, the EWA award winners will be announced at this event -- after the Peabody and Pulitzer awards have already been named. For background on the finalists, read Hits, Misses, Snubs, & Mysteries.

Who funds all this? Well, the event is co-sponsored with BU's Communications and Education Schools, and the sponsor page includes the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Raikes, Wallace, Walton, Hewlett, Nellie Mae, American Federation of Teachers, Pearson, College Board, Edwin Gould, Gates, National Education Association, Secure Schools Alliance, American Institutes for Research, and Scholastic. Programming for new reporters comes from  Spencer and the W.T. Grant Foundation.

Related posts: Efforts To Recruit More Journalists Of Color (To Cover Education)Just How White Is Education Journalism — & How To Encourage More #edJOC?New Opportunities - & New Challenges - For 7 Education Journalism TeamsDelightful High School Swim Class Story Wins Murrow Journalism AwardSchool Segregation Coverage Wins 2 Pulitzers & A Peabody.

Events: See You At The Yale SOM Education Conference

Most Likely to Succeed Trailer from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

Along with many others, I'm going to be at the Yale SOM Education Conference (which actually starts tonight and goes through tomorrow).

The Friday morning keynotes are going to be Thrive Chicago's Sandra Abrevaya and Northside Achievement Zone's Sondra Samuels.

The closing keynote is DFER head Shavar Jeffries.

The panel on Common Core testing (which I'm moderating) features Chicago NBCT Sherisse A. Lucas, Dr. Ilene Tracey Director of Instruction and School Improvement, New Haven Public Schools, Ken Wagner Commissioner, Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner, Dianna Wentzell Commissioner, CT State Department of Education

You can find the full event schedule here.

There are also going to be screenings of the film, Most Likely To Succeed (see trailer above), which focuses among other things on the projects and presentations that are part of the model developed at High Tech High. 

For those of you who'll be following along online, the official hashtag is #DefiningSuccess2016  and you can find more on Instagram at @yalesomelc2016.

Chart: Nearly Half Of HS Grads Taking "No Cohesive Curriculum"

Only 8 Percent of Students Complete College- and Career-Ready Curriculum, according to EdWeek story on new EdTrust report.


Update: White Privilege-Erasing Glasses For Everyone


The world can look a whole lot different with these glasses on. (via Chicago Theological Seminary)

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, March 14, 2016

Here's a fun if super simplistic look at what it'd be like if there were glasses that would help white folks see the world as if they were someone who wasn't white.

Other favorites in this genre include Leave No Privilege Behind (2015), Vox's explainer video What Is Privilege?, Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, Too, and of course LL Bean's Invisible Backpack of White Privilege.

Morning Video: Swamp Nurse, Middle School Exodus, Centennial High School

Here's a 12-minute documentary about a home visit nurse, which as you may recall was the subject of Kate Boo's 2006 feature story, Swamp Nurse. Go here if the video doesn't appear or you want more background.

Or, go listen to an WAMU story about how white parents' decisions not to send their kids to a local middle school affect its demographics and test scores.

Or, watch this new Viceland documentary about young African Americans in Compton, featuring a brief segment at Centennial High School, via Mark Walsh.

Morning Video: A [Reform-Side] View Of How NYC Can Best Serve Communities of Color

"On February 13th, StudentsFirstNY teamed up with Assemblymember Michael Blake to host a panel discussion at the The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Caucus weekend." (How New York’s School System Can Best Serve Communities of Color)


Thursday LiveTweets: #ColemanEN Conference

Events: "Broader, Bolder" Set To Relaunch Tomorrow


Tomorrow morning in DC is the scheduled relaunch of Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, which was for a brief time a few years ago a sort of counterbalance to now-defunct organizations like EEP.

Panelists at the event are said to be Elaine Weiss, National Coordinator, BBA Paul Reville, BBA Co-chair and Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration, Harvard Graduate School of Education Joshua Starr, BBA Co-chair and CEO, Phi Delta Kappa International Helen Ladd, BBA Co-chair and Professor of Public Policy, Duke University Miriam Calderon, BBA Advisory Board member and Director of Special Projects, BUILD Initiative Warren Simmons, BBA Advisory Board member and Executive Director, Annenberg Institute for School Reform Lauren Wells, Chief Education Officer, Newark, NJ Ted Fiske, Founder, Fiske Guide to Colleges and Board Member, East Durham Children’s Initiative David Sovine, Superintendent, Frederick County, VA Public Schools (a Bright Futures affiliate).

