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VIDEO: "Whatever We'd Like" Is For These Kids To Go Away

Those "Whatever You Like" kids are back with a post-election attempt at fame, and I am obliged by law to let you know:

Or just watch the original video: Kids Rapping About The Election also via Videogum.

RESEARCH SAYS: Summer School, The Song

Grease_soundtrackHere are the words to my latest single, Summer Learning:

Summer learning - had me a blast. 
Summer learning - happened so fast.
Met a school - open for me. 
Met a school - good as can be.
Summer days - used to be free.
But uh, oh, that summer school.

Summer school's getting lots of love from Malcolm Gladwell, among others.  Though the economy's not going to help most districts do the right thing.  Here's some of the research behind Gladwell's enthusiasm (PDF).  And yes, there is a National Center for Summer Learning (here).  I know this because they emailed and told me so.   

DUNCAN: Correcting The Record On Improvement, Excellence, & Cooperation

I really don't enjoy dumping on Duncan all the time, but there's just a lot of misinformation going on about him that needs correcting:

Bad_apple_small_2The claim is being made that CPS test scores have gone up every year, but left out is that the state has changed its test items, rigor, etc. several times along the way.  See recent stories: CPS "Requests" Changes To 2008 High School Composite Scores.

NAEP and the Broad Prize, the two closest things that education has to a Nobel Prize, both show that Duncan's CPS is not even among the best big-city school districts in the nation (Not Even A Bridesmaid).

The claim has been made that Duncan can work with teachers unions when in fact there is frighteningly little evidence of this.  The latest contract includes no real collaboration or innovation.  The incentive pay program Chicago has is a 20-school federal pilot that was agreed to in a controversial letter by CTU president Marilyn Stewart just after she was elected to office (see story here)

THOMPSON: "The Uncomfortable Topic"

156512516901_sx140_sclzzzzzzz_ Jay Mathews (not to mention this post) has started a discussion on the “uncomfortable topic” of whether teaching candidates should be rejected because they believe that “schools alone” can not reverse home effects. Mathews writes, “the issue can get very personal, which might explain why I rarely hear discussions of it. It is too easy to make one side think they are being called racists and the other side think they are being called bullies.”

Click below to read my latest thoughts on this issue, and what I call the thought police

Continue reading "THOMPSON: "The Uncomfortable Topic"" »

NCLB NEWS: "No Bobby Left Behind"

Kudos to blog contributor John Thompson for digging up this episode of King of the Hill, which -- perhaps a media first -- doesn't just reference NCLB once or twice.  It focuses on the law for an entire half-hour episode, and is amusing for both critics and advocates of the law:

In the episode, Bobby's principal is under pressure to make AYP and decides -- falsely, by the way -- that he can just reclassify Bobby and some other lower-scoring kids as special needs to avoid having to try and get them to pass the test.  For a while, this harebrained strategy seems to work and is enjoyed by all.  But then, alas, it turns out that reclassification won't fly. 

TRANSITION: Ease Our Minds With Adorable Kid Photo Op

17early_395_2A brightly lit room full of children and books. 

Three men in their shirtsleeves smiling and joking. 

Obama2121608 Did I say there were cute kids there? 

So cute! 

Screenhunter_11_dec_16_2358_2It's the perfect antidote to a poorly lit, dingy gymnasium event full of snoozy platitudes and awkward efforts to avoid saying anything during which an unknown and somewhat thinly-accomplished cabinet nominee is introduced.

Obama1121608 The live puppy feed may be over, and there may be a dire economic crisis without any clear end...

But we feel no pain when you give us photo ops like this one.

NEWS: Big [Non-Duncan] Stories Of The Day

Ny_nytObama’s $10 Billion Promise Stirs Hope in Early Education NYT
President-elect Barack Obama’s pledge for preschoolers would amount to the largest new initiative for young children since Head Start began in 1965.

Experts Debate 'Neovouchers' for Private Schools EdWeek
Tax-credit-supported scholarships are fast outpacing vouchers as a state policy tool for promoting private school choice.

New Schools Chief in Los Angeles AP
The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District has chosen Ramon Cortines, a veteran administrator, as its next superintendent.

EDSEC: Mainstream Duncan Reaction Stories

Obama's Pick for Education Chief Brings Reputation for Reform PBS
Analysts examine the challenges facing U.S. schools and how Duncan's efforts to turn around troubled Chicago schools will translate to the Cabinet post.

Screenhunter_11_dec_16_2358Education pick noted for 'hands-on' approach USA Today
"When you're working for a mayor named Daley, and the governor's mansion and Statehouse are all controlled by Democrats," [Russo] said, "you don't have to do that much negotiating with independent or autonomous stakeholders."

Education Nominee Appeals to Reformers, Unions Washington Post
In seven years as chief executive of the Chicago school system, Arne Duncan earned a reputation as a leader who pushed for strong measures to improve schools but also reached out to the teachers union and the community.

Chicago Schools Chief Is Obama Education Pick NPR
President-elect Barack Obama has named Arne Duncan of Chicago as his secretary of Education, drafting a fellow Chicagoan who has been associated with innovations in that city's troubled schools. Obama said Duncan was a "hands-on" practitioner of school reform.

EDSEC: Reform Lite, Meet Journalism Lite

Tnr_logo_960_bigger Everyone's in a big rush to say that Duncan was inevitable.  Tell that to the folks who were calling me last week wondering if it was going to be Linda Darling Hammond.  Everyone's saying that Duncan is a great unifier, even though Duncan worked in a one-party town with a powerful political patron and hardly ever had to compromise with anyone.  The "broader, bolder" types in Chicago wouldn't say he bridged many gaps with them. 

