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Graduation Gala

Bushcardinals Tomorrow's news, today:  "Secretary Spellings will make an announcement during remarks on the need for a more comprehensive and precise definition of “graduation rate” at a press conference hosted by America's Promise Alliance and State Farm in the Columbus Club at Union Station. Other speakers at the press conference on the America’s Promise Alliance’s Dropout Prevention Campaign will include General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret), founding chair, America’s Promise Alliance; Alma Powell, chair, America’s Promise Alliance; and Edward J. Rust, Jr., chief executive officer, State Farm."

When Spelling Words Make You Laugh

First it's funny, then you start to think that the kid might actually biff the spelling, and then....

Via Matt Yglesias

Around The Blogs

Four and a Half Myths About NCLB CKB
Checker Finn had a think-piece in Sunday’s Washington Post on the “5 Myths About No Child Left Behind,” which is facing an uncertain fate—or at least an uncertain timetable—as it awaits reauthorization this year.

Teach For America Shows Promise In North Carolina Charlie Barone
We’re sure this won’t settle the TFA debate. But the results are compelling, particularly given that the Urban Institute has in the past been very conservative in drawing conclusions from studies of teacher quality and student achievement.  PLUS: Teach For America Study Wrap-Up (eduonwkette)

Ed Research Angst: An AERA Challenger? eduwonketteAfter a few glasses of wine, someone will suggest that the dissatisfied band together and start an organization to compete with AERA. Few realize that this has already happened.  

Is the Non-Profit World Teeming With Fraud? Freakonomics
When we recently wrote a column suggesting that philanthropies be run more like businesses, one factor we didn't look into — but perhaps should have — was fraud.

Joanne Jacobs: Where tutors are hot
Hot tutors in Hong Kong are making big bucks.

Bullying In School: Not Just A Kids' Problem

7a024419d111d4a65590f1de6f9a4fa8b54 Bullying isn't just the domain of children and playgrounds, though you'd hardly know it from mainstream newspapers or even trade magazines. It happens to adults, too -- at least some of them teachers and administrators.  So it was great to see this recent New York Times article about adult bullying (When The Bully Sits In the Next Cubicle). That's not to take anything away from the persistent problem of students bullying each other.  The Times' previous story on the same topic, A Boy the Bullies Like to Beat Up, Repeatedly, is equally important.  But we shouldn't forget that adults are equally able to bully and intimidate other adults.  Or, for that matter, that some adults are bullied and cowed by their students.

Big Stories Of The Day

Rise of the 'rock star' school superintendent Christian Science Monitor
No Child Left Behind has created a demand for school administrators who can take the pressure, and some 20 percent of school districts are now seeking superintendents because of a shortage.

Bush Aide Defends Reading Program Washington Post
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is sending a message to educators across the country who support a federal program to help young children learn to read: "Fight fiercely."

Educators Pouring Liberal Sums Into Political Campaigns Hartford Courant
Richard Gusberg used to consider political donations a waste of money. But impressed by Barack Obama and his ability to inspire and bring people together, the Yale medical professor reached for his checkbook.
Mayor Seeks Job Switch, but Response Is Lukewarm NYT
In the last 10 days, Mayor Willie W. Herenton...the suburbs. The mayor is given credit for revitalizing downtown Memphis and attracting businesses...Still, several Memphis residents suggested the mayor was more likely disenchanted...

Security Checks of U.S. Education Contractors to Change EdWeek
The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing a less stringent set of rules for maintaining federal security and protecting the privacy of people who take part in federally subsidized research.

Harlem to Antarctica for Science, and Pupils NYT
Eager to be a role model, an African-American teacher plans to travel to Antarctica, where almost all is white. 

A School Board Clash in Pennsylvania, With Echoes NYT
In a district where a third of the students are Hispanic, the resignation last month of one member of the all-white school board prompted civic activists to urge the remaining members to appoint Sis Obed Torres Cordero, a lawyer and civic leader, to fill the vacancy.

A Different Kind of Student Exam MSNBC
Many schools across the region are requiring students to submit to a Breathalyzer test to gain entrance to school dances as part of efforts to curb under-age drinking.

Erin Renner Stars On The Senate HELP Committee

Ph2008032803691_2 Ph2008032803696 Check out this light but fun Washington Post piece about young committee staffers including Erin Renner (pictured), who works on higher ed issues on the HELP committee.   

Are there other young stars working education issues at the committee level?  And who's that old guy to her right?

Best Of The Week (March 23-27)

NCLB Causes Terrorism
Drink Too Much Last Night? Blame NCLB.
Rating Wines: Numbers Or Words?

Journalistic Self-Loathing & Coverage Of Education Research
A Huffington Post (Or Freakonomics) For Education Research
Liveblogging AERA -- From A Cell Phone
"No, But I Did Stay At A Holiday Inn Express Last Night."

