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Charts: Would A More Linear Career Path Make Teaching More Appealing?

Via Third Way: "In order to professionalize teaching, we should require a linear and standardized path into the profession that enforces a high bar for entry and ensures that those who teach future generations are prepared on day one ." Really? OK. 

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

image from www.newschools.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous posts:  Google Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013Thoughts On NSVF 2012Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon ValleyFashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF SummitAnother Spring, Another Summit (2009)NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit.

Nonprofits: InBloom Joins Long List Of Failed Efforts

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

Failstemp ccommon flickr

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes: K12 Education Fended Off Venture Capital Until 2011?

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

Reform: Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?

In case you missed it, image from www.edexcellence.netFordham's Pamela Tatz published a BuzzFeed "Which Reformer Are You?" quiz the other day. The tagline:  "Saving the education system, one irrelevant question at a time."

These quizzes are wildly popular on Facebook, etc. -- and self-effacing humor (something reformers don't always convey) goes a long way.  Figures that Fordham would get in on it -- they're smart (and love attention).

If you haven't taken it already you should give it a try. (Doesn't really mean you're a reformer if you do.) Nearly 700 folks have already done so and shared the results on Twitter or Facebook.  But be forewarned: you'll probably end up being Andy Smarick.  The other options were Rick Hess, Michelle Rhee, David Coleman, Arne Duncan, or Diane Ravitch (which took some unusual answering). "A lot of folks did seem to get Andy Smarick," said Tatz via email.

Here's the Fordham page about the quiz. And click below to see the snarky writeups for each of the profiles (Smarick, Hess, Rhee, Coleman, Duncan, and Ravitch), which sound like they were written by .... Petrilli.

Continue reading "Reform: Andy Smarick Is The New Mike Petrilli?" »

Events: Yale Education Summit Features Fuller & Duncan-Andrade

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 25 16.50Another week, another conference. Next up for me is the Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference held in New Haven today and tomorrow.

Notable panelists include Matt Candler, Founder and CEO, 4.0 Schools, Jim Balfanz, President, City Year, Jonathan Gyurko, Co-Founder, Leeds Global Partners, Dave Low, Vice President - High Schools & School Reform, New Haven Federation of Teachers, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President & CEO, Community Coalition (LA), Ken Wong, Professor of Education, Brown University, Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent, Burlington Public Schools (MA). Keynote speakers at the 8th version of this event are Dr. Howard Fuller and Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade.

There will also be an edtech lab (3D printers for everyone!?) and a bunch of event sponsors, and a lot of recruitment and hiring going on behind the scenes.  As always, feel free to come up and say hi if you see me there. Or follow along on Twitter (@YaleELC).

Previous posts: Live From The Yale SOM Education Conference (2009); Yale Conference Takeaways (2010); Notes From Yale SOM 2011;  Big Shift In Focus For Yale Education Event (2012), Tweets From Yale 2013How Organizers See The Parent Trigger.

 

Media: Education Journalists In Fellowship Limbo Until May?

image from www.journalism.columbia.eduThe Spencer education journalism advisory board met on Monday to pick the next year's three fellows but the applicants --I know who got in but am holding off on saying for some reason-- are most of them still in the dark about whether they got the nod or not and the Columbia journalism school can't announce winners for another few weeks.  

Why the delay?  Two of the three top picks for the Spencer also applied for other prestigious journalism fellowships (Nieman, Knight, etc.), whose notification timelines could stretch as late as May. 

These fellowships -- as well as the New America program -- all serve slightly different purposes. I'm partial to the Spencer for many reasons, including that it is focused on education journalism in particular and also encourages the stream of long-form education writing that's come out in recent years.

If either of the two top picks gets into one of these other programs and decides to decline the Spencer, then one of the alternates would get a spot.  (That's what happened the first year, when I got a spot after Stephanie Banchero went off to Palo Alto for the year.  I think that it's happened at least a couple of times since then.)

A month of waiting seems wasteful and nerve-wracking.  Wouldn't it be nice if Michigan, Stanford, and Columbia could coordinate so that this doesn't happen?  I mean, if charter and district schools can coordinate application deadlines and forms in some places -- and colleges can agree on some sort of window for letting students know -- then so should a handful of journalism fellowship programs.

Meantime, congrats to the folks who got picked for next year, and no hard feelings if you decide to go to Ann Arbor or Palo Alto instead of Manhattan. Someone else will happily take your place. 

Previous posts: What's Next For The Spencer Fellowship?New Spencer Fellows, New Research TopicsSpencer Fellow Gets Big Book DealNew America Fellow Writing Book On "Future Of Testing".

People: Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education Guy

image from newamerica.netI had the chance to meet New America's Conor Williams the other day, during a reporting trip he took to Brooklyn.  (For the record, the Tea Lounge on Union Street is still there and doesn't smell as bad as it used to.)

He's got the tweed jacket professor thing down, though he's only been at New America for about a year and came to them pretty much straight from grad school.  

