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Quotes: That Giant Sorting Sound

Quotes2You can’t tell me that only kids in high-wealth, white neighborhoods have the ‘college DNA’ — that’s ridiculous... There’s something about how we’re structured that is sorting opportunity.

- Illinois state schools chief Tony Smith in this WBEZ Chicago story Poverty's enduring hold on school success.

Morning Video: Up Close With NYC's Chancellor Farina

 

She's not quite the national figure that Joel Klein was -- for better and worse -- but NYC's mayoral appointee Carmen Farina has just wrapped up the school year and was doing the rounds touting recent accomplishments and addressing top NYC issues.

Or, check out this MSNBC clip in which Melissa Harris-Perry expresses unease with President Obama's handling of a trans heckler, or Rachel Maddow warning that the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling doesn't mean as much as you may think it does. Both via Medialite.

Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?

Let’s recall the excitement in 2007 when Bruce Fuller, Katheryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, and Joseph Wright published Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working?  Fuller et. al showed that NAEP test score growth had largely declined after NCLB took effect, but states reported huge gains on their standardized tests. Oklahoma, for instance, posted a 48 point gap between its 4th grade reading NCLB scores and its NAEP results. After NCLB, the state’s 4th grade reading scores increased 2.3% per year while its NAEP results dropped by .3 per year.

Fuller’s blockbuster was a definitive indictment of the reliability of state NCLB test scores; it even got the test-loving Education Trust to question whether bubble-in accountability was working. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before testing received a unanimous verdict as guilty of being a hopelessly misleading metric. I thought the idea that state test score growth, during an age of test-driven accountability, could stand alone as evidence of increased learning would soon be discredited. 

While I must emphasize how much I admire the work of Douglas Harris, I’m dismayed by one passage in his report on the New Orleans model of reform, The Urban Education of the Future?. I’ve got no problem with Harris et. al reporting that New Orleans increased student performance, as measured by Louisiana’s embarrassingly primitive state tests, by .2 to .45 std. It is a scholar’s responsibility to report such data. However, why would Harris speak as if he assumes that those numbers mean anything? They might mean something or they might not, but certainly they don’t provide evidence that New Orleans portfolio model has increased student performance more than early education would have. 

Even when they are valid, test scores measure a narrow band of skills and knowledge.  They rarely or never reveal what information was retained by a student, or what went into one of a student’s ears and out the other. Neither are NCLB-type test scores likely to say much about whether any alleged learning was meaningful. So, I have been searching for a metaphor to illustrate why test scores, alone, during a time of test-driven accountability, can’t be used to argue that a pedagogy that focuses on raising objective outputs is more effective than early education or any other approach to holistic learning. 

NFL running backs share a lot of athletic skills with their counterparts in rugby. So, what would we say about a quantitative analysis estimating that football halfbacks are .2 to .45 std more effective in racking up the metrics (yardage, scoring etc.) on NFL fields than Australian rugby runners would be in competing in the American game under our rules and referees? Wouldn’t the response be, Well Duh!?

Continue reading "Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?" »

AM News: Newark's Cami Anderson Steps Down

Cami Anderson, Picked by Christie, Is Out as Newark Schools Superintendent NYT: Ms. Anderson, who oversaw the New Jersey city’s troubled public school system, had feuded openly with the mayor, teachers and many parents. See also NJ.com, WSJDistrict DossierWashington Post.

Teacher Rafe Esquith files claim against L.A. Unified, blames controversy on joke LA Times: From his modest classroom at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Koreatown, Rafe Esquith became an education superstar. His teaching techniques brought him worldwide recognition, and his books became models for how to engage young students. See also LA School Report, KPCC LA.

Grading the Common Core: No Teaching Experience Required NYT: Pearson, which operates 21 scoring centers around the country, hired 14,500 temporary scorers throughout the scoring season, which began in April and will continue through July. About three-quarters of the scorers work from home

Despite progress, D.C. students are still not up to par, report says Washington Post: The District’s education leaders emphasized the progress that they have made in reforming the city’s schools in recent years but acknowledged Monday that they must increase efforts to improve prospects for thousands of underperforming students.

School Scrambles To Preserve Newly Discovered Chalkboards From 1917 NPR: Behind the walls at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City, construction workers found old chalkboards with drawings and class lessons, written almost a century ago and in remarkable condition.

Fariña, de Blasio and Mulgrew aim to fire up principals at Renewal event ChalkbeatNY: A private event for the 94 low-performing schools on Monday featured words of encouragement from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, along with time for schools to refine their improvement plans for next year. Principals said the event was part pep rally, part professional development session, and was designed to energize those who will be on the front lines as the city tries to prove it can improve those schools with a combination of academic help and resources to meet students’ non-academic needs.

Innovative teacher-training program spreads to the Tri-Cities Seattle Times: Heritage University is expanding a teacher-training program that gives students up to two years in on-the-job training.

No drama, little fanfare as MPS and teachers begin talks MinnPost: Goar is adept at managing divergent constituencies, but is thought to be unlikely to rock the boat with any of them while on an extended tryout. He reports to a board that boasts three new members (four if you count nonvoting student member Noah Branch) that is still something of a cipher politically.

Morning Video: Howard Fuller Reflects On #NOLAed

"Some attendees were opponents who questioned the reforms. But far louder was the self-questioning by the very people who championed the changes." (Success at what cost? New Orleans education reformers discuss the revolution via Times Picayune).  Click the link if the video doesn't load. 

Or watch and read all about Icahn Charter in NYC -- second to Success Academy but rarely in the press. Reason via ChalkbeatNY.

Back & Forth: Reformy Researcher's Mind Boggled By Thompson, NOLA, Me

USC's Morgan Polikoff has a blog post you might want to read, in which he takes on contributor John Thompson's recent critique of the New Orleans school reform model and a recent Washington Monthly article about the last 10 years there.

In large part, Polikoff takes issue with various claims and observations made by Thompson about, for example CREDO as a pro-charter organization: 

Unless by “pro-charter” he means “uses advanced statistical methods and concludes that charters marginally outperform traditional public schools in recent reports but not in earlier reports,” this characterization of CREDO is absurd.

On Thompson's claim that there is no evidence to support claims of progress:

You might argue with those statistics–that they’re based on creaming, or that the poorest of the poor have been driven out of NOLA, or some other critique (though my read of the evidence on this is pretty clear). But they’re not no evidence. They’re actually quite a bit of evidence.... Perhaps it wouldn’t work elsewhere, but it’s not nothing.

On the idea of "withholding judgement" pending further evidence:

If the facts come back that charters are outperforming traditional public schools in New Orleans, you can bet your bottom dollar there won’t be a followup post about how the reforms were right all along.

