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Maybe The RNC Email System Just Works Better?

The Gonzalez echoes continue today with the accusation that Education officials may have used unofficial email addresses to communicate about Reading First, just like it was said White House and Department of Justice officials might have done about firing those poor attorneys. In that case, officials were accused of using their Republican National Committee email addresses, in part to avoid having their communications stored on government computers or available to groups that wanted to FOIA the communication.

Maybe the RNC email system just works better? And what about personal preference? I mean, I like Gmail, but some folks like AOL or Earthlink.

Big Stories Of The Day (Thursday May 17)

See below for NAEP and Reading First stories.

The Black And White Of "Ho" Culture Washington Post
In a new twist in American race relations, a federal court has ruled that a white teacher in a predominantly African-American school was subjected to a racially hostile workplace.

Positive Outlook Aids New Orleans School Recovery NPR
Students and teachers at a New Orleans charter school damaged by Hurricane Katrina and, later, a tornado have pushed ahead by focusing on the positive.

In this high school class, it is rocket science Christian Science Monitor
Brett Williams has his students build a rocket each year as a hands-on way to learn science and engineering - and they've set flight records.

Educators Repeatedly Flunk Required Exams Fox News
Testing is a part of life. Most professions require some sort of test and you only get so many tries. But a News Station Investigation shows - when it comes to teaching or running a school, for thousands of North Texas educators its try, try and try again…and again.

Federal Math, Science Programs Faulted EdWeek
Currently, only a small number of math and science programs –– 10 out of 115 programs and individual projects reviewed –– hold themselves to "scientifically rigorous evaluations" that have produced measurable results.

Everyone's Got Different Takes On NAEP Scores

Everyone's got slightly different things to say about the NAEP history and civics scores released yesterday: Basic scores are up, but not proficient or advanced. NCLB is holding history back, or helping kids read better. Younger kids are doing better than last time, but not older kids. You get the idea.

Students Gain Only Marginally on Test of U.S. History NYT
More than half of high school seniors still showed poor command of basic facts like the effect of the cotton gin on the slave economy or the causes of the Korean War.

More Students Know Basics of History SF Chronicle
More students are learning the basics when it comes to history and civics, but they aren't rising to the next level, national tests show.

Fourth-Graders Improve History, Civics Scores Washington Post
The nation's fourth-graders have shown significant gains in U.S. history and civics test scores, federal researchers reported yesterday, a development that -- coupled with similar recent advances in reading, math and science -- experts attribute in large part to an intense national focus on reading.

Social Studies: Can't Get No Respect? AJC
The percentage of students scoring in the “proficient” range in U.S. history at each grade level was basically the same as the previous exam. That stagnant pattern also held true in civics. Although, on each test, some improvement was made in the percentages of students scoring at the “basic” level.

US students aren't history whizzes, but they're improving Christian Science Monitor
The latest national report card: younger students are gaining, while high-schoolers show little progress.

Headline Of The Week: "Love Me Tenure"

The LA Times' opinion page gets the headline of the week award for this headline about the pros and cons of teacher tenure: Love me tenure. For those of you who might not remember the lyrics, sung by Elvis Presley in a movie of the same name: "Love me tender, love me sweet, Never let me go. You have made my life complete, And I love you so."

Kame’enui KO'd: Reading First Official To Leave ED

Embattled RF advisor Ed Kame'enui is leaving his federal post, according to this EdWeek story (Former ‘Reading First’ Adviser to Leave Federal Post). You may recall Kame'enui as one of the folks who testified in front of Cong. Miller a few weeks ago, and was one of four folks who were hung out to dry in the Kennedy report. However, accounts differ as to whether Kame’enui was fired, is resigning, or is just finishing out his contract.

UPDATE: Group Wants Probe of Education E-Mails
A private watchdog group asked the Education Department's inspector general on Wednesday to investigate the possible improper use of private e-mail accounts to conduct official department business.

US News Reporter Moves To NY Sun

After a short but successful stint covering national stories, fast-moving former US News education reporter Elizabeth Weiss Green has now made the move to the New York Sun, where her first story has just appeared (Klein Relieves Some Critics' Concerns About Arab School). She's going to focus on NYC reform efforts, competing against the big boys at the Times, etc. Congrats, condolences, as usual.

