About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Copy & Paste Blogging

The next time you see a big chunk of quoted text in a blog post, ask yourself why it's there. Is it concern that the link (to a newspaper, say) might expire or become outdated? Is it a sincere desire to create reader convenience? Or is it at its core simply a blogger wanting you to stay where you are and worrying that you won't come back?

Continue reading "Copy & Paste Blogging" »

Meier & Ravitch Join The Online Fray

ravitch meier.jpgAs I mentioned last week in that long post about the lack of "grownups" writing about education, on Monday the unlikely duo of Diane Ravitch & Debbie Meier have run away and joined the circus started a blog of sorts. Called Bridging Differences and hosted at EdWeek, it's now off and running. Congrats and condolences. My next mention of this blog will, invariably, be critical. Who's next? Kozol? Kotlowitz? Maeroff? Murnane?

PS: Debbie Meier's first foray online might well have been her comment from late 2005 about my infamous post about warring camps in education ("povracers and schoolrefs"), which she quite sensibly decried. You can check it out here.

Think Tank "Truthiness"

The battle between think tanks and academic researchers over the issue of whose reports and research are more trustworthy continues this week in EdWeek, with a commentary (Truthiness in Education).

Written by the folks who started the Think Tank Review Project, the commentary points out: "At a time when America’s education policymakers have nominally embraced the idea of tying school reform to “scientifically based research,” many of the nation’s most influential reports are little more than junk science..often written by people with little discernible expertise and invariably not subjected to peer review, these reports consistently end with a findings section that supports the ideological preferences of the research sponsor."

My view is that, while academic researchers need to clean up their own house (in terms of relevancy, rigor, & political bias) and there are some problems with the review project, think tanks need to consider whether they undermine themselves in the long run by putting out so many sometimes low-quality reports and trying to be both dispassionate researchers and influential opinion leaders. As I've written before, it's hard to do both well.

The Homework Game Show

USA Today's Greg Toppo has a piece in yesterday's paper about the new reality show coming out from Survivor creator Mark Burnett, called "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" He's kind enough to include my trenchant observation that most parents helping out with homework are already on this game show pretty much every night of the week. Here: For $1 million, are you smarter than these kids?. PS -- I guessed the turtle answer -- correctly. Luck.

Morning Round-up February 28, 2007

State poised to OK school for Chinese immersion Boston Globe
Children would spend the bulk of their school days speaking and learning core subjects in Mandarin Chinese in a proposed charter school founded by parents and educators who say children need to master Chinese to succeed in the future workplace.

Justices Hear Arguments on Autism-Case Dispute NYT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard an appeal that will clarify the situation for the parents of millions of children with disabilities and for the public school districts that are obliged to serve them under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

$3M grant to aid online teacher education eSchool News
The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $3M grant to Western Governors University to develop a new model for web-based teacher education that can be implemented on a national scale.

Student Arrested in bus tagging LAT
A 15-year-old sophomore at the Santee Education Complex in South L.A. was arrested late Tuesday on suspicion of being the student who scrawled his nickname on the outside window of a city bus carrying Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Schools Supt. David L. Brewer, among others.

Reporter Refutes Claims Of Junk Journalism

Refusing to knuckle under to the bullying views of know-nothing education bloggers like Kevin Carey and me, a brave education reporter named John Krupa from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Northwest takes on the notion that, in this case at least, the Wall Street Journal's recent story on parents moving across the country to get better schooling for their children was a "fake" trend.

Writes Krupa: "I agree we need to be mindful of turning isolated anecdotes into trend stories. But it's not obvious to me that the Journal reporter committed this sin after reading her story. I feel like she did her homework. She cites examples of 10 families — attending three separate schools in three separate states — who moved to put a child into a private school. She gets anecdotal confirmation that the phenomenon is happening from admissions officers, principals and school consultants (I'll acknowledge all are biased to answer affirmatively). She gets anecdotal confirmation this is happening from the president of the National Association of Independent Schools (Again, I acknowledge the potential for bias). Ideally, the story should present data to back up the sources' anecdotal claims, but frankly, I don't think anyone is collecting this information. And there should have been a public-school voice saying that the story's premise is bunk. But I think the reporter gathered ample evidence to write what she did: "A small but growing number of parents .... are dramatically altering their families lives to pursue the perfect private school for their children."