Last but not least, Polikoff takes aim at the perceived disconnect between Thompson, whose writing according to Polikoff betrays "an agenda that will not change with any amount of research evidence," and my writing here and at The Grade.

Morning Video: Live From New Orleans

 Here's the livestream from #NOLAed conference going on now. Or click here if the link doesn't work -- I couldn't find real embed codes. The schedule for the day is here. Or watch PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifil deliver a Newark commencement speech here.

Quotes: Former Labor Secretary Supports Charters That Do Right By Kids

Quotes2I don’t have anything against charter schools if they adhere to minimum public standards, and if they don’t select their students — skimming the cream off in advance — and don’t kick students out who don’t meet the grade. I mean those kinds of charter schools who really are taking on public responsibilities by accepting all students, or at least selecting on a random selection basis and keeping students who are difficult to teach, but keeping them in the classroom and doing the best for their students, then all power to them.

- Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich in the Huffington Post (How America Has Failed Its Students)

Morning Video: A Different Kind Of (Charter) School Model

"Right away, when visitors walk into an Intrinsic Schools classroom, they notice its size. Each classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students." (A Charter School Model Different from Most WTTW Chicago)

AM News: NY Teachers Call For Modified Mayoral Control

Teachers' union leaders talk of changes to mayoral control Capital NY:  The U.F.T., Mulgrew said, wants the mayor to have less control over the Panel for Educational Policy (P.E.P.), the governing body of the Department of Education. See also NYDN.

Cuomo Seeks to Link Bills on Rent Regulation and Private School Tax Credits NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he was trying to play mediator by getting Assembly to approve the tax credits and the Senate to continue rent regulations.

CPS acknowledges errors, takes steps to count dropouts correctly WBEZ Chicago: “CPS is committed to ensuring the accuracy of our data, and we are taking four additional concrete steps to further guarantee the integrity of our data,” Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz said in an email sent late Wednesday.

Arkansas Board Rejects Switch From PARCC to ACT, Defying Gov. Hutchinson State EdWatch: The Arkansas Times reported that the board's 7-1 vote not to switch to the ACT Aspire test for 2015-16 school year was a "surprising rebuke" of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Student teaching key to teacher retention, report says EdSource Today: The report, “A Million New Teachers are Coming: Will they be Ready to Teach?” found that 82 percent of teachers who were trained by  UTRU, which partners with both San Francisco Unified and Aspire, the charter school organization that has 36 schools in California, were still teaching after five years on the job. In contrast... only 28 percent of TFA's teachers remain in the profession after five years.

Police Allegedly Enrolled Kids in School Illegally Washington Post: The District is suing two D.C. police officers for more than $224,000 in back tuition and penalties for allegedly enrolling their three children in D.C. public schools while they lived outside the District.

Texas Teacher Fired After Disturbingly Racist Post In Response To Pool Party Incident HuffPost: A teacher has been "relieved of her teaching duties" after posting a racist Facebook rant in response to recent events at a McKinney, Texas, pool party.

Federal Money for [Higher] Education Surpasses States’ Contributions NYT: Much of the growth of federal higher-education spending has been increases in veterans’ education benefits and Pell grants.

City Offers Summer 'Bootcamp' for Aspiring CTE Teachers WNYC: New York is among five communities receiving funds from the American Federation of Teachers to work with local business leaders on career and technical education opportunities. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Colorado schools to track marijuana offenses by students AP: Colorado schools will begin compiling data on students who get busted for using or distributing marijuana, an effort aimed at gauging the effects of the drug's legalization in the state....

Renovation Reveals 98 Year-Old Treasure NBC News: When it came time to renovate an Oklahoma City high school, no one had any idea what would be found behind the walls; the original blackboards complete with lesson plans and drawings intact, 98 years later. 

Pre-K Year Two; Public Pools; Biking and Breathing WNYC: Seventy thousand rising pre-kindergartners received their acceptance letters for year two of New York City's universal pre-k program. Deputy Mayor Richard Buery answers parents' questions about registration and other educational matters.

Transgender student files lawsuit against schools over bathrooms Washington Post: A 16-year-old transgender student has filed a federal lawsuit against a Virginia school board, calling its policy on school restrooms discriminatory.

'D' grade may get LAUSD students out of high school, but not into 4-year college KPCC LA: Ten years ago, the district established a requirement for students to pass college preparation courses that would make them eligible to enter University of California and California State University campuses. Starting with the Class of 2017, students would be required to pass the courses with a "C" grade to get them college ready.

Embattled Dallas Schools Chief Defies Board, Fires Principals District Dossier: Superintendent Mike Miles' own job security has been a hot topic of late after several school board members tried, but failed, to fire him in April.

Thompson: Petrilli Endorses Integration & Segregation & Trusting Relationships for Some

If the purpose of school reform is improving education and not union-busting and privatization, reformers should do some soul searching after they read Robert Putnam's Our Kids. Had they known twenty years ago what Putnam documents today, would accountability-driven, competition-driven reformers have rolled the dice and sought to increase equity by holding teachers accountable for raising test scores?

Would they have believed that education failures produced by the stress of generational poverty could have been reversed by the stress of high-stakes testing? Would they have pretended that increased segregation produced by school choice could have been the cure for segregation created by economics? Had they recognized the importance of trusting social relationships, would reformers have demanded a basic skills testing regime that would inevitably degrade the learning cultures of poor schools and replace holistic instruction of poor children of color with nonstop remediation for primitive bubble-in tests?

I've long thought that conservatives like Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who now criticize value-added teacher evaluations, would be especially open to the insights of Putnam and others who help chart an escape from the constraints imposed by top-down micromanaging of classrooms. And, yes, Petrilli seeks to liberate some students from the social engineering known as "school reform." 

Petrilli's How Schools Can Solve Putnam's Paradox offers support for Putnam and advocates for socio-economic integration like Richard Kahlenberg. He writes, "If loneliness, isolation, and extremely fragile families are big parts of the poverty problem, then connecting poor children with thriving families and communities can be part of the solution." Even better, Petrilli seeks to, "Build on the social capital that does exist in poor communities."

I think Petrilli's next proposal, "Build social capital by creating new schools," is weird, but he offers a reality-based disclaimer. He admits, "But the people who run these schools are often not from the community, and that creates inevitable conflicts. It’s also something of an open question whether these brand-new schools can create true social capital beyond their four walls."

