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

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

Thompson: How Chicago Increased Graduation Rates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AM News: Union Chief Hopes Chicago Follows Newark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful

#edjourn  Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 4.31.15 PMIt's not hard to relate to Libby Nelson'spoint of view in a recent Vox piece (Ranking high schools tells you which schools are rich or selective ), in which she notes that the rankings from places like the Daily Beast  mostly function to tell us what we already know -- that wealthier, whiter communities generate higher-performing high schools and that news outlets put out the lists to generate web traffic rather than to shed light on any particular phenomenon.

"The public schools that top these lists are mostly selective magnet schools that get to pick which students they educate. If they're not, they're much likely to enroll fewer poor students than public schools as a whole." That -- plus the reality that few families move for high school like they do for college -- explain why ranking high schools like this "makes no sense at all."

But the high school rankings phenomenon isn't as recent as Nelson seems to imagine, isn't quite as empty of substance or usefulness as it might seem, and isn't all that different than stories that Nelson and her colleagues at Vox (and here) sometimes also run.

Continue reading "Media: Actually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful" »

Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy

 

Or click below and watch Smiley interview Diane Ravitch.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Tavis Smiley Interviews LAUSD Chief John Deasy" »

Quotes: "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"

Quotes2There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness... I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - Ta-Nehesi Coates (‘I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me’ Atlantic Magazine via Longreads)

Charts: Traditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFA

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.comAmerican school children are getting more and more diverse, as is TFA's small but growing band of merry teachers. But traditional classroom teaching remains super white. Image via Vox, used with permission.  Click here for the feature article about TFA's evolution.

AM News: All Eyes On NYC's First Day Under De Blasio

NYC School Year Starts with New Mayor's Imprint WNYC: While his signature campaign initiative to expand pre-kindergarten classes has received the most attention, it is just one of several policy changes expected to ripple through the system. 

Final Touches Range From Flowery to Frantic as Expanded Pre-K Awaits Start NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promised free prekindergarten for every 4-year-old, and his administration has invested mightily in quickly bringing that plan to life.

Gentlemen, Preschool Is Calling NPR: New York City is scrambling to make good on its promise to provide preschool for all. That means hiring roughly 1,000 new teachers. But few will likely be men.

Texas Mimics New York in Pushing Back State Tests' Impact on Students State EdWatch: Texas is considering a timeline for phasing in the impact of new tests on students that resembles an approach recently adopted by New York state.

State awards Common Core test contract EdSource Today: With the State Board of Education’s approval, California became the ninth state Wednesday to award a contract to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for the standardized tests in the Common Core State Standards that students will take next spring.

Michael Bloomberg to Return to Lead Bloomberg L.P. NYT: When he left politics, Mr. Bloomberg, 72, was expected to devote most of his time to giving away his $32.8 billion fortune.

State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class NYT: Panorama Education, aided by prominent tech investors, is refining student feedback through innovative data collection. School systems are embracing the concept.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On NYC's First Day Under De Blasio" »

Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking

Wow! I agree with Mike Petrilli on two big issues in one week! The revocation of Oklahoma’s NCLB Waiver, based on our repeal of Common Core, is a “terrible decision.”

I mostly agree with Petrilli’s thoughtful address to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. In an effort to understand the anti-reform backlash, he asks where his movement went wrong.

Most schools aren’t failing; the bigger problem is mediocrity. Most “failing” schools have teachers who are probably as good as those in higher-performing schools. 

I taught in “dropout factories, the dangerous schools …,” and my colleagues were far better teachers than those of my childhood. In the 1990s, our Curriculum Department and professional development were awesome.

But, Petrilli gets the second part of his diagnosis backwards. My schools responded to “wave after wave of reform.”  Those half-baked reforms made them worse.

I share Petrilli’s doubt that districts can replicate the few successful high-performing charter schools. He might also be right; in ten or twenty years, high-poverty systems may be dominated by charter schools.

