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Around The Blogs

Ap080130031265 There's an Obama uprising in California, says EIA (Hillary's CTA Endorsement Sidetracked).  Trouble for Clinton?  Big Swify has a crush on The 'Kette, I think (The Imp Possible Dream).  They might already be dating.  Some people hate the Gates folks for being too prescriptive, but others like Instructivist dislike the Gates folks for being too soft (Gates wrecking ball).  Amazing.  Over at Teacher Leaders, folks have some things to get off their chests (Left a Child Behind? Three Confessions).  Meanwhile, some thoughts on the other ed tech conference from last week (Educon 2.0).    And some more thoughts about that Matt Miller article (“First, Kill All the School Boards”).  Meanwhile, in Oakland they're talking about something really old school: Bumping rights for teachers — a good idea?.

FY09 Budget Proposal Might Be Out A Little Early

Oreo013008 There's rumors on the Interwebs that the USDE unintentionally revealed its proposed FY09 budget proposals a few days ahead of time, though I can't vouch for any of it. Click below to see what's rumored to be proposed on Monday.  Make of it what you will. Thanks to them who sent this. Fun!

UPDATE:  Here is the spreadsheet with the FY09 figures still "hidden" it, courtesy of the eagle-eyed Jason Sakran at the Committee On Education Funding.  Sakran apparently was first to spy the USDE's mistake and post the news on CEF's website and to its members last week, which is how it got spread around.  Smart guy that he is, Sakran kept a version of the old spreadsheet, which has the new numbers.  [Remember, though, that these are totally unofficial and unconfirmed.  Could be just a Spellings plot to make you waste time this weekend.] Note to self: join CEF.

Download department_of_ed_state_by_state_funding_with_an_unofficial_fy2009_estimate.xls

Continue reading "FY09 Budget Proposal Might Be Out A Little Early" »

How Come Not Everyone Wants To Help Schools?

0fbe0663c015389d2ef975ed6e9a473e442 Imagine if every school wish list was -- suddenly -- filled, every query on DonorsChoose.org was already taken care of. 

That's precisely the dilemma facing those who want to give to Kiva, an international microloan effort:  Extra Helping (NYT).  They've stopped taking donations since they have too many already. 

Is it just easier to consider helping those abroad, or are domestic interventions just not as compelling to donors as the whole microloan thing?

"No One Knows If Turnarounds Work"

Flickr12 You hear this all the time from folks inside the reform machine, but rarely ever see it said out loud:

"No one knows if turnarounds work," said Andrew Calkins of the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute [which studied turnarounds with a grant from the Gates Foundation]. "We spent two years looking at turnarounds and could not find a single example of turnaround work that was successful and sustained and done on scale, not just one school."

From the Chicago Tribune:  Brave new world for Chicago schools

Not quite as good as the Garrison Keillor line from yesterday, but it will do.

In The End, Everything Goes Back To High School

From Slate, a mashup of Hillary clips and one of the campaign scenes from Election:

"We were struck by how well one of Reese Witherspoon's monologues from the film Election fits the narrative of Campaign 2008."


Rosietheriveter011408 As you already know, a bunch of groups have gotten together to argue for an immediate reauthorization of NCLB, including the Aspen Institute's Commission on NCLB and the Center On American Progress.

Attached is a two-pager from the Commission about what gets lost and what gets gained from a timely NCLB revamp Cost_of_nclb_final.pdf.

In addition, here's some of what Cindy Brown from CAP has to say: "If we don't reauthorize the law now, we postpone the opportunity to address such important issues as low high school graduation rates and additional help for struggling schools. These changes are needed now and Congress must act this year."

Education Journo Scheduled On Local NPR Show

Toppo_question_2 Be sure to call in and ask some questions during the NCLB debate that's being conducted on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show

Last I heard, USA Today's Greg Toppo (pictured, left) , someone from the Ed Trust, and someone from the NEA are going to be on. 

Accents and prank questions are especially appreciated: (1-800-433-8850 (drshow@wamu.org).

Big Stories Of The Day

Low-Income U.S. Children Less Likely to Have Access to Qualified Teachers EdNews
According to the study, nearly 40 percent of U.S. eighth graders do not have access to highly qualified teachers.

59f81ec3f7453bbc1d874df58bc61d62b6cFinal Year's Realities Push Big Ideas Into Background Washington Post... such as pumping $30 billion more into his anti-AIDS projects in Africa, reauthorizing his No Child Left Behind education program, extending $2 billion ...

