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The Litmus Test

Libertygaggedsilenced Jay Mathews started a rare and refreshing discussion of the litmus test being imposed by advocates of the "Expectations" school of "reform." In order to root out "low expectations," a prospective teacher explained, she was asked how she would feel about being instructed to teach the curriculum of a low poverty school in a high poverty setting. This inspired an excellent discussion and I intend to explore Mathew's nuanced approach in a subsequent post. But the most revealing response to that question was:

"Um, you would take it [the advanced curriculum] and teach with it. You would do your job. (Maybe you would be stunned that your poor, crappy school is getting the same thing as the posh school across town.)

This seems like someone asking me "What would you do if you found out that your non-profit office gets the same copy paper as the lawyers on the 8th floor?" Well, duh. It's copy paper. Everybody gets it in a big, bulk delivery from Staples once a week.

I'm not a teacher or a school administrator, so maybe there's something I"m missing here." - John Thompson

Basketball Buddies

Playgroundbball_2 Teaching students who are years behind their grade level requires the same skills that allow a 55 year old to run the court with teenagers. I need to "read" my kids, identifying gaps in their knowledge and skills, and anticipating where their weaknesses will lead. On the basketball court, I read the kids’ minds and get my lumbering body into position before my opponent starts his move. Its hard to say which mind game - the classroom or the playground - is more satisfying. Not having kids of my own, I have cherished the opportunity to bang on the boards, take charges, hit the open man, and use guile to play tenacious "D" with my young friends.

More than anything else, my students desire a father to play ball with. I can be the next best thing. Lately, I have been recalling the bond that is built setting hard picks for those hyper-energetic guards with a three point shot. It’s a symbiotic relationship where I slow down the game and help the scorer "play within himself." My teammate gets open shots, and when we win I get to stay on the court for the next games. There is a communication between b-ball buddies that is wonderful. It's hard to top the "high fives," the chest bumps, and the intense teacher/father and student/son conversations that grow out of pickup basketball.

Its hard to see a former buddy, who was such a wonderful and joyous rebounder, crippled by gunshots. Its hard to think of my several teammates who have put guns to the heads of others and pulled the trigger. This week, its hard to remember an uncontrollable little guard who is our latest victim in the latest gang war. - John Thompson

TRANSITION: What Obama Owes Inez Tenenbaum

"If Obama owes anybody, he owes Inez," writes Howard Fineman in Newsweek (The Politics of Obama's Education Pick).  "And she is worth owing, since her record as state superintendent of education is exemplary...So she would, not unreasonably, like Obama to nominate her to be U.S. secretary of education. I could be wrong, but I'll be surprised if she gets it."

FRITZWIRE: Hearings, Jobs, Announcements

Comic_book_scan Check out the FritzWire -- hearings, jobs, announcements, and more. 

Continue reading "FRITZWIRE: Hearings, Jobs, Announcements" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Kennedy steps down from Judiciary panel AP
Kennedy, who is fighting a malignant brain tumor, chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and was a strong Obama backer during the 2008 ...

Scarsdale Adjusts to Life Without Advanced Placement Courses NYT
Most praise the decision to make A.P. exams optional for replacing mountains of memorization with more creative curriculums, but more objective measurements have been mixed.

Up Close, Rhee's Image Less Clear Washington Post
Rhee has actually taken pains to praise District teachers in her numerous national interviews. "I met a lot of educators who I think are absolutely heroic who are currently teaching in D.C. public schools," she told PBSs's Charlie Rose this summer, for example.

Hempstead School Renamed for Obama NYT
Efforts of students and teachers prevailed and a Long Island school was named after the president-elect, apparently the first such school.

Teacher binds girls in slavery history lesson AP
A white social studies teacher attempted to enliven a seventh-grade discussion of slavery by binding the hands and feet of two black girls, prompting outrage from one girl's mother and the NAACP.

