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Sometimes, The Blogosphere Works

509558983_5f20e1e341 Most of the time these days, the blogosphere is just a repetitive, claustrophobic bore.  But sometimes, it works.  First, a column in the LA Times laments how hard it was for one person to become a certified teacher.  Then, Michele McLaughlin jabs at that complaint, noting how exaggerated it is.  Next, JT has his say.  And, finally, a real live teacher certification type points out in reality how easy it would have been for the LA Times person to have gotten certified. Complaint.  Criticism.  Reality Check. (Tiniest Violin).

Teach In America

Philipino_teachersClick here for a better-than-average story about teachers recruited from abroad, with some great pictures. 

"To many school officials, Filipino teachers are ideal job candidates. The mostly female recruits speak English, hold advanced degrees and pass internationally recognized teaching exams. And they see the salaries offered here as small fortunes. But for all their enthusiasm and experience, they first have to learn how to manage unruly American students."

The teachers are also notable for their resilience, according to the the Washington Post magazine article. Just 11 of 300 quit last year.  There are an estimated 10K teachers who have been recruited to to teach by US districts, and no cap on H1B visas for them. The NEA doesn't like this, not surprisingly. 

More Education Staff For CAP

Melissa_lazarnThe Center on American Progress continues to staff up with a new appointment, Melissa Lazarín.

She comes to CAP from First Focus and NCLBR. She has been appointed Associate Director for Education Policy.

The other education folks listed on the CAP site include Cindy Brown, Robin Chait, Robert Gordon, and Matt Miller.  There's also Cassandra Q. Butts.

CAP has a new report coming out next week, College-Ready Students, Student-Ready Colleges.

Big Stories Of The Day

Hundreds more schools now 'failing' Minnesota NPR
Virtually half of Minnesota schools are now falling short of state standards under the No Child Left Behind law.

Michaelfriedman_786403c_2Democratic candidates target No Child Left Behind Rocky Mountain News, CO
Reauthorizing the No Child Left behind Act, passed in 2001, will be among issues before Congress next year.

Tutoring option pushed Salt Lake Tribune
Utah will have more flexibility when it comes to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) this school year. The federal government will allow schools ...

Teacher Lobbying Raises Union's Ire Washington Post
A community group that supports D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's proposed salary and bonus package for teachers has hired a small group of instructors at $1,000 a week to lobby colleagues for the plan, drawing accusations from union leaders of interference with the collective bargaining...

Why It's Important To Smile For Yearbook Photos

Z_yearbook Smile!  According to this (PDF) 2001 study, a person's expression in their yearbook photo can predict their future happiness and success as much as thirty years later.  Via Slate.

What To Do About NCLB?



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These folks are talking about what to do with NCLB here.  Let me know if they say anything new or interesting.

Different Takes On McCain Vs. Obama

McCain and Obama's Education Policies: Nine Things You need to Know HuffPo
For those who don't follow the education debate closely, there are two main philosophies that currently dominate the field: one is that market competition (choice) among schools gets kids learning more, and one is that more learning means investing more and earlier in kids and better teachers.

Ap_mccain_obama_080731_mnWho's the better education candidate? Capitol Hill Blue

Obama's education prescriptions are akin to feeding poison to a dying man. The cure for poisoning is not more poison. The cure for failing schools is not ...

Obama and McCain miss the mark on education LA Times
Although Barack Obama and John McCain try to offer solutions to help America break from conventional thinking on educational policy, both senators are missing key pieces to the puzzle of why our public schools are failing.

Obama's liabilities - race and class Washington Post
They saw mandatory school busing as robbing them of their chance to secure a better education for their children by moving into better school districts.

Despite Republican attempts to paint him as all style and no substance, Zenilman reports that Barack Obama has been releasing many more, and much more specific, policy white papers than McCain.


What To Do About Threats & Attacks On The Web? Nothing.

509558983_5f20e1e341 Before we get too far into the week, I wanted to point you to a Times Magazine article about the small but vicious group of folks who like to make others' lives miserable on the Internet (Malwebolence - The World of Web Trolling).  It's a frightening but helpful look at what web trolls do -- taunting parents of dead children, trying to induce epileptic seizures -- and why.  This is a major concern for many schools and parents.  But the article ends with a surprising defense of trolling:  "All vigorous debates shade into trolling at the perimeter; it is next to impossible to excise the trolling without snuffing out the debate."