Reading First Scandal Moves Up The Media Food Chain

ABC News' Brian Ross has been tracking the Reading First thing online for a while now at his website, The Blotter, but it wasn't until last night that the nightly broadcast jumped into the fray with a segment about how Reading First benefited a bush benefactor, Randy Best of Voyager, which sold for $360M. You can read about it and watch the segment online. It includes Slavin and Cindy Cupp, whose programs were excluded, and an interview with Cong. Miller. Over-simplified? Sure. Still not the lead story? Of course not. But it's another step up the media food chain for the scandal. Plus which, now we know that Slavin's brother works in broadcast news.

Candidates Begin To Talk Education... But Who's Doing Their Thinking?

While The Ed In '08 folks are concerned there's not enough edutalk in the debates (No Room for ED?), the AFTies report that Sen. Biden and other candidates are talking to teachers (Sen. Biden Talks Education) and Inside Higher Ed rounds up candidates higher ed plans (Higher Ed and 2008).

What I want to know is who is doing the candidates' policy development work? I know one former USDEr who's doing some work on the side for one of the R candidates. And I've reported previously that Cassandra Butts from the Center on American Progress may be doing education and civil rights work for Senator Obama on the side (More Obama CAP Connections). But I'm sure every think tank and at-loose-ends policy analyst in town is trying to get in with the eventual winner (Think Tanks Battle For Candidates' Ears). Anyone know more specifics?

Dallas Board Members Liken New Logo To Pillsbury Doughboys

"District administrators had hoped the recommended logo — three student figures in red, white and blue beneath five stars in the frame of a big blue "D" — would bolster their efforts to improve the Dallas Independent School District's image. What came out, though, was "dull, busy and marred by student figures reminiscent of Pillsbury Doughboys," according to some trustees at DISD's board briefing." (Brand New: Dallas gets a "D" in Design)

One Student Dead Every 10 Days In Chicago

"So far this school year, at least 27 Chicago Public Schools students have been killed. That's one young life every 10 days," according to this Chicago Tribune article. "District officials do not keep an official tally, but they know 20 students have been shot to death, matching the highest total since they began tracking it nine years ago. The Tribune has identified seven more students who were beaten, suffocated or stabbed to death. Last week was especially deadly."

Education Stories From The Onion

Weird Kid Shines During Dissection Project: Hollis' crooked glasses and musty odor were all but forgotten as he briefly transcended his social awkwardness in a recent dazzling display of frog dissection....Area Man Lives Vicariously Through Son's Bully: Mike Zerbe, 39, father of bullied son Timmy Zerbe, 8, expressed avid interest in the fighting stance and other qualities...Prospective Student Had Most Fun Getting Drunk At Arizona State: After taking a week off from school to evaluate prospective colleges, high school senior Angela Ross said Monday...Majority Of Parents Abuse Children, Children Report: "My parents force me to finish my math homework before letting me watch TV," admitted "Derek," 10, a study participant and abuse victim...Gap Unveils New 'For Kids By Kids' Clothing Line: Brian Scott reports on a popular new Gap clothing line hand-sewn by children overseas.

Technology Good, Technology Bad

Calculators tell teachers which pupils need help USA Today
Texas Instruments, whose calculators helped make the company a household name, has found a way to help teachers quickly identify students who may be failing math, Chief Executive Rich Templeton said Monday.

Glitch Forces Students in Va. to Stop Mid-Exam Washington Post
Thousands of Virginia students who took state standardized tests online yesterday were forced to stop because of a computer problem and will have to retake the exams, state education officials said.

Big Stories Of The Day (May 16)

Study Finds College-Prep Courses in High School Leave Many Students Lagging NYT
Only a quarter of high school students who take the core courses are well prepared for college, the study says.

Romney hearts No Child Left Behind First Look MSNBC
Romney was just asked to name a policy shift he's made that MIGHT not be popular with the GOP base. Romney named his support for No Child Left Behind. (To be honest, we didn't know he supported it.)

House Freshmen Could Be Pivotal on NCLB Renewal Ed Week
Some opposed the law on campaign trail, but have refined their views.

Make My School Safe

Some Chicago-area students put together this video about kids being bullied. The song isn't great, but the visuals and the message are pretty powerful:

via think:lab

Big Surprise: Chicago Hates Tutoring

Hmmm. A big-city district (Chicago) examines a provision in NCLB that it has long detested (SES tutoring) and finds that 30-60 hours of tutoring per year (six to 12 days of school) has a minimal benefit (but won't release the study). Big surprise. Check it all out here: $50 million -- for what? (Chicago Sun-Times).

