"A new evaluation system finds 13.5 percent of teachers are exemplary and 79.5 percent are proficient. But 5.8 percent of teachers need improvement and 1.2 percent are unsatisfactory." (Click here - video isn't loading right). Via @annenberginst
The TNTP’s Amanda Kocon, in Ending the Teacher Hostage Crisis, is right about one thing, “for decades, the teaching profession has relied on a work now, pay later system.” Teachers have been paid artificially low salaries based on a promise of end-of-career payouts from a pension plan. Yes, this system has held teachers hostage.
Kocon cites the Detroit bankruptcy where pensioners may be paid as little as 16 cents on the dollar. But, it is not just teachers but all of Detroit’s public retirees who must wait in line after investment bankers. And they're arguing in court that the city did not bargain in good faith.
Kocon makes the evidence-free claim that “six-figure teacher salaries are within our reach.” She then says that we should care of veteran teachers by “doing our best” to make good on the promises that were made to them.
Does that mean the TNTP will be joining the legal fight for justice for teachers and other workers who worked in good faith for decades hoping that the big boys would keep their promises? Or, is it cheering the corporate powers and participating in a craven divide and conquer campaign that will undermine the futures of all workers and all generations? -JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Chicago's Catalyst magazine checks out the rhetoric surrounding TFA newbies stealing jobs from veteran teachers and finds out, well, that's not happening so much.
In a district where enrollment is dwindling and charters are expanding (though not nearly as much in other places), early 60 percent of the teachers are in charters, according to Catalyst, and just 10 percent are in turnaround schools run by AUSL.
Numbers of TFA teachers are on the rise but remain small, relatively speaking. Nearly 60 TFA alums are Chicago principals, of whom eight un Noble charters. Summer 2010 layoffs resulted in most TFA teachers in neighborhood schools being laid off.
Says Catalyst: "Though some talk swirled in the broader school community that cheaper TFA teachers would replace laid-off veterans, those concerns appear to be for the most part unfounded."
From the point of a view of a laid-off neighborhood teacher or a diehard TFA critic, any TFA hires are displacements.
Universal preschool bill to be introduced in Congress KPCC: The first significant legislation on early childhood education in more than a decade will be introduced in Congress Wednesday and the announcement is causing waves of excitement among preschool advocates.
House and Senate Preschool Bills: A Guide to the Latest Proposal PoliticsK12: The measure has bipartisan backing--it's being put forth by the top Democrats in both chambers on education issues, along with one Republican, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y. But it would cost more than $30 billion over its first five years and faces some major hurdles in a Congress consumed with trimming spending.
Longer school days in store for some in 5 states AP: The 11 districts adding schools to the program are Boulder Valley and Denver in Colorado; Bridgeport, Meriden and Windham in Connecticut; Boston and Salem in Massachusetts; Rochester and Syracuse in New York; and Knox County and Metro Nashville, Tenn.
TIME Magazine Names 16 Most Influential Teens Of 2013 HuffPost: TIME magazine has released its list of the most influential teens of 2013, featuring names that range from breakout actress Chloe Moretz, to literary sensation Beth Reekles, to the one-and-only Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai.
School district news below.
In IPS Loses When Teachers Face Constant Moves, Chalkbeat Indiana's Scott Elliott decribes the "churn" of teachers in Indianapolis and how involuntary transfers are driving young talent out of the system.
He does not mention a common sense, though counter-intuitive, solution: Bringing back seniority.
Seniority is the teacher's First Amendment. Without it, the honest flow of information in systems dries up. Once teachers' ability to voice their professional judgments are undermined, the lack of an exchange of information is bound to produce more administrative foul-ups.
Much has been made of how liberal and progressive Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is on education, and how much he's going to change the Bloomberg education regime once he takes office.
Ending-colocations! Charging charters rent! Appointing Randi Weingarten (or Josh Starr) as Chancellor!
His education views have won him the endorsements of not only the UFT (after Thompson lost) but also Diane Ravitch.
Much less noted has been the fact that de Blasio basically supports mayoral control of the city's schools, rather than the more decentralized (and arguably democratic) process of borough-dominated or even independently elected board members appointing a Chancellor independent of the mayor (like in LAUSD and many other districts).
Supporting mayoral control puts de Blasio in the same camp as Republican mayors like Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg and centrist Democratic mayors like Rahm Emanuel, Adrien Fenty, Kevin Johnson, and Anthony Villaraigosa.
Officially, de Blasio says he's going to "improve" mayoral control by giving CECs an advisory vote on some issues and enhancing the role of Citywide Ed Councils. He and the other Democratic candidates all said they wanted to keep the same basic setup, with minor variations. See them on video from GothamSchools here. Checker Finn recently mocked de Blasio's notions about improving mayoral control as vague and unworkable.
Liberals' views on de Blasio reminds me of liberals' views on Barack Obama, who was thought by some to have been deeply supportive of local control in Chicago but turned out to be quite something different.
This chart from BPS shows the impact of the current hiring sytem, in which excessed teachers are placed before anyone else for traditional schools even as autonomous schools get to start their own hiring earlier:
The district is making a move to end forced placement and streamline hiring -- made somewhat easier since enrollment has been growing in recent years. (Updating our hiring practices to better support great teachers) No word yet on what the new Mayor thinks about the move (he's being elected today) and I'm playing phone tag with BTU about their views.
