Can Chicago teachers and the district come to agreement over a new contract like UTLA and LAUSD recently did? PBS affiliate WTTW interviews union president Karen Lewis. Or watch this HuffPost Live segement on desegregation efforts in Connecticut, one of the few states in the nation where there's been some improvement.
Some Fieldston parents and NY Magazine readers may be concerned about the progressive private school's racial awareness program described in this week's magazine (Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?), but not everyone's quite so bothered by the effort.
As described in the magazine feature by Lisa Miller, the school asked elementary school kids to identify themselves by race and then separated them -- temporarily -- as part of a program to deepen the students' understanding of racism and differences. "It would foster interracial empathy by encouraging children to recognize differences without disrespect while teaching kids strategies, and the language, for navigating racial conflict."
The program is mandatory, and operates during the school day, and start with kids as young as eight. "In 45-minute sessions, children would talk about what it was like to be a member of that race; they would discuss what they had in common with each other and how they were different, how other people perceived them, rightly or wrongly, based on appearance. Disinhibited by the company of racially different peers, the children would, the school hoped, feel free to raise questions and make observations that in mixed company might be considered impolite."
Designed by Fieldston's Mariama Richards, the "affinity-group" program was meant to foster authentic conversation but it felt to some parents like a step backwards -- like segregation, like overkill. It wasn't a comfortable discussion in ethics class."This same parent who sends her children to Lower because she values diversity tends not to dwell on the fact that she has few close friends of color; that her neighborhood is almost entirely white; that her nanny or housecleaner or doorman has brown skin."
Racial and demographic diversity has long been a goal for progressive private schools, but mixing kids together is just a start. Efforts like these have been popping up in different places around the country. (My progressive private alma mater, Chicago's Francis Parker, just hired a director of diversity who seems like she's going to push the envelope for ostensibly liberal parents.) Fort Greene's Community Roots, a diverse progressive charter school, asked mixed groups of parents to engage in group activities outside of school in order to promote understanding and deepen classroom diversity.
See also this CNN segment featuring concerned parents:
The reaction so far to the article has been generally supportive of the effort at Fieldston:
Education writer Dana Goldstein, now at The Marshall Project, noted on Twitter that the piece "perfectly captures moment in which young(ish) progressive educators confront parents who hold old notions of "colorblindness." Once unusual, racial awareness programs (the invisible white backpack, etc.) are more commonly part of college than they used to be. "My demographic wouldn't be shocked if our kids were separated by race and asked to discuss it in "safe space," noted Goldstein. "We've been there."
Over at Vox, Jenée Desmond-Harris's post (Why a New York City school's idea to (temporarily) separate kids by race is smart) lists the many advantages of the Fieldston program, especially teaching the lessons that "ignoring race and racism doesn't make these things go away, and that white people have a racial identity, too."
Not everyone is a big fan of the approach being taken, however. Responding to the earlier NYT piece written by Kyle Spencer, New America's Connor Williams wrote a post titled The Limits of Talking About Privilege to Teenagers.
NYT editor Amy Virshup thought that the NY Magazine story might not offer much that readers hadn't already learned. "But @KyleYSpencer story on same topic ran in Feb., w/pix of real kids, not models. What's new?"
The issue of overkill -- not so much on the issue but perhaps the controversy at this particular school -- is also the focus of a recent blog post I wrote over at The Grade: Another Story About Fieldston’s Controversial Racial Awareness Program.
One thing I'd add is that it's not just kids who need more and better racial awareness programs but also educators and advocates. Teachers -- predominantly white and middle class -- need space and time to talk about and understand not only their students' backgrounds but also their own. And advocates -- reformers and critics alike, also predominantly white and college-educated -- would do well with more of the same.
Making sure that conference panels and speakers and attendees are more diverse is one step, as is engaging more diverse groups of stakeholders (not just mobilizing them). Panels about racial awareness or race-focused issues are good, too. But what about taking it one step further and doing a version of what Fieldston is doing and let adults engaged in education talk together in affinity groups and have some authentic conversations, too? I could see PIE, or TFA, or maybe the Shanker Institute or Century Foundation doing something like this. Or maybe it's already happening and I just haven't heard about it.
Thousands Of Seattle Teachers Strike Over Pay, Class Size Reuters: Thousands of Seattle teachers walked out of class on Tuesday to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes, marking the largest one-day strike in a series of rolling protests by educators in Washington state over public school funding.
Two challengers, one incumbent, finish first in L.A. Board of Education races LA Times: In all, outside groups have poured in $5.1 million, compared with under $1 million spent by campaigns controlled by the candidates, according to reports filed through Monday. The contest drawing the most attention and the most dollars was the Kayser/Rodriguez race [which Rodriguez appears to have won]. Kayser was backed by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which spent more than $1 million to keep him in office. Rodriguez co-founded an organization that operates charter schools, and bedinefited from strong support by a group representing charters.