The relaunch of BBA is accompanied by the creation of a new education policy think tank (The Learning Policy Institute) headed by Linda Darling-Hammond and the establishment of a new nonprofit led by Christopher Edley, among others (The Opportunity Institute).


Click the link to register and attend (if there's still room). Since it's at the Capitol, allow extra time for security screening.

Video: Rethinking Choice & The Neighborhood School

Here's a videotape of that Shanker Institute panel on school segregation from last week.  The event, titled Where We Live and Where We Learn, featured a bunch of interesting panelists and ideas raising questions about neighborhood schools, gentrification, individual choice and government policy. See also Rachel Cohen's blog post about the event at The American Prospect.


Events: Here Comes Yale SOM 2016 (Crossed Fingers)

There were at least two former organizers of the Yale SOM education summit at the TFA conference last week - Edna Novak and Graham Brown (pictured with me above) -- and Yale SOM 2016 is fast approaching.

Keynote speakers include Shavar Jeffries, Sandra Abrevaya, and Sondra Samuels. As in the past, it's being held at the Omni in New Haven.

There are scheduled to be panels on Common Core testing, blended learning, college attainment, parent advocacy, teachers of color, segregation of schools, community colleges, school readiness, federal policy after NCLB, revisiting "no excuses" approaches, effective philanthropy, and many others. 

If you want to follow last year's social media, check out #backtowhy, or check out my livetweets from that day. There was some controversy about the lack of racial diversity on one or two of the panels -- even though the event was much more diverse than some of its predecessors.

I wrote a blog post about it shortly after: 6 Ways To Diversify That Conference Or Panel (ie, "Pass The Mic")*. PIE's Suzanne Tacheny wrote more about the topic here: Notes to Self.

What I don't see on the program so far is anything that focuses on the state and local education agencies who govern most public schools, or the unions whose locals represent many educators who work with them. But the panel list doesn't look final and there are no panelists listed so far. 

It's on April 7th and 8th. The twitter is @YaleELC. The hashtag is#DefiningSuccess2016.

 Related posts: New Faces At This Week's Yale Education Conference (2105); Deray Does Colbert Show (Then Lets Him Off The Hook).

Quotes: Education (Reform) Is Part Of The Problem

Quotes2Here is the inconvenient truth: Education, including education reform, is part of the problem.We have not made a dent in the problem, and in some cases we’ve made it worse.

- Former Newark superintendent Cami Anderson via The Answer Sheet (The Washington Post)

#TBT: Carpetbaggers, Charlatans, Martyrs, & Hustlers -Which Are You?


Way back in August 2010, there was a bit of talk about charlatans in education.

First there was a Rudy Crew quote via Larry F. about all the attention and money going into school turnaround efforts ("Carpetbaggers And Charlatans"):

“This is like the aftermath of the Civil War, with all the carpetbaggers and charlatans." 

Then there was a diagram via Kottke with the three options (Charlatans. Martyrs. Hustlers.). 

"Charlatans talk a lot but don't do much work.  Martyrs work a lot but don't talk.  Hustlers do both."

At the time, I identified myself as "a hustler -- or maybe a charlatan.".  How about you?

Thanks to CB for reminding me of this one. 


Magazines: Top 20 Education Next Articles Of 2015 (Any Others?)

image from educationnext.orgHere's a roundup of the Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2015 from Education Next, a magazine I've written for a few times over the years. Topics addressed include poverty, Success Academy, Common Core, AltSchools (of course!), Detroit, English Language Learners.

In a perfect world, other education outlets -- Education Week, Chalkbeat, Hechinger Report, the Atlantic Education Page, Vox -- would do the same with their best or top-read pieces. But I don't think most do -- at least not yet. 


People: Meet Liz King, The "New" Dianne Piche

One of the few interesting tidbits in this week's coverage of the House passage of the new ESEA conference report is a quote from Liz King at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

6c6c6e73-dd91-4a7c-8786-3773ec58618c"I don’t think I’ve ever been in the NYT before," King told me via email. "I’m not sure, but I think I sound cooler if I don’t know."

She says she's filling the job Dianne Piche used to have (and Dave Goldberg before that). 

Josh Porter works on education with King -- another name that's new to me.

According to this 2013 Roll Call profile (From Middle School to Fattah's Office), King grew up near Chicago, taught in Philadelphia with TFA then worked for Rep. Chaka Fattah.

