This chart comparing district and charter demographics (SPED, ELL, poverty) is from last week's @credoatstanford study via Joy Resmovits. Of course, there are wide variations in student demographics within traditional district school districts, and charter school enrollments are generally much smaller than the districts in which they are sited.
In this recent segment from Fox News posted by Media Matters, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked efforts to decrease school suspensions and expulsions with programs known as "restorative justice," ignoring that these traditional punishments disproportionately target students of color." (Bill O'Reilly Attacks "Restorative Justice" Programs). Or, watch Charles Best's SXSWedu presentation below.
Longtime readers already know that the Chicago Sun-Times' Kate Grossman is one of my favorite editorial page writers. She (along with the LA Times' Karin Klein) report their own pieces and sometimes scoop or differ from their own beat reporters, which I think is healthy.
Well the latest news is that Grossman and a few others (including Davis Guggenheim) have won a new fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, and will be teaching a course among other things. Read all about it here: Sun-Times deputy editor Kate Grossman wins U. of C. fellowship. "Starting March 30, Grossman will spend 10 weeks on campus examining education issues and the debate over how best to improve schools."
Speaking of fellowships, I'm told that today is the day that the Spencer Fellowships are being decided for 2015-2016. Good luck to everyone who made it to the finals!
OK, technically it's a Vine (with sound!) not a GIF, but who cares? The Chicago Tribune's Juan Perez saw fit to highlight a few seconds of Duncan's forced walk through anti-testing protesters in Chicago the other day. The moment took place because Duncan car ended up in a dead-end alley -- some poor driver or advance staffer got in trouble for this (or should have).
Read Sun-Times for additional coverage. The EdSec claims that the USDE didn't force Chicago to administer PARCC, and Mayor Rahm is saying that it was the state (not Washington). Hmm. Read more Tribune for how the rollout's going so far.
This week's announcement that Success Academy charters won't give an absolute priority to ELL kids in its charter lotteries because of opposition seems like an unfortunate turn of events (see ChalkbeatNY's Success Academy drops lottery preference for English learners).
Charter schools located in mixed neighborhoods are often flooded by wealthier, whiter parents, and lose their diversity despite all efforts. The USDE will allow weighted lotteries, but not guaranteed admission. USDE has opposed letting diverse charters weight their lotteries in such a strong way for fear of the precedent that would tempt other schools to set priorities (for white kids, for kids whose parents have yachts, etc.)
There are situations where charters have been set up to avoid integration, or located or run in ways that are disadvantageous to poor and minority kids. But this is not one of them.
What could be done?
Lots of things, it seems. Congress could change the federal definition of a charter school to allow this kind of weighting. The USDE could revise its guidance (though risking Congressional displeasure). Or Success could shift its proposal from an absolute 14 percent priority for ELL kids, going with an unweighted lottery for the first year or two and then shifting. The unitary enrollment system would be diluted, creating different systems for different schools, but more ELL kids would be served.
I'll let you know if and when Success or the USDE respond with more about their thinking, or why these solutions couldn't work.*
*UPDATED: From USDE's Dorie Turner Nolt: “The U.S. Department of Education is firmly committed to increasing high-quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, including English learners, in charter schools, as in all public schools. The Department has worked with Success Academies to find ways for it to provide additional weight for English learners within the boundaries of the law and program guidance, and remains committed to that effort. We have worked with other grantees that submitted proposals to use weighted lotteries for educationally disadvantaged students—including other charter management organizations operating in New York—and have approved several such proposals. Such approaches complement broader efforts by charter schools to recruit, serve and retain educationally disadvantaged students.”
Your turn, Success.
Related posts: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led; Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance; Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability.
At widespread anti-Cuomo protests, parents and teachers to join hands Chalkbeat New York: City teachers union president Michael Mulgrew and his predecessor, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, will speak at the morning rally at Park Slope's P.S. 10, which is known for its presence in the movement to opt out of state...
UTLA one step closer to endorsing a Republican in Schmerelson LA School Report: Members of the teachers union political action committee, PACE, are recommending to the full committee an endorsement for Schmerelson in his bid to unseat the two-time incumbent Tamar Galatzan, pledging to work tirelessly to remove her from the school board.
California suspends other standards for Common Core, for now AP: One set of California school standards has temporarily fallen victim to another. California's school accountability system and its new Common Core academic standards were put head-to-head on Wednesday, and Common Core won. See also NPR: Ditching The Common Core Brings A Big Test For Indiana, PBS NewsHour: Why some students are refusing to take the Common Core test.
Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly NYT: Apps and other software can put powerful teaching tools at teachers’ fingertips, but concerns abound over data security, effectiveness and marketing.
The new digital classroom, brought to you by SXSW Marketplace Learning Curve: One area that's getting a lot of attention is "making." The “Playground” area of SXSWedu was full of products focused on kids building things, using 3D doodlers and Lego robots.