Edwards Rolls Out College Aid Plan

Thankfully someone's paying attention to the Edwards campaign, or else I would have missed the new college plan, which TQATE's Erin Dillon posts about (here) as a plan that would increase and simply the college aid process, but might send aid to those who don't need it most. "I worry that this program would end up leaving out the students who need the most help, and inadvertently shift grant aid to students who tend to receive more in other forms of financial aid, like tax credits, loans, and merit-based institutional aid."

Former Ed Reporter Heads West

Former AP education writer Anjetta McQueen is leaving the Brookings Institute, where she worked in communications, to head out to LA and be a lawyer. She's joining an LA firm that represents unions in the motion picture industry, journalism, and the public sector (yes, including teachers). After leaving AP, McQueen worked at the NEA and then Brookings. Congrats. Condolences. Etc.

Hey, Let's Convene, Says Spellings To The Hill

In a letter from EdSec Spellings sent the day after she appeared in front of the House education committee, Spellings urges the committee leaders to...get back to work on NCLB?

"I acknowledge your committee’s oversight function. I look forward to answering your questions and those of other members, and to meeting with any members who would like to discuss these matters in further detail...I am hopeful that the pursuit of oversight will not delay moving forward legislatively on these two important laws."

Full text below.

Continue reading "Hey, Let's Convene, Says Spellings To The Hill" »

Complaints & Misunderstandings

Dear Readers: If you've got a question or concern about something you see on this blog -- and who doesn't, really? -- remember that you can post a comment directly on the site that I and everyone else will see. You don't have to email me individually, though you can. That way, whatever is on your mind gets directly in front of people and doesn't have to wait for me to get around to it.

Whatever you decide to do, please remember that this is a blog -- an online column, basically -- not an attempt to cover anything comprehensively or with excruciating even-handedness. That's EdWeek's job. Speaking of which, please remember that I even though my site is now hosted on the EdWeek page, I am not an employee of EdWeek.

Big Stories Of The Day (May 15)

Affirmative Action For the Obama Girls? Washington Post
Barack Obama doesn't think anyone should cut his two daughters any slack when they apply to college -- not because of their race, at least. Via EdNews.org.

U. of Texas Fires Officer Over Tie to Loan Company NYT
The University of Texas has fired the director of financial aid at its Austin campus for improper conduct.

NCLB Rules on ‘Quality’ Fall Short EdWeek
Advocates vary in how they suggest the teacher-quality mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act has fallen short.

Rank This, U.S. News LA Times
Under the headline "Rank this, U.S. News," Trinity University President Patricia McGuire explains why her university is boycotting U.S. New & World Report's annual college rankings.

Two suspended over fake attack on students AP
During the last night of a weeklong trip to a state park, staff members convinced 69 sixth-grade students from Scales Elementary School that there was a gunman on the loose. (Watch student recount incident, mother react Video)

Awkward...And Off Message

Maybe this Kennedy-Spellings editorial was put into action long ago, but having it come out just now seems downright awkward. Spellings is just coming off her rough appearance in front of the House committee, and is presumably going to have do another round of the same in front of Kennedy. Not to mention that the topic -- dropout prevention -- seems wildly off message. What a 90s way to generate interest in school reform. It's all about STEM, now, baby! Those Gates folks must have put them up to it.

LA Times Education Blog Bites The Dust...For Now

For a while now, the LA Times' School Me blog has been a much-admired newspaper education blog, what with its fun graphics, combo of commentary and superlocal news, and all the rest. Now comes news that the site is going on haitus. It's hard to tell whether this is temporary or permanent, but my honest guess is the latter. It's nothing more than a guess, though, and I hope I'm wrong. Either way, thanks to Bob and Janine for giving the edusphere a look at what a well-run blog could look like.

YouTube...For Teachers

The folks over at Edutopia's Spiral Notebook link to TeacherTube.com, which, as you might have guessed, is a collection of online videos for teachers.

The NYT And Me

While others may insist on praising her performance for a little while longer, at least the NYT editorial page has joined the fray in pointing out that Spellings' "it's not my fault" excuse is neither satisfying nor particularly plausible.