PLUS: NEA lobbyist says 'No Child Left Behind' in peril IU News

HISD may keep details about bonuses secret Chronicle
Houston public school employees will receive about $23 million in bonuses today, but the district likely will fight to keep taxpayers from seeing exactly how it disbursed the money.

Criminals in school? Who knows? Elgin Courier News
The school district was not informed by law enforcement officials that Facio was a suspect in the sexual assault or attempted abduction until after the attack at Elgin High, according to Broncato.

Chicago Blog Recognized For Excellence

PhpthumbphpBefore I forget, let me make sure you know that my Chicago blog District 299 has been named one of Chicago's best by, well, Chicago Magazine.

I am inordinately proud of the Chicago blog, where readers -- teachers, parents, reformers -- have created a lively and cantankerous place, suitable for a lively and cantankerous school system.  A couple of months ago, the site moved to Catalyst Magazine, an independent magazine that covers CPS. 

Check it out here: Nothing But Net: 171 Great Chicago Web Sites

School Finds Porn Everywhere

First a cop who works at a FLA middle school sets up a MySpace page -- with school approval -- to better interact with the kids he's working with.  Then, people freak out when it turns out that one of the cop's many MySpace friends links to a porn site.  Then -- best of all -- it turns out that the school district itself has unintentionally linked to porn sites as well. (Cop Gets Investigated Because MySpace Friend Links To Porn).

Around The Blogs, Wednesday

Too little, too late on NCLB, says the AFT (AFT President Ed McElroy's Statement on the State of the Union). Tell that to Ted Kennedy and George Miller, says I.

12ef082ab9f4fcf70fd33f2522c6b4b6400Another media-created "trend" is in the air, says Kevin Carey (The School Budget Crisis That Wasn't).  He sees bad journalism, everywhere. 

Best blog post headline of the day, so far, from KD-ed:  Dan Brown has been socially promoted.  Close second, from the CKB:  Pell Mell.

From a couple of days ago, but still worthy:    Timely Tidbits on Unintended Consequences.  What does that phrase really mean, asks The 'Kette.

Denver success story is being quashed, says JJ:  Let my school go its own way.  Sounds like what LA schools are doing.

If only Andwonk read other blogs, he'd know that I posted about this months ago (LinkEd).  Party on Friday, though.  See you there, perhaps.

Garrison Keillor: "Nice People Are Failing These Kids"

Forget Freedman (In the South Bronx, Robotics and Rebirth), the Wall Street Journal (Those Pell Vouchers), and Mathews (Bad Parents Don't Make Bad Schools).   That's because today's best opinion piece on education comes from Garrison Keillor in Salon (We're failing our kids).  An excerpt:

"Face it, the schools are not run by Republican oligarchs in top hats and spats but by perfectly nice, caring, sharing people, with a smattering of yoga/raga/tofu/mojo/mantra folks like my old confreres. Nice people are failing these kids, but when they are called on it, they get very huffy."


Spellings, Jessica Alba, & The Polar Bear From Golden Compass

Jessalba0129I'm still looking for pics of EdSec Spellings at the SOTU for you check out, but in the meantime thanks to readers for sending in these close-but-not-quite submissions (interpretations?) of the Spellings outfit:Polar_bear_2

On the left, you have the polar bear from Golden Compass.  This one seems a little harsh.  Spellings looked scary that night, but not quite so ferocious.

On the right, that's starlet Jessica Alba at the Sundance Film Festival (I think). Again, not quite a fair comparison, though the high-necked design does have a resemblance to the Spellings outfit. 

Obama Education Plan Linked To School Closings & Teacher Firings

No one's looked very hard at the Obama teacher residency proposal, though there's going to be a big announcement in Chicago tomorrow that might finally get some media attention. 

The issue here is one of association.  The model for the Obama plan, run by a Chicago outfit called AUSL, has morphed into a school turnaround effort as much as anything else.  Specifically, AUSL has over the past couple of years been "given" a handful of distressed Chicago public schools -- an extremely controversial and uncertain turnaround strategy -- and folded into Mayor Daley's much-loathed "Renaissance 2010" plan (see CNN video here).

I wonder how Obama's supporters will like finding out that their guy is, in essence, supporting a school reform model that involves closing schools, firing teachers, and handing them over to an outside organization.  Four more schools are being closed and handed over to AUSL at the end of this year. See  two articles from the Chicago Tribune here: Brave new world for Chicago schools, Chicago Public Schools to fire hundreds at 8  under-performing schools.

