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Campaign 2015: LA School Board Candidate Won't Attend United Way Debates

Screenshot 2015-01-28 12.48.02
Pay no attention to the mis-captioned candidate pictures (the names for Rodriguez and Thomas were switched but have now been fixed) or or the hipster spelling of "yamaka" (I blame Hillel) or even the sloppy screenshot job of the original version of the captions (courtesy: me).

The real news is that incumbent LAUSD District 5 member (and charter target) Bennett Kayser announced that he was pulling out of two United Way-sponsored debates against challengers Thomas and Rodriguez. Why?  No one knows exactly. But it may well be that United Way LA “isn't exactly neutral” as it has been in the past, says LA Weekly's Hillel Aron. Yep, that's right.  United Way.

In LA and a few other places, United Way organizations aren't just gathering donations and providing services.  They're joining or leading coalitions, conducting parent information initiatives, and -- unavoidably -- taking sides.  

As one Kayser supporter put it (in the LA Weekly article), “Anybody who thinks the United Way [LA] has run even-handed candidate forums should look into buying land in Florida." 

Related posts:  "Education Mayors" Headline West Coast SummitLetter Opposing Publication Of Value-Added ScoresSchool Board Candidates Debate DeasyLos Angeles School Board Candidate Forum

 

Thompson: What Happens When Research Gets To The Schoolhouse

Jack Schneider begins his excellent From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse with the observation that academic research usually has a short-lived impact on the classroom. No matter how brilliant the scholar, research findings are "like names written on a steam-covered window, they fade from view."

From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse takes a "glass half-full" approach. It acknowledges that the "avalanche of disparate research" on education has usually not been intended for use by classroom educators." But, "Some of it is."

Schneider does not despair. He provides hope that, someday, we can create a "research-to-practice superhighway (rather than relying on a series of detours and back alleys)" in seeking the path toward school improvement. Probably the best we can do today is carve out a "research-to-practice pathway."

The education historian describes four successes in implementing ideas from the Ivory Tower, Benjamin  Bloom's Taxonomy, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, William Kirkpatrick's The Project Method, and Direct Instruction.  These three progressive concepts, and the final behaviorist approach, took root in public school classrooms, even though they did so "without altering the nature of the teaching profession." In contrast to similar concepts that failed to influence schooling, these successes shared four characteristics: Perceived Significance and Philosophical Compatibility with teachers' world views, Occupational Realism and Transportability to actual classrooms.

These concepts may not have transformed instruction, but they show that teachers can, and will, change and become active agents in their professional development. Moreover, they stand as a reminder that teachers can be as willing to be challenged by new ideas as other professionals.

Continue reading "Thompson: What Happens When Research Gets To The Schoolhouse" »

Quotes: Don't Hate The [School Board] Players, Hate The Game

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe propose that state laws be amended so that local boards have only two powers: to approve an annual slate of schools to operate in their locality, and to employ a CEO... Individual schools, not the local board, would employ teachers, rent or buy facilities and technology, and decide how to deliver instruction.  - Paul Hill in Crosscut (Want to fix the school board? Change the job, not the people)

Related posts:  "First, Kill All The School Boards"First, Kill All The [Elected] School BoardsFirst, Kill All The Policy WonksPointy Headed Pundits Can't Make Local Control Go Away$100 Billion (A Year) To Get Rid Of School Boards.

Thompson: Misgivings About NYC's New Cell Phone Policy

Like most teachers who I know, I have strong opinions about cell phones in school – I’m agin em.

But, I support Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, so why should I intrude into New York City’s cell phone debate? Edu-politics is the art of the possible and cell phones aren’t going away. At some point we will have to find a way to incorporate those hand-held computers into the learning process. So, I had decided to bite my tongue and hope for the best.

Then, I stumbled across TechCrunch and Joe Mathewson’s prediction for 2015, “Teachers will embrace student’s Smartphone addiction.” Such candor cannot be allowed to go to waste. Regardless of where we come down on cell phones in school, we should face the fact that we are welcoming a dominating compulsion into our classrooms.

NY Chalkbeat’s Brian Charles, in Educators Remain Cautious as City Prepares to Lift Cell Phone Ban, quotes a principal who asks, “How do we enforce the use of cell phones in class, if we have 500-plus kids with cell phones who are taking calls or text during class time?” The principal then makes the point that too few non-educators fully understand, “We have laid a whole new burden on teachers who have to make sure children get the instruction they need.”

I must emphasize that NYC is not only opening the door to an incredibly disruptive device. It is inviting teenagers to bring patterns of behavior, that often could be described as addictions, into classrooms. When teachers, alone, cannot manage the cell phone challenge, they are likely to be scapegoated.

I would never bet against technology. The reason why digital technologies have failed to improve teaching and learning, I believe, is that we have not laid the foundation for the new types of learning. We must all take responsibility for helping students develop a learning culture and the self-control necessary to successfully engage in blended learning. New York City is dumping a massive and complex challenge on teachers and principals, while it is not likely to accept any responsibility for the epidemic of distraction and disorder that probably will result.

On the other hand, school improvement is a team effort. I'm not going to second guess teammates like de Blasio and Farina and I will hope for the best.  -JT (@drjohnthompson)    

 

 

 

Journalism: Atlantic Story Highlighting "Racial Gerrymandering" Named Magazine Award Finalist

One of the handful of articles nominated for a national magazine award yesterday includes Nikole-Hannah-Jones' school resegregation story, which ran in The Atlantic and is a finalist in the Public Interest category. 