Dan Goldhaber's and Joe Walch's Gains in Teacher Quality, in Education Next, reports the good news that incoming teachers' SAT scores are on the rise. Recruiting better educated teacher candidates is an input-driven approach that is smarter than the dubious output-driven accountability of the last two decades.
I hope we don't go overboard, however, in overrating the importance of "book smarts" in teaching. I was a critical thinking coach, who confounded some adults by playing basketball with the students. My questioning strategies anticipated Common Core and they guided teenagers with elementary school skills towards mastery of college preparatory standards.
But, education is not an affair of "the Head," but of "the Heart." The real reason why I was an effective teacher was that I didn't have biological offspring, so the students became my children.
I worked hard to become one of my school's co-MVPs. Then, we hired James Booth as a parent liaison and he was universally acclaimed as our Most Valuable Person. Mr. Booth was retired military and a basketball referee. Despite his lack of background in academics, Booth was a mentor who did far more good for far more students than any teacher, counselor, or principal.
James Booth was not an exception. Many schools' MVPs are coaches, cafeteria ladies, bus drivers, or security guards. Children learn from adults who love them. But, don't worry. Students don't discriminate against smart teachers; inner city kids, especially, appreciate it when highly educated adults show them the respect of treating them like their affluent peers. So this new generation of teachers will do fine as long as they keep their priorities straight.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
The two main theories behind the last few days of tumult and rumor in LA are (a) that Deasy authorized a leak to scare the board into keeping him (and it nearly got out of hand) or (b) that Deasy opponents (most likely Mike Trujillo in Richard Vladovic's office) leaked the story to try and create momentum around an early Deasy departure.
So which was it and why didn't the leak work?
NY-1's Lindsey Christ, in Obama: P-TECH Setting the Stage for Student Success, reports that when President Obama praised the gentrification of Brooklyn and its small P-TECH High School, he spoke after Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg said that P-TECH's success went hand in hand with the closing of Paul Robeson High School which co-locates with it. Obama and Arne Duncan supposedly believe his spin. On the other hand, The President now supports mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and his more humane approach to school improvement.
It is unlikely that the President knows the full story of NYC small schools like P-TECH. P-TECH's students scored higher than the city's average when they entered the school, while Robeson's incoming students were below the city's average. Neither was he likely to know that Robeson served 2-1/2 times as many English Language Learners, nearly three times as many special education students, and that 1/8th of its students were homeless.
I wonder if Obama knows that his turnaround policies facilitated Bloomberg's sabotage of poorer schools. As Clara Hemphill and Kim Nauer explained in Managing by the Numbers, Robeson was undermined by the dumping of hundreds of at-risk students on it. Robeson's fate was sealed when 70 to 80 "Over the Counter" students were added to its incoming freshman class of 140.
The Obama administration should come to grips with the Education Funders Research Initiative's "New York City Schools: Following the Learning Trajectories," by Douglas Ready, Thomas Hatch, Miya Warner, and Elizabeth Chu. It is consistent with de Blasio's early education policies.
I should not have to start with a disclaimer about my position on TFA (I'm undecided about it), but in these polarized times, I must. TFA teachers are teachers.
I don't judge colleagues. It is not their fault that high-profile TFA alumni who entered the classroom when they were in elementary school launched a war on teachers. Excoriating today's TFAers because Kevin Huffman and Michelle Rhee turned corporate would be like castigating a colleague because he supports the Tea Party.
However, Politico’s Stephanie Simon, in Teach for America Rises as Political Powerhouse, nails the problem with TFA's new effort for “embedding select alumni in congressional offices and in high-ranking jobs in major school districts,” in which a charter school and voucher supporter pays the $500,000 a year price tag for providing seven TFA alumni fellows for congressmen. Ethics experts call the effort “highly unusual – though not illegal,” according to Simon.
Too many reformers in general -- and high-profile TFA alumni in particular -- have have taken advantage of the lack of knowledge of many policymakers about the distant world of the inner city, and promoted quick and simplistic panaceas for complex problems.
In Simon's article, Elisa Villanueva Beard, co-CEO of Teach for America, seems to be sincerely oblivious about the dangers of quietly embedding alumni as staffers. She says “We don’t have a choice.” If TFA isn't aggressive “in 20 years, we’ll just wake up and find… we have made only incremental progress.”
And, that get's us back to the destructive essence of the contemporary reform movement. Corporate powers have immense knowledge about ways of secretly manipulating the levers of power to enrich themselves. We know how to use political trickery to increase the billionaires' share of our economic pie. Here, it seems, corporate reformers are using some of the same tactics and knowledge to manipulate government rather than improve learning. There is no reason to believe that transformationally better schools can be created this way.
That doesn't mean TFA teacher and alumni should be excluded. They should participate in the open exchange of ideas that school improvement needs. They should do so with honesty and modesty, and not with their high-profile alumni's assumption that their brief excursion into schools has given them all of the answers.
Meantime, TFA leaders should reveal the whole story to TFA teachers (and the rest of us?) and then have a heart-to-heart conversation about the paths to power that the organization should pursue, and those tactics that it should not consider. -JT(drjohnthompson) Image via.
So President Obama is scheduled to visit Brooklyn's P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) high school in Crown Heights on Friday, and already the locals are complaining.
First there were all the helicopters flying around overhead on Wednesday. We're trying to enjoy the leaves down here!