Big Stories Of The Day

7322d4925c8e623ce17ee58d6c434ce87acHousing Downturn Squeezing Schools Washington Post
The rapid cooling of the Washington area's real estate market has hit school systems with force, abruptly ending years of plenty and compelling superintendents to ask their teachers, bus drivers and custodians to do more with less.

Critics cite lack of data on struggling students Baltimore Sun
A record $3.3 billion in new local and state school spending during the past five years largely has gone toward the hiring of new teachers, raising salaries and lowering the ratio of students to teachers, according to a new report to the Maryland General Assembly.

PLUS: Two L.A. Unified schools take back control Los Angeles Times

15 States Want Tougher Penalties for Abusive Teachers AP
Heeding a steady drumbeat of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, at least 15 states are considering stronger oversight and tougher punishment for educators who take advantage of their students.

PLUS: Tennessee to Overhaul Standards for Schools The Tennessean

Facts Of The Union 2008

Troubled still by the President's assertion that NCLB is working? The folks at FactCheck.org say that he's not all wrong:

Bush2007sotu"He was mostly correct in describing progress in test scores since his No Child Left Behind Act was passed, but he overlooked some recent backsliding in reading scores and the fact that some test scores were on an upward trend before the new law went into effect." 

Harsh.  Click here (Facts of the Union 2008) for more details.

UPDATE:  Over at NPR, Larry Ambramson has something to say that many of you will like hearing better:

"Many educators dispute the effectiveness of No Child Left Behind NCLB . Teachers in particular say they re being asked to meet unrealistic standards, and have demanded more flexibility.... [Bush] didn't mention that reading scores in those grades have stagnated, despite No Child Left Behind...What he did not say is that the achievement gap between whites and minorities remains very large."

Link: NPR: Bush Lauds Progress in Iraq, Economic Plan

EdWeek Blogger Quibbles About Latest Kennedy Bill Language

Hoff18187EdWeek's NCLB blogger David (The) Hoff  can't make up his mind between confirming and disputing my "exclusive" post from yesterday about the Kennedy effort to renew NCLB this year.  As you can tell from the headline (Russo Digs Up Old News, But Gets Story Right), he mostly ends up confirming what I wrote. 

Until yesterday, no one else had found and uploaded the latest Kennedy-Enzi language.  And no one else had specifically reported that the Kennedy legislative machine was gearing up for a new try at NCLB reauthorization. What part of "news" and "exclusive" have I missed?

By saying this, of course, I pretty much guarantee that I will make some sort of giant mistake soon -- and I'm sure David (The) Hoff and others will be eager to point it out.  But this wasn't such a one.  At least not that I know so far. 

Spellings At The SOTU: It Was A White-Out

Margaret_spellings Lost in all the hullabaloo of the Kennedy endorsement and the President's speech was the spectacle of EdSec Spellings decked out last night in what appeared to be an all-white cowl-necked outfit (sort of but not really like the one pictured here).  Either that, or she forgot to take her coat off after she got to her seat.  Does anyone have a picture of it?

Not to be unkind, but to me it looked like a scary polar bear getup.  I must have watched too many red carpet shows on E!  Condi Rice was also in winter white, albeit not as high-necked. What do you think (besides that I am a fat jerk for writing about this)?

Click below for her public schedule this week and some details about the budget rollout on Monday.

Continue reading "Spellings At The SOTU: It Was A White-Out" »

Awkward Turtle Ahead For The Senate Education Committee

281467340_c7b9f59358_m Let's give an awkward turtle (right) for the next meeting of the Senate education committee, points out MM at EdWeek (Education Endorsement).  Clinton, Obama, and Kennedy all serve there together.

Wendy Kopp is named at 13 on Princeton's all time influential alumni list, notes the Core Knowledge blog (…And All I Got Was This Building).  Wow. 

Oh, no -- some good being done by charters, according to JJ: Charters keep families in Cleveland.  There's no good that can come of this.

Not to be done by exit exams, pay for performance schemes (for kids) are spreading fast, says TQATE: If You Pay Them They Will Pass.  What will parents do with all that allowance money they planned to give out?

Bush's efforts on NCLB renewal are too little, too late, says Eduwonk (No Child Counterfactual).  Though I'm not sure an all-out Bush effort on education would have helped, really.

Classroom teachers have blogs, too, apparently, and The 'Kette went out and found one of them to write something: The Misleading Specter of "Social Promotion".