Did school board violate Sunshine Law with private Arne Duncan huddle? Palm Beach Post: The Palm Beach Post's education reporting team of Andrew Marra and Sonja Isger notes that, notwithstanding Florida's Sunshine Law, five of seven Palm Beach County school board members met privately Monday with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Desperate for 2,600 teachers next year, Las Vegas is recruiting like mad. Watch the video and read the HuffPost story: Why Las Vegas Is Desperate To Hire Thousands Of Teachers.
Lack of Diversity Persists in Admissions to New York City’s Elite High Schools NYT: Five percent of the students offered placement in eight specialized high schools were black and 7 percent were Hispanic, according to statistics released on Thursday. See also ChalkbeatNY.
Study: Novices Often Teach the Youngest, Neediest Students in Their Schools EdWeek: A new study finds that novice math teachers in a large urban district are more likely to teach the youngest and neediest students in their schools.
Teacher union will consider supporting Galatzan's opponent in Los Angeles Unified election LA Daily News: While Los Angeles Unified School Board member Tamar Galatzan handily defeated a field of five challengers in Tuesday's primary election, the teachers union said it will now consider supporting her opponent in the May 19 runoff. See also LA School Report.
After a series of defeats, opponents of Common Core open new fronts in battle against standards Hechinger Report: Legislators 19 states introduced bills to repeal the Common Core this session. So far none have succeeded. Repeal bills in even the reddest states – states like Mississippi, Arizona, and both Dakotas – have failed to make it to governors’ desks this year. See also SI&A Cabinet Report: Wyoming flips in support of science Common Core.
[For a roundup of actual opt-out numbers being reported in local NJ papers -- quite small in all but 4 affluent areas -- check out NJ Left Behind here.]
Gender Fluid Generation Medium: In many ways, it seems like gender non-conformity awareness is at all-time high. Last week Congressman Mike Honda announced via Twitter that he was the “proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild.” But schools are still catching up with the needs of gender nonconforming students. Last year, California’s first law protecting gender nonconforming students went into effect. It gives Jace the right to use the bathroom of his choice.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
First, education reporters too often do not have a firm enough grasp on the data for the issues which they are covering. Second, too much of education reporting is about raising or lowering the status of specific individuals, rather than examining the root causes of school system dysfunction.
- Neerav Kingsland (What We Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Charter School Performance)
Related posts: : Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage; About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; The Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County Coverage; San Diego Union-Tribune Corrects Washington Post Poverty Headline.
"Here I was, right outside my elementary school, [and] somebody’s pulling out a gun. And it was very clear that that was different." In this Bill Moyers interview from last Spring, the Atlantic writer Ta-Nehesi Coates describes an after-school experience that raised his awareness and shaped his interest in journalism.
See the whole interview here. See below for my little collection of quotes and references to Coates and education. Tell me if I've missed any good ones at @alexanderrusso.
Related posts: What They're Saying About That New Yorker Article; This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters"; AFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event; "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"; Bolstering The "Clueless Reformer" Critique; He's Referring To The NYC Department Of Education, Right?.
A Charter School Rally Duels With Teachers’ Unions in Albany NYT: Charter schools and teachers’ unions from New York City gathered for competing events and to press their causes in Albany. See also ChalkbeatNY, WNYC, Albany Times Union.
Election sets stage for L.A. Unified battle LA Times: The election results were not exactly the outcome the union had hoped for. A charter schools group, which emerged as a major force in the elections, made significant strides. In a contest that United Teachers Los Angeles fought hard to win, union-backed incumbent Bennett Kayser finished second to charter school founder Ref Rodriguez. See also LA School Report.
Boston Selects New Superintendent of Schools District Dossier: The city's education officials chose Tommy Chang, an instructional superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District, from a field of four finalists. See also Boston Globe.
New 'Consumer Reports' for Common Core finds learning materials lacking Washington Post: The initial report posted Wednesday examined materials that have at least a 10 percent market share and were endorsed by at least two states that said the materials were aligned with the Common Core.
GOP Education Chairman Anticipates Vote on Education Bill AP: Kline said he was "taken by surprise" by the opposition he says appears to have been fueled largely by a blog that said the bill would solidify the use of the standards and insert government control into private schools. Kline said the bill would do neither. He said opposition from the Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth also contributed to members' concerns.
Around The World, This Is How Girls And Boys Are Stacking Up Against Each Other In School HuffPost: Girls are now going to school longer than boys and significantly outperform boys in reading. Across countries examined in the report, boys are more likely to post low scores in math, reading and science. See also Washington Post.
More Children Eat Fruit in School, Study Shows NYT: The study found that from the time new nutritional guidelines went into effect in 2012 through last year, the percentage of students choosing fruits increased to 66 percent from 54 percent.