But, that would be the double nightmare scenario - bad for more kids in "No Excuses" charters and worse for students left behind in even more awful concentrations of poverty and trauma. High-performing charters have contributed to a “neo-Plessyism” which is bad for all constituencies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking" »

AM News: Even Seattle Has A Charter School Now

State’s charter-school era begins with Seattle elementary Seattle Times: First Place Scholars, which has been serving homeless students for 25 years, will convert Wednesday from a private school to the state’s first taxpayer-funded charter school.

Vergara decision headed for appeals court KPCC:  Putting the tentative and final rulings side by side, each 16 pages long, it's difficult to see any major changes, besides the dates they were filed. Treu left “TENTATIVE DECISION” at the bottom of each page in the document filed as his final ruling. See also TeacherBeat.

L.A. schools Supt. Deasy defends his dealings with Apple, Pearson LA Times:  Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy on Tuesday issued his most extensive and passionate defense yet of his actions involving Apple and Pearson, the companies that received the major contract in a $1.3-billion technology program. 

New Schedule in NYC Schools Makes Time for Teaching the Teachers NYT: City schools are taking 150 minutes that was used mostly for helping students and repackaging it to help teachers improve their craft, and contact families. But who really benefits - students or teachers?

Newark Launches 'Safe Passages' Transportation Program for Students District Dossier: The transportation plan includes a shuttle bus service for some students and maps showing safe walking routes.

New York Cancels or Postpones Opening of 45 Pre-K Programs NYT: Nine sites that would have served 265 students will not open because of safety concerns or other issues, officials announced two days before the first day of school.

 More news  below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Even Seattle Has A Charter School Now" »

Books: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led

image from tcf.orgI've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.

The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts: 

*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).

*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).

*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).

The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.

Related posts:  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.

Media: 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Finding great public radio content online is getting easier and easier, thanks to there being more of it available in more places.  

This recent Poynter article touts a new streaming (think Pandora) service (NPR One app potential is huge) out of the national NPR shop plus six big local stations.  I've tried it a little and it's OK but not my favorite (yet).

There's also the WNYC "Discover" app, which lets you pick some categories of story that you like (both local to New York City and national) and download them before you get on the subway or into your bunker as the case may be.  There's more and more WiFi on subway platforms, but still not much by way of service in between stations.  The key is remembering to download the material ahead of time (and finding it once you have).

However, I'm still a big fan of the basic NPR News app, in large part because it lets me livesream whatever station I want to listen to, and also allows me to listen via program -- catching up on All Things Considered, for example -- after hours or even the next day.  For any given program, just hit "Add All To Playlist" and - boom! -- it's all there.)

I'm not sure if that's technically considered a podcast or not -- some of these distinctions are lost on me -- but I know that I like being able to go back and hear the most recent version of a show I missed if I was out, or busy, or napping, or whatever.  That they're mobile is great, but I must admit that a lot of the time I'm listening to them sitting at my desk or in front of a laptop.

Last but not least, since my policy is that no post should lack at least a smidgen of controversy, check out Peter Cook's critique of NPR's recent New Orleans charter schools piece, which contained not only a big error that had to be corrected on air but also a few other wiggly aspects.   Early on, NPR's education team was sometimes accused of being pro-reform because it's funded by some pro-reform foundations.  In Cook's piece, he raises the question whether it (or its newsroom) lean the other way.

Lunchtime Video: Paying Kids For Learning In Memphis

Here's the video that goes along with the story in Politico. Click here if the video doesn't load properly.

Morning Audio: 53K Chicago Parents Choose Other *District* School Over Neighborhood Assignment

 The choice debate often gets boiled down to district vs. charter schools, with district advocates claiming that they're being disadvantaged and charter schools claiming much the same.  

But if you click "play" on this very recent Chicago Public Radio story you'll learn it's not quite as simple as all that.  Neighborhood schools in Chicago are losing local kids not just to charter schools (and to dwindling enrollment in the district over all) but to other neighborhood programs.