Starr, former Montgomery County superintendent, takes association job Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former schools superintendent has taken a job as chief executive officer for an Arlington-based professional association for educators.Joshua P. Starr, who resigned in February amid reports that he did not have the support he needed to win another four-year contract in Maryland’s largest school system, will take over June 8 at PDK International. See also District Dossier: Former Superintendent Joshua Starr to Lead Phi Delta Kappa International
Montgomery school board to appoint interim superintendent, pause search Washington Post: The Montgomery County school board has suspended its national search for a new superintendent and plans to meet Wednesday to appoint an interim schools chief for next school year, just days after a leading candidate suddenly pulled out of the running. See also WAMU: For Now, Montgomery County Schools Chief Is Expected To Be A One-Year Job
Thousands of Scorers Take On the Common-Core Tests EdWeek: Twelve million students are taking either the PARCC or the Smarter Balanced assessments in 29 states and the District of Columbia this school year. Forty-two thousan people will be scoring 109 million student responses to questions on the two exams, which were designed by two groups of states... Pearson, which is training scorers for PARCC states, as well as administering and scoring the test, permitted a rare visit to one of its 13 regional scoring centers, in a nondescript brick office building outside Columbus.
Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say Washington Post: The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems. The survey, to be released Wednesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., polled the 56 Teachers of the Year, a small but elite group of educators considered among the country’s best, on a range of issues affecting public education.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Here's Duncan speaking yesterday at the Youth Violence Prevention Summit: "One idea that I threw out … is this idea of public boarding schools. That’s a little bit of a different idea, a controversial idea. But the question is—do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home? There’s just certain kids we should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful.” CPSAN via Breitbart. Click the link if the video doesn't play correctly. Still looking for video of him roaring like a lion if you see it let me know.
Watch Lawrence, MA's re-engagment coordinator connect with youth who've dropped out at school, which, according to EdWeek has let to a dramatic lowering of dropout rates and a strong increase in graduation figures. What's not clear from the piece is how widespread the practice is, how well it works in other places, and what kinds of alternative/recovery programs are being offered to returning students. In some places, it's been reported that the quality is quite bad.
The violence in Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, and other urban areas is inextricably connected with the deindustrialization of America. The rapid decline of our manufacturing base, and our ineffective response to the decline of working peoples' wages has also undermined confidence and, thus, our ability to solve serious social problems.
Ironically, Baltimore not only exemplifies the failure of our society to successfully tackle social problems, but it is also home of some of the world's best social science, such as the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, and it is the inspiration of David Simon's and Ed Burns' The Wire.
The Wire is the contemporary equivalent of the wisdom of Joseph Heller's Catch 22. It is not only the definitive dramatic depiction of the failure of the data-driven War on Drugs, the devastation unleashed by the destruction of blue collar jobs, and the shortcomings of the both War on Poverty and gentrification in revitalizing inner cities, but it shows how school reform was doomed by those same dynamics. So, a silver lining in the Baltimore tragedy is that it gives us a chance to reconsider Simon's genius (as well as that of Johns Hopkins' Robert Balfanz.)
As long as America's economic pie was growing dramatically in a fairly equitable manner, we had the confidence to invest in the War on Poverty, as we also reinterpreted the Bill of Rights to expand our nation's promise to all. As the rich got richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class shrinks, however, fear grows and too many citizens become impatient with constitutional democracy. We have become open to corporate values that subordinate individual rights to the short-term bottom line.
For instance, as Simon explained in an interview with Bill Keller of The Marshall Project, the right of probable cause was destroyed in Baltimore's drug war. For too many police, it became “whatever you thought you could safely lie about when you got into district court.”
This sounds familiar in two ways for teachers who have endured corporate school reform. Our fundamental right of due process was attacked. Moreover, anti-tenure crusaders felt free to make up any charge that they believed they could get away with.
U.S. Cabinet secretaries visit Douglass High School Baltimore Sun: U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent Wednesday afternoon at Frederick Douglass High School, where they discussed financial literacy and heard students' concerns about the lack of jobs and opportunities in Baltimore. See also Washington Post.
An Inside Look at the Hillary Clinton Inner Circle Bloomberg: Two other policy advisers, Maya Harris and Ann O'Leary, weren't included on the list, which the campaign aide said is because they were not yet working on the campaign on a full-time basis.
CTU files labor complaint against school board Chicago Tribune: The district, which says it is wrestling with a $1.1 billion deficit weighted with pension payments, wants to save millions of dollars by having teachers pay more into their pension fund. The CTU said the result would be a 7 percent cut in take-home pay for members. See also Sun-Times: Karen Lewis says 'no trust' between CTU and Board of Ed
Teachers union contract fails to guarantee a single additional teacher in LAUSD LA Daily News: The Los Angeles Unified School District is not contractually obligated to hire a single teacher to help ease crowded classrooms under the terms of its tentative agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles, this news organization has discovered. The guaranteed hiring of additional teachers, a key demand during months of strike preparations, remains in the union's characterization of the agreement.
Las Vegas: Betting On New Teachers But Coming Up Short NPR: The city wishes it had a lot more teachers like Adams. It needs almost 3,000 more teachers, to be exact. Las Vegas and Clark County consistently top the lists of American cities most in need of new teachers. And the most pressing needs — 75 percent of vacancies — are in schools that are lower-performing and have a high percentage of children living in poverty.
NewSchools New New Thing EdSurge: On May 6, more than a thousand educators, entrepreneurs and edtech enthusiasts came together for the 16th annual New Schools Venture Fund Summit. Gone were the high-profile speakers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Randi Weingarten...
