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Quotes: Union "Cannot Go On Denying Responsibility For School Quality"

Quotes2The fact is, that while NEA does not control curriculum, set funding levels, or hire and fire, we cannot go on denying responsibility for school quality. - Former NEA President Bob Chase (in 1997) via DFER's Charlie Barone

 

Magazines: New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School

I'm not sure there's anything entirely new or shocking in it, but image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker goes deep with its latest education story (A Struggling School Made a Shocking Choice), by contributor Rachel Aviv.

"Struggling to meet data-driven district targets, as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind, administrators and teachers at Parks first began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests in 2006.

"The resulting scores significantly raised the school’s percentage of eighth graders who met the state’s standards.

"The success created an ongoing cycle that fostered continuous cheating—by 2008, the practices had become what Christopher Waller, the school’s former principal, calls a “well-oiled machine.”

The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.  

Could it happen again soon? The story seems to suggest it's likely.

Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.

Previous New Yorker posts: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth"New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next.

Update: Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance

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Here's something I've been thinking might happen for a while now -- a new national network of diverse charter schools has been announced.

Included among the founding members are several of the schools I profiled in Education Next a couple of years ago (Brooklyn Prospect, Bricolage (NOLA), Community Roots, DSST (Denver), and yes, Success Academy.

See the full press release below, and tune into (attend) the panel on diverse charters at 4pm local time in Las Vegas.

Previous posts: Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse NOLA Charter OpensDiverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability; and Change Could Help Promote Charter Diversity.

Continue reading "Update: Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance" »

Morning Video: Campbell Brown Previews NY Version Of Vergara Lawsuit

Local Fox News segment on NY version of Vergara that's being planned, featuring Mayor de Blasio and Campbell Brown.

Rebuttal: Don't Use Chicago As A Deseg Model

Ecastro flickr office of the principalIn response to yesterday's NYT oped from Rick Kahlenberg touting the Chicago model of income-based diversity enhancement, longtime Chicago special education advocate Rod Estvan wrote the following rebuttal suggesting that Chicago's results from the Kahlenberg plan haven't been all that good: 

"Unfortunately Dr. Kahlenberg does not discuss the fact that Payton’s admission system which is in part based on census tracts is being advantaged by the middle class and even wealthier families who live in enclaves within overall poorer community census tracts. In 2013, only 31.4% of Payton students were from low income families regardless of race whereas back in 2002 the school had about 37% low income students when there was no social economic admissions process but only a race based process."

See the full response below the fold.

Continue reading "Rebuttal: Don't Use Chicago As A Deseg Model" »

Morning Video: DC Chancellor Kaya Henderson

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Chancellor Kaya faces questions from Andy Rotherham and Emmeline Zhao (who's clearly not wearing a seatbelt, FWIW).

Charts: Nearly 90 Percent Of Big Districts Spending Less

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

"Urban districts have been particularly hard-hit by the cuts in federal education spending: Nearly 90 percent of big-city school districts spent less per student in 2012 than when the recession ended in 2009." Another chart via Five Thirty Eight

Charts: The *Real* Reason Some Educators Are So Grouchy?

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.comBasically, schools were protected by the Stimulus (including Race to the Top) during the early years of the Great Recession, but since then state and local funding hasn't (yet) rebounded and federal funding has fallen. Class sizes haven't taken a giant hit but -- see here for lots more charts -- it still isn't pretty. Changes in Per Student Funding 07-12 Via Vox (anyone seen Libby Nelson recently, BTW?)

Morning Video: After-School Arts Program Turns Into Full-Time School

 

From last night on the PBS NewsHour: "In Chicago, an after-school art center has been transformed into a full-time public school that serves students who come from some of the highest crime areas in the city."

Bruno: Charter School Critics Get Part of Their Wish in New Orleans

8441961571_4211aa25a9The big news out of the New Orleans Recovery School District last week was that they're shutting down their last traditional district schools and becoming a district consisting entirely of charter schools.

A great story by Lyndsey Layton documents some of the biggest issues to worry about here, including inequitable access to individual schools and the large number of African-American employees terminated while charter schools expanded.