Continue reading "Thompson: Petrilli Endorses Integration & Segregation & Trusting Relationships for Some" »

AM News: LA School Board Retreats On College-Ready Course Requirement

 As 22,000 students risk not graduating, LAUSD board eases requirements KPCC: The school board is modifying a commitment made a decade ago to require so-called A-G courses, the classes required to become eligible for University of California and California State University entry, to earn a high school diploma. See also LA Times.

Senate Gears Up for ESEA Floor Debate PK12: Alexander said that he and his staff have been working in close concert with the President Obama and his staff on substance of the reauthorization. See also NatJourn: Sen. Alexander Vows to Block new Obama Education Regulations

Raising Graduation Rates With Questionable Quick Fixes NPR: The nation's high school graduation rate is at a record-high 81 percent. Why? Because states are doing good things ... or using some sleight of hand. [does ECCA fix/address this?]

Duncan: Soon-to-be educators need more time in classroom Chalkbeat New York: Denver Public Schools is “way ahead of the curve” in teacher preparation due in part to the Student Teacher Residency program offered through the University of Colorado Denver, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Oregon Opt-Out Bill Could Lead to Loss of Federal Dollars, Ed. Dept. Warns PK12: The state's House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would inform parents twice a year of their right to exempt children from standardized tests.

Student poverty, lack of parental involvement cited as teacher concerns Washington Post: Student poverty is a major barrier to learning, according to teachers polled in a new national survey of educators released Tuesday. Lack of parental involvement and overtesting were also identified as big problems, as well as student apathy, according to an online Public Opinion Strategies survey of 700 elementary and secondary teachers across the country.

Hillary Clinton makes a promise to union leaders: I'll listen to teachers Washington Post: Hillary Rodham Clinton told the president of the National Education Association that she would listen to teachers if elected president, a simple promise Monday that impressed the president of the nation's largest labor union.

Weingarten, de Blasio to announce five-city 'compact' Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten will announce a compact with five cities to increase career and technical education offerings in New York City this Thursday, and will be joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LA School Board Retreats On College-Ready Course Requirement" »

Charts: In One Year, 41 Chicago Schools Raised $7.6M In Private Donations

image from catalystchicago.wpengine.netdna-cdn.comThere's a perception in some quarters that public schools within each school district are by and large equal in terms of how they're funded, and it's mostly charter schools that rake in the outside donations. 

Well, this new piece from Catalyst Chicago (The price of fundraising) pretty much explodes that idea:

"For a select but growing group of schools in Chicago’s wealthier communities, parent fundraising has risen to new heights." 

Last year, 8 schools raised more than $300,000 each. "Thirty brought in more than $100,000 and eight raised more than $200,000." One raised more than $600,000. 

 

Thompson: The Truth None of Us Wants to Face

I still teach GED part-time, so I have not become completely absorbed into the edu-political world that is so divorced from the reality of inner city schools. I seek a balance, addressing the school improvement proposals that are politically viable, while remaining connected with the reasons why practitioners and parents are so dismissive of reform agendas. 

I can't deny that I've been acculturated into much of the "status quo" mentality illustrated by my first principals' mantra, "Pick your battles." The battles that we inner city teachers want policy people to launch are simply not winnable. 

However, Jay Mathews, in How Do We Help Our Least Motivated, Most Disruptive Students?, tackles the issue that I know I shouldn't  touch. 

Twenty years after I was repeatedly warned that assessing disciplinary consequences in a credible manner is an issue that school systems won't dare address, and as the agenda has shifted to reducing suspensions, why should I try to answer Mathews' question? Against my better judgment, I'll respond to his columns and readers. (After I read the book he cites, I'll see whether I dare to get closer to the 3rd rail of edu-politics by discussing it.)

Mathews wrote a three-part series on Caleb Stewart Rossiter's Ain't Nobody Be Learnin' Nothin'.  His first column on Rossiter's indictment of grade inflation "inspired a flood of comments and e-mails saying such malpractice was happening nearly everywhere in the country." But Mathews, like so many teachers turned advocates can only ask, "What do we do about it?" He then turned to Rossiter’s solution to low academic and behavioral standards which doesn’t seem practical to Mathews (or me) but which "represents the toughness I sense many Americans think is overdue."

Mathews begins his third column with his obligatory praise of KIPP, even though he probably realizes that its methods can't be scaled up and are thus irrelevant to systemic improvement. He concedes "that a significant number of low-performing students are likely not to enroll in schools like KIPP — or will drop out — because they don’t like the emphasis on good behavior and hard work."

Mathews agrees with Rossiter that neighborhood schools should teach good behavior and they should not keep returning disruptive students to their original classes, "where they distract students trying to learn." I would add that disruptive students also want to learn and, above all, they want to learn how to control their behavior. I would also argue that troubled students should never be described as "miscreants" or "slow learners" which is Mathews' characterization of Rossiter's views.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Truth None of Us Wants to Face" »

AM News: What Next For NJ & Common Core (Plus Chicago Supe Resigns)

Former Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley Joins Democrats' Race for White House PK12: Among his education achievements as governor was signing into law a bill that made some undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition.

Real Test After Christie’s Call to Drop Common Core: What Happens Next? NJ Spotlight: Now what? In the aftermath of Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement on Thursday that he no longer supports the Common Core State Standards, what are the administration’s plans for setting its own standards for New Jersey’s public schools?

Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigation Chicago Tribune: Byrd-Bennett sent written notice of her decision to the city school board, a source told the Tribune late Sunday. An official CPS announcement was pending.

Deadline for Teacher-Distribution Plans Looms PK12: Attention state agency officials: Monday is the final deadline to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that address the equitable distribution of teachers.

Center for Union Facts says Randi Weingarten is ruining nation’s schools Washington Post: The writer, Richard Berman, is a D.C.-based corporate communications consultant who is waging a national campaign against Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Poll: Maryland Voters Concerned About Time Spent On Standardized Tests WAMU: When it comes to education issues, Maryland voters are worried about too much standardized testing of kids more than anything else, according to a poll commissioned and released by the state's teachers union. The survey shows rare bipartisan agreement on education in Maryland.

Chicago struggles to redesign neighborhood high schools Catalyst: Overall, the neighborhood high schools that small schools were intended to rejuvenate are still struggling. Many, especially on the South and West sides, suffer from sharply declining enrollment.

Charter-school backers resist state’s traditional financial-reporting rules Seattle Times: The state wants charter schools to follow the same financial-reporting rules as other public schools, but has encountered some unexpected backlash. It’s the first clash in an otherwise peaceful relationship with the state as charters ramp up in Washington.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Confounds Mayor Bill de Blasio WSJ: Aides to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have huddled for months trying to understand Gov. Andrew Cuomo, often as they scrambled to address perceived slights. They largely have come to one conclusion: There is very little to be done about him.

