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Redshirting Boys = Earlier Dropouts?

43401 "Children (particularly boys) who are held back a year before entering kindergarten are a year older than their peers," writes New America's Sara Mead (The Cost of Redshirting) "which allows them to legally drop out of school a year earlier than they could have if they had started kindergarten when they were eligible, depressing educational attainment."

Wrestling Teachers In Morocco

A lot of weight is being placed on American teachers today.  We are expected to reverse the devastating effects of economics and family dysfunction.  We are supposed to reform our work rules ranging from seniority and due process to vending machines in the faculty lounge.  Not surprisingly, many teachers would like to retreat to the comfort of the tried and true.

Morocco_jamaa_el_fnaaIn  Morocco, I lived with teachers who were also struggling with rapid change.  They were equally quirky when redefining their roles in education and society.    There was, for example, a championship wrestling routine at the faculty meeting. One participant, the Islamic fundamentalist, believed I was a CIA agent and not a Fulbright Exchange Teacher.  But the teachers in the small Moroccan mountain town mostly cheered for his opponent, the secular teacher with his cowboy boots and country and Western attire. 

I didn't learn the whole story until that night, drinking tea above the café. It turns out that the cowboy was a ladies man, but most teachers were irked by the fundamentalist's proselytizing and wanted the principal to be more forceful in reining in him. "If he talks to my daughter again about the veil, I will knock his teeth out," was the sentiment expressed by several secular teachers.

I spent most of my evenings at the table with the more cosmopolitan teachers, reminiscing about their days of kif and wine even during Ramadan. Their big complaint was social promotion. The trade unionists, mostly Communists, also welcomed me warmly to their table. They teased me about my blue collar worker's body that had gone to seed, but which still showed I had put in my labor in the hot sun. We had a marathon of swapping of dirty jokes to see which ones translated between Arabic and English. I did not make many inroads into the table for the traditionalist teachers. They did crossword puzzles every night.   -- John Thompson

What Are They Thinking?


Parents Resist Integration In Fairfax

"As [the Fairfax] situation makes clear, changing attendance boundaries is politically difficult, particularly when it increases socioeconomic integration," writes Erin Dillon in today's TQATE (The Quick and the Ed).  "But this situation also illustrates why socioeconomic integration may be important."

Indie Research Outfits Could Spread Beyond Chicago, NYC

New York's new "Research Alliance"  will resemble Chicago's Consortium in many ways -- but with some key differences, according to the Consortium. They describe the New York effort as a replication, not an exact clone.

Both organizations will have broad data sharing privileges, including both public and private information.  Of course, New York won't have data going back to the early 90s.  The Consortium has a steering committee on which CPS and CTU and ISBE sit, while the Research Alliance has a governing board which may have greater authority over the work that is done.  Both organizations have agreed to a "no-surprises" rule to avoid disputes or over-reactions based on new findings. 

Balancing impact and independence is one key.  Another key to making this work, according to one insider, is to make sure that the research efforts conducted are based on school needs, not researchers' interests.  More tidbits:  Folks in St. Louis and Baltimore are looking to do the same type of thing.

Cross-posted from D299.  Previous Post:  Cloning The Consortium

Varsity Status For Double Dutch

31double600 Double Dutch Gets Status in the Schools NYT
Come next spring, double dutch, an urban street staple that dates back centuries, will become the newest of 35 varsity sports played in New York City schools.

Big Stories Of The Day

Environmental education gets a green light
But Heys and other supporters say efforts to expand green lessons have been stymied by the federal No Child Left Behind Law, which judges schools based on...

Plan links graduation rates to certification Washington Times
Gov. Tim Kaine's office is reviewing the plan, which would require schools to meet a graduation-rate benchmark to receive state accreditation and avoid penalties.

White House Predicts $482 Billion Deficit NYT
The White House predicted that President Bush would leave a record $482 billion deficit to his successor, a turnabout in the nation’s fiscal condition from 2001.

Get bolder in effort to lift all children's education Susan Neuman
Six years after the passage of the federal NCLB law, there is frustratingly little evidence that it will...

School To Put Students In 'Prison' Jumpsuits As Punishment
A school in Texas will force students who don't follow the rulesto wear prison-like jumpsuits in a controversial move this coming school year.

Thinking Ahead: School Shooters

Comic_book_scanThere's a big article in the new Esquire about the Northern Illinois school shooter, Steve Kazmierczak (A Portrait Of The School Shooter As A Young Man, via Jezebel).  He was in a group home.  He was highly medicated for a while. He was overweight.  It will probably happen again.