But it should not be forgotten that even fairly recently critics of charter schools were calling on charter operators to take over an entire district to demonstrate that their apparent success was not merely the result of "creaming" the easiest-to-educate students.

At least as recently as 2012, Diane Ravitch issued "a challenge to KIPP" to "find an impoverished district that is so desperate that it is willing to put all its students" in the charter operator's care.

Granted, that challenge was issued to KIPP specifically, to put their most strident claims to the test. The logic of the challenge, however, was that KIPP schools could not legitimately claim to be providing a superior education as long as they might be "cherry picking" the most advantaged students from - and "dumping" the most disadvantaged back to - traditional district schools.

And even if KIPP is not the operator of the entire Recovery School District, that logic would seem to generalize to the charter sector as a whole. So New Orleans may not offer a test of KIPP specifically, but it nevertheless does offer a test of charter schools in general. A test that, until recently, charter critics had claimed to want.

It's not yet clear - at least to me - whether Ravitch and her fellow charter critics see it this way, whether they think the experiment will somehow still be rigged in charter schools' favor, or whether they're nervous about having their own boldest predictions put to the test in New Orleans.

 No experiment in education ever settles anything. Hopefully, though, we can all agree at least that New Orleans is in a position to teach us something about what happens when charter schools "scale up", even if the results are - inevitably - difficult to interpret. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

AM News: NYC Delays Universal Free Lunch Over Federal Funding Fears

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Why NYC Is Afraid Of Free Lunch For All WNYC: A federal program to extend free lunch to all kids has the city worried it could lose federdal dollars to pay for other things.

Arne Duncan: Dropping Common Core May Not Cost Oklahoma Federal Funding PK12: So far, three states have pulled out of the common core: Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Those last two states made the decision to pull the plug only recently, so it's tough to say how the department will react.

Common standards for nation’s schools a longtime goal Washington Post: President Dwight D. Eisenhower suggested national academic standards were needed as early as 1959. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton both proposed that states voluntarily adopt national standards, efforts that crumbled under charges of federal overreach.

Common Core standards face push back by some Louisiana parents and politicians PBS NewsHour:  Seventeen-year-old Christian Meyers of Denham Springs, Louisiana, looks like a typical high school student, but his English classroom is considerably different than most. It’s his family’s kitchen table. 

Hundreds of organizations sign statement backing Common Core EdSource Today: Debra Brown, Children Now’s associate director of education policy, said that the letter was intended to show that Common Core “has deep and broad support” – an impression that can be lost amid the noise created by smaller numbers of vocal opponents.

Schools Were Getting Much Safer Until 2010, Government Report Says HuffPost: The rate of non-fatal incidents in which students felt victimized at school decreased to 35 per 1,000 students in 2010, from 181 per 1,000 students in 1992, according to the 2013 School Crime and Safety Report. The rate rose to 52 per 1,000 students in 2012, the report found. 

Turns Out No Child Left Behind May Have Actually Been Good For Teachers HuffPost:  The paper finds that since No Child Left Behind, teachers report feeling more autonomous, more supported by school administrators and have higher levels of job satisfaction. At the same time, teachers are working longer hours and may feel less cooperation with fellow educators.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Delays Universal Free Lunch Over Federal Funding Fears" »

Quotes: Haycock & Ali Slam Weingarten and Darling-Hammond

Quotes2In essence, Weingarten and Darling-Hammond are saying that public education doesn't need accountability that sets meaningful expectations and requires consequences when we fall short. Instead, schools just need more resources, more support, and more time. - EdTrust's Kati Haycock and former Obama Civil Rights head Russlynn Ali (Let's Have an Honest Conversation About Accountability)

Morning Video: Zuckerbergs Roll Out $120M Bay Area Grant

News came out on Friday that Zuckerberg and Chan were going to give another big gift to education -- this time to the Bay Area.  Will it be any different -- or more effective -- than the Newark gift?

Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers

Michelle2

I love Michelle Obama as much as I remain loyal to her husband, despite his awful test and punish education policy. When the First Lady is attacked, I am angered almost as much as when the Obama administration assaults public education.