"I Just Can't Quit You, Mrs. Johnson."

"A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class," according to this article (School Board Sued Over "Brokeback Mountain" Screening). "The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her 8th grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year."

What's Next For Outsourcing?

First they outsourced manufacturing. Then call centers. Then tutoring. Now someone wants to outsource news coverage (Pasadena Paper May Outsource 'Local' Coverage). What next? Think tanks. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Big Stories Of The Day (May 14)

Educating the Education Secretary NYT
“It’s not our fault.” That’s what Education Secretary Margaret Spellings seemed to say while testifying before Congress last week about her department’s failure to halt the payoffs, kickbacks and general looting of the public treasury by a lending company that collected nearly $300 million in undeserved subsidies.

The Teachers Who Cheat San Francisco Chronicle
Some help students during standards test -- or fix answers later -- and California's safeguards may leave more breaches unreported.

Parents withdraw students from state tests Scripps Howard News Service
Albert attends a program for hearing-impaired children at Loma Vista School in Ventura, Calif. Last year, he and his classmates sat through six days of tests, only to find out months later that their scores wouldn’t be counted.

The Sting of the Bee May Not Prove Helpful Washington Post
Despite their rising popularity, some teachers say that spelling competitions aren't good instructional tools.

Teachers stage fake gunman attack MSNBC
The mock attack was intended as a learning experience. Parents were not amused.

Best Of The Week (May7-14)

Campaign '08
Dem. Candidates Pilgrimage To NOLA (Again)
EdCheck.Org -- Fact-Checking All The Spin

Site News
We're On NPR!
Russo Bullies Vallas
Latest Huffington Post: "Spellings Pulls A Gonzalez"

Foundation Follies
The Sundance Of School Reform
Can Education Entrepreneurs Crack Public Education?

Greeding First (& Student Lending, Too)
Miller Gets Worked Up At Spellings Explanations
Special Treatment For Spellings
Behind The Scenes: Spellings, Miller, & Kennedy
What About Beth Ann Bryan?

States Complain About NCLB

Urban Education
The Two Pauls In New Orleans
Kool-Aid Pickles, And Cute Drug Names Too

School Life
The Sound Of Cell Phones
One Killed Over A PlayStation At Fresno State
Carseats And School Buses -- A Parent's Confusion

Media Watch
EdWeek Reporter To New Leaders
Vivid Doesn't Mean Accurate
Colorado (Education Blog) Is In The House

From The Huffington Post: Spellings Pulls A Gonzalez

My latest oeuvre from The Huffington Post: Is Education Secretary Spellings The Next Alberto Gonzales? "The only thing saving Education Secretary Margaret Spellings from drifting into Alberto Gonzales territory right now is, well, Alberto Gonzales." As always, please let me know if I've missed anything or gotten it entirely wrong.

Continue reading "From The Huffington Post: Spellings Pulls A Gonzalez" »

EdWeek Reporter To New Leaders

I heard last week that EdWeek associate editor Jeff Archer recently left for a new job at New Leaders for New Schools. Speaking of new jobs, former Philly Enquirer star Dale Mezzacappa was walking around at EWA with the Philly Notebook on her badge, signaling that she's likely to be doing more work for them in the near future. I had the pleasure of meeting reporter Amy Waldman down in NOLA, so I assume that means she's working on a followup to her terrific Atlantic piece. I also heard that somebody is working on a biography of Paul Vallas, or maybe it's a ghosted autobiography. I also ran into Tom Toch, who said that a new piece from him would soon be coming out in The Washington Monthly. Last but not least, I hear that one can't-be-named-yet national reporter is leaving the beat to cover the NYC schools. Crazy, or brilliant.

Colorado (Education Blog) Is In The House

Welcome to Schools For Tomorrow, the new blog from HeadFirst Colorado, the education magazine that describes itself as "education on the edge." Already in its first week, the blog has tackled topics as diverse as the Tough Choices report and the exodus of students from Denver Public Schools. And, lest you think Colorado is some sort of school reform wasteland, remember that Ed In '08 honcho Roy Romer used to be governor there, much-touted outsider superintendent Michael Bennett is pushing hard there (especially on the ELL and charter fronts), and that the Gates Foundation's first major debacle, the failed conversion of Manuel High School, took place there.