Blog Blowup In NYC

Beverages There's all sorts of blog news in NYC today: First, a NYT Jenny Medina story about parent Gary Babad who posts funny fake news stories (foundation offers $100M to create a degree program in "high stakes testing" for example) here.  Sort of reminds me of my "Made-Up News" stories -- only funnier and more prolific.  And of course The Onion.   Second, a great new blog arises, called Gotham Schools, headed by longtime InsideSchools favorite Philissa Cramer.  I love the morning roundup of education stories.  Wonder where they got that idea from?  Yes, that one's all mine, too, Julian.  It's all mine. 

Dear Mr. President: How You Going To Pay For That?

Wdc_mccain_obama_080703 Kudos to the New America Funding Watch for getting into the spirit of things with this post (Let the Funding Debate Begin!) about just how much new spending the candidates are proposing -- and where it (might) come from.  Finding the money is one part of the puzzle.  Figuring out how to address political and substantive concerns is another.

NYC Clones The Chicago Consortium

It's taken a LONG time for folks in New York City to roll out the independent education research outfit called the Research Alliance, but a little-noted story from the Sun's Elizabeth Green says it's finally set to happen (here).  Working out the data sharing agreement with the city was a delicate matter, as you can imagine.  Reformy types love accountability and transparency when it applies to schools and kids, but not so much when it applies to them. Plus the governance and design of the center. 

Parthenon_education_groupTwo things to note:  The Chicago outfit upon which this effort is based, called the Consortium on Chicago School Reform, has had its ups and downs in terms of its impact on decisions and its perceived independence.  And, once again, the Boston-based Parthenon Group pops up as having had a hand in putting the final plan together.  (Previous post:  The "New" Think Tanks)  Remember the name Seth Reynolds.  You're going to hear it a lot more often in the future.  Yes, TFA.  Did you even have to ask?

Big Stories Of The Day

Former Okla. Superintendent Pays More Than $1 Million to District EdWeek
A former Oklahoma district superintendent who awaits sentencing on embezzlement and tax charges has made more than $1 million in restitution to the Marble City Elementary district, which operates a 162-student pre-K-8 school.

Jerry_lewis_nutty_profNo Child Left Behind pilot program Fort Mills Times, SC A pilot program designed to help Florida schools meet assessment criteria under the federal No Child Left Behind Act began Tuesday.

No Child Left Unhealed Village Voice
In Chicago, after attacking the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind law for its inflexible and purely mechanical mandates, which have blocked th

Collective Bargaining EdWeek
State law is increasingly governing issues such as teacher evaluation, tenure laws, and dismissal procedures for teachers—issues once considered the purview of school districts, a report says.

Mathematica Study Finds ABCTE Teachers Landing Jobs EdWeek
Six out of 10 teacher-candidates who earned their credential through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence had found jobs in K-12 schools by the end of the last year, a survey shows.

"Learn To Earn" Is Coming (To PBS)

Coming_this_week Nothing's definite, but be on the lookout this week for another PBS NewsHour segment on education, this one focusing on how student incentive programs -- learn to earn -- work (and don't work) in the real world.   Previous Post:  Will Squeamish Reformers Ever Accept Incentives?


Bulletin Boards, Band Director Bonuses, & Human Nature

Choking_victim_2 The typical Collective Bargaining Agreement is stocked with the residue of long-forgotten initiatives. Our high school English Department Chairs look to see if they still get their $2,000 bonus. We ran out of money before the offer was extended to other department chairs, but presumably Social Studies Chairs still search for their $50. Band Directors look out for their $720 bonus for winning the OSSAA Sweepstakes Award, and middle school teachers still seek the $500 available for Math Counts or Odyssey of the Mind.

I'm just as guilty as everyone else.  Although Building Representatives continually explain the mathematical benefit to all of frontloading raises for entry teachers, I still check out the salary Step Twelve. After all, with my doctorate, 16 years of experience, and bonus for runner-up district Teacher of the Year, I am up to $44,000 per year.

There are other detailed provisions that you might not think necessary.  The Union Bulletin Board must be a minimum of eight square feet, and cannot be used as the school’s bulletin board. How hard do we fight if the principal resists the wording, "If no bulletin board presently exists in the faculty lounge, a bulletin board shall be made readily available ... by mutual agreement between the Union building representative and the immediate supervisor?"

Yes, we must renegotiate rules for the welfare of children as opposed to the convenience of adults. In the meantime, we have to laugh over the idiosyncracies of human interactions. -- John Thompson

Previous posts:   Vending Machines In The Teachers Lounge

"What's Your Plan For Making This Happen?"

Blog_blah_blah_blah The big problem in education reform right now isn't that there aren't any good ideas out there about what to do to make things better, but that no one has any real idea how to get them moving. 