Reaching Kids Means Conquering Poverty in Mount Vernon WNYC: Educators on the front lines — those who work with the students in the schools that struggle most to pass reading and math tests — said Cuomo’s argument ignored a key factor, one beyond teachers’ control: poverty.

School surveillance video shows boxes of SAT exams were delivered to UPS Washington Post: On May 2, 263 teens sat for the SATs at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., the culmination of weeks of expensive test preparation for some students as they hoped to enhance their standing on the college entrance exams.

Blue-collar town leads Rhode Island’s tech-assisted learning revolution Hechinger Report: The students dive into the lesson, dragging empty domino shapes from the bottom of the screen and placing them at the top, where they add dots and create equations.

Hastert’s Name Removed by Alma Mater NYT: AWheaton College scrubbed J. Dennis Hastert’s name from its public policy center after the former House speaker’s indictment on charges that he lied to the F.B.I. about financial transactions.

Thompson: How Houston's Test and Punish Policies Fail

As the normative test, sort, and punish approach to reform continues to fail, I often recall Houston's Apollo 20 experiment, designed to bring "No Excuses" charter school methods to neighborhood schools. Its output-driven, reward and punish policies failed.  It was incredibly expensive, costing $52 million and it didn't increase reading scores. Intensive math tutoring produced test score gains in that subject. The only real success was due to the old-fashioned, win-win, input-driven method of hiring more counselors.

The Texas Observer's Patrick Michels, in Politico's Houston's Learning Curve, surveys the failures and successes of Superintendent Terry Grier and Houston schools, and he reveals a pattern that is even more bifurcated than I'd anticipated.  Michels finds no evidence that Grier's test-driven accountability has benefitted students, but he describes the great success of constructive programs that build on kids' strengths and provide them more opportunities.

Michels describes Grier as "a data-driven risk-taker who’s part task-master, part cheerleader [who] said he’s not about to give up, even after six long years at HISD’s helm." Under Grier, 900 teachers have been exited using an evaluation system that holds teachers accountable for test score growth. Moreover, his value-added pay for performance plan has cost Houston $136 million in bonuses in the last three years.

If Grier is correct and test score growth is valid for holding individuals accountable, then surely he also should be fired. NAEP reading scores have barely increased since 2002, and remain below the average of major urban areas.  In the all-important metric of 8th grade reading, Houston has been flat since 2007, even as other major urban districts increased those scores. Plus, Education Week's Stephen Sawchuk reports that Grier now seeks to cut "the $14 million bonus-pay program to just $2 million, a far cry away from the $40 million a year it once gave out."

With the help of local philanthropies, however, Houston has introduced a wide range of humane, holistic, and effective programs. Michels starts with Las Americas Newcomer School, which is "on paper a failing school." It offers group therapy and social workers who help immigrants "navigate bureaucratic barriers—like proof of residency or vaccination records." He then describes outstanding early education programs that are ready to be scaled up, such as  the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood, and Project Grad which has provided counseling and helped more than 7,600 students go to college.

Michels' analysis is very consistent was Bruce Katz's and Jennifer Bradley's The Metropolitan Revolution, which described Houston's Neighborhood Centers. This $675 million nonprofit is one reason why "'If you're poor, you want to be poor in Houston, because there is a ladder there.'" Children who attended the Neighborhood Centers' Head Start program produce higher test scores - as high as 94% proficient in 3rd grade reading.    

Michels also reports that Houston Education Research Consortium, which partners with Rice University and is funded with a startup grant from the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, "gives researchers direct access to district data to study which programs work best, and why, and what to do about it." Its director, Ruth Lopez Turley, led the team that reviewed Apollo 20. It agreed with the program's chief advocate, Roland Fryer, that the math tutoring showed results but doubted that the score increases were sustainable."

Turley seeks to reach "students whose families must move often mid-year, who can’t always make it to school, or don’t have a stable place to sleep at night—all the factors that interrupt education in poor urban schools."

Also, Michels cites Peter Beard, of the Greater Houston Partnership, who praises Houston's work on STEM education and technical training, but who says, “At the end of the day, you need to show up on time, you need to have the right mindset for work and you probably need to read, write and understand science." In other words, test scores might be important, but it is the immeasurable social and emotional factors that really matter.

Finally, I was struck by the promise of Houston programs that did not just remediate but built on students' strengths. And, that raises a key question for Houston and for reformers. What if we shifted the focus from the weaknesses of students and teachers to a commitment to building on the positive? Grier's test and punish policies have already failed and been downsized. Of course, I would like to hear an open acknowledgement that test-driven reform was a dead end. But, mostly likely, systems will just let data-driven accountability quietly shrivel and die. Then, we can commit to the types of  Win Win policies that have a real chance of helping poor children of color. - JT(@drjohnthompson) 

Morning Video: Can Chicago Reach Labor Deal Like LA Just Did?

Can Chicago teachers and the district come to agreement over a new contract like UTLA and LAUSD recently did? PBS affiliate WTTW interviews union president Karen Lewis. Or watch this HuffPost Live segement on desegregation efforts in Connecticut, one of the few states in the nation where there's been some improvement. 

Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, Too

Some Fieldston parents and NY Magazine readers may be concerned about the progressive private school's racial awareness program described in this week's magazine (Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?), but not everyone's quite so bothered by the effort.  

As described in the magazine feature by Lisa Miller, the school asked elementary school kids to identify themselves by race and then separated them -- temporarily -- as part of a program to deepen the students' understanding of racism and differences. "It would foster interracial empathy by encouraging children to recognize differences without disrespect while teaching kids strategies, and the language, for navigating racial conflict."

The program is mandatory, and operates during the school day, and start with kids as young as eight. "In 45-minute sessions, children would talk about what it was like to be a member of that race; they would discuss what they had in common with each other and how they were different, how other people perceived them, rightly or wrongly, based on appearance. Disinhibited by the company of racially different peers, the children would, the school hoped, feel free to raise questions and make observations that in mixed company might be considered impolite."

Designed by Fieldston's Mariama Richards, the "affinity-group" program was meant to foster authentic conversation but it felt to some parents like a step backwards -- like segregation, like overkill. It wasn't a comfortable discussion in ethics class."This same parent who sends her children to Lower because she values diversity tends not to dwell on the fact that she has few close friends of color; that her neighborhood is almost entirely white; that her nanny or housecleaner or doorman has brown skin."