The issues underlying both Michelle Obama's Let's Move healthy schools campaign, and President Obama's corporate school reform are equally complicated.

Time Magazine's Jay Newton-Small, in Michelle Obama Bites Back at Critics of Her Healthy School Lunch Standards, reports that a million fewer students ate school lunches in the first year of the program. The bigger problem is anecdotes and twitter photo campaigns featuring students who want their junk food back.

In light of the House Republicans' assault on anti-obesity efforts, Burkhard Bilger's 2006 New Yorker article, The Lunch Room Rebellion, should now be reread. As the First Lady explains, the "stakes couldn't be higher" in the battle to improve children's health, so the fight is worth it. But, given the difficulty Bilger described in providing nutritious meals in the affluent Berkeley, California schools, we must prepare for a long, frustrating struggle.  

Bilger told how a "haute cuisine chef," Ann Cooper, got schooled when she brought nutritious meals that were a hit in a progressive private school to a public system. Cooper's biggest problem was that children's food tastes (not unlike some of their learning habits) are established before they enter school. But, a seemingly absurd combination of political and institutional dynamics created unforeseen complications, even in a system where only 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Continue reading "Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers" »

Thompson: OK Rejects the "Test and Punish 3rd Graders" Fiasco

Henke-Katiex175Oklahoma’s Republican Legislature overrode the veto of Republican Governor Mary Fallin, and overwhelmingly rejected another cornerstone of Jeb Bush’s corporate reform agenda. The overall vote was 124 to 21.

As emphasized by the Tulsa World’s Legislature Overrides Fallin Veto on Reading Bill; Baressi Calls Decision a *Pathetic* Step Back, by Randy Krembiel and Barbara Hoberick, besieged Chief for Change Janet Baressi (who is still angry over Common Core defeats and pushback against Bush’s and her's A-F Report Card) condemned legislators as “pathetic.”

Oklahoma’s victory over the test and punish approach to 3rd grade reading is a win-win team effort of national importance. The override was due to an unexpected, grassroots uprising started by parents, joined by superintendents and teachers, organized on social media, and assisted by anti- corporate reform educators and our opposite, Stand for Children, as well as Tea Party supporters, and social service providers who are increasingly coming to the rescue of the state’s grossly underfunded schools.

Nearly 8,000 children, including nearly 30% of Oklahoma City and 1/3rd of Tulsan 3rd graders, failed their high-stakes tests. Now, they can be provided remediation as they are promoted to the 4th grade.

And, that is just the beginning of the good news. Retired librarian/reading expert Claudia Swisher finally gained traction in her effort to fact check reformers, and raise the consciousnesses of lawmakers about the dangers of the misuse of inappropriate tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: OK Rejects the "Test and Punish 3rd Graders" Fiasco" »

Quotes: "This Hole Was Not Dug Overnight"

Quotes2We've had terrible superintendents we allowed to stay on for several years. We've had poor management and nepotism. This hole was not dug overnight. -- Barbara Coscarello, a member of the district's advisory board (For Camden students, give charter schools a shot) via RP

Thompson: Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers

BookerDale Russakoff’s New Yorker article, Schooled, recounts the failure of the “One Newark” plan to transform Newark schools. One of the key contributions of Russakoff’s excellent narrative is her portrait of the personalized nature of the edu-philanthropy process. As one wealthy donor said, “Investors bet on people, not on business plans, because they know successful people will find a way to be successful.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million in seed money after being blown away by then-mayor Cory Booker. Zuckerberg explained, “This is the guy I want to invest in. This is a person who can create change.”

Booker created a confidential draft plan to “make Newark the charter school capital of the nation.” Because it would be driven by philanthropic donors, no openness would be required.  “Real change requires casualties,” Booker argued, and stealth was required to defeat “the pre-existing order,” which will “fight loudly and viciously.”

Had they bothered to study social science research, cognitive science, and education history, hopefully the edu-philanthropists would have realized that Booker’s approach to “One Newark” could be great for his political ambitions but it was doomed as method of improving schools.

The corporate reformers’ lack of curiosity in an evidence-driven plan for improvement is doubly frustrating because, as David Kirp documented, a successful experiment in systemic improvement was conducted in the nearby Union City schools.