Tuesday Morning News Roundup

Bush Call for ‘No Child’ Reauthorization Meets Skeptical Reaction CQ Politics
“It’s baffling that the president has finally gained a sense of urgency for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind,” said Miller spokeswoman Rachel Racusen. “For the last year, our committee has been working hard to improve and reauthorize the law, and the president has had many opportunities to work with us, but he has refused.”

Ap070123055298PLUS:  Grants Would Finance Private Schooling NYT

PLUS: State of the Union Excerpts AP

NEA lobbyist says 'No Child Left Behind' in peril IU Newsroom

"It's almost certain that there'll be more flexibility so that in addition to the statewide test you can look at how are students achieving based on a mix of state tests, local tests, maybe classroom level assessments, using portfolios and other ways," Packer said.

PLUS:  Unions Take Own Paths in Election EdWeek

McDonald’s to award diploma credits in Britain MSNBC
The government is giving the U.S. burger chain — along with a rail company and an airline — the right to award credits toward a high school diploma to employees who complete on-the-job training programs.

Bad Chemistry Teacher

Solutionweb What happens to a New Mexico chemistry teacher when he finds out that he doesn't have long to live but has some steep bills to pay?   Meth amphetamine production, for one thing.  Or at least, that's the preimise of Breaking Bad, the new Weeds-like show from AMC (TV Review).

New NCLB Language Out From Kennedy-Enzi

EXCLUSIVE?  Not content with "just" endorsing Obama, Chairman Kennedy is rumbling and mumbling about a renewed effort to revamp NCLB.  Or at least get something out of Committee.  To that end, he's circulating draft language and telling folks to get their ducks in order.  Thanks to a little birdie for passing this along:

Download title_i_ci_101207_kos07952_xml.pdf

Download title_ii_be_101207_aeg07798_xml.pdf

Download title_iii_1016.pdf

Download titles_iv_101207_aeg07799_xml.pdf

Download titles_vi_101207_aeg07805_xml.pdf

Download title_x_101207_kin07648_xml.pdf

Poor Hill staffers, they know that little is likely to come of this in the short term at least, but can't risk it actually going through. Plus which, whatever gets worked on is then part of the base bill for 2009.  So everyone's got to take this seriously, even though....it isn't serious.

ED, Obama, & The NCLB Killers

CAMPAIGN 2008:  The 'Kette makes a dreary Monday more bearable with her slightly off-color proposal for how to make education a big issue in the political campaign (A New Commercial).

Obamacompton_2Scott Elliott says that the campaign excitement isn't translating to education (As race heats up, education simmers down).  Not all is lost, however - Obama is apparently the first candidate to screen 2 Million Minutes, a collaboration between Bob Compton (pictured with Obama) and EDIN08.

MEDIA MISDEEDS: Too much is being made by the media of expelled preschoolers, says RLC (Parents Behaving Badly?). Ditto for the whole "hot-teacher-seduces-middle schooler" thing, says TQATE (Frightening Bad Media Trend Convergence).  Meanwhile:  Kindergartener handcuffed at Queens elementary school From InsideSchools.

NCLB NEWS:   Swift Biggie finds a fascinating story and tells us that testing's not all that bad as they say (Everybody Knows?). Subgroup figures for grad rates?  I love it. (One More Thing to Disaggregate?) From The Hoff. One more category for schools to fudge.

Last but not least, a heartfelt post from the AFTies about their role on NCLB (How the AFT "Killed" NCLB Reauthorization).  Not clear from the post are why the AFT disliked the law so much considering how many givebacks it included, and if and how campaign politics were involved in the decision.  Must learn more about this.

Surprise! Kids aren't really all that good at Google, says JJ (Seek and ye shall get confused).

Alliance Bingo

Bingo The Alliance for Excellent Education (no idea) is determined to make a week out of the President's State Of The Union speech tonight, first by demanding that education be a big part of his speech (it won't) and second by encouraging us to play SOTU Bingo (sure, why not?).

Click below for the Alliance's talking points.  Click here for the Bingo thing (via Fritzwire).

Extra points for anyone who can explain what the Alliance is, how it's different from all the other education groups in DC, and why we need it.

Continue reading "Alliance Bingo" »

Mr. Russo Goes To Washington

1800097492pAnything good going on in DC next week?  I'm planning on being there at least part of the week -- so far I've got a AEI and Fordham events on my list, but that's not exactly a balanced itinerary.  If there's anything else going on -- hearings, talks, conferences, cocktails, secret meetings --  let me know.