Urban Education
Ending Social Promotion In Chicago, Revisited
School Turnarounds: All It Takes Is A Bilingual Orthodox Jew

Think Tank Mafia
"No, But I Did Stay At A Holiday Inn Express Last Night."
Please Stop Hyping Social Entrepreneurship
Attendance Vs. Experience

Media Watch
NPR Education Guru Steve Drummond Bumped Up To New Job
Journalistic Self-Loathing & Coverage Of Education Research
A Huffington Post (Or Freakonomics) For Education Research
Dallas Morning News New(ish) Education Blog

Teachers & Teaching
Hollywood Producer Values "Teacher-Like Qualities" Above All
Edgy English Teacher Makes Teachers Look Bad...Gets Fired

School Life
"The Manatee Has Become The Mento"
Inner-City Pole Vaulting Foundation Started

PLUS:  Daily News & Around The Blogs (Daily Roundup)

Around The Blogs

The Sweet Underground Freakonomics
When elementary and high schools ban the sale of candy and sodas, students create flourishing underground economies to satisfy demand for the sweet stuff. In the ensuing crackdown, even high-profile figures are laid low.

Secretary of State Says Bush Won Her Over With NCLB The Hoff
Back in 2000, Republican presidential candidates courted foreign policy expert Condoleezza Rice, right, to advise them. One thing that appealed to the Russia expert about George Bush was his proposal to give "equal opportunity to black and white students" under NCLB.

I have been contemplating (better word than thinking… thanks thesaurus) what it takes to be a good principal or school administrator.

A Solution in Search of a Problem CKB
It’s a remarkable flowering of mainstream access to data that simply didn’t exist even a few years ago. So to bloggers who bemoan the media’s lack of attention to ed research I can only suggest it’s not their role any more. It’s ours.

Thank You Letters from Undocumented Students LTL
The editors of Education Week got an e-mail message this week from Yvonne Watterson, an Arizona principal who was recently featured in the New York Times for becoming an advocate for her undocumented...

Researchers and journalists can work together
Education researchers should not be afraid to discuss their tentative research findings, said journalists on this morning’s AERA panel discussion.

Who Are They? Where Are They? When Do They Stay and Move? Eduwonkette
These are all skilled researchers, who analyzed their data with great care. And yet I came away disappointed in two respects.

Inner-City Pole Vaulting Foundation Started

Oped_black_guy_2 "These kids need someone on their side. They need a powerful force to set them on the right trajectory and keep them out of prison, or worse, the morgue. They need pole-vaulting." 

LINK:  I'm Starting This Foundation So Inner-City Youths Will Have The Pole-Vaulting Opportunities I Never Had

"No, But I Did Stay At A Holiday Inn Express Last Night."

Images The unintentional comedy from Andy's attempts to pose as an expert on both journalism and education research continues in his most recent post (AERA'ed), along with a whole lot of backpedaling and argument-bolstering.  Andy seems not to realize how obviously self-interested it is for him to argue that reporters should ignore where research comes from or to warn traditional researchers off of talking to the press. Just as annoying, he seems not to realize how absurd it is for journalists and researchers to be lectured by someone who's never been a journalist and (last I heard) is still himself working on his PhD.  Most folks are just too polite (or intimidated) to tell him so.  But expertise is not so easily acquired as Andy seems to think, and each field's principles and incentives can't be so easily integrated.  Andy could be lots of things -- pundit, scholar, advocate, appointee  -- but he shouldn't expect to be accepted as all of them.

NCLB Causes Terrorism

Following up on an earlier story blaming NCLB for states' graduation rate games, here's Gerry Bracey blaming NCLB for a teacher who reportedly threatened students if they didn't score well on upcoming test (The Degeneration of American Education).  How is this NCLB's fault, again? 

Big Stories Of The Day

Teacher recovers from attack Detroit News
Police say 3 students assaulted Northern High instructor, who has a fractured skull, a broken rib and an injured lung.

Study to Probe Effect of Charter-Management Models EdWeek
The three-year longitudinal study will cover almost 200 schools within 33 CMOs in 12 states.

Union attacks charter schools Akron Beacon - Journal
The Ohio Federation of Teachers has asked the Internal Revenue Service to examine the non-profit status of charter schools managed by White Hat Management, the company established by Akron entrepreneur David Brennan.

Chicago fights rise in teen murders MSNBC
The use of police to escort students to and from Crane Tech High School this week, dubbed "Operation Safe Passage" is just one of the ways Chicago is dealing with a wave of violence that has stunned the city.

Dallas Morning News New(ish) Education Blog

LunchtrayIn a fit of journalistic irresponsibility, the powers that be at the Dallas Morning News newspaper deemed education -- and education reporter Kent Fischer -- worthy of a blog.  Begun in December, the Dallas ISD Blog includes links to DMN pieces and -- my favorite --a  daily roundup of other news called the Daily Dish, accompanied by this picture of a very healthy cafeteria meal.  The site is also part of the cool new Beatblogging social journalism project. I'm extremely late in realizing that the blog was up and running, but it doesn't look like it needs any help from me.  Welcome to the blogosphere, Kent.  Don't forget to link back. 