Tnr_logo_960_biggerAlong comes TNR.com's Seyward Darby, the latest entrant on the education beat, who's kind enough to reference some of my thoughts and good enough of a journalist to make some calls on her own -- but then seemingly bases her argument in support of Duncan entirely on quotes from allies and insiders.

Tnr_logo_960_biggerExamples include (a) Tim Cawley of AUSL, the teacher training turned turnaround shop that CPS has been relying on (and paying) for the last few years, and (b) an unnamed "education expert close to the transition" whom Darby seems to be quoting in recent posts.   Big mystery what these two had to say about their guy.

Tnr_logo_960_biggerI know this is online journalism on a fast-moving story, but how about finding a Duncan critic or opponent who says some moderate or nuanced things? That would be newsworthy.  How about avoiding blind quotes from sources whose interests are likely not focused informing readers?  That would be good, too. 

Tnr_logo_960_biggerIdentifying sources and letting readers decided whether to trust them or not isn't enough, I don't think. You've got to quote folks who aren't all from one side and aren't saying things that are obviously self-serving. 

CLASSROOMS: The Benefits Of Teasing

07teasing500Schools have banned teasing?  Really?

"Today teasing has been all but banished from the lives of many children," according to this recent New York Times article (In Defense of Teasing).  "Accused teasers are now made to utter their teases in front of the class, under the stern eye of teachers. Children are given detention for sarcastic comments on the playground. Schools are decreed “teasing free.”

"The reason teasing is viewed as inherently damaging is that it is too often confused with bullying. But bullying is something different; it’s aggression, pure and simple. Bullies steal, punch, kick, harass and humiliate...By contrast, teasing is a mode of play, no doubt with a sharp edge, in which we provoke to negotiate life’s ambiguities and conflicts. And it is essential to making us fully human...In rejecting teasing, we may be losing something vital and necessary to our identity as the most playful of species."

BULLYING: Forget Mean Girls; Watch Out For "The Oprichniki"


Link: Suit details torment at exclusive school MSNBC

TECHNOLOGY: The Rise Of The "Cell Phone Novel"

Screenhunter_06_dec_15_0139If you read it on a cell phone, is it still called reading -- and can the words be called literature?

Check out this New Yorker article about cell phone novels.

Yes, novels. 

They're incredibly popular in Japan and could be headed here anytime soon.

I ♥ Novels

May be subscription only ($).

CARTOONS: If School Buses Were Run Like Airlines

Screenhunter_02_dec_14_0155From last week's New Yorker:

"At this time, I'd like to welcome our gold - medallion passengers on board."

EDSEC: Where Will Arne Duncan Send His Daughter To School?

Narneduncan420x0 It's hard not to think of incoming president George Bush's 2000 pick of Houston superintendent Rod Paige right now.  Like Paige, Duncan comes from a big city with a success story that the national press failed to note was mostly a mirage. Like Paige, Duncan will soon find out that he will be a figurehead who answers to instructions from inside the DPC.  Like Paige, Duncan may find himself frustrated and outflanked by powerful stakeholders (Congress, Republicans, national  teachers unions) he hasn't really had to deal with before.

Looking back at Duncan's record, the specific moments that concern me the most include (a) last year year when Duncan went along with a cynical and failed Mayoral effort to link citywide gang violence with the school system -- even though little of the violence was taking place in school, (b) Duncan's stubborn resistance against NCLB transfers, tutoring, and accountability requirements that he will now be enforcing, (c) Duncan's insistence on closing buildings down for a year to turn them around, and (d) his failure to revamp the teachers contract, which gives annual raises but still calls for an extremely short day and short year.

Perhaps most important, Duncan failed to convince more white and middle class parents to send their kids to public schools, and failed to convince legislators to revamp the state funding system even during boon times and with Democratic control of the legislature and the Governor's mansion.  Duncan wasn't just a caretaker of the school system, but he certainly wasn't really all that bold or inspiring.  A mayoral appointee in a one-party town, there's not that much in Duncan's record to suggest he has been able to wrestle diverse factions into concerted action.  [
Note that the local teachers union is having a press event at 12:30 local time -- no word from them yet about what stance they're going to take.]

That being said, Duncan is a hard-working, good guy, nonconfrontational and non-ideological by and large.  I'm glad the selection process is over -- it had gone on too long.  Duncan doesn't make people crazy.  He's avoided stepping into unnecessary side debates, by and large.  And he's an underdog -- always being underestimated and usually exceeding expecations. 

Now we can start debating whether Duncan, who currently sends his daughter to public school, will transfer her to a DCPS school or to a private like Sidwell.

First Reactions to Duncan's Pick as Ed. Sec.
Education Week
Arne Duncan
Matt Yglesias
Arne Duncan For Ed Sec
National Journal

Continue reading "EDSEC: Where Will Arne Duncan Send His Daughter To School?" »

Keep the Faith

I'm pleased with the pick of Arne Duncan for Ed Secretary.  ButChange  I never understood all that panic over Obama’s educational soul. The Center for American Progress, led by Obama adviser John Podesta, issued a report on the maldistribution of teaching quality by Raegan Miller and Robin Chait, and it was excellent. "When it comes to teacher quality ... high poverty schools can not get a break" because of: tenure, due process, poor human resource department practices, poor evaluation processes, overburdened principals, teacher burnout due to harsh conditions, and individual preferences. Solutions are difficult because impoverished urban areas produce few college graduates, shrinking the talent pool for tough schools; a lack of knowledge about measuring teacher effectiveness and how policies interact; and the "revolving door" atmosphere of struggling schools.