Take any number of interesting proposals -- national standards, weighted student funding, differential pay, community schools, inter-district choice, universal preschool -- and what you'll see are lots of arguments and policy specifics but no real plan for getting any of these things implemented in the real world.  (You know, enacted into law.  Paid for.) 

Advocacy only gets you so far.  Electing more Democrats in November will create as many problems as it solves.    Eventually, you have to figure out how to shape an idea into something that can make it through the gauntlet.  For starters, begin asking people:  "What's your plan for making this happen?"

Around The Blogs

The education picture gets a little clearer
The transcribed article points out that Obama, if elected, would be the first president to require all teacher colleges to be accredited. But with more states allowing alternative licensing programs to combat teacher shortages, it’ll be interesting to see how that idea in particular plays among governors.

Today's Best Education Paragraph
"It’s as if the unfunded mandate crowd is saying: “The $10,000 per pupil we already get just pays for warehousing. If you actually want us to educate kids, that’ll cost ya extra.”

Dem's potential VPs back education
The Post reported today that VA Gov. Tim Kaine and KS Gov. Kathleen Sebelius are the two state leaders being seriously considered for veep by the Obama campaign

Republican Vice Presidential Picks and Education
Last week's joint McCain-Jindal events being disrupted by an oil spill and inclement weather could be the key omen.

Fake News Friday: A Very Special Tuesday Edition
(Vancouver) Parents and teachers across the state were outraged today when teacher Lindsey Huffington, 28, revealed that she “hadn’t spent one single minute” of her summer vacation thinking about the upcoming school year.

In Need of Alteration
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing that Alter writes -- and the statement that gives away the ideological underpinnings of his argument if anybody wasn't already aware -- is that unions "still believe that protecting incompetents is more important than educating children."

AP's Zuckerbrod To London; Quaid Named Replacement

Zuckerbrod Libby_quaid Perhaps you already know this, but if you call AP reporter Nancy Zuckerbrod's office phone you'll likely get a voicemail announcement saying that Zuckerbrod (left) has left the education beat as of 10 days ago and is headed to London in September.  Her replacement is Libby Quaid (right).  More details as they surface. Quaid wrote last week's piece about the boys crisis (Largest study of its kind finds girls are just as good as boys in math).

UPDATE:  Zuckerbrod says she's excited about the move though sad to leave the education beat.  She says she'll be "very interested to see how the kids do in the British school system."  So let's just consider her "on assignment" for now. 

Fordham Follies

Liam_julian_2The problem with some folks in the DC school reform world is that they just can't bear to be wrong.  Even if they haven't been in DC all that long.  Yesterday, for example I gently chided the Fordham folks for not having noticed that I, too, had written a response to Emily Bazelon's desegregation piece.  My post (Merge Integration With Accountability -- Or Let It Go) had come out the morning after the Bazelon article.  But the Firefly had curiously not included mine among those it rounded up a few days later.  Hence my simple complaint.  This made Fordham's Liam Julian (pictured) quite angry -- so angry that he seems to have misunderstood completely what I was saying.

A New Face Helps The McCain Campaign

Deanmillotblog I hear that the McCain education folks have reached out to none other than Marc Dean Millot, aka edbizbuzz, for education ideas and advice.  It's a good move.  Though not as widely known or accepted among the younger set of reformy Republicans, the astringent Millot has a wealth of knowledge about the school reform industry -- charters in particular -- and some sharp ideas.  Plus he knows lots of people.  He could help smarten up some of the campaign ideas.

UPDATE:  Here's Millot's blog post on the subject, ecplaining what he'll do and not do.  Kudos to him for the timely disclosure of his campaign activities.

Boys Crisis, Undeniably Confirmed

Soapbox" Girls had their most dominant showing in the history of the All-American Soap Box Derby on Saturday, winning five of six individual titles for the first time and sweeping the three major divisions for only the second time."

Girls turn in record showing at Soap Box Derby NBC Sports

Heard On The Hill: All Obama, All Convention, All The Time

  I hear that the Higher Ed bill might go to conference with conferees appointed and everything -- might! -- but that not much else is happening.  (Chronicle has something on HEA here.)

27safire600No word on impact or outcome from the Kennedy et al letter to Spellings about the new regs, though eagle-eyed observers will note that some members including Dodd did not sign on. 

In the meantime, "It's all about Obama and the convention," said one Hill Democrat staffer.  "Everyone's got Obama fever."  They're not alone.  No word on committee staff changes, though you have to imagine that a few are aiming to say "enough's enough." 