New America Takes Old View Of For-Profit Universities

New New America higher ed guy Stephen Burd takes an unfortunately predictable and under-nuanced swipe at the University of Phoenix and for profit higher ed companies in general in his post Fed Up at the University of Phoenix.

In the piece, Burd rehashes the discredited NYT story from earlier this month, describes in broad terms other complaints about for profit postsecondary education outfits (Wall Street = bad), and calls for close Congressional scrutiny.

Come on, Stephen, you're at New America now. Blaming Wall Street and slamming for-profits without acknowledging the massive problems facing higher ed in general (tuition costs, lending practices, lack of accountability to name a few) seems like something that'd come out of some other, less interesting think tank.

Previous Posts: More On The Times Story On Graduation Rates, Did The NYT Get It Wrong On The University Of Phoenix?, Troubled For-Profit University Raises Questions For Traditional Institutions As Well.

The Insider's Insider: Education Lobbyist Ellin Nolan On The HotSeat

joanpic(2).jpgEducation lobbyist Ellin Nolan is one of those folks who never gets much publicity in DC -- she doesn't want it. But that doesn't mean she's not well know or influential in her own right. President of Washington Partners LLC, Nolan has helped turn the firm into a powerhouse full-service education lobbying firm.

Staffers and members of Congress may come and go, but lobbyists like Nolan are always there. On the HotSeat, Nolan dispells everyone's notions about how lobbyists work (ie, in the dark of night), describes her favorite lobbying reform (attach lobbyists' names to projects), explains how education earmarks are different from other kinds (earmarks are harder to get), and dishes on which is more fun -- authorizing or appropriating (you can anticipate this one).

She won't tell what the most infamous education "bridge to nowhere" earmark is (there's gotta be one-tell me if you know) or how much she lost in the FY07 budget process, but it's still a fascinating peek into the world of folks who hang out outside committee rooms and seem to know everyone.

Continue reading "The Insider's Insider: Education Lobbyist Ellin Nolan On The HotSeat" »

Widening Gaps -- At The Oscars

Education isn't the only industry that has a problem with a growing gap: "This year's Academy Awards' pre-ceremony red-carpet display suggests that the growing divide between the nation's best and worst dressed shows no sign of slowing," according to this story from The Onion (Oscars Reveal Widening Gap Between Best, Worst Dressed), "as some celebrities' Q ratings skyrocket year after year while others are forced to continue living well below the taste line."

Girls Like Them

AGirlLikeMeStill.jpgI'm just starting to sift through all the great work that's collected at Listen Up!, but this first video, "A Girl Like Me," already lets me know that there's lots of powerful stuff here.

Broadcast on NPR in the fall, A Girl Like Me (2nd from the top) shows young African American girls talking about how they're perceived, and how they perceive themselves, and -- perhaps most heartbreakingly -- re-enacts the "doll test" in which younger black children are asked which of two baby dolls (black and white) they want to play with, or which they think is the nice one, or the bad one. Check it out, you'll see. Plus nine other award-winners from 2006. No downloads required. Just click and watch.

Morning Round-up February 27, 2007

Little Rock school case ends, 50 years after desegregation crisis LAT
A judge in one of the nation's longest-running school desegregation cases released the Little Rock district from federal supervision Friday, nearly 50 years after President Eisenhower sent in troops to escort nine black students into all-white Central High.

Demand for English Lessons Outstrips Supply NYT
A survey last year by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials found that in 12 states, 60 percent of the free English programs had waiting lists, ranging from a few months in Colorado and Nevada to as long as two years in New Mexico and Massachusetts, where the statewide list has about 16,000 names.

Massachusetts leading national effort for longer school days AP
The school, which serves mostly poor, minority students, is one of 10 in the state experimenting with a longer day as part of a $6.5 million program.

Open access to public TV content sought eSchool News
The Association of Public Television Stations has called for the creation of an "American Archive" that aims to preserve public TV programming so that students and teachers can tap into the programs for educational purposes.

