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Double-Dutch Championships This Weekend

A little bit of lighter news to end the week.  The international double-dutch championships are this Sunday at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (anyone want to go?), and apparently double-dutch has not only gone national -- a suburban North Carolina team is a top contender -- but it's also a big deal in Japan, which regularly sends teams that win. Check out some clips from last year's championship: Who needs video games or even Dance Dance Revolution? 

Around The Blogosphere In Under A Minute


DwrblackglobesmallerThe best of the blogosphere in under a minute:

"Adam Honeysett over at the USDE sends me an email now and then. I don’t know who he is, but I like him," writes Sari at the Schools For Tomorrow blog (False, cheery optimism from the feds). "He always makes me feel that our country is making great strides in education. Which, of course, it probably isn’t."

"It's likely a presidential endorsement will come out of the union's board of directors meeting on December 7-8," writes Mike A (Has NEA Waited Too Long?).  "How will the union deal with its national and state officers campaigning on opposite sides?"

Other interesting posts of the day: What Exactly are Kids Reading in those “Reading Blocks"? Britannica Blog...Must Be Slow At Disneyland  Joe Williams...Tide turns against testing in NC InsideSchools...The Education Questions That Didn't Get Asked Campaign K12...Crockpot Schools The AFT Blog...Spend Unused NCLB's Tutoring Funds on PreK, Mead Says The Hoff.


Chicago Students Killed -- And Killing

Eric_walkerHow many kids are dying -- and how the media has covered or ignored the situation -- has been a hot topic for the past six months in Chicago, in large part due to a Tribune story showing that some 32 Chicago Public Schools children had died within just part of a year. 

Now, following on the news that a University of Chicago student was killed by a teenage CPS student named Eric Walker (pictured) , one former Chicago teacher writes in to say that the public and the press and the city shouldn't just be concerned about the victims of the crimes, but also the perpetrators:

"CPS students are both killed and are killers. CPS wants to focus the media attention on the innocent and ignore the failures of the schools to be able to address the needs of the once upon a time primary student Eric Walker," writes the former teacher, who worked in a school for troubled children.  "That the needs of the Eric Walkers enrolled in the CPS are many is unquestionable, that the funds needed to provide extensive supports to such children are not in place is also unquestionable."

Read the full comment here.

US News Vs. Newsweek -- Vs. NCLB

Cover_hp90x123_2At first glance, I didn't realize that the Best High Schools list that's out today came from US News, not Newsweek.  Newsweek has long reigned supreme in the high school ranking business, much to the frustration of US News.  (US News considers itself the king of school rankings, based in large part on its ginormously popular rankings of colleges and universities.)

So now US News has its own list, and we're left figuring out what to make of this.  Are there lots of overlaps between the lists?  No idea -- let me know if anyone's figured that out  Which list is better?  I'm not sure.  The Newsweek list is more pure, focusing on the rigorous and more uniform Advanced Placement courses and tests.  The US News list includes other factors.   What I'd really love to see is a comparison between the two magazines and AYP.

Pointy-Headed Education Ideas, Meet Mr. Politics

GreaterthanI think weighted student funding (the idea that schools should be funded based on students' needs not a simple headcount or average teacher salaries) is a good one.  And New Jersey appears to be making a push to implement just such a plan (Corzine Is Set to Revamp School Aid Formula).  Let me know when it passes, though.  As with many pointy-headed education ideas (performance pay, national standards, etc.), the politics aren't as thoroughly considered or addressed as the underlying idea.  And, as we all know, politics > policy.  Just ask Mayor Bloomberg, who tried to bring WSF into the New York City school system and ended up with a much-diluted result.  Oh, hey, there politics are now:  Republicans worry school funding revamp will be rushed (Newsday). Just in time. 

Lace 'Em Up!

St_howto1_fImpress your kids (or students or colleagues) with these fancy lacing patterns from Wired (How To Lace Your Shoes), courtesy of a guy named "Professor Shoelace." 

They are 1) Runner's stitch, 2) Hacky weave , 3) Skater special, and the 4) Two-tone tie.  Instructions included.

Let Down By Anderson Cooper

Demdebate3The Columbia Journalism Review weighs in this week on the absence of education in this year's politics -- a strong and welcome arrival (if not particularly full of insight for anyone who's already following the topic).  Its main contribution is to quantify the dropoff in Republican focus on the topic compared to eight years ago (ie, before 9-11), and to lambaste CNN for failing to ask more education-related questions during its most recent debate, even though many were submitted . Democratic plans, it's noted, focus mostly on higher ed and preK, not K12 - a claim that some would question. (Where's Education?)

