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HALLOWEEN: Costumes For Everyone

Babydevilrusso Check out Eduwonkette's Halloween costume-fest for some fun Photoshop renderings of education folks and what they're wearing.

Here I am, as rendered by Skoolboy, playing the role of a baby Devil. 

MEDIA: Digging Deep Into The Gloucester Pregnancy "Pact"

Boston Magazine sent a reporter out to hang with some of the Gloucester girls who were supposedly part of the "pregnancy pact" that the media was freaking out about last summer. 

There was never any proof that such a pact ever existed, and the article is more about teen pregnancy than the pact -- what is going on in these girls' lives that some are OK with getting pregnant? 

Hint:  It might have something to do with their families and schools.

Growing Up Gloucester Boston Magazine

Via Jezelel.

PS:  Iif you still need a Halloween costume for tonight, think about getting some friends together to dress up as the pregnancy pact teens.  It's an easy getup -- just get some pillows.  And you'd win for least politically correct costume -- always my favorite category.

FAIL: State Literacy Program Lacks Proofreading Requirement

fail owned pwned pictures

From I Thought A Think: 
State literacy program improves -- but not enough, apparently

CHARTERS: "I've Got A Feeling...That Funky Funky Feeling"

There was lots of political intrigue swirling around last night's Brooklyn Charter Night -- mayoral control, term limits, charter school caps, and all the rest -- but this step performance by the middle schoolers from Achievement First Crown Heights rocked the jam-packed auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum and might well have been the highlight.  Check it out.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

ScannatSchools rein in HalloweenSan Jose Mercury News
Two years after California laid down the nutrition law, scaling back fat, sugar and calories in foods sold or served on campus, schools are increasingly ...

Little Impact Seen in Intensive Teacher Induction EdWeek
A new study of two programs found they did not noticeably change teachers’ instructional practices, boost rates of teacher retention, or improve student-achievement outcomes, after a year of implementation.

School’s Success Story Gives Way to Doubt NY Times
After years of skyrocketing test scores, a school in Charleston is the subject of an investigation on whether a high number of erasure marks on tests indicates fraud.

Students Find Body in Anacostia Cleanup Washington Post
A group of high school students from a private school in Northwest Washington discovered a body yesterday in the Anacostia River while they were cleaning up its shores as a community project.

Dry-Ice Martini and Electric Cake NY Times
Some professional scientists are drawing on laboratory experience and academic training to make cooking into a science project.

NCLB: Feed My Sheep

Feedmysheep The end of the first Nine Weeks is a time for contemplation, and I keep musing over the irony that NCLB holds us accountable for circumstances beyond our control, as it distracts us from practical solutions. I began the year with more than 150 students and nearly sixty have transferred in and out of my classes. A month ago, I had 41 students crammed into the classroom, and now it often looks empty. The population bulge is currently hitting the 6th grade and math classes.

I have about twenty honors students and recent transfers from suburban schools. They would pass the End of Instruction Tests (EOIs) even if we taught them nothing. I also have more than 100 students who have never passed an EOI and, if history holds, almost none will. Soon, every student must pass four EOIs to graduate and if we remain distracted by NCLB, our district’s graduation rate will fall from 46% to the levels of Detroit or Indianapolis.

Continue reading "NCLB: Feed My Sheep" »

LOBBYING: Riley & Others Form New(ish) Education Group

There's a new(ish) name in the education consulting game that you'll be hearing more about soon (if you haven't already): Education Counsel LLC. This outfit includes well-known folks like former Secretary Dick Riley and relative up- and- comers like former Illinois education advisor Elliot Regenstein. 


Based on the website, Riley will remain at Nelson Mullins Riley (the law firm he's operated out of for several years now), and Regenstein will remain in Chicago, where he was most recently running education clients including Gates out of Holland and Knight. 

I'm not really sure how they're going to differentiate themselves in terms of clients or capacity from other existing lobbying and strategy shops in DC -- fill me in if you know -- but it's interesting that they've come together like this.  Or maybe it's just a repackaging of what they were already doing.

BLOGS: More Bloggy Goodness

How China Reads the Internet Daily Beast
A new Firefox application called China Channel reroutes your IP through China, so you can experience the Chinese government's infamous Internet firewall.

“Hungry” Contractors Looking for Work in School Districts ASBJ Blog
Districts in California, where voters approved several of the nation’s largest school construction bonds before the economy soured, hadn’t spent all the proceeds from the bond before the housing crisis and are now finding their costs lowered.

Handwashing101508Will 8th Grade Algebra Help All Kids? Uncle Jay Mathews
Many students who performed very poorly on the National Assessment of Educational Progress eighth grade math test said that, nonetheless, they were considered math whizzes at their schools.