According to the Linda Lutton piece, "52,963 grammar school kids choose neighborhood schools that are not their own. That’s almost as many kids as attend charters, gifted schools and magnets combined." (More Chicago kids say 'no' to their neighborhood grammar school)

Quotes: In Violent Neighborhoods, Kids Become "Immune" To Death

Quotes2I remember being so immune to death, so immune to shootings, killings. I just remember wanting them to rush, like get the body out the way so we can get back to playing hopscotch or dodgeball. -- Monica Jaundoo Of Parkville, Md. (NPR Race Blog)

Polarization: The Education Debate Could Be *Much* Worse

image from oaklandwiki.orgEducators and journalists like to talk about how extreme and polarized today's debate has become, and in some ways that's true.  Social media is full of extremism and polarization.  Democrats are fractured internally even as Republicans are being stretched to the right by the Tea Party movement (not dead yet!).

But still, it's almost entirely words and yelling and rallies and protests, painful and triggering to be sure but well short of property damage or physical violence that's taken place in the reproductive rights debate or even in education at times.

For a little bit of historical context , remember the murder of Marcus Foster, the superintendent of Oakland schools, in 1973.  

Yep, murder.  

Members of the group that called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army shot Foster and his deputy as they left a board meeting, killing Foster outright, in response to a student ID card proposal that Foster had actually helped water down, according to Wikipedia, anyway.

I didn't know about this either, by the way.  Just heard it on the radio and looked it up so I could wag my finger at everyone. Credit Oakland Wiki/CC BY 3.0

AM News: NYC Mayor Touts National Pre-K Movement

De Blasio Cheers on National Pre-K Movement WNYC: The mayor spoke broadly about efforts to expand preschool access in cities such as San Francisco, Miami, and San Antonio—efforts he said are reshaping the national conversation.

Memphis-Area School Year Starts With Opening of Six Breakaway Districts District Dossier: Memphis-area suburban communities moved to form their own school districts in the wake of the merger of the Shelby County, Tenn., district with the financially-strapped city school system in 2011.

Michelle Rhee to Chair Her Husband's Sacramento Charter Group District Dossier: The former District of Columbia schools chancellor returns to the Sacramento charter school organization known as St. Hope Public Schools.

Dispute over Common Core gets personal AP via SF Gate: White issued a letter a few days later, saying he felt he was being personally attacked with suggestions of "unfounded malfeasance" within his office.

Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build A Better Brain NPR: Children learn their most important lessons on the playground, not in the classroom, researchers say.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Mayor Touts National Pre-K Movement" »

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

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

 

Magazines: New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School

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

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

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

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

The same pressures and incentives still exist, reports Aviv.  

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

Previous New Yorker stories by Aviv here.

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

Update: Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance

ScreenHunter_08 Jul. 01 11.38

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Video: Campbell Brown Previews NY Version Of Vergara Lawsuit

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

Rebuttal: Don't Use Chicago As A Deseg Model

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

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

See the full response below the fold.

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

Morning Video: DC Chancellor Kaya Henderson

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 9.18.04 AM

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

Charts: Nearly 90 Percent Of Big Districts Spending Less

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes: Haycock & Ali Slam Weingarten and Darling-Hammond

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

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

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

Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers

Michelle2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes: "This Hole Was Not Dug Overnight"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afternoon Audio: New Yorker Reporter Talks Newark

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

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

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

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

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

News2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Video: Reformers & Disadvantaged Communities

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

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

Magazines: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milestones: Demographic Shift "Complicates" Civil Rights Anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

Afternoon Video: Howard Dean Touts TFA & Charter School Movement

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

Media: CNN "Documentary" Included Staged School Elements

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

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

Trends: Have We Reached Peak Privatization Yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afternoon Video: Minneapolis Schools Confront Racial Inequality

 

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

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.