PBS: The Return Of "The Electric Company"

Check it out -- the return of "The Electric Company":

"PBS Kids has posted preview clips of the new version of Sesame Street's funkier, more Morgan Freeman-y older cousin, The Electric Company, set to debut in January. Thankfully, they didn't just go all '70s-wakka-wakka-funk-retro in an attempt to replicate the original, but instead, use the show's hip, fast-paced style to create some pretty cool new stuff, like the technological, Matrix-inspired segments featuring beatbox wizard Shock, and the cute/funny, two-dimensional animation bits between The Odd Couple."

The Electric Company [PBSKids]

PARENTS: "They Tried To Teach My Baby Science"


The Core Knowledge Blog has this and more at Comic Relief.

MEDIA: Call For Rocky Mountain Blogger Types

TypewriterSchools for Tomorrow Blog is looking for a few more folks to contribute to the blog, which focuses on Denver- and state-level education issues and has been a good place to keep up on what's going on and share ideas for nearly two years now. 

Teachers, parents, administrators are all invited to guest blog or just comment. Check it out, give it a thought.

READER COMMENT: Different Standards For Kids & Teachers

Comment of the week:

"What I always find striking is the dual standards that we expect for students and teachers. Students should demonstrate their learning and march to an intrinsic set of values (which include the value of learning). Punishment (or consequences) are OK if they don't. Teachers should not have to demonstrate that they are teaching (or that learning occurs). They should receive regular rewards and there should be no consequences for inadequate levels of success."

Link: How Parental Fears Might Shade Views Of Roland Fryer.

MOVIES: Filming "Where The Wild Things Are"

2461296724612970slarge Indie superstars Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers are filing the famous Maurice Sendak classic, Where The Wild Things Are. 

According to this Rolling Stone story, there's been some controversy about the result:  Where the Wild Things Are

HOTSEAT: Former USDE Official Dishes On Spellings, Popular Reforms

51qd4aep1il_ss500_ Former USDE official and current University of Michigan education researcher Susan Neuman has a book out this week that identifies a handful of programs that she says are proven to be effective.

But they're not the ones that you might think.  There's no KIPP, no Harlem Children's Zone.  Instead there are things like the Nurse Family Partnership program (which you may recall from Kate Boo's Swamp Nurse article in the New Yorker a few years back.)

It's a pretty controversial view of things, especially for those coming from the reformy / accountability hawk side of things.  (Earlier this week, David Whitman called her view "defeatist.")

On the HotSeat, Neuman dishes about Margaret Spellings (they're apparently not Facebook friends),  describes how poverty "trumps everything," talks about Minessota's experience using her research as part of a program review, and says she wants to be on Oprah.

Click below for all her answers.  Or go check out the book: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs that Break the Cycle of Poverty.

Continue reading "HOTSEAT: Former USDE Official Dishes On Spellings, Popular Reforms" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Scannat States Financial Outlook: Getting Worse FastTIME
More program cuts seem inevitable as states are squeezed by rising costs for healthcare and education on one side and falling revenue on the other.

Strapped Schools May Boost Class Sizes Washington Post
Worsening budget conditions are pressing school officials in the Washington area and across the country to consider backing away from what has become a mantra of education: Kids learn best in smaller classes.

The New High School Rankings Are Here US News
Find out how the schools in your region did.

NYC high school freshman hit, killed by school bus AP
Authorities say a high school freshman in New York City has been struck and killed by a school bus....

'Rent' Gets A High School Makeover NPR
More than 50 student groups across the country are performing Jonathan Larson's edgy rock opera Rent this school year.

TRANSITION: Brooks Weighs In [Incorrectly] On EdSec Debate

0604class_main The New York Times' David Brooks (and his research assistant) do great at describing the conflicts within the Democratic party over the Education Secretary position (Who Will He Choose?) but then fall apart at the end when it comes to describing Arne Duncan.