Racial and demographic diversity has long been a goal for progressive private schools, but mixing kids together is just a start. Efforts like these have been popping up in different places around the country.  (My progressive private alma mater, Chicago's Francis Parker, just hired a director of diversity who seems like she's going to push the envelope for ostensibly liberal parents.) Fort Greene's Community Roots, a diverse progressive charter school, asked mixed groups of parents to engage in group activities outside of school in order to promote understanding and deepen classroom diversity.

See also this CNN segment featuring concerned parents:

 
ctn pkg carroll race experiments classrooms_00005030
 
"One of New York City's most elite and progressive elementary schools is conducting an experiment on race by separating students. CNN's Jason Carroll reports."

The reaction so far to the article has been generally supportive of the effort at Fieldston:

Education writer Dana Goldstein, now at The Marshall Project, noted on Twitter that the piece "perfectly captures moment in which young(ish) progressive educators confront parents who hold old notions of "colorblindness." Once unusual, racial awareness programs (the invisible white backpack, etc.) are more commonly part of college than they used to be. "My demographic wouldn't be shocked if our kids were separated by race and asked to discuss it in "safe space," noted Goldstein. "We've been there."

Over at Vox, Jenée Desmond-Harris's post (Why a New York City school's idea to (temporarily) separate kids by race is smart) lists the many advantages of the Fieldston program, especially teaching the lessons that "ignoring race and racism doesn't make these things go away, and that white people have a racial identity, too."

Not everyone is a big fan of the approach being taken, however.  Responding to the earlier NYT piece written by Kyle Spencer, New America's Connor Williams wrote a post titled The Limits of Talking About Privilege to Teenagers

NYT editor Amy Virshup thought that the NY Magazine story might not offer much that readers hadn't already learned. "But @KyleYSpencer story on same topic ran in Feb., w/pix of real kids, not models. What's new?"

The issue of overkill -- not so much on the issue but perhaps the controversy at this particular school -- is also the focus of a recent blog post I wrote over at The Grade:  Another Story About Fieldston’s Controversial Racial Awareness Program.  

One thing I'd add is that it's not just kids who need more and better racial awareness programs but also educators and advocates.  Teachers -- predominantly white and middle class -- need space and time to talk about and understand not only their students' backgrounds but also their own.  And advocates -- reformers and critics alike, also predominantly white and college-educated -- would do well with more of the same.

Making sure that conference panels and speakers and attendees are more diverse is one step, as is engaging more diverse groups of stakeholders (not just mobilizing them). Panels about racial awareness or race-focused issues are good, too.  But what about taking it one step further and doing a version of what Fieldston is doing and let adults engaged in education talk together in affinity groups and have some authentic conversations, too?  I could see PIE, or TFA, or maybe the Shanker Institute or Century Foundation doing something like this. Or maybe it's already happening and I just haven't heard about it.

AM News: Seattle Teachers Strike, Reform Victory/Defeat In Los Angeles

Thousands Of Seattle Teachers Strike Over Pay, Class Size Reuters: Thousands of Seattle teachers walked out of class on Tuesday to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes, marking the largest one-day strike in a series of rolling protests by educators in Washington state over public school funding.

Two challengers, one incumbent, finish first in L.A. Board of Education races  LA Times: In all, outside groups have poured in $5.1 million, compared with under $1 million spent by campaigns controlled by the candidates, according to reports filed through Monday. The contest drawing the most attention and the most dollars was the Kayser/Rodriguez race [which Rodriguez appears to have won]. Kayser was backed by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which spent more than $1 million to keep him in office. Rodriguez co-founded an organization that operates charter schools, and bedinefited from strong support by a group representing charters.

Starr, former Montgomery County superintendent, takes association job Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former schools superintendent has taken a job as chief executive officer for an Arlington-based professional association for educators.Joshua P. Starr, who resigned in February amid reports that he did not have the support he needed to win another four-year contract in Maryland’s largest school system, will take over June 8 at PDK International. See also District Dossier: Former Superintendent Joshua Starr to Lead Phi Delta Kappa International

Montgomery school board to appoint interim superintendent, pause search Washington Post: The Montgomery County school board has suspended its national search for a new superintendent and plans to meet Wednesday to appoint an interim schools chief for next school year, just days after a leading candidate suddenly pulled out of the running. See also WAMU: For Now, Montgomery County Schools Chief Is Expected To Be A One-Year Job

Thousands of Scorers Take On the Common-Core Tests EdWeek: Twelve million students are taking either the PARCC or the Smarter Balanced assessments in 29 states and the District of Columbia this school year. Forty-two thousan people will be scoring 109 million student responses to questions on the two exams, which were designed by two groups of states... Pearson, which is training scorers for PARCC states, as well as administering and scoring the test, permitted a rare visit to one of its 13 regional scoring centers, in a nondescript brick office building outside Columbus.

Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say Washington Post: The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems. The survey, to be released Wednesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., polled the 56 Teachers of the Year, a small but elite group of educators considered among the country’s best, on a range of issues affecting public education.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Seattle Teachers Strike, Reform Victory/Defeat In Los Angeles" »

Quotes: Connecticut's Magnet Schools Erode Segregation

Quotes2It's pathetic that only one little state [Connecticut] is showing any leadership [by creating 84 magnet schools]...It shouldn't be so radical to think it might be better to have more diverse schools.
 
- UCLA's Gary Orfield in HuffPost Edu (Connecticut Makes Rare Progress As America Moves Backwards)

Morning Video: Duncan Talks Youth Employment, Public Boarding Schools

 

Here's Duncan speaking yesterday at the Youth Violence Prevention Summit: "One idea that I threw out … is this idea of public boarding schools. That’s a little bit of a different idea, a controversial idea. But the question is—do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home? There’s just certain kids we should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful.” CPSAN via Breitbart. Click the link if the video doesn't play correctly. Still looking for video of him roaring like a lion if you see it let me know. 

Morning Video: Home Visits Help Bring Dropouts Back Into School

Watch Lawrence, MA's re-engagment coordinator connect with youth who've dropped out at school, which, according to EdWeek has let to a dramatic lowering of dropout rates and a strong increase in graduation figures. What's not clear from the piece is how widespread the practice is, how well it works in other places, and what kinds of alternative/recovery programs are being offered to returning students. In some places, it's been reported that the quality is quite bad. 

Thompson: To Improve Baltimore's Schools, Learn from The Wire

The violence in Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, and other urban areas is inextricably connected with the deindustrialization of America. The rapid decline of our manufacturing base, and our ineffective response to the decline of working peoples' wages has also undermined confidence and, thus, our ability to solve serious social problems.

Ironically, Baltimore not only exemplifies the failure of our society to successfully tackle social problems, but it is also home of some of the world's best social science, such as the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, and it is the inspiration of David Simon's and Ed Burns' The Wire.