Longtime readers may recall Hannah-Jones from her appearance at an EWA panel on covering communities of color and inclusion on a list of diverse education tweeters I attempted to compile earlier this year. 

While both reformers and reform critics might want to claim her as one of their own, her reporting on racial gerrymandering of school attendance zones calls into question neighborhood- and school district-based policies that few professional education advocates are willing to challenge.

The National Magazine Award is a big deal and it's not often that an education-related publication or article gets nominated. In 2011, an Atlantic Magazine story about the discovery of autism was nominated. In 2013, Peg Tyre's story about teaching writing in Staten Island got the nod. Further in the past, a TIME story on ADD was also nominated.

You can read the May 2014 segregation story here, or watch her on C-SPAN here. Check out how your district may be resegregating over the past 60 years. 

Related posts: Atlantic Magazine Nominated For Autism StoryTeaching WritingThis More Diverse List Of Top Education Tweeters Needs More Names*

Update: "Serial" Eyewitness Blames Tensions On Magnet Program

NPR's big podcast success, Serial, is long done now, but more news has been trickling out about some of the characters from the series (about the murder of a high school student). In this interview with one of the key witnesses (Witness from 'Serial' Tells His Story for First Time) there's the claim that tensions at Woodlawn high school were exacerbated by the creation of a magnet wing at the school:

When Woodlawn put in the magnet thing, they took out all the vocational classes. Before you would just go down there for drafting, shop, and everyone would co-mingle, and all the students interacted. But when they put the magnet wing in, it was kinda like ‘these people were different from us.’ And they didn’t have to interact with us anymore. They didn’t have to go by us, except to come to lunch, and that was it. But their gym, lockers, parking, was down in the magnet wing. And I found that to be a bit of a slap in the face. Because I knew football had paid for all of that, but there were few football players down there. Football paid for everything at the school.

Others know much more than I do about Woodlawn and about magnet programs being added to existing high schools -- but it seemed like an interesting claim to me and a fun way to bring up the show again.

Related post: Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?

Maps: Is Mayoral Control The Exception Or Is It Pretty Common?

Twenty years after the state legislature gave control over Windy City schools to City Hall, mayoral control is hotly debated in Chicago. The local PBS station takes a look and gives us this map. (Appointed vs. Elected School Board | Chicago Tonight | WTTW).

Charts: Suburban Poverty Is A Thing, ICYMI

image from www.brookings.edu

"Since 2000, poverty has grown twice as fast in America's suburbs as in America's cities. That is one of the findings from research on suburban poverty in America conducted by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube. (Top Brookings Infographics of 2014)

 

AM News: NYC Gives Success Charter Schools More Space To Expand

Success Charter Schools Secure More City Space WNYC: The Department of Education agreed on Thursday to give more space to the city's largest charter school network, Success Academy. The backroom deal came a day after Success founder Eva Moskowitz released a letter from anxious parents and just hours before she was scheduled to stage a press conference outside City Hall. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Details On The Administration's New College Ratings System NPR: Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February. Washington Post,  NYT, NPR again.

Common Core, Non-Common Core States Face Similar Challenges, GAO Says PK12: For instance, states in both camps are giving teachers professional development to implement the standards, but they're worried the training isn't high-quality. And all states with new standards are developing new instructional materials that are supposed to match them—but that can be time- consuming, and there isn't always as much alignment as states were hoping for. It can also be pretty tricky to communicate with parents and the public about the standards, states told the GAO, which is considered Congress' investigative arm.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Gives Success Charter Schools More Space To Expand" »

Charts: Student Retention Rate Drops (Was Never That High)

Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 10.49.50 AMStudent retention has never been all that high, nationally. A new AERA study shows that, after peaking at 2.9 percent in 2005, overall retention rates for grades 1 through 9 declined to 1.5 percent in 2009-10 (Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010).

 

Media: Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?

In case you hadn't heard, This American Life spinoff "Serial" is a big hit.  Focusing on the murder of a high school student in Maryland, it's a true-crime "whodunit?" with lots of excellent school-related characters and tidbits. One California teacher has replaced Shakespeare with the series.

But it's increasingly facing a major backlash, focused in part on the fact that the reporting team behind the piece is all white and the main characters are minorities: "What happens when a white journalist stomps around in a cold case involving people from two distinctly separate immigrant communities? Does she get it right?" (Success And 'Serial' Backlash - DiggSerial' & White Reporter Privilege - The AwlThe Complicated Ethics Of 'Serial,' - ThinkProgress).

I'll leave the merits and details of the pushback to others -- Conor F. at The Atlantic has a long piece defending the show -- to point out that a very similarly popular show by This American Life last year focusing on Harper High school in Chicago generated little such concern despite many similarities.

White reporters? Check. Set in and around a high school? Check. Minority community? Check. Widespread acclaim? Check.

According to some critics, Serial and TAL have a lot in common:  "Ethnic naïveté and cultural clumsiness are hardly unique to Serial. They’re woven into the fabric of its parent show, This American Life, which over its 20-year history has essentially made a cottage industry out of white-privileged cultural tourism," writes Quartz's Jeff Yang.

But Harper High didn't generate nearly as much criticism as Serial has. The two-part Harper High show (Episodes 487 and 488) won widespread accolades and to my knowledge just a smidgen of criticism. "In the end, I believe that [TAL's] coverage served to excuse many of the most harmful practices in our schools today and perpetuate some of the most harmful myths about urban education."