We must address the "dance of the lemons," or the reshuffling of an estimated 5 to 15% of tenured teachers who are incompetent. But even in non-union states, little progress has been made in creating a more efficient system. Since 69% of teachers and the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers agree that we must clean up the profession, a CAP/AFT alliance should be a no-brainer.

Besides, common sense seems to be breaking out all over, as is evidenced by Robert Manwaring’s excellent post. He cited research showing that Value-Added Models "to predict individual teacher performance are in their infancy." VAM "is not much better than random" in predicting post-tenure performance. The VAM’s are not stable enough for compensation decisions, meaning that they are not nearly ready for the more subtle task of ending a teacher’s career. By just changing from one test to another, 5% of teachers are shifted from the bottom to the top in teacher effectiveness!

The answers, of course, require more research and more conversation, as well as abandoning simplistic ideologies. Hey! Isn’t that the Obama way? - John Thompson

EDSEC: Who Is Arne Duncan, Anyway?

There really isn't that much out there about Duncan and the Chicago public schools that's insightful or in-depth, but here are some good starting places:

Ph2008121503432Arne Duncan Wikipedia
Arne Duncan (born November 6, 1964) is an American education administrator who is the current Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools.

Duncan puts new emphasis on ‘business of education’ Catalyst Chicago
After two years of being relatively laid-back, the courteous Schools CEO Arne Duncan is raising his profile and reshaping central office with unexpected new hires.

Chicago's mixed record on school reform Christian Science Monitor
Some parents and local groups have criticized Chicago's approach, particularly the havoc it can wreak in the lives of children pushed from one school to another. But others note that the city has made impressive gains, especially in its elementary schools, since it created a strong accountability system in the mid-1990s.

Retaining Retention Education Next (I wrote this one)
How Chicago changed, but ultimately saved, its controversial program to end social promotions   
CPS corners tutoring market but runs risk of losing it all Catalyst Chicago (this one, too)
Last year’s effort to provide the tutoring required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was a rocky learning experience.

Duncan's track record Catalyst [new!]
Seven years of reform experiments—some show promise, few taken to scale, modest gains in performance.

Reaction in Chicago (at least among an0nymous blog commenters)? Here.

MEDIA: National Press, Education Groups Go Ga Ga For Duncan

Screenhunter_08_dec_15_0150 Amazing but not surprising to see most everyone -- including the national press -- lining up behind the Duncan pick.  He's a nice guy!  Everyone can "work with" him!  He can hoop with the Prez-elect!

But it makes me a little suspicious -- and you should be, too. 

Most of the folks who are gushing about him don't really know him (or Chicago) that well, or hope to work for him in the near future, or are approving of him because they think that they can beat him in DC.  Many of the folks writing stories last night were starting nearly from scratch.

Hopefully the day two stories will dig a little deeper into Duncan's retro union contract (short day, short year, etc.), the district's excruciatingly slow progress on increasing achievement (see NAEP), the school closing fiasco (and I like school closings), and the closed and capped "charter" system Chicago still has.

NEWS: Big [Duncan Love-Fest] Stories Of The Day

Duncan_540Education Secretary To Be Named Tuesday NPR
Reform advocates wanted a big-city school superintendent who, like Duncan, has sought accountability for schools and teachers. And teachers' unions, an influential segment of the party base, wanted an advocate for their members; they have said they believe Duncan is willing to work with them.

Next Education Secretary Set to Bridge Teachers Unions, Civil Rights Groups Wash Post
There has been some resistance, for instance, to the city's move to shutter some of its lowest-performing schools and reopen them with new staffs. But he also has a reputation as an approachable, even humble, leader. In October, he choked up as he turned down an award given to him by an anti-gun group, saying too many Chicago students had been killed and he had "not earned it."

Schools Chief From Chicago Is Obama’s Choice for Education NYT
“Obama found the sweet spot with Arne Duncan,” said Susan Traiman, director of educational policy at the Business Roundtable. “Both camps will be O.K. with the pick!”

Obama to name Duncan education sec. Chicago Tribune
"He has the brains, courage, creativity and temperament for the job," said former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas, who hired Duncan as his deputy chief of staff in 1998. "And he's very close to the president[-elect], which is an important thing, too."

Obama to tap Chicago schools chief for Education post USA Today
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the House Education Committee, called Duncan "an experienced and accomplished leader."

Duncan has big job ahead Sun Times
Duncan stumbled while launching the program, dubbed Renaissance 2010. As he closed failing schools, students were dispersed temporarily to other schools for a year or more, stigmatizing many of those kids and leading to a spike in violence at some receiving high schools. Parents, advocates and kids rightly complained and, ultimately, Duncan took heed.

TRANSITION: Duncan Pro And Con

Here is a running list of some of the main strengths and weakness of Arne Duncan from his seven years as head of the Chicago public schools:

20duncan190_2Strengths: ▪ Lasted seven years -- a lot longer than many predicted. ▪ State test scores have increased every year Duncan has been in office, according to the board of education. ▪ Duncan has by all accounts improved tremendously as a public speaker. ▪ Sends his daughter to a local public school. ▪ Strong supporter of community schools. ▪ Early critic of NCLB testing, tutoring, and transfer requirements ▪ Chicago participates in Roland Fryer "learn to earn" program. ▪ Tall, skinny, and with a funny name -- just like his soon-to-be-boss! ▪ Has more gray in his hair than it seems from this AP pic.

