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Childhood Dream
It's about (what else?) the tendency of large school districts to hire lots of teachers while enrollment drops.

Internet Spreads Teacher's Account of Postville, Ia., Raid LTL
Elise Martins, a teacher from Postville, Iowa, didn't expect her personal account of the immigration raid in her community on May 12 to spread widely over the Internet, according to ImmigrationProf...

Computers don’t boost poor kids’ grades JJ
Giving poor kids computers doesn’t help them do better in school, writes Ray Fisman in Slate.

High Achieving Students in the Era of No Child Left Behind The Kette
No accountability system can work unless it is credible, and NCLB, as currently crafted, is not.

 Tough Choices Eduwonk
One reason the debate still has a "say anything" quality to it is that here is a still a great deal of misunderstanding about how the No Child law's mechanics actually work.  

Make Your Own Cool Charts And Graphs

School_lex_2004Check out some cool charts and graphs like this one at Gapminder, or create your own. 

Just remember the diffference between causal and associational relationships, says Freakonomics.

Brits Adopt American Prom, Consider Local School Boards Too


"Many American adults cringe when they remember the unfortunate dresses and awkward dates from their own proms. Britons, meanwhile, are adopting the prom at its most traditional, with prom queens and kings and professional photographers favoring pastel backdrops."

High School Prom Lands In England, Causes A Bother

WSJ via Jezebel

Reading More Words, But Not Getting Smarter

Another article from the Atlantic that might be of interest to educators and parents:

Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self.

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Big Stories Of The Day

Top Students Said to Stagnate Under NCLB EdWeek
A report finds that gains on national tests by high-achieving students lagged behind those of students at the low end of the spectrum.

Cpsmtg66180608060436photo00photodef Talk on education hits home in Flint Detroit Free Press
Before his speech, she was undecided who she would vote for in November, but she especially liked Obama's education plans. "I was educated here in Flint," ...

Is new SAT better? Not much, study says MSNBC
The writing section added to the SAT has done very little to improve the exam's overall ability to predict how students will do in college, according to research released Tuesday by the test's owner.

Jeb Bush campaigns for education, not office St. Petersburg Times
Jeb Bush is back. This week, in the center of the state he governed for eight years, Bush ends his 18-month hiatus from Florida public life.

School Officials in New Orleans and D.C. Face Tough Road to Reform PBS
On Tuesday, Merrow checks on how first graders in New Orleans are faring or you can watch the full series of reports here.

Around The Blogs

Remembering Tim Russert Checker Finn
I signed on [with Russert] around the same time for the D.C.-based legislative team, along with one of the strongest casts of colleagues it’s ever been my privilege to work with.

Dueling Manifestos Thomas Toch

The extremes in school-reform debates always seem to conspire against the middle, making change a lot tougher to achieve.

Is More Testing the New Civil Rights Agenda? Bridging Differences
To answer your question, “How come, since there are more teachers than policymakers,” the policymakers get to run the show? Easy. Public education is controlled by laymen, not professionals."

WSJ On TFA Eduwonk
It's harsher than it needs to be but the basic point holds up. All these superintendents who want more TFA teachers want them for a reason.

Status Quoers Dare to Ask for a Piece of KBR's $20 Billion Ed Notes Online

With the NY Times report today on how an official was fired after refusing to pay $1 billion to corrupt food contracter KBR which has received a total of $20 billion, supporters of the status quo in education have requested a piece of the action to reduce class size, expand early childhood programs and provide services for at-risk teens.

Parents locked out of graduation Hall Monitor
What a way to thank parents for all their support over the years...by not allowing them to watch their son/daughter walk the isle on graduation day.

What Happens To TFAers After Their Commitment Is Over?

Last week I had the chance to meet with three of the four TFA alums who are featured in Donna Foote's new book, Relentless Pursuit, to get an update on what the response to the book has been and how things had gone since then. 

Jun_11_2008_vid000081Asked to reflect on their experience in education, it seemed that their feelings about TFA remained strong, but their feelings about Green Dot had weakened over all, despite a grudging admiration.  They described how TFA was continuing to evolve and make improvements to its efforts. Taylor, the teacher who moved from Locke to a Green Dot school this year, seems particularly concerned that the Green Dot model has lost its parent involvement strengths as it's moved into Watts.  Rachelle is not staying to help open the "new" Locke run by Green Dot next year. 

