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Mainstream Blogging's Perils & Pleasures

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Forbes has a rundown on mainstream media outlets bringing in outside bloggers (via Romenesko). Time, the Boston Globe, the NYT, the Washington Post, and many other outlets have hired outside bloggers in the past couple of years. Perhaps the most famous is the former DC gossip columnist Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox (pictured, so hot), who is now at Time.com.

As a miniature example of the trend, I can attest that moving to a traditional site does include some loss of previous readers (as well as lots of new ones), and some loss of readers' trust (if that's the right word). Other downsides include having to work with someone else's lame software, an unwise rollout of multiple blogs at about the same time, lack of built-in interaction among blogs on the same site, and a strange unwillingness to use blog content on other parts of the site or even in the print version, which other outlets have been doing for years now.

Charter School Smarick Wins White House Fellows Spot

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Not to be outdone by Michelle Rhee's splashy entry into the public sector last week, charter advocate and political up-and-comer Andy Smarick has just been named one of the 15 White House Fellows for 2007-2008. Under the program, folks from outside the federal government apply to work in the White House for a year. And everyone knows that fellows run things in DC. Lots of future stars have participated. Not that Andy isn't already a star among charteristas. Most recently, he's been COO for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Congrats, condolences, etc.

The Times Vs. The Post: Education's Weekly Showdown

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The Times' Sam Freedman faces off against the Post's Jay Mathews in their weekly education column showdown. Who do you think wins this week?

A Graduate of Stanford by Way of a Transfer: One foundation tries to help talented, low-income students make the transition from community colleges into elite universities. (Freedman)

The Power of Assuming All Need College: We are in the midst of a heated national debate over whether or not high schools should try to prepare all students for college. I say yes, but I acknowledge that the no side has a good argument. (Mathews)

NCLB Tutoring: Not Working, Or Just Not Working Miracles?

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There's an interesting little cluster of tutoring-related pieces out over the last couple of days, including a relatively fair-minded critique from USA Today's editorial page (Taxpayer-funded tutoring fails), a predictable and unsatisfying defense from EdSec Spellings (Tutoring shows success), and an investigative piece from the Miami Herald (Needy Students Deprived of Tutoring.) I think it's a mistake to expect proof of the program's effectiveness (a problem in all of education, not just tutoring), judge the law based on its goals rather than its accomplishments, and -- especially -- to leave out the state, district, and school-based roles in making or breaking the program.

Big Stories Of The Day (June 20)

Education Week: To Know NCLB Is to Like It, ETS Poll Finds Ed Week
Once the interviewer mentioned the law’s focus on standards and accountability, requiring highly qualified teachers, and other details, 56 percent said that they viewed the law favorably. Thirty-seven percent still opposed it. Plus: ETS Report.

Recruited to Rescue Washington’s Schools NYT
Michelle A. Rhee, the newly named chancellor of schools in Washington, seems undaunted by the challenges ahead as she prepares for her mission to raise reading and math scores in the city.

Values set Baltimore school apart USA Today
It has been a tough year at Talent Development. An open-admissions public high school that enjoys a cooperative relationship with Johns Hopkins University's Center for the Social Organization of Schools, it has been in business since 2004, occupying half of a sprawling brick building in the city's Harlem Park neighborhood. USA TODAY has visited throughout the year to see what makes it unique.

Web cam exam proctors are latest cheating deterrent CNN.com
Read full story for latest details.

When Celebrities Have Opinions

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Ahh, the pleasures of random celebrity opinions. (They're almost as bad as random man-in-the-street opinions. Just not as widely distributed.) Here's John Travolta on school shootings: Travolta Blames School Shootings On Psychiatric Drugs. Right, John. Right. But Travolta's not alone. A few months ago it was Will Smith on the perils of sending your kids to school: "The date of the Boston Tea Party does not matter. I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand up in front of the class."