Monday -- Budget rollout
Tuesday -- ???
Wednesday - -Fordham open house/book launch
Thursday -- Rick Hess event


Big Stories Of The Day, Rewards & Clickers

Lawmakers crack down on abusive teachers MSNBC
Heeding a steady drumbeat of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, at least 15 states are now considering stronger oveNclbbutton rsight and tougher punishment for educators who take advantage of their students.

Good grades pay off USA Today
Teachers have long said that success is its own reward. But these days, some students are finding that good grades can bring them cash and other gifts. 

Which student reward is best? Baltimore Sun
There are toys for perfect attendance, candies for good behavior and pizza parties for improved test scores. There are principals who agree to shave their heads and sleep on the roof, if only their

 Students Click, and a Quiz Becomes a Game NYT
A technology known as an audience response system is spreading to public and private schools across the country.

Big Stories Of The Day

Kennedy600 Kennedy Chooses Obama, Spurning Bill Clinton Plea NYT
Both the Clintons and their allies had pressed Mr. Kennedy for weeks to remain neutral in the Democratic race, but Mr. Kennedy had become increasingly disenchanted with the tone of the Clinton campaign, aides said.

Bush's Spotlight for a Night AP
He will call for housing reform, better health care and veterans' care, alternative energy development and renewal of the No Child Left Behind education law.

Best Of The Week (January 21-27)

Best Of The Week
"You Want To Know What I Make?" A Teacher Responds

Why NCLB Needs Changing - Now
Don't Forget NCLB, Says Spellings -- Off To Davos

E4daCampaign 2008
Republican Candidates Have Education Folks, Too
If Only Liberals & Democrats Changed Their Minds, Too

Foundation Follies
Foundations Not Taking Over Yet, Says Me

It's Not Educators' Faults, Says Bracey
Advocates Posing As Experts:  FairTest, DFER, & The Andy Sector

School Life
School Administrator's Wife Gives Kid A Good Talking To
Security Cameras Vs. "Behavioral Support" Programs

Media Watch
The Case Against Statistical Significance
Paper Credits Blog For School Closing News
Blog Covering Oakland Schools
Forbes Magazine Tackles School Solutions

Site News
Going Down To FLA
What To Do At Conferences

Around The Blogs

Nochild706581 What if Eduwonkette is a man, asks Swift Charlie? Who's Zoomin Whom?

Wishful thinking from the ASBJ blog:  Did Utah's failed voucher plan spell the end of Republican rule?

Philadelphia reporters better watch out, according to K-Red: It's Time to Play Spot the Looney

How come so many NEA-approved candidates are dropping out, asks EIA: NEA Jinx?

Pic via Elena Silva at TQATE.

What To Do At Conferences

I never know what to do with myself at conferences, and this one, the annual FETC in Orlando, Fla, is no different.  I've run into some familiar names and faces -- folks from Scholastic, and The Princeton Review, and EDIN08 (who apparently showed 2MM last night), as well as trade journos from THE Journal (eschoolnews is around here somewhere, too).   My talk isn't until later.

4c147019cb5f95190334b6c75f0fe9b8865I missed Chris Dede, the ed tech guy from Harvard who I've talked to on the phone but never met.  And the USDE person was a no-show, someone told me.  I wonder if any of the folks I used to do edtech with on the Hill are around -- Linda Roberts, the Senate Ed Tech Working Group folks.  All that stuff -- creating federal funding for ed tech teacher training and trying to avoid botching the E-Rate -- seems so long ago. 

So I've peeked into sessions with titles like Web 2.0 for Teachers that are full to the brimming point.  I've wandered around the exhibitor hall, full of little chocolates and freebies and in this case especially lots of fun technology.  (All the presenters seem to have Britney Spears-style headset microphones to help amplify their presentations.)  People are videoconferencing, shooting hi-def video, and having a grand old time with various web applications.  My tech friends tell me I should be Twittering about this and that there's another, cooler tech conference going on in Philly, but I only finally learned bittorrent earlier this week, thanks to my addiction to The Wire.

It's Not Educators' Faults, Says Bracey

It's been a big week for economic concerns and possible responses.  Commentator Gerry Bracey says that the subrpime mortgage meltdown and everything else aren't educators' faults, and that other countries with better test scores don't necessarily have better economies.  Check it out below.

Continue reading "It's Not Educators' Faults, Says Bracey" »

Foundations Not Taking Over Yet, Says Me

Chicago Public Radio had me on last week to ponder whether private foundations in Chicago and elsewhere have grown too powerful.  (A local foundation there just announced the second half of a $100M professional development initiative.) 