Since then, he's been writing up a storm: You probably saw his recent post at The Atlantic (What Applying to Charter Schools Showed Me About Inequality“). Or maybe it was this one from the Daily Beast (The Charter School Trap).  He also writes for the Talking Points Memo (Why Doesn’t English Language Learning Have The Same Cachet As Pre-K?).

But his writing goes back well before his current stint at New America.  You may remember him being mentioned here in the past, going all the way back to 2011: "One of the most frustrating things about the current education reform wars is the cults that form around dominant personalities." (Twilight for Education Policy's Idols). Or: "Want to hear that you hate teachers? Claim that those that do their jobs poorly should be dismissed... Want to hear that you don't care about students? Claim that poverty might be a factor worth considering for educators working with low-income students." (Ending the Education War).

More recently, on reform critics: "They need a message that goes beyond critiquing reformers and defending the miserable status quo." (The Charter School Trap)

Increasingly, his writing mixes policy, journalism, and personal narrative (Why Men Shouldn’t Wait to Have Kids). But he can go deep when the need arises; he's got a Phd in political science (take that, all you MPPs!). He's a dad, and he has some classroom experience, too. (He's a TFA alum, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from his writing.) Image courtesy New America.  Tweet him at @ConorPWilliams. Personal blog here.

People: Big Changes At DC Think Tank [Job Opening!]

Flickr albastrica mititicaLongtime education guru Cynthia Brown -- I first met her when she was at the state chiefs (CCSSO) -- is now listed as a Senior Fellow at the Center on American Progress.  She's cutting back on her work time, she says via email.  Meantime, former Kennedy and Duncan staffer Carmel Martin is VP for policy, overseeing education and other policy areas. Which means that CAP needs a new Vice President, Education Policy. Could be an interesting gig, considering CAP's prominence and presumed role in supporting the Clinton Democratic campaign for President in 2016.  Or, alternately, could be a tough spot given Martin's connections on the Hill and in the White House.  Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: "Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"

Here's PBS NewsHour's coverage of the big Office of Civil Rights report (first in 15 years, apparently) that came out on Friday, plus an online explainer. The segment features USDE's Catherine Lhamon and doesn't mention differences in patterns by type of school.

Media: What WNYC's Charter School Advocacy Story Gets Wrong

image from c5.nrostatic.comThe news of the day is that the DOE has appreantly reversed itself on one of its much-discussed charter co-location decisions -- Success Academy's students aren't "on their own" after all, according to the NY Post (Flip-flop Farina now wants to help charter students).

If you want, read a little more about the shellacking that reformers have been giving this week over at NRO (School Reformers Fight Back against de Blasio). This kind of robust public response has been missing in the past from polite reformers who've seemed to be scared of their own shadows (or naive about how things get done in the real world).

Still, I still want to take a minute to address WNYC's piece earlier this week about the debate going on between charter advocates and critics, because, well, I like to complain about other peoples' work and this kind of thing keeps happening and really annoys and troubles me.

The WNYC story has several great elements, but misses badly when it comes to balance and context -- and misses out on at least one obvious connection between FFES and Eva Moscowitz's charter network.

Read below for the details.

Continue reading "Media: What WNYC's Charter School Advocacy Story Gets Wrong" »

Thompson: Pro-Reform Pundit Embraces Education Reality

YglesiasSlate's Matthew Yglesias supports education reform and yet his Education Reform, Not "Populism" Divides Democrats speaks the wisdom that must be heeded.*

Yglesias observes that the party is not that terribly conflicted over the arcane economic issue of whether "leverage ratio" should be 10 or 8%. But, "if you want to look at a really significant ideological divide among Democrats, you should look at education." Reformers made their case and Congress didn't buy it.

So, it is time to drop the theory that test-driven teacher evaluations can advance a progressive agenda and move on.

I hope Yglesias will listen to educators' explanation of why market-driven reform failed, so that he can advance conversations about the best ways for not making the same types of mistakes in other sectors of the economy. I also would like to hear from the reformers who Yglesias mentions, especially Sen. Cory Booker and President Obama, and understand why they embraced school reform. Did they do so because corporate reformers gave them an offer they couldn't refuse, or did we teachers make mistakes that encouraged them to attack our profession so stridently? 

Politicos may find this wierd, but the teacher in me keeps coming back to the question of whether we share the blame for the teacher-bashing known as "reform." Back in the 1990s, were we too slow to address the concerns of Chicago and Newark community organizers? Or, were we just in the wrong place at the wrong time and were bulldozed by the Billionaires' Boys Club? 

After the break is the case that I would like to make to Ygleisas.

Continue reading "Thompson: Pro-Reform Pundit Embraces Education Reality" »

Thompson: Why Haven't Reformers Rejected High-Stakes Tests (Yet)?

Tests Against my better judgment, being a team player, I originally supported my union and the majority of teachers who endorsed NCLB. Watching the recent TeachPlus presentation, The Student and the Stopwatch, and listening to the Education Next discussion on the time devoted to testing, I wondered how many participants are doing the same thing.