I can think of lots of possible reasons for the disparity -- though none is entirely satisfying. Perhaps "Harper High" is simply better than Serial, more careful to protect against stereotypes and white privilege. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping when immigrants (Korean- and Pakistani-American) are involved than African-Americans. Or, it could be that the criticism results from the multi-week format. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping in 2014 than we were in 2013?

Related posts: Scripps Honors This American Life's "Harper High";  What Happens When Harper's SIG Ends?Chicago Teacher Critiques "This American Life"

Morning Video: Project-Based Schools Competing With Charters In Philadelphia

Here's a two-parter from Learning Matters/PBS NewsHour last week that you may not have seen. Part 1 above, focusing on Science Leadership Academy and other project-based schools. Part 2 here.

Quotes: Former NYC Mayor Blames Unions For Violence Against Black Males

Quotes2Maybe all these left-wing politicians who want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers so that we can drastically and dramatically improve education. - Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Giuliani Says Teachers Unions Are To Blame For Violence In Black Communities in HuffPost). See also Valerie Strauss.

Morning Video: Success Academy's Eva Moscowitz At AEI

Live-watch Rick Hess interview Moskovitz, whose charter network now includes 9,ooo students in 32 schools across NYC. Video not working? Link is here. Let us know if she or he say something newsworthy!

Update: Fact-Checking Cami Anderson (X2)

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

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

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

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

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Chicago, LA Unions Both Run By Brown Alums

Any love for education at CAP's policy conference today? http://ow.ly/EyLWE  @EdProgress @ulrichboser

Meet The TFA Official Charged With Bringing Change To Ferguson And Beyond http://ow.ly/EyFBJ  #BrittanyPacknett

Report cites high suspension rates for charter schools - Metro - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/ExnFd 

Karen Lewis' replacement in @ctulocal1 is a Brown grad, as is @UTLAnow's Alex Caputo Pearl http://ow.ly/EyF0G  Any other Brownies?

Report Offers 'Lessons Learned' From Teacher-Residency Programs - Teacher Beat - Education Week http://ow.ly/EyaDV 

Meet the activist who says “unions get way too much blame” - http://Salon.com  http://ow.ly/EyvnH 

Quotes: Trapped In Failing Schools

Quotes2I’ll tell you what I think is the biggest problem of race today, it’s poor black children trapped in failing neighborhood schools. - Condoleezza Rice on Fox via Brietbart

Watch: "Schools Suck," Says Reporter (Voicing The Feelings Of Many Journalists)

Earlier this month, Milwaukee-based investigative reporter Meghan Dwyer was onstage receiving a Regional Emmy for a school bullying segment “Scared at School" when things went a bit awry. It's not the worst thing in the world, this gaffe, but it illustrates a larger issue: that sometimes reporters work so hard for so long on stories and experience such frustration and sympathy for their sources that they cross over into advocacy and then, quite understandably, their feelings occasionally slip out (or into their work).  That's apparently why some newsrooms used to rotate reporters from one beat to the next, to prevent journalists from becoming hostage to a beat or taking sides in an ongoing dispute between stakeholders. 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: More Research Showing Disparate Impacts Of Teacher Hiring/Transfer Practices

New Harvard/Kane study shows how teacher hiring/transfer practices in LAUSD puts black minority kids at a disadvantage - http://ow.ly/Eiwos 

Organizers behind students protesting against TFA deny that they are acting as surrogates for union funders http://ow.ly/EitSQ 

Call it "corporate reform" not because of profit-making, but because it's so top-down, says @drjohnthompson http://bit.ly/116bW7Q 

Five states have shut down/threatened to shut virtual charter company K12 Inc, reports @bloombergnews http://ow.ly/Ehhxc 

State warning parents against opting Illinois kids out of #PARCC test http://sun-tim.es/1ot8yPh " implies consequences

Baltimore-based RiShawn Biddle is covering Minneapolis better than local newsrooms, says MinnPost's @BethHawkins http://ow.ly/EiCqP

 

Quotes: Truancy Officers Don't Want To Get In Way Of Family's Breadwinner

Quotes2Oftentimes in the community, the student who was out of the street, selling drugs or whatever, is one of the sole breadwinners of the family. And when you get in front of a family’s revenue stream and you make trouble for them ... To me, that’s not really positive.

-- Former Chicago truancy officer via WBEZ (State task force recommends Chicago Public Schools reinstate a new breed of truant officers)

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

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

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

Media: Oops!? Results From The Equity Project Same As Other NYC Charters

Part-time media critic Neerav "Relinquishment" Kingsland notes that several media outlets that covered the recent results showing strong outcomes for The Equity Project failed to realize that the school "Gets Same Results as Most Other Charter Schools in NYC."  It wasn't a liberal or conservative bias, however -- the WSJ, Vox, NPR, Shanker Blog, and National Review all missed it, according to Kingsland.  This suggests that journalists and bloggers need to be careful about the context into which they report their results, and also that NYC charters are somewhat higher performing that charters nationally.  

Afternoon Video: How Moskowitz "Outmuscled" The Teachers Union

Here's a pro-charter segment on Success Academy via ReasonTV.  Can't bear the thought?  Watch the NEA president talk about the union's hopes for teachers and tireless commitment to kids following last week's drubbing of teachers unions Democrats. Play them backwards or mash them up into a single video if you dare.

Thompson: Klein Book Exposes Klein's Flaws & Failures In NYC

Anyone seeking to understand the failure of Joel Klein to improve New York City schools should carefully read Alexander Nazaryan's latest article in Newsweek, Joel Klein's Book on American Schools Tries to Find a Way Forward. Even though the Newsweek reporter’s review of Klein’s new book, Lessons of Hope, obviously aspires to hagiography, read between the lines and he inadvertently captures the essence of the tragedy of school reform.