Then came news that beloved Prospect Park -- Brooklyn's Central Park -- would be closed for six hours Friday afternoon. Six hours!
But it's only about six minutes by bike from my Prospect Heights lair and so I've put in for credentials and will let you know if it all works out.
Image via Wikipedia
All those DC, Philadelphia, and Chicago families considering staying in the city and sending their kids to neighborhood schools (or progressive charters) probably won't make a real dent, according to this recent Atlantic piece from last week (It Won't Work).
Why not? These changes might be good for the families being recruited into desirable schools on a small scale but "cannot substitute for reforms that address the root causes of concentrated poverty, budget shortfalls, and failing schools."
The piece focuses in on Philly's "Center City Schools Initiative," which raised enrollment at three desirable schools but displaced low-income minority families and reduced nonwhite enrollment -- and didn't have much impact on the rest of the system's enrollment, peformance or budget.
Author Maia Bloombfield Cucchiara recommends breaking down urban-metro barriers (as in Wake County), refocusing on fiscal equity, and -- hey, why not? -- attempting to overturn the 1974 Supreme Court decision that blocks urban-suburban cooperation. She doesn't have much advice about how to make these things happen, but I'm guessing there will likely be a return to some of the methods of the past in future years (as current approaches becom eless fashionable), and it's good to be reminded that "the vastly different fates of urban and suburban schools... are not inevitable."
Previous posts: Philadelphia Advocates Seek 1 Citywide School Application; What About Schools Gentrification Passes By?; Cartoon: The Secret Gentrification Plan; "When The Melting Pot Boils Over"; Middle-Income Schools Left Behind; Nobody Wins Until (White) Parents Trust Schools.
Image via Library of Congress (via The Atlantic)
Last week I told you about Scott Elliott's move to open a new Chalkbeat Indiana outpost of what was formerly called the Education News Network. Last night, another announcement was made that the network of niche education news sites will henceforth be called Chalkbeat, with GothamSchools and EdNews CO renaming themselves and joining Chalkbeat IN and TN. In addition to the recent USA Today story, the network has also received a mention in the NY Observer. Me, I like the new name (and generally admire those involved). About the new logo, I'm not so sure yet. What do you think?
For a time, CPS claimed to be "the largest centralized deployment of iPads in the United States." However, it started with a pilot program -- just 750 devices a 23 schools in the first year (2010-2011), then 3,500 the second year as 13 original schools plus 35 new schools were added. The model is designed to be 1:1 but it's not a take-home system like LAUSD.
Now there are 55,000 at schools throughout the district. Here is some background from CPS. They lost edtech guru John Connelly along the way, and are about to lose John Mellios, too. But it's an interesting contrast to the LAUSD experience, among others.
Was anyone surprised by the Annenberg Institute's finding, in Over the Counter, Under the Radar, that late enrolling students in New York City are disproportionately enrolled in high schools slated for closure?
Its authors, Toi Sin Arvidsson, Norm Fruchter, and Christina Mokhtar, explain that NYC's student assignment policies have long been criticized for concentrating high-needs students in struggling high schools.
"Over the Counter" (OTC) kids represent about 17% of high school students and they are more likely to be new immigrants, special needs students, poor, transient, homeless, over-age, or have histories of behavioral problems. So, it is no shock that high schools that are on the chopping block would find themselves with up to 37% of their student population being late enrollees.
Shouldn't we be shocked by their findings? Even the term "over the counter" students is disturbing.
Isn't this a "blink!" moment where we ask how we got into this shameful position?
As the Annenberg study explains, up until the 1990s, the NYC schools were dismissive of the feelings of hundreds of OTC students. After choice increased the numbers of these vulnerable kids into the thousands, they were disproportionately placed in schools known as "dumping grounds."
But, wasn't the purpose of school reform to help children, not further disadvantage the most vulnerable of them? If the goal is helping children, not defeating adult enemies, shouldn't it have been obvious that high-needs kids should be placed in the schools that can best educate them?
If NYC reformers have not completely lost their moral compass, they will embrace the Annenberg's conclusions and impose a moratorium on putting more struggling children in struggling high schools. Common decency says that all other high schools should be assigned between 12% and 20% of "OTC" kids. It also says we should find a less dehumanizing term for those students. And, then we all should ask how we got into this disgusting situation.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Forbes contributor Jake Adger rounds up the zip codes with the highest spending & school grades comparesto the median home price in Chicago, NY, and SF - and ends up recommending Dublin (CA), Coal City, Hinkley, and Batavia (near Chicago) and Nanuet in the NY area:
For charter schools operating in buildings owned by school districts only about a third are paying some sort of facility costs nationally, says NAPCS. (Forty-two percent pay nothing.) Here's the breakdown:
This is from NAPCS, a breakout of data from its survey of charter schools nationally. It's a followup to the argument in NYC over the Bloomberg administration's no-rent charter school co-location policy.
Yesterday, NAPCS told me that only about 25 percent of charters nationally are located in district buildings, though obviously that varies widely from district to district (based in part on facility payments and real estate costs, I'm guessing). The WSJ has reported that around 120 of aroudn 180 NYC charters are in district buildings.
Charter critics argue that they shouldn't be co-located, or at least should have to pay rent, and have persuaded the Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio to take that position. However, it doesn't appear to be common or even widespread that districts charge charters for facilities, based on the NAPCS survey.
Just how common or unusual is it for districts to charge charters (or new district schools) rent? Nobody seems to know for sure.