According to this Cloaking Inequality blog post (Who’s the William Wallace of testing?) King is the anti-Jesse Hagopian who is concerned about parents opting out and "loves testing."

Related posts: Civil Rights Lawyer Leaving Administration For New PostMeet The Teacher Who Started #IWishMyTeacherKnewTed Dintersmith = A Mashup Of Bill Gates, Ken Robinson, & Bob ComptonEdTech Startup Exec Feared Injured In Philly Amtrak CrashIt's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]It's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples].

Morning Video: If Friedrichs Passes, CTA "Won't Have The Money..."

"The California Teachers Empowerment Network and the Association of American Educators hosted an event in September in which we examined the Friedrichs and Bain lawsuits and their possible ramifications for teachers and the general public. The panel discussion featured lawyers and plaintiffs from both cases, and a lively audience Q&A followed. " via Larry Sand. 

Charts: Effective Advocacy Doesn't Stop With Policy Wins


So 50CAN's newly updated advocacy handbook -- think of it as open-source advocacy advice -- notes something that many have found the hard way: getting a law passed is only the beginning of the process. But there's lots more, including case studies from Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland and it's available in all sorts of portable formats: onlineiBookKindlePDF.


Morning Video: "TeachStrong" Campaign Launch (Plus Roundup)

As outlined yesterday, CAP and other groups have launched TeachStrong, an effort to revamp the teaching profession. See also TeacherBeat (Can a New Political Campaign to 'Modernize' Teaching Succeed?) and Washington Post (How to build a better teacher: Groups push a 9-point plan called TeachStrong).

Charts: What Teachers Get Paid (Compared To Other Professions)

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 4.58.58 PM
Here's an figure from CAP's new report on improving the teaching profession: "Smart, Skilled, and Striving." Image used with permission. 

Charters: When "Thin" Contracts Were All The Rage (2009)

There was a moment, maybe six or seven years years ago, when it seemed like charter schools with "thin" contracts were all the rage. 

They combined the autonomy and flexibility of a charter with the protections against unwarranted dismissal or arbitrary treatment from supervisors. But not all of the schools that had them performed as well as some may have hoped (just like teacher-run schools and every other type of governance option that's been proposed), and charter stalwarts and union hard-liners both hated them equally. 

I wrote about them in Harvard's Education Letter (RIP): Charters and Unions: What's the future for this unorthodox relationship?. But that was long ago. I declared them "so 2009" in 2011.

These days, pretty much only the Century Fund talks about them. Some giant percentage of the charters in Chicago are now organized, thanks in part to the efforts of a smooth-talking South African(?) union organizer who's never been seen or photographed. But not with thin contracts, as far as I understand. Much more common seem to be traditional (antagonistic) organizing/unionization efforts like the one currently going on in LA. 

Eventually, one would imagine, reform advocates and critics would get their acts together and return to an idea like this -- or a new generation of parents, funders, and politicians would get sick of the more rigid charter and union ideologies. But it's going to be a little while -- and going to take a lot of bravery. 

Related posts:Would Unions Ruin Charter Schools -- Or Vice Versa? (2009); Thin Contract At Locke High School.; The Return Of The "Thin" Contract? (2010); "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led (2014); 

#EduWeen15: It's On!

After a slow start, #eduween15 is off and running. Check out some recent entries, and feel free to toss in your own:

States: States Making NAEP Progress (Some More Than Others)

Naep-fig-3At the risk of committing mis-NAEPery, check out this chart (via Urban Institute) showing how state NAEP scores have progressed since 2003 -- adjusted and unadjusted.

As explained by Vox's Libby Nelson, "Hawaii made a dramatic leap between 2003 and 2013 that should at least in part offset concerns about its still-low adjusted scores. And Massachusetts continues to be a standout, with the best scores with or without the demographic adjustment, and one of the biggest leaps in adjusted scores between 2003 and 2013 — even though in 2003 it already had some of the best schools in the country." ("These are the states that really have the best schools in the US)

Quotes: Refomers' Ironic Disdain For Curriculum

Quotes2Education reformers are so united behind the Common Core standards, and yet 1) those very standards explicitly endorse scientifically based reading instruction, and 2) the focus on the importance of “reading complex text” appears to come at the expense of early reading instruction. 