Friday Morning News Roundup

Best High Schools US News
Using a formula produced in collaborat ion with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 data research and analysis business run by Standard & Poor's, we put high schools in 40 states through a three-step analysis.

No_child_playHelicopter Parenting Turns Deadly New York Times
The author considers the suicide of the teenager Megan Meier and the loss of parental boundaries.

Cynical NCLB Causes Crisis in Tucson Tucson Daily
Why do TUSD and other districts play a game they cannot possibly win? Because it is easier to conform to an amoral law than to challenge it.

'No Child...' makes the grade Boston Globe
Nilaja Sun's "No Child . . .," a one-woman play drawn from her experiences teaching theater in some of New York City's toughest public schools, teeters precariously on the edge of sentimental cliche. But it is saved, gloriously, by Sun's virtuosic performance, by her deep empathy, and by her intelligent, clear-eyed, and sometimes painfully funny take on the absurdly dysfunctional state of public education.

Two Takes On Hillary's Education Plan

2007_07_16_hil_romCharlie Barone and Joe Williams take on Hillary's education plan and come to different conclusions.  Barone says the plan's detailed and ambitious (Hillary Clinton's Big Plan) but lacks enough substance and reminds him of a French farce.  Long, but good.  Joe says his hat's off to HRC for raising the ante (The System Is Not Working) and links her sharp rhetoric to recent comments about getting rid of "crummy" teachers. Neither comments on the news that Hillary's camp apparently planted the gays in the military question that was used to skewer Mitt Romney in the debate last night. 

Education Blogs. I Read Them -- So You Don't Have To.

Wonder_breadMichele at EdWeek sorts through the questions sent in to the Republican presidential candidates (The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate). Joetta Sack at ASBJ says Hate NCLB? Ron Paul's your man. BoardBuzz says that the PIRLS reading scores provide surprising results if you look past misleading and simplistic comparisons and statistical significance. Over in AFT-Land, they're making fun of the EdTrust's Russlyn Ali for hyping NCLB in her LA Times debate against Richard Rothstein (The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread).  Teacher Magazine points to new research suggesting better forms of PD (Let's Talk).  Mike Antonucci riffs on plans for a teacher-led school in Ohio (The Lines Are Drawn in Toledo).  Early Stories returns with a trio of new posts, including "Babysitting" in 'Bama?Joanne Jacobs writes about Texas' rejection of Everday Math textbooks (If math were a color). 

Blaming Readers For Bad Education News

Colbert Is it readers' faults that education coverage skews negative?  The editor of the Greensboro Times News-Record seems to think so (Covering education). His explanations are the usual ones -- journalists look for unusual events, and like stories with a broad interest to readers who aren't parents.  But that's not all.  He blames readers for not remembering positive stories, and takes frighteningly little responsibility for newspapers creating negative and inaccurate perceptions of schools.  Which they do.  Because their editors most of them want to be covering something "more important." 

By the way -- how is your local paper doing?

Where Education Fits In Campaign Politics

Check out this video of the Ed In '08 politics and education panel that took place in New Hampshire on Monday night, which includes "national" pundits like Dan Balz and EJ Dionne:

Thursday Morning News

SpellingsxStudy Finds States on Board With English-Proficiency Tests Ed Week
A new report finds all states and the District of Columbia have now ushered in new English-language-proficiency tests to comply with NCLB requirements for those still learning the language.
2 Principals Are Honored For Transforming Schools Washington Post
When Suzanne Maxey arrived as the new principal at Seneca Valley High School in 2003, students and teachers were struggling against a pervasive feeling that the Germantown campus had descended into mediocrity.

National Math Panel Unveils Draft Report AP
The long-awaited report concludes that students’ success in math, and algebra specifically, hinges largely on mastering a clearly defined set of topics in that subject in early grades.

 Fenty, Rhee May Close 24 D.C. Schools by Summer 2010 Wash Post
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee are considering closing 19 schools next summer and five others by summer 2010, according to a confidential document prepared by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education.  PLUS: Short Notice on School Plan Angers Council.

A New "Coach" For Education Reporters

51474675hh_d021887059Looking for work?  The Education Writers Association is advertising to fill a new "public editor" position. 