A Huffington Post (Or Freakonomics) For Education Research

There have been some small but important changes when it comes to coverage of education research -- traditional and otherwise, online or in print. More might be in the works.

As I noted at yesterday's AERA session, journalism still avoids dealing with education research as much as possible and struggles to deal with it when there's just no other escape.  Check here for lots of recent examples: Media Watch.

As a result, education research still isn't much of a player -- especially academic research, which has for better or worse been usurped by advocacy-oriented think tanks on both right and center. Some think tanks like Brookings and the Urban Institute come from a deep and strong research perspective.  Others, not so much. Too infrequently do you see top university-based researchers quoted in the papers or appearing in front of Congressional committees.   

That seems like a shame. And yet, there have been some small but important changes in recent months, including a few new folks on the scene who are pondering education research and bringing it to the rest of us.  In education, this includes  the arrival of AERA conference darling eduwonkette, NYU historian Diane Ravitch, and Kevin DeRosa at D-ED Reckoning.  Outside of education, there's the Freakonomics blog at the NYT, Malcolm Gladwell's blog, and the one maintained by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (authors of big research-heavy magazine articles on children lying and sleep and praise, among other things).   On the political front, FactCheck.org does a decent job of refereeing candidates' claims and proposals, including some that are education-related (Richardson Flunks Two Subjects).   

These sources all bring research to us and help us digest it.  And the Spencer, Lumina, and Knight foundations are all funding efforts to improve the quality of education writing and its connections to research in the near future.  (More about this later.)  There's still a clear need for more.  Perhaps it should come from the journalism side -- a Columbia Journalism Review website reviewing education research and journalism like they have for science (Watchdogging Education News).  Beefed-up (and free) coverage from EdWeek and the Chronicle.  A "grown-up" version of FactCheckED.org.  Or it could come from the research side -- a broader and more balanced version of the Think Tank Review Project, a forum created by AERA to bring the best research forward for scrutiny and discussion, a Freakonomics-inspired ed research blog.

I don't think the answer is to try and turn journalists into researchers, or vice versa.  In most cases, neither does the job well.  But there is room for a strong intermediary effort, and I'm mysteriously hopeful that we'll hear more about high-quality education research in 2008 online and in print than we did during the past year.

See my post about last year's AERA here:  A Global Warming Initiative For AERA.

Around The Blogs

A fresh Obama strategy? Richard Whitmire
Here's the case for encouraging Obama to take up the boys-in-trouble issue in the campaign as a way of reaching out to working class families. Full disclosure: I wrote it.

Lawless Policymaking Kevin Carey
Sec. Spellings can do this for a simple reason: nobody objects. She's using what amounts to an extra-legal, consensus-driven process of amending the law without going through the whole hassle of introducing bills, havings votes, getting lobbied, etc. etc.

On the DOE's Differentiated Accountability Pilot edbizzbuzz
It's worth remembering that the waiver provision of NCLB I that gave Secretary Spellings the legal authority to offer this pilot - Sec. 9401, could just as easily be used by a future (Democratic) Secretary to kill SES outright.

Texas middle school principal John Burks is accused of threatening to kill his eighth-grade science teachers if student test scores didn't improve.

Pay for Performance Destruction EdNotes
A brilliant piece that exposes what teaching and learning all about by Jamiaca HS teacher JB McGeever in the City Limits. Delving into the kind of choice teachers face when test scores are used to evaluate their work, it is an impressive expression of the destructive impact merit pay schemes have on the teaching/learning process.

Principal accused of leaking test Hall Monitor
 This guy went about it all wrong. A little common sense tells us that the smart kids don't need tests answers. They get mad and snitch when people cheat. All he had to do was set something up with all the dumb kids in school.

The Sum of Our Fears
Core Knowledge
The New York Times the other day visited a New Jersey high school and followed the principal, roaming the halls as a crazed gunman might, looking for victims during a “ lockdown drill” — a reaction to Columbine-style school shootings. 

Research & The Internet: What You Missed This Morning At AERA

Some quick highlights from this morning's AERA panel where Richard Lee Colvin (Hechinger), Jenny Medina (NYT), Andy (Ed Sector), and I talked and answered questions about education research and the Internet: 

ImagesJenny highlighting the "sifting" role that education blogs play in helping reporters figure out what people are talking about and what to write about.  Andy making the claim that all education research is the same -- whether it's from a think tank or a research institution -- and that there's no real difference between advocacy-oriented think tanks like his and research-oriented think tanks like Brookings or the Urban Institute.  Richard pointing out that journalists are now filing mini-stories to be used online even before they've written out what will show up in the paper the next day.