Leading the discussion with Dave Driscoll, Andrew Rotherham, and TeachPlus’s Celine Coggins, Mike Petrilli kept probing, asking whether high-stakes testing was to blame for excessive test prep. I hope they are just being team players as they all seemed close to acknowledging that high stakes testing had failed. 

None, however, said aloud the logical conclusion that they seemed to be approaching.

Driscoll and Rotherham described the benefits of Massachusetts’ standards based reforms and the “sea change” produced by President Clinton’s reforms of 1994.  Both nailed the key reason for those successes, and both came close to articulating the reason why NCLB failed, and why a Common Core/high stakes testing train wreck is coming.    

Rotherham even coined the best Common Core metaphor that I’ve heard.  Hoping it will solve the problems created by NCLB is like a couple having a baby to save their marriage.
To fully appreciate the wisdom of Rotherham’s punch line, we have to back up and think through his and Driscoll’s diagnosis of education’s real problems.

Continue reading "Thompson: Why Haven't Reformers Rejected High-Stakes Tests (Yet)?" »

Thompson: What Do "Influentials" Think They Are Doing?

Department_of_Education_-_NCLB_doorI know it’s weird, but I still have a strange curiosity about what education policy-makers think they’re doing.  Eduwonk’s Whiteboard Advisors Education Insiders Survey provides some clues, albeit complicated ones. 

The latest survey of movers and shakers concludes that collaboration and team building, risk taking, and decision making are the most important leadership skills. I agree with two of them, but I’d argue that the most important leadership value should be “first, do no harm” to the children you want to help. 

The survey determined that the three most important technical skills of policy leaders are content expertise, communication skills, and research, analysis and evaluation. Several volunteered comments about the value of actual teaching experience, however. The bottom three answers, however, were project management, strategic planning, and implementation management.

The Whiteboard Advisors then asked the astute question of what three skills they should have focused on at the age of 25.  Those answers were the opposite!  The majority wished that they had focused on real-world skills involving planning, management, and implementation. All three, by the way, are skills that effective teachers and administrators practice. In doing so, many or most practitioners become more risk-adverse.

Then, the survey’s finding really got complicated. When asked the three most overrated skills, strategic planning, project management, and research and analysis were the most overrated!

Continue reading "Thompson: What Do "Influentials" Think They Are Doing?" »

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]" »

Charts: So Much For All Those "I'm Quitting" Testimonials

You'd think from the way it sounds online these days that teaching is the worst profession ever and that teachers were leaving in droves, but this new chart from CAP suggests that's not the case:


image from www.americanprogress.orgSure, an awful economy gets some of the credit for folks staying in the classroom even if they'd rather be doing something else.  But reform critics and gullible and/or sympathetic reporters might have contributed to the apparently false impression of droves of departures more than has happened in reality. Teachers surveyed by CAP don't indicate any widespread or massive unhappiness with their treatment or with Obama era reform efforts. 

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)
 

Bruno: Standardized Tests *Do* Measure Some Important Cognitive Abilities

Failstemp ccommon flickrOne of the more interesting bits of news that you may have missed over the holidays was the announcement of findings from researchers at MIT indicating that even when schools effectively boost students' scores on standardized tests, they don't seem to do much to improve students' "fluid intelligence" -- those cognitive abilities, like working memory capacity, that can be helpfully applied across contexts.

This research seemed to strike a chord with critics of standardized testing, who leapt on the opportunity to emphasize the limits of such exams.

Unfortunately, in their eagerness to strike a blow against tests some commentators have badly over-interpreted - or plainly misinterpreted - the results.

Continue reading "Bruno: Standardized Tests *Do* Measure Some Important Cognitive Abilities" »

Bruno: Reformers Think (Wrongly) That They Are Engaged On Inequality

2943004410_e274474576_nI'd like to very briefly second Alexander's recommendation to reformers that "obviously education can't be the only method of addressing income inequality" and that they should "reconnect" to the issue.

My sense, however, is that education reformers have if anything moved in the opposite direction as of late.

Perhaps sensitive to charges that they were ignoring issues like inequality, reformers seem to be increasingly taking the position that education really is the best (or only) way to address inequality.

Consider this recent piece by Josh Kraushaar in The Atlantic arguing that various reformy education policies have "proven to be a time-tested path to economic mobility". Despite the fact that it confusingly conflates inequality with economic mobility and doesn't actually provide any evidence that the reforms are "proven" to address either, the article got approving links on Twitter from StudentsFirst, among others.

It's easy to see why this is an attractive shift for reformers, since it simultaneously increases the importance of the education reforms they were already pushing and undermines the argument that they're too indifferent to inequality.

Maybe this is just something I've started noticing recently and doesn't represent a real shift. But I do feel as if reformers have been increasingly willing to tell me that education reform is the best - or only meaningful - way to address a host of problems from inequality to economic mobility to poverty.