The Wire is the contemporary equivalent of the wisdom of Joseph Heller's Catch 22. It is not only the definitive dramatic depiction of the failure of the data-driven War on Drugs, the devastation unleashed by the destruction of blue collar jobs, and the shortcomings of the both War on Poverty and gentrification in revitalizing inner cities, but it shows how school reform was doomed by those same dynamics. So, a silver lining in the Baltimore tragedy is that it gives us a chance to reconsider Simon's genius (as well as that of Johns Hopkins' Robert Balfanz.)

As long as America's economic pie was growing dramatically in a fairly equitable manner, we had the confidence to invest in the War on Poverty, as we also reinterpreted the Bill of Rights to expand our nation's promise to all. As the rich got richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class shrinks, however, fear grows and too many citizens become impatient with constitutional democracy. We have become open to corporate values that subordinate individual rights to the short-term bottom line.

For instance, as Simon explained in an interview with Bill Keller of The Marshall Project, the right of probable cause was destroyed in Baltimore's drug war. For too many police, it becamewhatever you thought you could safely lie about when you got into district court.”

This sounds familiar in two ways for teachers who have endured corporate school reform. Our fundamental right of due process was attacked. Moreover, anti-tenure crusaders felt free to make up any charge that they believed they could get away with.

Continue reading "Thompson: To Improve Baltimore's Schools, Learn from The Wire" »

Quotes: WashPost Editorial Page Urges More Charters For Baltimore

Quotes2Bad schools are only one element of urban dysfunction. But they are both a consequence and a cause of inequality, and improving them is essential to keeping another generation from being trapped by poverty. -- Washington Post editorial page (The schools Baltimore needs)

AM News: Obama Officials Huddle At Baltimore's Douglass HS

U.S. Cabinet secretaries visit Douglass High School Baltimore Sun: U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent Wednesday afternoon at Frederick Douglass High School, where they discussed financial literacy and heard students' concerns about the lack of jobs and opportunities in Baltimore. See also Washington Post.

An Inside Look at the Hillary Clinton Inner Circle Bloomberg: Two other policy advisers, Maya Harris and Ann O'Leary, weren't included on the list, which the campaign aide said is because they were not yet working on the campaign on a full-time basis.

CTU files labor complaint against school board Chicago Tribune: The district, which says it is wrestling with a $1.1 billion deficit weighted with pension payments, wants to save millions of dollars by having teachers pay more into their pension fund. The CTU said the result would be a 7 percent cut in take-home pay for members. See also Sun-Times: Karen Lewis says 'no trust' between CTU and Board of Ed

Teachers union contract fails to guarantee a single additional teacher in LAUSD LA Daily News: The Los Angeles Unified School District is not contractually obligated to hire a single teacher to help ease crowded classrooms under the terms of its tentative agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles, this news organization has discovered. The guaranteed hiring of additional teachers, a key demand during months of strike preparations, remains in the union's characterization of the agreement.

Las Vegas: Betting On New Teachers But Coming Up Short NPR: The city wishes it had a lot more teachers like Adams. It needs almost 3,000 more teachers, to be exact. Las Vegas and Clark County consistently top the lists of American cities most in need of new teachers. And the most pressing needs — 75 percent of vacancies — are in schools that are lower-performing and have a high percentage of children living in poverty.

NewSchools New New Thing EdSurge: On May 6, more than a thousand educators, entrepreneurs and edtech enthusiasts came together for the 16th annual New Schools Venture Fund Summit. Gone were the high-profile speakers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Randi Weingarten...

Ed tech company folds after receiving millions in Race to the Top funds Washington Post: An education technology company has folded after receiving millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top funds to provide online assessments and other services to school districts.Charlotte-based Thinkgate LLC shut down last week, according to state education officials in Ohio and Massachusetts, two states that used Race to the Top money to contract with the company.

New Standardized Tests Bring Technical Challenges, Concern AP: Call this the year of the test. Or, at least the year of standardized test mania. Standardized test season in K-12 classrooms has been dominated in some states by widespread technical problems or by parents allowing their children to opt out. But testing officials say the rollout this spring of new standardized tests taken by computer in many U.S. public schools has been without major problems in much of the country. See also EdSource: CA State board awards disputed test contract to ETS.

For transgender teens and teachers, acceptance could be two words away Washington Post: For some transgender high school students in the Virginia suburbs, a school board decision Thursday could mean an end to death threats and the beginning of freedom to live openly as who they truly are.

Study: Gay, Bisexual Kids Bullied More, Even at Early Age AP:  Overall, many of the nearly 4,300 students surveyed said they were bullied, especially at younger ages. But the 630 gay and bisexual children suffered it more.

Care About Educational Equity? Then You Should Care About Mobile EdSurge: Of the 10 largest school districts in the country, which serve over 2.5 million students in poverty, only Chicago Public Schools’ website renders properly in a mobile browser. (I’m not counting Houston Independent School District, which has a mobile-friendly landing page, but clicking on any button leads to pages that are not mobile-friendly.)

Morning Video: Taking A Look At The Latest Charter School Waiting Lists

It's both Charter Schools and Teacher Appreciation week at the same time, and yet the sky seems not to have fallen (yet). So maybe that means something good. 

However, the charter schools folks are pushing the waiting list numbers thing hard again, and that has me nervous.  The latest Charter Alliance report looks at waiting lists in 10 districts and has generated some news coverage including the NY Daily News (NYC has longest wait for charter schools in the country); EdWeek (Urban Charter School Wait Lists Swell Nationally, Report Says); WSJ (Waiting for Charter Schools).

Charter school waiting list numbers tend to look misleadingly high, sort of like lots of other numbers in education: charter school graduate percentages, college acceptance rates, pre-Common Core state proficiency rates. All these numbers -- like rents in Brooklyn -- are too damn high to be believed (though the rents are for real).

That's not to say that there aren't thousands of parents who want to get into some charters, and that there won't be more of them applying soon thanks to universal enrollment agreements that are slowly but surely spreading among urban districts. What we need is some sort of standardized definition and practice for waitlist numbers among different charters and districts, as was done a decade or so ago about graduation and dropout statistics. 

There's also the issue of some charter schools not backfilling classes when kids exit during the school year or even between years. It'd be interesting to match up the backfill numbers with the waiting list numbers and see what you came up with.

Until then I would urge everyone to look at the numbers being provided with caution. The demand is real, and the parents are sincere, but the specific numbers...I'm just not very confident in them.

Still curious? According to the report, "More information is available at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ data dashboard. Data sources for the number of student names on wait lists for each district are available in the Technical Note." Tell us what you find.