We were all coming from very different places -- Jenny taking the most traditional journalistic view that talking to people and being in classrooms is as or more important to her reporting than anything going on online, Richard emphasizing the transformations going on in journalism like audio and video reporting packages, and Andy  and I jousting over whether researchers should find more effective ways to push their way into the journalistic and political fray (my view) or hold off and stand back in order to stay within the bounds of their findings and not get discredited (Andy's view).

More on this later. Thanks to everyone who came and for Joe and Paul and everyone else for organizing the session. 

Ending Social Promotion In Chicago, Revisited

Apparently my Ed Next article on the continuation of Chicago's social promotion ban is being revisited in light of NYC Chancellor Klein's recent announcement that he is ending social promotion even more than he already did.  As I recall, my purpose in writing the story was among other things to say that retaining relatively small numbers of students may have important effects on the rest of the student population that often go unexamined by researchers and the press -- and that many teachers support student retention or at least have mixed feelings about an educational system in which students pass from grade to grade regardless of what grades or achievement they demonstrate.  It was not a wholesale endorsement of student retention in Chicago, and pointed out that the program in Chicago was full of loopholes.  (Schmidt on Russo, Social Promotion and More).  Oh, and it was published in early 2005. 

Rating Wines: Numbers Or Words?

J0384859787367 There is apparently a battle going on in the world of wine lovers, between those who prefer numerical pseudo-scientific systems that boil everything down into a simple rating and those who prefer a more nuanced, languaged-based system of descriptions. 

The descriptive ratings are potentially much more useful, except that they quickly begin to use words and ideas that most regular people don't understand or relate to ("grainy" taste, for example). 

"The words and the references are really useful only to people who have had the same experiences and use the same vocabulary."  And of course, making comparisons becomes more difficult.

Sound familiar yet?

For much more on all this:   Scents and Sensibility

"Big" Stories Of The Day

Single-sex schools plan dropped in Ga. MSNBC
A rural Georgia county plans to dump its plan to segregate all its schools by gender after  parents complained they weren't consulted, a school board member said Wednesday.

Parents sue son’s bully MSNBC
An Arkansas teenager, 16,  says he has no idea why his tormentors targeted him, but the regular beatings began when he was in elementary school.

91% + 87% + 88% = FAILED Las Vegas Review-Journal
Clark County School District students tested in January on their grasp of first semester material in high school algebra and geometry didn't just fall short of the mark. The preliminary report on end of semester exams shows they missed it in a spectacular way.

Spreadsheet of ED Monitoring Findings
NCLBonline.com has unveiled a unique spreadsheet summarizing the U.S. Department of Education’s Title I, Part A monitoring findings for the 2006-07 monitoring cycle. To help identify trends, NCLBonline.com has also created an Excel spreadsheet that provides a state-by-state summary and comparison of findings for Title I, Part A.

Legislators craft Ariz. schools' exit from NCLB East Valley Tribune The state House voted Wednesday to yank Arizona schools from federal No Child Left Behind regulations - but only if it doesn't cost too much. ...

Weaning Teenagers Off Gossip, for One Hour at a Time NYT
A national anti-gossip campaign at Jewish high schools tries to use religious teachings to raise awareness about the power of speech, for good and for ill.

Around The Blogs

New London disaster shows errors can be costly ASBJ
The worst school disaster -- 300 dead -- you never heard of.

Dodging My Tech Coordinator dy/dan
"I'm ducking her calls, trashing her e-mails, employing idle freshmen to shield me as she walks past."

SES, Evaluation, And Civil Rights Charlie Barone
"Since when are liberals against community-based programs where children have adult supervision and can get a little help with their homework after school? Since when are they so worried about test scores?"

On affirmative action, SAT scores and education research
USA Today higher ed reporter MBM has what looks awfully like a blog to me. Huzzah!

GAO Finds States Chipping in for School Improvement
The Hoff tells all.

Kindergarten teacher arrested after cocaine found in makeup bag Detention Slip
I knew that powder makeup looked suspicious.

Liveblogging AERA -- From A Cell Phone

Twitter There's at least one person at AERA who is live-blogging the event, via Twitter, a mobile text message - group update thingy that lets someone send out short messages from a phone and allows others to track what that person is describing. You don't have to be on your cellphone to follow.  Thanks to LG for pointing me to this. 

What I Learned At AERA

Lemann_origFree wireless is still not universally available as it should be.  It's great to see old professors (Susan Moore Johnson, Judy Singer) and employers (Brenda Turnbull) even if they don't remember or recognize me. Columbia J-School dean Nick Lemann (pictured) speaks with a hard-to-identify accent and thinks that education research and journalism can work together. Meeting people you've only talked to or emailed with before is strange and fun.  The Spencer Foundation puts out a mighty fine spread -- at the Waldorf Astoria this year  -- and is funding some new journalism education efforts that I'll describe in another post.  NYU professor Diane Ravitch LOVES her some eduwonkette. 