Ed tech company folds after receiving millions in Race to the Top funds Washington Post: An education technology company has folded after receiving millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top funds to provide online assessments and other services to school districts.Charlotte-based Thinkgate LLC shut down last week, according to state education officials in Ohio and Massachusetts, two states that used Race to the Top money to contract with the company.
New Standardized Tests Bring Technical Challenges, Concern AP: Call this the year of the test. Or, at least the year of standardized test mania. Standardized test season in K-12 classrooms has been dominated in some states by widespread technical problems or by parents allowing their children to opt out. But testing officials say the rollout this spring of new standardized tests taken by computer in many U.S. public schools has been without major problems in much of the country. See also EdSource: CA State board awards disputed test contract to ETS.
For transgender teens and teachers, acceptance could be two words away Washington Post: For some transgender high school students in the Virginia suburbs, a school board decision Thursday could mean an end to death threats and the beginning of freedom to live openly as who they truly are.
Study: Gay, Bisexual Kids Bullied More, Even at Early Age AP: Overall, many of the nearly 4,300 students surveyed said they were bullied, especially at younger ages. But the 630 gay and bisexual children suffered it more.
Care About Educational Equity? Then You Should Care About Mobile EdSurge: Of the 10 largest school districts in the country, which serve over 2.5 million students in poverty, only Chicago Public Schools’ website renders properly in a mobile browser. (I’m not counting Houston Independent School District, which has a mobile-friendly landing page, but clicking on any button leads to pages that are not mobile-friendly.)
It's both Charter Schools and Teacher Appreciation week at the same time, and yet the sky seems not to have fallen (yet). So maybe that means something good.
However, the charter schools folks are pushing the waiting list numbers thing hard again, and that has me nervous. The latest Charter Alliance report looks at waiting lists in 10 districts and has generated some news coverage including the NY Daily News (NYC has longest wait for charter schools in the country); EdWeek (Urban Charter School Wait Lists Swell Nationally, Report Says); WSJ (Waiting for Charter Schools).
Charter school waiting list numbers tend to look misleadingly high, sort of like lots of other numbers in education: charter school graduate percentages, college acceptance rates, pre-Common Core state proficiency rates. All these numbers -- like rents in Brooklyn -- are too damn high to be believed (though the rents are for real).
That's not to say that there aren't thousands of parents who want to get into some charters, and that there won't be more of them applying soon thanks to universal enrollment agreements that are slowly but surely spreading among urban districts. What we need is some sort of standardized definition and practice for waitlist numbers among different charters and districts, as was done a decade or so ago about graduation and dropout statistics.
There's also the issue of some charter schools not backfilling classes when kids exit during the school year or even between years. It'd be interesting to match up the backfill numbers with the waiting list numbers and see what you came up with.
Until then I would urge everyone to look at the numbers being provided with caution. The demand is real, and the parents are sincere, but the specific numbers...I'm just not very confident in them.
Still curious? According to the report, "More information is available at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ data dashboard. Data sources for the number of student names on wait lists for each district are available in the Technical Note." Tell us what you find.
Related posts: Charter Schools Claim Million-Name Nat'l Wait-List (2013); Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting* (2013); Charter school demand in Mass. disputed (Boston Globe 2013); Well-Connected Parents Slip Past Lottery (2011).
There were lots of people -- too many -- using last week's unrest in Baltimore as an excuse to advance an agenda or generate attention - but former superintendent Andres Alonso is in a pretty unique spot to talk about what's going on there when it comes to the education system and its intersection with equity and justice -- though he's careful not to talk trash about those who are still there working in the system.
So here's a new Harvard EdCast to check out, featuring Alonso. You can also read this recent Seattle Times interview focusing on Alonso's efforts to overhaul discipline in Baltimore (School leader who overhauled discipline in long-troubled Baltimore looks back). Alonso was head for 6 years, during which dropout rates went down cooperation with teachers went up.
I'm getting mixed responses on whether things have gotten better or worse since he left two years ago, and whether that made any difference in how students and others reacted on Monday.
Related posts: Alonso's Smooth Approach To School Reform (2010); Alonso calls report done by school consultant 'objective' (Baltimore Sun 2012); Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally (2009). See also: BaltSun Education Reporter Gets Close To Cover #FreddyGrey Protests; "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led.
The NYT takes a look a new research showing that poor kids do better or worse depending on where they come from. The most challenging places tend to be bit cities like Atlanta; Chicago; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Orlando, West Palm Beach and Tampa in Florida. But there it's not all big cities, and smaller cities like Austin, Texas are rough for poor kids. And the better places include both large cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas but also smaller ones like Providence and major suburban counties, such as Fairfax, Va.; Bergen, N.J.; Bucks, Pa.; Macomb, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; and Contra Costa, Calif. They're more expensive to live in, housing-wise, and public rent subsidies tend not to accommodate variations in housing costs, but they have better elementary school test scores and greater diversity. Check it all out here: An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty. Image via NYT. Note that NYC doesn't do as well regarding upward mobility once immigrant families are removed from the equation.
Last week during #EWA15, MSDF's Joe Siedlecki noted that CPS elementary schools outperform charters in terms of the percentage of kids in high-rated schools, and praised Chicago charters for participating in the unified accountability system that makes such comparisons possible.