Continue reading "Thompson: Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers" »

Quotes: Former Kennedy, Obama Official Calls Chicago Teachers Union "Foolish" Over Common Core

Quotes2Teachers are understandably asking for appropriate training and other resources needed to implement the standards and expressing concerns with high stakes decision-making attached to new tests. But the CTU has gone further and called for abandoning these new standards and better tests, with no alternative but to fall back on outdated standards that consistently failed students. It is irresponsible to turn back the clock on raising standards. -- Carmel Martin in the Chicago Sun Times (CTU foolish to fight Common Core)

Afternoon Audio: New Yorker Reporter Talks Newark

Check out this podcast in which Dale Russakoff talks about her Newark story, and also be sure to read her post about the mayoral election that just happenedL Ras Baraka's Newark Victory

 
In her post about the election, Russakoff notes that Jeffries was rising quickly in the polls, thanks to reform money (no figure is given for union money behind Baraka - has anyone seen how much they spent?) and notes that the mayor-elect's position on charters has recently evolved. NB: I think she was also on WBUR's On Point earlier today. 

Morning Video: Principal Slams Threatening Bosses, Calls On Colleagues To Take Stronger Leadership Role

Interviewed here on local public television, a Chicago principal describes how administrators need to stand up for what they know -- but haven't. See also his oped in the Chicago Sun-Times. A Chicago Reader blog post delves deeper into LaRaviere's views on tenure, among other things.

AM News: A New Era For Newark School Improvement Efforts?

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Ras Baraka declares victory in Newark mayoral election | NJ.com. The councilman and fiery community activist who campaigned on the vow to "take back Newark" from outsiders, was elected mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in decisive fashion Tuesday night, declaring victory before the votes were even fully counted.

Newark, N.J., Schools Plan Opposed By Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka Takes Big Step Forward HuffPost: The letters sent home to parents this week seek to assuage at least some of the concerns. On Friday, the district sent enrollment decision letters to families who participated in the plan’s universal enrollment system, which allowed students to rank their top eight choices for schools in one application. 

Newark Voters Elect New Mayor, Signaling Major Shift in Direction for City Schools District Dossier: Newark voters heavily favored Ras Baraka, a city councilor and former high school principal who has been an outspoken critic of the state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson.

The Broad Foundation's Bruce Reed on education reform, teachers and charters LA Times: The Broad Foundation's education initiatives began 15 years ago, but the organization is just now getting its first president, and his surname isn't Broad. 

Who watches the watchers? Big Data goes unchecked Politico: Private companies already collect, mine and sell as many as 75,000 individual data points.

The feds' push for Big Data Politico: The Obama administration seeks to leverage, not crack down.

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

Continue reading "AM News: A New Era For Newark School Improvement Efforts?" »

Morning Video: Reformers & Disadvantaged Communities

"In the debate over the CCSS, as in other efforts to even the odds for underserved students, education reformers have not won the hearts and minds of the families and communities they seek to serve," is the stark summary from the NSVF 2014 summit video presented below:

It's an issue for progressive educators, too, as you may recall from last month's The Unbearable Whiteness of the American Left (The Nation).

Magazines: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash

ScreenHunter_02 May. 12 10.02Just in time for tomorrow's voting, the latest New Yorker has a Dale Russakoff piece on reform efforts in Newark:   "Schooled: Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg Had a Plan to Reform Newark’s Schools. They Got an Education."

"In 2010, Zuckerberg pledged a hundred-million-dollar challenge grant to help Booker, then the mayor of Newark, and Christie overhaul the school district, one of the most troubled in the country.

"Four years later, “improbably, a [school] district with a billion dollars in revenue and two hundred million dollars in philanthropy was going broke,” and Newark is at war over its schools."

Closing quote:" Shavar Jeffries believes that the Newark backlash could have been avoided. Too often, he said, “education reform . . . comes across as colonial to people who’ve been here for decades. It’s very missionary, imposed, done to people rather than in coöperation with people.” Some reformers have told him that unions and machine politicians will always dominate turnout in school-board elections and thus control the public schools. He disagrees: “This is a democracy. A majority of people support these ideas. You have to build coalitions and educate and advocate.” As he put it to me at the outset of the reform initiative, “This remains the United States. At some time, you have to persuade people.” 