UPDATE: I have written for HeadFirst and may do some work for them in the future.

Carseats And School Buses -- A Parent's Confusion

"What the hell is the deal with school buses?," begins this post from Fussbucket (Flying Children). "We spend the first five years of our kids’ lives breaking our backs buckling and strapping them down in the backseat of the car, only to send them off to sit in one of those giant yellow buses without even a rope to hang on to should things go awry."

Special Treatment For Spellings -- From Congress & The Press

The Times (Spellings Rejects Criticism on Student Loan Scandal) and Post (Education Secretary Defends Loans Record) both take it pretty easy on Spellings, whose performance was to my view neither particularly effective or especially believable.

I think that this is in part due to the ongoing tendency in the press to take it easy on her and also because it was mostly Miller and other Dems, not Republicans, who challenged her. This is in a stark contrast to the treatment that, say, Alberto Gonzalez is getting during his Hill appearances, where it is Republicans who are ridiculing Gonzalez as much as anyone else.

You can watch a video of the testimony from yesterday here.

UPDATE: EdWeek notes Spellings' uncertainty and refusals to take strong action on the Reading First front here.
How much longer will the Congressional Republicans defend her, and when will the press get out from under the Spellings spell?

Big Stories Of The Day (May 11)

New Figures Show High Dropout Rate Washington Post
First lady Laura Bush and national education leaders yesterday unveiled an online database that promises to provide parents across much of the nation the first accurate appraisal of how many students graduate from high school on time in each school system.

For Community Colleges, 'Seduction' in Marketing? Washington Post
Dear Extra Credit: I am writing to tell you about what I call the Montgomery College Seduction.

McKeon Bill to Stress Tutoring CA Signal
McKeon's bill is part of an effort in each party on the House Education and Labor committee to introduce legislation reflecting their core priorities for the final No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill.

The Equity Gadfly Blast -- It's STEM Mania!

Get your morning started by checking out the PEN NewsBlast, which this week includes some interesting articles about how students think of themselves, what moms earn, and this week's favorite -- school bus emissions. Or, go to The Gadfly and check out their take on "STEM mania" and the queen's visit. Last but not least, there's the Ed Trust's Equity Express, below, full of all sorts of "gap-zapping" stories. I guess no one's told them about STEM mania.

Continue reading "The Equity Gadfly Blast -- It's STEM Mania!" »

Fashion Fun: We're On NPR

No, not really (though we have been in the past). This time, it's the Bryant Park Project, one of NPR's new blog/shows, which covers the Spellings testimony and gives us a shout out over our eye for fashion (and Spellings' repetitious dressing habits). Thanks, Matt!

States Complain About NCLB

States say that they don't have the capacity to implement the school turnaround provisions of NCLB, according to a new national report based on surveys and interviews with state ed officials (link here). There's some news coverage here:  Federal education mandates faulted.

As in the past with this series, I appreciate the information and respect the source, but wish that it didn't rely so much on self-reported data. What do districts, federal officials, and outside observers say about state performance in terms of implementing NCLB?

Miller Gets Worked Up At Spellings Explanations

Wearing a somber black top and pearls, EdSec Spellings endured repeated interruptions, refutations, and harrumphs from a worked-up Chairman Miller in the first leg of this morning's oversight hearing (now on break, video here).

Essentially, Spellings is claiming that the student lending program is complex and not entirely under her jurisdiction, and that taking lenders to court would have been difficult. For show or for real, Miller is lambasting the USDE for not having told the lenders to stop, and pointing out that many lenders did so without going to court.

"Nobody at the Department of education showed up at the front door and said you can’t do this," said Miller, who called Spellings' arguments a crutch, not plausible, and unacceptable. And we haven't even really gotten to Reading First yet.

Kool-Aid Pickles, And Cute Drug Names Too

A Sweet So Sour: Kool-Aid Dills NYT
They are either the worst thing to happen to pickles or a particularly brave new taste sensation, but Kool-Aid dills are now popular in Mississippi Delta.

Drug dealers' gimmicks target kids Dallas Morning News
Pot Tarts. Strawberry Quick. Cheese. The names are cute and hip, but the products drug dealers are peddling with them are deadly nonetheless, according to police who are struggling to keep up with the latest gimmicks aimed at getting young kids hooked on narcotics.