Either way, I'm not politically savvy enough to know whether that rhetorical position will let reformers have it both ways: retaining a laser-like focus on education while also attending "the inequality party of 2014", as Alexander puts it.

But it does seem to be the strategy that reformers are most inclined to adopt. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Ideas: [When] Will Reformers Join The Inequality Party?

Kenfagerdotcom-flickrThe Washington Post's Ezra Klein & Co. recently gave out their Third annual Wonky awards, including think tank of the year (Kaiser), pundi (Bob Laszewski), graph of the year (the deficit shrinking), FAIL of the year, regulation of the year, etc.

There wasn't anything education-related that I saw, but the academics of the year (Saez and Piketty) have brought lots of attention to an education-related issue that reform critics especially like to bring up all the time these days: income inequality.

Last year made inequality big:

"Obama devoted a whole speech to the topic. Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York on a promise to fight it. The think tank closest to the administration launched a whole spin-off dedicated to studying it."

What if anything will reformers figure out to say in the face of all this newfound attention to inquality (and poverty and income mobility)?  

They traditionally shy away from these issues, though many of them got into education because they thought that education could help address them -- was indeed the best method of doing so.  But obviously education can't be the only method of addressing income inequality, and especially so during and after a massive recession.

Reformers may have to reconnect with why they got into education in the first place -- and even support some non-education measures like minimum wage and immigration reform -- if they don't want to be left out of the inequality party of 2014.

Flickr via KenFager

People: Two New(ish) Power Couples For 2014

Two new(ish) power couples to start the new year and help you get through what I'm told is the most depressing weeek of the year even without the cold, etc:

ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 08 13.55

First is EdWeek's Virginia "Ginny" Edwards and former Hechinger and EdSector honcho Richard Lee Colvin (top right), who announced their new status on Facebook not too long ago.

image from nyoobserver.files.wordpress.com

Second is Dana Goldstein and Andrei Scheinkman, who's not an education writer but we'll give him a break this time.

As you can see to the right, Goldstein and her fiance made The New York Observer’s 2014 Media Power Couples List (after having made it as power bachelors and bachelorettes three years ago).

Congrats and best wishes to all the happy couples (let me know if there are others).

For all the singletons out there, I'll close with a helpful reminder that the grass is always greener and that there are plenty of coupled-up folks who envy your freedom.

For more on  this topic: 7 Actual Differences Between Being Single and Being in a Relationship.

Quotes: "Wait A Minute" [On Common Core]

Quotes2Suddenly, you're both piloting the assessments before anybody knows what they are and attaching consequences, and you're seeing huge pushback from some teachers who are saying, wait a minute. This is not at all what we thought we were signing up for. - AEI's Rick Hess on NPR last week.

Afternoon Video: Can Venture Philanthropy Replace Direct Donations?

 

See another MSNBC segment about philanthropy vs. public programs here.

Roundups: Best 5 Of Education Next's Top 20 Stories Of The Year

Flickr-sashalaEducation Next -- which I occasionally write for -- is sometimes predictable in its topics and the conclusions its articles come to.

But it just as often addresses topics that have been ignored and is unafraid to print conclusions that don't point clearly in one driection or the other.  

Would that other outlets and organizations were as open-minded, even occasionally.  (Actually, there are a couple of others, but not many.)

As the year winds up, the magazine has put out its "top 20" of the year but I thought I'd give you the five best to check out.  Taking Back Teaching (Colvin),  The Softer Side of ‘No Excuses’ (Boyd, Rose, and Maranto), Still Teaching for America (Kronholz), Gains in Teacher Quality (Goldhaber and Walch), and Toddlers and Tablets (Hernanez). Or take a look at the whole list: The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2013

Image via Flickr.

Morning Chart: Ed Schools Miss "Big Five" Classroom Issues

image from cdn.theatlantic.com"The [NCTQ] report identifies "The Big Five" of classroom management: Make rules; establish structure and routines; praise students for positive behavior; address bad behavior; and maintain student behavior." (Teachers Aren't Trained to Praise Their Students The Atlantic).

Quotes: Sherriff Duncan "All Out Of Bullets"?

In 2009, Arne was the new sheriff in town, with big boxes of ammunition and a shiny new gun. Now, it’s later in the movie and he’s all out of bullets and he’s trying to scare states by shaking a stick at them. - Rick Hess in Stephanie Simon's recent Politico piece

Morning Video: Expert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?

Here's MSNBC's Chris Hayes doing a segment about a so-called think that's mostly funded by restaurants (and opposed to raising the minimum wage) and lacks any economists on staff:

 

But is it the think tank's job to hire and/or commission independent degreed experts in the field and let them say what they find, or is it the media's job to make sure that readers/viewers know who funds the think tanks?

It's a question that comes up occasionally in education, and not always when the think tank leans Republican. For example, there are two think tanks with the initials EPI -- one leans right, the other (which hosts Broader Bolder) leans left, and the funding/affiliation are rarely mentioned in the press.