Judge Reduces 3 Educators' Sentences In Atlanta Cheating Scandal NPR: In a highly unusual move, the judge in the Atlanta test-cheating case said he had a change of heart. He reduced three people's sentences from seven years in prison to three. See also NYT: Judge Reduces 3 Sentences in Atlanta School Testing Scandal, WPost Atlanta judge reduces sentences for three educators in cheating case.
How This Inner-City Baltimore Principal Is 'Tearing Down Barriers' Between Students And Police HuffPost: As students poured into their West Baltimore school on their first day back after protests paralyzed the city, Rowe said she felt heartened by the systems that are equipping her students to respond effectively to abuses of power. See also BaltSun: Ray Lewis, Ravens visit schools in West Baltimore, NPR Councilman's Star Rises Fast Amid Baltimore Unrest.
Michigan governor wants overhaul of troubled Detroit schools AP: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to break Detroit's troubled school district into two and will ask the Legislature to contribute more state funding to resolve nearly a half-billion dollars in operating debt... See also State Edwatch: Mich. Gov. Snyder Unveils Plan to Split Governance of Detroit Schools, NYT Plan Unveiled to Overhaul School System in Detroit, HuffPost Detroit Closes Many Schools For Day Due To Teacher Shortage.
Delisle to leave Education Department Washington Post: Deborah Delisle, a top-ranking official at the Education Department responsible for issuing waivers that have freed nearly every state and the District from the most onerous requirements of federal education law, is leaving her job as assistant...
Former Sen. Mary Landrieu is now a 'strategic adviser' to Walton Family Foundation NOLA.com: Landrieu also was recently named to the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.She did not reveal her compensation at the Walton Family Foundation.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
If we're spending $1 trillion to rebuild Afghanistan's schools, we can't throw a little taste down Baltimore way? - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show
Here's a screengrab from a new NACSA infographic and report showing that charter closings remain at about 4 percent a year and that non-renewal is more common a method than outright revocation (The State of Charter Authorizing). Click the link and read the report to get a deeper sense of what's going on. Interesting to note that roughly 20 percent of charters faced with closure appeal the decision.
All out war between kids and police pic.twitter.com/19y4YJ2Y5X— Erica L. Green (@EricaLG) April 27, 2015
Baltimore Sun education reporter Erica Green put herself in harm's way covering yesterday's protests and rioting, but in the process documented lots of what was going on. Follow @ericaLG for more of her images and impressions. Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie was also posting images and updates, and EdWeek's Evie Blad was giving regular updates too.
Or, watch AFT head Randi Weingarten tell Pearson to stop spying on kids during online testing.
News is getting out that Chalkbeat co-founder Alan Gottlieb (pictured via Google Plus) is leaving the network of four local education news sites he helped start with Elizabeth Green.
After eight years during which Gottlieb built EdNews Colorado, then merged it with GothamSchools and created the Education News Network which then became Chalkbeat, the Colorado-based Gottlieb is going to write, consult, and do other things.
"I’d like to do more writing (maybe another book or two some day, possibly/probably unrelated to education), editing and just helping people think through good communications strategies. And, truth be told, I’d like to spend less time traveling."
Gottlieb is a Peace Corps alumnus, a 15-year newspaper journalist before EdNews Colorado began, and has written two books, according to his official bio.
There's been a surge of nonprofit education news coverage in recent years, and not everybody's convinced that it's making a difference or going to last. But Gottlieb says he's not worried about what happens next for Chalkbeat. It's over a year since he shifted over from the editorial side and became editor at large. "The leadership of the organization is so solid that I have every confidence Chalkbeat will survive and thrive without me." Rebecca Ross has been COO since early last year. Green is now CEO.
"She’s indefatigable, she has a strong vision, and she turns out to be a fundraising prodigy," says Gottlieb. He says that the outlet is making "big strides" on earned revenue increases, and funder relations remain strong.
One of the most notable things about EdNews Colorado was that it attracted veteran journalists and was funded both by pro-reform groups and teachers unions.
Related posts: NPR Expands Education Coverage; Local NPR Stations Beefing Up Education Coverage; But Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?; Why Catalyst & The Notebook Aren't Joining ENN (2012); Chalkbeat, USA!; Education News Network Expands To Indiana; Two Local Ed News Sites Join Forces; Where EdNews Network Is Heading.
Disclosure: I did a couple of freelance pieces for Gottlieb back when he was at the Piton Foundation, and have called on him for advice and feedback on various stories and endeavors over the years.
Catalyst Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp, widely credited with having broken the $20 million SUPES story that has now led to an FBI Investigation and the stepping down of the head of the Chicago school system, is leaving to join the Better Government Association of Chicago.
For a time, it seemed like nobody would ever follow up on Karp's 2013 SUPES scoop. Local NPR station WBEZ had her on to talk about the story, and local ABC 7's Sarah Schulte did a segment. However, neither the Sun-Times or Tribune followed up in any meaningful way -- until now.
