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"You Want To Know What I Make?" A Teacher Responds

Check out this great video of teacher-performer Taylor Mali describing what he thinks when people look down on him for being a teacher.  It's aggressive and angry, but full of heart:

The first line:  "You want to know what I make?  I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could." Via Andy Carvin

Best Of The Week (January 14-21)

Ap080116030026Campaign 2008
Chealsea Clinton Loves Teachers, Hates Exams, Too
They Dig, You Decide

Where In The World Is Margaret Spellings?
Here Come The State Of The Union & The New Budget

Teachers & Teaching
Would TFAers Man The Picket Lines, Or Teach The Kids?
Salary Lessons From The World Of Law Firms
Chicago Union President Tries To Oust Vice President

Media Watch
Watchdogging Education News
Teacher Blogging ASCD Conference
HBO Show Slams Journos' Motives Behind Coverage Of Schools

The Business Of Education
A Blogger Might Run The NYC Teachers Union
Do Funders Sink Education Research, Too?

 School Life
Early Childhood Education Lowers CO2 Emissions
Wireless Internet School Buses
[White] Kids Too Cool For Coats

Site News
Brittanica Blog
"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. "

He Had A Dream


Do Funders Sink Education Research, Too?

Check out this free Wall Street Journal article about just how misleading and self-interested drug research has been (Antidepressants Under Scrutiny).  I know there are an awful lot of rose-colored results out there in education research, but apparently drug companies routinely conduct but don't report studies that come out with "negative" results (ie, don't show benefits for their drugs), and the FDA doesn't track these disappearing studies, meaning that drugs are a lot less effective than your doctor knows or the ads say.  It's hard to believe, but neither the companies nor the researchers are under any legal obligation to report the results of these negative studies.  Does this happen in education research, too, or are the studies set up so broadly that the results are going to come out positive no matter what?

Drive-By Blog Roundup

Classicpooh011808 US News calls teaching career over-rated, says Scott Elliott: Teaching overrated?. DC kid talks about low quality schools, at TQATE:  Crackonomics. Roy Romer blacklists EdWeek blogger, she says:  An Ohio Educator's Q-and-A with Roy Romer. Rights and testing groups clarify ELLs, from Big Charlie:   The 411 On NCLB and ELL. Unions divides, says nominally pro-union Dem: Unions bitterly divided in Democratic race. More about unions, from The Hoff:  Allies Question NEA's Legal Strategy, Prefer a Political One. Moles book reaches the century mark, says Britannica Blog:   The Wind in the Willows Turns 100.

Brittanica Blog

Numbers Preschool for none.  Horace Mann Achievement Academy.  A ban on "left behind" headlines.  Kozol and Petrilli endorse NCLB.  Teachers block class size reduction amendment.  Kucinich picks Spellings as running mate.  Wonks and pundits leave offices to start teaching.  This blog becomes more popular than the Huffington Post.

My first foray on the Britannica Blog.

If Weingarten Leaves To Head AFT, A Blogger Might Run The NYC Teachers Union

16obstacle_2 There's concrete if preliminary news that NYC teachers union head Randi Weingarten (pictured, second from right) seems to be on her way to DC to run the national AFT, leaving room for possible replacements in NYC.  The Sun's Elizabeth Green has the scoop, natch:  "Reversing years of denials, Ms. Weingarten last year said for the first time that she is open to considering the job if Mr. McElroy chooses to leave." Among those mentioned in the story as possible replacements -- though not the lead contender -- is Leo Casey, who posts frequently on the UFT blog, Edwize.

Chealsea Clinton Loves Teachers, Hates Exams, Too

31chelsea600 Just like her mom, Chelsea Clinton manages to pander to teachers (you're so great!) and bash     tests during a recent campaign appearance:

"I think it’s great that you’re a teacher, I think it’s great that all the students are here, particularly after your exam. I think I might have wanted to run right out the door after my high school exams."

Yay, teachers!  Boo, exams!

Big Stories Of The Day?

Ae6788fcb360b1b35406e930c1bad3cc02aReport: School slayings down MSNBC
About 16 students are murdered in U.S. schools each year, says a new government report. While that number and rate of slayings holds steady, it is lower than in the previous decade.

Urban Schools Aiming Higher Than Diploma NYT
There’s a growing sense of urgency among educators that every student should be on a college track.

Virtual schools threatened by court ruling MSNBC
Seventh-grader Marcy Thompson cried when she heard that a court had ordered the state to stop funding the virtual school she has attended for the last five years.