Weaknesses: ▪ Chicago has never been a finalist for the Broad education prize for urban school reform. ▪ Chicago ’s NAEP scores lag many other big city districts, according to TUDA. ▪ Failed to win substantial concessions from the Chicago Teachers Union in the last contract. ▪  Failed to expand the highly restrictive charter school cap for Chicago (30) . ▪  Renaissance 2010 disrupted the education of thousands of students in the early years esp. ▪  Duncan ’s reform efforts have failed to attract (or retain) white and middle-class families. ▪ Criticized by Blagojevich for only having offered free school bus rides in exchange for the Senate seat.

TRANSITION: EdWeek, Times Call It For Duncan

0604class_mainSource: Arne Duncan Is Obama's Pick for Education Secretary EdWeek
We've heard from one source that Arne Duncan, the CEO of Chicago's public schools, will be announced on Tuesday as President-elect Barack Obama's pick for secretary of education.

Obama Picks Arne Duncan for Education Post NY Times
Mr. Obama’s transition team said Monday that he would make an important announcement on Tuesday morning at the Dodge Renaissance Academy, an elementary school that Mr. Duncan and Mr. Obama visited together in October 2005.

TECH: Teens Get In Trouble For "Sexting"

1895 This year in Wisconsin, a 17-year-old was charged with possessing child pornography after he posted naked pictures of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend online.

In Alabama, authorities arrested four middle-school students for exchanging nude photos of themselves.

In Rochester, N.Y., a 16-year-old boy is now facing up to seven years in prison for forwarding a nude photo of a 15-year-old girlfriend to his friends.

Link: ABC News: 'Sexting' Teens Can Go Too Far.

TRANSITION: Who (Or What) Fouled Up The EdSec Selection?

340x In a transition that has over all gone relatively smoothly, the still-incomplete process of picking an Education Secretary -- usually considered one of the least important and most easily-filled Cabinet posts -- has turned a prolonged, openly antagonistic debacle.

What’s happened?

Part of it is circumstantial. 

Another part is generational.

But there are other, more concrete factors at play here.

Continue reading "TRANSITION: Who (Or What) Fouled Up The EdSec Selection?" »

In Union There is Strength

Bradjupp A-Russ via Whitney Tilson reminds us of the brilliance of Katherine Boo by linking to her portrait of Michael Bennet. (It’s is almost as good as her portrait of my "postage stamp of earth" in Oklahoma City which can be found in the link in this post.) Boo also reminds us of "the brilliant" aide, Brad Jupp, and that prompted me to dig up Jupp’s eight considerations regarding unions. When embarking on reforms like the Denver Pay for Performance Plan, we must remember:

  1. The union won’t sell it, although it will be thoughtful and provocative in analyzing it.
  2. The union can help explore tough topics. It is not easy, but it will help people think together.
  3. Union leaders are qualified leaders, not enemies.
  4. The union is in touch with its members "worst fears, and best hopes."
  5. It is the union that will guarantee the completion of the project. Denver has had five superintendents since performance based evaluation was begun, and most were lukewarm about completing the project.
  6. Unions engage in ongoing communication with their members, thus providing feedback.
  7. Unions ensure high-quality evaluation. They do not do so because they are evaluators, but because they know that they are not and, thus, welcome third party input.
  8. Some may not like what they hear, but unions are the experts on wages, benefits, and work conditions.

- John Thompson

SPELLINGS: Secretary Celebrates Birthday In Las Vegas "CatHouse"

Cathouse The establishment is owned in part by the brother of Spelling's Press Secretary, Samara Yudof (Hospitable treatment).

Thanks to Texas education blogger Kimberly Reeves for digging this one up.

HELP COMMITTEE: Martin, Rohrbach Both Gone

Longtime Kennedy education staffer Carmel Martin is leaving the HELP Committee to join the Gates Foudation, according to Jim Kohlmoos and the Knowledge Alliance.  The Alliance also says that Missy Rohrbach is also leaving the Chairman’s staff "to spend time with her beautiful new babies." That leaves Roberto Rodriguez as leader of the education team as his Chief Education Counsel. 

Congrats, condolences to all.  Jobseekers be sure to send your resumes to Roberto.  Not everyone is going to get to work in the Administration.  Any other changes on the education committees or key education staff, let us know.

TRANSITION: To And Fro On The EdSec Choice

Here's a sampling of just some of the latest news and commentary surrounding the EdSec pick:

Vallas says he is not in running Times Picayune
While the Obama transition has been widely praised as the smoothest in memory, the choice of an education team seems to be the exception -- in part because it requires Obama to make choices he has largely been able to finesse until now.

Uncertainty on Obama Education Plans NY Times
“People are saying things now that they may regret saying in a couple of months,” said Jack Jennings, a Democrat who is president and chief executive of the Center on Education Policy in Washington.

Screenhunter_01_dec_13_2026_2Bennet, Duncan Undergo Background Checks EdWeek
Word from sources in Denver is that FBI agents are in town are starting to vet the Denver Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, and that Bennet traveled to Washington this week.

Lobbying for Darling-Hammond Politico (Ben Smith's Blog)
I'm also told Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, has called top transition aides John Podesta and Jim Messina to weigh in on Darling Hammond's behalf.