As for the book itself, I got the strong sense that at first, each of them had struggled with how they were portrayed in the book, which they didn't see until early this year and which collapses an entire year and focuses on what one of them called their most gnarly classes. (The book opens with a power outage during the first week of school and includes a student urinating in class.) Since then, they seem to have come to terms with their portrayals, and see their participation in the process -- letting Foote into their classrooms and debriefing with her after school -- as part of a larger story. 

The Downsides Of Deseg (For Kids And Schools, Too)

There's an absolutely brutal article in the new Atlantic magazine (American Murder Mystery) describing the downsides of once-lauded racial and economic desegregation efforts around the country.

51dgk80s0fl_sl500_aa240_ In essence the piece suggests that residential desegregation -- once thought of as a solution for problems associated with large housing projects -- might instead merely pull down the moderately poor nearby minority communities where residents tend to cluster, overwhelming under-prepared community services.

This matters even if you're more of a school reformer type than a poverty/race (broader, bolder) person, because the deseg effects include new struggles for schools receiving the children of former housing project residents, and new pressures on middle-class minority children who are targeted by newly arrived gang members:

  "Clean-cut kids serve the same function as American recruits for al-Qaeda: they become the respectable front men... The college boy, raised outside the projects, might be dreaming of being the next 50 Cent, or might be too intimidated not to join...The schools were not much better, and children were no more likely to stay in them."

In fact, there are all sorts of school reform lessons here, including the dangers of overselling ideal-condition small-sample studies and the importance of quality implementation in the face of political pressures to do it big and quick and dirty. 

Preschool, voucher, NCLB transfer, reconstitution advocates, are you listening?

So You Think You Can Blog [Update 2]

I'm still trying to figure out who might make a great contribution to this blog this summer, but in the meantime I've heard about a bunch of new education blogs that you might like to check out:

Smaller classes can’t be bad, but headlines can
It’s so sad, what the accountability movement has done to the quality of educational research.

History in the lawmaking Weights and Wings
What happens when a policy wonk gets an idea?

GPI, Group Parental Ignorance Where's The Sun?
The fact that parents didn’t want their children placed with special education students and they actually had the audacity to publicly admit it is well unimaginable.

So_you_think_you_can_blog2_3Sheep everydayjae
I had my first day of class last night. And I can't say how much I was underwhelmed.

Edupunk? Students 2.0
I just recently heard about edupunk, the term that’s seemingly sweeping the edublogosphere and causing all these old people to grab their dusty Sex Pistols t-shirts and bust out the black eyeliner.Link:

The end Epiphany in Baltimore
I am not tired of blogging, but I am tired of my personal life and my professional life being mixed in unhealthy ways.

[Cindy] McCain Loves For-Profit Charter Schools, Too

Fe_al_20080616whispersmccainNot to be left out of this whole education "debate," Senator McCain sent his wife Cindy to visit one of New York's first charter schools last week.

Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem school serves roughly 300 kids in K-4 -- part of Victory Schools' for-profit network of "19 public and charter schools serving approximately 7,000 children in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago."

Brave to have her visit what is obviously a front for indoctrinating little American children in the ways of Al-Quaida, I thought. Did you know?  Mrs. Mcain has a BA in education and an MA in SPED.

Recent news:  Board of Education approves new performance plan CTDN
A Post-Katrina Charter School in New Orleans Gets a Second Chance NYT

Colbert Report On Florida Teacher Fired For Being A Wizard

As first reported in Jeff Solocheck's blog, the Gradebook, the Colbert Report did indeed come to Florida to investigate news of the teacher fired for being a wizard.  And what a wizard the teacher turns out to be:

Obama Stakes Out Bold New Education Position(s)

Last week, I argued that the only really important thing about the two education position papers that were released was to wonder which one Obama would support (Which Manifesto Would Obama Have Signed?). 

16manage1600In that post, I guessed that Obama, moving as he has been to the left, would have supported the Bigger, Bolder One. Boy, was I wrong.

Now, EdWeek's Hoff does that journalist thing (making phone calls) and tells us that Obama supports both positions (2 New Coalitions Seek Influence on Campaigns).

We also learn that it was just coincidence that the highly organized education groups came out with big announcements one day apart from each other.  Go, education groups.  You make us proud to be working in the same field. 

It's a brave and visionary position for a politician to take, siding with both sides.  Few politicos do it so well as Obama.  In so doing, Obama joins just one other figure, Chicago superintendent Arne Duncan. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Homer2 Obama says McCain will keep US in economic hole. Sun-Times
"We could have made a real commitment to a world-class education for our kids, but instead we passed “No Child Left Behind,” a law that – however well-intended – left the money behind and alienated teachers and principals instead of inspiring them."