A Prayerful Pan

600xPopupGallery2.jpgThanks to an eagle-eyed reader for sending me this Houston Chronicle story about a Houston school district cafeteria worker who, after much discussion, gets to keep a pan on which, yes, an image of the Virgin Mary might be seen.

UPDATE: Forty-five minutes later (not bad, actually), Eduwonk catches up.

A Third Way On National Standards & Assessments

There's lots of good stuff in Elizabeth Weiss Green's US News story on national standards -- including about the grassroots version of national tests that might be bubbling up from the states via Achieve. Check it out towards the end of the article here.

What's a national policymaker to do, then? Well, to get us out of the this stalled go/no debate on national standards that we've been in for a few months now, some enterprising member of Congress might propose new funds to help states implement these state-developed "national" standards, and encouraging more states to follow.

At the end of day, no one really cares how we get to comparable and rigorous) state-to-state comparisons.

School Restructuring How-To Manual From Chicago

Start_Fresh_Book1resized(1).jpgI wouldn't have heard about this series of reports from NACSA's if I wasn't talking to a Chicago friend, but it surprises me that the report hasn't gotten more attention, given the timeliness of its topic -- how to restructure low-performing public schools.

In essence, Starting Fresh is a how-to manual for districts outside Chicago that may want to close low performing neighborhood schools and open new charters -- based on Chicago's experience both with charters and with Ren10, Chicago's controversial school closing- and opening initiative.

Agree or disagree, it's a series worth looking at, as is Chicago's experience closing and reopening more schools than pretty much anyone in the nation.

How Are These NCLB Reports Like All The Other Reports? Lotsa Ways.

Back in the day, there used to be a thing called a "side by side" that would compare the key provisions of different versions of legislation category by category or even sometimes provision by provision. Maybe it's still done.

In the meantime, David DeSchryver from Brustein & Manasevit has done somewhat the same thing based on seven NCLB reauthorization reports (USDE, Commission, Chiefs, NEA, AFT, NASBE, NCSL.

Common if not unanimous areas of interest and direction include: a focus on standards and cross-state comparisons, calls for more flexibility in accountability models, improved assessment quality, a better menu of sanctions and corrective action, addressing the special education system, incentives for teachers in high need schools and districts, more exemptions for ELLs, and increased funding. However, the devil is in the details.

Interestingly, he says it's the Aspen Institute Commission Report that is the real outlier in terms of size and scope (I had thought it was the USDE proposal).

UPDATE: See the full text of this section below, exclusively from This Week In Education.

UPDATE 2: See the updated version (as of March 2) here.

Continue reading "How Are These NCLB Reports Like All The Other Reports? Lotsa Ways." »

Morning Round-Up (February 26)

Virginia Backs Down in Testing Showdown Learning The Language
Charles Pyle, the director of communications for the Virginia Department of Education, told me that Virginia has decided to "move on" ...

Teacher Sends Text Messages Meant For Drug Dealer To State Trooper Huffington Post
A middle school teacher trying to buy pot was arrested after she sent text messages to state trooper instead of a dealer, police said.

Democrats Pledge: No Vouchers in NCLB Heartland Institute
Matthew Ladner, vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute, a free-market organization in Phoenix, said differing statements from leading Democrats such as Kennedy and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) highlight a potential divide within the party's congressional caucus, which could have political implications throughout the entire Congress.

The Week In Review

Not bad, for a holiday-shortened, Congress in recess, Anna Nicole/Britney-fied week:

2smith600.2.jpgBest Of The Week
Remembering Shanker
Kids, The Internet, & Adult Fears

What Passes For Ideas These Days
Candidates: Take Your Pick Of Education Plans
NCLB Alternative Unveiled Today
What Is "Adequate"? School Finance Suits In The States

Foundation Follies
Flipper Finn?
What I Really Want from The Ed Sector
Apple & Dell Square Off On Teachers Unions

2007_02_britneybald.jpgReading First
No One Cares About Local Control Anymore
The Monitor Vs. the Daily: Different Takes On RF

Media & Blog Watch
Grownups Needed On The Blogosphere
The "Moving Across The Country" Anecdote
Different Takes On NAEP High School Reports

School Life
It's All In Your Head: Student Perceptions & Performance
Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?
This Is Not Your Father's Origami

Kids, The Internet, & Adult Fears

Often expressed in terms of fears for children, concerns about technology are often in my view just as much about adult ignorance, as well as fear of what children themselves do with technology. These two articles capture some of these issues particularly well:

Protect the Children From Porn Wired Sending a teacher to prison for mishandling a classroom porn storm does not address the root of the problem: fear that traces back to ignorance.