Education and the Unions NYT (Weingarten letter)
The three very different candidates David Brooks names as possible choices for secretary of education share a common denominator — they all have worked with teacher unions, to great effect.

Obama's choice on education LA Times editorial
After years of public battering, schools need a leader who is less an ideologue than a pragmatist, who puts children ahead of both union and political priorities.

Attacks on Darling-Hammond Don't Fit Obama's Post-Partisanship HuffPo
Much of the substance of their agenda similarly misapprehends the Obama style and vision.

Beware School 'Reformers' The Nation (Alfie Kohn)
Duncan and Klein...are celebrated by politicians and pundits. Darling-Hammond, meanwhile, tends to be the choice of people who understand how children learn.

Expectations New Yorker (click below to read full text)
Bennet considered the instruments of standardized testing primitive, and their results incomplete. Besides, a single year's increase could be a fluke-or the fruit of a predecessor's efforts. Still, if a person held the numbers up toa certain light, after a celebratory bourbon, he might see in them the power of plain and unrelenting expectation.

Continue reading "TRANSITION: To And Fro On The EdSec Choice" »

MEDIA: Whitmire Leaving USA Today

Longtime education reporter and editorial writer Richard Whitmire says he's leaving the paper at the end of this month -- but hopes to keep writing about education issues on his blog and in other venues:  Departing the MSM. Whitmire is the latest in a slew of veteran education journos (Lynn Olson, Dale Mezzecappa, Bob Frahm) who've moved on to greener pastures in recent months.  Congrats, condolences. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Dc_wpHow to Go Forward With 'No Child Left Behind' Washington Post
President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to "fix the failures" of the No Child Left Behind law, which rates schools based on student performance on annual math and reading tests.

Without accreditation, Clayton schools ineligible for federal funds Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Clayton County schools will not get any federal money to offset the $23 million in shortfall it will see because of the system's accreditation loss....

Conflicts Mark Charter Oversight Washington Post
Key members of the public bodies that regulate and fund D.C. charter schools, including Thomas A. Nida, D.C. charter school board chairman, have taken part in official decisions that stood to benefit themselves, their colleagues, employers and companies with whom they have business ties.  PLUS:  Charter Schools Make Gains On Tests

Laptop Deal Links Rural Peru To Opportunity, Risk NPR
Peru is buying inexpensive computers for poor, rural schoolchildren, connecting them to new skills and information. Skeptics call the laptops a luxury when those kids don't have basics such as health care. They also say newfound skills could lead students to city jobs, spurring the brain drain in isolated villages.

Marin City school will not be renamed after Obama EdWeek
Sausalito Marin City School District officials nixed the idea of renaming the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy Thursday after dozens of community members voiced opposition to the idea at a meeting.

"The Dumb Tax"

Brainscans The best thing I heard this week was on NPR, when a traffic engineer praised the pioneering work of his fellow urban planners for "paying the dumb tax" for the rest of the profession. It’s a shame that accountability hawks haven’t embraced the concept, admitting that NCLB produced plenty of boneheaded mistakes, while acknowledging that nobody yet knows how much value can come in the foreseeable future from test-driven accountability. As we tackle the challenge of turning around high poverty neighborhood schools, why should anyone try to pretend that we know the answers?

The dumbest thing I heard this week came from Jonathan Alter who wrote, "We know what works for at-risk kids.  The challenge is trying to replicate it."

But it’s Christmas and it’s time to be charitable. And is there an actual teacher who is not now a babbling idiot?

Brain scans of poor and affluent school children were published this week, and even in my end-of-semester fog I know better than to pay the dumb and dumbest penalty for commenting on that issue. But we should take PET scans of students and teachers when they were seemingly normal persons in August and then take scans at the end of the semester. Would we even look like the same organisms who entered our classrooms four month ago? To paraphrase the aphorism about the Sixties, if you are a teacher at this time of year, and you think you remember the time when you were a rational human being in a classroom, then you weren’t really there. - John Thompson

LDH: The Blogs Respond To LDH's Editorial

A week ago, the Post and David Brooks had their say about LDH.  Today, LDH herself has something to say -- and everyone wants to talk about it.  Here's a sampling:

Linda Darling-Hammond strikes back By Mike Petrilli
Of the names that have been offered, Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond is the best qualified for such a leadership position. She has three decades of experience working to improve the quality of teaching, ...
Who are the real reformers? Darling-Hammond responds. By preaprez
In a letter to the NY Times today, Linda Darling-Hammond responds to the Times’ house op-ed conservative, David Brooks. In an earlier column, Brooks claimed the title of reformer belonged to those who want more testing, charters, ...
McLeod, Kohn, and the next Ed. Secretary By Ian(Ian)
Linda Darling-Hammond as his choice. Dr. Darling-Hammond is a professor at Stanford and has penned such great quotes as this one from the top of the article. If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, ...
Dailies Demonize Progressive Education By Gabriel Voiles
Depressingly predictable is the "eerily similar language" in these pieces urging rejection of Stanford educator Linda Darling-Hammond for fear she is "allied with the teachers' unions" and an opponent of "reform"--defined as "a heavy ...
LDH responds to Brooks By Mike Klonsky(Mike Klonsky)
Linda Darling-Hammond takes the gloves off in a letter in Today's Times. I guess David Brooks' pronouncements on who's a reformer and who ain't, finally crossed the line. She also calls on us all to move "beyond the polarizing debates
Who will be Obama's education pick? By Conor Ryan(Conor Ryan)
Alternatively, he could pick his education adviser, Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, and set back the cause of reform by decades. Obama cannily played both sides of the debate in the election. Soon he will have to decide. ... 