Study Sees Mixed Results In Unique Voucher Program NY Sun
Students who spent two years in private schools courtesy of the nation's only federally funded voucher program saw no significant benefits overall, though several particular types of children did benefit, a new study has found.

States move toward uniform graduation rate reporting USA Today
No Child Left Behind was supposed to focus on the inequalities in the nation's public schools, but has done little to improve graduation rates.

State Testing Mandates Swell Summer School Ranks EdWeek
Students in a number of states often end up attending summer school programs because they didn’t meet academic standards set by the state.

How a group of California teens won a national science bowl CSM
The team from Santa Monica High School – a band of savants in the land of surfers – went through a grueling yearlong quiz class.

$700,000 verdict gives chaperones pause MSNBC
When she traveled to China with her son's school choir, Teresa Cleary spent a fair amount of time worrying that a student under her supervision might become lost or ill.

"Good Night, Moon...Good Night Po-Pos"

From The Wire, Season 5.  Via The Plank (Worst Children's Book Ever).

How Debate Lost Its Soul -- And Might Get It Back

Resolved_506 HBO is premiering its documentary about two different high school debate teams tonight.  You might want to check it out.  This isn't just a story about fancy vs. not fancy schools.  There've been lots of changes in debate since back in the day -- not all of them good ones.  The unintended consequence of time limits and judges' scoring emphasize speed over quality. 

Around The Blogs

Russert2 Remembering Tim Russert OOM
Besides being a great journalist and a wonderful friend to Scholastic, he was a tremendous mentor to our Scholastic Kid Reporters.

Walz Digs Graves Charlie Democratic staff that we spoke to said they were told by Walz’s office and "some lobbyists" that "everyone was fine with the bill and the strategy."  Apparently, they were mistaken.  

The Unity Caucus Tail Wags the AFT Dog Ed Notes Online
Some people are confused. They think Randi Weingarten is getting a promotion when she becomes president of the AFT next month.

Can't We All Just Get Along? Ed Notes Online
I continue to see no reason why education policy should involve taking sides or demeaning others...I continue to believe that belittling others is both bad form and consequential.

Fifty-One MinutesTMAO
This is what you said you wanted, right? No, for reals – you’re gonna do this?

Psychological torture produces no teachable moments SFT
Psychological torture is spreading from the cells of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo to the classrooms of at least one affluent suburban high school.

New Blog Focuses On The Boys Crisis (Yes There Is One)


USA Today editorial writer Richard Whitmire has just unveiled his new education blog, Why Boys Fail, focused on differences in learning and achievement between boys and girls in the classroom.  Agree or disagree with him on this controversial issue -- I'm inclined to agree -- you'll want to check out his first few posts: McCain/Obama drawn to the boys issue?, Maybe the invite is lost in the mail… [Leonard Sax],  Why does this man look so frazzled?.

A Blogopticon For Education?

Vanity_fair_blogopticon_08 Vanity Fair has just put out it's "blogopticon," showing how the big blogs compare to one another in tone (serious or light) and content (news vs. opinion).   

It might not seem that way, but my aim is to be balanced in tone and content -- neither always high nor always low. 

I don't have the time or energy to do the same for the education blogs, but it would be an interesting way to see where everyone fits. 

She's Going To Disney World!

Disney2004 After a couple of weeks of not doing much by way of public events, EdSec Spellings is headed to San Diego early in the week and then to a "national summit on education reform" at...Disney World.

Click below for details.

Continue reading "She's Going To Disney World!" »

Big Stories Of The Day

4gsjz9g More Schools Trying Separation of the Sexes Washington Post
Mrs. Demshur's class of second-grade girls sat in a tidy circle and took turns reading poems they had composed. "If I were a toucan, I'd tweet, I'd fly," began one girl. When she finished, the others clapped politely.

Few options offered for Texas schools facing closure Houston Chronicle
One driver is the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which like Texas' accountability system, orders escalating sanctions against schools each year they fail ...

God vs. Science: Keeping Creationism out of School NPR
This summer, the Texas Board of Education gears up to possibly consider whether biology classes should include the "strengths and weaknesses" evolutionary theory — known as creationism to some. Biology professor and textbook author Kenneth Miller discusses the debate.

 Project Aims to Improve H.R. Systems in Big Districts EdWeek
Two experts have launched an organization to push for transforming how the nation’s largest school districts recruit and groom teaching and school leadership talent.