According to this WNYC story, district practices vary widely: KIPP said the cost of rent ranges from $157 per student in Baltimore to $589 per student in Memphis.
The arrangements vary not only by district but also by authorizer, according to EdWeek: "In Memphis, for instance, charter schools must pay rent if they are authorized by the school district but not if they are authorized by the state. Some charters in Philadelphia received shuttered school buildings without having to pay rent."
There's no list of districts that charge in this survey from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools but there are some interesting data points: only about 25 percent of charters nationally are in district buildings (another 5 percent are in some other kind of public building), and about half of all charters are paying rent (either at market or below). About 25 percent co-locate with non-charter schools, and another 17 percent co-locate with another charter. The average cost of facilities for charters is 13 percent.
No response yet from the Council of Great City Schools -- they never get back to me, for some reason.
It's a big topic of debate in NYC, where roughly 120 new charters (and 500 new district schools) have been placed in district buildings under Mayor Bloomberg -- without having to pay rent. But that may change soon, which would mean fewer charters in district buildings, or fewer resources for charters in district buildings, and eventually perhaps fewer district buildings (since enrollment shifts towards charters would decrease utilization).
It's a very strange situation. District charter defenders who consider themselves liberals are pushing for higher rents for schools serving low-income minority students -- but not for new district schools placed in neighborhood schools. Nobody opposed to co-location seems to notice or care that under-utilized district school buildings tend to get consolidated or closed over time (see Chicago), which seems like a relatively worse fate than having annoying charter school kids and teachers in your building.
Teen sleep: Montgomery to study proposal to shift high school starting time Washington Post: The plan, offered last week by Superintendent Joshua P. Starr, would delay the start of the high school day by nearly an hour, in keeping with growing research about the later sleep cycles of teenagers and the health and safety hazards of getting too little rest.
Big promises with iPads, but where's the research? KPCC: A recent study by Rachel Cole, James J. Kemple and Micha D. Segeritz out of New York University looked at a digital math program used by sixth graders in New York City. It found students who used the program didn’t learn any more than those who didn’t use it.
Boston School-Bus Drivers Return to Work Amid Uncertainty NYT: A day after they left thousands of Boston schoolchildren stranded, drivers were back, but schools warned parents to be ready with contingency plans in case of another walkout.
Pa. private school gets $100 million donation AP: A college prep academy in southern Pennsylvania received a $100 million gift on Thursday, one of the largest donations ever made to an independent school in the U.S....
Read all about it here via Charles Barone.
Ryan Heisinger is a first-year high school English teacher in the Newark area, and on Friday he published some reflections on his first month on the job.
You may have read lots about and from rookie teachers recently, but Heisinger's post is worth reading in its entirety because it nicely captures two very different realities about education:
First, Ryan's post provides a lot of insight into what many new teachers are looking for when they enter the classroom for the first time.
He talks, for example, about appreciating his administrator's "strong vision" for the school and its culture. This is something that is often lost in discussions dominated by veterans, but new teachers do often appreciate having a vision imposed on them (to one degree or another) because they haven't yet fully developed visions of their own.
Which isn't to say that Ryan doesn't have a vision of his own: he does, and you can start to see its outlines as he describes what he considers his victories from the first several weeks of school.
I don't want to over-interpret his post, but when I read it I am reminded of my own - vague - ambitions when I first started teaching. What I wanted - and what I suspect that Ryan wants - was to provide students with things they weren't getting from their teachers before, even if I didn't know exactly what those things were.
Like Ryan, then, I'd have been encouraged to have students tell me they were going to do work they wouldn't have done in the past, or to see the rate of homework completion go up. Those would have been concrete victories I didn't know enough to expect. (Actually, I'd still be thrilled to get my homework completion rate up to 80%.)
This is the paradox for many new teachers: their visions are in many ways ambitious, but also sufficiently fuzzy that they can be satisfied by modest-but-distinct accomplishments.
Unfortunately, if you read it all the way through Ryan's story also illustrates the pettiness and animosity that often dominates education discussions, especially on the internet.
It may be due in part to the fact that Ryan is a Teach For America corps member, or it may be that platforms like Twitter somehow encourage annoying, pointlessly adversarial behavior. Whatever the cause, education debates online are often needlessly ugly, and Ryan's reflections on the subject are among the good reasons to check out his post. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)
But White complained last week in the American Enterprise Institute's Taking School Reformers to Task: Louisiana chief John White on Fixing K-12 Reform that New York City is about “to put a man with no management experience in charge of a $25 billion education system in spite of an outward resentment of the nation’s most successful charter schools.”
White does not describe the mayor's race in NYC as democracy, but as “populism.” Eleven times he used that word in a derogatory manner. According to White, populism is something to be endured, it is a recyclable story of caricature and allegory, and of resentment of authority. White is clearly proud of being in charge. He used the word “authority” eleven times and the word “accountable” another eight times when proclaiming reformers' power.
White (like many of his AEI audience) obviously senses that reformers have overreached, and are "in danger of becoming the enemy." At first, he sounded like he was grooming himself to be another Michelle Rhee attacking all the constituencies that that defeated their righteous crusade. But, White mostly resembled Southpark’s Eric Cartman in proclaiming “respect my authoritah!”