YouTube Helps Dad (and Daughter) with Homework Future Of Education NEW
My Jr. High daughter is working with math that was familiar to me in late high school years over 25 years ago. Needless to say, I was not familiar with "Permutations and Combinations."

The Mind of the Cheater
McCabes most recent national survey polled 25,000 high school students from 2001 to 2008 and found that more than 90 percent said they had cheated in one way or another.

Customized Sites, Yearbooks Connect Local Papers & Schools Poynter
Think of this as a hyper-local MySpace or Facebook, with a printing press thrown in for good measure.

BLOGS: Around Them

Obamarain_cropNext secretary of education Mike Klonsky
New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman would be a good pick. He’s one of the architects and main backers of the Smaller Learning Communities Initiative.

‘Induction’ flops for first-year teachers Joanne Jacobs
First-year teachers who work with mentors, receive extra training and observe experienced teachers don’t outperform other new teachers, concludes a Mathematica study. 

What is a “world-class” education? AJC
I watched Barack Obama’s infomercial last night hoping to learn more about his education plans. With everything else going on education hasn’t gotten much attention this election season. But then Obama promised people a world-class education.

Economic Reality Intrudes on Great Expectations Early Story
Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts announced a lot of grand education plans when he was elected in 2006, including free community college for all and an ambitious agenda to expand pre-kindergarten.

SOFT: US Kids Fight Less Than Belgians (But Win More Often?)

Fightb Can't a country catch a break?  Apparently not.

A new study from the World Health Organization finds that -- no surprise -- boys fight more than girls, and that -- real surprise -- American kids fight much less than their counterparts in other countries.

The US ranks 17th out of 18 countries when it comes to elementary-school fisticuffs, trailing far behind French-speaking Belgians. (Via Kempt)


Perhaps, unlike in other international comparisons, the US would fare better if this were a comparison of older students. Maybe our 15 year-olds could trounce the other countries...in a contest of how often they fight. 

Note also that there's no data on who won these fights.  I'm guessing that the US kids were in less fights but won more of them than the kids from other countries.  Probably kicking ass on those Belgian kids.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

ScanJudge Delays 8th-Grade Algebra in Calif. Schools EdWeek
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered the state Board of Education to postpone its expensive and bold plan to force all California 8th-graders to be tested in algebra.

Vallas to stick with N.O. recovery schools Times Picayune
Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas, whose two-year contract expires in June, has agreed to lead the state-run school system through the 2009-10 school year.

What Obama really meant by "redistributive change." Slate
The Constitution didn't "explicitly or implicitly" provide for a right to education, the majority said—and Texas had not created a suspect class of poor...

City schools improve on exams Baltimore Sun
Many more Baltimore students passed the state graduation exams in 2008, helping to nearly double the number of city high schools.

Wobbly time for college tuition CSM
A new report shows signs of moderation in rate hikes. But the economic downturn could quickly send prices up.

MEDIA: "Premature Pundits" Get Schooled

K252a My favorite part of this recent NY Times article (Pundit School) isn't the advice about how to be a good pundit, though it's much appreciated.  (Smile when you attack, look down not up when searching for the right phrase, interrupt to get your point in, change topics to what you want to talk about.) 

More interesting to me is the observation that the cable news stations in particular have been flooded with what one expert calls "premature pundits" -- folks too green to do much more than parrot talking points but don't really know what they're talking about.  “The combination of ambition and naïveté allows them to say things that with slightly more age and wisdom you’d be embarrassed to say,” he says.

I'd argue that some of the same is happening in the edusphere, where a slew of fiesty new arrivals sometimes undercut their admirable energy with disturbing obliviousness to underlying issues, recent history, or even what's going on in other parts of the blogosphere. 

Yes, I am the old crabby guy shaking my finger at the world. 

CAPTION: "Well, Senator Obama, ..."


KIDS: High School Musical 3 Conquoers The World

Hsm3 In case you didn't know it, HSM3 is all the rage among the teenage set -- even pretend-tough teenage boys will go see it, though they'll take a ribbing.  Here's why, according to Gawker: 

"Kids like to gawp at good looking other kids, they like music, they like dancing, they like romance, and they like more than anything else—desperately, arms pulled close to their chests, eyes tearing—to see something of themselves reflected back at them." (Why Is My Niece Obsessed With High School Musical ?)

Don't judge.  It sounds like Grease, and Fame, and a few other movies that readers of this blog might have seen back in the day. 

RHEE: "Scary Michelle Rhee" Makes City Paper Blog

Loose_lips_daily_city_paper Good news --

My description of a scary Michelle Rhee costume made the Washington City Paper's "Loose Lips" Daily Blog

In case you missed it: 

"She only wears black. She’ll close your school. She’ll fire her own children’s principal. She doesn’t care about your stupid feelings. Comes with a cape and mask.”