Body cameras for cops but classrooms too? SI&A Cabinet Reoprt: Instances of children with little to no verbal skills facing verbal or physical abuse at the hands of a special education instructor or a class aid have been documented even though it can be difficult for those children to express that he or she needs help.
After NPR's Wade Goodwyn’s moving report, One Night Only, about two dozen homeless singers performing at the Dallas City Performance Hall, I wiped tears from my eyes and made a resolution. This wonderful event must be celebrated, but I vowed to not use it as ammunition in our edu-political civil war.
The orchestra began to play "Somewhere" from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," and the homeless singers were "still a bit wobbly" as they joined in. After all, only about five of them were regular members of the chorus. Choral director Jonathan Palant had worked with 57 different choir singers over the last three months.
Then, Goodwyn reported, "Suddenly, a world-famous opera singer appears on the stage, seemingly out of nowhere. Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade walks into the middle of the Dallas Street Choir and puts her arms around two of the singers."
Together, they sing, There's a place for us. Somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air wait for us somewhere.
Goodwyn noticed "a lot of surreptitious wiping of eyes.” As a hundred other trained voices joined in, the homeless singers grew far more confident and melodious. "It was an evening they said they'd remember the rest of their lives."
But, Goodwyn's final words were nearly as striking in their pessimism, "For a night, two dozen of Dallas's homeless were lifted from the city's cold streets and sidewalks to bask in the warm glow of spotlights. For the usual hostility and indifference to their fate, they were traded love, respect and goodwill - one performance only."
Then, I read Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue post on the Gates Foundation’s new effort to address complex and interrelated housing problems.
School Districts Report Second Day Of Testing Problems StateImpact FL: The Tampa Bay Times reports Tampa-area schools had to suspend some testing for a second day. Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he won’t resume testing until the state can prove everything is working. Palm Beach school also will not test students on Wednesday. See also Bradenton Herald: State testing in Manatee County sees online delay but no need to suspend testing, ABC7 Common Core testing begins in California next week.
LAUSD Board Members in Runoff NBC SoCal: Los Angeles Unified School District board members Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic will have to compete in a May 19 runoff election as they fight to retain their seats, while incumbent George McKenna won re-election thanks to having no challengers. See also LA Times: One incumbent trails charter-school backed challenger in L.A. board balloting.
Taking the same road to Albany, education lobbying events on divergent paths ChalkbeatNY: They’re lobbying with the same goal in mind — to push policies that will improve public education — but what they’re asking for couldn’t look more different. Here are four things to know about Wednesday’s festivities.
School Agenda Bedevils Chicago Mayor in Race NYT: As Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago faces an unexpected runoff election, it is his education agenda that threatens his political future. See also Tribune: Emanuel says CPS had no choice but to back down in testing controversy.
Chris Christie’s bold plan to remake public schools is running into trouble Washington Post: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on a publicity blitz when he vowed to fix this city’s struggling schools with the most expansive re-engineering of urban education anywhere in the country.He told Oprah Winfrey in 2010 that Newark would become a “national model.” See also HuffPost: Unions Say They'll Sue Christie Again Over Pension Payments, Courier Post: Gov. Chris Christie's shifting position on Common Core.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Kudos to the team at KPCC Southern California Public Radio for showing how to correct a story online (and for reminding us that UTLA and SEIU have split on endorsing the sitting board chair, Richard Vladovic).
Step 1 is to indicate in the headline that the story has been corrected. KPCC goes with CORRECTED, but in my view an asterisk is also fine.
Step 2 is to indicate at the top of the story that there's been a change and what it is. Regretting the error is a classy flourish, though many news outlets can't seem to bring themselves to do so.
That's it. Not so hard, right?
Corrections should be avoided at all costs, but they're also inevitable given the pace of work and complexity of the issues. How you respond to them makes all the difference to readers and sources.
Related posts: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top; NYT Front-Pager Mis-Identifies Ed Trust President; FiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The Gate; NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Program.
I didn’t want to blog about Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? by Daniel Losen et. al. I support the efforts of Losen and the Center for Civil Rights Remedies to close the racial “discipline gap.” Students can’t learn if they are not in class and we need to invest in Restorative Justice, and other alternatives to suspensions.
We can’t punish our way to improved classrooms. Neither is it possible to systematically teach and learn for mastery in violent and chaotic schools, and Losen’s report calls for the remedies necessary to create safe, orderly, and caring learning environments. I just worry about the lack of an explicit push for the resources that would be necessary to replace the failed suspension-oriented approach to discipline.
I didn't want to touch the issue of disparate suspensions because I fear that systems will respond with data-driven pressure on teachers and principals to ignore disruptive and dangerous behavior, and refuse to invest the money and the focus necessary to replace suspensions with positive interventions.