Boston Gets Memphis Chief; Balto Gets NYC #2

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For a time, it seemed like Memphis might succeed in pulling supe Carol Johnson (left, at center) back into the fold after Boston announced she would be the permanent replacement for Tom Payzant, who left over a year ago. That would have been Boston's second near-miss. But now it seems like she's really going to make the move. Meanwhile, Baltimore is getting NYC instructional chief Andres Alonso (right), according to this Baltimore Sun article.

Franchising Magnets (Just Like Charters)

We're all already familiar with the idea of networks of charter schools (like KIPP) and small groups of private schools (Cristo Rey), but what about franchising magnet schools as well? That's the idea that Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan is apparently floating, according to this Catalyst Magazine article (here), which would "franchise" some of the city's most popular selective enrollment schools in order to create more seats for high-achieving kids. With varying degrees of success, Chicago already clones charter schools as a way to get around the charter cap.

Top 10 Party High Schools In America

Looking over the annual awards for alternative weeklies I came across this education-related item from the Orlando Weekly:: Atomic Prom, which lists the top 10 party high schools in America. "Newsweek has published a list of 100 American high schools that “do the best job of preparing average students for college.” But college is about far more than learning..." There's also lots of more serious-minded stuff you can check it out here.

Sylvan Sued

If you think it's just the free, government-paid tutoring that is sometimes problematic, check out this Law.com article (Law.com - Sylvan Center Told to Refund Tutoring Costs) about how a New York City mom says she borrowed $11k to get both her kids tutoring, but didn't see as much improvement as promised in Sylvan marketing materials. So she sued. And the preliminary findings went in her favor. Of course, most states promise kids an education, and not all of them get that, either.

PEN NewsBlast Guru Rides Off Into The Sunset

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The news is at least a week old, but I would be remiss if I failed to notice that the infamous Howie Schaffer, who authored and popularized the PEN Weekly Newsblast e-newsletter and has been a great friend to this blog, is off to Diversity Best Practices, an organization dedicated to "improving cultural and racial sensitivity in the workplace." Longtime readers will recall that Schaffer was profiled as one of the HotSeat interviews early last year, in which he opined on all sorts of interesting things. "On the HotSeat, "SuperHowie" Schaffer slams empty school reform ideas and lame blogs, comes clean about his sketchy past as a spammer, crushes on his favorite education writers (platonically, of course), and claims that the Blast is an equal-opportunity critic. Right, Howie." Congrats and condolences. Stay in touch.

Parents, Kids, Librarians Get Ready

Parents and teachers (and Harry Potter fans) would do well to remember that the latest (last) Potter book is out at midnight Thursday, according to Chicagoist (Libraries Gear up for Potter mania). "Unless you’ve been living under a rock since February, you already know that the seventh and final chapter in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows, will be released on July 21 at 12:01 a.m."

What Do People Really Think About NCLB?

What do people really think about NCLB? ETS will attempt to answer that question a little later today with the release of their big survey on the public's attitudes towards the law. "This year’s survey titled, “Standards, Accountability and Flexibility: Americans Speak on No Child Left Behind Reauthorization,” examines the public's views on what direction the nation should take moving forward as Congress considers reauthorizing the law. The survey was conducted for ETS by the bipartisan opinion research team of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. and The Winston Group." If you hurry, you can make it over there on time: 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.; Phoenix Park Hotel, Ballroom, 520 North Capitol Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Spellings, Miller, et al are supposed to be there. All bets point to a much more positive result than the one from a couple weeks ago.

Big Stories Of The Day (June 19)

Interview With Education Secretary Margaret Spellings Real Clear Politics
I recently had the opportunity to interview Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings about the administration's push to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.

Mental Health Consultants for Preschools Surprise with Their Success Courant
States across the nation have experimented with placing mental health experts in preschool classrooms for about a decade. But while such programs can cost millions and look good, nobody has ever been sure they work.

California Schools Collect Student Data to Help Kids NPR
Two schools in California hope collecting data on students' progress will enable teachers to tailor an instructional program that will help students succeed on state-mandated skills tests.

Schools Plan to Pay Cash for Marks NYT
New York City students could earn as much as $500 a year for doing well on standardized tests and showing up for class in a new program to begin this fall.