Check it out and let us know if it's interesting, fair, etc. 

Charts: Everything's Gotten Cheaper - Except Child Care, College, & Health Care

Sure, the cost of "things like electronics and cell phones have dropped consistently over the past decade." But big, ongoing expenses like college and childcare have gone up markedly. NYT via Atlantic Wire.

Afternoon Video: Will Chicago's BAM Program Go National?

"In a report for the Hamilton Project, they propose allocating $400 million over five years to competitive program that would select forty cities, in each of which a local nonprofit would offer the program to 500 youths." (How Chicago is using psychotherapy to fight crime — and winning Vox)

Media: What The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next

 Yau Hoong Tang FlickrThe New Yorker's Rebecca Mead weighed in on the Common Core standardized testing debate with a blog post claiming that poor parents were also opposed to the testing and wanted to opt out while at the same time lamenting the fact that so many New York City parents send their kids to private schools.  If there were more wealthy parents in the public system, there would be more protest, according to Mead. 

I'm not sure those two arguments really go together, and I'm not sure it's particularly useful to have the New Yorker assign a writer who's a parent at a school deeply involved in opting out be the one to communicate to the larger world about the complicated issue of testing and accountability.  

Or at least ask her to write about more challenging topics like Elizabeth Warren's denunciation of housing-based school assignments that benefit the relatively well-off. (Ditto Ravitch, ditto Strauss, ditto Simon.)

But that's not really the point of this post.   

Continue reading "Media: What The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next" »

Morning Video: Elite Schools Lose Racial Diversity Under Socio-Economic Plan

Elite high schools in Chicago have become substantially less diverse under a family income-based plan designed in part by Richard Kahlenberg to replace the district's longstanding deseg consent decree five years ago. Watch the local public television segment above, or read the Chicago Sun Times story here.

Milestones: Demographic Shift "Complicates" Civil Rights Anniversary

PeopleIt's not really the May 17 Brown vs. Board of Education anniversary that we should be paying attention to this spring, but rather the projected June completion of "the last school year ever in which a majority of America's K-12 public-school students are white," notes The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein. 

Brownstein decries as unnecessarily pessimistic takes on the Brown anniversy by Richard Rothstein and others. But his main point is that we're in a very new era now, demographically speaking -- and our minds may not have caught up with the shifts that have been taking place: 

"As recently as 1997, whites represented more than three-fifths of public-school students. This transformation isn't just limited to a few immigration hubs: Minorities now represent a majority in 310 of the 500 largest public-school districts, federal statistics show."

And so, the debate over integration should be recast to include not only fairness but also competitiveness, according to Brownstein. Even if the courts would allow a straightforward focus on racial integration, such a thing may no longer be entirely the point.  

Previous posts about Brownstein: Addressing NCLB's "Reverse Lake Wobegon Syndrome"National Journal Education Panel (2010).

Afternoon Video: Howard Dean Touts TFA & Charter School Movement

Check out this 2014 clip in which liberal Democratic icon Howard Dean reveals that his son did TFA and that he credits the charter school movement for reinvigorating urban education.“The charter school movement is transforming inner-city education. It is getting kids through high school with diplomas that never would have had a chance even five years ago.” (Via StudentsFirst: Elizabeth Warren, Howard Dean, and the Progressive Case for Education Reform). 

Media: CNN "Documentary" Included Staged School Elements

EmanuelscholasticadmFriday afternoon news from the Chicago Tribune is that lots of parts of "Chicagoland" were staged  (or at least pre-arranged) rather than observed -- including Rahm Emanuel's appearances at Fenger High School, some of the coverage of the school closing decisions, meetings with Superintendent Byrd-Bennett, and even those heart-warming moments with intern Martell Cowan. Some aspects were clearly staged (like the MRE-Principal Dozier phone call) and the amount of access was way higher than anything City Hall would have given to the Tribune's reporters (or anyone else's). The Tribune found that The production team requested things from City Hall, and City Hall went along. CPS and CPD have thus far declined to respond to FOIA requests as City Hall has done.  More details below.