Hooray!  Boo! Whooo!

Credit to Eduwonkette and Skoolboy for getting the Halloween thing started.

Big [Graduation] Stories Of The Day

Il_ctNew Rules Aimed at Highlighting, Improving Low Graduation Rates Washington Post
New federal rules made final yesterday will tighten enforcement of the No Child Left Behind law, including requiring schools nationwide to use a single formula to calculate high school graduation rates.

High schools under pressure from federal government to improve ...AP
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, left, gives words of encouragement to Tiewana Norman during a visit to Norman’s class Tuesday at ...

Single Standard Applied to Graduation Rates USA Today
"They've been dropping out," she says. "It's just now ... we're going to have accurate information and know the full extent of the problem."

Homework struggles may be tied to poor vision MSNBC
Your 9-year-old's eyes hurt during homework? Your teen's a slow reader plagued with headaches? They may have a common yet often missed vision problem: Eyes that don't turn together properly to read.

Extremism in the Pursuit of Liberty

Windswar I have done a pretty good job of keeping my mouth closed in regard to the Education Trust, but their latest reports are so absurd. They accurately describe the shame of the United States being the only industrialized nation where children today are less likely than their parents to graduate from high school. So the Ed Trust’s recommendation - and I’m not kidding - was a) account for all students, b) hold schools accountable, and c) generate focus. And those heroic measures are supposed to increase graduation rates by 5% every two years?!?!

If that is not enough evidence that the trust is a one-trick pony more interested in retribution than solutions, then consider the other report. The Education Trust seeks $400 million dollars and another $100 million for computer tracking systems for new assessments, but only $500 million for the actual work of turning schools around. Talk about weighing a cow to make it heavier!

Continue reading "Extremism in the Pursuit of Liberty" »

CLASSROOM: Teacher Robbed Of Marathon Win

Banevius21_ph_0499328853A 5th grade teacher named Arien O'Connell of New York City didn't win the marathon she raced even though she completed the course in the fastest time. 

Why not? 

Well, she didn't register and run with the "elite" runners, so none of the other frontrunners had any idea that she was beating them. 

At Women's Marathon, fastest time didn't win SF Gate

NCLB: In Praise Of NCLB's "Other" Option

From Guest Contributor Cheryl Sattler:

Edited_sattler_photo_10072 There’s been a lot of criticism of the fact that most schools choose the “other” option for restructuring under No Child Left Behind. The Center on Education Policy calls this “the path of least resistance,” while Hoover asks if this is “taking the easy way out.”

The implication is that schools are dodging “real” reform. Based on these analyses, some advocates have begun pushing Congress to eliminate the “other” option entirely.

But if the current named options were the only ones on the table, it is likely that even less change would occur.  Charter schools require a group outside the district to be sufficiently invested in a school (and capable of not only educational change, but finance, food service, transportation, etc.) to take a school over.  They can’t be imposed by a district.    Replacing all or most of the school staff isn’t just a union nightmare. It’s a timing and capacity nightmare as well. Districts hire in early spring but don’t find out if they’ll have to restructure until the late summer.  Capable people aren't necessarily ready and willing to jump on board. State takeovers aren't even allowed in most states, and how realistic is it to expect a bunch of bureaucrats, miles away, to run schools?

Only the fourth option, use of education management organizations, deserves more of a shot than it's been given.  Districts don’t want to give up control, and states don’t want it, either.  But states could certainly make an effort to move control from a school district to a management organization of some kind. -- Cheryl Sattler

Scary Halloween Ideas

N31501349164_7586 I'm no good at PhotoShop, but the call has gone out for education-themed Halloween ideas ((here) and so here are some that might work.

First, the topical ideas:  The Annenberg Zombie:  Ripped out of the ground and onto the headlines after seven years in the grave, the Annenberg is covered in worms and the remains of small schools left behind. Scary Michelle Rhee:  She only wears black.  She'll close your school.  She'll fire her own children's principal.  She doesn't care about your stupid feelings.  Comes with a cape and mask.  The Skeezy Superintendent:  He flirts inappropriately with employees and reporters. They get fired.  He gets a promotion. Is that his hand on your leg?  The Linda Darling Witch:  Tall pointed hat, with magic wand.  Good witch or a bad one?  Depends on your perspective.  The Ghost Of NCLB:  It's dead, but it doesn't know it's dead, and so it keeps on haunting us. 

Then there are some perennials:  The Think Tank Alien:  Talks fast, never wrong, an evil octopus lives inside.  The Slutty Student:  She wears in appropriately little clothing.  She sends naked pictures to her friends. She types text messages while giving book reports. Evil Education Blogger:   Mean, lazy, no fun at all. Scares little children. Cackles. 