- NCTQ's Kate Walsh via Fordham (Curriculum: The great divide among education reformers)


Quotes: Current Reform "Missing Pieces," Needs Mid-Course Corrections

Quotes2The approach to school reform starting with “A Nation at Risk” has run its course, and left us with this yawning gap that endangers America’s future, let alone that of these kids. It let officials at all levels talk tough about educational improvement, but without pursuing evidenced-based strategies and making mid-course corrections as required.

-- Chris Edley in EdSource (‘Several missing pieces to the current batch of reforms’)

Morning Video: AEI Event Discussing #Katrina10


Or, watch this PBS NewsHour segment about the end of the Seattle teachers strike (which took the media by surprise, from what I could tell).

Charts: New Report Calls For Renewed Integration Effort (Can It Happen?)


In a new report, the Century Foundation calls for new efforts to integrate district,  charter, and early childhood programs. Meantime, NYC's education chief says efforts to diversity schools there won't happen quickly, and New America's Conor Williams notes how strongly many liberal parents in DC seem to object to policy changes that affect their desires for their own children. Then again, selective schools just gave up some of their privilege in NOLA, so there's always hope. 

Think Tanks: Former TN Commissioner Kevin Huffman Writing A Book


"Kevin Huffman will write a book about the challenge of building a first-rate public school system in the face of modern political dysfunction," according to this announcement from the New America Foundation (2016 class of New America fellows). 

Huffman headed the Tennessee school system from 2011-2015, and announced his resignation last November.

Yes, he was once married to Michelle Rhee. No, he's not married to Rebeca Nieves-Huffman. 
You can find him at @k_huff1. Image via New America.

Update: Darling-Hammond Leaving Stanford To Launch New Policy Research Organization (Doesn't Seem Interested In Being Next Education Secretary)

There’s some big news coming out of California today in the form of the official launch of the new policy and research center headed by Linda Darling-Hammond.

Called the Learning Policy Institute, the new organization is Darling-Hammond’s effort to create a better kind of think tank/policy research center, one that puts student learning at the center and bridges research and policy worlds.

Its creation would also seem to put a damper on the hopes or fears of those who have written her in as a next Democratic Education Secretary.

The organization will both conduct its own policy research and partner with others’ work. Some of the policy priorities that the institute [@LPI_Learning] plans to investigate include deeper learning, educator quality, college and career, school organization and design, early childhood.

Based near Stanford, the Institute will also have an office in DC that’s going to be headed by former Alliance For Education staffer Charmaine Mercer. By the end of the year, the expectation is that a staff of 30 will have been hired, with plans to grow as large as 50. See more details from the announcement here.

Initial funders include the Sandler Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford, and Hewlett, and Stuart.

Former SRI staff Patrick Shields is going to be the ED. Board members include David Lyon of the California Public Policy Institute and David Rattray of UNITE-LA. Wynn Hausser is heading the communications/outreach effort. He and Darling-Hammond first met working with Public Advocates.

Two senior fellows in residence have been announced: Jeannie Oakes, formerly of Ford, and David Kirp from Berkeley. Darling-Hammond is retiring from Stanford as part of the new launch, though she is going to teach part time.

In a blog post announcing the new endeavor, Darling-Hammond called the present time "A New Moment in Education."

There's no shortage of research shops, policy outfits, and think tanks doing all sorts of things at all different levels of quality, rigor, and independence. I'll be eager to see whether LPI can both grab policymakers' attention and promote high-quality research. It's not an easy thing to do one or the other, and no small feat to do them both at the same time.

Related posts: UPenn Ranks Think Tanks; Have Funders Overtaken Think Tanks?; Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?; Research-Less Think Tanks Can't Compete; Linda Darling-Hammond's Ninja Warrior Son.

Morning Video: Why Schools Like Ferguson Resegregated So Completely

From last night's PBS NewsHour: "Since 1988, American schools have grown more segregated. Jeffrey Brown talks to New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones -- who recently wrote about school segregation in Ferguson, Missouri -- and Sheryll Cashin of Georgetown University Law Center."

Maps: Handful Of States Like Indiana & Missouri Where Common Core/Testing Is Hotly Debated

Sdfgdfsgdfsgdfs"The landscape hasn’t changed drastically since the winter, as most of the Common Core climate has shifted more politically than legislatively. That, however, could change we enter election season and are faced with possible new implications in an NCLB rewrite, and as states reassess testing contracts and consider new legislation." (Where the Standards Stand- RealClear Education). Click the link for the interactive version (couldn't get it to embed properly).