Obama Plan: "A Christmas List Of Programs"

Voiceover from NPR reporter Larry Abramson:

"Schnur has to talk fast, because Obama is contemplating a Christmas list of programs that will reach from cradle to college"

Link: McCain, Obama Offer Dueling Education Plans

Big Stories Of The Day

Fuel prices force schools to weigh class, staff cuts USA Today
Fuel and energy costs are rising so quickly for the USA's public school districts that nearly one in seven is considering cutting...

California school districts ending or reducing bus service for students LA Times
The high cost of fuel and budget shortfalls are being blamed. But some fear that forcing more students to walk or drive to school will cause safety problems.

FistbumpaxlargeMcCain, Obama Offer Differing Education Plans NPR
Democrat Barack Obama is proposing a comprehensive, even invasive program that would reach from

Denver Merit-Pay Plan Embroiled in Conflict EdWeek
The collaborative spirit between school district and teachers’ union that made the compensation system a national model is now in jeopardy, with officials engaged in a protracted battle over proposed changes.

Saving Young Men With Career Academies Washington Post (Jay Mathews)
By usual measures of student progress, America's high school career academies have been a failure.

Congress Lays Ground for 2009 TIME
But regardless, at least two measures are sure to see votes: the children's health program and No Child Left Behind.

Chicago Parents Urged To Enroll Children...At New Trier

If only education advocacy groups and think tanks were this bold and creative in their efforts, they might actually get something done:

250pxnorthfield2On Sunday, Illinois State Senator James Meeks urged parents of Chicago public school students send their children to nearby (and extremely affluent) New Trier High School on the first day of school in September to protest the especially large disparities in funding among adjacent districts in Illinois. 

But that's not all.  Once at New Trier, Chicago parents who participate in the protest will then attempt to enroll their children in the school, which features strong academics and an outstanding facility (pictured).  A busload of black and brown kids will be turned away at the door, shining a bright light on Illinois' long-standing funding gap. 

The short term benefits may be few, but the stunt could break the logjam that has delayed action for years, or inspire other communities to follow suit. Even if it turns into a complete fiasco (Meeks has done it before), it can't have any less effect than more reports and panels (much as I love to write/ moderate them). 

Helpful Dress Code Diagram


Here's a helpful diagram from the Detroit Free Press for any school districts contemplating a new dress code for the fall (Flint cops crack down on sagging pants). 

Around The Blogs

Viva Las Vegas Kevin Carey
A typical school is more likely to have between six and ten real marks to hit...[That's] why, six years into the law and counting, most schools haven't been labeled as failures.

TeachersalaryprojectjpgA Documentary on the Professional Lives of Teachers
Yesterday, Eggers, Roth and Calegari sent out a press release announcing the launch of a new website that they describe as "the first step in what will become a new kind of documentary film.

An Education Debate? Campaign K12
The group, which includes some major business organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, big names in the philanthropy world, such as the Broad Foundation, and corporations including Microsoft, sent a letter last week to both campaigns asking for an "event, town hall meeting, or debate" on education.

NEA and Civil Rights Community Diverge on Accountability The Hoff
I'll need a new name for my blog. ESEA: Act X doesn't have a very good ring to it.I'm open to suggestions.

Not hypocrisy SDorn
Liam Julian is chiming in with the Wall Street Journal today in implying that Senator Obama is hypocritical for sending his children to private schools while voting against voucher programs.

School bans fake tan Detention Slip
"We ask for your support in ensuring your girls do not come to school looking varying shades of orange."

Last but not least:  Every day I look over their blog and some days I even find something to point to, but the Flypaper boys don't seem to notice when they're writing about something I covered. 

Will Squeamish Reformers Ever Accept Incentives?


While the mostly-white policy and media worlds generally react squeamishly to "learn to earn" initiatives sprouting up around the country -- just as many did to the incentives in NCLB -- not everyone seems so opposed.  Roland Fryer was just honored for his work on "re-branding" student achievement for black and Hispanic children in New York City (here).  Fryer was also featured prominently on CNN's much-praised "Black In America" series earlier this week (CNN Trains Its Lens On RaceNYT), in which he says:

“I’m not trying to focus on incentives without thinking about teacher quality and other things. But, as one step in that direction, let’s see how much of the test-score gap we can get back if kids are fundamentally motivated.”

At some point, it seems to me, Fryer's critics have to address the reality that incentives -- explicit or not, governmental, familial or informal -- are already out there, and always have been.  Let's not pretend that the world's not full of incentives.  Let's not be naive or ideological that everyone has to learn for learning's sake.  Or, as one blogger at the Chronicle writes:

"I have to admit that I find these critiques pretty compelling, even as I remember my stepfather’s monetary deal with me: a dollar bill for every 100 percent test score that I brought home from elementary school. Was that the reason why I made it out of the projects in Brooklyn and into the Ivy League? I don’t think so, but Fryer wants to prove me wrong."  (Brainstorm)

To me, it's just a matter of whether school reformers want to win enough to get their hands dirty.  And, of course, designing the incentives and objectives right. [Thanks to SB for the hookup.]