Say Everything New York Magazine
As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll.

An Invitation: More Grownups On The Blogosphere

Much as some would want it thought of as a fully-formed and sufficient world, it's no big secret that much of the current universe of education blogs --policy oriented ones in particular -- sorely lack key ingredients like deep experience, reflectiveness, and -- how to put this delicately? -- modesty. It's all Fox News and the Daily Show, not much NPR or PBS.

Now imagine a world in which some good number of the most knowledgeable and experienced folks in education are present in the blogosphere to comment directly on the issues of the day or week, rather than the current array of ideologues, know-nothings, and self-promoters?

Well, it's coming. Little by little, bit by bit, the "grownups" are coming to the blogosphere. A little birdie tells me that, starting Monday, the indefatigable Diane Ravitch and the inestimable Deborah Meier are going to be starting their online adventure at EdWeek.org.

With any luck, more will soon follow. Anyone else out there who wants to join in -- occasionally or regularly -- just let me know. It's as easy as sending an email, only a lot more fun. Plus which, we really, really need you.

The Monitor Vs. The Daily: Different Takes On Reading First

"In its most recent investigation into Reading First - the fifth of six planned reports questioning the program's management - the department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) also alleges that federal officials knowingly stacked panels at a series of training academies with members who favored two commercial reading programs," according to a Title I Monitor story. "In doing so, the OIG says the Education Department (ED) created the impression that the two programs, Direct Instruction and Open Court, topped an agency "approved list" of Reading First programs." To read the OIG report, go here.

Meantime, Ed Daily has a broader -- and seemingly much kinder -- look at the Reading First era, including comments from former RF deputy Sandi Jacobs. It opens: "Reading First, the No Child Left Behind Act's K-3 reading initiative, has, for all its troubles, managed to quietly shepherd an evolution in reading instruction that has most researchers, educators and policymakers agreeing on at least one thing: Science can tell us much about the way children become readers." From the piece, it seems like local educators aren't as outraged -- or surprised -- as some of the national folks.

This Is Not Your Father's Origami

origami.jpgLooking for some good reading this weekend? Then check out Susan Orleans' fascinating article in the New Yorker about -- of all things -- origami (The Origami Lab). It chronicles the story of how one American physicist named Robert Lang "dropped everything for paper folding" -- and how origami has evolved as a pastime (ie, laser-cutting hundreds of folds) and as a scientific application (for surgical implants).

Help The Ed Sector Get Rid Of The BiWeekly Update (And Win $35)

Join the campaign to get rid of biweekly emails (so 90's) and maybe even win $35 by entering the Ed Sector's online survey about, among other things, what to do with the their "digest" (Education Sector Needs Your Feedback!). The Sectorans are also contemplating event webcasts (a good idea) and webchats like on EdWeek (sure, why not). Of course, what I really want from the Sector in its second year is to have its abundant commentary and analysis better balanced with its relatively slender list of research and reports.But that's probably just me.

What Is "Adequate"?

Last week, I was complaining (as usual), and the topic was the lack of "big" ideas in education, along the lines of a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing everyone an decent education (see here). This week, I read about a new book (School Money Trials) on how adequacy lawsuits based on state constitutions have fared. Check it out.

A Short, Slow Week

Even with the NAEP scores out, it doesn't seem like it's been much of a week. Maybe it was the holiday-shortened week, or the fact that many folks seem to be heading off on vacation (or wishing it were so). Still, there's always the PEN NewsBlast, including topics like high stakes testing, the relevance of progressive education, new ideas for education reform, and more. And the Fordham Gadfly, which includes bits on whole language, the podcast, private schools for the poor, and something from Checker I couldn't quite follow.