In Chicago, as elsewhere, many formerly massive neighborhood high schools are shrinking, enrollment-wise, thanks to changing demographics, bad reputations, failed turnaround efforts, and creation of new district and charter schools.
This week saw an interesting pair of stories about the situation from WBEZ (Chicago Public Radio) and Catalyst Chicago, both of which are worth reading:
Neighborhood high schools struggle to attract students Catalyst: This year, the number of 9th through 12th grade students has increased to about 112,000, but spread among substantially more schools--154, plus 21 small campuses that re-enroll dropouts and operate under the Youth Connection Charter School umbrella. Today, only about a third of high school students attend their neighborhood school, [CPS demographer Jimm Dispensa] says.
Future uncertain for Chicago's neighborhood high schools WBEZ: Many of Chicago’s 50 neighborhood high schools are anchors of their communities. But some city high schools have alarmingly few students enrolled this fall, raising questions about whether neighborhood high schools with long Chicago histories will be able to stay alive in an ever more competitive marketplace.
Back in the day, these schools were the only real option, and had all the electives and activities. Nowadays, these schools remain open for other reasons, including sentimentality, safety, and ongoing improvement efforts. In some cases there's no substantially better alternative, or not enough room. But budget pressures and parent choice seem to be trending away from neighborhood high schools, leaving the possibility that they'll be eventually be closed, replaced by smaller district and charter schools in the neighborhood and elsewhere.
In the long run, we should never bet against technology. In the short run, it is equally safe to wager that the hurried introduction of digital tools by school systems will continue to undermine their effectiveness.
Anya Kamenetz's The Inside Story on LA Schools iPad Rollout: "a colossal disaster" provides the first draft of the latest chapter of the history of educational technology repeating itself. She reports that LA only tried a small pilot project last spring before rushing ahead with a billion dollar investment in iPads. Even that brief experiment resulted in the loss of 71 tablets. Only the teachers who passed out the iPads got training. They got 40 minutes of instruction on managing the devices.
A logistical problem was discovered when students checked the devices out at the end of the day so they could use them at home. The process of rechecking them in each morning was too time-consuming. Also, checking iPads out at the beginning of class created a problem, “If kids didn’t want to do the work, they would come late purposely and not get an iPad. So in some classes, half the kids had them and half the kids didn’t, they were just sitting with their heads on the desk.”
True believers in technology don't like to think about these issues. Theorists like LA Superintendent John Deasy believe that technology will relieve schools of the most difficult job in education - creating learning cultures that allow for teaching and learning for mastery. They have it backwards.
Students must first understand that they are supposed to behave differently in class than at home or other places. Before technology can live up to its prodigious promise, students must be taught how to be 21st century students who will use, not abuse their electronic devices. It makes no sense to ignore the fact that some children are too young to bring $700 tablets home. Others still need to be taught how to control technologies and not be controlled by them and there is no shortcuts for that process.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Nowhere in the interview, Diane Ravitch Rebukes Education Activists' "Reign of Error," did she rebuke anyone else for his or her beliefs. However, Ravitch assailed the idea that competition, which has turned education into "a consumer product rather than a social and a public responsibility," is worthy value system for public schools. She attacked "reformers" for imposing that corporate value system on schools.
I have supported choice because school improvement is a team effort and we need people with all types of beliefs to particpate. If believers in choice want their own children to attend charters driven by competition, that is their own business. They have no right to impose that value system on everyone else. More importantly, choice has damaged poor children of color left behind in neighborhood schools by creating even more intense concentrations of extreme poverty and trauma.
We all should learn from Ravitch and own up to the harm that the proliferation of choice did to traditional urban schools. We should welcome Reign of Error because it promotes the solutions that are necessary in the inner city.
"Reformers" should have listened to the cries of urban students pleading for respectful and nurturing learning cultures. Instead, they offered the stone of competition. As Ravitch explains, they mandated a way of keeping score, high-stakes testing, which has warped our schools and warped our educational values.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Reformers in NYC are generally freaking out about the possibility that a new de Blasio administration will change the friendly landscape they've been working in for the past 12 years, by charging rent, ending or limiting co-location, or otherwise making things less easy-breezy. What happens to the Office of New Schools? Who will be left to push for charter schools inside the DOE?
The latest example of this anxiety is Lisa Fleisher's WSJ article about colocation fears among charter supporters (Charter School Blues), which focuses on the idea of making charters pay rent for DOE space. Two thirds of charters are in DOE space, according to the article -- roughly 120 of the 150 total. A 2010 estimate suggests that not having to pay rent makes up $2700 per kid in spending charters avoid (20 percent of per-pupil costs).
Putting charters into district spaces can be controversial and uncomfortable for everyone involved, and in theory charging charters rent would push some of them out of the building or slow the pace of their expansion (though I'm not sure that it makes sense to charge charters if you're not charging everyone else). But then again, making any two organizations or divisions share the same space can create tensions over allocations and use.
What gets left out of the charter/colocation discussion is that the Bloomberg administration has created a slew of new district schools during the past decade or so, almost entirely co-located within empty or underutilized DOE buildings. This year, for example, the DOE opened 78 new schools -- 26 of which are charters. Last year, it was 54 opened (of which 24 were charters). I can't get the DOE to respond but I'm told via Twitter that the grand total for new schools under the entire reign of Bloomberg is 656 -- 150 new charters (66 percent co-located) vs. 506 new district schools (100 percent co-located, presumably).