Nazaryan notes that a Google search may not find “a single kind word about Joel I. Klein.” His revisionist review tries to explain why Klein should not be dismissed as “a tone-deaf autocrat, too comfortable in the parlors of the Upper East Side, not comfortable enough in the school auditoria of East New York and the South Bronx, where jeers often announced his arrival.”

To borrow from Nazaryan’s rhetoric, Klein was a reformer who didn’t successfully “reform much,” but he sure spent a lot of money. In 2003, for instance, the city’s average NAEP 8th grade reading score was 252. In 2009, it was 252. According to Nazaryan’s former employer, The Daily News, Klein took over a system that spent below $11,000 per student. By 2010-2011, that number rose by about 75% to $19,000. Who knows how much additional foundation money was lavished on schools that Klein used as gladiators to defeat neighborhood schools in the race to the test score top?  Moreover, during most of Klein's years, NYC schools benefited from an incredible economic boom. 

Nazaryan makes it seem like Klein had no other option than risk-taking and unleashing the full “brunt of his reforms” on teachers and students. Klein was opposed by UFT President Randi Weingarten, who was supposedly the “pedagogical version of Bull Connor.” Showing that he is oblivious to social science research, cognitive science and education history, as well as the position of Weingarten’s union, Nazaryan indicates that Klein had no choice but to turn students into lab rats because he had to shred “the noxious these-kids-can’t-learn belief deep at the heart of all union recalcitrance.” While doing so, Nazaryan seems to indicate that his knowledge of school improvement comes from the notorious, fact-challenged “The Lottery” and “Waiting for Superman.”

Like Klein, Nazaryan was a newbie when he helped establish a new small high school.  His only preparation was a “harrowing year of teaching middle school English.” After four years, mostly at a “mini-Princeton” selective school, Nazaryan turned to journalism as “a path out, or up, or whatever” from public schools.

Continue reading "Thompson: Klein Book Exposes Klein's Flaws & Failures In NYC " »

Quotes: Cincinnati Record Suggests Conversion To "Community Schools" May Not Be Enough In NYC

Quotes2What has gone largely unsaid is that many of Cincinnati’s community schools are still in dire academic straits, according to an analysis by The New York Times, despite millions of dollars in investment and years of reform efforts. - Javier Hernandez in a 2013 NYT article Pondiscio posted on Facebook in response to De Blasio school turnaround announcement.

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

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

Charts: Teachers = Teamsters?

image from educationnext.orgThere's lots to learn from Mike Antonucci's new Education Next piece on the rise and (projected) fall of teacher union membership and influence in America -- Antonucci manages to be both critical and sympathetic-seeming at the same time -- but this chart is a good place to start. Used with permission.

"Even if their current difficulties continue, the NEA and the AFT will never disappear. But their days of dominating the education environment are on the wane. In the future, we will look upon them as we now do the Teamsters, as remnants of an earlier age."

Some of the same issues and dynamics can be found in Stephanie Simon's latest piece on union advocacy and influence in the 2014 midterms.  Whether the trends are good for American schoolkids, or bad, or a mixed bag, I'll leave for another day or others to say -- but I wrote a book about a neighborhood charter school with a "thin" union contract if that gives you a clue.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: New Reform Groups Pop Up In Boston & NY

TIME reports allegations of mass cheating on SAT http://ow.ly/DxjNF  Students demand apology [no, not really]

Boston failing thousands of students, says reform group - CommonWealth Magazine http://ow.ly/DwXKm  - FFES lands in Boston

Pro-Common Core group "High Achievement New York" says repeal would cost NY $280M http://ow.ly/DwSdh 

Fascinating new @EducationNext look at what's going on inside teachers unions and where they're going http://ow.ly/Dxc4T 

This Is What Happens When You Criticize TFA | The Nation http://ow.ly/DwWtM 

Cuomo calls public school system a ‘monopoly’ he wants to bust http://ow.ly/DwhRm  [But NYSUT still won't officially oppose him]

With $100M pledge, Apple hops on board Obama program to wire up schools - Chicago Tribune http://ow.ly/Dw2LQ 

Quotes: You Think *Charter* Schools Are The Real Problem? Think Again.

Quotes2The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights currently has 40 open investigations prompted by concerns that districts had shortchanged minority students...  In addition, the department is monitoring compliance agreements with 18 other districts that have adopted plans to redress inequities. - NYT editorial board in response to Office of Civil Rights announcemnt (The Department of Education Offers States Guidance on Equality

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Klein Vs. Ravitch, Part 157

New @JoelIKlein book reiterates his claim that @DianeRavitch reform reversal was personally motivated, says Newsweek's @alexnazaryan

@DianeRavitch: @JoelIKlein @alexnazaryan Silly. My "reversal" occurred five years after my partner retired from NYC DOE.