Then, I read the Oklahoma Gazette’s summary of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies’ report, and its link to data from my last year in the classroom, 2009-2010. Ben Felder reports that the “Oklahoma City Public Schools is one of the top ten highest-suspending districts at the secondary level for all students, and is the highest suspending district in the nation for black secondary students.” Moreover, between 2010 and 2012, “overall suspension rates at the high school level also increased from 24.7 percent to 45.2 percent during the same period.”
The latest database shows that at the secondary level, OKCPS “suspension rates for black students climbed dramatically from 36.3% to 64.2%.” That increase of 27.9 points means that the district had a seemingly unbelievable increase in the black secondary student suspension rate of 80% in two years.
At the risk of angering many friends, who often blame teachers’ “Low Expectations” for discipline problems, I must still argue that the racial disparities in Oklahoma City are primarily due to segregation by race and class, and poverty made worse by underfunding of schools.
Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson Gets Contract Renewal District Dossier: Anderson and the state signed a three-year contract last year, but it required both parties to agree to an extension each year.
LA Teachers, Union Leaders Rally Amid Stalled Talks AP: The Los Angeles standoff has focused mostly on teacher salaries, class sizes and increasing the number of support staff members like nurses and counselors. The union notes that teachers have gone eight years without a salary increase or cost-of-living adjustment. See also LA Daily News: Teachers rally in downtown Los Angeles.
Standoff over new state school test continues Chicago Public Radio: Suburban parents gathered downtown Thursday to express their own concerns with the test. They want state lawmakers to approve an opt-out bill that would give parents the right to refuse to have their children tested. As it stands now, by law, the only way to refuse the test is for students to verbally state they won't take it.
In Dig at De Blasio, Cuomo Defends His Plan for Failing Schools WNYC: Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a vigorous defense of his plan to turnaround failing schools, one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio went to Albany and argued for an alternative. See also NYDN: De Blasio warns of flaws in Cuomo's education agenda
More teachers writing their own curricula under Common Core, says new report Hechinger Report via PBS NewsHour: The Center on Education Policy (CEP), a nonpartisan research group, reports that in roughly two-thirds of districts in Common Core states, teachers have developed or are developing their own curricular materials in math (66 percent) and English Language Arts (65 percent). In more than 80 percent of districts, the CEP found that at least one source for curriculum materials was local — from teachers, the district itself or other districts in the state. See also Washington Post: The Republican curriculum on Common Core.
Farmington teacher on paid leave after giving state testing opt-out forms to students Farmington Daily Times: Sharon Yocum, an Esperanza Elementary School fifth-grade teacher, was informed by a member of the Farmington Municipal School District administration Thursday morning that she would be placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation for alleged unprofessional conduct.
It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)
"In 1990, the highest level of education was found in the suburbs, seven to eight miles distant from the heart of Charlotte. By 2012, the Charlotte city center itself had the highest percentage of residents with college degrees." Thomas Edsall in the NYT, citing UVA research (The Gentrification Effect).
School breakfasts for low income students -- especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms -- can be controversial, even though it's not that new. (The newer thing is school dinner.)
Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn't been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here).
Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).
One place school breakfast hasn't been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.
The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS. Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn't as big as the school lunch program but it's much newer. Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools. This is Chicago's first year as part of the USDA's Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.
Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don't Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor Kids; Lunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics.
Here's another distracting (and seemingly avoidable) correction on an otherwise-interesting education story: The NYT's Valentine's Day corrections included this addendum to its Sunday February 8th profile of Chancellor Farina, noting errors describing the demographic makeup of the district's gifted and talented program and and Joel Klein's correct middle initial. NYC's gifted and talented programs are "largely white and Asian, not largely white," notes the correction.
Friday was Josh Starr's last day as head of the Montgomery County public schools. He granted an interview to NPR -- but not to the Washington Post. This forced the Post to run a bloggy writeup of the NPR interview over the weekend. You and I may not care, but in most cases a traditional news outlet like the Post would normally avoid publishing something like this on its regular news page, and would generally be loath to "follow" another news outlet with essentially duplicative coverage.
There's nothing really out of the ordinary about a district superintendent giving the cold shoulder to an outlet he or she perceives as having provided rough coverage of a tough situation. Former DCPS head Michelle Rhee declined to give much help to the Washington Post during the last few months of her tenure, feeling that the coverage there had gone overboard with its criticism. At a certain point, relations between beat reporters covering elected or appointed officials can get toxic even under the best of circumstances.
But this is just the latest incident surrounding the Post's coverage of Montgomery County and Starr. On January 27th, the paper's editorial page wrote about Starr's departure on the same day that the news came out on the education page.
That means the editorial page -- normally given to thoughtful analysis and commentary on news that's already been reported -- essentially scooped its own newsroom. I've heard estimates that there was a 12-hour gap, but I can't document such a thing. There's no timestamp on Washington Post stories, however, the earliest comments I can find on the editorial page story come from that evening, around 8 pm and the earliest comments on the education version of the story come in a few hours later, just after midnight on the 28th. According to the Post's Bill Turque, the newsroom was only about 90 minutes behind, largely due to the newsroom's more stringent sourcing requirements.