That's nothing new. Super-competitive news outlets sometimes refuse to "follow" other outlets. Other times, they re-report each others' stories and pretend their competitors' versions don't exist (which is understandable but super-annoying). Of course, sometimes it's not a conscious decision, they just have other stories to work on, more urgent-seeming matters, and don't have time or staff to cover everything they'd like.
In any case, Catalyst is looking for a new reporter to replace Karp, and publisher and founder Linda Lenz noted graciously "We're pleased that she will take all the knowledge she gained at Catalyst to a new audience. The city, in effect, will get an additional ed reporter." Reporter Melissa Sanchez remains.
Meantime, Catalyst is also celebrating a 25th anniversary and figuring out where and what to do next. (So is Philly's Notebook, another long-running district-based news outlet focused on education. Here's an overview of anniversary activities and events surrounding Catalyst's 25th.
While it may seem like a strange move, the BGA has staffed up with reporters in recent years and covered education along the way. After a decade at Catalyst, Karp starts at the BGA next month. She's going to cover K-12 education as well as higher ed and state government. Read more about Karp and the story she broke nearly 2 years ago here.
Disclosure: I used to do some freelancing for Catalyst, and they lent me a free desk for a time, and kindly hosted the launch of a book on Chicago school reform I edited that came out in 2004.
CORRECTION : 61K is the state #. NOLA still 3x state avg. (Wrong in Tweet, not in piece) http://t.co/5fnKxHbELP— Anya Kamenetz (@anya1anya) April 17, 2015
I don't know all the details but here's a tweet from NPR's Anya Kamenetz correcting a previous message about suspensions. There was a bunch of Tweeting to/at NPR last week about their NOLA story. If you know the inside scoop, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out this new story from Bright about the realities behind "restorative justice," the approach meant to replace zero-tolerance school discipline policies.
Now 28 schools nationwide, Christo Rey has expanded to Baltimore, and has corporate support, but its graduation rate is about average and not all kids thrive there (Cristo Rey: The school corporate America built) via Al Jazeera.
Don't consider yourself part of the 99 percent if you live near a Whole Foods. If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth... If any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that, actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem. -- Anand Giridharadas (7 signs you are clueless about income inequality)
"The richest 25 percent of school districts receive 15.6 percent more funds [$1,500 per student] from state and local governments per student than the poorest 25 percent of school districts, the federal Department of Education pointed out last month (March, 2015). The gap has grown 44 percent since 2001-02, when a student in a rich district had only a 10.8 percent resource advantage over a student in a poor district." (via Hechinger Report The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade) Image used with permission. Click the link to see the interactive map.
Closing schools means looking for new jobs, while eliminating automatic placements based on seniority makes it harder to find them. Most troubling, our efforts to hold teachers accountable threatened job security and lifetime pensions. - Former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein responding to criticisms of his book and accomplishments in the NYROB (Good Faith & the Schools)
"Looking back on a frenetic first year, Fariña talks about recentralizing control under regional superintendents, addressing parents’ concerns about overtesting, encouraging more sharing of ideas among teachers and schools, and avoiding ed-tech mishaps like Los Angeles Unified School District’s iPad debacle." From the latest issue of Scholastic Administrator magazine (Interview with Carmen Fariña). Also: Congrats to everyone at Administrator for winning Best Single Issue in this year's Neal Awards.
"White children account for 29 percent of the city's population age 19 or younger, but only 13 percent of students in public schools... The district's school "lottery," intended partly to promote diversity in classrooms, has apparently had the effect of concentrating white students in the best elementary schools." Washington Post (White kids are winning San Francisco’s school lottery)
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.
In this recent segment from Fox News posted by Media Matters, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked efforts to decrease school suspensions and expulsions with programs known as "restorative justice," ignoring that these traditional punishments disproportionately target students of color." (Bill O'Reilly Attacks "Restorative Justice" Programs). Or, watch Charles Best's SXSWedu presentation below.
Longtime readers already know that the Chicago Sun-Times' Kate Grossman is one of my favorite editorial page writers. She (along with the LA Times' Karin Klein) report their own pieces and sometimes scoop or differ from their own beat reporters, which I think is healthy.
Well the latest news is that Grossman and a few others (including Davis Guggenheim) have won a new fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, and will be teaching a course among other things. Read all about it here: Sun-Times deputy editor Kate Grossman wins U. of C. fellowship. "Starting March 30, Grossman will spend 10 weeks on campus examining education issues and the debate over how best to improve schools."
Speaking of fellowships, I'm told that today is the day that the Spencer Fellowships are being decided for 2015-2016. Good luck to everyone who made it to the finals!
OK, technically it's a Vine (with sound!) not a GIF, but who cares? The Chicago Tribune's Juan Perez saw fit to highlight a few seconds of Duncan's forced walk through anti-testing protesters in Chicago the other day. The moment took place because Duncan car ended up in a dead-end alley -- some poor driver or advance staffer got in trouble for this (or should have).
Read Sun-Times for additional coverage. The EdSec claims that the USDE didn't force Chicago to administer PARCC, and Mayor Rahm is saying that it was the state (not Washington). Hmm. Read more Tribune for how the rollout's going so far.
This week's announcement that Success Academy charters won't give an absolute priority to ELL kids in its charter lotteries because of opposition seems like an unfortunate turn of events (see ChalkbeatNY's Success Academy drops lottery preference for English learners).