Continue reading "Media: CNN "Documentary" Included Staged School Elements" »

Trends: Have We Reached Peak Privatization Yet?

Privatization_folliesThere's an interesting new article by The Atlantic's Molly Ball out just recently (The Privatization Backlash) that makes for good reading even though it doesn't address education issues directly.

In it, Ball traces the trend towards contracting out public services that's been taking place since at least the 1980s and has grown substantially. "An estimated $1 trillion of America's $6 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies."

But privatization isn't always cheap or effective, and Ball, observes that the appeal seems to be wearing thin with some recent experiences (like the parking meter fiasco in Chicago). "From Halliburton to Healthcare.gov to private prisons and welfare systems, contracting has often proved problematic."

According to Ball, the move against privatization is nationwide.  "Laws to rein in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year, and three—Maryland, Oregon, and Nebraska—have passed legislation, according to In the Public Interest, a group that advocates what it calls "responsible contracting.""

Ball doesn't address various forms of subcontracting out of education, which some would call privatization. And she notes that anti-privatization views skew Democratic and labor only late in the article.  

One last tidbit: there's an Annual Privatization Report put out by Reason. I wonder how much if any education-related subcontracting is included?

 

Politics: They're Naming (Another) School After Obama (In Chicago)

Screen shot 2014-04-24 at 7.10.30 PMChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to build a new $60 million school named after the current President, using TIF funding.  But not everyone thinks it's a good idea. 

For starters, there are already lots of schools named after Obama, and some of them aren't particularly high-performing ones.  

It's going to be the 11th selective enrollment school -- not a neighborhood one. The use of TIF funding is controversial, of course.Naming a school after a living individual is always risky business.

Then again, there's a shortage of seats in existing SE schools, and a dearth of college-educated families who keep their kids in CPS through high school.  Obama is closely identified with Chicago. He'll be done with his second term about the same time as the new school opens.

Lots of coverage -- and surely more to come -- plus an informal list of schools already in existence below.

Continue reading "Politics: They're Naming (Another) School After Obama (In Chicago)" »

Afternoon Video: Minneapolis Schools Confront Racial Inequality

 

Beth Hawkins of the MinnPost shares with us a video about Minneapolis's equity impact assessment and the nonprofit Race Forward (which publishes Colorlines).

Afternoon Video: Goldstein & Carey Debate Test Proliferation

"In the video above, education-policy experts Dana Goldstein and Kevin Carey debate whether the standardized testing regime has gotten out of control." Guess who takes which position.  Tell us if you wade through the hourlong version and hear anything notable. 

Nonprofits: InBloom Joins Long List Of Failed Efforts

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

Failstemp ccommon flickr

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Video: The "Dropout Hunter" Of St. Louis

PBS NewsHour: Lessons from a successful ‘dropout recruiter’ [Charlie Bean of St. Louis Public Schools]

Quotes: Pay No Attention To The "Velvet Ropes" Surrounding Neighborhood Schools

Quotes2Between formally selective admissions policies and economically restrictive enrollment zones, many schools are effectively off-limits, particularly to our low-income families — surrounded, as it were, by invisible velvet ropes. -- NYC charter schools advocate James Merriman (in the NYDN), following up as it were on Elizabeth Warren's very similar point regarding neighborhood schools.

Video: EPI Panel On Effects Of Concentrated Poverty

Here's a recent EPI panel on the effects of concentrated poverty on various aspects of society, featuring the NAACP, EPI, and Tanehesi Coates from The Atlantic (link here).

Maps: Charter School Reality Check [There Just Aren't That Many]

image from knowmore.washingtonpost.comNo, this isn't a map of T-Mobile's awful cell phone coverage.  It's an Urban Institute map of charter school participation posted by KnowMore.  Overall, charters make up just 4 percent of students and average 8 percent of urban districts. (Don't like charter schools? Move to the Midwest)

Charts: Hey, At Least Schools Fare Better Than Police In Perceived Fairness To Blacks

RACIALGAPCHARTOn the left is the percentage of whites who think blacks are treated less fairly (in schools, it's 15 percent).  On the right is the percentage of blacks (51 percent). From Charles Blow's NYT column this weekend.