Revising a Name, but Not a Familiar Slogan NYT
The United Negro College Fund’s slogan remains a powerful ad message 35 years after its debut. The group’s name, however, has become a source of alienation.

McDonald’s Ending Promotion on Jackets of Children’s Report Cards NYT
McDonald’s has decided to stop sponsoring Happy Meals as rewards for children with good grades and attendance records in elementary schools in Seminole County, Fla.

Chicago Union President Tries To Oust Vice President

Ted_dallas_removal_20070001b There's always been some Keystone Cops to the Chicago Teachers Union, but this latest incident has got to take the cake:  The union president, Marilyn Stewart, elected last spring to a second term, got into a fight with her VP, Ted Dallas, elected with her and from the same caucus, and decided to write a letter about it.

Addressed to Arne Duncan, the superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, the letter (pictured, exclusive) indicates that Dallas is no longer representing the CTU except relating to two committees he works on, and that she hopes the letter won't be circulated. 

I'm told that this kind of infighting happens, but rarely goes public.  However, there's not much that each can do against the other, besides making each other's lives miserable.  Unless someone tries to do some sort of recall, that is. 

To see comments and reactions from Chicago teachers, among others, click here.

Skimming The Blogs

 Substitute_coverMore on Romney and education from MM:   Romney on Math, Science, and the Economy.

The Wonks remind us that it's time for  Carnival-Carnival!

The substitutes thing in the AP story today is highlighted by Joanne Jacobs Substandard substitutes.

Working hard in South Carolina is Roy Romer:  Campaigning on ED in South Carolina

Urban success stories from Big Charlie:  Urban Schools Leaving NCLB Behind

Insideschools finds the early lunch I've ever heard of:  Early bird special to unlucky students

Don't forget classroom blogs, says the ASCD Blog:  Bluebird's Classroom


Help_wanted795679Interested in working in DC, or looking for a change of venue?  Check out the slew of education policy and PR jobs that are open in DC, courtesy of The Fritzwire. 

Continue reading "Jobs!" »

Wireless Internet School Buses

Schoolbus773212First there were cameras and phones on school buses.  Now, wireless. 

A district is offering wireless Internet on some of its school buses, and online courses for kids taking the bus (This Bus Is Plugged In - US News and World Report).

Old school, meet new school. 

[White] Kids Too Cool For Coats

L_northface_iceparka_blackThe Today show did a segment the other day about kids not wearing coats (Why are kids too cool for coats?).  Indeed, kids in the video clip are walking around with coats, and say they don't have or use them. 

What I wonder is whether this is happening everywhere or just in white Chicago suburbs. 

I have no idea, though I have to say that none of the kids in my somewhat mixed Brooklyn neighborhood are going for the no-coat look.  North Face parkas are all the rage. 

However, it's nothing new.  NPR did it two years ago (Why Kids Hate to Wear Coats)

Big Stories Of The Day

98542851_ce922e6950Teacher Absences Are Hurting Learning AP
Schools' use of substitutes to plug full-time vacancies _ the teachers that kids are supposed to have all year _ is up dramatically.

Chief architect of NCLB act comes to Washington KOMOTV
The chief architect of "No Child Left Behind" is Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings who came to Washington knowing there's harsh criticism of the law.

Jeb Bush forms new education group to reward top teachers St. Petersburg Times
Former Gov. Jeb Bush announced the formation Tuesday of a second organization to advance his education policy goals, including school accountability, teacher merit pay and vouchers that allow children to attend private schools at public expense.

Would TFAers Man The Picket Lines, Or Teach The Kids?

Though it has nothing to do with education, per se, the writers' strike is still teaching us a lot about how collective bargaining works and how strike support ebbs and flows. 

On_strike2Initially, it jumped out at me how much high-profile support there was for the writers, especially among celebrities and actors whose work could, eventually, be limited by the lack of scribbling. The actors refusing to show at the Golden Globes is very roughly akin to parents refusing to send their children to schools staffed by scabs, subs, or administrators (which some districts sometimes say they're going to do to break a strike).

Now I'm seeing how support for the strike is slowly being diminished and undercut, first by the special deal worked out with Letterman and now -- especially -- with the return of Colbert and Stewart on Comedy Central.  These two -- WGA members themselves -- could and should have refused to resume with the show if they couldn't make a deal with the WGA.  We who decide to watch the show are making the strike less painful for the producers who don't want to pay the writers Internet residuals.