High-fives violate 'no-touching' policy at school CNN
Read full story for latest details.

The Worst Cheese Sandwich Ever

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"An effective alternate meal has to do two things: meet federal nutritional standards and flunk child taste tests," according to this recent LA Times article on schools' effective -- but tough-minded -- efforts to get parents to pay up on their children's cafeteria bills. "The cheese sandwich, typically served on untoasted whole wheat bread, apparently qualifies as one perfectly healthy stinker of a meal."

Vallas Ditches Own Going-Away Party

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There's a great overview of the Vallas years in Philly by Susan Snyder from Sunday's Inquirer (Vallas in with roar, out with rancor) that details the tumultuous last days of Vallas in Philly, plus the deterioriation -- ignored nationally and in the press -- of Vallas' tenure there.

High-Tech Paycheck & Report Card Problems In LA and Chicago

All teachers in LA and Chicago want is to get paid on time -- and in the right amounts -- and not to have to write end-of year grades and report cards by hand. As Andrew Trotter describes in this EdWeek story (Glitches in Los Angeles Payroll System Spark Furor), problems switching to a new payroll system have been enormous, and so far at least neither the consultants (Deloitte) or the software maker (SAP) are accepting blame. In Chicago, the largely unreported problems include paychecks and student grades -- leaving teachers and parents in the lurch when it comes to finishing out the year, figuring out who has to go to summer school, and long lines in the summer heat.

Jay Mathews On Michelle Rhee: Didn't I Just Say That?

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One of the challenges of blogging all the time is that you end up thinking -- true or not -- that you already thought and said nearly everything you later read. Take today's Jay Mathews piece in the Washington Post (Maverick Teachers' Key D.C. Moment), in which he fleshes out the significance of fresh-faced Michelle Rhee being given the top spot over the DC public schools, describing her as "the first of their generation of educational innovators named to head a major school system and a symbol of their efforts to help inner-city children." Hmm. Good point. However, in one of my best posts from last week (as well as in a WAMU segment), I described her thus: "Young, female, and a minority, Rhee is...the first of her school reform cohort to take step into a big, real-world education job, and as such is the focus of the expectations and hopes of whole slew of TFA-type educationistas who hope to follow Rhee into superintendencies and more." But oh well, it's a blog, and I'm sure I'm not as original a thinker as I think I am. Plus which, I've got some other issues with the piece -- mainly that it reads like a big wet kiss to TFA, and by extension KIPP, which Mathews might want to recuse himself from writing about in news pieces at this point.

Big Stories Of The Day (June 18)

Long Reviled, Merit Pay Gains Among Teachers NYT
Minnesota’s $86 million teacher professionalization and merit pay initiative got a lift when teachers voted overwhelmingly to expand it in Minneapolis.

For Bush, 'No Child' a hard act to follow Baltimore Sun
But his push this year to renew the law has made little progress. The administration is redoubling its lobbying efforts - including enlisting first lady Laura Bush - against opposition from both ends of the political spectrum.

Backlash against 'zero tolerance' in schools MSNBC
Lawmakers in several states say "zero tolerance" policies in schools have resulted in many punishments that lack common sense, and are seeking to loosen the restrictions.

Parents like No Child Left Behind, just not in their children's school Poconos Record
Parents of public school students tend to believe the landmark education law No Child Left Behind is a good idea — except when it comes to their own schools.

Teachers Say NCLB Has Changed Classroom Practice Ed Week
A new study tracking the classroom impact of the No Child Left Behind Act in California, Georgia, and Pennsylvania suggests that teachers are adjusting their teaching practices in response to the law—but not always in ways that educators and policymakers might want.

The Best Of The Week (June 11-17)

Campaign 2008
Whirlwind Whitmire Takes Campaign '08 By Storm
EdWeek Slams KIPP, Issues Report, Gives It All Away
Dodd Staffer Moves To Campaign

Urban Education
Hyping DC's Michelle Rhee
Well-Dressed Reformers Hired To Run Districts Across Nation
Do Lotteries Really Work?