It seems a shame that LDH herself had to weigh in on her own behalf and that none of the mainstream media outlets have independently checked out her qualifications, demeanor, accomplishments, etc. 

BLOGS: Around The Blogs


Eich Bin ein Reformer TCKB
Tired of being a pinata, Linda Darling Hammond takes to the New York Times this morning to defend herself from David Brooks’ charge that she is “anti-reform.”

Few Blacks and Minorities In Obama Administration (Thus Far)AA Punidt
Education: Joel Klein (NYC), Linda Darling-Hammond, Kathleen Sebelius (asked that her name be removed from consideration from any post), Colin Powell, Jim Hunt, Arne Duncan, Inez Tenenbaum, Michael Bennett, George Miller, ...

Duncan's Data TQATE
Do these data cement Duncan's candidacy or disqualify it? Neither, really, but probably more the former than the latter.

Charter hopes Joanne Jacobs
I helped write the chapter on special education in charter schools, which is why I was in D.C. earlier this week.

Klein or Duncan = Obama’s Brownie moment? SFTB
Palast argues that either of the two would result in a “Way-to-go-Brownie” moment for Obama. 

TRANSITION: Duncan Gets Spellings Endorsement

On Thursday, outgoing EdSec Margaret Spellings appeared at at Chicago school and gave  Chicago  superintendent Arne Duncan praise for his work.

Meanwhile, this 2006 picture of Blago and Duncan surfaced -- not much but it's the only one I can find so far:

Photo: George N. Schmidt for Substance newspaper. www.substancenews.net.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

L.A. School Superintendent Steps Down US News
The move causes more tumult for a district that's likely to face $200 million to $400 million in cuts.

Attendence letters anger Phila. teachers Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's attempt to highlight high numbers of teacher absences at some schools backfired when letters of caution also mistakenly went to educators who were out for serious illnesses and those who missed as little as a day.

Parent blasts New Orleans charter school's expulsion process Times Picayune
For more than a month, Robert Starks, a 16-year-old already far behind in school, has sat at home in limbo -- waiting to find out if he is expelled from the New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy and where he should go to school now.

In tough times more students feed on free lunches AP
There is such a thing as a free lunch. And school districts across the country report that kids are eating many more of them as the flailing economy hits families hard....

Study: Poverty dramatically affects children's brainsUSA Today
A new study finds that certain brain functions of some low-income 9- and 10-year-olds pale in comparison with those of wealthy.

COLBERT: Harlem Children's Zone Founder On Colbert

As predicted, Geoff Canada was on the Colbert Report earlier this week, talking about the Harlem Children's Zone:

Canada Does Colbert Paul Tough

Who's next?  Randi Weingarten would be fun.  Or Arne Duncan. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Name by name, Obama's Cabinet taking shape AP
Paul Vallas, superintendent of Recovery School District in New Orleans. Linda Darling-Hammond, education professor at Stanford University.

Kennedy's wish list won't be left behind Politico, DC 
is well-situated to see his wish list for No Child Left Behind largely influence next year’s reauthorization. Aides say the chairman of the Senate Health, ...

State Payments to Kansas Schools 25 Percent Short in December
Public schools will get all $220 million they're due from the state this month, although about one-fourth of it will be a few days late because the economic crisis has slowed tax collections.

'New Leaders' Group to License Principals in N.C. EdWeek
The arrangement with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district marks an expansion for the nonprofit training organization.

Suit details torment at exclusive school MSNBC
The bullying came at school dances and in class, on Facebook and at the dorm by girls who called themselves "Oprichniki," a Russian squad notorious for torturing suspected enemies of a 16th-century czar.

BLOGS: New Names For The New Year

In case you hadn't noticed, many education blog names sound more like the goofy names of college singing groups than what they really are all about or have become.   Herewith -- feel free to jump in -- are some new ideas for the names of blogs you may read:

The Education Wonks:  The Carnival Of Education
Intercepts:  If Al Shanker Had A Blog
Dallas ISD Blog:  Kent Does Dallas
The Quick & The Ed:  Today's Lecture From Professor Carey
Campaign K12:  David Hoff's Other Blog
Small Talk:  Klonsky Knows All
Flypaper:  Now Featuring The Jonas Brothers
GothamSchools:  Gossip Girls (hat tip to Eduwonkette)
This Week In Education:  This Weak Education Blog
Core Knowledge Blog: ___________________
Eduwonkette:   The Thrill Is Gone
Eduwonk:  Andywonk (old, I know, but good)

Got better? Now's the time.

BLOGS: Around The Blogs

Michael Bennet, the Arne Duncan alternative? Gadfly
We still think Arne Duncan is the likely pick for education secretary, but what if, for whatever reason (say, the stench of scandal emanating from the Windy City), Team Obama decides to go in another direction?

Blago was always sleazy on education Small Talk
Back in 2006, I blogged about Blago's funneling of state funds to politically-favored programs, like the dollar-bloated after-school program/political patronage bucket run by Maggie Daley.

Illinois Teachers' Union Says Governor Should Resign EdWeek
The Illinois Education Association is calling for Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich to resign after the governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on corruption and bribery charges.
[Obama agrees.]