Here's the connection.  Given all the altcert, noncareer folks who are now in the classroom -- Colbert and Stewart watchers who presumably aren't so "into" the whole union thing -- what would happen in a city like New York or Chicago if the union went on strike?  Would TFAers and NYC Teaching Fellows man the picket lines, or teach the kids? It's something that union leaders in cities with large altcert populations must wonder. 

Blog Roundup

055323fb20d1d3f2a9c70ddd826d3fe3524A roundup of candidates' accountability plans features Romney, from EWA:  School accountability

A peek into a new teacher's classroom, courtesy of EdWize: The Verb Pipe

Something serious and something light from MM at EdWeek:  Discord Among Nevada Teachers Over Caucus Lawsuit, Listen Up Adults, the Kids Are Talking

Teaching is much more intense than office work, notes Kevin Carey, Teaching Isn't Selling Sporting Goods...Or Anything Else [though it isn't always all that intense, either]

One ed school tries to support grads with online offerings, notes Education PR (Teachers College launches After Ed TV

Tell your business manager or COO! Justices Rule in Securities Case Eyed by Teacher-Retirement Funds

Teacher Blogging ASCD Conference

701448v1v1 Congrats to teacher Dina Strasser and to ASCD, which has asked Dina to be their official teacher blogger for ACDS' National Conference in New Orleans in March. It's pretty much a first step for ASCD to have a blog (though I've been mooching off their daily SmartBrief for years now). And they're going with a real teacher not a press flack or a wonk or an administrator.  Even before then, Dina wants to know what sessions she should attend and write about, so send her input and check out the blog while you're at it

Here Come The State Of The Union & The New Budget

It's just three two weeks until the (last) GW Bush state of the union and the rollout of the FY09 budget, but this year there won't be the usual line of folks waiting for their copies of the budget documents, says Fritz of the Fritzwire:  "For the first time, hard copy versions of the Administration’s budget proposal will not be available to the public, but will be accessible in a paperless “E-Budget” format online at www.budget.gov. The online version will be fully searchable and available for downloading."

Schools Upping The Ante With "No Trespassing" Signs

Warning009The creative folks in Joliet, Illinois figured out that they didn't need any new legislation to ramp up punishment for kids bringing pellet guns and other gun lookalikes to school (Simple sign helps concerned schools).  All they had to do was post special "no trespassing signs."  Doing so apparently turned pellet gun possession into a misdemeanor, as opposed to an internal school discipline issue.  Brilliant, or misguided?  You be the judge.  Either way, it's an interesting approach -- I'm surprised it isn't used more often or more widely. 

Big Stories Of The Day

U.S. Dominance in Science and Technology at Risk, Report Says NYT
The United States is still the world leader in scientific innovation, but its dominance is threatened by economic development elsewhere, the National Science Board reported today.

A082590ca0bc66da0f9ecda1c25ef5204f6Using Title I Funds for RTI Will Be a Challenge Title I Online
The lack of a shared vocabulary is making it difficult to integrate Title I and “response to intervention,” a federally endorsed instructional technique to help struggling students and avoid over-identification of children as learning-disabled.

Scapegoating Home-Schoolers Wall Street Journal
A mother allegedly murders her four girls after social workers fail to protect them. An imaginative reporter finds someone to blame.

Education reform gets left behind in presidential campaign
We're still reeling from the unintended consequences of good intentions. These consequences cover a multitude of sin(ecure)s that makes it impossible to correct course.

Congress 2007: No Child Left Behind CQ Politics
Without GOP support, the bill was doomed in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to advance contentious measures. Kennedy held hearings throughout the year but held back on introducing legislation, allowing his counterpart in the House to go first.

They Dig, You Decide

EducationI read somewhere about this site, called Vote Gopher, which attempts to track candidates' position on key issues all in one place.  Its motto:  "We dig, you decide." 

Don't be fooled by the kiddie look of the page, however.  There are summaries, comparisons, video and quotes for each of the candidates on the education page.  If anyone knows a better place for a great one-stop voter guide, let us know.

"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. "

There's not been as much response as I'd imagined to Matthew Miller's proposal to get rid of school boards -- though this fellow wants to take it a step further:  First, Kill the Department of Education, THEN Kill all the School Boards).  The quote above is attributed to Mark Twain, of all people, which tells you (if it's accurate) just how long local control has been pissing people off. 