Related posts: Charter Schools Claim Million-Name Nat'l Wait-List (2013); Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting* (2013); Charter school demand in Mass. disputed (Boston Globe 2013); Well-Connected Parents Slip Past Lottery (2011).

Morning Listen: Former Balto Supe Andres Alonso Reflects On Recent Unrest

There were lots of people -- too many -- using last week's unrest in Baltimore as an excuse to advance an agenda or generate attention - but former superintendent Andres Alonso is in a pretty unique spot to talk about what's going on there when it comes to the education system and its intersection with equity and justice -- though he's careful not to talk trash about those who are still there working in the system.

So here's a new Harvard EdCast to check out, featuring Alonso. You can also read this recent Seattle Times interview focusing on Alonso's efforts to overhaul discipline in Baltimore (School leader who overhauled discipline in long-troubled Baltimore looks back). Alonso was head for 6 years, during which dropout rates went down cooperation with teachers went up.

I'm getting mixed responses on whether things have gotten better or worse since he left two years ago, and whether that made any difference in how students and others reacted on Monday.

Related posts: Alonso's Smooth Approach To School Reform (2010); Alonso calls report done by school consultant 'objective' (Baltimore Sun 2012); Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally (2009). See also: BaltSun Education Reporter Gets Close To Cover #FreddyGrey Protests"Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led.

Maps: Upward Mobility Varies Among Similar-Seeming Cities & Suburbs

Screenshot 2015-05-04 09.55.48The NYT takes a look a new research showing that poor kids do better or worse depending on where they come from. The most challenging places tend to be bit cities like Atlanta; Chicago; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Orlando, West Palm Beach and Tampa in Florida. But there it's not all big cities, and smaller cities like Austin, Texas are rough for poor kids.  And the better places include both large cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas but also smaller ones like Providence and major suburban counties, such as Fairfax, Va.; Bergen, N.J.; Bucks, Pa.; Macomb, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; and Contra Costa, Calif. They're more expensive to live in, housing-wise, and public rent subsidies tend not to accommodate variations in housing costs, but they have better elementary school test scores and greater diversity. Check it all out here: An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty. Image via NYT. Note that NYC doesn't do as well regarding upward mobility once immigrant families are removed from the equation.

Charts: District Schools Outperform Charters In Chicago, Notes Foundation Officer

Last week during #EWA15, MSDF's Joe Siedlecki noted that CPS elementary schools outperform charters in terms of the percentage of kids in high-rated schools, and praised Chicago charters for participating in the unified accountability system that makes such comparisons possible. 

AM News: All Eyes On Baltimore, Atlanta, & Detroit

Judge Reduces 3 Educators' Sentences In Atlanta Cheating Scandal NPR: In a highly unusual move, the judge in the Atlanta test-cheating case said he had a change of heart. He reduced three people's sentences from seven years in prison to three. See also NYT: Judge Reduces 3 Sentences in Atlanta School Testing Scandal, WPost Atlanta judge reduces sentences for three educators in cheating case.

How This Inner-City Baltimore Principal Is 'Tearing Down Barriers' Between Students And Police HuffPost: As students poured into their West Baltimore school on their first day back after protests paralyzed the city, Rowe said she felt heartened by the systems that are equipping her students to respond effectively to abuses of power.  See also BaltSun: Ray Lewis, Ravens visit schools in West Baltimore, NPR Councilman's Star Rises Fast Amid Baltimore Unrest.

Michigan governor wants overhaul of troubled Detroit schools AP: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to break Detroit's troubled school district into two and will ask the Legislature to contribute more state funding to resolve nearly a half-billion dollars in operating debt... See also State Edwatch: Mich. Gov. Snyder Unveils Plan to Split Governance of Detroit Schools, NYT Plan Unveiled to Overhaul School System in Detroit, HuffPost Detroit Closes Many Schools For Day Due To Teacher Shortage.

Delisle to leave Education Department Washington Post: Deborah Delisle, a top-ranking official at the Education Department responsible for issuing waivers that have freed nearly every state and the District from the most onerous requirements of federal education law, is leaving her job as assistant...

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu is now a 'strategic adviser' to Walton Family Foundation NOLA.com: Landrieu also was recently named to the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.She did not reveal her compensation at the Walton Family Foundation.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On Baltimore, Atlanta, & Detroit " »

Quotes: How About Rebuilding Baltimore Schools For A Start?

Quotes2If we're spending  $1 trillion to rebuild Afghanistan's schools, we can't throw a little taste down Baltimore way? - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show  

Charts: Charter School Closure Rate Holds Steady At Just Under 4 Percent

ScreenHunter_05 Apr. 28 16.24

Here's a screengrab from a new NACSA infographic and report showing that charter closings remain at about 4 percent a year and that non-renewal is more common a method than outright revocation (The State of Charter Authorizing). Click the link and read the report to get a deeper sense of what's going on.  Interesting to note that roughly 20 percent of charters faced with closure appeal the decision.

Morning Video: Education Reporter Gets Close To Cover Baltimore #FreddyGrey Protests

Baltimore Sun education reporter Erica Green put herself in harm's way covering yesterday's protests and rioting, but in the process documented lots of what was going on. Follow @ericaLG for more of her images and impressions. Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie was also posting images and updates, and EdWeek's Evie Blad was giving regular updates too. 

Or, watch AFT head Randi Weingarten tell Pearson to stop spying on kids during online testing.

Journalism: Chalkbeat Co-Founder Moving On

News is getting out that Chalkbeat co-founder Alan Gottlieb (pictured via Google Plus) is leaving the network of four local education news sites he helped start with Elizabeth Green.

Alan G photo

After eight years during which Gottlieb built EdNews Colorado, then merged it with GothamSchools and created the Education News Network which then became Chalkbeat, the Colorado-based Gottlieb is going to write, consult, and do other things.

"I’d like to do more writing (maybe another book or two some day, possibly/probably unrelated to education), editing and just helping people think through good communications strategies. And, truth be told, I’d like to spend less time traveling."

Gottlieb is a Peace Corps alumnus, a 15-year newspaper journalist before EdNews Colorado began, and has written two books, according to his official bio

There's been a surge of nonprofit education news coverage in recent years, and not everybody's convinced that it's making a difference or going to last. But Gottlieb says he's not worried about what happens next for Chalkbeat. It's over a year since he shifted over from the editorial side and became editor at large. "The leadership of the organization is so solid that I have every confidence Chalkbeat will survive and thrive without me." Rebecca Ross has been COO since early last year.  Green is now CEO.