SES, Learning, and the Plastic Brain Charlie B
Until fairly recently, most education researchers’ exposure to brain research was at conferences where brightly colored pictures were presented, experts talked about "hard-wiring," and audiences "oohed" and "ahed."



The kids 'round there live like shadows, Always quiet, holding hands. From the churches to the jails, All is silence in the world;

As we take our stand, Down in Jungleland.

The midnight gangs assembled at their rendezvous for the night ... 'neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light,

There’s an opera on the Turnpike, There's a ballet being fought out in the alley; Until the local cops, Cherry-Tops, rips this holy night. - Bruce Springsteen

My first year of teaching at an alternative school for felons, I was drinking a beer and decompressing after school when I realized how badly I was hurting. I had just been playing three-on-three basketball; but all my opponents had been abused as children. Every time I had touched the ball, the fouls had been doubly hard. My students were testing whether I would stick it out, and also whether I was "for real." Would I do what other adults had done and strike back in anger?

Teaching new freshmen, I could often tell who would be a discipline problem by watching the other students. The kids’ eyes were on their friends who would inevitably challenge me. They would all be testing whether I could manage the class, but they were also watching something else. Would I be fair? Students want teachers to take control, but not in an abusive manner.

Continue reading "Tested" »

Illinois Governor Seeks Payment For Spots At Local Elementary School

Pictured:  Illinois Governor Blagojevich seen in an undated picture asking elementary school students how much they (or their families) can pay to keep their spots at the extremely popular Nettlehorst Elementary School in Chicago. 

“I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden," Blagojevich was overheard telling the children about their spots in the next grade.  "I’m just not giving it up for bleeping noth­ing."

TRANSITION: How The EdSec Nomination Went Wrong

Still no news on the EdSEc nomination, though some say it could come later this week or early next week. 

How did this process get so messy and prolonged?  Most of the other Obama selections haven't gotten stuck or ugly like this, at least not in public.  School reform isn't any more controversial or internally conflicted than, say, health care reform.  And it's entirely possible that the internal deliberations within the transition have been much calmer and more cooperative than the screaming and tearing of hair that has taken place on the outside among advocates who want or don't want Klein, Rhee, LDH, etc. 

So what happened?  Internal conflicts among education advocates were poised to erupt after so many years of frustration with the accountability approach to education.  After the election, the Obama team stopped sending reassuring signals to education advocates, creating a vacuum.  Putting the education appointment towards the end of the process created too much time.  And there was no strong moderate choice that could have been a stabilizing force from the start. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Scores on Science Test Causing Concern in U.S. Washington Post
Students are doing no better on an international science exam than they were in the mid-1990s, a performance plateau that leaves educators and policymakers worried about how schools are preparing students to compete in an increasingly global economy.

Governors Make Pitch to Obama for Stimulus Money EdWeek
In a meeting with the president-elect, governors made the case that education and health care are in danger of significant cuts.

Union Weighs Merit Pay For Teachers NPR
With heightened pressure to turn around poorly performing public schools, politicians are pushing for merit-based pay for teachers. Randi Weingarten, of the American Federation of Teachers, discusses her union's efforts to reform schools and why merit pay, previously considered off-limits, is now on the table.

After 13 years, still no outdoor recess at Rush elementary school Democrat and Chronicle
In 1995, a hunter's stray shotgun slug crashed through a classroom window in Rush and sprayed glass onto the 40 first- and second- graders inside. No one was seriously hurt, but 13 years later, Leary Elementary School still does not allow students outdoors for recess during hunting season.

Pa. teen charged in foiled school attack plot AP
A 15-year-old boy stole his father's guns to use in a suicidal attack against enemies at his suburban Philadelphia high school but was thwarted when a friend threw the weapons in a river, authorities said....

TEACHING: I Predict Malcolm Gladwell's Article Won't Change Much

081215_r18037_p233UPDATE:  Pondiscio and TQATE weigh in at bottom

"After years of worrying about issues like school funding levels, class size, and curriculum design, many reformers have come to the conclusion that nothing matters more than finding people with the potential to be great teachers. But there’s a hitch: no one knows what a person with the potential to be a great teacher looks like."

Most Likely to Succeed New Yorker

In his latest article, Malcolm Gladwell examines the way that schools -- and pro football scouts -- try and predict which candidates are going to be great at their jobs. Most agree that current methods -- degrees and certification -- aren't very good. 

But those who think that such a thing is easily done well will be disappointed to find that newer screening methods -- detailed examinations of practice teaching, withitness -- only really work after a the job has started. 

More important, Gladwell has no real way of getting us out of the current system of certification and tenure. At this point, solutions that don't stand much chance of being implemented leave me cold.    Could someone please explain how changes to the current certification and tenure system are going to happen "at scale"?

Too much football, notes TCKB:  Teachers and Quarterbacks.

More football at TQATE:  Link: The Quick and the Ed.

REFORM: Beware Over-Exhuberance About Success Stories

"KIPP works. Achievement First works. Cristo Rey works...But replicating these schools 1,000 or 10,000-fold is more than just a challenge," it says in a Flypaper post from yesterday (Hubris Alert!). "It might be impossible."

GLADWELL: Benton Beats Gladwell (Sort Of)

Screenhunter_04_dec_04_003 Former Dallas Morning News educator reporter and columnist Joshua Benton recently wrote on Facebook that he had beat Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell to the punch on a couple of key education-related points: 

"Two of Malcolm Gladwell's big anecdotes in his new book [summer school and birthday cutoffs] were covered first in my newspaper column!"