Quotes: A Performance Contract Version Of ESEA

Quotes2Does the education world have some kind of time-tested system–something could be brought to bear on ESEA reauthorization–for combining real accountability with real autonomy? Yes, we realized. That’s precisely what chartering is all about. - Andy Smarick (Ahead of the Heard)

Magazines: A New Policy Solutions Site To Consider

Screenshot 2015-06-25 13.52.15
There's a cool-seeming and newish "policy innovation" blog over at The Washington Monthly called Republic 3.0 that you might want to check out (or pitch).  

While not education-focused, it's got some education content:

Education reform's final chapter.
Reason triumphs over Common Core opponents.
And it promises "innovative, practical and progressive ideas to reimagine government, politics and society for the better.... You’ll find no partisan name-calling or cheap shots."

There's also lots of education news and commentary at The Grade, my media watch blog, and College Guide, the Washington Monthly's long-running series.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Video: Pondiscio's "Complicated Relationship" With Testing

"Education reform runs on data, so to speak, and data is testing and when you opt out of testing you're basically robbing the system of the data it needs to make decisions," the Fordham senior fellow explained on NewsMax earlier this week (the show host is hilarious/awful). "You show me a kid who's being pressured on testing and I'll show you a teacher who's pressuring him." However, Pondiscio also admits that he's got "a complicated relationship" with testing. 

Click the link if the video doesn't load properly. There's also a new Oyler Elementary video from PBS but I can't find it -- help me out?

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

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

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

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

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

Nekima Levy-Pounds:

Deray McKesson:

Morgan Polikoff:

Liz Dwyer:

Laura McKenna:

Motoko Rich:

Camika Royal:

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

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

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

Teacher Prep: Former TC Head Launches New "Competency-Based" Ed School

There are at least a couple of cool-sounding new things about the grad school / research lab that's just been announced by the folks at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation:

They've been working the past few years to upgrade existing ed school programs around the country, but now they're showing how they think it should be done by creating their own  new grad school (dubbed the Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning).

In so doing they're creating what they describe as the "first fully competency based school." 

What's that mean?  According to Arthur Levine, "The WW Academy will ‘throw out the clock,’ shifting the focus of certification from ‘hours in class’ to proven competency in the skills and knowledge every teacher and education leader needs to succeed."

Why not partner with nearby Princeton University?  "MIT is doing incredible work on the science of learning, and has 125 different projects on campus already focused on the topic," Chief Communications and Strategy Officer Patrick Riccards explained via email. "So the ability of working with the entire MIT team, particularly in the development of the Ed research lab side, was a dream come true." 

Longtime readers will recall that Levine was for many years the head of Teachers College at Columbia University, wrote a series of scathing reports about teacher prep, and has in recent years been helping a number of states and universities revamp their programs (to what overall effect, I'm not sure).

Early this year, Levine put TFA on blast in the NYT

[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. 

In Education Next, Levine had this to say about the innovative Relay GSE teacher prep system:

For innovation to survive, it has to be self-sustaining. If something’s not self-sustaining, it’s not serious.

According to the WSJ (Teacher-Training Initiative Aims to Reinvigorate Profession), Levine et al plan to make this "like West Point & Bell Labs for educators."

So far they've gotten "about $10 million" from Gates, Amgen, Carnegie Corp -- and need $20 million more. 

Related posts: The Levine Method For Revamping Teacher PrepLevine Is Wrong About Teachers & Unions (Thompson); Levine Announces New Effort (2007); "Fix The System Rather Than Applying A Patch".

Thompson: Petrilli Endorses Integration & Segregation & Trusting Relationships for Some

If the purpose of school reform is improving education and not union-busting and privatization, reformers should do some soul searching after they read Robert Putnam's Our Kids. Had they known twenty years ago what Putnam documents today, would accountability-driven, competition-driven reformers have rolled the dice and sought to increase equity by holding teachers accountable for raising test scores?

Would they have believed that education failures produced by the stress of generational poverty could have been reversed by the stress of high-stakes testing? Would they have pretended that increased segregation produced by school choice could have been the cure for segregation created by economics? Had they recognized the importance of trusting social relationships, would reformers have demanded a basic skills testing regime that would inevitably degrade the learning cultures of poor schools and replace holistic instruction of poor children of color with nonstop remediation for primitive bubble-in tests?