Best Of Today's Posts


The NEA is being bad again, says Big Swifty (Loading The Dice In Vegas).  An apt description for most of Charlie's posts these days.

The NEA in Arkansas blocked Huckabee's endorsement, says EIA (Arkansas Affiliate Helped Torpedo NEA Huckabee Endorsement).  Which would have killed his primary chances, right?

Will folks just stop blathering about the future of NCLB, laments Eduwonk (Wither Education?).  Especially if they're not him.  (Or me.)

Forget national politics when it comes to education, says Campaign K12 (Where the Education Action Really Is).  It's all about the states and districts.

Fictional newspaper editors (pictured) want strong narratives and readability, not "context" in their education stories, notes Pseudo-Intellectualism (Amorphous Putz).  Plus a post about killing turtles. Via Eduwonkette. 

Watchdogging Education News

Watch out, science and enviro reporters.  There's a new page at the Columbia Journalism Review focused on watchdogging science coverage (The Observatory).  It's described as a "full-time department dedicated to critiquing the press coverage of science and the environment."  Excellent. Until CJR starts one of these for education news, however, you're stuck with the likes of me and my part-time amateur-hour critiques and tirades.

Where In The World Is Margaret Spellings?

Secretary Spellings is headed West this week for a slew of Washington, Oregon, and California events, according to her press folks:

CarworldWednesday, January 16: 8 a.m. PST Secretary Spellings and Governor Gregoire will host an education policy roundtable with, state legislators, educators and business leaders at Roosevelt Elementary School.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS Olympia, Wash.

Thursday, January 179 a.m. PST  Secretary Spellings will deliver remarks on No Child Left Behind before the Oregon State Board of Education at the Public Services Building.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS  Salem, Ore. 10:45 a.m. PSTSecretary Spellings will visit Auburn Elementary School with Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo and tour classrooms, visit with students and teachers and deliver remarks at a school assembly.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS Salem, Ore. 1:10 p.m. PST Secretary Spellings will host a Hispanic Roundtable with local Hispanic leaders at the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. OPEN PRESS Portland, Ore.

Friday, January 18: 10:30 a.m. PST Secretary Spellings and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will tour classrooms and visit with students and teachers at Otay Elementary School.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS San Diego, Calif.

Salary Lessons From The World Of Law Firms

071220_juris_hourstnEducation isn't the only industry that's trying to change the way it pays workers for what they do from something that's traditional but crude as a measure of productivity to something that's more efficient and flexible, according to this recent article from Slate (The Scourge of the Billable Hour).  In the world of law firms, clients apparently hate the billable hour for the way it inflates fees and gives them no real way of controlling costs.  Lawyers hate the billable hour because of the relentless pressure to bill more hours every year.  Big companies are pressuring law firms to cap costs and negotiate flat fees.   Are there any lessons here for school districts and teachers unions?

Advance Work > Policy Work

Perry778620 Don't let anyone tell you that policy folks are particularly important in political campaigns.  For better or worse, they're not. 

The people with the ideas come in a distant third behind communications people and  so-called "advance" people, campaign rock stars and grunts who plan and organize public events to within an inch of their lives. 

Here's an inside look from a former Clinton advance guy:  Rules of the Road.

Big Stories Of The Day

Tying Cash Awards to AP-Exam Scores Seen as Paying Off EdWeek
As money-for-achievement programs grow, the debate over whether remuneration works in education and what the trade-offs are sharpens.

43271b36228ee955cbbd9e8d5ecbac11bdfOIG Tells ED to Strengthen Monitoring of Comparability Title I Monitor
One Arizona district used federally funded staff in its elementary school calculations, essentially violating the supplement not supplant provision in an attempt to comply with comparability.

Massive Funding Cuts to ‘Reading First’ Generate Worries EdWeek
The program gradually has been cut by 60 percent—from nearly $1 billion to $393 million each year—since it was rolled out in 2002.

Book Smarts Lacking On Gender Equality Washington Post
"The Daring Book for Girls" and "The Dangerous Book for Boys" -- companion volumes teaching old-fashioned games, skills and lore -- are flying out of bookstores, purchased by parents who no doubt worry that their children spend too much time playing video games and watching YouTube.

Op-Ed Contributor: The Early Bird Gets the Bad Grade NYT
Would children do better if school started later? [how about adults?]

Around The Blogs...

Because you've got better things to do than scan them all....