NCLB News
Adults Create Test Anxiety, Not Kids
Not Much To Learn About NCLB At Reality Check '08
King Of Smug
"Your Mama" & National Standards

Media Watch
Casey Journalism Awards Feature Strong Education Writing
Preschool Fever And The Press
Overplaying The Student Loan Scandal?
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Starts School Integration Blog
Pros and Cons Of Collaborative News-Gathering
Media Fellowship Applications Decline

School Life
"Secretary Spellings Walks Into A Bar..."
Cheating Shoes
'Extreme' Cafeteria Food Fights In The YouTube Era

Cafeteria Food Fights In The YouTube Era

"The Internet is fueling an extreme version of the high-school food fight, threatening innocent teachers and students with ham sandwiches, eggs and rotten tomatoes," according to this article (Internet fuelling extreme food fighting, police warn). "Police said Thursday that students are using the Internet to prepare for the fights, then posting videos on websites such as YouTube."

Indeed -- here's just one example:

A Familiar Sentiment: Adults Create Test Anxiety, Not Kids

Over at The Quick Ånd The End, Sara Mead's post about what's really causing kids so much test anxiety (teachers and administrators) is good -- so good in fact it reminds me that I said pretty much exactly the same thing nine months ago. To her credit, Mead adds some ideas for how to address the problem. Now when Senator Clinton next talks about sources and solutions for test anxiety the idea can properly be attributed.

Do Charter School (And Magnet) Lotteries Really Work?

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One of the most persistent -- and hotly disputed -- criticisms of charter schools is that they don't take all kids. This is old news. But one key issue that I've never seen addressed is the notion that the list of kids who win the lottery to get into a charter is substantially different from the list of kids who actually enroll and start school in the fall. The perception is that the two lists are substantially different, and that kids who drop out of the process or decide to go elsewhere aren't replaced by lottery kids but rather by principals' choices -- and that there's little or no monitoring. Have charter schools addressed this concern, and is it legitimate or not really that much of a problem?

Overplaying The Student Loan Scandal?

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While the Times, Post, and everyone else continues to play the student loan thing for all its worth (House Panel Passes Bill to Cut Subsidies to Student Lenders), along comes the ominously-named Business Media Institute to ask whether there's as much real damage going on as there is simple media and political opportunism (Media Exaggerate Student Loan 'Crisis'). "Evidence of wrongdoing has been limited to only two lenders and a handful of college administrators who have resigned, fired or been put on leave," according to BMI. "No criminal charges have been filed. Still, the media act like all lenders and colleges have done irreparable harm to all their students."

Big Stories Of The Day (Friday June 15)

Not really any single big story today, but..

Explosives Are Found in Lockers in New Jersey School NYT
A bomb squad defused 16 gunpowder-filled devices at Wayne Valley High School after 1,400 students were removed from the bulding.

Do longer hours equal more learning? Christian Science Monitor
Pressured to produce better students, 10 Massachusetts public schools pack more hours into their schedules.

Substitute Teacher Granted New Trial in Porn Case Washington Post
A former Connecticut middle-school teacher was granted a new trial today at her sentencing hearing, where she had faced up to 40 years in prison for exposing her students to pornographic material on a classroom computer.

A Sense of Anxiety a Shirt Won’t Cover NYT
Troubled by enlarged male breasts, boys are turning to surgery. Waiting may be wiser.

Getting Rid Of District Barriers in Omaha (And Elsewhere?)

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Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for sending me this story about how Omaha is potentially going from being the most racially divided school district in the nation to one of the most integrated -- largely by breaking down the barriers between city and suburban district boundaries (here). What if NCLB did the same, requiring the choice program include neighboring districts as well as schools within the district? Better yet, get rid of city-only urban district boundaries entirely and turn everyone into Charlotte-Mecklenberg, or Miami-Dade, etc.