 Teachers defend shock tactics in teen drunken driving program San Francisco Chronicle
On a Monday morning last month, California Highway Patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino

Week In Review (June 9-13)

Campaign 2008
Which Manifesto Would Obama Have Signed?
Will Clinton Education Folks Make It To Denver?

Foundation FolliesDallasdoc_2
Transparency & Accountability...For Funders
No Clear Angle On School Reform
School Reform Confusion: What Day Is It?

Holy McClellan! USDE Official Regrets Her Actions On NCLB
Comparability, Meet Weighted Student Funding

Teachers & Teaching
More Dirty Laundry From The Chicago Teachers Union
TFA Alums Survive Having Their First Year Chronicled In Print

Media Watch
Business Reporter Gets Nieman To Study Truancy
The Likeable Spellings Snookers The Press Again
Previewing Paul Tough

School Life
Offspring Of The Famous, Dynasties In The Making
"I Teach High School And I'm Just As Lazy As They Are"
Chicago Stages 30K Kid Rally During School Day

A "Killer Instinct" For School Reform

Site News
Favorite Blog Images From 05-07
So You Think You Can Blog [Update]

More Dirty Laundry From The Chicago Teachers Union

Dallasdoc_2 Elected on the same slate two years ago, the president and vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union are currently locked in a battle for control over the union that has now moved from the blogosphere and into the courtroom. 

First there is the 20-page complaint for injunctive relief (PDF) in which Ted Dallas argues that he can't be removed from office or from the union. 

Next -- fun! -- is a 54-page attachment also from Dallas with all sorts of evidence to look through (exhibits). 

Which Manifesto Would Obama Have Signed?

Ap080503036099_2Only in a really slow week could the education blogs have spent so much time debating two ultimately unimportant documents put out by different education coalitions -- or would New York Times columnist David Brooks have deigned to weigh in on the situation -- sort of.   

In his Times column (Obama, Liberalism and the Challenge of Reform), Brooks uses the dual proclamations to ask the question we've all been asking about whether Obama is a reformer or not. 

He notes the less reform-minded tone of Obama's more recent speeches, and that Obama's education plan is less extensive or detailed in the areas of accountability and teacher performance than in many other areas. 

At this point, I think it's clear that Obama isn't really running as an education reformer anymore, which will please some supporters and trouble others. 

He wasn't all that far right to start.  He moved left to beat Clinton and will be pressured to move even further left to maintain the support of teachers and win in the general election.  At that point, it'll be a mighty struggle for him to tack towards the middle again. 

Which is too bad,  because  public education still needs a big kick in the pants if it's ever going to get the love  support it wants.

Previewing Paul Tough

9780618569892Paul Tough's book, Whatever It Takes, is coming out in September and may be the next big book on education. 

Tough has a cover blurb from no less than public radio star Ira Glass (his former boss) and is described on the back as "one of America's foremost writers on poverty, education, and the achievement gap."

"In Tough’s inspired portrait, sure to be as deeply influential as Tracy Kidder’s of Paul Farmer, Canada shares center stage with the parents and children of Harlem as they hopefully, anxiously enter a “conveyor belt” of integrated programs, from Baby College to Harlem Gems to Promise Academy."

Here's his 2004 article on Geoffrey Canada, the focus of his book: The Harlem Project.  Here's the December NYT Magazine article many of you may remember: What It Takes to Make a Student. Here he is in a December 2006 interview: Paul Tough On The HotSeat.

Big Stories Of The [TGIF] Day

Sharpton's New Education Group Under FireNY Sun
Rev. Sharpton said on his radio show that he received a telephone call from a union leader after his announcement that he is starting a new education group with school leaders who have called teachers unions obstacles to improvements.

Mandated Tutoring Not Helping Washington Post
Nationwide, nearly 530,000 students -- 14 percent of those eligible -- participate, officials said.

Schools experiment with paying kids AP
Studies into the effects of school-based rewards programs are limited. But research by an independent think tank at Stanford University indicated they can raise scores.

State to Memphis schools: Recover or suffer Commercial Appeal
If the City Council doesn't reinstate $73.3 million in funding to Memphis City Schools, the Tennessee Department of Education is going to withhold $423 million from the district.

Racial Identity's Gray Area WSJ
The Census Bureau says minorities will outnumber whites by 2050, but the definition of white keeps shifting. Groups have been welcomed in or booted out; people opt out or sue to get in. Some jump back and forth.

DWI shock tactics at school defended MSNBC
Highway patrol officers visited a California high school with horrible news: Several students had died in car wrecks. But classmates' tears later turned to rage — it wasn't true.