Chalk_posterHalf Nelson isn't the best film depiction of teaching, according to NYT teacher blogger Will Okun (None).  That award goes to "Chalk."  Looks funny and harsh.

Wanting to get paid more doesn't make teachers greedy and isn't necessarily a bad thing, says Kevin Carey (Breaking the Greed / Virtue Dichotomy).*

Pro-charter Obamaniac Whitney Tilson is actually not against unions, you might be surprised to read (The Conscience of a Liberal & my views on unions).  I certainly was.  But then again Diane Ravitch is pro-union, too.

The NEA's state-by-state endorsement strategy emphasizes flexibility at the expense of leverage, says EIA (NEA Finds 7 Democrats Acceptable).

Things are going well in Cincinnati, of all places -- but who gets credit is not so clear, according to the AFTies (A Cincinnati School Sensation).

There's trouble in the Williams marriage, reports Joe (How Leo Casey Nearly Ended My Marriage).  It sure wasn't those softball questions I tossed his way last week on the HotSeat. 

Will NCLB be reauthorized, asks the Core Knowledge Blog (The Edupundit).  Yes.  Can we move on from this one, please? 

*Kevin's thoughts about The Wire aren't as interesting as mine (see below), but he's catching up (The Wire, Season Five, Episode Two).

Early Childhood Education Lowers CO2 Emissions

A3053438cebf14173846434ef399b7e008bNo, not exactly.  But the early childhood industry in LA alone generates more than $1.9 billion to the local economy and employs 65,00 people, according to a new report from the California Endowment that's being released today. It will over the next few years be the sixth largest growth industry in the area.

People "don’t traditionally consider ECE from an economic standpoint or recognize it as a $2 billion per year industry," according to an email from the report authors.  Indeed, they don't.  But maybe they should. UPK -- it's a jobs program!


HBO Show Slams Journos' Motives Behind Coverage Of Schools

Last night's episode of The Wire included some biting commentary on journalism -- especially journalism that focuses on schools and poor communities (Unconfirmed Reports).

WireFor starters, the fictional editor of the Baltimore Sun wants to do a big story on the school system -- something "Dickensian," he says -- but that doesn't get muddled up in all sorts of confusing contextual issues like poverty and other societal ills.  The effort's clearly aimed more at winning a prize than helping or fixing anything.  Less extreme, but I think much more common in real life, an ambitious reporter on the show goes out to try and find something interesting to write about opening day for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team but has such preconceived notions of what would make a good story -- ignoring what he finds along the way, and eventually (spoiler alert!) seeming to fabricate a particularly heart-wrenching character out of thin air.

To be honest, I think that editors who are Pulitzer hunting don't often pick education for these types of things, since there's so little surprise involved. But I do think that reporters in education are sometimes forced to look for characters that fit their story, rather than melding a story out of what the characters they meet have to say.  Of course, the show itself is taking liberties with the truth, and could be accused of being just as uselessly dramatic for commercial purposes (Is It Just Poverty Porn?).

PS:  If you want to catch up on the show, you can check out a four-minute video recap by clicking below -- it's hard to follow but will give you the basics and some of the backstory behind the various characters.

Continue reading "HBO Show Slams Journos' Motives Behind Coverage Of Schools" »

Big Stories Of The Day

386d00ed7c1022b8f6cc9b75ff9e4ce371aAssessment to Rate Principal Leadership To Be Field-Tested EdWeek
Starting next month, 300 schools nationwide will take part in a field test of a new way to gauge principals’ effectiveness.

'Dashboards' Provide Data On Schools Washington Post
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has unveiled a new tool to show the public a snapshot of how schools fare in reading and math achievement, graduation rates and participation in challenging Advanced Placement exams.

 Admissions Anxiety, With a Twist NYT
The high school class of 2008 is the largest in decades, and folks on both sides of the application process are praying for a miracle.

 Mexican government opens 13 schools for basic education Los Angeles Daily News
The 13 centers offer free classes, in person or through video and the Internet, to Mexican nationals living in the United States.

Wing and a prayer propel a young black pilot to aviation records CSM
Barrington Irving shunned the drugs and gangs of his Miami neighborhood for his dream of flying – now he helps other kids soar.