Morning Round-up February 23, 2007

Grades Rise, but Reading Skills Do Not NYT, WaPo, LAT, Wash. Times, CNN.com
High school students nationwide are taking seemingly tougher courses and earning better grades, but their reading skills are not improving through the effort, according to two federal reports released here Thursday that cite grade inflation as a possible explanation.

PTA's Go Way Beyond Cookies NYT
The transformation of Livingston’s pizza lunch reflects how parent groups across the country, especially in affluent suburbs, are undergoing a kind of corporate makeover, combining members’ business savvy, technological prowess and negotiating skills to professionalize operations.

More 'reliable' Wikipedia soon to launch eSchool News
Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is getting ready to launch a new collaborative web site. Called Citizendium, the new site will require posters to register their names and has tapped subject-matter experts to serve as content editors.

Questionable Journalism: The "Moving Across The Country" Anecdote

In case you hadn't seen it, this post from The Quick & The Ed (here)points out how the WSJ turns an education-related anecdote into a trend story -- and how quickly the anecdote gets picked up and used in the public debate as a truism.

What isn't noted is that this isn't the first time that this reporter (Suein Hwang) has written a story whose main premise has seemed to some to be more controversial than well-documented. Just over a year ago, it was a front page story called "The New White Flight," about how schools in Silicon Valley were losing white kids who wanted less competition with Asian kids. Jay Mathews wrote a response that touches briefly on the lack of statistics to go along with the story (I Am an Asian Parent).

If it happens a third time, it's a trend.

Remembering Shanker

AlbertShanker.gifJoe Williams reminds us that Al Shanker passed a decade ago today and says some very nice words about him (The Chalkboard: The 10-Year Void).

I only met him a couple of times, but I remember them vividly.

Different Takes On NAEP High School Reports

High School Students Taking Tougher Courses EdWeek
The proportion of high school students completing a solid core curriculum has nearly doubled since 1990, and students are doing better in their classes than their predecessors did.But that good news is tempered by other findings in two federal reports released here today.

Reports: Test scores, grades don't jibe Houston Chronicle
Large percentages of high school seniors are posting weak scores on national math and reading tests even though more of them are taking challenging courses and getting higher grades in school, two reports released Thursday show.

Now's the time to test standardized tests Christian Science Monitor
A five-year federal experiment to boost K-12 schools by standardized testing is still far from its goal: making all students "proficient" in math and reading by 2014. Now Congress will soon weigh whether to renew the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The review itself will be a new test of what the US expects from schools.

Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

5thgrader.JPG Just what the world needs -- a reality/quiz show demonstrating just how smart or dumb we grownups are:
Fox Announces A New Reality Show Questioning Whether Viewers Are “Smarter Than A 5th Grader”

Morning Round-up February 22, 2007

New Jersey Schools Told to Protect Gay Students NYT
Students who are bullied by other students because of their sexual orientation are protected by New Jersey’s antidiscrimination law, and school districts must take reasonable steps to stop such harassment, the state’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday.

Tempting Teachers To County Classrooms WaPo
At a recent job fair at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, more than 200 teacher recruiters -- some from as far as Atlanta and Denver -- competed for the attention of about 330 graduates clutching freshly printed r?sum?s.

States standup to cyberbullies
States from Oregon to Rhode Island are considering crackdowns to curb or outlaw the behavior in which kids taunt or insult peers on social Web sites like MySpace or via instant messages. Still, there is some disagreement over how effective crackdowns will be and how to do it.

Educators REact to No Child Left Behind NPR
Joel Packer, director of education policy and practice with the National Education Association, offers reaction from educators to recent proposed changes to No Child Left Behind.

Lessons From Reading First: No One Cares About Local Control Anymore

Fresh off of his appearance in Hot For Education last week, former Reading First czar Chris Doherty is back in the news. EdWeek (E-Mails Reveal Federal Reach Over Reading) focuses on the extent of the intrusiveness in RF and the historic ban on federal meddling in local decisions. Lyon.jpgThe Title I Monitor details his close relationship with reading guru Reid Lyon, who is interviewed in the piece about his role and what happened ("Reading Czar" Served as Conduit Between ED, White House).