SCOOP: Big Changes At The Green Dot Home Office

Green_dotPerhaps the biggest news that I can report from my time in LA at Locke High School last week is that Green Dot announced a reorganization of its top executives during its board meeting a week ago. 

As you can see from the attached letter from Barr, the reorg moves founder and head honcho Steve Barr into a strategic planning - rainmaking - political role, leaving CEO duties to Marco Petruzzi.  Barr remains Chairman of the Board.  A former Bain consultant, Petruzzi was originally a board member and has been President and COO for the past couple of years.  The reorg also moves Cristina De Jesus, a former Green Dot principal and VP for Curriculum, up to the job of COO. 

Some may be surprised at the changes but my sense is that these moves were a long time in coming and suit the talents and energies of everyone involved.  Starting and growing a new organization is a very different beast than growing and managing an established one.  Most organizations wait way too long to realize this. As long as Barr doesn't wander off and start a band or show up at Burning Man too often, things will probably be fine.  Green Dot now has 600 employees and a $61M budget. 

Continue reading "SCOOP: Big Changes At The Green Dot Home Office" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day (So Far)

Ca_loDelay in graduation test requirement is sought Baltimore Sun
Several members of the Maryland State Board of Education are expected to seek a delay in the requirement to pass the High School Assessments for graduation.

Accountability Still a Grad-Rate Issue EdWeek
The Department of Education soon will publish new regulations that require states to improve the way they calculate and report high school graduation rates.

Dads clubs expanding from elementary schools to secondary campuses Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Each school day, men in matching T-shirts walk the hallways of McCall Elementary School, keeping watch over their own children and everyone else’s

Crisis Shakes the Foundations of the Ivory Tower Wall Street Journal
The financial and economic tsunami that has ripped through Wall Street and the housing market is beginning to wash across...

Jenna Bush Hager, Sharing Those Teaching Duties Washington Post
When Jenna Bush went to work for a D.C. charter school, the third-grade class got more than the president's daughter -- it got "Miss Jenna's" boyfriend and sister, too.

BIDEN: Interviewed By A Palm Beach 5th Grader

Still not rolling along with the work mode?  Me, neither.  Here's the Biden interview by a 5th grade Florida student named Damon Weaver that's going around.  Check out the great microphone work and the smooth voiceovers:

Best line:  "Senator Biden is now my homeboy." Kudos to Damon and his teachers.

CHARTERS: National Association Alliance Weighs Into Politics

Here's an image from an ad that the National Association Alliance of Public Charter Schools is running in 5 states including Ohio:


More and more education outfits are getting into the the political game, it seems -- not just EDIN08 and DFER and the unions. That's good thing, I'd argue, for people who want education taken seriously.

WEB: Weekend Reading 2

It's Friday -- where's my bio teacher? USA Today
New findings -- brace yourselves, kids -- suggest that the next several Mondays and Fridays are going to be particularly popular days to call in sick.

Simpsonsmadmen2State governments struggle to balance their budgets Slate
Decreases in payroll, property, and sales taxes have left state governments struggling to come up with a combined total of $11.2 billion to meet their budgets, prompting them to cut jobs and services.

Corruption in textbook-adoption proceedings Annals of Corruption
State adoption proceedings still are pervaded by sham, malfeasance and ludicrous incompetence, and they still reflect cozy connections between state agencies and schoolbook companies. Via Kottke.

Use the Web to End Poverty Wired
All you need is a web connection and a healthy dose of good will.

The Mind-BlackBerry Problem Slate
In brain scans, you can see the shift of blood flow from spatial-management to language-processing areas.

WEB: Weekend Reading

Not really ready to start the week?  Me, neither. 

Bad Spellers Of The World, Untie! Unite! Jezebel
According to an article published in today's Times, researchers at Oxford University believe that "that our ability to spell lies partly in our DNA."


Edupunk Wired Jargon Watch
Avoiding mainstream teaching tools like Powerpoint and Blackboard, edupunks bring the rebellious attitude and DIY ethos of '70s bands like the Clash to the classroom.

Hot Coffee Goggles Daily Beast
When you have a warm beverage in your hand, people magically become nicer. [So that's why we all liked Mr. Duffy's English Lit. class so much.]

How to Speed Read Wired
Learn to overclock your eyes and quadruple your brain's processing power in Wired's How-To Wiki.

Big Stories Of The Day

Ma_bgPatrick pulling back on education Boston Globe
The launch of Governor Deval Patrick's ambitious proposal to provide students with a free education, from preschool through community college, will have to be scaled back next year because of the state's ever-worsening budget problems, Education Secretary Paul Reville said

No Child Left Behind Forbes
Despite the crushed 401(k) statements and credit card debt, parents are still spending to improve the lives of their kids.