Best Of The Week (January 6-12)

Best Of The Week
First, Kill All The Policy Wonks
On The HotSeat: Pro-Charter PACster Joe Williams
Is It Just Poverty Porn?  Reconsidering "The Wire"

Bush_blackboardCampaign 2008
Pondering The Candidates' Backgrounds
Clinton Hates NCLB, Claims Real-World "Change" Record

Spellings & Bush
Bush Teaches Chicago Students How To Figure Out Volumes & Surface Areas
"A Profound And Uncomfortable Transition"
Happy Birthday, NCLB -- Love, The NEA
PLUS:  Was The NEA Right To Wait?

On The Hill
Crocodile Tears Over NCLB Reauth & Funding Levels

Foundation Follies
What's Your Dangerous Idea For Education?
New Entrepreneurship Group Wants Attention For Innovation

Teachers & Teaching
The Manatee Has Become The Mento
What Union Leaders Really Think?

Media Watch
Liberal Bias In EdWeek's Quality Counts?
Wonk Vs. Wonkette
Stodgy Trade Pub. Win Independent Media Award

School Life
More Bad News From International Comparisons
Student Crossing Guard
Will Smith's Classroom Of The Future

The Manatee Has Become The Mento

Artlafavemugshot_2200pxmarykletourneau_2Debra Lafave (left) won't go to jail for violating her probation, after all (Hugs, 'girl talk' won't send sex scandal teacher to jail - CNN.com). 

Her mentor, Mary Letourneau (right), was on Larry King to mark the occasion.  Still married to her former student.

I put the over/under on highly publicized female teacher-male student sex incidents for 2008 at three.  I'm taking the under. 

Thank God It's Blog-Day

Which is worse?  A Dem. gettting an endorsement from John Kerry, or a Republican getting an endorsement from a state NEA?  Michele McNeil ponders the latter at Campaign K12 (The 'Liberal', NEA-backed Mike Huckabee).

1c4ce2002309a3ab3510d4143fd43562b52Dazzled at the Spellings press event earlier this week, Kevin Carey tells us that Spellings Stands Firm. No one will end up suing if she makes further NCLB changes administratively.

Einstein would have hate hated standardized tests, writes TLN blogger Nancy Flanagan after a day at a DC conference on testing and knowledge (In Einstein’s Lap). Definitely worth a read, even if you don't like her conclusions.

Kids hate them, and they may not be entirely legal, but most cities have youth curfews and Chicago is making its curfew earlier, says the ASBJ blog (Setting curfews to cut crime).

Thirteen million kids live in poverty in the US, according to a recent report described in Assorted Stuff (Leaving a Bunch of Children Behind).  That's an 11 percent increase since 2000.

NB:  The individual entries on a blog are called posts, not blogs.  And the reader responses below each post are called comments, not blogs.  The blog is the thing, the website. 

Liberal Bias In EdWeek's Quality Counts?

Ce719a295d58d35d8dfa36ea4e6bdfb7929 Every year, it seems, EdWeek's Quality Counts report has more bells and whistles -- which is great, except it gives folks like the Fordham Foundation more to wonder about.  [BTW -- I didn't know that 12 states have already tied teacher evaluation to student achievement. I thought the number was still much smaller.] Last year, you may recall, they lambasted QC's effort to determine "Chance-for-Success" for every state.  This year, they've got big problems with QC's research on teacher salary and wage progression (The Gadfly).  In simple terms, it's the old 9 months vs. 12 months issue.  Along with ideological arguments, there are some substantive concerns here, too, it seems.  But as with many things Fordham, it's hard to tell which is which. 


"Big" Stories Of The Day

McKeon Fighting For No Child Left Behind
As House Republican education leaders were celebrating the sixth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, they took time to press Democratic leaders to continue working with them to reauthorize of the law.

At the center of California's school reforms LA Times
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, it's the job of state board members -- who are appointed by the governor -- to determine how that happens in each of those school systems, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, with nearly 700,000 students.

Charters Struggle with Special Education NOLA.com
Two years after charter schools began taking over the city's education landscape, they serve, on average, significantly fewer special education students than traditional schools. However, even serving the students they already have presents a daily struggle.

Teacher Support Can Help Cut Pre-K Expulsions, Report Finds EdWeek
Experts suggest reducing class sizes, and giving teachers access to mental-health consultants and regular breaks throughout the day. 