Bullies: Male & Female, Domestic & International

Muntz080408 "According to research collected from studies about bullies in six countries, children of authoritarian parents ("parents who are demanding, directive and unresponsive") are more likely to become bullies between the ages of nine to 16...Bullying also runs equally between both genders, with boys resorting to physical bullying and girls using verbal tactics to bully and humiliate the attacked." (Bully For Them)

Big Stories Of The Day

Fairfax Fed Up With Lunch-Line Thieves Washington PostDc_wp
For the first time, video cameras will monitor Fairfax County high school cafeterias this fall to keep students from pilfering chicken wraps or veggie burgers in the lunch line.

In Maine, a laptop for every middle-schooler MSNBC
Maine's laptop in the classroom program has shown some impact on student achievement. But whether it can measure up to the federal government’s key yardstick — improvement in standardized test scores — is another question.

Dropout Nation - Coverage of America's education crisis Ed News
As a cinematic enterprise, Slam isn’t exactly Metropolitan or She’s Gotta Have it. But the film, directed by underground rapper Saul Williams, offers some of the most gripping lessons for young people — especially young black men such as the main character (played by Williams himself) — about the consequences of dropping out from high school.

3 school districts pool funds to train teachers San Antonio Express-News
Three south San Antonio school districts joined forces this year to split the cost to bring summer training sessions to teachers, allowing teachers to interact while learning new information for one-third of the price districts pay to train teachers individually.

Many tweens watching 'R' films despite restriction USA Today
Researchers know what your tween saw last summer: savage beatings, severed heads, murder, rape and torture.

Politicians And Their Promises

A college scholarship program that John Edwards started in 2005 is being shut down, says Wonkette (John Edwards Screwing High School Kids, Too).

Twenty-One Years Later, The Toledo Plan Is Still Viable

Ineffective teachers are the real bad apples.  They can't or won't teach kids the way they need to be taught.  But how to get rid of them fairly? One way is called the Toledo Plan.

Beverages2 In 1981, Dal Lawrence, president of the AFT local, showed the superintendent of the Toledo School System that they had not successfully terminated a teacher in the last five years. Under the old system, Dal explained, "one side wins, the other loses, both are upset, and nobody will ever know the truth of classroom performance." 

So Toledo created a system of peer review for new teachers and for veterans who are struggling. In addition to improving teacher effectiveness, the Toledo Plan is responsible for removing 450 ineffective teachers from the classroom (and helping hundreds more).

Under the Plan, the district foots the bill for teaching consultants who intensively mentor and evaluate teachers. Instead of the old system where rookies were alone in facing a "sink or swim" situation, often with the toughest classes with the least administrative backing, teachers received practical guidance, and ongoing observation and evaluation. If the teacher does not measure up, the consultants either counsel them out of the profession or recommend that they not be retained.

In Oklahoma City, the AFT has been pushing both our membership and the administrators to take the first frightening steps towards upgrading the profession, and we turned to Dal for advice.  When our rank-in-file bemoan the untrustworthiness of their administrators, Dal reminds us that "If you wait for trust, you'll wait forever."   -- John Thompson.

How Many Democratic Education Coalitions Does It Take To Hurt Obama's Chances?

McCain's efforts on other fronts may be embarrassingly bad (and this one on education may in the end be for naught), but McCain's campaign really put the screws to the Obama folks last week and today by endorsing the Klein/Sharpton platform. 

Amd_john_mccainIt's a ridiculous, which is to say brilliant, move.  It makes McCain look active on education issues -- see quotes below -- and puts Obama in a jam between the union people who support Bigger, Bolder and the reformistas who support Klein/Sharpton -- during the weeks leading up to the convention. 

Brilliant.  No matter that McCain has no real commitment to education.  No matter that someone from Obama's campaign said that he'd support both platforms (see June 17 post here).  No matter that Obama's record, such as it is, is better on education than McCain's. 
In reality, Obama probably does support both positions -- they're not totally exclusive -- but doing so, or declining to pick one or the other, will either way look bad.

This, by the way, is why so many campaign people hate education.  Two largely Democratic education groups both simultaneously rolled out dueling manifestos -- for a long time oblivious each to the other and then unwilling or unable to work together to push for something everyone could live with.  Thus showing what a leadership vacuum there is on education, and creating room for McCain to step in and play each off the other. 

It won't lose Obama the election, but it certainly isn't helping him.  The only upside is that it's made education more of an issue than it otherwise would have been.  Maybe EDINO8 is behind it all.

Previous Posts: 
What Will The Platform Say About Education?

Varied Responses To McCain Speech

Obama, Sharpton, & The NEA
Obama Stakes Out Bold New Education Position(s)
Which Manifesto Would Obama Have Signed?