It's not so much a media critic or watchdog who gives a voice to public concerns about education coverage, like other public editor spots at the NYT, etc.  The new EWA spot is more about providing a journalistic coach for newsroom reporters who want to do better work, with some gentle suggestions to the rest of us along the way.  You know, constructive criticism and all that.

Obviously it's not for me, but what do I know?  It sounded cool enough for EWA to Lumina, Pew, Joyce, and others to pony up the money.  For all the details, go to ewa@ewa.org

"Musharraf Resigns" And Other Education News

N2295 The Ed Wonks have their Carnival of Education every week on Wednesdays -- check it out --  but every day is carnival day here.  Diane Ravitch is all over the Times' goofy national testing endorsement (National Tests Keep the Districts Honest).  EdWeek's Campaign K12 blog (more active lately than EWA's version) says that Education is a 'Duty, Not a Passion' for Dem presidential candidates. Indeed.  Joanne Jacobs revisits the whole persistently dangerous issue (Defining dangerous down).  But we already know that states and districts and teachers think uniformity and rigor are over-rated.  Charlie Barone points us to the Philadelphia Story, a package of pieces from the Philly Notebook that includes an impassioned essay by him. Andywonk digs into some new afterschool research and asks What About Striking A Deal Instead?.   The Biz Of Knowledge warns us that Kaplan Sets Sights on China.

Stick To The Status Quo

It's Wednesday and maybe you're thinking about sticking your neck out a little?  Suggest something new?  Try something different?  Maybe you should watch this snippet from Disney's "High School Musical" first:

Or, just because you're wondering what all the kids are talking about. 

Does "Reality-Based" Ed Policy Shop Stand A Chance?

KfranckKf_headshotSo the Forum for Education and Democracy has hired Kevin Franck from PFAW (pictured) and Beth Glenn from Cong. Eddie Bernice Johnson's office, and opened a DC office.  Will that make any real difference?  Maybe.  The organization sure has its work cut out for it, considering the clutter of advocates and policy shops in town, including some like the Public Education Network and the other 140 organizations that signed that Joint statement.  Also, DC is notoriously hard on anything with the words "practitioner" or "academic" in it -- both of which are at the core of what the FED is all about.  But they're off to a good start, with kind words from Reg Weaver in their press release and a nice writeup from Ed Daily.

UPDATE:  One of these two men is the real Kevin Franck.  It's not the one that I originally posted (on the left).  It's the guy with the nice tie on the right.  Apologies to one and all.  No idea who that other guy is.   

Clean Up NAEP Variations Before Giving It More Work

Frisbee15150The NY Times editorial page jumps into education waters with this strangely mis-timed clunker on national testing (Test and Switch).  In it, the Times calls for various baby steps towards a rigorous and comparable national test -- a NAEP-created test offered to states, a national list of states using weak homegrown versions.  That's all well and good, I suppose, except for the fact that NAEP is having its own uniformity and rigor problems.  According to the NY Sun and... no one else ...  some districts are handing out NAEP accommodations like those cheap Frisbees they give out when a new bank branch opens on the corner. Maybe NAEP should handle that one before we give it a broader scope of work?  Or maybe I just woke up on the wrong side again.

Weekly Education Showdown

54905main_papers_washpostThis week's showdown between Times and Post education columnists goes to the Post's Jay Mathews, who tells the story of how a math professor from California feels wronged by a recent Fordham Foundation report on AP and IB quality.  It's newsy, full of conflict, and fun (The Secret Gripes of Professor Klein).  No matter -- this time -- that it's about Mathews' pet subjects, AP and IB programs. 

Over at the Times, Joseph Berger tries to grab Boomer parents' attention with a piece about how slick college applications have gotten (A College Application and a Slick Sales Pitch).  I feel like I've read that one before.  Plus I don't have a college-age kid. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Frenchvogueandre112607The Ed. Debate, in Dribs and Drabs EdWeek
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the only Democratic candidate to back merit pay for individual teachers, didn’t have a chance to tackle the question that night.

Spotting Signs of Sexual Misconduct in Schools NPR
Guests discuss sex abuse in the school system -- the emotional impact on abused students, and how to spot warning signs and prevent abuse before it starts.

UFT's Drive For Charters Nears a Success NY Sun
An overwhelming vote by teachers at the Merrick Academy–Queens Public Charter School earlier this month could make it the first city charter school to voluntarily join the union in several years.