New Entrepreneurship Group Wants Attention For Innovation

C8ef8c7b6a89ebfcbf489d82e5ec19283c6I'm about a month behind, but there's a new effort you should know about called America Forward. Best as I understand it, America Forward is like a social entrepreneur's version of EDINO8 -- a campaign to get their issue on everyone's radar screen.  Led by Vanessa Kirsch's New Profit, this group of 59 nonprofits had a kickoff event at the National Press Club last month, and their pitch is "most of the nation's problems are being solved somewhere — often by small, community-based nonprofit organizations using innovative methods that government could support or copy."  The idea here is to get out of the notion that government has to solve problems directly.  But they also want federal support -- grants, a new agency.  I'm still a little confused, but you should check it out if you've gotten this far.   

Student Crossing Guard

0014c4aaad63e2004b354a72178004b9b64Remember them?

From here.

Crocodile Tears Over NCLB Reauth & Funding Levels

5e73459159f6e34b778f38fc6ae3719ee5c The Administration's decision to do a couple of NCLB anniversary events -- the President in Chicago (with Rahm Emmanuel in tow) and the Press Club EdSec speech -- seems to have pissed off their former NCLB allies Miller and Kennedy, who have both issued press releases decrying lack of funding for NCLB (Kennedy) and both funding and effort (Miller). 

Some questions to ponder:  Did the Bush folks plan these NCLB events because they wanted to or simply because they knew folks would make fun of them if they didn't?  My guess is it's the latter.  Were Kennedy and Miller surprised that the Bush folks wanted to talk NCLB this week, or just mad that they weren't invited?  Again, I'd go with the latter.  Did Bush and Spellings not do enough last year to get NCLB revamped?  My sense is that they did all they could, given a Democratic majority and an unpopular administration (not to speak of an unpopular law).  The NCLB problems were most of them on the Democratic side of things, as I recall.  It all seems so long ago now. 

See below for both statements, which, on second look, seem somewhat perfunctory.  Maybe someone from the DNC called and told them to issue something, and it's just ritualistic politics here not true outrage.

Continue reading "Crocodile Tears Over NCLB Reauth & Funding Levels" »

Speed-Reading The Blogs

2007_05_11_richardson_300NCLB's Biggest Basher Dropping Out: With Richardson gone, there will still be other critics.

Mandates Schmandates:  Why sue the Feds when you don't really have to comply with the law in the first place, asks Charlie B?

It's All About Reality:  AFTies read QC report, hone in on teacher salaries.

 Judge Halts Distribution of Gideon Bibles: EdWeek's other new blog by Mark Walsh.

NCLB II: The Liberal's Dilemma:  Dean Millot imagines being liberal.

"A Profound And Uncomfortable Transition"

EdSec Spellings gave a speech today on NCLB, including the lines:

We’re in the midst of a profound and often uncomfortable transition. ..Today, we’re taking an honest look at our schools. ..We have to ask, which comes first, politics or kids?

I'll try to get video or audio of the speech, or someone's description of the event.  In the meantime, you can click below to see the full text, as written. 

There's also a new(?) webpage from the USDE called Mapping The Nation's Progress, which includes state- and national-level data from the past six years of NCLB. I'll give a dollar to anyone who can compare how states do on the USDE site to how they do on the EdWeek report that's just out, Quality Counts.

Continue reading ""A Profound And Uncomfortable Transition"" »

More Bad News From International Comparisons

Sick of all those international comparisons?  Too bad.  Here's yet another area in which American children lag behind their peers in other countries:

Report: American Schools Trail Behind World In Aptitude Of Child Soldiers "An average Sudanese child can field strip a Type 81A assault rifle by the time he's in sixth grade.  An American child couldn't do that until he was in the military at 17 and a half."

On The HotSeat: Pro-Charter PACster Joe Williams

He runs a PAC for pro-charter Democrats.  He used to be a journalist. He's written a book.   Everyone says what a nice guy he is -- except for those who hate him.

Camping_trip_070vAs head of Democrats For Education Reform, Joe Williams (pictured) has been ramping things up since last June and estimates that DFER events have generated "a couple hundred thousand dollars worth" at various fundraising events. In addition to supporting pro-charter candidates like George Miller, Eliot Spitzer, and NY state senator Malcolm Smith, DFER has also given directly to the DCCC and Rep. James Clyburn's BridgePAC.

On the HotSeat, Williams explains what he's learned moving from journalism to politics, gives his account for how charters became Republican, contrasts DFER and EDINO8, complains about having to pay for everyone's drinks, and wishes he'd learned more math in school. He also reveals the nasty consequences if his pick for president doesn't end up winning.

See below for the full interview. 

Previous posts: Hype Alert, Educating Elected Officials Through Their Pocketbooks, An "Emily's List" For Education?, DFER Happy Hour.