LogoDuring the segment (here), I found myself arguing that the foundations at work -- pretty much every big city has a foundation or two along with the nationals -- don't have too much power yet, though it's certainly risen, often uncomfortable, and not necessarily effective.  What do you think?

In the meantime, check out what the new Google foundation is up to -- not focused directly on education but sure to be a big player at some point given its size (From 'Don't Be Evil' to How to Do Good).  Maybe then -- when it's not just Gates but Google too -- we'll be in serious trouble.

Big Stories Of The Day

ABC News: Knives, Bites: Another Day at Pre-School ABC
Author Walter Gilliam, director of the Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, said he didn't set out to study preschool expulsions. But when he was analyzing publicly-funded prekindergarten policies at 3,898 schools in 40 states, he found expulsion rates three times higher than for older grades.

PLUS:  School cop put him in cuffs! NYDaily News

Sparring Continues Over NCLB Legal Ruling EdWeek
A court ruling that revived a major legal challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act is drawing sharply differing interpretations from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and advocates for states and school districts.

Is This What Failure Looks Like? RedOrbit
The latest NEA compilation shows one out of every four schools was unable to meet "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) last year, and one in seven was in "improvement" or "corrective action," which makes them subject to punishment if they receive federal Title I funds.

Thousands of Ohio's gifted students not receiving adequate education
Thousands of Ohio's gifted students go without any special services every year because there's no state mandate to provide them and there's not enough money.

OIG Casts Doubt over ED 'Policy Letters'
Did the district act properly when it instituted, without prior ED approval, a one-time early retirement incentive (sometimes called a “buy-out”) for employees using federal funds?

[Speaking of buyouts: Districts Discharge Unwanted Faculty Through ‘Buyouts’]

School Administrator's Wife Gives Kid A Good Talking To

Student calls administrator -- at home -- to complain about snow days.  Leaves voicemail.  Administrator's wife calls back -- irate -- and leaves voicemail.  Student posts to YouTube.

Around The Blogs

Newyorker Sherman Dorn says cronyism is still going strong in the White House: President Bush nominates non-researcher buddy of Jeb. Diane and Deborah debate means vs. ends: When "Equality" Is Used to Push Through Orwellian Measures.

I forgot what this one from the Education PR blog is about, but it looked cool at the time: Cool? yes. New? no. There's something going on in Denver, and it's not performance pay, says the EIA: The Bruce Randolph School Uprising.

The 'Kette revises and extends her remarks on teacher effectiveness: The NYC Teacher Experiment Revisited. The test security folks at Caveon have a blog that I like: What’s the big deal with sharing a few test questions?

More from Mark Walsh's new school law blog: Court Rejects Request to Allow Student to Have His Service Dog at School.

Did I miss anything good, today or in general?  Let me know.

Security Cameras Vs. "Behavioral Support" Programs

Check out this interesting City Limits article about the spread of school security cameras in cities big and samll, their new and sometimes questionable uses, and proposed alternatives -- including an Obama-Durbin proposal based on "behavioral support."

300pxsecurity_camera_on_school_buil"In Demarest, N.J., video feeds from cameras in public schools are streamed live to the local police department. In Nashville, facial recognition software was installed on digital cameras in the city's public school system. Here [in New York], DOE says facial recognition software is not being used, but the capacity for future installation is there."

Link: City Limits: News for NYC's Nonprofit, Policy and Activist World.

Forbes Tackles School Solutions

Here's a great way to waste the rest of the morning -- check out the Forbes Special Report on education, which includes solutions from maybe 20 folks including Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates (Educating Our Children).  Obviously, there's a business focus. My favorite choice for someone to give solutions? Colonel Dean M. Esserman, Chief of Police, City of Providence, RI.

Big Stories Of The Day

Nationwide 'teach-in' planned to address climate change
Piles of coal, battling windmills, and political leaders descend on college campuses.

Rosietheriveter011408Study casts doubt on No Child’s effectiveness NY Examiner
Instead of encouraging teachers to be sensitive to students’ individual needs, Valli found, high-stakes testing policies “promote an environment in which teachers are asked to relate to their students differently, enact [teaching styles] that are often at odds with their vision of best practice, and experience high levels of stress.”

Fla. schools approve free, online reading program USA Today
Elementary school teachers in Florida this fall will be the first in the nation to have access to a free, state-approved online reading program.