What Parts Of RF Will State And Locals Keep?

Man_on_wire_towers Right about now, Ray Simon is going onstage to give a talk to the folks at the National Reading First conference in Nashville (details below).  How strange it must be to be there, knowing that the program is under such a cloud.  I wonder what crafty ways RF administrators have figured out to keep doing the parts of RF they like even without the federal money. 

Continue reading "What Parts Of RF Will State And Locals Keep?" »

Where's The Action?

Over the weekend, JT and Norm have been going back and forth over whether it was fair of Nightline to highlight DC union negotiations over vending machines in its Friday night segment.  Read the comments, or just watch the segment.

Mclovin_pulledMeanwhile, the folks reading the Chicago blog have been debating the merits and demerits of Rahm Emanuel's idea to limit high school dropouts' access to drivers licenses nationwide, as a few states have already done.  I bet you can guess what the liberal Congressional caucuses think about this.  But I bet you don't know which four states already have laws like this in place.

Hechinger Additions

Little_professor Richard Lee Colvin at the Hechinger Institute sends this note about new resources for education reporters [and those who would seek to understand them]: 

"The Hechinger Institute Guide to Education Research is highlighted on our home page www.tc.edu/hechinger.  Leading and Learning: A Hechinger Institute Primer for Journalists is located here: http://pocketknowledge.tc.columbia.edu/home.php/viewfile/download/91842."

Check it out. 

Publishing Giant Endorses Obama & Other Political News

The Greatest Scandal WSJ (editorial)
The profound failure of inner-city public schools to teach children may be the nation's greatest scandal. The differences between the two Presidential candidates on this could hardly be more stark.

Pearson2007newbluePearson want Obama win to boost education hopesThis is Money
Pearson today backed Barack Obama for the White House as it pinned its hopes on more education funding in the US.

Candidates’ K-12 Views Take Shape EdWeek
As their education plans begin to crystallize, sharper differences are emerging between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Attack ad targets Polis for 'conservative ideas' on education RealVail, CO
And Polis was critical of No Child Left Behind, suggesting several ways to improve it. “There are a number of problems with no child left behind,” Polis ...

Big Stories Of The Day

StoryNew Strategy to Keep Kids Out of Special Ed USNews
RTI's popularity surged in 2004 when it was backed by the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provides services for some 6.6 million children....RTI also potentially could save schools money, because other district special education programs can cost about twice as much per student as the average classroom.

Mixed Results for School Reform Efforts in New Orleans PBS
A year after New Orleans School Superintendent Paul Vallas took the helm, educators in the city's public schools still tackle the challenges of keeping students enrolled and helping them meet required test scores. John Merrow wraps up a series of reports on efforts to reform schools in New Orleans.

Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? NYT
Is the Internet the enemy of reading, or has it created a new kind of reading, one that society should not discount?

No Single Explanation For Md. Test Score Bump Washington Post
Maryland educators this month celebrated a major jump in test scores, with achievement gaps narrowing and pass rates rising six percentage points in reading and four points in math. Then skeptics crashed the party.

Vending Machines In The Teachers Lounge

070205snspot01 It was not a good week for DC teachers union leader George Packer, who on PBS came awfully close to admitting that teachers unions had neglected achievement issues and then on Friday's Nightline (not yet online) was filmed conducting a negotiating session with Michelle Rhee that focused on teachers' rights to have vending machines in the teachers lounge.  Perhaps the excerpt was unfair, but it was hard not to agree with Rhee when she said that the issue was at the absolute bottom of her priorities.

Around The Blogs

Get Thee Some Graduate Students! Erin Dillon
There just isn't much good research out there showing student achievement benefits from integration policies, whether they’re based on race or economic status.

Angelinablood072408LinkEd Eduwonk
LinkEd, education’s social and professional networking project, has launched a new version of their website, check it out.

Teachers and Obama II DFER
Below represents the achievement of 2 meetings, 7 hours of insightful and cooperative conversation, numerous emails, ambitious editing, new friendships with people who care about education, and the beginning of a group that will continue past the DNC...

Obama/McCain Advisers Debate Again, Some More EdWeek
The best moment of the forum (for me at least) came courtesy of James Kohlmoos, the president of Knowledge Alliance. He asked Schnur and Keegan to fast-forward to 2012 and assume their candidate were running for re-election. What would the candidates tout as their greatest education accomplishment of their first term?