What Will The Platform Say About Education?

41367764 Those of us with nothing better to do will be scrutinizing the Democratic party platform that's being developed for the upcoming Denver convention in a few weeks.  What will it include about NCLB, or performance pay, or charters, or funding?  Everyone wants to know.  As this LA Times article points out, there is lots of infighting going on about its contents -- despite the fact that few elections are won or lost based on these documents. 

Research Shows Impact Of One "Bad Apple" On Entire Classroom

Freakonomics2Bad apples usually refer to isolated wrongdoers.  But in the classroom, it's well known that one "bad apple" can affect everyone else.  To confirm this, researchers linked court records and domestic violence reports to individual student records in one Florida county.  No surprise, kids exposed to (or victim of) domestic violence showed achievement levels were lower than other similar kids and reported behavior problems that were higher. 

But then the researchers compared how the classrooms with kids who had been exposed to domestic violence did compared to similar classrooms with no such kids, and found that 70 percent of classes had at least one such kid in them, and that the effects of exposure to domestic violence tended to affect the entire class.  From Freakonomics:  Externalities in the Classroom

Varied Responses To McCain Speech

Eep"We are gratified that Senator McCain has endorsed the principles of the Education Equality Project, joining education, civil rights, and elected officials across America who are working together to bring meaningful reform to our nation's public schools," wrote New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Reverend Al Sharpton on Friday.  " Fixing our schools won't be easy and it will require strong national leadership—but nothing short of that will enable us to live up to our basic commitment to our children: to help them learn so they have a real shot at achieving the American dream. Education reform, like civil rights, is above partisan politics and must be embraced by all."

Not so fast, says incoming AFT president Randi Weingarten: “Sen. McCain clearly has his talking points down about education, but we’re still waiting to see any comprehensive plan...Sen. McCain’s naiveté about education reform is only as stunning as his hypocrisy. He takes a cheap shot by demonizing teachers, yet lauds the very education reforms that I collaborated on with his new best friends, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and School Chancellor Joel Klein.

Obama's Focus On Class Could Hurt Racial Deseg Efforts

From the Times (Delicate Obama Path on Class and Race Preferences):

03affirmative_600span"Some fear that Mr. Obama’s focus on the socioeconomic status of his daughters — as opposed to the diversity of experience and perspective they might bring to predominantly white campuses — may help conservatives in their battle to eliminate race from university admissions and government hiring."

Much the same could be said of Kahlenberg et al, who promote class-based deseg in the K12 system.  But they're not as likely to be the next President.  Here's another division within Democratic circles -- race vs. class-based deseg -- that Obama will have to deal with.

Male-Female Math Equality Implications

Question:  Researchers for the National Science Foundation have found that boys and girls now perform equally in standardized math tests. What do you think?

"Great, that's all I need. My wife knowing the exact moment I arrive in Boston if my train left New York traveling at 60 miles per hour." --  Max Thomas, Cashier

Girls=Boys in Math (The Onion)


State Testing SNAFUs In Illinois -- Again

Chicago_aerial_view"Illinois has been plagued with testing problems since 2002, when No Child Left Behind required states to ramp up testing," writes the Chicago Tribune's Stephanie Banchero.  "In every year except 2005, testing data has been riddled with errors, seriously delayed or contained sizable shifts."

Errors may snarl state testing

Big Stories Of The Day

 Angelinajolietwins01McCain raps Obama over school vouchers, union ties AP
John McCain, the father of private school students, criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama on Friday for choosing private over public school for his kids.

Rebels turn school dress plan inside out Violating Gonzales High School's dress code is not a crime, but some of the offenders are about to start looking a lot like convicts.

TV's new hit: `School Board Soap Opera' Miami Herald
Forget CSI: Miami or Burn Notice. The hottest television show set in Miami may just be the monthly Miami-Dade County School Board meetings.

Equality in Education NYT
Before the No Child Left Behind Act, students of different races and different income levels were administered tests of different rigor based on different ...

Court OKs teacher privacy in some misconduct cases Seattle PI
Testing my patience LA Times (Commentary)
Rhee Details Prescription for Ailing Schools to Donors AP

The Toughest Boss In Education?