The internecine conflict within NJ teachers union (& across the nation) - NJ Spotlight http://ow.ly/DigSL  @NJLeftbehind

Your local schools probably aren't nearly as good as you think they are - @BrookingsEd http://ow.ly/Dik3O 

Public Schools... for the rich — Joanne Jacobs http://ow.ly/Dip4x 

Rethinking vocational high school as a path to college | http://Marketplace.org  @ehanford http://ow.ly/Dijhi 

Just 8 states - AL, KY, NE, MT, ND, SD, VT, WV - still don't allow charters, and AL could be next to fall http://ow.ly/DijMU 

NPR's 50 great teachers premiers on Tuesday WFSU http://ow.ly/Di9l7  @npr_ed

 

 

Morning Listen: Cortines Promises Improvements In LAUSD

"On Monday, Ramon Cortines took over as the superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District. The 82-year-old is replacing John Deasy who resigned from the post last week. Cortines faces plenty of challenges as current head of the nation's second largest school district. But he's been in this seat before. Twice as a matter of fact. Ramon Cortines spoke with Take Two on Monday, his first day back on the job."

Cortines-1927761f

 KPCC: New LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines talks top priorities for LA schools

Journalism: But Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comFordham's Mike ("Kojak") Petrilli has a new piece online this morning (Online education coverage is on the rise) over at Education Next (which I sometimes write for), taking a look at the "new breed" of education journalism out there over the past year or so.

What's new, or missing, or wrong in the Petrilli piece?

Clearly someone with access to Politico Pro, Petrilli notes that in addition to Morning Education the outlet "pumps out loads of ministories, and at least a handful of meaty ones, almost every day."

Anyone else seen these pieces, and if they're so influential why aren't they getting passed around?

Petrilli describes Chalkbeat as "a geographically based Education Week," which I'm sure will irk both EdWeek and Chalkbeat for different reasons.

The big surprise for me here is the presence of The Daily Caller, which Petrilli says gets tons of pageviews but I never see passed around. Anyone else read it?

What about RealClear Education, where there is a smattering of original writing in addition to great morning and afternoon roundups, or NPR Education, where Drummond et al have been crushing us with so many education stories we can't keep up? 

What else can I add? 

Check out a few more tidbits and some bottom-line observations below the fold.

Continue reading "Journalism: But Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?" »

Thompson: It's OK To Celebrate Deasy’s Departure, Teachers

The Los Angeles Times’ Too Many Maverick Moments Finally Led to Deasy’s Undoing at LAUSD, by Howard Blume and James Rainey, is probably the best account of how the LA School Board finally lost patience with the “uncommunicative, ungovernable, somewhat detached leader.”

Journalists and scholars rightly take a dispassionate stance and place John Deasy’s defeat in the overall context of systematic change, and why it is hard to improve large urban school systems. The best of that genre is Deasy's Exit Reflects Other School Battles Across the U.S., by Teresa Watanabe and Stephen Ceasar, who place Deasy's rejection in the context of the backlash against corporate reform. He is one of many advocates of high stakes testing who are falling like dominoes.  

Education policy and union leaders are correct in being gracious and not gloating over our victory in forcing the Broad-trained Deasy to resign.

I hope they all understand, however, why classroom teachers must celebrate the rejection of another teacher-bashing corporate reformer. People who haven’t been in the public school classroom can’t fully appreciate the humiliation of having to endure the venom of ideologues like Deasy, Michelle Rhee, and too many other accountability hawks.

Deasy, and others who say that data, leadership, and accountability can overcome the legacies of poverty by fostering High Expectations!, could in theory create such a culture by clearing out the deadwood and creating a lean and determined administrative culture. But, I would ask policymakers if they have ever heard of a punitive management system, in any sector of the economy, where top bureaucrats selflessly accepted all of charges placed on them, and they did not turn around and dump that toxicity on their subordinates.

Real world, the poison spewed by Deasy et. al always flows downhill. Teachers are denigrated. A test and punish culture invariably pollutes classrooms, and students are the prime victims. So, let’s take time to celebrate the defeat of Deasy, and use that energy to invigorate the counterattacks against Newark’s Cami Anderson, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, and Rahm Emanuel.

In doing so, we must also envision a time when the last test and punish reformer is not replaced by another blood-in-the-eye crusader. Then, we can celebrate and the turn all of our energy towards better, more humane schools for all.-JT (@drjohnthompson)

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

Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 3.13.20 PM
"Among the top quarter of these low-income high schools, 60 percent or more of the students went to college in the fall." (Hechinger Report:  Twenty five percent of low-income urban high schools beat the odds). Image used with permission.

AM News: All Eyes On California (Deasy/Cortines, Tuck/Torlackson, San Diego)

CA Schools chief race may be election's tightest AP: Tuck has nearly matched Torlakson in campaign fundraising, with $1.9 million, while a Southern California businessman who often supports Republican candidates, William Bloomfield Jr., has independently picked up the tab for at least $900,000 worth of slate mailers and ads on his behalf.

Deasy's exit reflects other school battles across the U.S. LA Times: Top leaders in some of the largest districts — in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Texas and elsewhere — have come under tremendous pressure: some lost their jobs, one faced a massive teachers strike, and lawsuits have been filed against them, among other things.

New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser KPCC:  New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans for the school district’s most pressing problems won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy. “Dr. Deasy did many things well, but I will not be using his services,” Cortines said in an interview with KPCC’s Take Two on Monday.

The Short Shelf Life Of Urban School Superintendents NPR: If you're a 12th grader right now in the Los Angeles schools, that means you probably started kindergarten back in 2001. It also means that, as of this week, you've seen four superintendents come and go.