The Likeable Secretary Spellings Snookers The Press Again

Even in defeat, the ever-likeable EdSec Spellings still manages to charm reporters and get good press written about her.  The latest example -- and the first of what I'm sure will be a slew of "so long, Margaret" features -- is in today's Times (Bush Loyalist Fights to Save ‘No Child’ Law), written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who has been White House correspondent for the past couple of years. 

12spellings_650The piece does capture how little Spellings and others appreciated the bipartisan moment that created NCLB.  Like a rookie winning the championship her first year in the league, Spellings didn't realize that not every year was going to be like that. And its retelling of the story of NCLB is relatively unobjectionable.

But this is pretty light stuff for a long profile in the Times.  Ooh, she travels a lot and changes into jeans for flights.  There's little effort to capture Spellings' role in the problems that followed the adoption of NCLB -- the regulatory delays, the rigid enforcement regime -- or her evolution (flipflop?) when she became Secretary in the second term. 

Perhaps most problematic, Stolberg lets Spellings get away with blaming what happened after NCLB was passed on 9/11 and the war in Iraq, rather than delays, broken relationships with Democrats, and rigid pride while she was in the White House.

UPDATE:  Always the suckup, Andwonk says the profile was well-reported with only minor flaws (Stolberg On Spellings).

Around The Blogs

100% Bull$#!% (Part 3) Angry Charlie
Having worked with Susan Neuman in the early years of the Bush Administration, I could say a lot of things, but having the impression that she actually ever read the law is not one of them.

McCain Adviser: NCLB is Adequately Funded Campaign K12
Though as president he may seek to re-allocate money between programs, McCain believes the NCLB law is "adequately funded," Keegan said.

A Blank Slate TQATE
These are not minor proposals, and they are not the sign of someone waiting for an education policy savant.

What Sharpton and Klein forgot to ask AFT Blog
Apparently, EDINO8, which has had little impact despite its 60 gazillion dollar budget, has been reincarnated as the Educational Equality Project (EEP).

The politics of education platforms SDorn
Steve Diamond is right: the public pronouncements of sweeping education approaches are all about a "battle for the soul of Barack Obama on education policy."

Is Greener [Schooling] Better? Reality CheckED
But while these savings are great, they only benefit the states that run the schools, and the federal government will have to recoup this money some other way.

Little bang for lots of buck Supadupafly
I was expecting a bit more from Eduwonk’s $5 billion challenge.

High School Pranks and Punishment Web Notes
High school students in Connecticut, Florida, and Minnesota penalized for their senior pranks.

So You Think You Can Blog [Update]

So_you_think_you_can_blog2_2 Thanks to everyone who sent me an email about their interest in contributing to the site.  I really appreciate all the interest, and will look through the emails this weekend and see what makes sense.  There's a lot of energy  and talent out there.  It'll be hard to make a choice, I'm sure. 

School Reform Confusion: What Day Is It?

Barackmichellestpaul3 Yesterday I wrote (No Clear Angle On School Reform) that Democratic groups can't get their act together on scheduling the rollout of major education initiatives -- much less agree on the substance.  Sam Dillon puts it into even sharper relief in today's NYT (Democrats Offer Plans to Revamp Schools Law). 

No plans for a third manifesto or event are scheduled for today, far as I know.  But there will be others down the line, you can be sure, as folks try and influence the campaigns, shape the agenda for the next Congress, and stake out territory for themselves for the future.

Big "Terrorist Jab" Stories Of The Day

Bush Loyalist Fights to Save ‘No Child’ Law NYT
On a cold and soggy morning in March, Ms. Spellings, the relentlessly cheery and sometimes sassy United States secretary of education, turned up here, at a little brick elementary school across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

Star61108'Standing Up for the Children' Washington Post
It was the kind of odd coupling that seemed more like the premise for a reality show than a news conference on education policy: New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

At Benning Elementary, School's Out Forever Washington Post
Last June 12 was a day of unusual promise at Benning Elementary, a dingy, virtually windowless school near RFK Stadium with a leaky roof, occasional air conditioning and dismal test scores.

Somber Students Found to Outperform Cheerful Students EdWeek
A new study found that children who feel happy don’t do as well on tasks that require precision as their peers who are sad or have neutral feelings.

Report: Violence taught at Islamic school MSNBC
Textbooks at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.

Mississippi School Holds First Interracial Prom NPR [14 min.]
With a nudge and a check from local resident Morgan Freeman, the high school in Charleston, Miss., integrated its prom this year for the first time ever.