"She’s indefatigable, she has a strong vision, and she turns out to be a fundraising prodigy," says Gottlieb. He says that the outlet is making "big strides" on earned revenue increases, and funder relations remain strong.

One of the most notable things about EdNews Colorado was that it attracted veteran journalists and was funded both by pro-reform groups and teachers unions. 

Related posts: NPR Expands Education Coverage;  Local NPR Stations Beefing Up Education CoverageBut Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?Why Catalyst & The Notebook Aren't Joining ENN (2012); Chalkbeat, USA!;  Education News Network Expands To IndianaTwo Local Ed News Sites Join Forces;  Where EdNews Network Is Heading.

Disclosure: I did a couple of freelance pieces for Gottlieb back when he was at the Piton Foundation, and have called on him for advice and feedback on various stories and endeavors over the years. 

Quotes: Three Reasons Early Education Could Join Education Opponents (But Probably Won't)

Quotes2K-12 education is an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.

- NYT columnist Nick Kristof (Beyond Education Wars)

People: Journo Who Broke Chicago SUPES Story Two Years Ago Changing Jobs

Catalyst Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp, widely credited with having broken the $20 million SUPES story that has now led to an FBI Investigation and the stepping down of the head of the Chicago school system, is leaving to join the Better Government Association of Chicago. 

For a time, it seemed like nobody would ever follow up on Karp's 2013 SUPES scoop.  Local NPR station WBEZ had her on to talk about the story, and local ABC 7's Sarah Schulte did a segment.  However, neither the Sun-Times or Tribune followed up in any meaningful way -- until now.

That's nothing new. Super-competitive news outlets sometimes refuse to "follow" other outlets. Other times, they re-report each others' stories and pretend their competitors' versions don't exist (which is understandable but super-annoying). Of course, sometimes it's not a conscious decision, they just have other stories to work on, more urgent-seeming matters, and don't have time or staff to cover everything they'd like.

In any case, Catalyst is looking for a new reporter to replace Karp, and publisher and founder Linda Lenz noted graciously "We're pleased that she will take all the knowledge she gained at Catalyst to a new audience. The city, in effect, will get an additional ed reporter."  Reporter Melissa Sanchez remains.

Meantime, Catalyst is also celebrating a 25th anniversary and figuring out where and what to do next.  (So is Philly's Notebook, another long-running district-based news outlet focused on education. Here's an overview of anniversary activities and events surrounding Catalyst's 25th.

While it may seem like a strange move, the BGA has staffed up with reporters in recent years and covered education along the way. After a decade at Catalyst, Karp starts at the BGA next month. She's going to cover K-12 education as well as higher ed and state government. Read more about Karp and the story she broke nearly 2 years ago here.  

Disclosure: I used to do some freelancing for Catalyst, and they lent me a free desk for a time, and kindly hosted the launch of a book on Chicago school reform I edited that came out in 2004.

Correction: NPR Blogger Corrects New Orleans Tweet (But Stands By Story)

I don't know all the details but here's a tweet from NPR's Anya Kamenetz correcting a previous message about suspensions. There was a bunch of Tweeting to/at NPR last week about their NOLA story. If you know the inside scoop, email me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com

Reality Check: Restorative Justice Not As Easy As It May Seem

Check out this new story from Bright about the realities behind "restorative justice," the approach meant to replace zero-tolerance school discipline policies.

Morning Video: Christo Rey Featured On Al Jazeera

 

Now 28 schools nationwide, Christo Rey has expanded to Baltimore, and has corporate support, but its graduation rate is about average and not all kids thrive there (Cristo Rey: The school corporate America built) via Al Jazeera.

Quotes: Thinking You're Part Of The 99 Percent Might Make You Part Of The Problem

Quotes2Don't consider yourself part of the 99 percent if you live near a Whole Foods. If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth... If any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that, actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem. -- Anand Giridharadas (7 signs you are clueless about income inequality)

Charts: Now Averaging $1,500 Per Kid, Rich-Poor Funding Gap Up 44 Pct. Since 2005

Screen shot 2015-04-06 at 5.10.53 PM
"The richest 25 percent of school districts receive 15.6 percent more funds [$1,500 per student] from state and local governments per student than the poorest 25 percent of school districts, the federal Department of Education pointed out last month (March, 2015). The gap has grown 44 percent since 2001-02, when a student in a rich district had only a 10.8 percent resource advantage over a student in a poor district." (via Hechinger Report The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade) Image used with permission. Click the link to see the interactive map.

Quotes: Pushback Was Nearly Unavoidable, Says Klein (But Still No Emails)

Quotes2Closing schools means looking for new jobs, while eliminating automatic placements based on seniority makes it harder to find them. Most troubling, our efforts to hold teachers accountable threatened job security and lifetime pensions. - Former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein responding to criticisms of his book and accomplishments in the NYROB (Good Faith & the Schools)

People: Carmen (Fariña) Confesses

image from blogs.scholastic.com

"Looking back on a frenetic first year, Fariña talks about recentralizing control under regional superintendents, addressing parents’ concerns about overtesting, encouraging more sharing of ideas among teachers and schools, and avoiding ed-tech mishaps like Los Angeles Unified School District’s iPad debacle."  From the latest issue of Scholastic Administrator magazine (Interview with Carmen Fariña). Also: Congrats to everyone at Administrator for winning Best Single Issue in this year's Neal Awards

Charts: White Kids Disproportionately "Winning" School Lottery In SF (& Elsewhere)

White kids are winning San Francisco’s school lottery  and the data proves it   The Washington Post
"White children account for 29 percent of the city's population age 19 or younger, but only 13 percent of students in public schools... The district's school "lottery," intended partly to promote diversity in classrooms, has apparently had the effect of concentrating white students in the best elementary schools." Washington Post (White kids are winning San Francisco’s school lottery)

 

Charts: Urban Charters Vs. District School Demographics

Credo2015
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.

Morning Video: Will Restorative Justice Programs Lead To School Chaos?

 

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.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Will Restorative Justice Programs Lead To School Chaos?" »

People: Sun-Times Journo Wins University of Chicago Fellowship

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."

Related posts: Two Great Education Writers You May Not Know AboutWhere's Ravitch's Research? Sun Times Edit Board Questions Narrow RttT Focus On Data Systems.

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!

#EdGif Of The Day: Duncan Slow Walks Through Chicago Testing Protesters

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.

Update: Unfortunate Stalemate For Feds & Diverse Charters*

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.

AM News: Anti-Cuomo Protests In NYC, Republican Union Endorsement In LAUSD

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).

Continue reading "AM News: Anti-Cuomo Protests In NYC, Republican Union Endorsement In LAUSD" »

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