Incentives for education ASBJ
If large, global corporations with impressive R & D operations are willing to look outside its lab walls for help couldn’t public schools do that, too?

And in this corner... Flypaper
The slugfest between Checker, Diane Ravitch, and Randi Weingarten that ran in yesterday’s Gadfly is the subject of an item in today’s New York Sun.

"Endless Stories About Wake County"

On Monday I wrote that it seemed more nostalgic than anything else talk about school re-integration.  Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum to put it even better:

"No amount of busing, magnet schools, charter schools, carrots, sticks, or anything else will reduce the number of low-income students in each school below 40% when the entire school district is 80% low-income.

And yet, we get endless stories about Wake County with virtually no acknowledgment that even if class-based integration works, it's a small-scale solution." (Improving Our Schools)

Should journalists keep writing about issues that are important but may lack viable solutions?  Or should they be charged with addressing the practicability of the stories and solutions they highlight?  I don't really know. 

Make The Obama Surrogates Debate Each Other

Keegan_scnur_4There will be more description and analysis as the day goes on, but for now at least here's what we've got to describe the Schnur-Keegan cage match that took place yesterday afternoon at New America:

It’s pretty rare to go to an edu-wonk event here in Washington, D.C. and talk openly about the right of poor children to sit in classrooms alongside middle class ones.  (The American Prospect)

A full room of education professionals, education association representatives, media, and other interested stakeholders turned out to hear Schnur and Graham Keegan outline their respective candidates’ education proposals. (National Indian Education< Association)

No matter who’s the next president, expect some scrutiny of schools of teacher education. (Inside Higher Education)

It was good to hear discussion about online learning and Clayton Christensen’s book, Disrupting Class, as part of the conversation. (California Dreamin’ by Rob Darrow)

It doesn't sound like we missed all that much, though perhaps there were drinks afterwards that no one is telling us about. 

Mostly this was a campaign audition for Schnur -- who, it should be noted -- conveniently waited until the Democratic primary was over to make a public decision about supporting Obama. 

Want to put on an event that would be really interesting?  Get all the Obama supporter/surrogates in a room together and start asking questions about teachers, or charters.  Make them debate each other for surrogate supremacy. Pictures via the NIEA.

Big Stories Of The Day

2008_07_vanity_fairMore expected from students Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi)
Public school students took more rigorous state tests this spring, and today the state Board of Education most likely will approve another way of toughening the standards - making it more difficult for students to earn the "advanced" and "proficient" designations based on state test results.

Today's kids not that different from kids in the 1970s USA Today
Today’s teens read about as well (or as poorly) as their parents did a generation ago and aren’t much more likely to have earned a high school diploma.Also unchanged: suicide rates. Then, as now, they were about 4.5 percent

Math Scores Show No Gap for Girls, Study Finds NYT
A study paid for by the National Science Foundation has found that girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests.

The Odd World of E-School Teachers Washington Post
For Trinity Wilbourn, teaching high school via the Internet offers a heart ening and maddening prism into the teenage mind-set.

Pay-Hike Plan for Teachers In D.C. Entails Probation Washington Post
D.C. teachers interested in the huge salary increases proposed by Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee would not only have to relinquish their seniority but also risk dismissal by spending a year on probation, according to details of the plan released yesterday.

Drawing Simple Lines

The Supreme Court recently drew a line between desegregation plans based on race and plans based on socioeconomic factors.  But now that the tax code and other subsidies further encouraged the flight of affluent parents to the far exurbs, the best we can do for the central city poor is to bring social institutions into our schools, and our schools into our wider society.

But it won't be easy. 

CapoeiratumbleSeven decades ago, the "non trespass zone" established by Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray, and enforced by machine guns, was a couple of miles to the southeast of my Oklahoma City house. 

The cruel trick that inspired one of the most brutal scenes in American literature, Ralph Ellison's "the Battle Royal," also occurred in our community.  Ellison walked past my house as he unknowingly carried the infamous note, "Keep this nigger running."

The year after Martin Luther King was assassinated in a sanitation workers strike, Ralph Abernethy lead a march of sanitation workers towards city hall. The night before, the city council drew a line (about 200 yards east of my neighborhood) and prohibited the marchers from crossing. The district attorney promised to enforce the ordinance "by any means necessary," and the police dogs and the shotguns were ready. A possible bloodbath was averted when the "good ol boy" sheriff shouted at the police chief "you can shoot me too," and joined the marchers.

Now, the lines in my neighborhood are between the "Hoover set" and the Bloods and now the Locos, have endangered poor children of color.