Favorite Blog Images From 05-07

Obama08_2 Hard to believe that it was five years ago I began sending out weekly emails to everyone and over four since I started blogging (that is, posting my weekly emails online). 

This was on Blogspot, way before Scholastic (November 2007-present) or EdWeek (Jan.-Nov. 2007) -- way back before the blog split into two.

If you're feeling nostalgic or curious, you can check out about 20 favorite images from way back then, which I've just put up on my new  Facebook page.  There wasn't a ton of images or image-manipulating back then, but there are still some good ones in there. 

Thanks to all of you who've been with me since then. 

Business Reporter Gets Nieman To Study Truancy

800pxchicago_tribune_logosvgThe journalists who won the prestigious Nieman this spring -- good for a year of study at Harvard -- include David Jackson of the Chicago Tribune, who's planning to study how truancy affects dropout rates.  Interestingly, Jackson is not an education reporter -- his byline appears on stories about Rezco and real estate. There's no requirement that reporters study the same subject as they report on, however, and it will be interesting to see what Jackson comes up with. Check out Jackson's project and the others' here:  Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

TFA Alums Survive Having Their First Year Chronicled In Print

Jun_11_2008_vid000081_2 I had a chance yesterday to sit down with three of the four TFAers featured in  the new book about their experience, Relentless Pursuit.  Sorry for the bad picture-taking, but pictured here are Rachelle Snyder, Hrag Hamalian, and Taylor Rifkin with the author, Donna Foote (from left to right). 

More details to follow, but they were all extremely positive about their TFA experiences despite having been put in an extreme situation even by TFA standards, surprisingly OK with the experience of having their first-year gaffes and dramas out there for all to see, and are all still in education (though increasingly not in the classroom). 

Chicago Stages 30K Kid Rally During School Day

39842768 Hoping to pressure state lawmakers into raising funding levels for the district, CPS and City Hall staged a rally against school violence at Soldier Field on Tuesday that was said to have been seen by 30,000 Chicago students but whose cost and effectiveness remains unknown.  If 30,000 kids attended, that means that roughly 10 percent of CPS children were out of school that day.  For whatever reason, the event couldn't be scheduled on a weekend.  The chairs represent Chicago children who have been killed this school year, almost all of them not during the school day or on school grounds.

30000 kids at city's 'largest civics lesson' Chicago Sun-Times
CPS Rally At Soldier Field Draws Thousands NBC5.com
School rally seeks more money for anti-violence ... Chicago Tribune

A "Killer Instinct" For School Reform

Kobebryant There's an interesting profile of basketball player Kobe Bryant in Sports Illustrated that attempts to get at what -- besides natural talent -- makes Bryant and others like him so successful.  The article boils it down to this:

"...love of the game, ambition, obsessive-compulsive behavior, arrogance/ confidence, selfishness and nonculpability/ guiltlessness." 

What I wonder is whether anyone in school reform circles could be described that way.  And, I guess, whether it would be worth it. It's not a particularly appealing set of personality traits, but perhaps one necessary for success at the highest levels of any effort.

Kobe's Killer Instinct.

No Clear Angle On School Reform

Workishell One thing seems clear.  No one's sure what angle to take on mobilizing the public for school reform.  Yesterday, we had the "better, broader, bigger" folks from EPI, focused on early childhood and out of school factors.  Before that, there was EDINO8, focused on standards and after-school and...I forget the rest. 

Today, kicking off with a press even this morning, we've got Al Sharpton and NYC's Joel Klein (among others), focused on equity and civil rights: Schools Chancellor Klein, Rev. Al Sharpton an odd pair in ... NYDN, Sharpton To Speak on Improving America's Schools Today New York Sun

Check out the details below.

UPDATE:  Maybe the confusion is understandable, given how diverse voters' education priorities are (Obama and McCain face tough task on “education reform”).

Continue reading "No Clear Angle On School Reform" »

Big Stories Of The Day

Miami-Dade cuts 800 teaching jobs Miami Herald
The Miami-Dade school district has eliminated 800 teaching positions over the past two weeks, district officials said Monday.  The reassignments could sharply reduce the number of new hires.

Rochester prepares for its first charter high school Democrat and Chronicle
Parents who packed a recent Rochester Academy Charter School open house peppered school leaders with questions that revealed excitement and anxiety about what will be the city's first charter high school

No excuses Dallas Morning News
Mr. Sanchez has mixed feelings about No Child Left Behind, the federal education act that controls the fate of his school.  PLUS:  Law makes few allowances for immigrant students

No cheering allowed at S.C. graduation MSNBC
When Rock Hill school officials tell commencement crowds to hold their applause until the end, they mean it — police arrested seven people after they were accused of loud cheering.