The vast majority of the time there's no big hullabaloo over the assignment process -- same as with charters -- even though the new schools often have their own practices, schedules, and cultures -- same as with charters. The new school process is not all that different for district schools than charters. There's a need (overcrowding, under-enrollment, failing school), a search for qualified school leaders, and a vetting process. Roughly 300 candidates started the process, which is now apparently down to 60 finalists.
Charter critics can continue to criticize all they want -- with reason, in some cases -- but those of us watching or writing about the debate should know that there are as many if not more new small district schools being created than charters, that co-location is not usually a big problem, and that it's a challenge for district schools as well. Stories about co-location (or leasing charges) should provide context and comparisons to other similar kinds of endeavors and practices.
Whatever happened to Xian Barrett, the Chicago teacher activist whose picture was on the front page of the Sun Times when he was laid off earlier this year?
He's now the national director for something called New Voice Strategies, according to a blog entry (My Transition from the Classroom to Amplifying Teacher Voice) posted on reform-friendly Eduwonk.com last week.
It's a strange place to post, as Xian discusses -- but part of the new gig is "to engage this [reform] community in dialogue." NVS is a part of VIVA Teachers, which is run by Elizabeth Evans.
I've known Barrett for years online, and finally met him in real life 18 months ago moderating a panel.
What do you think? According to CPS, roughly two out of three of the 1500 teachers laid off last year were rehired this year (though of course they could get laid off again this spring).
Race to the Top District Winners Already Changing Their Plans PoliticsK12: Already, the Education Department has approved eight amendments ranging from technical to more-significant as the districts seek to fine-tune their projects. If the Race to the Top state contest is any guide, there are many more district amendment requests surely in the pipeline.
Howard County Board of Education react to Ellicott City man's arrest at Common Core forum Baltimore Sun: In Howard County, where the new curriculum was given a test run last year, the Common Core has been the reason cited for removing traditional, stand-alone reading classes in middle schools, lower scores on the Maryland School Assessments and a new teacher and principal evaluation system.
Houston reforms, often overshadowed, now in the limelight with Broad Prize Hechinger: Houston has long been a darling of education reformers with its extensive and deeply rooted charter school network and experimentation with controversial ideas like merit pay for teachers. Still, the city’s efforts to shake up its education system tend to get less notice than places like New Orleans or Washington, D.C., where reforms have led to heated and sometimes vitriolic debates about the role of teachers unions, charter schools and accountability for teachers.
How to Fund Universal Pre-K WNYC: While there is a huge demand for full-day pre-kindergarten seats, there are plenty of half-day seats unfilled. Why? Geoff Decker, a reporter at GothamSchools, said the half-day schedule doesn't work for most working parents.
From China to Chicago, K12 Inc. markets more than virtual schools Politico: K12 doesn’t break down how many of the 4,500 students enrolled in the International Academy last year were foreign nationals (or how many attended just part-time). But the company says it has significant enrollment from China, Mexico, Brazil and Dubai, where K12 runs a tutoring center at a university complex so students can get face-to-face help, for an extra fee.
The American Enterprise Institute's conference, Teacher Quality 2.0: Will Today's Reforms Hold Back Tomorrow's Schools? showed that the times, they are a-changing. And it's about time. If "reformers" don't admit that they are stalled in the wrong lane of history, our schools will be hurt badly.
The AEI's Rick Hess kicked off the discussion by asking whether the goal of Reform 1.0 is the evaluation of "whether you are a good classroom teacher in a conventional environment?"
Hess then summarized the ways that this "Teacher Quality 1.0" mentality could undermine online instruction, team teaching, and other ways of reorganizing schools. Hess then questioned the codification of this one-size-fits-all approach to teacher evaluation into law.
Teaching should be a team effort, and that applies to schools that serve intense concentrations of poverty and trauma, as much as it applies to the innovative schools that Hess wants. Isn't that the real harm of Reform 1.0? It had the temerity to ram through laws that constrain all types of cooperative learning across our huge and diverse democracy.
Although we disagree on most things, can advocates of the flipped classroom and of full-service community schools join together to reverse laws mandating value-added evaluations?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Behind all the drama and cussing of the last couple of years, Chicago and its teachers union have developed and now rolled out a new teacher evaluation system to replace the quickie checklist that had been used for years -- largely without complaint.
According to the latest reports, the implementation has gone OK:
Teachers are confused and worried about being rated in part (25 percent) based on student growth.
Principals are complaining about having to spend more time evaluating teachers than they used to.
The percentage of nontenured teachers found to be the worst has quadrupled -- to three percent.
EdWeek: Chicago Teachers See Value in New Evaluations, But Eschew Test Scores; Catalyst: New teacher evaluations get positive reviews; Chicago Tribune: No dramatic changes in CPS teacher evaluations; Chicago Sun-Times: Mixed reviews from CEO, principals, teachers
Esquith, the superstar author of Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, starts with lessons for new teachers.
The first third of his book just about matches Owen’s in terms of anecdotes that show how test driven reform is killing public education and, at the end, Esquith doubles back to conclude that our educational system is so dysfunctional that it would take an Orwell to describe it.
During Owens’ rookie year, he faced outrage after outrage prompted by accountability-driven “reform.” His fate, like the careers of highly-paid senior teachers, rests in the hands of a tyrant armed with a loathsome teacher evaluation system. Owens entered the profession as New York was creating a perfect storm where a flawed value-added system would be used inappropriately, where the principal has the means and motives to use a 66 point teacher observation list to settle scores, and where the system is clearly designed to blame teachers for any and all failures. The result was that educational malpractice was mandated in Owens’ school, albeit under the name of “best practices.”