Palin Promises Choice for Disabled Students NY Times
Gov. Sarah Palin vowed that a McCain administration would allow all special-needs students the choice of attending private schools at public expense.

Key to stemming high-school dropouts: parents CSM
Many parents of students in low-performing schools say they're not kept informed, a new report finds.

Will Maryland back down -- again -- on meaningful graduation standards? Washington Post
"The notion that it is worse to hold them back rather than pushing them through unprepared is criminal."

Study Will Size Up Doctoral Programs for Education Researchers EdWeek
Two national education groups are launching a first-time effort to assess—and possibly even rank—the hundreds of doctoral programs that prepare education researchers.

Priority Watch: Computer Tracking Systems versus Children

Hal Identifying dysfunctional schools is about as difficult as tracking an elephant with a bloody nose through the snow. But the Education Trust wants another 100 million dollars of federal money for computer systems to document our failures. When the system goes on line, in time for NCLB III, we can paint an exquisitely horrific picture of the effects of poverty on school children. Then, someday over the rainbow, we will work out all of the loopholes in a complex, multi-measures system for data-driven accountability. At that point, we can start to turnaround our worst schools - if we can persuade the taxpayers to provide the mega-billions that would be required.

The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that 10% of children are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade. In some areas, nearly one in four children are chronically absent in grades K-3. Why not invest that $100 million dollars in tracking down and serving those vulnerable kids? Why not create a "Grow What Works" model for contacting families after three absences? Wouldn’t we get more "bang for the buck" by visiting the homes of children who miss five days of school? If we really believe in the transformative power of education, we must heed the recommendation that chronic early absence must be a "trigger" for early intervention and that, "Schools and communities can benefit by embedding attention to chronic early absence in relevant initiatives focused on, for example, school readiness, afterschool programs, school-based health services, and dropout prevention."  - John Thompson

FRITZ: The FritzWire Has Arrived!

Fritz I'm pleased to feature the FritzWire -- Fritz Edelstein's email-only roundup of meetings, hearings, reports, and jobs -- each week on this site, starting today.  Click below to see all about the Secretary's Title I regulations announcement tomorrow, a Friday CEF briefing on how the fiscal crisis will affect education spending, and all sorts of policy and PR jobs. 

If it's happening, Fritz knows about it -- usually before anyone else.  Now you don't have to worry where that email went. 

Previous Posts
Insider Edelstein On The HotSeat
The Week Ahead: Spellings, Fritz, Russo

Continue reading "FRITZ: The FritzWire Has Arrived!" »

PETRILLI: Punk, Punk'd

Punkd_logo715263 What a mischievous little punk that Mike Petrilli is turning into.  First, the Checker Finn protege takes all week to admit what everyone else already knew:  that he messed up thinking that one of Obama's education advisors said Obama wanted to dump standardized tests.  Punked by his own self (self-punk'd?).  But in true Washington style Petrilli can't be wrong alone or keep it simple, so he tries to pull other people and other issues into his mess.  The result is one of those non-apology apologies:  No campaign education advisor left behind.  But don't be confused -- this isn't about long-standing divisions among Democrats on education issues.  That's something else.  This is about how nobody but Petrilli goofed up, tried to make news where there was none, and is still trying to weasel out of coming clean.  Not that it's not sort of entertaining to watch him try. 

BLOGS: Around The Blogosphere

Hinojosa extends olive branch to teachers DISD Blog
DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa took a step to heal strained relations with teachers -- who are angry that hundreds of their colleagues were recently laid off -- by publicly apologizing during a community symposium today.

U.S. Cities vs. The World TCKB
Students in six major U.S. cities–Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, New York and San Diego–are performing as well or better in mathematics than 4th and 8th graders in other countries, according to a new study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Troubled black boys… Whitmire
As always, Bill Cosby offers up some truth telling here, absent the usual filter of racial political correctness.

86d0153b5c631ae9fb7f4a63d78bcdcb98cDouble-Take Tom Toch
Combining the two school-rating strategies is the only way to accurately reflect schools' contributions to student learning while preserving the law's commendable commitment to getting low performers up to proficiency and giving schools meaningful incentives to improve the achievement of all students.

Student Commenting in Blogs & Wikis: How to Get the Quality John Norton
So you’ve jumped into Web 2.0, determined to teach your students those “21st Century skills” everybody’s talking about. You’ve set up a blog or wiki and have students commenting via the Internet. Now what?

Parent hits cop, arrested at son's school Detention Slip
Way to go mom! Your immaturity pretty much ruined your kids childhood.

School district says no tattoos on teachers Detention Slip
A unanimous vote decided that no teachers in the schools can have any part of a tattoo visible.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

US cities' math scores split compared to rest of the world USA Today
Now, for the first time, educators in a few big cities can see how the math skills of their students compare to those of peers worldwide.