How does that happen, when the Post has both Donna St. George and Turque helping cover Montgomery County public schools? I have no idea. Yes, nearly everyone seems to have been caught by surprise. Sure, Twitter and the blogosphere beat newspapers to the punch all the time -- no fact-checking required on social media! -- but usually editorial pages don't beat their own newsrooms (or anyone else's really). They're usually not even close. And ideally beat reporters hear and report things first, well before everyone else. That's the whole point of beat reporting, or at least one of the main points.
Anyway, I've asked some Post folks about the timing of the breaking news and will be happy to learn and share more about how it unfolded. Anyone else have thoughts or insight into how the Post covered Starr, or the news of his departure, or whether any of it really matters? Did this story in Bethesda Magazine precipitate or suggest what was to come, well in advance of the news breaking? Feel free to share information, theories, and insights here or on twitter.
Related posts: Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage; About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; "Draft Sharing" Spreads At Washington Post Education Team; Michelle Rhee Vs. The Washington Post.
"Enough Is Enough": Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists BuzzFeed: In an email yesterday, a prominent education technology investor encouraged industry supporters to fight back against a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that was critical of her role as a member of the Chicago school board. See also EdSurge.
Jeb Bush Talks Immigration, Education, Releases Emails As He Eyes 2016 Bid Huffington Post: In a visit to Florida's state capital on Tuesday, Republican Jeb Bush focused on the politically explosive topics of immigration and education reform, while emails were released from his time as governor there in an effort to burnish his credentials as he eyes a 2016 presidential bid. See also Palm Beach Post, PK12.
In Iowa, Chris Christie said he now has 'grave concerns' about Common Core Des Moines Register: Today, reporters and political operatives are talking about how Christie has in the past supported Common Core. Time magazine politics reporter Zeke Miller on Monday night tweeted a link to a video of Christie saying in 2013 that "we are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we're going to continue."
Five States Encounter Problems With PARCC Tests EdSurge: Connection issues, malfunctioning video players, error codes--these are just a few of the problems encountered on TestNav, PARCC’s student testing platform, as Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, New Mexico and Maryland conducted “infrastructure trials” in preparation for testing season in March.
Fewer than half of teachers now covered by unions USA Today: For the first time since the rise of teachers unions in the 1980s, the percentage of USA teachers represented by unions in public and private schools has fallen below 50%, suggesting that the demographics of the teaching profession and the shift away from traditional schools are taking a toll on union membership.
High-School Equivalency Degree Loses Its Dominant Position WSJ: The new GED, which is more expensive in many states and harder to pass for test takers, has provided an opening for competing products. Already, 10 states have chosen an alternative to the GED, seven additional states offer two or three tests, and state officials in Washington and New Mexico are considering new options. See also Hechinger Report.
Pro-charter school group estimates 14 percent enrollment gain nationwide Washington Post: The National Alliance of Public Charter Schools estimates in a new report that 2.9 million children now attend U.S. charter schools, up 14 percent from last school year.More than 500 new charter schools opened in the 2014-2015 school year and 200 charters were closed for reasons ranging from poor academic performance to financial problems, according to the organization.
Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget WSJ: Mr. de Blasio has said he supported a proposal to require city schools to serve breakfast inside the classroom—instead of just the cafeteria—a shift supporters say would increase participation rates in the city’s free breakfast program. But the program has yet to get off the ground under Mr. de Blasio. More than a year into the mayor’s first term, advocates say their frustrations are growing.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Mostly behind the scenes, ERS (Education Resource Strategies) has spent the past 10 years helping districts understand and revamp their spending priorities (usually focused on student-based budgeting). Click here for the interactive timeline of ERS activities. Click here to see if your district has worked with them. Tell us here on on Twitter what your experience has been(@erstrategies). Image used with permission.
Enough with these high-minded policy debates over annual testing and teacher evaluations and vaccinations (!). Let's talk about the Senate bill's formula "portability" provisions determining which states and districts get more or less funding than under current law. According to CAP, the Alexander bill would be a big loser for large districts and high-poverty states. Click the link to get all the details. No response yet (that I know of) from the Alexander office. Image used with permission.
Here's Ellen Degeneres interviewing the man behind "Humans of New York" and the student and principal who have become unintentional superstars. Target is jumping on the bandwagon, too.
With Board Support In Question, MoCo Schools Superintendent Resigns WAMU: Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr is resigning, leaving his post four months before his contract was up. See also Washington Post: Joshua Starr’s three-year tenure as superintendent on par with big-city national average
Vaccines Should Be As Nonnegotiable As Seat Belts, Experts Say Huffington Post:The vaccination issue has emerged as an early litmus test in the 2016 presidential race. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) made waves on Monday when he told a reporter that "parents need to have some measure of choice" in the matter of vaccines.