I've long thought that conservatives like Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who now criticize value-added teacher evaluations, would be especially open to the insights of Putnam and others who help chart an escape from the constraints imposed by top-down micromanaging of classrooms. And, yes, Petrilli seeks to liberate some students from the social engineering known as "school reform." 

Petrilli's How Schools Can Solve Putnam's Paradox offers support for Putnam and advocates for socio-economic integration like Richard Kahlenberg. He writes, "If loneliness, isolation, and extremely fragile families are big parts of the poverty problem, then connecting poor children with thriving families and communities can be part of the solution." Even better, Petrilli seeks to, "Build on the social capital that does exist in poor communities."

I think Petrilli's next proposal, "Build social capital by creating new schools," is weird, but he offers a reality-based disclaimer. He admits, "But the people who run these schools are often not from the community, and that creates inevitable conflicts. It’s also something of an open question whether these brand-new schools can create true social capital beyond their four walls."

Continue reading "Thompson: Petrilli Endorses Integration & Segregation & Trusting Relationships for Some" »

Maps: Only A Few States Require 4-5 Years Before Granting Tenure

Screenshot 2015-06-05 12.21.00

As you can see from this chart and story (This Is What It Takes To Get A Teacher Fired Around The Country), only a few states (the ones with darker boxes) require four or five years of teaching before giving tenure. Image via HuffPost/NCTQ. I count 6 states that require 5 years, and 5 that require 4. There are other things like teacher preparation and supervision/PD that are more important than tenure timelines, but 3-4 years doesn't seem like enough to me. 

Thompson: Rick Hess Is Back!

Rick’s back! And Hess’s Personality Quiz: Am I a Wannabe Edu-Bureaucrat? is hilarious. Every other paragraph, I had to shout at the computer screen, “I wish I’d said that!” 

The conservative Rick Hess, who hasn’t explicitly repudiated his identification as a school reformer (or conservatism), is back blogging at Education Week after a several week hiatus. Hess unveils a 17-point quiz which can determine, “Congrats! You're an aspiring bureaucrat!” In doing so, the American Enterprise Institute scholar explains the rise of a new “cheery, ready-made mantra for your brand of ‘reform.’ It's: ‘Meet the new boss; same as the old boss . . . except this time you're going to be lucky to have a really, really smart boss. Not like all those others who have come before.’"

Hess identifies wannabe edu-bureaucrats by asking whether they “routinely describe teachers and schools as ‘good’ or ‘effective’ based on limited, simplistic, standardized metrics like reading and math scores,” seek to impose the “right way to train all new teachers” and mandate teacher evaluation models “for every school in every district in their state,” or condemn parents who opt out of standardized tests as irresponsible.

Wannabe edu-bureaucrats “get a warm feeling when talk turns to ‘P-20 alignment.’" They believe that “people who disagree with me on Common Core, ESEA, teacher evaluation, and the rest are mostly just playing politics. … [and] really wish they'd simmer down and shut up.” Aspiring bureaucrats aren’t trained to conduct or evaluate research, and they “rarely read beyond an abstract,” but they find that "good” research usually agrees with their views on reform. These wannabes “find it easiest to communicate in acronyms and buzzwords.”

Hess writes that you might be a wannabe edu-bureaucrat if “I've never been reminded of the USSR's 'five-year plans' when the U.S. Department of Ed orders waiver states to devise . . . five-year plans, with ambitious (if arbitrary) race-based performance targets.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Rick Hess Is Back!" »

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)

Events: What's New At NewSchools 2015?

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

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

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

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

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

Is Reform Really Stalemated -- And Is Early Childhood Really That Easy?

Most folks have responded to this week's Nick Kristof NYT column (Beyond Education Wars) by focusing on two main things brought up on the column: the vicious in-fighting on education that's been going on for a while now and the possibility that the combatants (liberals, moderates, Republicans, and conservatives) could rally around early childhood education.

Many --including TWIE contributor John Thompson -- think Kristof is onto something. And they may well be right.  But left by the wayside is Kristof's claim that reform efforts are really stalemated (that everyone agrees as much), and to a lesser extent the very real obstacles that have kept political factions from rallying around early childhood education for several years now and may continue to do so.

Let's all take a look at both those things before packing up and pivoting (or thinking that others are going to). I am sad to report that I'm not so sure that the stalemate or the consensus are as clear as Kristof and others might wish them to be.