-- John Thompson

More PBS NewsHour Education Coverage Tonight

23band_600 Sometimes, PBS NewsHour segments can be sleepy or slow.  But not last night's segment about Michelle Rhee, or tonight's about Paul Vallas. This is intense stuff -- by PBS standards, at least.

Check out the NewsHour tonight for their wrapup of Paul Vallas' first year in New Orleans, which focuses on his efforts to address the needs of over-age 8th graders by bringing in an outside firm named Blackwater Camelot to run an alternative school. 

There's some great footage of these bozos trying to run the school, one amazing on-camera interview with a burned out teacher who tells us how things are really going inside the school after PBS gets kicked out, and some hilarious double-talk from Vallas about whether kids are still being socially promoted or not. 

And if you missed the  segment on Michelle Rhee from last night, you can watch it anytime here.  She had a remarkable first year that could just as easily have been completely chaotic and dysfunctional, and seems on the verge of creating some cutting-edge contract language with the teachers union.  There's also some DVD extras online, including a longer excerpt from the teachers union president (here).  That guy is so not getting re-elected next time, I don't think.  He is beat up. 

I had the chance to screen these on Tuesday when I was at the Learning Matters Inc. offices where I hang out sometimes and make a nuisance of myself. 

You've Seen This Obama Surrogate Before

Mike_johnsont_mesa_obama2On Monday I wrote about how Obama's education surrogates would have some chances to fly or flub things up this week at NCSL and at New America (More Chances For Campaign Surrogates Flub It Up Duke It Out). 

LDH you already know.  New Leaders' Jon Schnur is debuting today.

But what about the new guy, Mike Johnston?  Here's the profile post I did about him from May when his name first surfaced.

I don't think it's such a big deal that Obama is trying out a handful of different folks.  Hell, he's apparently got 300 people working as foreign policy advisers.  But I do think it's interesting who's getting -- or not getting -- the call, and that besides LDH they tend to skew younger and less traditional.

What Makes (Some) Websites Work?

Some websites work -- in terms of viewers, links from other sites, and reader comments -- but most don't.  What accounts for the difference?  Some of it is obvious -- regularly updated content, interesting or provocative analysis, open commenting, unique material.  But much of it isn't so obvious, or at least so it seems from reading lots of education blogs. 

Click below to read what works, according to me at least. Not that this blog has everything -- not in the least.

Continue reading "What Makes (Some) Websites Work?" »

Around The Blogs

Unusual Suspects
At some point, probably very late on a Sunday night, you’re going to face a choice: should I stay up and do more lesson planning? Or should I go to sleep. Choose sleep.

ObamapeoplemagazinecoverOuch! Gordon Gee rips Checker Finn
While visiting the DDN today, Gee shot back at Finn.

 McCain and Obama Advisers on Spec Ed, NCLB, and Funding
Keegan noted that McCain's wife, Cindy, was a special education
teacher...Darling-Hammond said Obama
wants to quadruple the number of Head Start slots to help address this
issue, and fully fund IDEA.

 Another Obama education advisor
The talk of transcending ideology is of course consistent with the
rhetoric coming out of the Obama campaign, but I’m not sure how to
square it with the Senator’s position on vouchers.

How should teachers talk to students online?
"Some of the biggest student breakthroughs of my whole career have happened on Gchat."

Bringing Achievement Out of Hiding
Price begins both the book and the interview with the story of Cedric, a high achieving high school student in Washington, DC who chose to hide in a Chemistry classroom rather than publicly accept academic honors--and publicly suffer the scorn of his peers--during a school assembly.

LDH For Secretary?

Ldh First, presidential candidate Barack Obama endorses the "residency" model of teacher training, which provides a year of intense clinical experience to teaching candidates before they take over a classroom. 

Then, Obama brings on Linda Darling Hammond as a prominent advisor. 

Now there's talk -- just talk, of course -- that LDH could be in line to be an Obama pick for Education Secretary. 

My guess is that this would be fine with the teachers unions -- LDH hasn't been a sharp critic.  More centrist and reform-minded Obama supporters will be enraged, but they don't really have anywhere else to go. 

Like the bumper stickers say, "Dare to hope.  Prepare to be disappointed."

"Open Source" Problem-Solving

Export__1 Need some classroom supplies?  Ask the principal, or go to DonorsChoose.  But where to go when you have a problem that you can't solve -- but someone else may have?  "Open source" science is trying to match commercial and logistical problems with potential solutions.  Unlike things like the X prize, the focus here is on very detailed and specific solutions.  I don't think there's an education version of this out there -- unless you count plaintlive list-serve posts like "Help! What do I do on the first day?" Maybe there's already something out there. If not, there should be.  NYT:  If You Have a Problem, Use Innocentive to Ask Everyone.