Pros and Cons Of Collaborative News-Gathering

I just finished doing a short end-of-school segment on Vocalo, Chicago's new collaborative radio station, with my friend Dan Weissmann, and at roughly the same time came across this post from Mediashift (a PBS blog) about "Collaborative" Radio, which sounds like an audio version of what we're doing here to some extent and most directly over on District 299

My initial reaction is that for collaborative media to really work (audio or print), readers have to be willing to share information as well as opinions and analysis.  Right now, the facts (such as they are) come mostly from the press and the researchers.  In a perfect world, readers (collaborators) would provide more information -- documents, emails, things they've seen and heard -- to go along with their opinions.  I've learned a ton of things reading comments on this blog and my other one, but the tidbits of real live information come here and there. 

Not Much To Learn About NCLB At Reality Check '08

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In Hillary: Leaving Children Behind? Probably Not, Reality Check '08 does a frighteningly amateurish job of explaining HRC's votes, positions, and all the rest --mostly taken from the Clinton website, it seems. I hope the site -- another of these FactCheck-style blogs -- does a better job on other issues than it seems to be doing on education.

Big Stories Of The Day (Thursday June 14)

Evidence thin on student gains from NCLB tutoring Ed Week
Five years after the No Child Left Behind Act became law, there's still a dearth of research evidence to show whether one of the federal measure's least-tested innovations?a provision that calls for underperforming schools to provide after-school tutoring?has an impact on student achievement.

Virginia Tech report calls for better communication USA Today
Improved communication may be the key to preventing the repeat of a Virginia Tech-like tragedy on other college campuses, a report issued today by three federal agencies concludes.

In high schools, a 'B' is new 'C' Post-Gazette
In high schools, a 'B' is new 'C'. Higher grades not matched by higher test scores.

Marketers Are Joining the Varsity NYT
Athletes, if they are talented, train hard and get a break or two, can climb the sports ladder from high school to college to the pros. Madison Avenue, sensing a lucrative opportunity, is heading the other way.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund Starts School Integration Blog

There's always room for another education blog, especially one with a clear and focused agenda that's not already being met by someone else. And so it's nice to hear that the NAACP LDF has started its new Integration Blog, which features "in-depth analysis and background of the voluntary school integration cases now before the Supreme Court, and will serve as a clearinghouse for responses to and commentary on the Court's upcoming decision, which could arrive as soon as tomorrow." Of course, school integration efforts aren't doing that well right now, and no blog is going to turn that around anytime soon. But there are a lot of folks -- on the Hill, in the districts, and in newsrooms -- who could benefit from a more regular dose of school-related SCOTUS coverage. Some tasty-seeming posts from the past few days include: Desegregation Dollars, "Leaving Integration Behind", Can Integrated Schools Fight Crime?, and Briefing Paper on Seattle and Louisville Cases. Check it out.

Best Of The Blogs

I read them -- so you don't have to...

EdWeek Debunks Teacher Attrition Myth EIA
Teacher turnover is roughly in line with that in other professions with similar educational requirements for entry, such as nursing and accounting. And that is so even with the pressure on school districts to get rid of teachers in their first two or three years before tenure protections make it more difficult.

The Carnival Of Education: Week 123 Ed Wonks
Here's this week's roundup of entries from around the EduSphere. Unless clearly labeled otherwise, all entries this week were submitted by the writers themselves, even this school-related limerick.

Virtual Worlds for Kids Entwined with Real World PBS Mediashift
While the media has been abuzz about Second Life and adult virtual worlds, a bevy of virtual worlds for kids have been even more popular than their adult counterparts.

School Water Fountains vs Bottled Water vs Toilet Water BizOfKnowledge
Kids at North Bend Middle School were told they couldn't bring in bottled water to school.Reason - some were smuggling in alcohol. Bigger reason - they didn't want to drink from the water fountains. For an English class, one student decided to investigate which had the least bacteria, the water fountains or the toilet bowls. The water fountains lost.