School Devoted to Traditional Teaching, Values NPR
The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., combines traditional values and classical learning in a community known for strong ...

"I Teach High School And I'm Just As Lazy As They Are"

An old PostSecret:


Oil Program Doing Better Than Reading Program, Says Leno


"A federal study released today shows that President Bush’s $1 billion a year Reading First program has done nothing to increase the reading skills of young students,” said Leno. “However, his Oil Company First program—going like gangbusters.”

Via a recent EWA newsletter

Will Clinton Education Folks Make It To Denver?

Ukreuters Senator Clinton's official withdrawal from the race means that her education folks -- formal and informal -- have to figure out what to do next (Hillary Clinton's Staff Looking for New Jobs).  Many with Clinton ties have day jobs and can return to those (or never left them).  Others like domestic policy honcho Catherine Brown may want to explore joining the Obama effort or at least becoming part of the overall Democratic campaign push towards the general.  Denver isn't a bad place to be for the convention this summer.  And some Clinton staffers have already been brought on board (Obama taps former Clinton aide for economy team).  But it may not be so easy for Clintonistas to find a place in the Obama campaign effort, official or otherwise.  There's remnant ill will, the reality that many policy positions have been set on the education front, and the underlying sense (not just in education) that Clinton-era, Clinton-affiliated ideas are not what Obama needs right now.

Katie Couric Does Education (Again)

Eye_on_education1 Click below to see the summaries of CBS Evening News' three-part series on "what works" in education, which begins tonight. 

There's a segment on Michelle Rhee (natch), one on GPS trackers being used in Dallas (scary), and the Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, Mass.

The good folks at CBS were kind enough to send a look ahead.

Continue reading "Katie Couric Does Education (Again)" »

Holy McClellan! USDE Official Regrets Her Actions On NCLB

70 A big group of education types led by EPI and joined by former USDE official Susan Neuman have come together and signed statement calling for a broader, bolder approach to education -- specifically working beyond NCLB and beyond the schoolhouse doors (No Child Left Behind: Doomed to Fail? TIME).  It's not a full-on slam against NCLB, though, praising as it does the disaggregation requirements in the law.  But its main focus is outside traditional K12 education, including preschool afterschool health service and parent education.

Summer School Update

Summer_schoolI'm in LA for part of this week, checking out the "old" Locke high school before it is officially handed over to Green Dot, and checking in on Green Dot to see how things are going for the big re-opening in September.  Coming out here is part of my new fellowship, which also includes coursework at Columbia's journalism school that (which?) is intended to turn me into a decent writer.

It's great to meet some of the folks at Locke that I've been emailing and talking with face to face, and interesting to catch up on how things have gone this year (not so well at the school, not so badly at Green Dot).  It's also good to be back in LA, where I lived for a few years right out of college and taught (private school) English. Great also to be staying up in the hills of Mt. Washington at the home of former LA Times education blogger Bob Sipchen (remember "School Me"?).

Around The Blogs

An Obama Heads Up MM
Today, Sen. Barack Obama delivered a major speech on the economy and offered this education tidbit:

Our panaceas are better than your panaceas Flymetothemoon
Apparently tired of being called defeatist defenders of the status quo, the Economic Policy Institute (home of Lawrence Mishel and Richard Rothstein) just released a policy statement calling for a “broader, BOLDER approach” to education. It’s a smart and savvy strategy: they go out of their way to say that school [...]

States Take Aim at Abusive Teachers On Education
Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina consider new sex abuse laws.

Liberal Interest Groups Not Left Behind NRO
On Wednesday, the House passed the “21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act,” a $6.4 billion school-construction program. Essentially, it’s a regulatory gift bag for environmental groups and labor unions

Flipped? Andywonk
Though it's too late for this administration, wouldn't a strategy of actually enforcing No Child's public school choice provisions and opening new schools in underserved communities have made a lot more of a dent in the problem?

Monkey god named school chairman PURE Thoughts
"Hanuman, the popular god known for his strength and valor, has been named official chairman of the recently opened Sardar Bhagat Singh College of Technology and Management in northern India, a school official said Saturday."

Big Stories Of The Day

Kennedy’s Illness Raises Doubts for NCLB EdWeek
Now that a key author of the law and the chairman of the Senate education committee has been diagnosed with a form of brain cancer, prospects for reauthorization have become even murkier.

Peer Review System for Teachers Spreads NPR
But in Toledo, Ohio, the union has spearheaded a controversial policy to purge the school district of incompetent teachers.