What jumps out at me when I try and figure out why these Reading First stories never make it to the national level -- I'm talking Good Morning America here -- is that the notion of protecting local control over education decisions is pretty much dead. Sure, as the EdWeek story points out, there's long been a federal ban on meddling with curriculum. And I'm not saying that RF and Doherty were right. But after Goals 2000 and NCLB and all the rest, local control is mostly a fig leaf in the minds of most non-educators at this point, isn't it?

If that's the case, as it may be, then the only thing I can think of that would make RF a national story is perhaps a love triangle between Doherty, Lyon, and former deputy Sandi Jacobs (now at NCTQ). Or maybe I'm wrong and it will keep bubbling up.

Apple & Dell Square Off On Teachers Unions

Over at Eduwonk, Andy links to the back-and-forth about teachers unions that's going on between Apple bigwig Steve Jobs and his counterpart at Dell (Eduwonk.com: No Apple For Teacher). It's interesting to note that the Gates Foundation -- as opposed to Gates the individual -- has thus far come across as basically neutral on unions.

Flipper Finn?

Over at Small Talk, Mike Klonsky takes the flip-flop idea a little further (Finn, Fordham, Flip-flop). According to Klonsky, "Finn and friends have recently done an about-face and have become enemies of NCLB, after years of pushing it on schools and school districts....Finn ("Fool me twice") has suddenly figured it all out. You see, NCLB is trying to force standardization and compliance on schools and educators and that just won't work....It was only last June that Finn personally attacked Jonathan Kozol for his hostile anti-NCLB stand."

He's Been Disqualified

The inimitable Casey Lartigue complains (rightly) about being excluded from Hot For Education 2007 "right in the middle of black history month." Check it out here: I've been disqualified

NCLB Alternative Unveiled Today

The Forum on Educational Accountability is unveiling its alternative to NCLB today: "Leaders of national education, civil rights, religious, civic and disability groups will hold a news briefing Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 9:30 am to release the Forum on Educational Accountability's Redefining Accountability: Improving Student Learning by Building Capacity, a new report with recommendations for replacing the test-based sanctions of the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law with means to hold states and localities accountable for making systematic changes that improve student achievement. You can see it here.

History Is Elementary Hosts Carnival

The 107th Carnival of Education is up at History Is Elementary. Here's a great section on Parental Involvement:

Richard over at Shadowscope provides a parent view regarding our public schools. It’s honest, it’s frank, and I know that many of us on the frontlines feel his pain. Visit Richard at Public School.

Matt over at Going to the Mat gives us a view of what can happen when we have Parental Involvement In VA Schools.

Does a Flower Turn to the Sun? No, this isn’t a science post. Here’s a partial quote, “…parents don’t really have the knowledge to make decisions about the quality of schools.” See how Casey of What Would You Say If You Weren't Afraid? responds to that kind of idea.

Morning Round-up February 21, 2007

A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia as a Research Source NYT
With the move, Middlebury, in Vermont, jumped into a growing debate within journalism, the law and academia over what respect, if any, to give Wikipedia articles, written by hundreds of volunteers and subject to mistakes and sometimes deliberate falsehoods.

Jobs, Dell appraise technology, schools eSchool News
In a rare joint appearance, Jobs and Dell, whose namesake company, Dell Inc., is the world's No. 2 computer manufacturer after HP, sat down with a small group of educators and policymakers in Texas to discuss attitudes on education and talk about ways schools can better embrace technology to improve learning.

Budget Would Trim Funds for "Even Start" NPR
President Bush's budget proposes deep cuts in Even Start, a popular program that helps teach parents to read and speak English. Parents who can read can help their children with schoolwork and promote reading.

Candidates: Take Your Pick Of Education Plans

Education Sector today released a report called Eight for 2008: Education Ideas for the Next President. Aiming to appeal to Republicans, Democrats and coincide with NCLB, Ed Sector has come up with eight possible education plans. While education, unfortunately, does not always receive a large part of the national election attention, Ed Sector offers these ideas to be included in the "ideas primary" while candidates are learning what is most important to Americans. A brief review of the report is listed below. The Full report can be found here.

Continue reading "Candidates: Take Your Pick Of Education Plans" »

It's All In Your Head

It matters much less whether you are a boy or a girl - success or failure can be a matter of how you feel about school and yourself, and almost nothing to do with your actual abilities.