There are also university academics who receive not insubstantial funding from think tanks, foundations, and advocacy organizations and who don't always reveal the sources of this funding when they appear as experts (on Capitol Hill, for example).

NB: I have written reports and articles for various think tanks, including those that lean left and right.  

Charts: 40 States Require Objective Measures (How Much Differs)

 

Economist (based on NCTQ data).

Reform: Insult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform Critics

image from images.politico.comPolitico education editor Nirvi Shah has taken to Twitter this morning to defend Stephanie Simon's latest article against my unwarranted and unfair criticism -- as she should. 
 
The article in question reports that name-calling has become the norm in the education debate and suggests that leaders of both sides have engaged in this practice evenly. "Each side caricatures the other: Reformers are greedy privateers and corporate tools. Union leaders are selfish defenders of an indefensible status quo."
 
In reality, however -- and indeed in the examples cited in Simon's article - it's leaders who oppose reform who have more frequently made specific attacks on the character, sex, and ethnicity of individual reform leaders much more commonly.  
 
Arne Duncan, Wendy Kopp, and Michelle Rhee aren't calling their counterparts names. Diane Ravitch, Randi Weingarten, and Chicago's Karen Lewis do so with some regularity -- and are given space to justify their behavior in the Politico piece. (Ravitch -- get well soon! -- calls it necessary polarization.)
 
To its credit, the Politico article cites several examples of Ravitch resorting to personal attacks, and notes that her apologies have sometimes been quite slim.   Some readers won't care as much as I do whether the attacks are made against individuals, or groups, or policies -- or whether it matters whether one side is doing it more than the other. The differences between Arne Duncan and RiShawn Biddle won't matter to others, either.
 
I've critiqued several recent pieces by Simon -- and presumably edited by Shah. It's got to be quite annoying. So far, we've avoided calling each other any nasty names.
 
Previous posts: Julie Chen, Miss America, & Michelle Rhee12 Problems With Politico's TFA StoryWhy's Politico Making Ravitch Case Against Reform?). 

Thompson: Did Reform Make Teacher Churn Worse in Indianapolis?

SeniorityIn IPS Loses When Teachers Face Constant Moves, Chalkbeat Indiana's Scott Elliott decribes the "churn" of teachers in Indianapolis and how involuntary transfers are driving young talent out of the system.

He does not mention a common sense, though counter-intuitive, solution: Bringing back seniority.  

Seniority is the teacher's First Amendment. Without it, the honest flow of information in systems dries up.  Once teachers' ability to voice their professional judgments are undermined, the lack of an exchange of information is bound to produce more administrative foul-ups.  

Continue reading "Thompson: Did Reform Make Teacher Churn Worse in Indianapolis?" »

Media: Maggie Severns Fills Out Politico Education Team

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 1.47.33 PMThe unstoppable, ubiquotous, and ever-present Politico education team now includes former New America analyst and Mother Jones writer Maggie (@MaggieSeverns) Severns.

As you may recall, the initial Politico education team rollout was announced with one spot left open.  

Some of her recent education-related pieces at Mother Jones include: ADHD Diagnoses Increased More Than 50 Percent in a DecadeWhatever Happened to the $100 Million Mark Zuckerberg Gave to Newark Schools?Universal Preschool? Not So Fast.

Some of her Slate stories include: Reconsidering the Marshmallow Test: Willpower Isn't Just Nature, It's Nurture, and Study Offers Possible Explanation for the Huge Gender Gap in Science and Math.

As usual: Congrats, condolences.

Thompson: SAT Scores Are Great, But Teaching Is An Act of Love

SatDan Goldhaber's and Joe Walch's Gains in Teacher Quality, in Education Next, reports the good news that incoming teachers' SAT scores are on the rise. Recruiting better educated teacher candidates is an input-driven approach that is smarter than the dubious output-driven accountability of the last two decades.

I hope we don't go overboard, however, in overrating the importance of "book smarts" in teaching. I was a critical thinking coach, who confounded some adults by playing basketball with the students.  My questioning strategies anticipated Common Core and they guided teenagers with elementary school skills towards mastery of college preparatory standards.

But, education is not an affair of "the Head," but of "the Heart." The real reason why I was an effective teacher was that I didn't have biological offspring, so the students became my children.

I worked hard to become one of my school's co-MVPs. Then, we hired James Booth as a parent liaison and he was universally acclaimed as our Most Valuable Person.  Mr. Booth was retired military and a basketball referee. Despite his lack of background in academics, Booth was a mentor who did far more good for far more students than any teacher, counselor, or principal.

James Booth was not an exception.  Many schools' MVPs are coaches, cafeteria ladies, bus drivers, or security guards. Children learn from adults who love them. But, don't worry. Students don't discriminate against smart teachers; inner city kids, especially, appreciate it when highly educated adults show them the respect of treating them like their affluent peers. So this new generation of teachers will do fine as long as they keep their priorities straight.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.     