Teacher who flew to Dallas for Common Core seminar put on leave out of Ebola fear The Answer Sheet: A Maine teacher flew to Dallas to attend an educational conference — miles away from the hospital where three cases have been diagnosed — and was told to stay away from the elementary school where she works for 21 days.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On California (Deasy/Cortines, Tuck/Torlackson, San Diego)" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Deasy Resigns From LA - Cortines Named Interim

Reaction to Deasy resignation as polarizing as his tenure #LAUSD http://wp.me/p2fzpD-7Rn 

LAUSD kids under @DrDeasyLAUSD outpaced other urban kids in gains on NAEP in reading & math, but raw scores still well behind big-city avg

State Education Funding Lags Behind Pre-Recession Levels - US News http://ow.ly/CRqlh  @alliebidwell

Jindal's teacher tenure law ruled constitutional by LA Supreme Court | http://NOLA.com  http://ow.ly/CSixi  @jwilliamsNOLA

De Blasio: Congratulations, @RahmEmanuel for taking steps toward bringing universal pre-k to Chicago’s kids next year.

Ravitch blog reaches 15M pageviews in just over 2 years blog http://ow.ly/CSjd7  Anyone else anywhere near her, including mainstream?

Quotes: Philly Reform Critic Accused Of Charter Double-Talk

Quotes2[Gym] went into attack mode, viewing everything as a privatization conspiracy. At the same time she would frequently call me to solicit money for her charter school. I found this to be odd and hypocritical. -- Jeremy Nowak in Philly Magazine (Gym denies this)

AM News: Ailing Chicago Union Leader Decides Against Mayoral Run, May Have Brain Tumor

Karen Lewis has brain tumor, not running for mayor Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who just pulled out of mayoral contention, is suffering from a cancerous brain tumor that was diagnosed shortly after she experienced a severe headache last week.

Union Leader Will Not Run for Chicago Mayor NYT: Karen Lewis, the Chicago union leader who had been considering a bid to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will not run as she continues treatment after surgery for an undisclosed medical condition, her exploratory committee said Monday.

Chicago Union Head Decides Against Mayoral Bid AP: Emanuel issued a statement after her announcement wishing her a quick recovery. "I have always respected and admired Karen's willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city's future," said Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff. 

Karen Lewis not running for mayor WBEZ: Emanuel already faces several declared challengers, including his vocal critic in the City Council, Ald. Bob Fioretti; Dr. Amara Enyia, an urban development consultant; former Chicago Ald. Robert Shaw; Chicago police officer Frederick Collins; and conservative activist William J. Kelly.

As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works NYT: A charter school training program reflects the belief that teachers, like doctors, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can take the reins in classes of their own.

It's 2014. All Children Are Supposed To Be Proficient. What Happened? NPR:  No Child Left Behind law famously set this year as the date when, well, no children would be left behind. So now what?

Classes, homework and working with refugees USA TODAY: Typically, a college student's schedule is packed with classes, homework and maybe a job or two. For some, working with refugees is also on the list. There are nearly 300,000 refugees and 90,000 asylum-seekers currently residing in the U.S.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Ailing Chicago Union Leader Decides Against Mayoral Run, May Have Brain Tumor" »

AM News: NYC To Get 17 More Charters, Despite District Opposition

SUNY green-lights 17 more city charter schools, 14 for Success Academy ChalkbeatNY: A State University of New York committee unanimously approved 17 additional charter schools to open over the next two years, with 14 of the charters going to Success Academy, the city’s largest and most controversial network. The other three charters went to Achievement First, a Brooklyn-based network of schools.

City Nears Charter Cap as 17 More Schools Win Approval WNYC: A State University of New York committee charged with overseeing charter schools authorized 17 more charter schools to open in New York City over the next two years, 14 of them operated by the city's largest and in many respects most controversial network.

17 Charter Schools Approved for New York City, Expanding a Polarizing Network NYT: The decision by a state committee substantially increased the size of Success Academy, one of the city’s largest and most polarizing charter networks.

Philadelphia Teachers' Union Vows to Fight Contract Cancellation District Dossier: The School Reform Commission cancelled the teachers' union contract on Monday, prompting backlash from some educators and other supporters of the union.

D.C. public schools enrollments continue to climb Washington Post: Enrollment is up in both D.C. charter and traditional public schools this year, according to unofficial numbers released this week by officials from the D.C. Public Charter School Board and D.C. Public Schools.

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan On Common Core WBUR: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was back in Massachusetts Wednesday visiting Springfield Technical College to talk about the important role that community colleges play in job training. 

Boston Superintendent's Job Draws Numerous Candidates District Dossier: Candidates hail from Canada to Florida. The majority have been superintendents, and the group is predominantly male.

Seattle School District Settles Rape Allegation AP: Seattle school district to pay $700,000 to family of girl who said she was raped on field trip

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: StudentsFirst Succession, Success Academy Expansion

California School Voucher Backer [& Democratc] To Head U.S. Education Reform Group ow.ly/CskGl

Major expansion for Success, growing dread in districts | Capital New York ow.ly/Csv18 @elizashapiro

Common Core Copyright: What Does It Really Mean? 5 Questions http://ow.ly/Crt8b  @minnichc @emmelinez

Here's Another Big Funder Swaying Education in One State - Inside Philanthropy http://ow.ly/CrZ68 

Chicago Schools Under Fire Over Dirty Conditions, Rotten Food ow.ly/CskTE @robojo features awful lot of CTU & ILRYH sources

What Keeps Women Out of Elite Colleges? Their SAT Scores – The Chronicle of Higher Education ow.ly/Cs4wG

“The starchy-vegetable lobby was quick to take offense" and other choice quotes from the NYT school lunch storyow.ly/CsjR8

Charts: Education Majors Enjoy Low Unemployment, High Satisfaction

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

Special education teachers are on the list of low-paying majors at mid-career ($47,000), and Elementary and Early education jobs pay even less (13 charts that explain why your college major matters). But on the other hand, unemployment rates for education majors are 5 just percent, second-lowest after health care and roughly the same as STEM.  Something to keep in mind when considering claims of massive layoffs, etc. And when it comes to meaningful work, early childhood, SPED, and even elementary teachers rank pretty high compared to other college-educated jobs. Check all the charts out via Vox.  Image used with permission.