Attendance Vs. Experience

Slowly but surely, some of Hillary Clinton's claims about her White House experience are being called into question (Clinton’s Bosnia trip: Oops, my bad!).  If someone bothered to ask a few questions about Andy Rotherham's much-noted White House "experience,"  I'm sure we'd learn much the same type of things.  Being on the job isn't the same as being experienced. 

Drink Too Much Last Night? Blame NCLB.

I like the fire and focus of this Boston Globe editorial about misleading high school graduation rates (How to lie with statistics), which I first worked on 10 years ago as part of US Senator Jeff Bingaman's dropout prevention initiative.  But it tells you just how much of a punching bag NCLB has become that the Globe is blaming the misleading practices of states on the law.  NCLB went as far as it could -- many would say too far -- in demanding uniformity and comparability among states on several fronts.  States have long known that their methods were individual and misleading to the public. Blaming NCLB suggests that states should only do what the USDE tells them, which sets an awfully low expectation and diverts attention from states' responsibilities.

Journalistic Self-Loathing & Coverage Of Education Research

Held in a windowless conference room in the massive ant farm known as the Sheraton New York, Tuesday afternoon’s session about media coverage of higher education research was in many ways a preview of the Thursday morning session I’m doing with others about education research and the Internet.

Much of the substance was familiar, if not yet widely heeded: Journalists (NPR’s Steve Drummond, USA Today’s Mary Beth Marklein, and Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik) telling academics and PR folks to send better press releases and explain their findings better.  Plus the usual concerns about “real” academic research vs. “pseudo” research that’s more readily available and better translated for popular consumption.

Interesting stuff, and smart people making good points, but most of it not entirely new. The thing that jumped out at me for some reason was the idea (I forget who floated it) that coverage of education research might suffer not only for substantive and structural reasons -- we all know those -- but also for psychological ones:  Journalists' tendency to dismiss or downplay ed research because of its affiliation with teacher training, education’s favorite scapegoat.   

It’s an interesting thought – especially since lots of ed research comes from far outside ed schools.  And it got me thinking that another possible reason that media coverage of ed research is so sparse and so critical:  journalists themselves are often underneath it all soft-hearted liberal types who can’t add much less comprehend stats. 

But for the grace of God, they might well have been teachers, or academics, or social scientists themselves.  And so they dismiss ed research not only because it's sometimes bad and associated with crunchy ed schools, but also because of self-loathing that's projected outward.  Totally psychological, and completely unsupported, but it has the ring of truth -- to me at least. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Free tutoring failing to help needy kids USA Today
Federally mandated public after-school tutoring isn't always reaching the children it's intended to help, research suggests — and when it does, it doesn't always help as much as it could.

 Clashing Rules Block School Aid, GAO Finds Washington Post
The report found that 22 states have not been able to use the dollars called for under the No Child Left Behind law in the neediest schools because of the "hold-harmless" provision. That money still goes to schools with a large percentage of low-income children.

A Do-It-Yourself SAT Class, With No Whining, or Parents, Allowed NYT
A Florida high school student shares his father’s technique for preparing for the SAT with other students, and dropping out is not an option.

Public Schools Expand Curriculum Online NPR
Online education for high school students is gaining popularity, but it may not realize one of the original promises of distance education: saving money. Online educators say the real payoff is that these virtual schools can help liven up traditional schools.

FOIA Request Elicits Greetings and Blank Pages EdWeek
Nearly three months and several follow-up phone calls and e-mails later, Education Week received a response to a request for information on a long-awaited federal commission that will review reading research.

Around The Blogs

Two 'Pioneer' States Might Be Left out of Pilot Project
I hate when The Hoff actual reports news.  It's so not fair.

If ED in '08 Were a Superdelegate...
Michele McNeil asks the existential question we've all been wondering.


Jenna And Laura Bush Entice Youngsters Into Babylonian Fertility Ritual
A dramatic reading of Where The Wild Things Are, via Wonkette.

Discipline Looms For Teacher Whom Student Gave Back Rub
My new favorite blog -- Detentionslip.org

Class Size at AERA
I think I spotted eduwonkette in a green blouse and red shoes.  Did you see her?

Elizabeth Green Strikes Again!
Day 154 that Eduwonk fails to acknowledge his campaign involvement.

NPR Education Guru Steve Drummond Bumped Up To New Job

After years reporting and then editing education segments (and a stint before that at EdWeek), NPR’s Steve Drummond is now the Senior National Editor for NPR.  I have his fancy new NPR card to prove it.  His replacement – who will edit the education pieces reported by Larry Ambramson and Claudio Sanchez – has not yet been named.  Drummond says he misses working directly on education stories, but seems to be enjoying the new challenges and perspectives.  Congrats, condolences.