Quotes: Charter Advocates Overstate/Mislead In Chicago

Quotes2If I wanted to be like the charter activists, I'd write, "Charter schools account for all ten of the ten worst-performing selective-enrollment high schools in the city." -- Ben Joravsky in the Chicago Reader (Mayor Rahm has successfully pitted charters against public schools)

Afternoon Video: Common Core Meets "Hot For Education" '05


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There was an amusing exchange at about the 40 minute mark of the Hess / Knowles / Duncan Common Core confab yesterday in Chicago (pictured above left).

Coming onstage to join Knowles and Duncan, Hess expressed feigned unease at appearing with Knowles, who was named one of education's hottest advocates in 2005 (pictured above right).

Knowles' response? "You can see what happens in eight or ten years, right?"  

For the record, Hess was also suggested for Hot For Ed '05, but blogger Joanne Jacobs rejected the idea: "I've seen Rick Hess, and he's no Tim Knowles."

Click here for some local coverage or watch the video below.  I promised you a video, after all.

Continue reading "Afternoon Video: Common Core Meets "Hot For Education" '05" »

Thompson: Politico Nails a Fundamental Flaw with TFA

Occupy_London_Tent

I should not have to start with a disclaimer about my position on TFA (I'm undecided about it), but in these polarized times, I must.  TFA teachers are teachers.  

I don't judge colleagues. It is not their fault that high-profile TFA alumni who entered the classroom when they were in elementary school launched a war on teachers.  Excoriating today's TFAers because Kevin Huffman and Michelle Rhee turned corporate would be like castigating a colleague because he supports the Tea Party.

However, Politico’s Stephanie Simon, in Teach for America Rises as Political Powerhouse, nails the problem with TFA's new effort for “embedding select alumni in congressional offices and in high-ranking jobs in major school districts,” in which a charter school and voucher supporter pays the $500,000 a year price tag for providing seven TFA alumni fellows for congressmen. Ethics experts call the effort “highly unusual – though not illegal,” according to Simon. 

Too many reformers in general -- and high-profile TFA alumni in particular -- have have taken advantage of the lack of knowledge of many policymakers about the distant world of the inner city, and promoted quick and simplistic panaceas for complex problems.

In Simon's article, Elisa Villanueva Beard, co-CEO of Teach for America, seems to be sincerely oblivious about the dangers of quietly embedding alumni as staffers. She says “We don’t have a choice.” If TFA isn't aggressive “in 20 years, we’ll just wake up and find… we have made only incremental progress.”

And, that get's us back to the destructive essence of the contemporary reform movement. Corporate powers have immense knowledge about ways of secretly manipulating the levers of power to enrich themselves.  We know how to use political trickery to increase the billionaires' share of our economic pie.  Here, it seems, corporate reformers are using some of the same tactics and knowledge to manipulate government rather than improve learning. There is no reason to believe that transformationally better schools can be created this way.

That doesn't mean TFA teacher and alumni should be excluded. They should participate in the open exchange of ideas that school improvement needs.  They should do so with honesty and modesty, and not with their high-profile alumni's assumption that their brief excursion into schools has given them all of the answers.   

Meantime, TFA leaders should reveal the whole story to TFA teachers (and the rest of us?) and then have a heart-to-heart conversation about the paths to power that the organization should pursue, and those tactics that it should not consider. -JT(drjohnthompson) Image via. 

Morning Video: CAP 10th Anniversary Policy Conference

 

Live via MSNBC. Lineup here.

Update: It'll Take More Than White Parents To Save Urban Schools

Lahey_schoolboys_postAll those DC, Philadelphia, and Chicago families considering staying in the city and sending their kids to neighborhood schools (or progressive charters) probably won't make a real dent, according to this recent Atlantic piece from last week (It Won't Work).

Why not?  These changes might be good for the families being recruited into desirable schools on a small scale but "cannot substitute for reforms that address the root causes of concentrated poverty, budget shortfalls, and failing schools."

The piece focuses in on Philly's "Center City Schools Initiative," which raised enrollment at three desirable schools but displaced low-income minority families and reduced nonwhite enrollment -- and didn't have much impact on the rest of the system's enrollment, peformance or budget.  

Author Maia Bloombfield Cucchiara recommends breaking down urban-metro barriers (as in Wake County), refocusing on fiscal equity, and -- hey, why not? -- attempting to overturn the 1974 Supreme Court decision that blocks urban-suburban cooperation. She doesn't have much advice about how to make these things happen, but I'm guessing there will likely be a return to some of the methods of the past in future years (as current approaches becom eless fashionable), and it's good to be reminded that "the vastly different fates of urban and suburban schools... are not inevitable."

Previous posts: Philadelphia Advocates Seek 1 Citywide School ApplicationWhat About Schools Gentrification Passes By?Cartoon: The Secret Gentrification Plan"When The Melting Pot Boils Over"Middle-Income Schools Left BehindNobody Wins Until (White) Parents Trust Schools.