Charter schools located in mixed neighborhoods are often flooded by wealthier, whiter parents, and lose their diversity despite all efforts. The USDE will allow weighted lotteries, but not guaranteed admission. USDE has opposed letting diverse charters weight their lotteries in such a strong way for fear of the precedent that would tempt other schools to set priorities (for white kids, for kids whose parents have yachts, etc.)
There are situations where charters have been set up to avoid integration, or located or run in ways that are disadvantageous to poor and minority kids. But this is not one of them.
What could be done?
Lots of things, it seems. Congress could change the federal definition of a charter school to allow this kind of weighting. The USDE could revise its guidance (though risking Congressional displeasure). Or Success could shift its proposal from an absolute 14 percent priority for ELL kids, going with an unweighted lottery for the first year or two and then shifting. The unitary enrollment system would be diluted, creating different systems for different schools, but more ELL kids would be served.
I'll let you know if and when Success or the USDE respond with more about their thinking, or why these solutions couldn't work.*
*UPDATED: From USDE's Dorie Turner Nolt: “The U.S. Department of Education is firmly committed to increasing high-quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, including English learners, in charter schools, as in all public schools. The Department has worked with Success Academies to find ways for it to provide additional weight for English learners within the boundaries of the law and program guidance, and remains committed to that effort. We have worked with other grantees that submitted proposals to use weighted lotteries for educationally disadvantaged students—including other charter management organizations operating in New York—and have approved several such proposals. Such approaches complement broader efforts by charter schools to recruit, serve and retain educationally disadvantaged students.”
Your turn, Success.
Related posts: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led; Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance; Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability.
At widespread anti-Cuomo protests, parents and teachers to join hands Chalkbeat New York: City teachers union president Michael Mulgrew and his predecessor, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, will speak at the morning rally at Park Slope's P.S. 10, which is known for its presence in the movement to opt out of state...
UTLA one step closer to endorsing a Republican in Schmerelson LA School Report: Members of the teachers union political action committee, PACE, are recommending to the full committee an endorsement for Schmerelson in his bid to unseat the two-time incumbent Tamar Galatzan, pledging to work tirelessly to remove her from the school board.
California suspends other standards for Common Core, for now AP: One set of California school standards has temporarily fallen victim to another. California's school accountability system and its new Common Core academic standards were put head-to-head on Wednesday, and Common Core won. See also NPR: Ditching The Common Core Brings A Big Test For Indiana, PBS NewsHour: Why some students are refusing to take the Common Core test.
Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly NYT: Apps and other software can put powerful teaching tools at teachers’ fingertips, but concerns abound over data security, effectiveness and marketing.
The new digital classroom, brought to you by SXSW Marketplace Learning Curve: One area that's getting a lot of attention is "making." The “Playground” area of SXSWedu was full of products focused on kids building things, using 3D doodlers and Lego robots.
Did school board violate Sunshine Law with private Arne Duncan huddle? Palm Beach Post: The Palm Beach Post's education reporting team of Andrew Marra and Sonja Isger notes that, notwithstanding Florida's Sunshine Law, five of seven Palm Beach County school board members met privately Monday with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Desperate for 2,600 teachers next year, Las Vegas is recruiting like mad. Watch the video and read the HuffPost story: Why Las Vegas Is Desperate To Hire Thousands Of Teachers.
Lack of Diversity Persists in Admissions to New York City’s Elite High Schools NYT: Five percent of the students offered placement in eight specialized high schools were black and 7 percent were Hispanic, according to statistics released on Thursday. See also ChalkbeatNY.
Study: Novices Often Teach the Youngest, Neediest Students in Their Schools EdWeek: A new study finds that novice math teachers in a large urban district are more likely to teach the youngest and neediest students in their schools.
Teacher union will consider supporting Galatzan's opponent in Los Angeles Unified election LA Daily News: While Los Angeles Unified School Board member Tamar Galatzan handily defeated a field of five challengers in Tuesday's primary election, the teachers union said it will now consider supporting her opponent in the May 19 runoff. See also LA School Report.
After a series of defeats, opponents of Common Core open new fronts in battle against standards Hechinger Report: Legislators 19 states introduced bills to repeal the Common Core this session. So far none have succeeded. Repeal bills in even the reddest states – states like Mississippi, Arizona, and both Dakotas – have failed to make it to governors’ desks this year. See also SI&A Cabinet Report: Wyoming flips in support of science Common Core.
[For a roundup of actual opt-out numbers being reported in local NJ papers -- quite small in all but 4 affluent areas -- check out NJ Left Behind here.]
Gender Fluid Generation Medium: In many ways, it seems like gender non-conformity awareness is at all-time high. Last week Congressman Mike Honda announced via Twitter that he was the “proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild.” But schools are still catching up with the needs of gender nonconforming students. Last year, California’s first law protecting gender nonconforming students went into effect. It gives Jace the right to use the bathroom of his choice.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
First, education reporters too often do not have a firm enough grasp on the data for the issues which they are covering. Second, too much of education reporting is about raising or lowering the status of specific individuals, rather than examining the root causes of school system dysfunction.
- Neerav Kingsland (What We Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Charter School Performance)
Related posts: : Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage; About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; The Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County Coverage; San Diego Union-Tribune Corrects Washington Post Poverty Headline.