Teacher-Evaluation Mandate Unlikely in ESEA Rewrite PK12: Republicans want to steer clear of anything that smacks of federal control. Democrats, who have historically represented the concerns of teachers' unions, are wary of the increasing impact of student test scores on evaluations and how those evaluations are used in new compensation systems.
Charter group says Kayser policies 'by no means race-neutral' LA School Report: Three other incumbents — Tamar Galatzan, George McKenna andRichard Vladovic — has been denounced by a wide range of Kayser supporters.
New York City Schools Chancellor Objects to Cuomo’s Plan for Grading Teachers NYT: Chancellor Carmen Fariña told state legislators that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to base too much of a teacher’s score on the state’s student test results. See also WNYC: NYC Chancellor Challenges Cuomo's Education Proposals
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
"A Crain's analysis of the 20 biggest U.S. school systems with elected and appointed boards found that half of those with elected boards carry even more debt than Chicago does, compared with revenue, while all but one of the largest systems with appointed boards have borrowed relatively less." (Elected or appointed? Pick your poison).
I'm splitting hairs. They're all fine ... compared to what were the choices my whole life: mediocre public schools.
- New Orleans parent Carrie Fisher in EdWeek (Parents Confront Obstacles as School Choice Expands)
According to a recent Grantland article, the miniseries -- called "Show Me A Hero" -- surrounds the reaction in Yonkers NY to a 1985 court decision that the city had "'illegally and intentionally’ fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city.”
The series is based on a Lisa Belkin book by the same name (book cover to left). The former NYT writer has since moved to HuffPost and Yahoo. You can read an excerpt here. Something in Salon here. IMDB for the show is here.
What's this have to do with education? Well, residential segregation combined with neighborhood-based schooling is the main reason we have such inequitable & segregated schools and school systems (and charter networks, too). While everyone likes to talk about the joys of the neighborhood system, it's turned out to be class- and race-based in some pretty awful ways. See Nikole Hannah-Jones' work in ProPublica and The Atlantic if you don't think it's a current issue.
So this show will give us at least a glancing chance of revisiting the issues of race, class, and the neighborhood school.
Related posts: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose Choice; Watch School Segregation Grow Over 20 Years; Rethinking The Neighborhood School Ideal; Decline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta); The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools;
Here's the letter from the USDE to Illinois about Chicago's refusal to administer the Common Core assessment this spring, dug up just yesterday by Crain's Chicago's Greg Hinz.
According to Hinz, "Politically, the problem is that, given national wrangling over school standards, Duncan cannot be seen as being easy on Chicago, said one source close to the center of the flap. That doesn't mean Illinois would lose all of the money, but a sizable hit is likely."
I'm not sure that's how it's going to happen but it' certainly interesting to see what the USDE is saying and how ISBE is playing things.
There was a Board meeting for CPS yesterday but I haven't seen any indication that the district is backing off its decision not to give the tests.
There's a mayoral election in a few weeks, which is likely heading for a runoff, according to the latest polls. Yes, a runoff for Rahm. Chicago schools are in an estimated $1 billion hole, budget-wise -- not counting pension obligations.
Full letter below, via Crain's.
Pay no attention to the mis-captioned candidate pictures (the names for Rodriguez and Thomas were switched but have now been fixed) or or the hipster spelling of "yamaka" (I blame Hillel) or even the sloppy screenshot job of the original version of the captions (courtesy: me).
The real news is that incumbent LAUSD District 5 member (and charter target) Bennett Kayser announced that he was pulling out of two United Way-sponsored debates against challengers Thomas and Rodriguez. Why? No one knows exactly. But it may well be that United Way LA “isn't exactly neutral” as it has been in the past, says LA Weekly's Hillel Aron. Yep, that's right. United Way.
In LA and a few other places, United Way organizations aren't just gathering donations and providing services. They're joining or leading coalitions, conducting parent information initiatives, and -- unavoidably -- taking sides.
As one Kayser supporter put it (in the LA Weekly article), “Anybody who thinks the United Way [LA] has run even-handed candidate forums should look into buying land in Florida."
Jack Schneider begins his excellent From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse with the observation that academic research usually has a short-lived impact on the classroom. No matter how brilliant the scholar, research findings are "like names written on a steam-covered window, they fade from view."
From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse takes a "glass half-full" approach. It acknowledges that the "avalanche of disparate research" on education has usually not been intended for use by classroom educators." But, "Some of it is."
Schneider does not despair. He provides hope that, someday, we can create a "research-to-practice superhighway (rather than relying on a series of detours and back alleys)" in seeking the path toward school improvement. Probably the best we can do today is carve out a "research-to-practice pathway."