Duncan may be many things -- most of all, a compromise candidate -- but he's not anything like Klein or Rhee in terms of accomplishments or abilities. Whomever keeps feeding that idea to Brooks and others is, intentionally or otherwise, creating an illusion.

PS:  If anyone has a picture of Duncan with Obama, playing hoops or otherwise, I can't find one.  Please send it to me at thisweekineducation@gmail.com, or post a link in the comments section.  Thanks!

MEDIA: Times Forgets To Adjust For Inflation

Calc_img_2 I haven't read Bob Somersby's The Daily Howler in a long long time, but Somersby has the story of how the Times blew its reporting on college costs earlier this week -- it's since posted a correction -- and how the folks who wrote the report might have helped.  That 439 percent figure is the problem, as you'll see. 

TRANSITION: Duncan Should Stay. But He Has To Go.

Huffington_post_logo Here's my latest from the Huffington Post:

Duncan Should Stay. But He Has to Go.

LOCKE: More Coverage Of The Locke "Transformation"

Lohan_mug_shot_green_dot Blondes_have_more_fun_24

 Inside Locke High KCET (tonight at 8)
KCET producer Angela Shelley chose three representative students and allowed them to tell their own stories. 

Locke High School's progress LA Times
Three months into the school year, a troubled high school is making strides as a Green Dot charter.

Last but not least, the LA Times' editorial board reveals what's long been known on campus -- which starlet donated the olive trees that now make the school look so good.

Hey, it could have been worse.

MILK: Gay Teachers & Students Remain Controversial

Milkposter Those who go to see MILK, the biopic about slain gay leader Harvey Milk that opened last week, may have forgotten that one of Milk's big efforts was to oppose 1978's Proposition 6, which would have banned gay teachers from California classrooms. 

That isn't the only education connection to the Milk story: 

Since 1985 there has been a New York City high school for LGBTA students named after him, which became controversial in 2002.

A proposal for a similar school in Chicago was just withdrawn in the face of opposition.  (The school was not going to be named after Milk.)

This New York Times article points out parallels to the more recent gay marriage ban, Proposition 8  (Back to the Ramparts in California).

CLASSROOM: No Safety, No Homework

The New York Times is again publishing blog posts from a frontline teacher in Chicago.  His name is Victor Harbison, and his most recent post is about the hard-to-imagine impact of fear on urban students (No Safety, No Homework).

"People wonder why test scores are so low in urban schools. I’m not looking for an excuse, but it’s hard for me to stop thinking about the violence children experience every day in this city."

Youth violence has been a particular problem in Chicago, but may be an issue in many other cities.  The post has kicked off a slew of comments from other teachers on the Times site and on my Chicago education blog. 

CITY HALL: SF Mayor Blogged Blathering About Education

Sf_weekly_logo SF Weekly blogger Benjamin Wachs live-blogged Mayor Gavin Newsom's "state of the city" marathon, including a segment on education.  It sounds like it's quite a doozy:

"Today's State-of-the-Citysode  is of generally higher quality than the last. It's about 10 minutes shorter, nobody accidentally walks into the shot, there are fewer attempts at changing camera angle (though the one is REALLY bad), Gavin's bizarre Southern accent doesn't emerge, and subjectively it feels like a much less brutal assault on your senses by a man who's determined to show you how much he knows about those laws he passed."

Click here for the full analysis as well as the video of the speech itself:

Gavin Newsom on the Challenges Facing Education in SF

The 20th Century Is Already Over, All Over This World

FutureI don’t know Andy Hoffman, but he could provide the third leg of the platform for a real educational take-off. Even some of the most fervent accountability hawks are realizing that NCLB hasn’t been a cost effective bridge to the early 1900's, and are advocating 21st century skills and investments in innovative technologies. I don’t expect many explicit admissions from policy analysts that primitive standardized testing and shame are incompatible with creativity, but reality has a way of asserting itself. Advocates of a data-driven "culture of accountability" mostly need a fig leaf to "declare a victory and leave." Part of that fig leaf could come from the Obama stimulus package. Charlie Barone reports that parts of $2.5 billion or more in stimulus money could fund "cutting edge audio-visual and interactive technology."