Mass. Weighs Legislation on Twins in Classrooms NPR
Massachusetts is among a growing number of states considering legislation that would give parents the right to decide whether their twins (or triplets) should be placed in the same class at school, or whether they should be separated.

Yes, that's a bearded drag queen on the cover of French Vogue.  No, there's no education angle.

"Who's Who?" Update

New_whos_who_logo The "Who's Who?" page continues to grow as more folks add, edit, and correct information on the page. There's a new page for Teacher Leaders that is quickly filling up. Over at Writers-Journalists, the team from the Columbus Dispatch is now listed.  Someone added NEKIA's Jim Kohlmoos to Thinkers-Talkers, among others. A Clinton-era Dem -- who knew? The Doers-Providers are too cool or too busy doing and providing to get themselves listed. Ditto for the Advisors-Leg. Staff.  Or maybe they're just recovering from the great NCLB reauthorization collapse of 2007.  Meanwhile, someone -- I think it was Sherman -- added some  Academics/Researchers so those folks aren't left out entirely. Thanks! 

Michelle Obama Made Me Do It

Obamaoprah_2Some of you like Barack, but I could look at Michelle Obama pretty much all day. (That's her next to Oprah at a recent campaign event, I think.)  Meanwhile in the edusphere:  A feverish Eduwonkette turns "Jingle Bells" into a NCLB ditty (Edu-Bells).  Teacher Leader Nancy Flanagan yells at us with her ALL-CAPS HEADLINE (TAUGHT to the TUNE of a HICKORY STICK).  Please stop that -- PEN NewsBlast, too, while I'm at it.  The AFTies go all Bell curve on us (This'll Spice Up The Reading Wars).  Then they join with Andywonk in lambasting the Fordham Foundation for some academic tinkering (Grading On The Curve?, Math Skills Optional).  Yes, AFT and Andy agree on something, sort of.  Over at WebWatch, we find out that transfers hurt the schools being left (Parent Twist On NCLB).  And the Hoff tells us that the House is all about making the grade (House Members Endorse NEA's Favorite Bills).  Any other good posts out there today that I missed?  Let me know.

A National Teachers' Strike Against NCLB

No one else seems as fascinated as I am by the current strikes going on by the screenwriters and the stagehands, though Slate agrees with me that the strikers are getting awfully cushy coverage from the press071125_grinch_broadway (Why newspapers love the striking screenwriters) and no one's been able to persuade me that celebrity parents shouldn't be out there handing out cocoa to teachers just like screenwriters when the occasion arises. But my latest thought is to wonder why don't we have a national teachers strike.  Not over specific contract terms, of course -- those vary locality by locality -- and not everywhere, since there aren't real unions in some states.  But why not a strike over larger issues, like salaries in general, education spending, or -- fun! -- against the evils of NCLB?  If those pencil-necked geeks can get more pay for Internet versions of The Daily Show, shouldn't good-hearted teachers of this nation be able to wrangle an end to ceaseless testing or an extra day of paid vacation for teaching everyone else's brats? I think they should.  And a strike on someone's big testing day in March would be extra delicious. 

Teachers Should Praise Effort, Not Accomplishment

We've heard a little about this before from Po Bronson and others, but hidden in a recent New York Times article is a description of a recent study showing how children react to different kinds of praise.  Praise them for successful completion of a task, and they are likely to pick less challenging work in the future -- and fib about their success if it's less than stellar.  Praise them for hard and persistent effort towards figuring a problem out, less so.

24shortcuts6501"Often parents and teachers unwittingly encourage this mind-set by praising children for being smart rather than for trying hard or struggling with the process. “One thing I’ve learned is that kids are exquisitely attuned to the real message, and the real message is, ‘Be smart,’” Professor Dweck said. “It’s not, ‘We love it when you struggle, or when you learn and make mistakes.’”

Check out the study and see if it resonates.  Or, is this simply a modern version of all that feel-good crap from the 1990s, repackaged to look new and shiny?

Tuesday Morning News Roundup

Education Not Significant '08 Issue, Analysts Say
Education has thus far not emerged as a major issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, and analysts are divided over whether it will.