Can Vouchers Help Failing Public Schools? NPR
Democratic nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Republican nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona have sparred over the issue of giving students vouchers to attend private schools.

College Board Will Offer a New Test Next Fall NY Times
The College Board unveiled a new test that it said would help prepare eighth graders for rigorous high school courses and college.

Language Mysteries Explained In 'Alphabet Juice' NPR
Why do pigs oink in English and chrjo in Russian? What does the word ma ma have to do with the word mammal?

OPINION: Around The Blogs

A Thousand Words Kevin Carey
There's a lot of potential to help high-poverty schools, particularly if we look at overall achievement and growth simultaneously.

When students text AJC
Marietta school leaders approved a plan that will let high school students send text messages to campus police officers if the teens see something wrong or hear rumors of something happening.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Flowers & Sausages
The Weave must be bored.

Discrimination between blue and brown eyed kids.
We watched a little of this PBS video on a classic study in my Thinking and Decision Making class today.

More Assessment Wars Insights
Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation thought he had a big scoop.

Will an Obama Victory Shrink the Achievement Gap?
Even if it did, I get the feeling that this is one of those questions that will never be definitively answered -- no matter how sophisticated the statistics. 4 or 8 years of an Obama White House would simply coincide with too many other events to prove that it was Obama's election that caused the change.

Can the Dems resist education overreach? Uncle Charley
There’s a very good possibility that next year will bring sweeping changes to the federal government’s executive administration.

Un-banning cell phones in schools
Have we turned a corner?


PERFORMANCE PAY: Just A Fancy Kind Of Tip Jar

646x250webtipjar While everyone (including Barack Obama) wants to change the current pay structure for teachers to bring in some sort of performance/ accountability element, a few folks in an entirely different industry are headed the other direction:

Concerned about fairness, efficiency, and teamwork, a few American restaurants have attempted get their customers to stop the now-traditional practice of tipping waitstaff after meals, according to this recent New York Times Magazine article (Why Tip?).  Instead of tips, which apparently don't really do what they're supposed to do, these restaurants either pay their workers more or add a standard gratuity (usually 18 percent).

Pay for performance is just a fancy, government-run form of tipping.  If that's the case, maybe it would be simpler just to put tipjars on teachers' desks. 

PROPOSALS: Renaming Federal Innovation Office

Entrepreneurship This Brookings report (Changing the Game) isn't getting a ton of attention and I make no claims of having read it.  But I did notice that this EdWeek story (U.S. Aid Urged for Education's Entrepreneurs) leaves out the fact that one of the Brookings report's main recommendations seems to be...renaming the current Office of Innovation and Improvement with something called the Office of Education Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  The report also suggests something called Grow What Works. 

TECH: Social Classroom 2.0

Classroom_20There's lots of ed tech stuff out there to choose from -- too much, some would say.  But here's an interesting-looking gathering point for folks who want to take their tech to another level, Classroom 2.0.

Accessible enough for newbies, but sophisticated enough to satisfy folks who are on the cutting edge when it comes to using social media for instructional purposes. 

Check it out. 

Big Stories Of The Day

1ames1015How one failing St. Paul school made the grade Star Tribune
St. Paul's Ames Elementary, once labeled as underperforming, has found a way to meet the federal No Child Left Behind standard.

Teachers take test scores to the bank as bonuses USA Today
Across the USA, a small but growing number of school districts are experimenting with teacher-pay packages that front-load higher...

Pay-To-Behave Program Debuts In D.C. Schools NPR
The idea is the brainchild of a Harvard economist who has persuaded several school districts around the country that disruptive, unmotivated students will change their ways if cash is a carrot.

Teens from a struggling L.A. public campus get a chance to shine Los Angeles Times
With full scholarships and a strong support network, three students from low-income immigrant families enter the world of educational privilege and widened opportunities.

MEDIA: Misplaced Blame For Dallas Layoffs

Dallascountyschooldistrictsmap1a The economic downturn is a convenient excuse for pretty much anything these days, according to the media.  But that doesn't make it so, says Dallas Morning News reporter and blogger Kent Fischer:

"DISD didn’t fire 1,100 people because of “fallout from the current economic crisis.”They fired those people because incompetent bureaucrats messed up the budget by failing to catch several unbelievable math errors. Folks lost their jobs because DISD administrators can’t multiply, not the bad economy."

CNN and US News are among those who connected the layoffs to the economy.

A Bolder, Less Narrow Approach

Rageagainstnight I was thrilled to read the following in the Brookings Institute, "Blueprint for American Progress," by Sara Mead and Andrew Rotherham.