New limits for military recruiters at Chicago schools Chicago Tribune
Recruiters are barred from recruiting without authorization from school officials. They also must give two days notice before visiting a school, and principals can now bar recruiters after repeated infractions.

City Parents Boycotting Added Tests at 2 Schools NYT
Parents at two Manhattan elementary schools were unhappy to discover that their children had been selected to participate in “field tests,” or tests to help the state’s testing company try out questions for future tests.

Advocates Posing As Experts: FairTest, DFER, & The Andy Sector

To me, the big deal isn't that the NEA has given a relatively small amount of money to FairTest, but rather that FairTest has presented itself and been used by the media as a balanced source of expertise on testing issues, rather than as an advocacy organization that generally opposes testing and accountability efforts. 

I first wrote about this over two years ago, in a post called How 'Fringe' Is FairTest?.

However, I'm not sure that DFER and The Andy Sector should be taken particularly seriously in pointing out FairTest's advocacy role,  since they are both themselves advocates, too.

If Only Liberals & Democrats Changed Their Minds, Too

Voucher advocate Sol Stern has had some changes of mind about competition, as reported in the NY Sun last week (A Libertarian Is Searching For an Education 'Plan B').

Which makes me wonder:  When was the last time a Democrat has had anything close to a similar moment of reflection?  A78820b0672fe6d4f352445f8c32489d313I can't think of one. Flip-flops, sure -- being for and against NCLB is a pretty much everyday occurrence.  Ditto on national testing for a few folks.  Opportunistic scene-grabbing?  Sure.  But real live changing of the minds -- that I haven't seen. 

How about me?   Hmm.  No full-on conversion experiences that I can think of.  I'm more open to charters now than I used to be back when everyone pretended to love them (ie, the 90s).  I'm more skeptical than ever of well-funded and media-loved foundation efforts (except when they're funding me, of course).  I'm less sure that the AFT is all that much different than the NEA, when it comes down to it, and a lot less sure that Al Shanker did all that much good as we thought.  I'm a lot more critical of education coverage in the papers, knowing better now what that's all about.  I still don't know which is worse -- local control or top-down cetralization -- though the case against the middle men (school districts) seems pretty clear. 

How about you?

Blog Posts, Cheap -- Recession Special

No candidate questions on education -- again -- is the subject of this CJR post about last night's CBC debate in South Carolina (Where's Education? Part II).  Good stuff. 

If the NEA funds FairTest, wonders Joe Williams, should reporters still quote them as neutral experts (Bailing Out FairTest)?  Based on an exclusive EIA list of NEA donations. 

32dc2bb7183f11b78e17290c03d0f1abf7cBig Charlie slams Eduwonkette among others for passing along bad NCLB findings (Dumb Down, Drill & Kill, Full Circle).  Ouch!

Brittannica must be hurting to post something from...me, says Stephen Downes (7 (Outrageous) Predictions in Education).  Apparently there's something better at The Economist.

Open source textbooks is what's coming next, says Andwonk (The Revolution Will Be Digitized).

Though he should be responding to my ridiculous posts about education research, D-Ed reckoning instead says that he read Joanne Jacobs before any of the rest of us (Seven Random Things).

Longest. Post.Ever:  (Value-Added Comes of Age). From Kevin Carey, bien sur.

Blogging is hard, says Richard Lee Colvin (Welcome New Bloggers to EarlyStories).  Bring in the cavalry.

Still looking for The Carnival?  Soon, here.

Going Down To FLA

2008_1_14b I'm going down to a big ed tech conference in Orlando on Thursday night to give a little talk on Friday about NCLB (Featured Speakers.).  If by any chance you or anyone else you know is going to be at FETC, please come up and say hello.

The Case Against Statistical Significance

Fc6378f283b72ef3bfa1466377e8d15be84No one cares about education research.  Still, a few more thoughts from me about what some researchers I asked about the post I wrote from last week (Do Funders Sink Education Research, Too?) had to say -- including the notion that maybe statistical significance is the problem.

Responses from my small and nonrandom sample ranged from those who doubt it ever really happens that way to those who think, well, of course it does.  All the time.  I'm inclined to think it does.

The argument that negative research doesn't get shelved in education
like in medical R&D is essentially that the education context is so different.  The research sponsors are agencies and foundations, not for profit companies.  It's not done as randomized trials, most of the time.  The fixed costs for labs etc. are much less (grad students are cheap!).