Black Parents Seek to Raise Ambitions WaPo
Tom and Renee Carter joined last year with about 15 families, including the parents of nearly every black male sixth-grader, to push their sons to graduate on time in 2012 with options for the future and without lowering their expectations or test scores along the way. They call it Club 2012.

Researchers: Math anxiety saps working memory needed to do math CNN.com
Math anxiety -- feelings of dread and fear and avoiding math -- can sap the brain's limited amount of working capacity, a resource needed to compute difficult math problems, said Mark Ashcroft, a psychologist at the University of Nevada Los Vegas who studies the problem.

Students' View of Intelligence Can Help Grades NPR
A new study in the scientific journal Child Development shows that if you teach students that their intelligence can grow and increase, they do better in school.

Morning Round-up February 20, 2007

In Vermont, Prisoners Go To High School Behind Bars WaPo
Vermont's largest high school is run by the Department of Corrections. The school -- operating in each of the state's jails and prisons, with walk-in schools at Probation and Parole offices -- has about 3,500 registered students, though only about 350 attend classes every day.

With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar NYT
The inclusion of the word (scrotum) has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books.

More students across US logging on to online classrooms Boston Globe
Enrollment, counted as the total number of seats in all online classes, not the number of students, has grown twentyfold in seven years, and the group expects the numbers to continue to jump 30 percent annually.

Week In Review February 12 - 18

Best Of The Week
Did The NYT Get It Wrong On The University Of Phoenix?
Would a Constitutional Amendment Do Any Good?
If SEIU and Wal-Mart Can Do It, Education Can, Too
Hot For Education 2007 (Sports Illustrated Edition)

On The Hill
Kennedy Head Start Reauthorization Quick Out Of The Gate
Live Blogging The Aspen Institute Report Release
The Papers Cover The Aspen Commission Report

People & Places
Obama Panders, Then Pushes, On NCLB
Who's Who: Edison Lobbyist Heather Podesta
Ed Trust's Amy Wilkins Is Back
Lawyers' Committee Honcho On The HotSeat
Aspen Report Leader Heads To The Hill

Education Policy
Resistance to Weighted Student Funding In Chicago

Now Here's A Big Education Idea
Learning More About Funders
Flip-Flopping Finn, Part 2

Media Watch
What The Other Blogs Didn't Tell You
Bloggers Coming Clean
Most Viewed" On EdWeek? Not Quite.

Flip-Flopping Finn, Part 2

Tearing down NCLB (and most efforts to improve it) has emerged as the central strategy of the Fordham Foundation's Checker Finn during the past few weeks and months. According to Finn (and his deputy Mike Petrilli), little good came from the original NCLB -- and little can be done to improve it.

No doubt, Finn and Petrilli (with whom I have worked) find lots of company in criticizing NCLB from both the left and right, though most seem to want to mend, not end the act. But it's hard not to notice that these two were critical friends of the law for almost the entire duration of its existence. It's as if the Ed Trust turned against the law, or the NEA came out for it.

Their turnabout on NCLB could represent the inevitable scramble to get off a sinking ship, some sort of epiphany, or an opportunistic change of course prompted by, among other things, the decline of Republican fortunes. But the change is something that needs to be addressed, I think. [Petrilli thinks he's already covered this with his NRO piece, but for some reason I'm not satisfied.]

Coalition DVD Event In Providence

The Coalition of Essential Schools folks tell me that they are premiering a new film about their efforts developing small schools on February 28th in Providence, for anyone who's interested. Ted Sizer is going to be there, and the film has apparently won the Aegis Award for Best Educational DVD.

Kennedy Head Start Reauthorization Quick Out Of The Gate

The latest Federal Update from Brustein & Manasevit is out, and includes a few key details you may not have seen elsewhere. For example, Head Start is apparently on the move after its long reauthorization delay. The Senate committee has already passed a bill (s556) that omits provisions that were objectionable, such as giving faith based providers to hire staff based on religious preferences and allowing states to run HS programs.