Image via Library of Congress (via The Atlantic)

Quotes: What *Really* Divides Us From Higher-Performing Nations

Quotes2Every country that bests us in the education rankings either has a constitutional guarantee to education, or does not have a constitution but has ensured the right through an independent statute.  - The Atlantic's Stephen Lurie (Why Doesn't the Constitution Guarantee the Right to Education?)

Morning Video: Best TED Talk Ever?

 

Pretty soon, namedropping your TED Talk might not be so impressive as it once was. Via Uproxx. Also very good is Reggie Watts' nonsense TED Talk, and the kids from Gunn High School does their own TEDx.

People: Gates Foundation Names [Unknown] New Advocacy Head

image from m.c.lnkd.licdn.comPolicy and advocacy have become bigger parts of many foundations' grantmaking in the past five years or so, and so it's probably worth noting that the Gates Foundation announced a new head of policy and advocacy on Friday, replacing Stefanie Sanford (who is now at the College Board).  

The new hire is Gavin Payne (pictured right via LinkedIn), who's been active on California education and policy issues for several years now, and recently has been helping state ed agencies get better.  See his bio in the announcement email below, or LinkedIn here. Frankly I don't know much about him. Thanks to everyone who sent me the announcement. 

As you can see in the previous posts, advocacy and policy work are high-risk, high return kinds of activities, compared to old school programs and services.  Ditto for more traditional/progressive advocacy efforts. Some of the Gates advocacy grants have failed; others it's probably too early to tell or mixed results. 

Previous posts: Longtime Gates Staffer Heads To College BoardGates Shifts Strategy & Schools Get Smaller Share [Reckhow]Gates Teacher Advocacy Effort To Be ShutteredHandy-Dandy Gates Foundation Advocacy Crib Sheet

Continue reading "People: Gates Foundation Names [Unknown] New Advocacy Head" »

Afternoon Video: Vancouver Launches 1:1 Tablet Effort

Read all about it here via Charles Barone.

Quotes: "Ordinary People" Who Think Reform Is "Destroying Education"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comMy readers are not leftists. They are teachers, parents, students, administrators, and ordinary people who don’t like to see their local public schools closed down or taken over by a private charter corporation like KIPP... They are destroying childhood. They are destroying creativity. They are destroying love of learning. - Diane Ravitch's contradictory-seeming explanation of her and her followers' views


Thompson: Goldhaber On The Future Of Research

AEI_logoDan Goldhaber’s Teacher Quality Research Over the Next Decade, presented at The American Enterprise Institute on “Teacher Quality 2.0,” is a hopeful sign that research by non-educators may become more reality-based.

Goldhaber makes a plausible argument that value-added models work at the elementary level, at least in comparison with other ways of evaluating teachers. But, he cites evidence that value-added might not work quite so well at the high school level.

So, Goldhaber asks if less emphasis would have been placed on the value-added of individual teachers if research had focused on high schools rather than elementary schools.

I certainly hope that the answer would be “Of course!”

In his constructive paper on the next era of research to improve instruction, Goldhaber starts by asking how teachers will respond to value-added and, later, to technology and various reorganizations of the schooling process.  He asks all the right questions about the unpredictable ways - constructive and destructive - that teachers’ practice could be altered.

But, instead of asking whether educators will make good choices, we should ask how administrators will respond to these changes.

Continue reading "Thompson: Goldhaber On The Future Of Research" »

Thompson: AEI's Hess Nails What's Wrong With "Reform 1.0"

Rick_hessThe American Enterprise Institute's conference, Teacher Quality 2.0: Will Today's Reforms Hold Back Tomorrow's Schools? showed that the times, they are a-changing. And it's about time.  If "reformers" don't admit that they are stalled in the wrong lane of history, our schools will be hurt badly.  

The AEI's Rick Hess kicked off the discussion by asking whether the goal of Reform 1.0 is the evaluation of "whether you are a good classroom teacher in a conventional environment?" 

Hess then summarized the ways that this "Teacher Quality 1.0" mentality could undermine online instruction, team teaching, and other ways of reorganizing schools. Hess then questioned the codification of this one-size-fits-all approach to teacher evaluation into law.

Teaching should be a team effort, and that applies to schools that serve intense concentrations of poverty and trauma, as much as it applies to the innovative schools that Hess wants.  Isn't that the real harm of Reform 1.0? It had the temerity to ram through laws that constrain all types of cooperative learning across our huge and diverse democracy.   

Although we disagree on most things, can advocates of the flipped classroom and of full-service community schools join together to reverse laws mandating value-added evaluations?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via

Think Tanks: AIR Taking Over Education Sector

Bargraph_ccAfter months of speculation and free-floating anxiety, it's being announced later today that Education Sector is becoming part of AIR.

AIR is the national education research outfit founded in 1946.  Ed Sector is the DC think tank founded in 2005 by Andy Rotherham and Tom Toch in an attempt to meld think tank research and journalism.

After the co-founders departed around 2009, the think tank was run for a time by Richard Lee Colvin, who left Hechinger Report to take the job. John Chubb had the top job for a time, as well.