Running From 'No Child' Washington Post
Mr. Romney has said he believes the "testing of our kids to be a good thing." He points to Massachusetts, which, nine years before No Child, instituted its own reforms of holding schools accountable for student achievement.  PLUS:  Senator seeks flexibility on No Child Left Behind Chattanooga Times

Schools Chief in New Orleans Faces Tough Road to Rebuilding PBS
John Merrow returns to New Orleans for an update on how the city's schools chief is faring in his attempts to enact change in a system still working to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Tutors for Toddlers Time
Call it kindercramming. These days one of the fastest-growing markets for after-school tutors is preschoolers and kindergartners, whose parents are hoping that if their kids learn to read before first grade, it will ultimately help them get into college and get good jobs.

Let's Get More Specific: What About A $100B Pledge?

471433852_2f84b0b913 Think that those Ed In '08 folks are really pushing the envelope when it comes to nonprofits getting directly involved in campaign politics? No doubt, they're working hard and having some success.  But the Broad/Gates education effort is perhaps the least vigorous and specific of those included in a recent Time article about nonprofits in politics.  Nonprofit-led demands including having candidates sign pledges that call for specific funding levels (HIV) and new policy initiatives (arts). That's why I say EI08 should go for something bigger and more concrete that 'specific and substantive discussion of education issues' or whatever their current language is.   But then again, I wanted them to fund a 24/7 education politics campaign blog, too, and look where that went. 

Obama Surges, But Not Because Of His Ed Plan

Obamaclass_2 Scott Elliott hashes over BHO's big plan (Obama's big plan is out).  But it's really Oprah that's doing all the good.  Michele at Campaign K12 says Mitt Romney Likes Testing. The AFTies have a face-off between Gifted Kids vs. Bubble Kids. The bubble kids would kick ass, right?  Kevin  Carey says the story's all wrong (Remedial Editing).  Journalists and editors, watch out.  Sherm loves him some Eduwonkette (NAEP Exemptions).  Or, is it just her tables that he loves?  Andywonk says that Performance Pay Is The New Vouchers!.  Joe at DFER details the Vigil To Protect New York City's Worst Teachers.  Sounds like a spinoff on "Save Our Failing Teachers" from last week.  Joanne Jacobs points out that 70 percent of college instructors are adjuncts (The lumpenprofessoriat). If higher ed can get rid of tenure it, why not K12?  The Wonks make appropriate fun of Sunday School For Atheists.

Bureaucratic Mindlessness, Freedom, and Moments Of Grace

04obsessions190 A free man sits in his apartment afraid to go outside except to go to work.  An alleged rape victim confesses that she helped imprison the wrong man just to hide an affair.  A judge agrees to retest a DNA sample after years of hand-written pleas from jail.  My part in Sunday's NYT cover package (Free, And Then What?) was an extremely small one and had little to do with school reform, but tracking down and interviewing a dozen or so of  the more than 200 people who been exonerated by DNA evidence over the last few years was a fascinating and heart-wrenching experience. 

NCLB Reality Check

Thanks to Fritz for reminding me that the National Assessment of Title I (NCLB) is out, and includes some findings that might serve as a reality check for those of us arguing for or against it.  According to the study, 75 percent of schools made AYP in 0405, and schools that didn't most often missed for all students or multiple subgroups, not a single group.  Title I funding is up 35 percent over the last seven years, adjusted for inflation.  Among states with three years of test data, the percentage scoring proficient rose for "most student subgroups in a majority of states" but not enough to get to 100 percent.  Use of the transfer option has doubled, and use of SES has increased tenfold. 


Teachers, Schools, And All That Stuff

2005_speak_n_spellHe propels his pupils to appreciate science USA Today
Michael Lampert tells his microelectronics class he's changing the lesson plan.

Failing Michigan School Hopes in Young Principal NPR
At a struggling school in Benton Harbor, Mich., all eyes are on a young, new principal who has brought discipline and excitement about learning. Michigan is one of several states with schools that have failed to meet its No Child Left Behind goals for at least five consecutive years.

Two area elementary schools in contention to win national awards Salina Journal KS
Both principals said the No Child Left Behind law, while a subject of much criticism, has also forced schools to work to make sure every child learns. ...

Spanish Teacher Remains Despite Conviction for Animal Cruelty Washington Post
When police charged Maria Yordan Torres with criminal neglect of the fluffy white Coton de Tulear dogs she bred in her home, many students at Montgomery Blair High School assumed her career as a Spanish teacher was over.

The Looming UPK Train Wreck

Dr_julius_hibbertThe Post's editorial page is right to notice the startling unanimity surrounding the current  Head Start Renewal, but misguided to think that it will "help fuel the movement for states to expand and enhance education in childhood's critical early years." 