The education historian describes four successes in implementing ideas from the Ivory Tower, Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, William Kirkpatrick's The Project Method, and Direct Instruction. These three progressive concepts, and the final behaviorist approach, took root in public school classrooms, even though they did so "without altering the nature of the teaching profession." In contrast to similar concepts that failed to influence schooling, these successes shared four characteristics: Perceived Significance and Philosophical Compatibility with teachers' world views, Occupational Realism and Transportability to actual classrooms.
These concepts may not have transformed instruction, but they show that teachers can, and will, change and become active agents in their professional development. Moreover, they stand as a reminder that teachers can be as willing to be challenged by new ideas as other professionals.
We propose that state laws be amended so that local boards have only two powers: to approve an annual slate of schools to operate in their locality, and to employ a CEO... Individual schools, not the local board, would employ teachers, rent or buy facilities and technology, and decide how to deliver instruction. - Paul Hill in Crosscut (Want to fix the school board? Change the job, not the people)
Related posts: "First, Kill All The School Boards"; First, Kill All The [Elected] School Boards; First, Kill All The Policy Wonks; Pointy Headed Pundits Can't Make Local Control Go Away; $100 Billion (A Year) To Get Rid Of School Boards.
Like most teachers who I know, I have strong opinions about cell phones in school – I’m agin em.
But, I support Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, so why should I intrude into New York City’s cell phone debate? Edu-politics is the art of the possible and cell phones aren’t going away. At some point we will have to find a way to incorporate those hand-held computers into the learning process. So, I had decided to bite my tongue and hope for the best.
Then, I stumbled across TechCrunch and Joe Mathewson’s prediction for 2015, “Teachers will embrace student’s Smartphone addiction.” Such candor cannot be allowed to go to waste. Regardless of where we come down on cell phones in school, we should face the fact that we are welcoming a dominating compulsion into our classrooms.
NY Chalkbeat’s Brian Charles, in Educators Remain Cautious as City Prepares to Lift Cell Phone Ban, quotes a principal who asks, “How do we enforce the use of cell phones in class, if we have 500-plus kids with cell phones who are taking calls or text during class time?” The principal then makes the point that too few non-educators fully understand, “We have laid a whole new burden on teachers who have to make sure children get the instruction they need.”
I must emphasize that NYC is not only opening the door to an incredibly disruptive device. It is inviting teenagers to bring patterns of behavior, that often could be described as addictions, into classrooms. When teachers, alone, cannot manage the cell phone challenge, they are likely to be scapegoated.
I would never bet against technology. The reason why digital technologies have failed to improve teaching and learning, I believe, is that we have not laid the foundation for the new types of learning. We must all take responsibility for helping students develop a learning culture and the self-control necessary to successfully engage in blended learning. New York City is dumping a massive and complex challenge on teachers and principals, while it is not likely to accept any responsibility for the epidemic of distraction and disorder that probably will result.
On the other hand, school improvement is a team effort. I'm not going to second guess teammates like de Blasio and Farina and I will hope for the best. -JT (@drjohnthompson)
One of the handful of articles nominated for a national magazine award yesterday includes Nikole-Hannah-Jones' school resegregation story, which ran in The Atlantic and is a finalist in the Public Interest category.
Longtime readers may recall Hannah-Jones from her appearance at an EWA panel on covering communities of color and inclusion on a list of diverse education tweeters I attempted to compile earlier this year.
While both reformers and reform critics might want to claim her as one of their own, her reporting on racial gerrymandering of school attendance zones calls into question neighborhood- and school district-based policies that few professional education advocates are willing to challenge.
The National Magazine Award is a big deal and it's not often that an education-related publication or article gets nominated. In 2011, an Atlantic Magazine story about the discovery of autism was nominated. In 2013, Peg Tyre's story about teaching writing in Staten Island got the nod. Further in the past, a TIME story on ADD was also nominated.
NPR's big podcast success, Serial, is long done now, but more news has been trickling out about some of the characters from the series (about the murder of a high school student). In this interview with one of the key witnesses (Witness from 'Serial' Tells His Story for First Time) there's the claim that tensions at Woodlawn high school were exacerbated by the creation of a magnet wing at the school:
When Woodlawn put in the magnet thing, they took out all the vocational classes. Before you would just go down there for drafting, shop, and everyone would co-mingle, and all the students interacted. But when they put the magnet wing in, it was kinda like ‘these people were different from us.’ And they didn’t have to interact with us anymore. They didn’t have to go by us, except to come to lunch, and that was it. But their gym, lockers, parking, was down in the magnet wing. And I found that to be a bit of a slap in the face. Because I knew football had paid for all of that, but there were few football players down there. Football paid for everything at the school.
Others know much more than I do about Woodlawn and about magnet programs being added to existing high schools -- but it seemed like an interesting claim to me and a fun way to bring up the show again.
Twenty years after the state legislature gave control over Windy City schools to City Hall, mayoral control is hotly debated in Chicago. The local PBS station takes a look and gives us this map. (Appointed vs. Elected School Board | Chicago Tonight | WTTW).