"Here I was, right outside my elementary school, [and] somebody’s pulling out a gun. And it was very clear that that was different." In this Bill Moyers interview from last Spring, the Atlantic writer Ta-Nehesi Coates describes an after-school experience that raised his awareness and shaped his interest in journalism.
See the whole interview here. See below for my little collection of quotes and references to Coates and education. Tell me if I've missed any good ones at @alexanderrusso.
Related posts: What They're Saying About That New Yorker Article; This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters"; AFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event; "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"; Bolstering The "Clueless Reformer" Critique; He's Referring To The NYC Department Of Education, Right?.
A Charter School Rally Duels With Teachers’ Unions in Albany NYT: Charter schools and teachers’ unions from New York City gathered for competing events and to press their causes in Albany. See also ChalkbeatNY, WNYC, Albany Times Union.
Election sets stage for L.A. Unified battle LA Times: The election results were not exactly the outcome the union had hoped for. A charter schools group, which emerged as a major force in the elections, made significant strides. In a contest that United Teachers Los Angeles fought hard to win, union-backed incumbent Bennett Kayser finished second to charter school founder Ref Rodriguez. See also LA School Report.
Boston Selects New Superintendent of Schools District Dossier: The city's education officials chose Tommy Chang, an instructional superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District, from a field of four finalists. See also Boston Globe.
New 'Consumer Reports' for Common Core finds learning materials lacking Washington Post: The initial report posted Wednesday examined materials that have at least a 10 percent market share and were endorsed by at least two states that said the materials were aligned with the Common Core.
GOP Education Chairman Anticipates Vote on Education Bill AP: Kline said he was "taken by surprise" by the opposition he says appears to have been fueled largely by a blog that said the bill would solidify the use of the standards and insert government control into private schools. Kline said the bill would do neither. He said opposition from the Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth also contributed to members' concerns.
Around The World, This Is How Girls And Boys Are Stacking Up Against Each Other In School HuffPost: Girls are now going to school longer than boys and significantly outperform boys in reading. Across countries examined in the report, boys are more likely to post low scores in math, reading and science. See also Washington Post.
More Children Eat Fruit in School, Study Shows NYT: The study found that from the time new nutritional guidelines went into effect in 2012 through last year, the percentage of students choosing fruits increased to 66 percent from 54 percent.
Body cameras for cops but classrooms too? SI&A Cabinet Reoprt: Instances of children with little to no verbal skills facing verbal or physical abuse at the hands of a special education instructor or a class aid have been documented even though it can be difficult for those children to express that he or she needs help.
After NPR's Wade Goodwyn’s moving report, One Night Only, about two dozen homeless singers performing at the Dallas City Performance Hall, I wiped tears from my eyes and made a resolution. This wonderful event must be celebrated, but I vowed to not use it as ammunition in our edu-political civil war.
The orchestra began to play "Somewhere" from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," and the homeless singers were "still a bit wobbly" as they joined in. After all, only about five of them were regular members of the chorus. Choral director Jonathan Palant had worked with 57 different choir singers over the last three months.
Then, Goodwyn reported, "Suddenly, a world-famous opera singer appears on the stage, seemingly out of nowhere. Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade walks into the middle of the Dallas Street Choir and puts her arms around two of the singers."
Together, they sing, There's a place for us. Somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air wait for us somewhere.
Goodwyn noticed "a lot of surreptitious wiping of eyes.” As a hundred other trained voices joined in, the homeless singers grew far more confident and melodious. "It was an evening they said they'd remember the rest of their lives."
But, Goodwyn's final words were nearly as striking in their pessimism, "For a night, two dozen of Dallas's homeless were lifted from the city's cold streets and sidewalks to bask in the warm glow of spotlights. For the usual hostility and indifference to their fate, they were traded love, respect and goodwill - one performance only."
Then, I read Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue post on the Gates Foundation’s new effort to address complex and interrelated housing problems.
School Districts Report Second Day Of Testing Problems StateImpact FL: The Tampa Bay Times reports Tampa-area schools had to suspend some testing for a second day. Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he won’t resume testing until the state can prove everything is working. Palm Beach school also will not test students on Wednesday. See also Bradenton Herald: State testing in Manatee County sees online delay but no need to suspend testing, ABC7 Common Core testing begins in California next week.
LAUSD Board Members in Runoff NBC SoCal: Los Angeles Unified School District board members Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic will have to compete in a May 19 runoff election as they fight to retain their seats, while incumbent George McKenna won re-election thanks to having no challengers. See also LA Times: One incumbent trails charter-school backed challenger in L.A. board balloting.
Taking the same road to Albany, education lobbying events on divergent paths ChalkbeatNY: They’re lobbying with the same goal in mind — to push policies that will improve public education — but what they’re asking for couldn’t look more different. Here are four things to know about Wednesday’s festivities.
School Agenda Bedevils Chicago Mayor in Race NYT: As Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago faces an unexpected runoff election, it is his education agenda that threatens his political future. See also Tribune: Emanuel says CPS had no choice but to back down in testing controversy.