Just the opposite.  Congress' inability to make substantive changes to the program (ie, requiring higher teacher qualifications) and Presidential candidates' refusal to address Head Start reform even as they're promoting universal preschool are not good signs for those who want high-quality, well-coordinated early childhood education.

Big Stories Of The Day

 Test Invalidated over Directions Goof NPR
Scores on the Program for International Student Assessment tests taken by thousands of American 15-year-olds last fall were voided because of errors on the test itself.

Kansas School District Provides Free Laptops NPR
A public school district in Kansas City, Kan., is issuing free laptops to every high school student. The urban school district is dominated by poor students, and officials hope the computers will change the way teaching occurs. PLUS:  Laptops Offer High-tech Hope in Developing Countries NPR

Language Immersion Prototype Stumbling Washington Post
The program at Potomac Elementary School became a national model, and acclaim and fame followed.

Week In Review (November 19-25)

1962sept7 Best Of The Week
How Performance Pay Caused The Mortgage Crisis

Upcoming Events
NCLB + UPK = A Mess, Or A Great Opportunity?
Will Education Save Obama?

Campaign 2008
Obama & Clinton Rip Into Education Issues
Staff Changes At "Ed In '08"
Candidates Debate Merit Pay

NAEP Nonsense
High Accommodation Rates Undercut NYC Results
Where's Margarita?

Media Watch
What Should Education Reporters Do?
"Porn-Named" USDE Staffer Heads North
More Movement On The Education Beat

Teachers & Teaching
"Save Our Failing Teachers"
"Don't Label What You Don't Understand"

Site News
Who's Who In Education

Who Reads This Blog?
Global Education, Without Too Much Technology

Pictured:  "Sweet Caroline," age ten or so.

What Should Education Reporters Do?

Reporters should get into classrooms more often and cover what's going on there, say the good folks from the Hechinger Institute in a recent report Ist2_1372978_reporter_s_notebook and an EdWeek commentary (What to Look for in Classrooms, Know the Game and Cover the Action). And, ideally, they're right.  Nuanced, in-depth reporting from the classroom can be amazing.  The current situation, in which many reporters only step into class momentarily to find a colorful anecdote that fits their story angle, is pathetic.  I should know.

Realistically, however, most reporters don't have time, patience, or knowledge to sit in a classroom day after day and figure out what's really going on.  It's just not going to happen.   But that's no excuse.  Even the most time-strapped and education-oblivious reporter can find some knowledgeable and engaged folks to give context and balance to whatever the principal, teacher, or superintendent has to say.  That means parents (not just the ones picked by the principal), community leaders (not just the ones who reliably oppose everything), local officials, and organizations that work with the school.

Where do you think reporters should spend their time to get the inside scoop and convey the real issues?

"Don't Label What You Don't Understand"

Congrats, you made it through another family holiday.  Hopefully, I did, too.  As a reward, here's another  brilliant (mean, totally unfair) post from SOFT, the coalition to protect awful  teachers, in the form of a YouTube video:

The explanation? "We hope to highlight teaching which some would describe as "bad" or "inneffecive" to show that real teaching can take place in classrooms even when it doesn't look like it."

People keep asking me who is behind this site, and I don't know.  It's registered through Acme International in Herndon, VA, but that's just an intemediary.  Still curious?  Send them an email or put in a call: Acme Interactive     (uw7327nb7yj@networksolutionsprivateregistration.com     ATTN: SAVEOURFAILINGTEACHERS .ORG     c/o Network Solutions     P.O. Box 447     Herndon, VA 20172-0447     Phone: 570-708-8780).

They Ate, And Then They Blogged

23_bush_turkey_glThe AFTies put in their two cents about HRC's merit pay murmurs and round up some other commentary on the same topic (Coming to terms).  Joanne Jacobs demonstrates her high IQ (or is it her whiteness?) by continuing to follow the Slate debate on IQ and race (Race, genes and intelligence).  Deborah Meier is shocked by the poor quality of some education reporting (Accountability for Cars vs. Kids).  Eduwonkette parses an email from Joel Klein defending NYC's education accomplishments (Responding to NAEP).  No, Klein didn't write her personally.  TeacherKen gives his take on the Obama plan (Obama's new education plan).  I still haven't read that thing. Karin Chenoweth talks about faith and education (Facing Down the Skeptics).