"Since 2000, poverty has grown twice as fast in America's suburbs as in America's cities. That is one of the findings from research on suburban poverty in America conducted by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube. (Top Brookings Infographics of 2014)
Success Charter Schools Secure More City Space WNYC: The Department of Education agreed on Thursday to give more space to the city's largest charter school network, Success Academy. The backroom deal came a day after Success founder Eva Moskowitz released a letter from anxious parents and just hours before she was scheduled to stage a press conference outside City Hall. See also ChalkbeatNY.
Details On The Administration's New College Ratings System NPR: Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February. Washington Post, NYT, NPR again.
Common Core, Non-Common Core States Face Similar Challenges, GAO Says PK12: For instance, states in both camps are giving teachers professional development to implement the standards, but they're worried the training isn't high-quality. And all states with new standards are developing new instructional materials that are supposed to match them—but that can be time- consuming, and there isn't always as much alignment as states were hoping for. It can also be pretty tricky to communicate with parents and the public about the standards, states told the GAO, which is considered Congress' investigative arm.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Student retention has never been all that high, nationally. A new AERA study shows that, after peaking at 2.9 percent in 2005, overall retention rates for grades 1 through 9 declined to 1.5 percent in 2009-10 (Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010).
In case you hadn't heard, This American Life spinoff "Serial" is a big hit. Focusing on the murder of a high school student in Maryland, it's a true-crime "whodunit?" with lots of excellent school-related characters and tidbits. One California teacher has replaced Shakespeare with the series.
But it's increasingly facing a major backlash, focused in part on the fact that the reporting team behind the piece is all white and the main characters are minorities: "What happens when a white journalist stomps around in a cold case involving people from two distinctly separate immigrant communities? Does she get it right?" (Success And 'Serial' Backlash - Digg; Serial' & White Reporter Privilege - The Awl; The Complicated Ethics Of 'Serial,' - ThinkProgress).
I'll leave the merits and details of the pushback to others -- Conor F. at The Atlantic has a long piece defending the show -- to point out that a very similarly popular show by This American Life last year focusing on Harper High school in Chicago generated little such concern despite many similarities.
White reporters? Check. Set in and around a high school? Check. Minority community? Check. Widespread acclaim? Check.
According to some critics, Serial and TAL have a lot in common: "Ethnic naïveté and cultural clumsiness are hardly unique to Serial. They’re woven into the fabric of its parent show, This American Life, which over its 20-year history has essentially made a cottage industry out of white-privileged cultural tourism," writes Quartz's Jeff Yang.
But Harper High didn't generate nearly as much criticism as Serial has. The two-part Harper High show (Episodes 487 and 488) won widespread accolades and to my knowledge just a smidgen of criticism. "In the end, I believe that [TAL's] coverage served to excuse many of the most harmful practices in our schools today and perpetuate some of the most harmful myths about urban education."
I can think of lots of possible reasons for the disparity -- though none is entirely satisfying. Perhaps "Harper High" is simply better than Serial, more careful to protect against stereotypes and white privilege. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping when immigrants (Korean- and Pakistani-American) are involved than African-Americans. Or, it could be that the criticism results from the multi-week format. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping in 2014 than we were in 2013?
Maybe all these left-wing politicians who want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers so that we can drastically and dramatically improve education. - Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Giuliani Says Teachers Unions Are To Blame For Violence In Black Communities in HuffPost). See also Valerie Strauss.
Live-watch Rick Hess interview Moskovitz, whose charter network now includes 9,ooo students in 32 schools across NYC. Video not working? Link is here. Let us know if she or he say something newsworthy!
Watching Newark superintendent Cami Anderson's interview with AEI's Rick Hess from last week, a few things are clear:
First and foremost is that Anderson's initiatives may be much more nuanced and less top-down than critics have claimed (and the media has repeated). For example, she says that there have been no school closings as part of her plan, and that several revisions and changes were made in response to community input. Is that accurate? Someone needs to check. By which I mean the WSJ, NJ Spotlight, Hechinger, ChalkbeatNY, or NYT.
Second, and just as important for someone to figure out, is whether her claims that there's a small but "well-funded" effort to block her efforts are accruate or not. The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton chronicled the protest against her, (a busload of Newark parents) but doesn't tell us who was behind the effort, if anyone. Did they decide to go among themselves? Who paid for the bus? Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle notes that CWA, "which has been an ally if AFT's NJ affiliate, has funded NJ Communities United to tune of $251K."
Related posts: Last Night's Raucous Newark Schools Meeting; Newark Officials Discuss School Improvement, Local Control; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash; Union Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark.
Report cites high suspension rates for charter schools - Metro - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/ExnFd
Report Offers 'Lessons Learned' From Teacher-Residency Programs - Teacher Beat - Education Week http://ow.ly/EyaDV