The move is being described as "joining forces" but you can read between the lines: the announcement is being made by AIR and the think tank is being overseen by an AIR honcho (Gina Burkhardt).

No word yet on what happens to Peter Cookson, the Ed Sector Managing Director.

Previous posts: Hijacking The Education Sector*Carnegie Is The New Ed SectorColvin Leaves / Is Let Go From Ed SectorWhen The Exec. Director Joins A Political CampaignRotherham Leaving Ed Sector.

Events: PIE Annual Summit (Boston September 19-20)

Going to the PIE Policy Summit in Boston later this month?  Me, too -- finally.  Not invited?  Too bad, it's invite-only and I had to bother them for months to get invited. Not already registered?  Tough luck.  It's sold out. 

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Then again, the event is off the record so it's not like I can tweet out whatever juicy tidbits I find without specific approval.  All the more reason to come up and say hello if you're there.  I'm hoping to learn a lot.

Previous posts about PIE:  Talk About "Love" (Not "Rights")State Advocacy Groups Talk Policy - Not Tactics Reform Celebration In SeattleHow Organizers See The Parent TriggerEducate Texas

Reform: Millennials Hate Politics (But Alternatives Remain Unproven)

Screen shot 2013-08-28 at 12.14.34 PMAmusing and easy as it is to bemoan Millennial self-entitlement and hyper-aggressiveness, complaining about the youngs can get old and is probably not very helpful, anyway if only because there are 95 million of them - 20 million more than Baby Boomers.

So it's a good thing to find Ron Fournier's new Atlantic Magazine article on how Millennials perceive politics and public service -- and how they might blow things up through other means.  Or at least, how they want to.

Titled The Outsiders: How Can Millennials Change Washington If They Hate It?, the article notes that Millennials dislike public service and traditional political gridlock but are committed to volunteering.  They're deeply suspicious of government programs -- and of Democrats as well as Republicans -- and unlikely to think of political action as a solution after what happened in Barack Obama's first term.

These trends create obvious challenges for education advocates of all types. Reform advocates are trying like mad to groom leaders for public service and elected office.  Reform critics are increasingly relying on political protest to make their case.

It's possible that Millennials will change their minds over time, finding as they may that social entrepreneurship and disurptive technologies are appealing but insufficiently robust to create transformational changes.    Indeed, there aren't any examples in the article of Millennials using technology or social media to accomplish things that would normally be done through public service, other than ShoutAbout.org, which I've never heard of before.

Image courtesy Atlantic Magazine.

Thompson: Who Are "They" Asks PBS's John Merrow?

StopAt the end of his two-part PBS report on Common Core last week, John Merrow asks the $64,000 question: who are "they?"

Merrow starts by showing the type of classroom interactions that most teachers aspire to, as a Common Core teacher interacts with students in multimedia, multidisciplinary ways to encourage critical thinking, problem solving, good listening skills, speaking skills, and collaboration.  So, there must be "reformers" who watch the segment and ask the question about educators who oppose Common Core - why are "they" resisting us?  

But, Merrow and Barbara Kapinus, of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium agree that they have not been able to devise tests that assess everything that was intended.  Unless "they" - policy makers - stop mistrusting teachers, the tests are likely to be misused.  Since "they" intend to use Common Core for accountability, teachers are likely to be too scared to teach its standards properly.  They will revert to teach-to-the-test basic skills instruction.

The interview with Kapinus raises an intriguing question question as to whether there is no single "they" who support the idea that we need a test worth teaching to.  Did "they" - Education Secretary  Arne Duncan and the governors  - not understand what they - the testing experts - know about the problems inherent in adding stakes to tests. 

Did the experts not know what "they" - the accountability hawks - do not know about standards, teaching, and assessments? If "they" - the big boys who impose one "reform" on teachers after another - understood schools, teaching and learning, would they have have understood the inherent contradiction between higher standards and a test worth teaching with?-JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Charts: Urban Black Isolation Increases As Segregation Decreases

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While segregation is decreasing in most big cities (see above) racial isolation of blacks and the number of majority-black neighborhoods are actually on the rise and the social and economic costs are enormous, according to this post in The Atlantic:  The Real Cost of Segregation

Thompson: "Reformers" & Misuse of NAEP Data

RheeAs much as I respect Education Week’s Steve Sawchuk, his recent blog post article When Bad Things Happen to Good NAEP Data was a disappointment. He recounted examples of “misnaepery” or the misuse of NAEP data. 

In doing so, Sawchuk demonstrated a false equivalency between egregious violations of scholarship by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee’s Students First, and realtors trying to hype the schools in their area with the careful research of Elaine Weiss and Don Long, in their Market-Oriented Education Reforms’ Rhetoric Trumps Reality

And, Sawchuk also tossed in the obligatory quote by Diane Ravitch in a way that implied that her scholarship was similarly questionable.

Continue reading "Thompson: "Reformers" & Misuse of NAEP Data" »

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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.