For instance, consider an evaluation system where a dedicated English teacher is graded down because her class had “too many books.”
Ooops! That story came from Esquith!
Seriously, this is just one example of how reading Esquith and Owens together gives a deeper understanding of how test-driven “reform” is wrecking so many schools.
Chicago Public Schools is getting a fair amount of ridicule for its attempt to help address this past week's heat wave in part by handing out 36,000 hand-held fans to students. The district shut down nearly 50 schools last year and has increased the number of remaining schools that have air conditioning. The Chicago Sun Times's Lauren Fitzpatrick has been all over the story.
On the one-year anniversary of the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, it has been revealed that Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) and CTU President Karen Lewis (left) are attempting to get back in touch. It's also being reported that Lewis was ill:
Opinions still diverge over which side "won" the seven-day strike. (I've heard more than one inside observer note that neither side won -- they both lost.) The school year started last week, just in time for a heat wave, and the budget and pension situations remain unresolved. Read all about it at District299.com
Image courtesy Sun Times.
Remember that school in the works a couple of years ago in New Orleans, where the goal was to take some of the best elements of private progressive and structured charter schools and make a diverse environment?
Its founder, Josh Denson, spoke at the time about how frustrated he was with the dominant (90/90/90) charter school model, and yet “In schools where it’s all about learning, discovery, and projects and teamwork, there seems to me to be an absence of or a reluctance to have any kind of accountability.”
Well, the school, Bricolage, opened this year. It's goals are to "launch a new kind of school - one that advances educational equity and creates innovators who change the world." I wrote about it in my November 2012 Education Next piece, Diverse Charter Schools.
Meantime, the USDE has apparently pressured another set of folks trying to explore the diverse charter schools idea against setting up a lottery preference based on ELL status.
As reported in GothamSchools (Facing federal funding freeze, Success to nix lottery preference), the Success network has been told to give up its ELL priority or lose charter school startup funding.
Other diverse charters, including Brooklyn Prospect and Community Roots, might not face such pressures since they're not replicating startups, but it's still a bad signal to send to schools trying to do something interesting and potentially very powerful (ie, find a sweet spot between charters and district schools). Brooklyn Prospect has now grown into the high school years, as originally envisioned, and also is opening an elementary school starting with kindergarten this year.
According to the GothamSchools article, other charters with preferences for single-parent kids, autistic kids, and other priorities could soon be affected. Ironically, the USDE ruling on the lottery issue will indirectly encourage/allow charters to serve larger percentages of white/affluent families.
I'm checking around to see if other schools in NY or other states are being affected.
So far, at least, Bricolage hasn't needed a weighted lottery. The first class's demographics are roughly 45 percent free lunch, slightly lower than the application and lottery yields.
She wears widely spaced, short dreadlocks and a big pink bow.
Many are asking, how can people be so heartless?
The individuals who subjected Tiana to this pain are not cruel. Like other charter advocates, they have a heartfelt mission; in this case, countering a society that has become “more and more permissive.”
The real scandal is that across the nation we have adopted a corporate model that is allowed to be heartless. In the name of choice, we have compromised our freedom of expression. In our devotion to satisfying personal preferences, we have abandoned the cornerstone of educational policy - first do no harm.
Facing federal funding freeze, Success to nix lottery preference GothamSchools: The charter school network is making the revision under pressure from the U.S. Department of Education, which has mandated the change as a condition to continue receiving $15 million in grants aimed at helping Success expand its reach.
Rhee Joining Town Hall Meeting with Teachers in LA LA School Report: A panel of education reformers, including StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee, is holding a town hall meeting later today in Los Angeles, where they will take...
Seattle Teachers Approve Contract, Avert Strike TeacherBeat: With a show of hands last night, Seattle teachers voted to approve a new two-year contract, ending the possibility of a strike and ensuring that students returned to school on time today.
Family income not a factor as students eat free AP: Some students toted lunchboxes to the first day of school in Boston this week, but district administrators are expecting that could become a more unusual sight as parents learn about a federal program that is now providing all public school students in the city with free breakfast and lunch....
The big story of the week so far (in Illinois, at least) seems to be complaints expressed by the state teachers union at a recent state board of education meeting about the new(ish) TAP test for teacher candidates, whose rigor is much higher and whose adoption has led to a decrease in overall and race-specific pass rates.
"Sixty percent of African-Americans used to pass the TAP, according to WBEZ. "Now it’s 17 percent. For Hispanics, the pass rate has dropped from 70 percent, to 22 percent."
As do most of these kinds of stories, the WBEZ Chicago Public Radio story about the new test's impact (Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates) focuses largely on the impact of the test on teacher diversity, and about the emotional plight of minority candidates who want to teach but can't pass the test. Ditto for the follow-up segment (Testing teachers causes unexpected racial division).
There's much less attention on the reality that the previous test was much too easy, that too many teachers lack basic (college sophomore) reading writing and math skills, or that teachers can take the test multiple times, or submit ACT or other scores, and that the WBEZ reporter who took the test appeared to have no problem passing it.