Politics: Your Favorite Liberal Lawmaker Supports Universal Vouchers*

image from www.newyorker.comMaybe you knew this already but liberal darling US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) supports private school vouchers -- for everyone.*

US News had the story in 2012 (Elizabeth Warren's Quiet Support for Public School Vouchers), and it comes up again in the latest New Yorker as part of a review of her new book (Reading Elizabeth Warren).

Warren doesn't just support vouchers in special circumstances, like special education placements or DCPS.  She wants to give them to everyone, everwhere.  

As quoted in the New Yorker piece, Warren has written that 

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs.”

According to Warren, those "public" schools in expensive enclaves aren't really all that public as their defenders like to make them sound: 

"Schools in middle-class neighborhoods may be labeled 'public,' but parents have paid for tuition by purchasing a $175,000 home within a carefully selected school district."

Interestingly, Warren's argument is at least partly based on the high housing costs associated with the current zip code-based system of allocating scarce quality schooling.  High housing costs, plus burdens on working Americans (mothers in particular) have been a scourge for decades, according to Warren.  Breaking the link between housing and school quality would relieve pressure on families that have moved to expensive places just for the schools.  

Warren's ideas have been debated on Diane Ravitch's site in recent days --  they're New Yorker readers too, it seems :-) -- though not surprisingly the idea is being met with shock and disappointment. And the New Yorker writer, Jill Lepore, calls Warren's proposal reckless.

Previous posts: Please Stop Talking About Banning Private SchoolThe Liberal Case Against Private Education; Failure, Voice, & ExitHow Vouchers Are Like Same-Sex Marriage

*Correctification: Though she uses the term "voucher," which is commonly used to denote programs that include private and parochial schools, Warren is primarily focused on eliminating the link between neighborhoods and public school assignment.  The 2012 US News article cited above calls Warren's proposal "public school vouchers." The original 2007 proposal excerpted by AFT Kombiz uses the same language (though it doesn't specificaly exclude private schools as I read it). "The public-versus-private competition misses the central point," writes Warren. "The problem is not vouchers; the problem is parental choice."

Charts: Juking The Stats In Chicago (Again)

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 12.20.05 PMChicago Magazine's latest story about the precipitous drop in homicide stats during 2013 is alarming for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the realization that it's pretty easy to juke crime statistics without generating much attention (and if it's easy to reclassify murders as natural deaths then you can only imagine what's going on or at least possible when it comes to school stats).  

The other reason, of course, is that the effort to reduce crime in Chicago came in large part from student deaths like Hadiya Pendleton, and there are some students involved in The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates, including a Harold Washington College student named Michelle Manalansan.

Read the story and let us know what you think.  Then go back and read the related story:  Even the Data Have a Bias. Cross-posted from D299.

#EdGif Of The Day: How Do You Fix A School System Whose Middle Class Is Disappearing?

IncSegGIF

Some cities like DC and Chicago and NYC are way more appealing than they used to be and gentrifying like mad despite the Great Recession, but that doesn't mean the middle class is coming back. Here's a GIF showing the disappearance of the middle class (in grey) since 1970 in Chicago, which has resulted in a highly segregated, extremely unequal city (and a public school system that is overwhelmingly poor and minority). Read some coverage here and here. The spreading green shape represents the affluent.

Quotes: Reform Critic Disdains "Unhealthy Vilification" Of Reform

Quotes2When we're competing, we're not collaborating. That's what I find most disturbing. We're fighting battles in court when we should be working together to figure out what works for our children. - Pedro Noguera, an education professor at New York University in the WSJ via Pondiscio.

Afternoon Video: Detroit Career Tech School Teaches Flying

"Devote three minutes to watching this, and see if it doesn't affect your view of the innovation and commitment underway in places or systems usually written off as struggling or troubled," writes The Atlantic's James Fallows about Davis Aerospace (A High School That Teaches Students to Fly).