Indeed, Benton wrote about these things before Gladwell.  But he's not alone. 

Pretty much everything Gladwell writes about has been researched and written by others, as this New York Magazine article (and others) note.

What sets Gladwell apart is the way he writes about these things so compellingly. 


PAY: How Soon Until Superintendents Start Forgoing Pay, Too?

Business executives started the trend of forgoing some of their pay.  Then university administrators joined in, according to this article (More School Presidents Forgo Some Pay).  How soon until some of the highly-paid district superintendents start offering to return some of their pay and bonuses?  No one's sure.  One of the most obvious candidates -- LA's embattled David Brewer -- not only wants to keep his $300K salary but he wants the board to buy him out if they terminate his contract early. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

MusicianCorps May Strike Right Tone For Obama NPR
Modeled after AmeriCorps, a new program that has grabbed the attention of the Obama transition team would recruit musicians to spend a year or two working as music teachers in exchange for health care and a living stipend.

4c147019cb5f95190334b6c75f0fe9b8865Winners of Prestigious Student Science Awards Are Named NYT
Among the winners of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology was Wen Chyan, a 17-year-old high school senior who received a $100,000 scholarship.

For Teen Math Whiz, Aptitude Has Ups And Downs NPR
Raphael-Joel Lim of Indianapolis was a finalist for the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, the most coveted science prize awarded to American high school students. His research project has been widely praised for its originality and depth. But being a 17-year-old genius can be a blessing and a burden.

High school students watch autopsy MSNBC
A medical examiner's office in Michigan has canceled public school tours after a high school group watched the autopsy of a 14-year-old girl from their district.

Lawmaker rips office of education Salt Lake Tribune
Tension between state education leaders and lawmakers over the years has been no secret. Saturday morning, however, it noisily burst into public earshot with a two-hour radio show hosted by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, titled, "Stupid in Utah: How the Utah State Office of Education hurts kids and teachers."

BARONE: Jazz At The White House

It's going to take more than jazz at the White House and chiding parents to improve American education, notes Charlie Barone at his Swift & Changeable blog (Obama on Meet the Press).  But the stimulus package might help.

MEDIA: What Education Journalists Should Be Doing

This could be a high point for education journalists – especially those in DC, Chicago, and the Bay Area.  And yet there's a striking lack of any real education reporting ab0ut the current EdSec mystery going on in the papers and other outlets right now. 

2007_06_askchicagoAs far as we the public can tell, no one’s really scrutinizing the various claims made against Linda Darling Hammond, or her record on charters and accountability.  How is she to work with?  What has she done or not done outside of criticizing TFA?  Even more troubling is that there’s been no in-depth examination of what Arne Duncan has and hasn’t accomplished with Chicago’s school system. Are test scores up?  What kinds of innovation has come out of Chicago. 

Do your jobs, reporters and editors.  Bug someone who was on the working committee into talking to you, or report that they won’t. Track down Wendy Kopp and ask her straight out what she thinks about Darling-Hammond or Duncan (or Rhee, for that matter).  Look up campaign donation records and tell us what you find. FOIA some shit.  Sending out a few emails and rehashing tired claims or old speeches just doesn’t cut it. 

MEDIA: Arizona Daily Star Digs Into SoPromo Story

Day1bg Surfing around the new Online News Association site I came across an impressive multimedia story from the Arizona Daily Star that I'm pretty sure I missed when it first came out in May:  Schools promote students despite widespread failure.

There are lots of documents and pictures, some which you can access here:

» 1 in 3 flunked core courses, but 90% advanced

» English learners a small part of overall failures

» Districts dispute, slow to address failure findings

Let me know if there are other outstanding efforts that I miss along the way. 

TRANSITION: Obama Staff Vs. The Reformy Crowd

There doesn't seem to be any new news about the EdSec nomination, so here's my  current (and entirely unverified) hypothesis about what might be going on behind the scenes: 

Freaked out that the two top DPC education jobs went to campaign staff (and the top transition job went to Darling-Hammond), the reformy crowd started worrying about getting frozen out of the transition and nomination processes – and might lose the policy battle along the way.  Maybe it was they, not the teachers union, who’d been snookered by candidate Obama’s carefully chosen and ambiguous words about schools for the past two years. 

Unable to wedge themselves into the decision process (or unsure of their influence), they decided to try and exert some public pressure on the transition with the string of stories that they got published by the Washington Post editorial page, David Brooks, and The New Republic.  Why go public if you think you're going to get your way in the end? 

So now, the Obama folks know that some small but loud part of their supporters will be pissed off publicly if LDH gets a top job.  But they also probably don't like being pressured this way.  They’ve avoided any public wrangling over most of their nominations and appointments up to this point.  You haven't seen other advocacy groups out there working the press like this on other appointments.

So how is LDH still hanging around, assuming this last round of attacks didn't already doom her chances?  My theory is that she may be the favorite of some or all of the campaign staff who started working with her in 2007 when the campaign's education policies were just taking shape.  Some rumors have it that LDH was hard to work with and gave the campaign fits, but it's just as easy to imagine that she developed strong working relationships with campaign staff early on, back when the DFER crowd was still hanging back or supporting another candidate.

Last but not least, it's worth noting that campaign (now transition) staff can't be all that happy about the DFER crowd, given that their infamous and condescending memo didn't recommend them for the DPC jobs that the ended up getting anyway.

Or maybe this is entertaining but all wrong. 



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.