But many of the interests and dynamics are the same in education research as in any other field -- and that's the overwhelming response I got from researchers I asked to comment on the situation.  They talked about the "file drawer effect, which makes average findings look more positive because the zero or negative findings are thrown into a file drawer and forgotten."  Zero or null findings seem like just as much a problem as out and out negative findings.

Solving these problems includes focusing on larger studies, including dissertations and tech reports regardless of findings, and not just focus on actual published reports, I'm told.  Another idea I hadn't considered is getting away from the whole notion of statistical significance that's been drummed into us, which apparently isn't the gold standard we think it is.   See attached report:  The_case_against_statistical_significance_testing.pdf

Big [Non-Financial] Stories Of The Day

Ap8710200257Education czar backs 'No Child Left Behind Contra Costa Times
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on Friday warned states that they still have to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law, despite a recent court ruling allowing a lawsuit that challenges its funding.

Walberg: Schools need flexibility to excel Detroit Free Press
As a classroom teacher forced to teach to the tests required by NCLB, she actually considered quitting because of the paperwork and restrictions imposed on her. She struggled to have time to give individual attention to each of her special needs students.

Value of National Board Certification Questioned Palm Beach Post
A study by Florida State University that showed no correlation between the certification and student achievement prompted legislators to take a closer look at the program, and that caused alarm among many of the state's nearly 11,000 nationally certified teachers.

Governors pitch ambitious programs Stateline. com
Stateline.org looks at proposals from governors’ 2008 "state of the state" speeches and provides an exclusive summary of all the addresses so far.

Video of shocked students destroyed MSNBC
A special education school destroyed videotape showing two of its students being wrongly given electric shock treatments despite being ordered to preserve the tape, according to an investigator's report.

Paper Credits Blog For School Closing News

800pxchicago_tribune_logosvg Reporters are often reluctant to credit blogs for what they end up writing -- especially when the tips and scoops come from the comments section, not official posts.  Kudos and thanks to Chicago Tribune reporter Carlos Sadovi for doing the right thing and crediting my Chicago blog, District 299, for breaking some of the news about school closings (Parents to fight proposed move of Northwest Side gifted school). 

Around The Water Cooler

St_essay_fYou want an unfunded mandate? D-Ed Reckoning will show you one.  It's not NCLB (Unfunded Mandate).

Only Republican voters see Clinton as being farther left than Obama, says Matt Yglesias (Placing the Candidates). 

When will NCLB get revamped?  Maybe it doesn't matter when, says Big Charlie (Irrelevant?)

Accountability is only as good as its numbers, notes Joanne Jacobs (Fudging the numbers).  Which might mean not very good. 

What's The Hoff going to do all year if there's no new NCLB news?  He's already rehashing stuff that's been around for a long time, like this post about a play called "No Child ... " that most of us did last year.

Higher ed coverage is fading fast, says longtime education writer Richard Whitmire (The Vanishing Higher-Education Reporter).

Why NCLB Needs Changing - Now

Nclb_2A bunch of education groups don't want Congress to wait on NCLB, and they're having an  event (next week) on January 31 in DC to make the point.  Check out all the details below.

Leaving NCLB alone does two bad things, I guess:  Lets EdSec Spellings continue to make up the law as she goes along -- treating the whole thing like one big recess appointment.  The parts she doesn't muck around with are left in their old, creaky form.

How, exactly, they intend get Congress to move on this, I don't know. 

Continue reading "Why NCLB Needs Changing - Now" »

Republican Candidates Have Education Folks, Too

There are some new names being added the last couple of days to the Campaign 08 page of "who's who" in education -- click the link and check out the names in italics to see what's been added.  See anything missing, just edit the page and make it right. 

Don't Forget NCLB, Says Spellings -- Off To Davos

0de91567901aa7fc66d57b302ebbbe344d1A few days ago EdSec Spellings sent a letter out to the state education chiefs (Download letter.tif) telling them that the USDE is going to explore legal remedies -- no word on a specific route of appeal.  Foregoing Sundance this year, Spellings is nonetheless headed to Davos, Switzerland for the annual confab of economic powers and thinkers.

Blog Covering Oakland Schools

F3d7890f438622a7ef4d822d4bee2d09975 Recently I got a nice note from Katy Murphy, the education reporter who's started the Education Report, a blog about Oakland schools.  She says she's having a lot of fun doing the blog -- and so are her readers, based on the lively comments she's got going.  Some recent posts: 

It's good to see another newspaper-run education blog.  The dailies have been strangely slow to get on the blog bandwagon when it comes to schools and education, partly because reporters feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and fearful of uncontrollable reader comments. 



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.