Media: NYC Public Radio Revamps Education Site

On Monday, WNYC's SchoolBook education site relaunched with new media partners and a new expanded focus on school data.  

As you may remember, WNYC and the New York Times launched SchoolBook together a few years ago, but even before things really got rolling the Times folded up shop when some of the key players over there moved on to other work or left the paper.  The reporting came from WNYC, and the original data setup came from the NYT side -- but there was no original NYT reporting dedicated to SchoolBook.

You can read a bit about the launch effort here at the Nieman Journalism Lab, the gist of which is that the new site will include content from other sites (WNBC and the New York Daily News, among others) and expanded/improved data on individual schools and language offerings (Spanish, Mandarin).  There won't apparently be any expansion in the newsgathering operation at WNYC, however -- which was the site main original addition (or at least the one I valued most).

You can read the official press release below the fold. Or check out some coverage of the launch:  SchoolBook Service Walks Parents Through Admissions Process (WNBC), Revamped Website to Offer News on New York City Public Schools (NYT). The Times calls the nonprofit/commercial partnership unusual (even though the original partnership was the same hybrid offering).

We'll learn more about the new site on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show this morning. Someone who pays closer attention will be able to compare the offerings to other sites that cover NYC schools (like ChalkbeatNY and InsideSchools).

Related posts: WNYC's SchoolBook Adds Features For New YearHow SchoolBook Aims To Get More Folks InvolvedSchoolBook To Rely On Crowdsourcing, Require Facebook IDNYT Editor Leaving SchoolBook In Good HandsNew York Times' Diminished Role On Education Site.

Continue reading "Media: NYC Public Radio Revamps Education Site" »

Journalism: NYT Gets It Wrong On NCLB Tutoring Requirement

Motoko Rich's latest NYT piece isn't really focused on NCLB sanctions but rather the political standoff between Washington State officials and the Obama administration over use of test scores to help evaluate teachers.

Still, NCLB sanctions are the only real-world impact of the fact that Washington State schools are still operating under the original NCLB -- the only reason anyone cares, really -- and the exaggerations and misundertandings of that law are in many ways a precedent for the current confusions/criticisms surrounding Common Core.

So it's worth reminding everyone what NCLB did and din't require.  

Specifically, the law didn't require "private" tutoring for schools not making AYP repeatedly.  It required tutoring provided by someone other than the school, including nonprofits, community groups, commercial tutoring companies, and sometimes even school districts (like Chicago, which received a federal waiver to provide tutoring to non-AYP schools).*

Whether or not the tutoring was top-notch, many schools and districts lined up against it because it meant that someone else was teaching their kids (and possibly doing a better job) and that they got slightly less federal funding than in the past under their control. Some districts and students responded ungenerously, by making their own students travel to other locations for tutoring rather than making arrangements for in-school delivery. 

What NCLB *did* do, among other things, was require annual reading and math tests for schools receiving federal education funding, and require districts to test all students and report out data based on subgroups, and severely limit the use of non-certified aides and out-of-field teachers who were often assigned to low-income children and paid for with federal funding. It also encouraged federal lawmakers to increase Title I funding substantially, in order to help pay for things like extra tutoring that students at schools that weren't doing right by poor kids might need.

NCLB was far from a perfect law, to be sure. The student transfer provisions were ridiculously weak, and the law allowed states to continue to set their own cut scores on annual tests, making it seem like kids were doing much better than they really were.  But it -- like Common Core and the assessments -- shouldn't be so eaisly used as a convenient dumping ground for educators' and advocates' talking points.

*NCLB also didn't require districts to shutter schools, or fire teachers.  Those were possible options, sure, but very little of that was done under NCLB, and even under the subsequent school turnaround initiative based on NCLB (SIG). But that's for another time.

Morning Video: A Closer Look At Philadelphia Budget Cuts

Quotes: "Students Before Teachers." Says Harvard Law Prof

Quotes2Progressives should be part of the solution. We can't succumb to simplistic defenses of the distorted teacher protection schemes. We must confront the demonstrable effects of these laws. The future of public education and of the teaching profession can be brighter only when we place students' rights first and foremost on our list of priorities.-- Laurence H. Tribe in USA Today (Students before teachers)

AM News: NYC Charter Schools Flex Political/Parent Muscle (Again)

For a third year in a row, pro-charter groups plan large political rally ChalkbeatNY:  Calling itself the “Coalition for Education Equality,” a group led by the pro-charter Families for Excellent Schools announced they will stage a large education rally on Oct. 2 at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. 

Is there too much testing in the public schools? PBS NewsHour: Alberto Carvalho is the superintendent of Miami-Dade County School District, who’s calling for changes. His district is dealing with dozens of mandated tests throughout the year. And Kathleen Porter-Magee is with the Partnership for Inner-City Education. She’s also a fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

When the digital classroom meets the parents Marketplace APM: On a recent night at High Tech Los Angeles, a charter high school in Van Nuys, California, a group of parents got a lesson in just what that means. One of them was Nooneh Kradjain, who has two sons at the high school, and was busy scribbling notes. She said she was struck by how much things have changed since she was in school. 