Continue reading "Is Reform Really Stalemated -- And Is Early Childhood Really That Easy?" »

FlashBack Friday: Education All-Star Gaynor McCown Gone Nearly 10 Years

Just in case anyone's feeling a momentary lack of urgency (or has delusions of immortality), it's worth remembering that 1990s education all-star Gaynor McCown died nearly a decade ago, at 45 -- and that she's probably not as well-remembered as she should be.

Quotes: Education Won't "Fix" Inequality (But It Sure Helps Folks Earn More)

Quotes2Even if [education]  doesn’t do much to reduce overall inequality, [the study's authors] find it does reduce inequality within the bottom half of the income distribution, by increasing the earnings of those near the 25th percentile of earnings (in 2013, those making $6,100 a year, compared with $8,720 in the simulation with higher education).  

- The Upshot NYT (Why More Education Won’t Fix Economic Inequality)

Quotes: Research-Less Think Tanks Can't Compete

Quotes2Without rigorous research, think tanks just repeat talking points, trying to be more clever in their phrasing and more persistent in their communication so they can be heard above the din of everyone else doing the same.  

- Jay Greene (The Death of the Think Tank, R.I.P.)

Events: 6 Ways To Diversify That Conference Or Panel (ie, "Pass The Mic")*

This year's education conferences seem like they're doing better and better modeling diversity and finding new & authentic voices to talk about education, but there's still lots of room for additional improvement.

So here are some ideas to help -- or maybe you've got better ones to suggest?

6 -- If you're organizing a conference or panel, make sure you include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds when you're picking speakers, even if it means reaching out to new connections or recruiting new participants. #Wetried is not enough.

5 -- If you're invited to participate in a panel, tell the organizer it's important to you that the panel includes a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and be so bold as to suggest some folks who might fit the bill if the organizers seem unfamiliar.

4 -- If you're invited to open or close a conference, or function as a keynote speaker, tell the organizers how important diverse panels and perspectives are to you.

3 -- If you somehow find yourself on a panel that's all white (or even all white and male), don't just lament the situation. Give up your time to someone in the audience who has a valuable perspective not otherwise represented on the stage, or do something really bold and give up your spot. 

2 -- If you're someone who's used to being asked to speak on panels or give talks, consider giving up your spot to give someone else a chance and -- just as important -- come to the event anyway, sit in the the audience like a normal person, and you might learn something.  

1 -- If you're attending a conference or panel in the audience and you happen to notice that the panel is, say, all white (or that the conversation is being dominated by men) say something.  (Be nice about it -- the organizers are  probably very tired and doing their best -- but still say something.)

Bottom line: Talking about diversity is great but insufficient at this point.  Programs aimed at diversifying the pipeline of teacher and leaders are great but way in the future in terms of their impact.  

Finding and elevating new and diverse voices to speak at conferences and sit on panels could make a small but concrete difference to the success of the movement. And those of us who've been privileged enough to sit on panels and speak at conferences should take the lead in helping make these shifts, rather than resisting them or even appearing to undercut them.

*For those of you not following along on Twitter, the question of diversifying panels and the responsibilities of conference organizers and convening organizations came up in a series of tweets this morning. The PIE Network's Suzanne Tacheny Kabach and I talked more about it this afternoon and that conversation was the inspiration for some of the above. 

Events: Live-Tweeting From Yale

I'm at @yaleELC #backtowhy today, mostly on Twitter (Snapchatting an event is not so easy or fun as it sounds). You can check out all the updates here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). You won't miss a thing, plus you can see the fun things people Tweet at me all day. 

Charts: Urban Charters Vs. District School Demographics

This chart comparing district and charter demographics (SPED, ELL, poverty) is from last week's @credoatstanford study via Joy Resmovits. Of course, there are wide variations in student demographics within traditional district school districts, and charter school enrollments are generally much smaller than the districts in which they are sited.

Preview: New Faces At This Week's Yale Education Conference

Screenshot 2015-03-24 13.18.53This year's Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference could be particularly interesting, given where were are in the education debate. It looks like there are going to be some new faces and names -- Kalimah Priforce, anyone? The theme ("Back to Why") and official goal (to refocus on "the purpose and outcomes of education reform") are full of intrigue to people like me who follow these things too closely.  We all know that the fight for the hearts and minds of smart young do-gooder types (and entrepreneurs, etc.) is pretty heated, as is the rhetorical battle over who's more "social justice." WebsiteFacebook.For past events, look at the list here. Previous blog posts from me about the event here.



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.