"We are approaching a point of diminishing returns on investments in standards-based reforms. Standards-based reform is inherently limited because it focuses pressure on the existing public education system, but does nothing to fundamentally alter the shape of the system itself. ... Tightening pressures on the current system also has adverse results, such as ‘teaching to the test."

... Creating a culture of innovation in public education is not antithetical to standards-based reform ... the two are complementary. Standards-based reform creates the necessary conditions for a culture of innovation."

Here’s a teacher’s metaphorical explanation of the truth of Mead’s and Rotherham’s conclusion. Shine a sophisticated laser through space, and its light molecules remain perpetually aligned. Shine a high-quality flashlight through a clear night and the light remains aligned for twelve yards or so.

Continue reading "A Bolder, Less Narrow Approach" »

PETRILLI: "An Enormous Distortion" Of Obama's Position

Michaelpetrilli While there's no dispute that the topic of portfolio assessment came up on NPR this morning during a discussion about Obama's education platform, Fordham's Mike Petrilli seems to be the only one who thinks that the Obama campaign revealed any big change of its position on NCLB accountability (ie, the desire to "dump") standardized testing. 

Observers suggest that there was no explicit connection made between portfolios and getting rid of standardized assessments.  EdWeek's Michele McNeil says the same, and has a rough transcript here. And the campaign says there's no there there, calling Petrilli's remarks "an enormous distortion."  Here's Obama talking about testing in Thornton, CO a couple of months ago, from the campaign:

“This doesn’t mean that we won’t have a standardized test, I believe children should master that skill as well and that should be part of the assessments and tools that we use to make sure our children are learning. It just can’t dominate the curriculum to the extent where we are pushing aside those things that will actually allow children to improve and will accurately assess the quality of teaching that is taking place in the classroom. This is not an either/or proposition, it is a both/and proposition, and that’s what we will be working on by fixing NCLB.”

No big deal. We all get things wrong sometimes.  (I posted the fake Palin SAT scores a couple of weeks ago.)  But it's too bad if Petrilli can't say so.  Being in DC too long has that effect on people. 

BLOGS: Around The Blogs

Obama campaign wants to dump NCLB testing, use portfolios instead Petrilli
Either the Obama campaign will clarify that the Senator would consider portfolios on top of tests, not instead of them, or the McCain campaign will pounce on this issue and argue that it shows Obama to be weak on reform. [UPDATE:  Campaign says there's been no change.]

TeamliftWhen did Social Justice get to be a Bad Thing? Nancy Flanagan
When did social justice get to be a bad thing?

Urban Schools' Open Letter to the Next President Campaign K12
The Council of the Great City Schools asks the nation's next leader to commit to making American urban education the world's best.

More joys of being a teacher Teacher Ken
For me teaching is about relationships.  This includes my relationship with the content I offer, of course. Even more, it is the building of relationships with students.

A Wrenching Scene Insights
CNN is reporting that the Dallas Independent School District has just laid off 375 teachers. The Dallas Morning News is broadcasting scenes of sobbing elementary school children embracing departing teachers: early and wrenching examples of fallout from the current economic crisis.

Big Stories Of The Day

Ny_nyt Schools raise state grades by excluding some students' scores Columbus Dispatch
Nearly 900 times last year, districts' passing rates climbed above the state standard on a test after student results were dropped.

Under the 'No Child' Microscope Washington Post
Like a struggling student in a class of high achievers, Hoffman-Boston Elementary School has fallen into an unenviable position. It is the first school in Northern Virginia under a federal mandate to restructure because of lagging student performance.

Analysis of PISA Finds Private School Effect EdWeek
A new study that examines test scores from 29 countries concludes that competition from private schools improves achievement for students in both public and private schools.

Colombian Brings 4,800 Books With 10 Legs New York Times
A riff on the bookmobile, Luis Soriano’s “Biblioburro” is a small institution: one man and two donkeys.

Let America Be America

Newyorkermap Read Nick Lemann’s 2003 portrait of Karl Rove about his plan to use public education reform as one of three issues that would wipe out the Democratic Party, and the flaw of NCLB becomes apparent. Rove had a visceral understanding that the law would create a civil war between the Democrats' key constituencies, prompting teachers, unions, and people of color to fight each other.

Read The Big Test and you understand the dilemmas faced by good and intelligent psychometricians trapped in a secretive and litigious culture. Although I began his masterpiece with a willingness to believe the worst of the College Board, I learned that standardized tests don’t hurt school children. Adults with standardized tests hurt children.

Lehmann also had the temerity to venture into the world of professional historians and to question the dogma that there is no "culture of poverty."

Now, Lemann correctly asserts that NCLB got testing backward, and he uses reverse engineering to propose his own reform model.