"The Manatee Has Become The Mento"

For administrators, teachers, and reformers alike, the relationship between mentor and mentee can be a deep and profound one, as highlighted in this clip from "30 Rock" that will brighten your day:

Hollywood Producer Values "Teacher-Like Qualities" Above All

Hollywood producer Brian Grazer regularly hires a "cultural attache" to bring him into contact with the best minds and ideas around, according to this recent New Yorker article (A Beautiful Mind). The best at the job?  Brad Grossman, a former tutor.  It's that ability to teach things that makes the difference, says Grazer.

AERA Day Two One

I didn't make it over there yesterday, but I'm girding myself for the trip today.  Did I miss anything?  As in the past, USA Today's Greg Toppo has already filed an AERA-based story. (See big stories of the day below.) One year, I think he filed 15 stories in two days.  OK, maybe just 5.  No one's made fun of the names of panels or papers being presented yet- that usually happens somewhere along the line.  As always, I feel like I'm missing more things than I'm hearing about -- there are surely VIP-only events going on behind the scenes that I'm not invited to.  I'm not above crashing, though. Just tell me where to go. 

"Pretty Soon All You'll Need To Graduate Is A Pencil"

People keep sending me that Tom Chapin video about standardized testing, which is OK, but this video -- a new bit from George Carlin -- is angrier (and funnier, I think) -- making fun of empty political slogans, educators who dumb down tests to make their schools look better, and the money moguls who run politics and the press.  Watch out, though, he's pretty intense and I think there might be some swear words in there: "It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

George Carlin: education and the owners of America

Big Stories Of The Day

Size alone makes small classes better for kids USA Today
Small classes work for children, but that's less because of how teachers teach than because of what students feel they can do: Get more face time with their teacher, for instance, or work in small groups with classmates.

Slowed growth a relief for schools Las Vegas Sun
After years of being preoccupied with growth-related issues, the Clark County School District is anticipating a reprieve. When the student head count is taken in September, it’s expected to reflect the smallest annual percentage increase in enrollment since 1985.

States Seeking Proper Balance in Use of ELL Test Scores EdWeek
Most states seem to be taking steps toward standardizing the use of English-language-proficiency tests. PLUS:  ‘Probeware’ on Increase in Schools’ Science Labs.

Connecticut Schools Confronting Proficiency Demands NYT
Many school officials in Connecticut and around the region are wondering how many more strides they can make in six years toward what some see as an unattainable goal.

For student-mothers, reality a harsh teacher Boston Globe
The 18-year-old needs the project to pass chemistry, a class that she failed last year and one she cannot graduate without. Her future depends on it - and in some ways, so does the future of her school, English High.

UFT in a Race To Avert a School Revolt NY Sun
Top UFT leaders are moving to avert a crisis at a charter school run by the union after an ultimatum by parents upset by what they say is a lack of security guards, poor communication with administrators, and high teacher turnover...The charter school was opened in 2005 by the UFT to great fanfare.

This Land: A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly NYT
The many incidents of bullying against Billy Wolfe seem to blur together into one protracted assault. [Worth repeating.]

Edgy English Teacher Makes Teachers Look Bad...Gets Fired

For a little while there, Glamour magazine let Mike "Edgy English Teacher" Cherico blog about relationships on their site.  Along the way, we learned a lot about his love life and a little bit about his attitude towards teaching: "I am from Los Angeles and try to teach knuckleheads in the inner city....I started off teaching just to get the paycheck, but I eventually fell in love with my students and that's what keeps me."  But readers hated him (for other things) and so he got fired earlier this month. Via Gawker. 

A Quick Spin Around The Blogs

5 School Districts That You Can Close This Year Thought A Think
So, as sort of a mental exercise, here are 5 school districts in Washington that could easily go away.

Whitney Tilson Chooses Ed Notes Editor to Manage Hedge Fund Ed Notes 
Ed Notes News reports that its editor, Norm Scott, has been appointed by hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson to reform the Nasdaq stock trading market in addition to managing Tilson's personal assets.

Pilot program not substitute for NCLB renewal BoardBuzz
By limiting the number of states that can use the new system -- which would allow schools and school districts to target limited resources and interventions for students who are most in need -- Spellings is placing "additional arbitrary barriers in place to the changes that are badly needed now."

Two On Turnarounds Eduwonk
"A textbook counterinsurgency..."

Helicopter Parents Vs. Stinger Teachers Edwonks
The trigger was an annual survey by the Howard County Education Association that shows a majority of teachers say they have been subjected to harassment, and most of the

Kinder, gentler ‘failure’ Joanne Jacobs
To soothe the bruised egos of educators and children in lackluster schools, Massachusetts officials are now pushing for kinder, gentler euphemisms for failure. PLUS:  Know what you’re cranking

Washington Movers Chart Big Changes for K-12 Policy
The Hoff tells us who else has big plans for NCLB, and what he's going to do if reauthorization languishes for two years.