Cheating Shoes

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Those Chinese kids do everything better, it seems. "Police had found some 42 pairs of so-called "cheating shoes" with transmitting and reception ability, selling for about 2,000 yuan each, in a flat in Shenyang, the provincial capital, state media said Thursday, adding that they--along with "cheating wallets" and hats--had proved popular this year." (Three detained in high-tech China exam cheats). Maybe this is what we'd have to look forward to with that new national test we're on the verge of having:

Hyping Michelle Rhee

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Back in the 1990's, the big new thing was to have "nontraditional" folks -- generals, US attorneys, former governors -- come in and run big school systems. But they were most of them older, and male, and many of them white. Young, female, and a minority, Rhee is the next iteration of the same appealing if not always effective idea. She's also the first of her school reform cohort to take step into a big, real-world education job, and as such is the focus of the expectations and hopes of whole slew of TFA-type educationistas who hope to follow Rhee into superintendencies and more, and are counting on her success to help pave the way. Like others who are the subject of inordinate hype -- think Barack Obama -- she's unlikely to be able to be as transformative as some hope. But she still represents a shift.

Big Stories Of The Day (Wednesday June 13)

Fenty's Picks Have Ties to System, And Its Reforms Washington Post
The two top people chosen to lead the D.C. public schools under Mayor Adrian M. Fenty are both from a program that has played a leading role in streamlining the school system's troubled human resources department. PLUS: More Criticism Over Fenty's Secrecy

When States Seize Schools Ed Week
Patience has its limits, even among some of the staunchest supporters of public education, when schools consistently fall short of stipulated outcomes. But this intuitively appealing approach promises far more than it can deliver.

Study: bullies prone to sleep problems USA Today
Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed urban elementary school parents and teachers and found that kids identified as bullies were more than twice as likely as others to have a condition called sleep-disordered breathing, a catch-all for sleep-time respiratory problems as mild as habitual snoring and as serious as obstructive sleep apnea, in which a person actually stops breathing temporarily.

"Secretary Spellings Walks Into A Bar..."

Susan Ohanian is working up an old-school Spellings joke and needs your help (NCLB Outrages). I know there are some good jokesters out there.

Breaking News: Well-Dressed Reformers Hired To Run School Districts Across The Nation

Inspired by DC Mayor Fenty's surprise appointment of school reformer Michelle Rhee to head the District school system on Tuesday, elected officials across the nation have scrambled to announce their own hires from outside of traditional education circles:  In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg on Tuesday evening fired Joel Klein and hired Teach For America Founder Wendy Kopp, despite the absence of any previous district experience.  "She's been running the system for the past 10 years anyway," said Bloomberg in announcing the change. "We might as well make it official."  New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced his plan to fire incoming chief Paul Vallas before he even starts, to be replaced by New Leaders For New Schools co-founder Jonathon Schnur.  "I met him at a party and he seemed really smart," said Nagin.  "Vallas is a nice guy, too, but I figure we should give this new generation of reformers a chance to show their stuff at running something."

Casey Journalism Awards Feature Strong Education Writing

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The 2007 Casey Journalism awards are out, including a ton of great work around children, youth, and family issues. As you'll see, the awardees make for some tough reading. This is no Paris Hilton goes to jail type of journalism. But it's worth it. Some of my favorites include Jean Rimbach and Kathleen Carroll, The (Bergen) Record, “Lessons in Waste.” A four-month investigation into fraud and waste in New Jersey’s preschool program – the most ambitious and expensive in the nation – demonstrates masterful dissection of records, crowned with skilled storytelling. Jennifer Torres, The (Stockton) Record, "A Future in the Fields." The series explores the benefits and barriers in schooling nearly 11,000 children of migrant farm laborers in San Joaquin County. And two hometown stars -- Stephanie Banchero, Chicago Tribune, “Doing the Home Work.” Too few stories focus on the plight of single fathers; this one is beautifully written, meticulously researched, unflinching and fair. And Julia McEvoy and Chicago Public Radio staff, "Chicago Matters: Valuing Education" This yearlong project provides a powerful public service, accomplished with depth, breadth and creativity. In addition to the radio presentations, the production team convened community outreach meetings, developed a mentorship program for rookie reporters and launched an interactive Web site – complete with blogs, essays and student artwork.