Emanuel says he 'made a mistake' in naming school after Obama Sun Times: Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he “made a mistake” in his “rush to honor” President Barack Obama — which is why he dropped plans to name a new, $60 million selective-enrollment high school on the Near North Side after his former boss.

White high school dropouts are wealthier than black or Latino college graduates Vox: When it comes to building wealth, whites have a vast advantage over their black and Hispanic peers. Writing at Demos, Matt Bruenig dug into the Federal Reserve's latest Survey on Consumer Finances and found a huge wealth gap by race and ethnicity.

Center for Union Facts says Randi Weingarten is ruining nation’s schools Washington Post: The 11-page mailing, on expensive paper stock, was sent first class to 125,000 households across the country this week.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Charter Schools Flex Political/Parent Muscle (Again)" »

Quotes: Orfield: "We Still Don't Have A Lot Of Data"

Quotes2We have more data than we used to have before the accountability revolution, but we still don’t have a lot of data.

- UCLA's Gary Orfield in FiveThirtyEight (The Most Important Award In Public Education Struggles To Find Winners)

Afternoon Audio: Recovering 50,000 Dropouts Is Chicago's Latest Effort

From old-school drive-arounds looking for stray kids to targeted online programs, Chicago's trying to recover 17-21 year olds who could graduate high school. Nothing showing? Here's the link (and also the transcript).

Thompson: How Chicago Increased Graduation Rates

The single most successful reform in any of my old schools was the establishment of Freshmen Academies. We had very little money to invest in school improvements, but our high schools got the biggest bang for the buck from a "High Touch," team effort to get 9th graders on track.

Our successes were consistent with the findings of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) which show, “Graduation is mostly determined in the ninth grade year.” 

The CCSR’s Tim Knowles, in Chicago Isn't Waiting for Superman,  reports that, for the second year in a row, Chicago’s graduation rate jumped 4%. It is now a record-high 69.4%. 

Chicago focused “on what research told school leaders would matter most," keeping freshmen on track to graduate" by improving their attendance and tailoring interventions to particular students’ needs. Knowles explains, “The new focus compelled greater problem-solving and collaboration among teachers and administrators committed to ensuring every single student was on-track for graduation.” 

He says that it “might sound small or obvious,” but “the focus on freshman on-track represented a major psychological and cultural shift for school leaders.” 

Policy people tend to lack an understanding of “promoting power,” and putting teens on "positive trajectories." Repeated failure does no good for anyone, but success breeds success.  

The focus on test scores has distracted adults from what really matters, helping students progress.  It might (or might not) be good when the average student correctly answers a couple more bubble-in test questions, but what do those numbers really mean? When educators and students work together, and kids make it over the finish line, however, we know something meaningful was accomplished. –JT(drjohnthompson) 

AM News: Union Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark

CTU President Karen Lewis meets with Newark Mayor WGN-TV: The Chicago Sun-Times reports Chicago Teacher's Union President, Karen Lewis, another possible candidate for mayor, was in Newark, New Jersey over the past few days. She was talking with Newark's mayor, who also had a background in education.

Karen Lewis in Jersey to talk to Newark educator-turned-mayor Chicago Sun-Times: Possible mayoral hopeful Karen Lewis last week traveled to Newark and apparently took part in a series of meetings and seminars, including with the city's mayor, who happens to have a bit in common with Lewis. 

Strained ties cloud future of Deasy, LAUSD LA Times: The controversy engulfing Los Angeles Unified's $1.3-billion technology project has inflamed long-held tensions between the Board of Education and Supt. John Deasy, who is questioning whether he should step down.

New York City Charter Schools Test New Rent Rules WNYC: Ascend is among the first wave of charters seeking to take advantage of a state law approved in April that requires the city to give charters free space in public school buildings or pay their rent.

For Teachers, Many Paths Into The Classroom ... Some Say Too Many NPR:  One in five newly hired teachers has skipped university preparation for teaching. Indiana is the latest state to make entering the classroom easier.

Room for Debate: How to Diversify Teaching NYT: What can be done to make a career in education more attractive to men and people of color?

With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise NYT: Parent groups and privacy advocates are challenging the practices of an industry built on data collection, and California has passed wide-ranging legislation protecting students’ personal information.

Schools move toward ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies to boost student tech use Washington Post: His iPhone is on his desk, out in the open, and Joshua Perez’s teacher does not take it away. Instead, she asks the eighth-grader and his classmates in honors geometry at Argyle Magnet Middle School to Google the words “vertex form parabola.”

Using tablets to teach reading Marketplace: We're kicking off a week-long series on how technology is changing reading.

Ready To Work WNYC: Next, we'll spend time at a vocational school in one of America's wealthiest school districts in Lexington, MA. Then: a trip to Nashville, where failing schools have been turned into so-called "career academies" that focus on technical education.

San Diego School District's New 18-Ton Armored Vehicle Creates Stir NPR: The mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, will have teddy bears in it, school police officials say. The MRAP is a piece of military surplus equipment that's worth around $733,000.

California School Cops Received Military Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Armored Vehicles HuffPost: A Los Angeles Unified School District spokesperson who requested anonymity confirmed school police received the gear noted in the report. The district, which has 400 sworn officers, has been receiving military weaponry since 2001, the spokesperson said.

Twitter Erupts as Nicki Minaj’s Offer to School Is Declined NYT: Students at the rapper’s alma mater, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, post their dismay after a visit falls through.

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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.