Lghr0326Just because someone is dedicated to improving education doesn't mean he or she is a nice person, or a good boss.  There was a story in the Times last week (Congressman Pushes Staff Hard, or Out the Door) that had me wondering who the toughest bosses (or toughest workplaces) were in the education world.  For some reason I recall that Wendy Puriefoy of PEN had the reputation for being tough back in the 90s.  A lot of folks have come and gone from New Leaders, it has been noted.  Whether that's just "growing pains" or a toxic workplace I have no idea.  Ditto for TFA.  You would think that Ellen Guiney at the Boston Plan for Excellence, a flinty former Kennedy staffer, would be a tough boss.  But until recently I hadn't seen a job posting from BPE in years.  Clearly I'm striking out here.  Who's the toughest boss in education?

Single-Sex Summer Camp, Better Poverty Measures, & More

Every week or so, I check out what's in Slate and there's usually a bunch of interesting stuff that's not hard-core school reform but still interesting and relevant.  For example:

DailypodcastsFinally, a sensible way to measure poverty
Because we desperately need something better than Free& Reduced Lunch to differentiate schools. 

How do you diagnose a case of autism?
Good question.  I (and most teachers) have no idea.

Where the wild boys are
Single-sex summer day camp.  Yes, they exist.

Hollywood wants to teach your kid to read
Iron Man will show the way.

NB:  I sometimes write for Slate.

Free-For-All Brings Out The "Dumb-Ass" In Some

 On Thursday, Chicago public schools had "Free Things Day," during which teachers could come to the main warehouse and grab everything from furniture to reams of paper -- that is, assuming they could survive the experience. A teacher writes in about what happens when things are free: 

"It was poorly organized and a total zoo - long lines and quite crowded, though the workers kept a cheery disposition and seemed to be doing their best. One of the workers mentioned this free-for-all type of event was a CPS first, so I'm sure they've learned some lessons.

"What was available? General office supplies - hanging file folders, envelopes, printer paper, pens and markers, tape and tape dispensers, staplers, binders, desktop and desk drawer organizers, letter trays, paper clips, etc. Computer gear - printers, monitors, fax machines, keyboards, and a few woefully outdated computers. Furniture - a lot of rolling, mildly cushioned desk chairs, filing cabinets, table tops (most, oddly enough, without legs), a desk here or there. A decent range of stuff that CPS does not or will not purchase for teachers, sometimes because of downtown priorities, sometimes because of principal spending priorities.

"I got a printer, lots of pens, a box of printer paper, a few envelopes, tape and dispensers, a couple of staplers, binder clips, and a few light bulbs. The desk chairs were seriously hot items! I arrived 45 minutes early and lost out to those who beat me to the punch.

"Free stuff always seems to bring out the dumb-ass in people, too, as illustrated by three incidents which occurred during my 30 minutes at the warehouse. (1) I labeled the top of a small 12x12 box with an 8.5x11 piece of paper listing my name, school, and mail info. I turned my back to pick up another box a few steps away and some other teacher, in less than 10 seconds, had removed my label, opened the box, and was placing the items I had selected into her own box. (2) I was selecting reams of colored paper and putting them into a small box when another teacher reached into the box I was loading (and holding!) and took a ream while commenting to me "Oh, this is a pretty color!" (3) I had stacked my boxes in the area designated for storage until shipping time. As I left I noticed that someone had opened my sealed box of paper and replaced my 6 reams of colored paper with white paper. Nice."  [Cross-posted from D299]

Big Stories Of The Day


Education as a Civil Rights Issue
Recent events suggest that the civil rights establishment generally is ready to break with the teachers’ unions and take an independent stand on education reform.

House, Senate Pass Overhaul Of Higher-Education Programs
Congress yesterday passed a major overhaul of federal higher-education programs aimed at expanding financial aid and bringing greater clarity and disclosure to the student loan process.

Wash. Court Protects Identities of Some Teachers
Identities of public school teachers who face unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct can be kept secret to protect the educators' privacy, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Who's the better education candidate?
Chief among the reasons: Congress this year is arguing over whether to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, the sweeping 2001 law that linked federal funding...

PLUS: Another 152 school districts get state-funded laptops

Downloading Textbooks Instead Of Songs & Movies

A_survey_of_mathematics_with_applic Started in higher ed, the textbook download business will almost inevitably trickle down to the giant K12 market, I'm guessing: 

First It Was Song Downloads. Now It’s Organic Chemistry (NYT).   

Don't Ever Let Them Make Your Read This Book Again


"Overall, a portfolio of the “good to great” companies [including big losers Fannie Mae and Circuit City] looks like it would have underperformed the S&P 500," writes the New York Times' Freakonomics blog (From Good to Great to Below Average).  "To the extent that [ongoing success] doesn’t actually turn out to be true, it calls into question the basic premise of these books, doesn’t it?



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.