Behind The Scenes: Spellings, Miller, & Kennedy

I love all the infighting and maneuvering that's going on behind the scenes leading up to Thursday's student lending and Reading First hearing. It's so very familiar and delicious. On Tuesday, the USDE announced that its top student loan officer had resigned -- giving Spellings the chance to tell Miller that appropriate action has already been taken on that front. (Nearly everyone associated with Reading First is already gone.) Then she gave some sort of a friendly pre-interview to Andy Rotherham on Wednesday, where she apparently repeats much of her defense from EWA last week -- some of it word for word. On Wednesday, Kennedy's office released its own Reading First report (EdWeek, AP), reminding everyone that it's not just Miller who's on the case -- and perhaps pressuring Miller not to ease up on the gas pedal.

UPDATE: Some more stories:
Four Officials Profited From Publishers, Report Finds Washington Post
House Passes Ban on Gifts From Student Lenders NYT
Federal Student Loan Official Is Resigning NYT

Big Stories Of The Day (May 10)

Copying School Plan a Mistake, Fenty Says Washington Post
D.C. Mayor says the administration made a mistake in lifting sections of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system's "strategic plan."

Charter chain shows results, ambitions Dallas Morning News
The preferred term is "promotion ceremony," for the record. But whatever you do, don't call what's about to happen at KIPP TRUTH Academy an "eighth-grade graduation."

Psychiatrists, Children and Drug Industry's Role NYT
When Anya Bailey developed an eating disorder after her 12th birthday, her mother took her to a psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota who prescribed a powerful antipsychotic drug called Risperdal.

English Language Learners as Pawns in the School System’s Overhaul NYT
The transformation of a large Bronx high school into small schools has meant the end of adequate English as a Second Language classes for hundreds of students.

The Sundance Of School Reform (or, "What I Learned At The NSVF Summit")

There was no really big news at the NSVF summit in New Orleans, but I did learn some things, large and small: For example, Internet access at the Ritz costs $275 per person but a secret helper helped me out (thanks!).

There was lots of talk about engaging with the public side, but there were few public-sector (SEA, LEA, school-level) folks there to provide a reality check. There was lots of talk about a "diversified provider" model of school district (ie, district plus charter schools). However, no one can really agree on what a "turnaround" school is yet (they're working on it). I still don't understand the difference between venture philanthropy and the regular kind, except that it is younger, whiter, and has much cooler clothes.

What about the people? Well, everybody knew everybody else, except me (well some nice folks did come up and say hi -- Barbara Bennett, for example, and charter schools guru Nelson Smith). Lots of smarts in the room, that much was clear. So far, at least, Steve Barr from Green Dot won't start charters in the Valley, much less outside LA. Rick Hess changes clothes frequently. Ben Wildavsky is grantmaking up a storm in his newish job at Kauffman. New Leaders' Jon Schnur is living down here, temporarily, and just had a baby girl. Thad Nodine (from ISKME) knows all the best hangouts outside the Quarter. Michael Bennett (from Denver) seems to think out loud -- sometimes at length. Temp Keller is looking for a star to run RISE Chicago. It seems like Andy Rotherham is always thinking a mile a minute. Mike Petrilli wants to "swap" AYP for HQT (why not?). Paul Vallas might be John Lithgow's long-lost brother (credit: GT). Nice to see Lincoln Kaplan and many others.

What else? NSNO's Sarah Usdin throws a great Derby Party. Cochon just won a James Beard award for best restaurant in the South (great drinks, too). Crawfish boils on a cool night are a good thing (thanks, ML). Next year, they're going to be in DC.

Big Stories Of The Day (May 9)

Federal Student Loan Chief Will Step Down Washington Post
The head of the U.S. Education Department's student loan office announced her resignation yesterday amid mounting criticism of the agency's oversight of the loan industry.

Government Slow To Address School Bus Emissions CNN.com
Day in and day out, children across the U.S. are riding to school on aging buses, breathing what some activists say is a dangerous brew of pollutants up to five times dirtier than the air outside.

Paying Brave Teachers What They're Worth Washington Post (Mathews)
Eighteen award-winning teachers have come up with a performance-pay plan for teachers. It is full of good ideas...So why am I having trouble accepting the whole package?

Debates as entertainment? Washington Times
The hallmark legislation of the Bush administration, currently up for reauthorization, is No Child Left Behind. Yet, not a single question on No Child Left Behind.