School Devoted to Traditional Teaching, Values NPR
Sitting in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colo., the Classical Academy, a public charter school, teaches traditional values and classical learning.

2008 Enrollment In U.S. Expected To Set Record Washington post
Public school enrollment across the country will hit a record high this year with just under 50 million students, and the student population is becoming more diverse in large part because of growth in the Latino population, according to a new federal report.

Charter School to Close Over Academics Washington Post
A list of the D.C. charter schools with the lowest reading and mathematics proficiency rates reveals that the closing of Tri-Community is the exception, not the rule, for struggling charters.

Link by Link: Now Professors Get Their Star Rankings, Too NYT
Social Science Research Network offers nearly 150,000 full-text documents for downloading and allows academics to see how popular their writings are online.

Transparency & Accountability...For Funders

Thefundedlogo Funders love to talk about creating transparency and accountability in education -- deliverables, measurables, value-added, etc. How would they feel if the shoe was on the other foot, and they were getting rated and reviewed? 

That's what comes to mind when I first heard about The Funded (thanks, secret helper!), a site that shines a flashlight on the world of venture capital by letting people rate VC firms and describe their experiences working with them.  The Funded lets readers rate VC firms for their clarity of communication, fair treatment, and timely decisions -- requiring that commenters ID themselves, too. (Reckoning Day For Venture Capitalists?).  This kind of transparency took the VC world by storm when it first appeared (with an anonymous creator at the time).

There's lots of potential for misuse, of course, but wouldn't it be a nice and good thing if there was a little less mystery around who gets funded, and why, and what grantees' experiences are?

Offspring Of The Famous, Dynasties In The Making

F86cdc3ad7371bbfd188f140a16c2575202 It must be strange and interesting to be the son or daughter of a well-known education figure who also works in education.  So far, I've met Andrew Gardner (son of Howard), who teaches in Manhattan, and Josh  AEdelman (son of Marian), who runs the new schools office in Chicago.  I've emailed with Brooke Haycock,  Kati Haycock's daughter, who (at one point) worked at the Ed Trust putting out their weekly email, among other things.  I've seen the name of someone named Payzant who I assume must be related to the former Boston public schools chief.  I think I met Daniel Schorr's son Jonathan at NSVF last week.  (Not an education guy, but it's all I've got.) The now-married Jenna Bush is apparently back teaching at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in DC.

Are there any other offspring of famous educationistas who work in education?

Previous Posts: Power Couples In Education


Comparability, Meet Weighted Student Funding


You don't hear about it as much because it's not exclusively focused on education, but the Center on American Progress is an increasingly big player in the policy world. You can tell from the flat screen TVs in the lobby and the Hill staffers getting out of cabs to go into the CAP offices.  (Most Hill staff make folks come to them.)  Oh, and all the Soros money.

Anyway, CAP does have some education-related stuff going on, including this interestingly left-looking event focusing on the possibilities of reviving the "comparability" provision in Title I (click below for details).

I'd love to be wrong, but my prediction is that everyone at the event agrees that enhancing the comparability provision would likely be a good thing, but that no one has much of an idea about how to sell the change to Congress.  Especially given how a similar issue -- weighted student funding -- crashed and burned in NYC and is apparently being dropped in the District of Columbia.

And so, I will repeat my oft-heard lament:  policy ideas too often lack political thinking that's needed in order to make it beyond the luncheon circuit and into action.  But maybe CAP can do better.

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Big Stories Of The Day

House approves funds for 'green' schools AP
Democrats said the $20B/5 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act would save school districts billions in energy costs while reducing asthma and other environmentally linked health problems.

Climber2533 Audit Faults an Education Nonprofit NYT
The group [TFA] was unable to provide documents to support roughly half its claimed spending, $775,000 of the $1.5 million sampled, the report said.  PLUS: Auditors criticize teacher recruitment program AP [with link to report]

ED Opens Choice, SES 'Flip-Flop' to All States Title I Monitor
The U.S. Department of Education announced yesterday that it will allow all states to apply for participation in a pilot program enabling schools "in improvement"...

Denver promise of free college is breaking some hearts Los Angeles Times
Illegal immigrants graduating from high school find that the 2004 pledge won't cover out-of-state tuition, and they're not entitled to Colorado resident prices.

So You Think You Can Blog?

So_you_think_you_can_blog2_2 Interested in education, public policy, or online journalism?  Think you can write about it in an engaging way?  Click below to find out about being a contributor to This Week In Education this summer.

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