Weekend Catch-Up: Mainstream News

Here are some interesting pieces that I missed during the past week or so:

Did Help Get Left Behind? US News & World Report
Five years after No Child Left Behind was enacted, educators and lawmakers are asking whether the stomachaches caused by the legislation have been worth it.

Tutoring program in trouble Detroit Free Press
A tutoring program for low-income students attending under-performing schools is being criticized for not reaching enough eligible students in Michigan and for failing in many cases to provide proof that tutors are living up to expectations.

No Classroom Left AloneAmerican Spectator
Not even LBJ could have imagined No Child Left Behind.

True 'Spirit of America': Bush's Icon Teaches Tots to Tune In Washington Post (Al Kamen)
Seems nothing's ever simple these days. President Bush, in his State of the Union, praised special guest Julie Aigner-Clark, who he said "represents the great enterprising spirit of America," for founding Baby Einstein, makers of children's videos.

Learning More About Funders

Usually thought of as either all-important or ridiculously out of touch, philanthropy is increasingly diverse, occasionally innovative, and important for educators and the media to understand. Starting with a Jonathan Alter piece on DonorsChoose, here's a slate of Slate articles to help the cause: A nonprofit works marketplace magic. Four years ago, my office phone at Newsweek rang: a cold call from Charles Best, a 26-year-old Yale graduate who was teaching in a public school in the Bronx....By the end of the call, I knew I had seen the future of American philanthropy. Making philanthropy cool.From education to health care to energy to wealth disparity to the environment, we're living proof that being a rich nation doesn't necessarily make us a great one. Are foundations elitist, anti-democratic, and in danger of losing their tax exemptions?. Lincoln Caplan takes on funders' inscrutable tendencies, and the newish notion of "giving while living."

Previous Posts:
Learning From Their Mistakes
Gates Enters The 2008 Campaign
MySpace For Educators
Can Micro Donations Make A Difference?

More Audio and Video Coming Your Way

Little by little, step by step, there's more education-related audio (and video) that you can listen to or watch on your computer:

Eating Disorders on America's College Campuses John Merrow
In this exclusive video podcast, we take a look inside America’s college campuses, where eating disorders may affect up to 20% of its students.

The Problem with Praise NPR (On Point)
Challenges, self-esteem and our children. New findings say too much praise may be a problem for the kids.

Who’s Afraid of the New Economy? NYT (David Brooks)
A group of Democratic economists and strategists (The Third Way) are taking on the rising neopopulists (like John Edwards).

KBIA News (Missouri) Education Week
Listen to Governor Matt Blunt read from The Giving Tree ... hear from Columbia Schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase ... and learn about plans for a new Catholic high school.

In addition, the Education Intelligencer recently has been doing little video sketches (search below for his first, "NCLB Make Sun God Angry," and Sheman Dorn has been dabbling, too. Then of course, there's the Gadfly Show.

New America Staffs Up With Veteran Higher Education Reporter

While no one was looking, New America hired veteran Chronicle of Higher Ed reporter Stephen Burd to join the team (Stephen Burd), and let Justin King move over to workforce and family issues.

This makes Burd what, the thousandth education reporter to get out of the newsroom in the last few years. Congrats and condolences to all.

The War In NCLB

PBS's John Merrow isn't the first to put NCLB in the context of the war in Iraq, but he does have some interesting things to say: "As the law enters its sixth year, “staying the course” would be disastrous for public education and, eventually, American society. But a “surge” strategy won’t save the No Child Left Behind Act either. Washington insiders say there’s no rush to reauthorize the law, particularly with a presidential campaign already under way. We ought to use the time to debate the kind of education we want for our children, an opportunity that should not be missed." (A ‘Surge’ Strategy for No Child Left Behind?)

News From New Haven

I'm up at an education conference at the Yale School Of Management and what jumps out at me so far is (a) just how frighteningly big "mainstream" interest in education reform has gotten. (the opening speaker actually warned folks off of getting into education just because it's so "sexy" right now.); (b) just how easy and appealing it is to work in education without working IN education (ie, foundation, nonprofit, private sector work, vs. district, state, federal or advocacy work -- or, god forbid, school-level work); and (c) just how much better-looking in person Paul Tough and MaryEllen McGuire are ("He's gorgeous," one admirer whispered to me.) More to come.



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.