Continue reading "On The HotSeat: Pro-Charter PACster Joe Williams" »

Big Stories Of The Day

Spellings pushes on her own to keep No Child law alive USA Today
With just more than a year left in office, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she plans to take matters into her own hands on the 6-year-old No Child Left Behind law and use her executive authority to push through changes that have stalled in Congress.

Barack_obama_07Reading Program Braces for Cuts Missoulian (Mont.)
While just 31 schools qualified for Reading First grants, those schools showed progress improving reading scores on the NCLB tests.

George Miller endorses Obama SJ Mercury
"Barack has the skills and experience that's necessary to really challenge the status quo in Washington, D.C.," Miller said before a press conference Wednesday in San Francisco.

Md., Va. School Systems Ranked in Nation's Top 5 WashPost
Maryland and Virginia public schools are among the top five state school systems in the nation, according to an annual report released yesterday by one of the country's most respected education organizations.

Will Smith's Classroom Of The Future

Readers of this blog know that actor Will Smith has some...interesting ideas about schools.  Lately, he's been talking about them (Will Smith Wants To Create Classroom Of The Future).  It's not quite Scientology, but...it's not really all that smart, either.

Will Smith going to have dinner at Bocca di Bacco restaurant in Berlin Germany

What's Your Dangerous Idea For Education?

POLITICS.  For all their supposed differences, everyone's "against" the current version of NCLB, says EdWeek's web watch (Campaigning Against NCLB).  I'm not sure that's entirely right, but I don't have the energy.  Also at EdWeek, Michele M. dissects the New Hampshire results with an eye towards education (New Hampshire: Moms and the Economy Rule).  Meanwhile, Richard Lee Colvin revisits the whole UPK thing going on in the next primary state (On to South Carolina).  I bet the whole primary hinges on that issue.

Di150_2 THIS AND THAT:  Fascinated by Tony Bryk?  Check out this post (New Leader at Carnegie) from Kevin Carey.  Curious about a liberal education advocate coming out in favor of a charter school model?  Check out DFER's link to Marion Wright Edelman (Reproduce Successful School Programs).  Looking for new thinking?  Check out Assorted Stuff's take on An Educationally Dangerous Idea? (sounds a lot like the Montessori school I went to).

NCLB:  Down in FLA, there's some new controversy evolving (Spellings kowtows to creationists).  Get it?  Speaking of Spellings, Eduwonk has a post whose sole purpose seems to be to let us all know he had a chat with the EdSec (Margaret Spellings: Oceanographer).  I get chills just thinking about it.  Meanwhile, the AFTies don't want GWB to get any credit for honoring NCLB's aniversary or trying to get it revamped (President Bush AWOL on NCLB).  Yeah, and the AFT was all about getting the thing reauthorized last year.  I must have missed that part. Bereft of material without his writers, The Hoff asks Six Questions About NCLB's Future.

Last but not least, Charlie Barone complains that TeacherKen's post on NCLB was so long and boring he almost feel asleep reading it (Happy Birthday NCLB From Today's Daily Koszzz).  I would tell you what Barone said, but I... fell asleep.

Was The NEA Right To Wait?

Hillary Clinton's "surprise" win in New Hampshire is a good reminder that one of the many outfits trying out how to influence -- and win the support of -- the eventual nominee are the unions.  The AFT endorsed Clinton last year, so they're excited she's still in it.  NEA locals are all over the place, and Clinton seems like an even more obvious choice for the NEA than for the AFT, which would have seemed to have been an Obama possibility.  Read about the labor dynamics here: Obama Win Shakes Up Labor. Not that union endorsements are necessarily all that important anymore.  Otherwise Obama wouldn't have won Iowa, right?

First, Kill All The Policy Wonks

N84793 Moving towards a more nationalized system of education, which is the main the thrust of Matthew Miller's new article in The Atlantic (First, Kill All the School Boards $), is to be sure an attention-getting idea. 

But it's  not nearly as persuasive an essay as I had hoped and -- more problematically -- almost completely without regard for how to make it happen.  Didn't President Clinton crash and burn with his attempt on this? Didn't Chris Dodd just go nowhere with his national standards idea and drop out of the race last week? 

First, kill all the policy wonks whose proposals lack a robust political strategy. Public opinion polls, former Republican education secretaries, and even a dramatic new investment in federal education spending aren't going to get us from here to there.  What is, I'm dying to know.    



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.