Uncertain Funding Earns Tepid Response to Teacher Bonus Programs ASBJ
With prices rising on just about everything, the housing market and spending falling, and mass layoffs and unemployment beginning to outpace figures from last year, people are grasping for anything firm, solid, and stable.

Please Stop Hyping Social Entrepreneurship

Terror The best part of last week's NYT column on social entrepreneurs is the reference at the end to just how annoying (if hard-working) these folks can be.  Indeed.  Basically, what's being described is a fad.  Dressed up as something new and shiny, social entrepreneurship isn't that different from regular old philanthropy and reform.  It works outside the system.  It's generally small-scale.  It relies on outside funding. There's an awfully cozy, clubby feel to it. It doesn't, far as I've ever heard, close down failing efforts or even admit to failures like you'd see in the "real" world of venture capital.  It doesn't really have any big successes, measured in terms of broad and positive impact, in education. 

School Turnarounds: All It Takes Is A Bilingual Orthodox Jew

Everybody loves these novelty stories when it comes to education.  The Today show profiles a Spanish-speaking Orthodox Jew who's turning around a tough school in New York City:

Via Eduwonk
NB:  The Times did this story in February (In Bronx School, Culture Shock, Then Revival)

My Ragged AERA Schedule Needs Your Help

4406de0c6c90a003ab799fbbcd6fcaaed87 I'll be up to my usual shenanigans at AERA this week and hope to run into some of you there.  But I have no real idea what to go to that might be media- or policy- and politics- related.  My rough and ragged itinerary so far is posted below.  Can you help me out?  I promise not to take the last seat.

Continue reading "My Ragged AERA Schedule Needs Your Help" »

Big Stories Of The Day

16basics600Study Finds Record Education Earmarks NYT
Congress set aside $2.3 billion in pet projects for colleges and universities last year for research on subjects like reducing odors from swine and poultry, according to an analysis.

Glimmers of Progress at a Failing School NYT
There have been many changes at Newton Street School in the past six months, spurred by a campaign to turn around a school crippled by persistently low standardized test scores.

PLUS:  Is your kid's school in crosshairs of No Child Left Behind? Idaho Statesman

Learning lines and life lessons St. Paul Pioneer Press
A black high school freshman hears his career plans ridiculed by his counselor.

This Land: A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly NYT
Billy Wolfe, of Fayetteville, Ark., became a target of bullying at age 12 and now the many incidents seem to blur together into one protracted assault.

Author Works To Prevent Reading's 'Death Spiral' Washington Post
He's got a serious new title: the very first officially declared U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. But author Jon Scieszka is on a mission to get schools and parents to lighten up when it comes to selecting books for children.

Mistake dashes speller's dream MSNBC
Seventh-grader Morgan Brown thought her dream to compete in the national spelling was about to come true when she won her regional contest.

Best Of The Week (March 17-21)

Bridging The Racial Divide
White Teachers, Black and Brown Kids
Stuff White People Like (About Kids & School Reform)

Campaign '08
Controversial Obama Fundraiser Tied To Teacher Pension Fund

Tomorrow's NCLB Announcement -- Today
Triage For Failing Schools -- The Coverage
March Madness: Divisional Matchups
Why Academics Struggle With Politics

Foundation Follies
Gates Focuses On State Advocacy
Andywonk = Ann Coulter?
Author Eggers Expands Philanthropy

School Life
Boarding Schools, Extreme Violence, 'Taj Mahal' Construction
STDs & Childhood Obesity: Flaming Hots For Breakfast

Teachers & Teaching
Perimeter Rap [VIDEO]
"Diary Of Anne Frank" Was A Blog
New Video Game Looks Simple But Isn't

"Students! Pay no attention to the apostrophes on the side of your school bus."

Media Watch
Writing Gigs At Hechinger Institute
First, Kill All The Education Researchers?

Plus: Daily News and the Daily Blog Roundup

Big Stories Of The Day

Bandaging No Child Left Behind Los Angeles Times
Once again, Margaret Spellings is doing the right thing for schools by bending, if not actually breaking, the law.

Top Principal Could Teach CEOs a Thing or Two USA Today
Molly Howard is the 2008 Principal of the Year selected by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and MetLife.

Minnesota Meets New Orleans in Mentoring Effort EdWeek
Web program allows mentors, King students to stay in close touch for things like homework help, advice.

Iowa could participate in program to ease No Child Left Behind Hawkeye
"It's too early at this time to tell (whether Iowa will apply for the program). We still have to review criteria," said Elaine Watkins-Miller, director of communications for the Iowa Department of Education.

White Teachers, Black and Brown Kids

There's been lots of talk about the Obama race speech earlier this week -- most of it about how well he did and what the speech means for America as a whole.  But what about the day-to-day reality of -- in many places -- schools full of mostly white adults teaching the children of mostly black and brown parents?  If, as Obama says, we need to acknowledge that whites and minorities have deep-seated resentments towards each other in order to move past that standoff, what does that mean for the adults -- parents, administrators, teachers -- who share responsibility for educating children?

Author Eggers Expands Philanthropy

What to do when your little after-school writing program struggles but then gets really big? In this video sent to me by a friend, author and part-time philanthropist Dave Eggers describes the process -- and what comes next:

What jumps out from the talk is the organic nature of the Eggers project, its use of humor and "found" talents and interests, its open admissions about struggles and luck, and its ad hoc growth.  Such a stark contrast to some of the current crop of "mistake- free" corporate-feeling initiatives, and yet not obviously any less effective.   

Around The Blogs (And Some Leftover News)

NCLB on Letterman Campaign K12
Al Franken, who is challenging Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, for his Senate seat in the swing state of Minnesota, showed up on David Letterman on Tuesday night ... and bashed No Child Left Behind!

NCLB reform leaves California behind Educated Guess
Finally, some sensible changes to the No Child Left Behind law. And once again, California won’t be able to adopt them.

KidZui Lets Children Explore Web Safely WSJ
A new service called KidZui aims to offer kids a safe subset of the Internet where they can roam freely without triggering parental worry.

Text-messaging rumor mills AJC
Rumors spread by text messaging flew through three Gwinnett high schools this month. The rumor mill said a shooting would take place on campus or gangs were bringing weapons to school. Students panicked and left school early.

10 Signs of What Is Not a Crummy Poor-Kid School Jay Mathews
Two engaging books came out a year ago, each so compelling I planned a major column with guest commentators and debates and confetti and dancers and rock music. Then life intruded.

Principals May Gain Option To Jettison Bureaucrats NY Sun
High-performing principals could essentially opt out of the bureaucratic system, saving them thousands of dollars and putting pressure on central administration to downsize, under an idea being considered by the city Department of Education.

New Video Game Looks Simple But Isn't

Crayon Physics Deluxe. Slate

Writing Gigs At Hechinger Institute

If you're an education writer or editor looking for a regular gig, it looks like the Hechinger Institute (JournalismJobs.com -- Job Listing.) is looking for someone to manage a series of projects (and for freelancers to do the writing as well).  Send your resume to: Matt Bruderle (hechinger@tc.edu).   

"Diary Of Anne Frank" Was A Blog

Not so sure that the Internet has been bad for student literacy?  Check out this article from Salon (Teenagers and the Internet), which argues that perhaps we grownups are getting things wrong.

"The average teen chooses to spend an average of 16.7 hours a week reading and writing online. Yet the NEA report did not consider this to be "voluntary" reading and writing...Teenagers today read and write for fun; it's part of their social lives. We need to start celebrating this unprecedented surge, incorporating it as an educational tool instead of meeting it with punishing pop quizzes and suspicion."

Andywonk = Ann Coulter?

Ann_coulter_headshot_002 As you can imagine, my favorite of the 40-something comments on the Freakonomics blog roundtable conversation that Andy told me to check out is this one:

"Including Andrew Rotherham in this panel is akin to inviting Ann Coulter to a foreign policy roundtable with Condoleeza Rice, Henry Kissinger, and Madeline Albright. Shilling for a few narrow ideas with huge financial backing from the Gates Foundation does not make one an expert."

Link: How Can the Achievement Gap Be Closed?

Big Stories Of The Day

States’ Data Obscure How Few Finish High School NYT
Federal figures gathered under the No Child Left Behind law hide a severe dropout epidemic, researchers say.

Getting a taste of teaching Baltimore Sun
North County High is one of six Anne Arundel County high schools that offer a teaching academy, school officials' self-sufficient approach to addressing a chronic shortage of teachers: They're trying to grow their own.

Ap0802240119028'Moment of silence' challenged in Ill. MSNBC
A federal judge favors expanding a legal challenge to a mandatory moment of silence in classrooms into a class-action lawsuit that would include all Illinois school districts.

Nebraska Bill Would Affirm State Tests as NCLB Yardstick EdWeek
Less than a year after mandating statewide reading and math tests as an alternative to Nebraska’s unique grassroots assessments, state lawmakers are poised to neuter the district-level tests altogether.

Idaho Turns to Chess as Education Strategy NYT
Idaho officials plan to make their state the first to offer a statewide chess curriculum as part of a pilot program for second and third graders.

Student urinates in lunch box in class MSNBC
A Florida teacher was put on paid leave Tuesday while officials investigate why a student urinated in a lunch box during her class.

Around The Blogs

"We need a teacher."
Ed Policy Blog says only a teacher would make a real education president.

"Differentiated accountability"
Sherman Dorn rounds up blog responses to the NCLB announcement so far.

"How long can you look at a test score?"
Staring too long at test scores can make you go crazy, say the AFTies.

Let's Carnival!
The carnival is well into its third year, by my calculations.  Amazing.



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.