King Of Smug

Eduwonk tries to make light of being called smug (and intentionally bewildering) in a recent letter to the Washington Post (The Reviews Are In!). But the description isn't that far off. Ever more, Eduwonk's never wrong, never unsure, never not in the know. All that from a meager year spent turning off the lights at the end of the Clinton administration.

School Reform Outsider Hired To Run DC Schools

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What to make of today's announcement that Michelle Rhee, until now honcho of The New Teacher Project, has been appointed to run the DC public school system? It's an interesting choice, to say the least -- exciting, a little bit nervous-making. Rhee is a standout, there's no doubt, and has accomplishments coming out of her ears. And she exemplifies the outside-in move that I've been whining about these past few months -- a nonprofit mover and shaker moving into the system and building her own experience (and hopefully improving the district), rather than continuing to work from outside. Previous posts: Can Education Entrepreneurs Crack Public Education? The Sundance Of School Reform Somewhat Annoying Latecomers Try New School... Finding The Hidden Gems In The System

Continue reading "School Reform Outsider Hired To Run DC Schools" »

Whirlwind Whitmire Takes Campaign '08 By Storm

USA Today's Richard Whitmire is all over the place these days, from a letter in the Times decrying the lack of education attention in the 2008 campaign to a recent announcement that EWA (the ed writers association) is ramping up the pressure. Current EWA board president, Whitmire says that EWA has got one of the top candidates to agree to a one on one sitdown on education topics. Maybe they'll be crazy enough to let me sit on the panel and tear into the candidates like you know I like to do. In the meantime, why isn't Ed In '08 involved, I wonder? Organizations are so strange.

EdWeek Slams KIPP, Issues Report, Gives It All Away

Style and hype aside, the big slam on KIPP schools has been that it can't keep its students -- they drop out or return to their old schools where things are easier and less structured, a dynamic that at a certain point sort of defeats the purpose. EdWeek takes a look at this in a recent article: KIPP Student-Attrition Patterns Eyed. "Critics argue that the loss of students at some of the network's public schools is alarmingly high." This is gonna make Uncle Jay Mathews very angry, indeed.

Speaking of EdWeek, the 2nd Annual Diplomas Count is here, including a fun interactive map that allows you to view and compare graduation rates by school district. Plus, the site is totally free until June 25 -- no three-story limits or nothin'.

"Your Mama" & National Standards

Professor Dorn schools just about everyone in his recent post about accountability politics and national standards, focusing in particular on the issue of cut scores: "Whether one labels the tiers Expert, Proficient, Basic, and Below Basic; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue; or Venti, Grande, and Tall, tying values to ordinal tiers doesn't tell us anything about the tiers themselves other than that someone wanted to label them. Confusing cut scores with rigor is an act of policy machismo, not common sense. "Yo Mama's so wimpy, she's satisfied with Mississippi's cut scores." Nice.

Big Stories Of The Day (June 12)

States Looking to Expand Charter Schooling PBS
States are increasingly requesting federal support for charter schools -- publicly funded schools that are given more autonomy than their peers. The NewsHour looks at the movement to create the schools and questions raised about their effectiveness. [Meanwhile: Texas Struggles to Shut Failing Charter Schools Ed Week.]

Higher Pay Urged to Fight Dearth of Math and Science Teachers Wash Post
Higher starting salaries, more rigorous teacher training programs and additional support for first year teachers are just a few of the incentives needed to deal with a projected shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers across the country by 2015, according to a group of business leaders.

Advertising: Marketers Are Joining the Varsity NYT
Marketing and media companies are now capitalizing on consumer interest in high school sports and becoming big boosters of them.

Dodd Staffer Moves To Campaign

As other may already know, MaryEllen McGuire, Dodd's former education staffer, has apparently moved to the Dodd 2008 campaign, taking the deputy policy director spot. Sharon Lewis is covering K12 issues in Dodd's legislative office, and Taniesha Woods has postsecondary. Congrats, condolences, per usual.