Who's Mucking With NCLB Neutrality?

23930143 Using fancy new technology, blogger Melissa discovers just who's been mucking around with the Wikipedia for NCLB (The NCLB Wikipedia Article’s Sordid History).  Wikipedia entries are supposed to be neutral and are usually corrected quickly by vigilant Wikipedians.  But sometimes -- 684 times, to be precise -- folks have apparently needed to vent.  Hint:  It's not who you think it would be. 

Big Stories Of The Day

Teacher Pay Plan Entails Probation Washington Post
D.C. teachers interested in the huge salary increases proposed by Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee would not only have to relinquish their seniority but also risk dismissal by spending a year on probation, according to details of the plan released yesterday.

Statlet_hotel_dallasStates Slash K-12 Funding to Fill Budget Gaps EdWeek
A fiscal climate even worse than projected already has forced 11 states to cut education spending, and more could follow suit, state lawmakers learn in a new report.

Testing group reveals why it voided AP exams of about 400 students at O.C. high school  LAT
Educational Testing Service said Trabuco Hills High students were allowed to talk, use study aids and send text messages. A lawyer for some students files suit against the nonprofit.

D.C. Schools Chief Institutes Tough Changes PBS
After one year on the job, Washington, D.C., schools chief Michelle Rhee has slated schools to close and planned personnel changes to help boost the struggling education system. John Merrow reports on her efforts. 

Hornsby Convicted On 6 Counts Washington Post
Andre J. Hornsby, the former Prince George's County public schools chief whose first corruption trial ended in a hung jury last year, was convicted yesterday on six of the 22 federal charges brought against him in his retrial.

Bonus Money Delayed In Chicago

Duncan_note_new Last week in front of Congress, Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan gushed about the district's federally-funded TIF program, noting that the checks for the first year of bonuses were coming out this month (Did The Bonus Money Make A Difference?).  Well, uh, no.  Not exactly.  A followup call to his office revealed that it won't be until November that teachers and staff at any of the 10 pilot schools for last year see any coin.  Test scores rise annually in Illinois, so there'll probably be something in it for everyone.  But it won't be for a while now. 

Around The Blogs

The Myth of Fun and Interesting
"Most educators have brought the myth that academic learning does not require discipline--that the best learning is easy and fun."

Export__1Elementary Schools The Real "Drop Out Factories"
I believe the drop out problem begins much earlier, and often in elementary schools when kids are held back or "retained" for the first time.

Shadow Group Attacks Jared Polis For Supporting School Choice
It's starting to get nasty in Colorado's second congressional district race.

Obama's sister speaks to teachers
Soetoro-Ng said she remembers her first year teaching when she ended up crying every week.

Debating socioeconomic diversity
I figured you'd want to have your own forum to shoot it out over the recent dueling articles on socioeconomic diversity.

How do State Legislators Really Feel About NCLB?
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which is meeting in New Orleans this week, has added a word to describe the No Child Left Behind Act, further showing how the group feels about the federal accountability law.

Testing the Tests
The past month has witnessed many skirmishes over the reliability of rising state test scores as measures of some high-profile education reforms' success.

Teacher Arrested Again For Sex With Student
Five counts of statutory rape aren't enough to stop you from going back?

THE WORD: Accountability

John Thompson:  The NCLB-type accountability brand is being discredited, but we can not "get it right" without the wisdom of Stephen Colbert, who shows that the loud repetition of a word makes it true.

Mags_gqWe need to replace AYP with the accountability of a Consumers Report-type ranking system. A Marshall Plan for teachers and principals should incorporate the accountability systems devised by the National Board and the accountability systems of the College Board, and other sophisticated accountability systems that are irrelevant under NCLB.

We need incentives for accountability systems like the Toledo Plan that hold teachers accountable. We need to invest in early childhood and the social services prescribed by the Bolder Broader Approach, using the Harlem Children's Zone as the model for using the word accountable.

We need to invest in data systems, research, and turnaround efforts, requiring the word accountable to be programmed into every computer, and require every consultant's and researcher's Power Point to use the word accountable.

Liberal Bloggers Hate Education, Too

07communitylarge2 Check out the results of a poll of the liberal bloggers known as the netroots, who just met recently (I think that teacherken was there).  They hate education reform, too.  College affordability gets a bare mention.  Only the gap between rich and poor makes a decent showing.  And that's not exactly school reform now, is it?  As we're learning.  Details below. 

Continue reading "Liberal Bloggers Hate Education, Too" »



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.