Thompson: LA School Report Misstates On Vergara Lawsuit

DemocracyLA School Report's Michael Janofsky, in Analysis: Vergara Approaching Time for Tru Judgment, fundamentally misstates the issues in Vergara v. California, which seeks to overturn the state's tenure, seniority, and due process laws.

Janofsky claims that the question is, "Are the laws, as they exist, the best and only way for the state to provide California school children access to a quality education, as the state Constitution provides?"

No! Even the best of laws are the flawed results of the imperfect sausage-making that is self-government. In our constitutional democracy, Janofsky, the corporate reformers, and the economists who testified for the plaintiffs have a right to believe whatever they want about the best ways to help poor children of color. The issue is whether they proved their case, supporting their opinion that duly enacted laws, passed with the intent of helping teachers, but not hurting students, should be stricken. 

If those laws are stricken, who will determine the best and only way to provide a quality education?  

Janofsky also claims that the plaintiffs' arguments are more "systemic," while the defendants' are more "granular."  Perhaps he means that the plaintiffs' experts are economists viewing schools from 30,000 feet, but unaware of education research or facts on the ground. He is correct, however, about their tactic of "using the experiences of nine students as a motif" for showing that California needs better legislation for firing teachers. "The fact that one child’s education could be compromised," writes Janofsky, repeating the plaintiff's public relations spin, "means all children are at risk."

Yeah, that's an interesting motif and a nice soundbite, but it is completely divorced from reality.

I'd say that the demand for a system where no terminations could be mishandled  and no students could be assigned an ineffective teacher is a pretty granular goal, and it is downright utopian to boot. Where did we get this idea that because voters haven't cured all our social ills, the elites should determine the laws of the land? Why believe that the corporate funders of Vergara would not, once again, take inequities and make them worse?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via

Morning Video: Kaya Henderson Talks DC School Progress On MSNBC

Morning Video: De Blasio Says NYC System "Broken In So Many Ways"

"We need to be able to say, that despite the good efforts of so many, the school system is still broken in so many ways," admitted de Blasio according to a Gothamist roundup of coverage (De Blasio Doesn't Totally Hate Charter Schools, Okay?) "Our brothers and sisters in the charter movement point to this reality. And I acknowledge that many people of good will in that movement are trying to shake the foundation. And we will work with them in good faith. But we need to work on solutions for the whole."

Charts: Vouchers Coming Back (Should You Be Alarmed?)

image from images.politico.comFourteen states already spend about $1 billion to send kids to private schools, reports Politico's Stephanie Simon.

As presented, this is an alarming notion (they're teaching Creationism!) that should be of concern to all.

However, some caution may be appropriate, too.

A billion dollars is a tiny amount, given then $500B-plus annual spending on education.

The number/percentage is much higher in higher ed, where we already have a mixed (public-private) system.

Some parochial schools do a better job than local district schools).

Most private and parochial schools aren't teaching Creationism.  

AM News: NYC Mayor Changes Rhetoric On Charters

News2From de Blasio, Gentler Words About Charter Schools WNYC:  Mayor Bill de Blasio, in an effort to mend fences on charter schools, emphasized common ground and a desire to “shake the foundations” of the school system. See also ChalkbeatNY

Ready, set ... California schools finally start new computer test this week KPCC: For the next 10 weeks, California students will embark on that dreaded annual rite of passage: the standardized test. But this year, they won't need their number 2 pencils. Test will be given on computer for the first time this year - and school districts and the test provider have been scrambling to get ready.

‘Union Power’ wins big but most UTLA members didn’t vote LA School Report: The progressive group — which plans to call for a strike if a new teacher contract can’t be negotiated soon — won outright in races for NEA Affiliate vice president, AFT Affiliate vice president, Elementary VP, Secondary VP, Treasurer, and Secretary. The race for President will be decided in a run-off pitting Union Power leader, Alex Caputo-Pearl, against incumbent Warren Fletcher.

All staff to be dismissed at three low-performing CPS schools WBEZ: Under the turnaround model, new staff are also CTU teachers. But the union blasted turnarounds as a strategy to get rid of veteran African American teachers, whom Sharkey says kids need as role models. Nearly all students in the three schools targeted for turnaround are poor and black.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Mayor Changes Rhetoric On Charters" »

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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.