Chris Christie’s bold plan to remake public schools is running into trouble Washington Post: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on a publicity blitz when he vowed to fix this city’s struggling schools with the most expansive re-engineering of urban education anywhere in the country.He told Oprah Winfrey in 2010 that Newark would become a “national model.” See also HuffPost: Unions Say They'll Sue Christie Again Over Pension Payments, Courier Post: Gov. Chris Christie's shifting position on Common Core.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Kudos to the team at KPCC Southern California Public Radio for showing how to correct a story online (and for reminding us that UTLA and SEIU have split on endorsing the sitting board chair, Richard Vladovic).
Step 1 is to indicate in the headline that the story has been corrected. KPCC goes with CORRECTED, but in my view an asterisk is also fine.
Step 2 is to indicate at the top of the story that there's been a change and what it is. Regretting the error is a classy flourish, though many news outlets can't seem to bring themselves to do so.
That's it. Not so hard, right?
Corrections should be avoided at all costs, but they're also inevitable given the pace of work and complexity of the issues. How you respond to them makes all the difference to readers and sources.
Related posts: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top; NYT Front-Pager Mis-Identifies Ed Trust President; FiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The Gate; NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Program.
I didn’t want to blog about Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? by Daniel Losen et. al. I support the efforts of Losen and the Center for Civil Rights Remedies to close the racial “discipline gap.” Students can’t learn if they are not in class and we need to invest in Restorative Justice, and other alternatives to suspensions.
We can’t punish our way to improved classrooms. Neither is it possible to systematically teach and learn for mastery in violent and chaotic schools, and Losen’s report calls for the remedies necessary to create safe, orderly, and caring learning environments. I just worry about the lack of an explicit push for the resources that would be necessary to replace the failed suspension-oriented approach to discipline.
I didn't want to touch the issue of disparate suspensions because I fear that systems will respond with data-driven pressure on teachers and principals to ignore disruptive and dangerous behavior, and refuse to invest the money and the focus necessary to replace suspensions with positive interventions.
Then, I read the Oklahoma Gazette’s summary of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies’ report, and its link to data from my last year in the classroom, 2009-2010. Ben Felder reports that the “Oklahoma City Public Schools is one of the top ten highest-suspending districts at the secondary level for all students, and is the highest suspending district in the nation for black secondary students.” Moreover, between 2010 and 2012, “overall suspension rates at the high school level also increased from 24.7 percent to 45.2 percent during the same period.”
The latest database shows that at the secondary level, OKCPS “suspension rates for black students climbed dramatically from 36.3% to 64.2%.” That increase of 27.9 points means that the district had a seemingly unbelievable increase in the black secondary student suspension rate of 80% in two years.
At the risk of angering many friends, who often blame teachers’ “Low Expectations” for discipline problems, I must still argue that the racial disparities in Oklahoma City are primarily due to segregation by race and class, and poverty made worse by underfunding of schools.
Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson Gets Contract Renewal District Dossier: Anderson and the state signed a three-year contract last year, but it required both parties to agree to an extension each year.
LA Teachers, Union Leaders Rally Amid Stalled Talks AP: The Los Angeles standoff has focused mostly on teacher salaries, class sizes and increasing the number of support staff members like nurses and counselors. The union notes that teachers have gone eight years without a salary increase or cost-of-living adjustment. See also LA Daily News: Teachers rally in downtown Los Angeles.
Standoff over new state school test continues Chicago Public Radio: Suburban parents gathered downtown Thursday to express their own concerns with the test. They want state lawmakers to approve an opt-out bill that would give parents the right to refuse to have their children tested. As it stands now, by law, the only way to refuse the test is for students to verbally state they won't take it.
In Dig at De Blasio, Cuomo Defends His Plan for Failing Schools WNYC: Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a vigorous defense of his plan to turnaround failing schools, one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio went to Albany and argued for an alternative. See also NYDN: De Blasio warns of flaws in Cuomo's education agenda
More teachers writing their own curricula under Common Core, says new report Hechinger Report via PBS NewsHour: The Center on Education Policy (CEP), a nonpartisan research group, reports that in roughly two-thirds of districts in Common Core states, teachers have developed or are developing their own curricular materials in math (66 percent) and English Language Arts (65 percent). In more than 80 percent of districts, the CEP found that at least one source for curriculum materials was local — from teachers, the district itself or other districts in the state. See also Washington Post: The Republican curriculum on Common Core.
Farmington teacher on paid leave after giving state testing opt-out forms to students Farmington Daily Times: Sharon Yocum, an Esperanza Elementary School fifth-grade teacher, was informed by a member of the Farmington Municipal School District administration Thursday morning that she would be placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation for alleged unprofessional conduct.
It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)
"In 1990, the highest level of education was found in the suburbs, seven to eight miles distant from the heart of Charlotte. By 2012, the Charlotte city center itself had the highest percentage of residents with college degrees." Thomas Edsall in the NYT, citing UVA research (The Gentrification Effect).
School breakfasts for low income students -- especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms -- can be controversial, even though it's not that new. (The newer thing is school dinner.)
Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn't been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here).
Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).
One place school breakfast hasn't been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.
The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS. Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn't as big as the school lunch program but it's much newer. Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools. This is Chicago's first year as part of the USDA's Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.
Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don't Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor Kids; Lunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics.