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Best Of The Blogs

Things Are Tough All Over The CKB
Any teacher who has ever felt disrespected and antagonized by disruptive students might take comfort from the actions of this instructor, who is threatening to sue her students for discrimination.

 Mayor Bloomberg and The Teacher Contract That Got Away... DFER
A couple of years ago I took considerable ribbing from some NYC teacher friends following an op-ed I wrote in the NY Daily News which argued that a recent contract settlement with the United Federation of Teachers wasn't as great...

 All about the Benjamins? Flyboys
I tend to agree with Liam and most other opponents of this strategy that a) learning is deeply rewarding for its own sake and is degraded when treated as an article of commerce...

One Good Thing About This Long, Drawn-Out Primary Michele McNeil
If Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren't in a fierce political battle for their party's nomination, then students like Brian Griffin and Kaci Gardner probably wouldn't have gotten so involved in the campaign. 



S & C Comments on The Proposed NCLB Regs Charlie Barone
We think it’s generally a good package, but falls short in a few key areas. We’re sure she knows that she is in for a rough ride. And we wish her luck.

2af17b576f61af021c485272c0661ffd901You, Too, Can Voice Opinions on NCLB Rules The Hoff
Whether you're the mother of a special education student in Massachusetts or a school administrator in Kansas, you can voice your opinion.

Black no more Joanne Jacobs
Black students’ low test scores caused Will C. Wood Middle School to miss its No Child Left Behind goals. But the Sacramento school met NCLB after all by persuading parents of four previously “black” children to let the school reclassify their kids as white or American Indian.

Chicago Public Radio Education Reporter Resigns Suddenly

Chicago Public Radio education reporter Jay Field (pictured) has resigned, in what appears to be a sudden departure.  Field has not so far responded to my attempts to find him.  Earlier today, however, WBEZ managing editor Sally Eisele stated that Field had resigned, as of Friday, April April 18th, but said she could not provide any further details.

It looks like Field was at the station for roughly seven years, the last two and a half of them on the education beat.  The first education story that I can find from Field is from October 2005.  The last story that I can find posted on the WBEZ site is April 14th -- about students returning to DuSable after a recent scare.  A list of his pieces is here.  (A bunch of his work was also picked up by the national, NPR.  See list here.) 

His LinkedIn profile says he's a graduate of Colby ('94).  He won a Lisagor for a piece he did with Julia McEvoy in 2003 -- perhaps as a freelancer.  According to this website, he joined the station in 2001 as a general assignment reporter.

Field's departure seems sudden and may have been unexpected, given that he only recently returned from paternity leave.  I'm still hoping to find out what, if anything, happened, and who, if anyone, will replace him. [Cross-posted from D299.]

Times Higher Ed Reporter May Be Leaving Paper

Arenson We're losing education journalists like mad this week.

First we lose the Chicago Tribune's Stephanie Banchero for a year to some silly fellowship in California. 

Now, word on the street is that New York Times higher education reporter Karen Arenson is leaving the paper sometime soon as well.*

What next?  Jay Mathews decides he wants to be a crime reporter?

Not sure what she's written?  You can find tons of her stories here.   

*Remember:  this rumor is worth what you paid for it.  I still haven't gotten official confirmation.  I'm not even sure if this picture is really of her.  But, assuming it's true, congrats, condolences.

UPDATE:  Arenson confirms via email that she's leaving, after 30 years at the paper and 12 on the higher ed beat.

Next Up For Edublogging: Full-Time, Professional, Mainstream

Bkhopopused Hard as it may be to believe, all this education blogging that's going on is still so far part-time and/or amateur (unpaid), and little of it part of mainstream news sites.  But that won't last for much longer, I don't think.  Someone will soon get hired to blog about education full-time on a mainstream site.  Things have already gone far beyond the first fulltime mainstream hire in other areas.  For example, many of the best bloggers who cover economics have already been hired, writes Megan McArdle on the Atlantic blog (Blogging goes professional).  Ditto for politics.  It could be ether someone new we've never heard about or someone already on the scene.  It probably won't be me, though of course I'm open to any big-money proposals. Whoever it is, I'm just hoping that they're good.

Kudos To Big Cities For Joining NAEP Pilot Program

90859387_c040977a96 I don't think that I gave enough credit when it happened a few weeks ago to the seven new big city school districts that are joining the NAEP TUDA program (Detroit & Other Urban Districts Part of The Nation’s Report Card for Grades 4 & 8).  While lots of other folks are watering down standards and blunting accountability, these seven are putting themselves up for additional scrutiny.

Big Stories Of The Day

Teacher of year: 14,000 volts of energy MSNBC
Crook County Middle School science teacher Michael Geisen was in the middle of a lesson when he got a message from the school's front office: The White House was on the line.

Unfunded Mandates, State Budgets, Common Sense Wall Street Journal
States can unilaterally opt out of some federal programs, like No Child Left Behind. Most governors can also reduce agency spending through executive action.

Judge Dismisses Connecticut’s Challenge to Education Law NYT
A federal judge ruled that Connecticut failed to prove that federal officials had forced the state to spend its own money to comply with President Bush’s signature education law.

School's eyebrow-mark edict: Shave 'em MSNBC
A Portland high school is raising eyebrows with its brow grooming policy: shave 'em or go home.

Let's Get Political, Says The New Teacher Project

For years, the New Teacher Project has presented itself as a smart but fundamentally low-profile outfit, working with districts and teachers unions to improve recruiting, hiring, and placement practices of several big-city school districts.  All that's over now that a report estimating the $81M cost of unwanted teachers in New York City has come out, prompting a strong rebuke from UFT president Randi Weingarten. 

FunyunsWeingarten called the NTP a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the Education Department and called the district's failure to find jobs for unassigned teachers "repulsive," according to published reports (NYT).  But there's no real surprise there.   What really jumps out is that, just months after having its head leave to run the DC schools,  the NTP is trying to play such a prominent role in this dispute -- developing the report, attempting to lead mediation efforts, and finally -- acccording to the Sun -- deciding to release the report publicly. 

Having done so may or may not help resolve the issue in New York, and will almost certainly shade its work in other districts.  The NTP may regret this.  But it's also a notable example of a school reform organization doing what few school reform groups do:  getting involved in the deeply political work of school reform, rather than merely writing reports and providing behind the scenes services.  I'm inclined to applaud the move. 

"E" Is For Easy: Sign Up For Daily Email Updates


There's a new and easy way to keep up with the latest education news, gossip, and analysis:  a daily email.  That's right.  All you have to do is click here:  Subscribe to This Week In Education and then confirm your subscription via email.  Then you'll get a daily update of what's been posted -- usually 4-5 posts -- including the morning's big news stories and a roundup of what's good on other blogs.  Free.  Easy.   Give it a try. 

Best Of The Blogs

All sorts of counter-intuitive and contrarian stuff out there today.  I like!

Did School District Boundaries Lead to Mortgage Crunch? EIA
Writing in the Post, Frank suggests families fell victim to overborrowing in order to get their kids into better public schools.

Rev. Wright for Education Secretary The Corner
He drew some rather stereotyped distinctions in the way white and black children learn — white children learn diagrams and numbers, while black children memorize reams of hip-hop lyrics. He was dead serious about it. [via Flyboys]

Grownups Of This World, Just Get Off Facebook Already Jezebel
The Washington Post dives deep into the subject of teachers with slutty Facebook pages today, and it is not pretty.

McCain's education temptations Richard Whitmire
I'm not alone in writing about the school choice options McCain could push in the campaign -- if the campaign chose to elevate the issue.

Teacher Stole Senior Trip Money To Disney World Detention Slip
Did he think that no one would catch on when a hundred kids lined up an no busses ever showed up? Was he planning on just shrugging his shoulders and hoping that no one would ask for a refund?

When Research Matters Paul Baker
Book Review When research matters: How scholarship influences education policy. Frederick M. Hess, editor. Harvard Education Press, 2008. 312 pp.

Despite Praise, Massachusetts' Standards Don't Measure Up The Hoff
The state's standards aren't challenging enough to prepare high school students for college, according to a new study.

Last Words On The Education Writers Conference

I thought I was done writing about the EWA conference (and lost my notes somewhere along the way), but apparently there's more:

Elettere You Talkin' To Me?  Bad enough that he's white and male, but single-sex advocate Leonard Sax may be too argumentative to lead this fledgling movement into the mainstream.  And I'm not just saying that because he's a guy.   

Elettere Still On The Honeymoon:  Despite an awkward start, Michelle Rhee's lunchtime interview gave education reporters an up-close look at Rhee's fresh-faced, blunt approach to revamping a struggling urban district.  Rhee also made some news by effectively endorsing mayoral control -- no surprise -- and NCLB. 

Elettere They're Everywhere:  TFA is now infiltrating the mainstream news community, I am slowly figuring out.  I'm told that TFA alumns who are education reporters include David Hunn from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Amanda Millner-Fairbanks of the New York Times, and...?

EletterePost First, Ask Questions Later: Asked about how the Internet has changed his reporting and his relationship with those he covers, the Dallas Morning News' Kent Fischer said, "I'm no longer waiting for the district to respond." Fischer also urged communications folks in districts and organizations to "roll up your sleeves" and get involved in online debates about education issues.  Associates I talked to seemed really cautious about doing this.

Elettere "They treat physics the way that we treat sports," remarked Two Million Minutes producer Bob Compton comparing the US obsession with sports and extracurriculars with the focus on academics in China and India. Indeed.  Where would I be without having had those drum lessons in 9th grade?

The Webster Way: Eye Contact, Holding Back, & Other "Soft" Skills

01webster042508fullSome educators are uncomfortable talking about -- much less teaching -- student behavior that may be related to home culture or poverty.

Not these folks in San Diego, who have found that making student behavior an explicit part of their lesson plans has made a real difference (School Turnaround Built on Teaching Students to be Students).

"Teachers chalk up the turnaround to a homegrown program that explicitly teaches students how to behave in class...Such skills are usually expected but not actively taught, White said."

Big Stories Of The Day

Rhee Gains Authority Over Teacher Transfers Washington Post
D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has signed a controversial agreement with the president of the Washington Teachers' Union giving her the right to reassign all teachers at 23 schools slated to be closed with no guarantee that they would move to the schools where their students are to be...

Schools use cash as an incentive Christian Science Monitor
Baltimore schools teach students about the stock market and let them keep money from their portfolios. Are cash rewards bribery or a creative way to inspire students?

In Pittsburgh, Reform Plan Includes Community Schools AP
While the definition of a community school varies, the concept has taken root in cities nationwide, with officials recognizing that what happens outside school affects children’s performance in the classroom.

Judge dismisses state's No Child suit AP
A federal judge has dismissed the last of four claims in Connecticut's challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind law.

To cheat or not to cheat Christian Science Monitor
...or kids who cheated on a standardized test, sometimes with the aid of teachers trying desperately to meet their No Child Left Behind benchmarks.

Tribune Education Reporter Gets Knight Fellowship

Knightbanner Stephanie Banchero from the Chicago Tribune has just bean named one of 12 journalists to receive the John S. Knight Fellowship to study at Stanford during the 2008-09 academic year (Knight Journalism Fellows announced for 2008-09). Congrats to Stephanie, and condolences to her paper. 

The Kids In The Front Of The Class

The best part of Chicago teacher Will Okun's latest post at the New York Times isn't it's musings on charter schools, or even its chilling description of kids who don't care about school, but rather how it describes how the kids in the front of the class feel about it when the kids in the back of the class are slowing things down:

Okun0804241"Sitting in the front row, Kentrail is visibly exasperated that I cannot do my job. Shatara’s teeth and fists are clenched; she stares at me with accusatory anger. Finally, Ronetta screams, “Make them shut up!” (The Mire)

Plus:  180 comments so far.

Best Of The Blogs

Obama: Democratic Party Line = Teachers Union? EIA
"We should be experimenting with charter schools. We should be experimenting with different ways of compensating teachers."

Limitations of Research and the Headlines that Ignore Them Thoughts On Education Policy
I'm disappointed in the NY Times, and I'm disappointed in everybody else who parroted these results without explaining what they really meant.

The_week_6117_27It's A Lot More Than Culture, Stupid Kevin Carey
Patashnik is joining George Will in advancing the "what matters in education isn't education" theory of education, which is one of the more damaging conceits held by people who should know better.

Gaming NCLB The CK Blog
Eighty California schools got “out of trouble” with No Child Left Behind in the past two years by changing the way they classify their students, according to an analysis by the Sacramento Bee.

The digital age: Kids learn differently Paul Baker
At a Saturday panel session during the Education Writers Association conference here in Chicago, Mimi Ito, Henry Jenkins, and Connie Yowell discussed how digital tools for making, remaking, mashing, and tinkering are part of students’ everyday lives

No Missing Report Cards, Technology Keeps Parents Connected  ASBJ Blog
The district went even further, giving parents the option of viewing discipline records and daily updates on classroom attendance.

Art For Art's Sake: Obama Falls For Shaky Arts Arguments

27wwlnlede350661 Ann Hulbert has a nice piece in the NYT about how Obama -- and many others -- misguidedly invoke research when arguing for arts education in schools:

"An emphasis on the arts’ utility in the quest to reach math and reading benchmarks may seem politically smart, but the science it rests on turns out to be shaky....If arts education stakes its claim to students’ time and schools’ money on some unproven power to push standardized test scores upward, its position in American schools is bound to be precarious."

Sure, art is cool, and maybe there's not enough of it in schools these days.  Yeah, some kids really groove on arts education and that helps them get through the system.

But, apparently, there is no killer research out there showing that arts helps kids read and do math.  Read the rest of Hulbert's article for what happens next.

Why Is The Mayor Of Chicago Destroying The Reputation Of His Own City School System? Why Is The Press Letting Him?

27chicagoenlargeThe latest in a slew of national stories about youth violence in Chicago, this article from the New York Times details how some kids at Crane high school in Chicago are being escorted to school each day by parents and police -- a "joyless parade," as the article describes it (After Killings, Escorts for Chicago Students).

What the article doesn't note is the far-reaching damage that Mayor Daley and Chicago school officials are doing to their own school reform efforts by conflating out-of-school teen deaths with the city's school system --  for little apparent benefit -- or why city officials are, willy-nilly, linking street and school violence.

For city officials, the original motivation behind emphasizing the school connection to any violent incident was apparently to secure additional state funding and enhanced gun control legislation.  Neither of these things have happened. 

Instead, Chicago schools are once again being described as violent and dysfunctional -- and few outside the system understand that this is largely a broader Chicago issue.  As the Times reports, none of this year's  teen deaths have happened at school, and that most of those killed had troubled pasts.  In-school violence is down over all, thanks to $55 million a year in security efforts by CPS. 

Previous posts: Murder Epidemic In Chicago Isn't Really School Crime

Student Asks For Help Writing Kotlowitz Paper -- On Facebook

Cover So you don't want to (or have time to) read the assigned book and write a paper.  What to do?  Put out a request for someone else to do it for you -- on Facebook.  That's what this guy did -- before he got caught.

Extra special tidbit:  the assignment was for a well-known education text, Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here.  Read more here.

You have to believe that high school kids are doing this too. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Searching for Science Washington Post
The Bush administration's chief of education research says teachers too often rely on "folk wisdom" instead of proven methods to help students learn reading and math.

Schools reclassify students, pass test under federal law Sacramento Bee
Most students had met the mark set by No Child Left Behind. But African American students' math scores fell far short of it, bringing the school into failing status in the eyes of the federal law.

Standardized Formula For Graduation Rates May Soon Pair With Tests Wash Post
A Bush administration proposal to require that all states use the same formula to calculate high school graduation rates is winning applause from education experts who say it will shed light on the nation's dropout problem.

My home-school days Los Angeles Times
When I tell people that I was home schooled, I frequently encounter an amalgam of awe, pity and curiosity.

When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web Washington Post
Log on to Facebook. Join the Washington, D.C., network. Search the Web site for your favorite school system. And then watch the public profiles of 20-something teachers unfurl like gift wrap on the screen, revealing a sense of humor that can be overtly sarcastic...

Best Of The Week (April 21-25)

Campaign 2008
Excuse Note From Obama Doesn't Convince School Officials
Obama Flips Off Teachers Unions (no, not really)

No Child At Risk
Slavery, The Holocaust, & NCLB
Bracey Vs. Bracey

Think Tank Mafia
Why Policymakers (& Goalies) Always Take A Leap
Union-Run Charter School Struggles
Singer Appears To Promote Global Education
Secretary Riley To Lead New Law & Policy Center

Media Watch
Education Reporters In Chicago
Getting Rid Of Drug Dealers and Teachers Unions
Funding Sources & Conflicts Of Interest
Journos Rank Think Tanks Higher Than Staff Do
Friday Conference Gossip
Blogger Summit In DC

School Life
Rich Familes Forced To Move To Country Homes, Attend Public Schools
What Next After Online Bullying? Naked Pics.
School Districts Give Away Free Fingerprint & DNA Sample Kits

Site News
What I Said At EWA Today
Get This Blog Update On Your Cell Phone

Get This Blog Update On Your Cell Phone

Twitterfeed_2 You can now get this blog on your cell phone, via Twitter.  Here's the back story:  For a long while, I couldn't see how the latest Web craze called Twitter was going to my my (or your) life any easier or more fun, despite repeated attempts and patient explainers like Lucy Gray.  Then I ran into PBS.org's online guru Kevin Dando at the EWA conference last week.  Dando explained that Twitter can send updates from here to your cell phone, and -- this was key -- that TwitterFeed could automatically turn blog posts into mobile updates.  There's no extra work for me (or you) beyond signing up for Twitter (free) and saying that you want "follow" my account.  You don't even have to have a fancy cell phone with email or web access.  My twitter account is http://twitter.com/alexanderrusso.  Check it out, and let me know if you like it.

Friday Conference Gossip

Random tips and tidbits from the EWA conference:  Kent Fischer of the Dallas Morning News is, thanks to his new and wildly successful DISD blog, the happiest journalist I've seen in a while...John Merrow's shop, LMI, is apparently working on a new segment for the PBS NewsHour about student incentive programs, and trying out some interesting new things...Lots of traditional journalists -- Roz Rossi (Chicago Sun Times), Dale Mezeccappa (Philly Notebook), and others -- seem pretty interested in blogging and may be on the verge of following Scott, Kent, and others into the bloggy world. I'm excited and fearful at the same time.... Communications folks who work for education organizations still seem to be sticking to the traditional things:  press releases, events, newsletters, etc.  -- and are still reluctant to get involved with blogs and blog comments even when we're talking about their issues and organizations.  I dare them to make a comment on this blog just to show that the world will not end if they do...Things may be rough for education journalists in the news industry, but times are still good for the education PR/marketing folks, I'm told.  The recession hasn't hit the foundations, yet...New blog I've never heard of but sounds good:  The Daily Coyote...Folks are talking about who might replace Russ Whitehurst at IES, and whether the effort to separate IES from the USDE will continue... The Exxon Mobile folks treated us to a nice reception last night, featuring the first African-American astronaut to walk in space. He told me that when he does school visits kids ask him things like Are you rich, what's it like to be weightless, and how do you go to the bathroom?    A conference is barely a conference without party boys Josh Benton and Greg Toppo helping rounds folks up to find a nearby bar.  We miss you, guys...Last but not least, the Gates Foundation's Marie Groark made my day by saying that sometimes she liked reading my blog, and sometimes it scared her.  Just the reaction I'm looking for.

Other posts about the conference from the EWA Conference Blog:

Can I get a price check on this?
Just a spoon full of video helps the newspaper go round
The story through the character
 My journalism crush
 Building a better blogger

Best Of The Blogs

Kudos to the Education Industry Association Edbizzbuzz
It's time for the Code to show that SES providers' interests in evaluation coincide with the publics' with standards of evidence, methodology, frequency and disclosure.

Boy_bandNine Powerful Practices ASCD Bloggers
Ruby Payne notes that, "Students from families with little formal education often learn rules about how to speak, behave, and acquire knowledge that conflict with how learning happens in school."

'Banana boys' suspended for senior prank Detention Slip
They dressed up like bananas and were chased by a gorilla through the hallways.

Some thoughts on using Twitter in the classroom Scholastic Blog
Whether Twitter can be useful in the classroom.

Fordham's Boy Band! [pictured]


Bracey Vs. Bracey

12ef082ab9f4fcf70fd33f2522c6b4b64_2 There's no backing down from Gerald Bracey, who wrote an inflammatory piece on the Huffington Post earlier this week.  In it, Bracey said, "I can only hope that people will one day look back on high-stakes testing the way they now look back at slavery -- in disgust and a with sense of horrified wonder: what were they thinking?"

Some of us thought that Bracey was equating high-stakes testing with slavery.  But that would be a misinterpretation, says Bracey.  "I did NOT link NCLB advocates to those who practiced slavery. I simply said that I hoped that we could one day look back at the insanity NCLB represents to how we now think about the practice of slavery."  You make the call.

Journos Rank Think Tanks Higher Than Staff Do

Talentshowcd Thanks to Paul Baker at WCER for sending me some news about a collection of essays called When Research Matters, a collection of essays edited by Rick Hess. In it, I'm told, Kenneth Wong writes a chapter on politics and research that cites a study of Congressional staff finding that only one in five think that think tanks are highly influential, compared to 28 percent of journalists from national news organizations. Journos think that think tanks are more influential thank Congressional staff who are making the laws. This confirms what I recall from my time on the Hill, when we used think tank reports to bolster our arguments -- but not necessarily to develop them.  Or at least, we thought it happened that way. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Easy approaches make learning math hard MSNBC
Frustrated math students may have a good excuse — some of the teaching methods meant to make math more relevant may in fact be making it harder to understand, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Study Suggests Math Teachers Scrap Balls and Slices NYT
The real-world examples incorporated more and more by educators in recent years can impede math learning, an experiment found.

Text-Message Shorthand Invades Schoolwork
A new study says that shorthand is making its way into teens' schoolwork. Two-thirds of teens say they've used acronyms and sideways smileys in formal school assignments.

Studies: SAT writing portion good predictor of grades USA Today

Alabama Education Association settles background check suit Stateine
The Alabama Education Association sued Wednesday over criminal background checks for junior college employees and quickly got a change in the procedures to make it optional for employees to provide their Social Security numbers.

What I Said At EWA Today

Below in completely raw form are the notes that I used to talk to education writers and public affairs folks from education organizations today in a presentation about blogging that I did with Kent Fischer from the Dallas Morning News.

Chicagoeloldma022208In 20 minutes, I tried to explain why blogs are worth tracking, what they offer, why they're so popular, how to track blogs without getting overwhelmed, and how to get noticed in the blogosphere without starting a blog yourself.  (Please, don't start a blog unless you really have to.) 

I was much funnier live than you will think from this.  Or at least I like to think so.  Thanks to EWA and everyone who was there for letting me talk.  More on Kent's presentation (which was much better than mine).

Continue reading "What I Said At EWA Today" »

Best Of The Blogs

NCLB 1.5 - Policy, Politics (And A Little 3-Card Monte) Charlie Barone
Wherein the Secretary steps into the policymaking vacuum. And New York Times reporter Sam Dillon gets spun like a top once again.

 Student Wins Injunction to Wear 'Be Happy, Not Gay' T-shirt at School Mark Walsh
A federal appeals court has ordered that an Illinois student be allowed to wear a T-shirt that says "Be Happy, Not Gay" to protest the annual Day of Silence in support of gay students.

Pizza Firefly
This Wired Magazine article sheds some light, however obliquely, on why it’s so difficult to replicate successful school models in different places.

Board bans sale of bottled water at its schools Detension Slip
First, they want to begin educating students about how unhealthy water is for you.  Second, recylcing plastic bottles has become such a pain in the neck for them, that the only solution is encouraging kids to cup their hands under the faucets if they are thirsty.

Timepiece Eduwonk
A Nation At Risk is "really mostly a timepiece to track the chronology of education reform."

Nzeyimana can’t use ‘prowl’ in a sentence Joanne Jacobs
How do you pass No Child Left Behind, when you don’t speak English?

Excuse Note From Obama Doesn't Convince School Officials

Ph2008042303681Thanks to Jezebel for pointing me to news about Pennsylvania high school students who were docked for going to see Obama instead of taking a quiz on Camus' existential novel, The Stranger.  Or, as Jezebel put it, PA. Kids Punished For Choosing Obama Over Nothingness.

Kids, don't cut class to hang out around politicians! The excuse notes they write don't work. 

No Child At Risk

Ph2007091000561_2"Moynihan, a social scientist, understood that social science tells us not what to do but what is not working, which today includes No Child Left Behind," says columnist George Will (Education Lessons We Left Behind) in today's Washington Post.

Funding Sources & Conflicts Of Interest

I think that there might be some lessons for education from Sunday's big NYT article about how the Pentagon cultivated relationships with military analysts -- and how the broadcast media used them as experts without revealing conflicts or vetting them before they went on the air (Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand).  While the article focused on the Pentagon's nefarious efforts, many who read the piece were struck by the loose thinking and lax oversight on the journalism side.  How and why did the networks put these folks on the air as independent experts?

I don't know of any similar USDE plot to manipulate the news (at least, not currently).  But I do see an awful lot of expert quoting that raises questions for me. 

For one, education reporters tend to ID expert sources by organization or previous work experience, not by their current sources of support.  Readers (and reporters) should know who the quoted experts are being paid by -- often foundations with a particular perspective -- but they often don't.  It's not that hard to find out who someone's main funders are.  Second, there's a point at which disclosure of conflicts of interest stops working as an effective signal for readers about where an expert source is coming from. There's no clear cut rule for how many conflicts of interest is too many, but at some point reporters (or their editors) need to consider pulling the plug.  This doesn't seem to happen very much, however.

Education insiders can be great sources, but readers should be told where the money is coming from, and journalists should reveal conflicts or consider other options when their sources can't realistically function as independent observers.  It's not that hard, but few folks seem to do it. 

What Next After Online Bullying? Naked Pics.

Mileycyrus Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) isn't the only teen who's posting risque pictures of herself online, and getting in trouble over it. 

School and law enforcement officials are having to warn parents and teens that posting risque pics isn't smart and can be prosecuted as a crime (Extra Credit Birmingham News).

Big Thursday Stories Of The Day

Forum Seeks A New Vision For U.S. Role EdWeek
The Forum for Education and Democracy report calls for moving away from k-12 tests and sanctions and, instead, do what other countries with high student achievement do.

Texas schools recruiting laid-off California teachers Houston Chronicle
Recruiters from school systems across Texas are heading west to hire some of the 14,000 teachers who have received pink slips in California, a state facing a $4.8 billion shortfall in education funding.

Belgian Students Retrace Teen Shooter's Steps NPR
When a high school student in Finland shot and killed eight people and himself late last year, European Union leaders rushed to tighten gun laws. Justice ministers of the 27 member states approved the measures last week. But one Belgian city that suffered a teen shooting is taking surprising steps of its own to keep kids safe.

La. schools must stop Bible giveaways MSNBC
A federal judge ordered a public school system to stop allowing in-school Bible giveaways, saying the practice violates the First Amendment separation of church and state.

Best Of The Blogs

More is worse for NCLB BoardBuzz
When it comes to NCLB, more is not better. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings' proposed NCLB rules yesterday add many new requirements for states, school districts and schools, but make no improvement to the law's accountability structure, which has been a central flaw that identifies so many schools as failing.

NCLB Regulatory Action Eduwonk
Anyway, the package, which is now open for public comment before a final regulation is issued, is basically the sum of ideas she's discussed this year. Key takeaways:

Who's to Blame for Lack of NCLB Action? The Hoff
The leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee agree that their attempt to reauthorize NCLB is at a standstill. But they disagree about who is to blame for that.

The Carnival Of Education: Week 168 Education Wonks
Welcome to the midway of the 168th edition of The Carnival of Education!

Challenge to NCLB Teacher Rules Heads to Court Mark Walsh
A lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Education's regulations on highly qualified teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act goes before a federal district judge in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Kids on the range Joanne Jacobs
In response to helicopter parenting, New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy has started Free Range Kids for parents who think their children should be able to bike to the library, walk to school and ride a bus.

Police arrest city teacher in bank robberies Detention Slip
For some reason when I read this article I pictured the story in black and white. I heard the teacher was also moonlighting as a rum runner.

Getting Rid Of Drug Dealers and Teachers Unions

First, Bracey.  Now this.  It must be crazy rhetoric week:

"Right-wing radio host, Neal Boortz asserted that "the single most dangerous entity, group of people in this country right now are the teachers unions," adding that "[t]hey do more damage to this country than all the drug pushers together. ... If I had a button right now, two buttons -- push this button and it gets rid of all the drug dealers; push this button, it gets rid of the teachers unions -- I'm getting rid of the teachers unions."

From Media Matters. Includes audio and 100+ comments. 

School Districts Give Away Free Fingerprint & DNA Sample Kits

I got this from the folks at the Chicago Public Schools last week but didn't fully appreciate how creepy it was until just now:

Fingerprint_kitFBI Gives ID Kits To CPS Families at Report Card Pick-Up.  Agents Show Parents and Guardians How to Use Kits to Create Home ID Cards

Agents of the Chicago Office of the FBI give 10,000 inkless finger print and DNA sample kits to parents and guardians of Chicago Public Schools students on Report Card Pick-Up Day, and show them how to use the kits. The kits are designed for easy “at home” fingerprinting. The parent or guardian fingerprints his or her own child and keeps the identification card at home. Seventeen Chicago public elementary schools will receive the kits. The kits are a product of the partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). The partnership aims to distribute kits to nearly 60 million school children in the U.S., so that law enforcement can respond quickly in emergency situations.

This is for when your kid gets lost, or in trouble, or when they find a body, right?  Apparently other cities are doing this, too.

Singer Appears To Promote Global Education: Where's Your Celebrity Spokesperson?

Shakiraglobalcampaigneducation02 A welcome break from all this NCLB nonsense (and Earth Day), Colombian-born singer and dancer Shakira made a Capitol Hill appearance yesterday on behalf of global education awareness.

If only  EDINO8 could get George Clooney to start doing events with them. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Four different reports on the EdSec's proposal:

Lolcatrenderer2aspxEducation Secretary Offers Changes to ‘No Child’ Law NCLB
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings used her executive powers to propose a series of fixes to President Bush’s signature education law, NCLB.

Spellings Proposes New Rules For Graduation Rates EdWeek
The secretary proposed federal regulations that touch on core aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Grad rates could join No Child gauges AP
The Bush administration sought to bolster its signature education law Tuesday, announcing new rules designed to address...

As Congress Tarries, Administration Proposes Changes Washington Post
The Bush administration proposed major changes yesterday in enforcement of the No Child Left Behind law, including some regulations meant to tighten oversight of public schools, as efforts to revamp the landmark education act have stalled in Congress.


Ga. Program Pays Low-Income Students to Study NPR
A pilot project sponsored by a local foundation offers a group of low-income students $8 an hour to go to after-school study sessions twice a week. The kids say the program is helpful, but some educators are troubled by it.

'Nation at Risk': The best thing or the worst thing for education? USA Today
Twenty-five years ago this week, Americans awoke to a forceful little report that, depending on your point of view, either ruined public education or saved it.



Continue reading "SECRETARY LOLCAT IZ VRY TRD" »

Why Policymakers (& Goalies) Always Take A Leap

Fabienbarthez_wideweb__470x2700 Reponding to a Kevin Carey post about policymakers' decision-making process, the AFTies made a good point yesterday that sometimes policymakers leap into action without knowing where they're going (Action Bias and Education Policy).  Not surprisingly, the results aren't always pretty.  But researchers and practitioners shouldn't expect them to do any otherwise -- just like economists shouldn't expect goalkeepers to stand still and wait for the penalty kick to come their way (Economists 1, Goalies 0).  It's just not going to happen.  In penalty kicks as in policymaking, there is an expectation of action that overwhelms the evidence in favor of standing still.  This is true in many other parts of life, where research evidence and pure rationality hardly ever wins out.  There's not much point in trying to make the goalie seem smarter than he (or she) is, or mocking him (or her) for something that's unlikely to change.

Best Of The Blogs

Brace(y) Yourself Kevin Carey
Is there anything someone can say that's so patently offensive and obviously deranged that it precludes further participation in respectable conversation? I guess we'll find out.

Speaklolcat4Coin Toss Determines Teacher's Fate EIA
If you think it never comes to that, check out this story from Gilroy, California.

The Myth of the "Culture of Poverty" ASCD Blog
In "The Myth of the 'Culture of Poverty'," author Paul Gorski takes on the damaging myth that people living in poverty share a consistent and observable "culture."

"Scarsdale Success" To Give Parents Choice - Finally Ed Notes Online
Tired at being barricaded inside their zoned schools, a group of Scarsdale residents have asked some Harlem African-American ministers to open a charter school in Scarsdale, NY.

 Hook'm with a video game, finish'm off with a book On Our Minds [new!]
Jenny Levine - a.k.a. The Shifted Librarian - has a great trio of posts about video gaming in libraries and whether holding video gaming events for teenagers is good for them and makes them check out more books.

 Mother, Daughter Charged With Attacking Teacher Detention Slip
It's good to see a parent getting involved in their child's studies.

Union-Run Charter School Struggles

For some folks, union-run charter schools seem like the best of both worlds -- job protections plus regulatory flexibility.  (For many others, union-run charters are a terrifying notion.)  In New York City, however, one of the most well-publicized experiments with union-charter collaboration is facing struggles (UFT Charter School Leader Will Leave After Clash With Teacher).  According to this story in the New York Sun, teacher turnover has been high over the past two years, parents are concerned, and now the principal is resigning. 

Obama Flips Off Teachers Unions

37992962_2 There are several preposterous theories (LA Times) about what Barack Obama was doing when he scratched his face last week  (left).