Preschool Fever And The Press

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Journalists need to watch out for preschool fever, warns former LA Times reporter Richard Lee Colvin in this post from his generally pro-preschool blog Early Stories (Preschool as Crime-fighting). Glad to see it. There's all too much preschool fever out there as it is, among advocates and elected officials. Another slew of soft news stories would just about do me in.

Media Fellowship Applications Decline

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One of the little-known challenges of running yearlong media fellowship programs is that it's hard to get top-notch people to participate. According to this NYT article, it's getting even harder of late, numerically and otherwise (Fewer Journalists Seeking Fellowships), The Knight program at Stanford did not receive any applications from employees at The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and some other large newspapers.

National (Yawn) Standards (Again)

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The Washington Post editorial page comes out for national standards (Why We Need National Standards) and -- no big surprise -- EdSec Spellings comes out against them (Let the States Set Their Own Standards). Is there any new news here? Not much. Just summertime filler, I guess. All the more irrelevant given the stumbling bumbling efforts of the current Congress (Why Washington Can’t Get Much Done NYT).

Big Stories Of The Day (Monday June 11)

House Panel Votes to Slash €Reading First€™ Aid EdWeek
House Democrats want to put their own stamp on federal education spending by increasing Title I and other programs they favor and slashing Reading First and other priorities set by President Bush.

The Class-Consciousness Raiser NYT
In the nation’s classrooms, middle class teachers increasingly encounter poor students, often with disastrous results. Ruby Payne says she has the secrets to help them cross the great divide.

Rating Education Gains Washington Post
We seem to be doing a bit better educating our most disadvantaged students. But many educators think that is not enough.

Students Fill Guidance Counselor Gap CBS News
At the end of 11th grade, Corniche Bunton learned something disturbing: she was 112 credits short and might not graduate from Oakland Technical High School on time.

A Plan to Pay for Top Scores on Some Tests Gains Ground NYT
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is receptive to a controversial idea to offer cash incentives to students, paid for with private money.

The Best Of The Week (June 4-11)

Campaign 2008
Santa Fe Reporter Challenges Richardson's Education Claims
Richardson "Wins" Nonexistent Education Portion Of Dem Debate

On The Hill
"Finding, Grinding, & Minding:" How Ocean Spray Gets In The Schoolhouse Door

Policy Watch
Extending The Day Without Breaking The Bank
Cheating, Charters, And More Cheating
Teachers Threatened With Job Loss For Supporting Charter
Everything I Needed To Know...I Learned From This Article

NCLB News
Achievement Up, Gaps Narrowed Since 2002
USA Today Overviews States' Testing Games
What To Make Of The IES Comparability Report
Lots Of New Details, Not So Many New Ideas

Foundation Follies
The Multiple Providers: The Sanjaya Of School Reform?
Somewhat Annoying Latecomers
John Bailey At SchoolNet Conference

Media Matters
Time To Update The Map Of Education Blogs
New Stats On Internet Dangers Dispell Many Myths
Chicago Paper Reinforces Depleted Education Team
Freedman Vs. Mathews, The College Admissions Showdown
15 Journos Get Hechinger Fellowships
Bad News, Good News

School Life
Kid Didn't Get Into Private School? We'll Help You
What's Wrong With This Picture?

What To Make Of The IES Comparability Report

In no particular order, some of the small but important things to glean from this week's slew of NCLB-related reports: (1) Why didn't the Secretary stop the IES from trampling over all the "good" CEP coverage with its comparability report? (2) Gotta love the "I'm not judging" rhetoric from the Secretary, who's still not convinced about national standards (for good reason, (3) Anyone else notice that high standards (NC) don't necessarily translate into higher achievement (SC just as high on NAEP)?, (4) Or, that Kennedy has already bigfooted Dodd on the national standards issue?, (5) Last but not least, I must really be on the Department's shit list since no one invited me to call in about the IES report.

Coverage:
Study: ‘Proficiency’ on State Tests, NAEP Often a Mismatch Ed Week
State reading and math standards vary dramatically, federal report says AP
States Found to Vary Widely on Education NYT

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