High Exclusion Rates Undercut NYC Test Results And Ruin Comparability

Hidden in last week's release of the urban NAEP results that showed how 11 big cities (but not Philly) are really doing was some small print about how different the cities' exclusion and accommodation rates were.  Digging a little deeper into that, NY Sun reporter Elizabeth Green writes that NY Gave the Most Breaks for School Exam.  Leading the nation, NYC excluded or accommodated 20-25 percent of kids, depending on the exam -- highest in the nation. To be fair, at least some exclusions and accommodations are considered legitimate, and New York state is a leader in this area so it's not like NYC was bucking the rest of the state. But the exclusions and accommodations raise questions about NYC's scores, and -- perhaps more problematically -- about the vaunted comparability of NAEP results from city to city and state to state.

Will Education Save Obama?

Wandering around New Hampshire with nothing to do on Monday evening?  Then tune into this New Hampshire-based Ed In '08 event on Monday to see what the pros have to say.    Dan Balz from the Post will be there, as well as someone from Fox I've never heard of. It's always interesting to hear what political correspondents have to say, compared to what education reporters have on their minds.

Continue reading "Will Education Save Obama?" »

"Save Our Failing Teachers"

There's a new website out there, called SOFT.  It describes itself as "A coalition of concerned parents and teachers who want to protect teachers from scrutiny and criticism...We believe teachers who are failing to achieve need more resources and support, not threats and criticism.  We believe in the inherent good of all teachers."  Thanks to a friend for sending this in. 

Blogging Thanksgiving

A quick spin around the blogosphere to see what's most interesting: Joe Williams points us to a profile in Esquire about a New York City educator who's done some impressive things ("One Day Her Name Will Be In Bronze").  Charter things, of course. Diane Ravitch reminds her penpal Debbie Meier that Schools Are Not in a True Marketplace. Speaking of Ravitch, The Hoff links us to some of her insights into NCLB politics (Dems Don't Want Big Changes to NCLB). Speaking of politics, there are a handful of posts about the Obama plan (EduDecision 2008: Obama's $18 Billion EduFix?).  Just in case Obama or HRC don't win the White House, here is another nominee for The Next Republican Ed. Secretary?.  Over at The AFT Blog, they're still trying to defend educators gaming NCLB (Punishing Diversity).  Just because AYP is hard doesn't mean you should duck it, folks.  They are also heated up about the education debate segments from last week (Debate Stuffed).  Last but not least:  A teacher pleads: yakkers, shut up and help.  Indeed.

Kevin Carey On Privatization & The DC Schools

Kevin's got another good post (On "Privatization") on his blog, and another long excerpt from an outside source.  His point is that privatization in the education context rarely means private-sector outsourcing, since most of the organizations coming in to do work in schools are nonprofits.  I could sum up more of what he has to say and give you a link to go there, but instead I'll just let you read it here:

It's worth noting that the word "privatization" means different things in different contexts. In health care, for example, it can mean selling public or non-profit hospitals to private companies, which then own them outright and run them at a profit. That seems like a reasonable use of the word "privatize."

Then he focuses in on the DC public schools:

What Rhee is considering, by contrast, is hiring either a for-profit or a non-profit organization to take over certain administrative and management functions for a fixed period of time, with the schools, teachers, and students remaining firmly in the public realm--accountable to public officials, paid with public funds, remaining public employees, etc. That's a lot different then selling off a hospital, to the point where I'm not sure using the same word to describe both scenarios is useful.

Wrapping up with a flourish, Carey makes the case for ... privatization:

If I said, "Hey, I'm thinking about renovating my bathroom, any advice?" and you said "There's nothing to suggest that hiring someone to renovate your bathroom guarantees that you'll end up with a great bathroom, or a better bathroom than you'd get if you did the work yourself.

These are the good parts, but you can of course click over to read the rest of Carey's post on his site.

Obama & Clinton Rip Into Education Issues

Photo_obama_clintonObama unveils $18 billion education plan "It's pretty popular to bash No Child Left Behind out on the campaign trail, but when it was being debated in Congress four years ago, my colleague Dick Durbin offered a chance to vote so that the law couldn't be enforced unless it was fully funded," Obama said. "A lot of senators, including Senator Edwards and Senator Clinton, passed on that chance.

Clinton Raps Teacher Merit Pay AP
Performance-based merit pay for teachers is a bad idea, Hillary Rodham Clinton told Iowa teachers on Monday. School uniforms for kids, however, is worth looking at.  PLUS:  Clinton mocks Obama for touting his childhood experience abroad.