The Two Pauls In New Orleans: What's The Plan?

The two Pauls -- LA state supe Pastorek and incoming RSD supe Vallas (far left and middle, respectively) -- appeared onstage today in what was billed as their first public appearance together, mapping out their plans for New Orleans. Some notable tidbits: Vallas credited Sen. Landrieu for first putting the idea of coming to NOLA in his mind several years ago; Pastorek claimed that the RSD and the Orleans Parish (elected) board were working together now and emphasized the temporary nature of the state takeover. In what might be a hint at the timeframe question that many have asked about, Pastorek also likened Vallas' arrival to a two-year military stint. No one talks about this current year -- it's as if Jarvis never existed.

Dem. Candidates Pilgrimage To NOLA (Again)

Both Clinton and Obama were in town for the Mayors Conference, and Obama did a Saturday school event at a charter school (hint, hint). Apparently his advance folks did a fine job gussying up the library where the event was held with new books and stuffed animals. Gotta love those photo ops. Now comes news that Clinton will be back here for another bite at the apple next week at Dillard University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

One Killed Over A PlayStation At Fresno State

3 Shot By College Student In Fresno Huffington Post
Police searched neighborhoods near a university campus Tuesday for a student suspected of opening fire in an apartment during a dispute over a video game console, killing one person and wounding two.

Can Education Entrepreneurs Crack Public Education?

After all these years, some education entrepreneurs are still struggling with the need to engage with "them" -- the public and political entities that govern public education. You'd be amazed (or maybe you wouldn't). For that reason, the tone was calm, but the challenges presented at the opening NSVF session that just finished this morning in New Orleans were actually quite pointed. Moderated by Andy Rotherham, the session focused on whether and how the education philanthropy community and its beneficiary groups can more so in the future engage with and make a difference in the rest of the education world, rather than working on the margins in single schools, programs, and networks. This challenge brought up issues of scale, human capital, and rhetoric, about which not everyone agreed. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner urged the community to get into the education system rather than just partnering with it or working around it. Denver superintendent Michael Bennett, recently profiled in The New Yorker, detailed the challenges of community engagement and called for reformers to turn charters back on the system as a reform lever rather than continue working on them as an escape valve. Dacia Toll from Achievement First responded that scale was not the problem for her and other charter proponents, but rather quality.

EdCheck.Org -- Fact-Checking All The Spin

There are two great fac t-check sites out there, but we need a third.

The first, FactCheck.org, is already up and running fact-checking the presidential candidates' claims and ideas. Amazing what those guys try and get away with if they think you're not going to know the difference. For this, the site just won 2 Webby "People's Voice" awards in the categories of politics and government categorie.

And now there's a new site, FactCheckED.org, because kids need access to accurate and unbiased information, too. It lists official sources, expert views, and flags potentially biased and unreliable sources.

The third site -- the one that doesn't quite exist yet but gosh and golly if it did -- is called EdCheck.org, and it does exactly the same thing, only focused on sifting through political and advocacy group spin from an independent and unbiased point of view. Come on, someone -- steal this idea.

Big News Of The Day (May 8)

So to speak...

Obama takes US auto industry to task, offers help Detroit Free Press
He said he would add funding to help with the No Child Left Behind school accountability law, increase block grant funding to cities and organize nonprofits to build “innovative mixed-income housing.”

Teen arrested for essay is reinstated MSNBC.com
A high school senior arrested for writing a violent essay for an English class can return to school and will be allowed to graduate with his class, his attorney says.

To raise an alarm, use cellphones? Christian Science Monitor
Colleges weigh text messaging as a tool to warn students of danger, in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings.

50 Years Later, Little Rock Can’t Escape Race NYT
An Arkansas school district is still riven by racial conflict, and some question how much progress has been made.

Vivid Doesn't Mean Accurate

One of the things that drives me crazy in journalism and in policymaking is what the New Yorker's James Surowiecki calls the "vividness heuristic" (It’s the Workforce, Stupid!): "the tendency to give undue weight to particularly vivid or newsworthy examples." His example is CEOs deciding to downsize based on the few successes that downsizing has created, ignoring the widespread reality that downsizing doesn't seem to make that much of a difference. Try and avoid glomming onto the vivid and ignoring the larger truth. Please.



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