Continue reading "Let America Be America" »

BLOGS: Around The Blogs

Angleofreposestegnerdef32692390 “You Live In A Different World” Core Knowledge
Mayor Richard Daley has little patience for those opposed to the controversial practice of paying inner city children for good grades in school.

Obama Questioned On Vouchers DFER
Minority voters have long favored the Democratic Party's push for increased federal funding for public schools. But over the past few years, some of these voters have embraced the conservative-backed idea of...

Suburban Schools Run Afoul of NCLB Core Knowledge
When schools in well-regarded districts like Arlington, Virginia’s start finding themsleves in trouble, eyebrows will surely be raised. 

Flashback: Educational Computer Games of the 1980s Sara Mead
As a child of the 1980s, with fond memories of playing Number Munchers (#8) and Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego with my sister on our Apple [...]

Fall Books! The 'Kette
In books Dan Brown's book, The Great Expectations School, is out in paperback now with some new endorsements.

DESEG: Fifty-One Years Ago Last Month


Caption:  "Dorothy Counts braves taunts to become the first black student to attend Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 1957. By Douglas Martin/A.P. Photo. (The 25 Best News Photographs Vanity Fair).

STUDENTS: The Beloit College Mindset List (Class Of '12)

Here are some of the education-related items from the Beloit College Mindset List for the class of 2012, designed to help teachers (in this case college professors) understand where 18 year -olds are coming from:

_classof2012Harry Potter could be a classmate.
Girls in head scarves have always  been part of the school fashion scene.
College grads have always been  able to Teach for America.
The Tonight Show has always been  hosted by Jay Leno.
Caller ID has always been  available on phones.
98.6 F has always  been confirmed in the ear.
Michael Milken has always been a philanthropist.
There have always been charter  schools.

It's one thing to know that your students (children) are much younger, but another to "get" how different their points of references are.  Adjust as necessary -- the high school class of 2012 was born in 1994. 

PALIN: "When I Say Obama, You Say Ayers."

The Obama-Ayers connection made it into this Saturday Night Live sketch, called "Palin Rap":

It was too hard to rhyme Annenberg, so they had to leave that part out.

Big Stories Of The Day

Reaching an Autistic Teenager NYT
A school in Georgia believes that it’s not too late for boys like Sam Gross to make emotional connections. All you need is a lot of energy and, sometimes, a magic box.

Education Officials Back Down on Some Proposed ELL Mandates EdWeek
After complaints from the states, federal officials offer more flexible guidelines on a section of the NCLB Act applying to English-language learners.

Teacher ditches 'skill and drill' method for book-based learning DeSoto AppealPicture_1
There was no No Child Left Behind and state testing wasn't as huge as it is now," she said, having now taught for 11 years

Schools Cancel Classes on Election Day NYT
Bucking the tradition of voters’ casting ballots in school buildings while classes go on just a few yards away, many school officials are opting to keep youngsters home on Election Day.

Students, parents fight dress codes MSNBC
As dress codes and even mandatory school uniform policies become more commonplace, students and parents are ending up in courtrooms and jailhouses in their determination to fight back.

Few Details From Rhee In Principal's Firing Washington Post
D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee yesterday evening expressed regret to parents at Shepherd Elementary for the way she handled the abrupt dismissal of the school's principal last week, but maintained that she could not discuss her reasons for firing Galeet BenZion.

Its the Trauma. Duh!

Puppy Rottweilerpuppies If you do not understand why high poverty magnet schools have little in common with neighborhood schools, check out my neighborhood’s middle school (or just read James Comer). If I thought I had a tough day with high school students, I used to take a look at the gangsters with their Rottweilers as they picked up their "Baby G’s" when the middle school dismissed. When I walked my cute dog, Loki, past the neighborhood students, they would recoil in fear and I would have to coax them into giving him a treat. Now the building houses two charter schools, and the students look the same. But when I walk my latest dog, MickeyMoo, the charter students heedlessly rush up to hug him. The neighborhood school had a "critical mass" of students who had experienced so much more trauma and fear, while the charter students have so much more confidence and entitlement.

Twenty years ago, my wife and I awoke to a house full of smoke. Outside, we saw the entire neighborhood was engulfed in fumes and everyone had thought their house was aflame. A vigilante had burned the crack house next to the middle school. My best buddies,  "Pookie" and "Dookie," and ten others barely escaped.

Continue reading "Its the Trauma. Duh!" »

NCLB: When "Teaching To The Test" Meets Teaching Class

Cover_2 "What schools need is, first, a national standard of what proficiency in reading and math means; second, a curriculum that gets students to that level; and finally, tests tailored specifically to that curriculum," writes Nick Lemann in the latest issue of The Washington Monthly (What NCLB Left Behind). "That way teaching the class and "teaching to the test" are the same thing."



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.