But I don't think Obama was flipping Hillary Clinton off.  I think he was sending a subtle but clear message to the UFT and NEA for not endorsing him despite all his NCLB-bashing. 

A little help from the teachers unions in Pennsylvania and I would have this thing wrapped up by now, is what he seems to be saying.

Big Stories Of The Day

No Child Left Behind faces changes AP
The regulations call for a federal review of state policies regarding the exclusion of test scores of students in racial groups deemed too small to be statistically significant or so small that student privacy could be jeopardized.

Seattle teacher suspended for refusing to give WASL
Seattle Times
A Seattle teacher is spending two weeks on leave without pay for refusing to give the WASL.

Schools trying to avoid special ed MSNBC
Schools across the country are rapidly adopting similar early intervention programs, hoping that steering a child away from expensive special education classes later will save money.

18-year-old S.C. Student Accused of School Bomb Plot EdWeek
Students arriving Monday at a small South Carolina high school face newly installed metal detectors and extra police after a student was arrested in what authorities said was a plan to carry out a Columbine-inspired attack.

Slavery, The Holocaust, & NCLB

In an overheated commentary from the Huffington Post (Chew on This), Gerry Bracey compares those who developed and implemented NCLB to Nazis who should be brought up on war crimes charges, and high-stakes testing to slavery.  I wonder how descendants of those who were enslaved in the US or put to death during the Holocaust would feel about this. Opposing NCLB is fine, but these comparisons discredit legitimate criticism and seem unnecessarily offensive. Not to speak of easily made.  At least Kozol's hunger strike last year involved some degree of personal sacrifice (and at least Kozol has been at times inspiring).

Education Reporters In Chicago

Hundreds of education writers -- and the folks who try to get them to write their stories -- are going to be in Chicago this week for the Umpteenth Annual Education Writers conference. Speakers include Michelle Rhee, the new District of Columbia education chancellor, and Steve James, director of the award-winning documentary, Hoop Dreams. Sessions will look at pay-for-performance for teachers, gender and brain research, the hidden costs of college, college sports, and other topics.  UFT president Randi Weingarten, Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan, researcher Sabrina Laine and Denver teacher Margaret Bobb will explore pay-for-performance and merit pay. Researcher Sandy Baum and US PIRG higher ed expert Luke Swarthout will look at the hidden costs of college. National Association for Single Sex Public Education president Leonard Sax and neuroscientist Lise Eliot will break down the issue of what brain research says about gender and learning. Click ewa.org to get all the details. Come up and say hi if you see me there. 

"R Wez Still Nashun At Risk?" -- A Nation At Risk, The LOLCAT Version

Speaklolcat4LOLCAT is the imaginary language of pets, first popularized by a picture of a cat with the caption "I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?" (Can I have a cheeseburger?"). 

This is what the LOLCAT translator has to say about "Are we still a nation at risk?":  R Wez Still Nashun At Risk?

Other things to translate might include:

"I love Obama but my union says no."
"Eight more weeks and I'm out of here."

Best Of The Blogs

Teaching, the Null Hypothesis, and the Status Quo Kevin Carey
The essential public policy question, by contrast, is not: "Is the null hypothesis true?" It's: "Should we keep doing what we're doing, or do something else?"

Randi, Hillary and Barack Ed Notes Online
"We have reached out to Obama, but they don't respond," was what she said. Hmmm. You know, code for -- arrogant.

Corey Bower asks a lot of questions about bad teachers in his unpretentiously titled blog, Thoughts on Education Policy.

Blast From the Past: William Ayers and Campaign '08 Mark Walsh
William Ayers, the 1960s radical about whom Sen. Barack Obama was questioned at this week's Democratic presidential debate, is widely known in the field of education as a professor, commentator, and advocate for small schools and student rights.

Bully Tries To Poison Student With Peanuts Detention Slip

I always thought bullies just pushed kids up against fences and broke their glasses. But I guess it's now 2008 and they are using advanced stealth techniques to conquer their enemies.

House Members Pick Wrong Day to Work Outside The Hoff
The hearing is scheduled to be outside, I hear.

The Indiana Jones response to philosophy-of-research blogging Sherman Dorn
I wouldn't go all ad-lib-for-convenience on you all if it weren't 11:20 at night, but I'm tired, and since this is a meta-discussion about judging teachers based on test scores, I'll just say this: It already happens (firing educators based on test scores), it's called reconstitution, and the evidence of its success is mediocre at best.

Secretary Riley To Lead New Law & Policy Center

61mcbroo2 From Fritz Edelstein's Fritzwire:  "Effective today, April 21, 2008, the education policy team from Holland & Knight LLP is moving to establish a new education law and policy center with former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley [pictured left].  This center will be affiliated with his law firm, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.  It will continue to provide a full array of legal, policy, strategic counseling and advocacy services in this new endeavor.  Some the individuals making the move are Art Coleman, Scott Palmer, Steve Winnick, Amy Starzynski, Elliot Regenstein, Reg Leichty, Robin Gelinas and the others."



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.