Not everyone has responded predictably to the news, however. "Do we need teachers who look like our students?" asks Chicago teacher and blogger Ray Salazar. "Only if they know their content, only if they can teach and engage students, only if they have the social skills to maneuver through class and generational differences, only if they’re focused on students and not on themselves. Being brown and college-degreed and passionate is not enough."
For journalists and others, the fundamental question is whether our primary sympathies and concerns should rest with the teachers, individually and collectively, or with the students and the overall health of the institutions in which teachers work (ie, schools).
Image via Quickmeme
"In Oakland, Calif., some programs are working to better help African-American boys graduate from high school and improve their social and academic outcomes." This segment (sort of a feel-good piece) aired on PBS a couple of nights ago. Audio and transcript here.
(Teacher seniority does not generally transfer between districts, although years of experience usually will for determining salary.)
This meant I went back on the job market in February. That's pretty early to start looking for a job for the fall, so for several months the "job hunt" didn't really consist of much except a submission of my application to Los Angeles Unified's district-level hiring pool.
That started to change in May, when middle school science jobs began appearing online. Consistently - and unsurprisingly - those first jobs were almost exclusively in charter schools.
I began applying, and started to hear back - again, from charter schools - on May 28.
The very first middle school science position in a (geographically realistic) district school posted on June 18. That seems like a reasonable date to start finding staff for the next school year, but I received my first charter school job offer just one week later, on June 25.
All else being equal, a charter school would probably not have been my first choice. By the end of June, however, I hadn't heard back from any district schools, and there was much about this particular charter that appealed to me. They offered me classes I wanted to teach with students I wanted to work with in a school trying to undertake a number of interesting, worthwhile initiatives.
So, after some futile efforts to contact other schools I'd applied to, I took the job.
I would eventually begin hearing back from district schools. On July 23, LAUSD offered me an interview - for no school in particular - on August 26. (Classes began in LAUSD last week.)
Another school called on July 29 to schedule an interview, almost six weeks after they'd received my application.
By that time, of course, I'd already started planning for the start of the 2013-2014 school year with my new colleagues.
In other words, I'm working at a charter school because it was - by quite a wide margin - the first school that really appealed to me to offer me a job. There's really not much more to it than that. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)
Alison Stewart, in her excellent new book, First Class, which documents the rise and fall of Washington D.C.’s Dunbar High School, does not do counter-factual history. Maybe I shouldn’t either, but I can’t help myself.
Stewart tells the powerful story of how the school played an inspiring role in “a national movement for justice and citizenship.” Dunbar’s educators made the best of the demeaning and cruel Jim Crow system. Their achievements were “stunning.” Graduates of Dunbar led the legal fight against de jure segregationand pioneered world class innovations in medicine, scholarship, art and music. One eminent Dunbar graduate after another, often after earning doctorates from prestigious universities, returned to build an incredible learning institution.
Ironically, some of Dunbar’s top graduates like Charles Hamilton Houston and James Nabrit led the fight to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson. When de jure segregation was outlawed in 1954, Dunbar was hurriedly turned into a neighborhood school. The school could no longer be a magnet for the most promising black students from outside the neighborhood and it then served students who may have had little elementary education and who were not ready to meet Dunbar’s elite standards.
So, my counter-factual question is why wasn’t Dunbar seen as a national treasure, not unlike the Grand Canyon or the Supreme Court? Why was there no consideration of an obvious policy – admitting whites without undermining its status as its era's magnet school?
Via KPCC here
From PBS NewsHour last week.
"Bloomberg’s contribution to education has been less definitive...," begins Ken Auletta's pro forma section on school reform under Bloomberg.
My guess is that on local education issues Bloomberg will be remembered primarily as the Mayor who finally persuaded the legislature to give City Hall control over the School Board.
The most interesting thing to me in the article is the reminder that Bloomberg's already-robust philanthropic efforts and political advocacy efforts are about to go into an even higher gear once he leaves office.
Long considered mostly a local force, ex-Mayor Bloomberg will soon be a national powerhouse. In terms of giving, he's already #5 behind Margaret A. Cargill, William S. Dietrich II, Paul Allen, and George Soros. He's already active politically -- not that his money always gets spent wisely or wins the day (as in LA).
Given a disdain for the teachers union which has not abated over time -- “If the U.F.T. wants it, it ain’t good,” he told reporters this summer (according to Auletta) -- reform critics may be right to be concerened about an unbound Bloomberg. Steve Brill pointed out in his much-maligned book, Class Warfare, that Bloomberg caved on teachers union demands in order to win labor support for a third term in office. But he won't need public employee approval once he's out of office, and will be free to do as he wishes.
Oh, and he'd love to buy the New York Times, too.
After Bloomberg. Image courtesy New Yorker.
Last year, the Washington Post's Emma Brown wrote a story titled D.C. Students Test "Teach to One" Learning System that reported that the online instruction program at Hart Middle School cost a million dollars to wire a single classroom. Brown quoted D.C Chancellor Kaya Henderson as saying that the experiment could be a "game changer."
The program put students in classes of 180 where they could use online instruction to work at their own pace. Brown reported that it would take three years before we could see if this new approach could transform the low performing middle school.
It is hard to test an experiment, however, unless the results are reported. Where are the quantitative and qualitative evaluations of Hart's outcomes? In a year when D.C. claims unprescendented gains in its DC-CAS, I wonder whether it is happy with Hart's composite test scores of 28.1 - up just two points.
JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.