Big Stories Of The Day

For Want of a Proofreader, or at Least a Good One, a Reading Exam Is Lost NYT
In an episode that has embarrassed the Department of Education, thousands of flawed testing booklets forced the invalidation of United States reading scores on an international exam. PLUS:  U.S. Testing Poised to Be Scaled Back

D.C. Schools Chief Rhee Faces High Expectations for System Reform PBS
As part of a series of reports on how educators are attempting to reform urban schools, education correspondent John Merrow provides an update on the efforts of Washington D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee to turn around the city's troubled school system.

Town to vote on online harassment after girl's myspace suicide USA Today
The tragedy of Megan Meier will take another twist tonight when officials in her home town vote on whether to make online ...


More Movement On The Education Beat

ImagesThanks to everyone who's checked out and added information to the new "Who's Who?" page -- which now includes sections for academics and for communications folks.  It's a small but growing list of folks -- fascinating to see who gets added and what details get changed. 

There were about 10 additions on Tuesday, including news that one longtime newspaper writer, one of the deans of the education beat who had taken a buyout and then a job at the USDE, has recently retired.  Who was it?  Click the link, go to the writers page, and you'll see.  Thanks!  Keep on adding people (or checking back to see what other people have added).

NCLB + UPK = A Mess, Or A Great Opportunity?

Considering early childhood education in the context of NCLB has to make universal preschool advocates more than a little nervous.  You saw how wide they steered away from Head Start reauthorization.  And NCLB, including Reading First, already has more than enough baggage. 

And yet, a revamped NCLB that doesn't focus much at all on early childhood doesn't make much sense.  The learning deficits start early.  Even with Reading First NCLB is predominantly a 3-8 program.    Once NCLB is done, it might be hard to do a standalone UPK initiative.

That's why New America is doing a post-Thanksgiving event on the topic and releasing a new report November 29. To RSVP for this event, reply to this email: communications@newamerica.net with name, affiliation, and contact information.

NB:  NAF honcho Mike Dannenberg and I worked on the Hill at the same time way back in the day, and I've done some writing and editing for them in the past. 

Travel Days & Feedback From You

I'm traveling today and tomorrow, so posting will be light. 

If you haven't already written in to answer the question of the week ("who reads this blog?), please do so.  There's been a dozen or so interesting responses so far.

Also, if you or anyone you know might qualify for the "who's who in education?" wiki that I put together over the weekend, check it out.  There've been at least two folks leaving their jobs, and a bunch of people added their names or edited some of the starter entries since yesterday.


Revisiting Rhee - Tonight

News_hour_pbsCheck out the PBS NewsHour tonight to see part 2 of the Learning Matters (John Merrow) year-in-the-life of Michelle Rhee, new head of DC's public schools.  Is she getting tough, as promised, or getting whip-sawed, as many predicted?  I've seen snippets of the segment and hear d about it from some of the folks who have put it together (I have a desk at the LMI offices in Manhattan).  This one sounds particularly good. 

"Porn-Named" USDE Staffer Heads North

MysterypersonHe isn't the first, and he won't be the last. 

What high-level communications guru with what Wonkette readers once called a "porn name" is leaving the USDE for the Big Apple? 

Check here at the new wiki page for communications folks to find out -- and feel free to add or correct or edit anything you'd like. 

You communications people move around like hummingbirds, always jumping to the next best job. 

Staff Changes At "Ed In '08"

Wikismall Want to see who's the latest policy wonk to be changing jobs?  There's at least one change just announced today.  Check out the updates at the Who's Who? Wiki and feel free to add any changes or corrections of your own.  Congrats, condolences, of course. 

Where's Margarita?

BonnOur travel-loving EdSec (apparently known to her boss as "Margarita") is off to Germany this week, with public events in Bonn on Wednesday and Thursday. 

"Wednesday, November 21 3:40 p.m. CET  Secretary Spellings will deliver remarks at the Ministerial Panel on "Relevance and Quality – What are the Challenges?" during the Third Ministerial Meeting on Education of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) countries and the Group of Eight (G8).  On Thursday, November 22 9 a.m. CET  Secretary Spellings will be attending the Third Ministerial Meeting on Education of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) countries and the Group of Eight (G8)." 

Germany in November -- is that a trip all her staff want to go on (side trip to Berlin!) or no (week of Thanksgiving!).  I'm thinking no.



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.