It is at this point that Hoffman, the director of the American History and Civics Initiative, could lead the way. NCLB I provided incentives for first-generation digital learning systems that were so uneven as to leave "an impression of more of hokum than of transformation."

Continue reading "The 20th Century Is Already Over, All Over This World" »

TRANSITION: Elementary School Student Demands Administration Job

Not really -- Florida elementary school student Damon Weaver just wants an Inauguration Week interview with the President-elect to go along with his Internet-famous interview of his "homeboy," Joe Biden:

Via Videogum.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Md_tsSchools become latest targets LA Times
Anonymous threats warn of unspecified harm if teachers don't hand over their year-end bonuses.  

Police: 2 homemade bombs dismantled in Ohio town AP
A homemade bomb was found Tuesday at a gas station a block away from a school, and authorities arresting a suspect found a second bomb on the man's body, police said....

At School Union Runs, Principal Steps Down NYT
Drew D. Goodman stepped down last week as principal of the union-run school, the United Federation of Teachers Secondary Charter School in East New York, Brooklyn, after union leaders grew dissatisfied with his handling of brewing teacher dissatisfaction.

Bill Gates Urges Obama to Increase Spending Washington Post
The world's richest technology entrepreneur -- and leading philanthropist -- came to Washington yesterday with a simple message for President-elect Barack Obama: Increase spending.

Md. ranks high in readying young people for college Baltimore Sun
Maryland received an A-minus along with Colorado, New Jersey and Vermont.

TRANSITION: Chicago Supe To Meet With Spellings

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_21bOld media isn't going down without a fight. 

Check out the AP's impressive little Transitionometer (actually called "Transition '09") for tracking the latest developments.

There's also an item about Chicago's Arne Duncan meeting with EdSec Spellings. 

Not sure what that gets Duncan, given Spellings' lame duck status. 

Link: The Associated Press.

via my good friends at Flypaper

SERVICE: Some Schools Rolling Back Service Requirements

Winter083 Concerned that community service requirements have become little more than a make-work activity for students (or worse), some high schools are rolling back the requirements or modifying them according to the New York Times (Help Students Go for Quality, Not Quantity). 

Amazing to be reminded that service requirements aren't that old, range up to 100 hours, and were originally challenged in the courts. 

This just as the Obama team prepares to roll out some sort of service initiative. 

TIME: From Joe Clark (1988) To Michelle Rhee (2008)

Joe_clark_1988 Ph2008112901979Kudos to Joe Williams at the DFER blog for digging out the old Joe Clark with a bat picture from 20 years ago ( Democrats for Education Reform). 

"Broom vs. bat, which will deliver better results?"

MEDIA: Michelle Rhee Vs. The Washington Post

Strong-minded (minority) women in education are getting a pretty hard time in the media these days, what with the not-so-secret campaign against Linda Darling Hammond and this week's TIME-inspired "Michelle Rhee is a bitch" meme.  Go, white guys.

Custom_1226939733922_feminism_01Let's keep it going a little longer with this November item from the Washington City Paper chronicling Rhee's troubled relationship with local education reporters from the Washington Post, who haven't been nearly as kind as the generally fawning national media.  As noted in City Paper, Theola Labbé  is gone after breaking news last year about school closings and getting chastised publicly by Rhee. V. Dion Haynes left the beat in September.  Rhee's apparently now frozen out the "new" guy, Bill Turque, who unearthed some interesting emails via FOIA that revealed efforts to limit press access and Rhee's plans to get around the teachers union.  (Thanks to RB for the link.)

Oh, and as noted in US News, Rhee's also been calling out on the Obama folks to weigh in on the current impasse with the DC teachers union.

TRANSITION: Team Hotties & Subcabinet Maneuvering

Imgmgtransitionhottiesbarnes_163936 Hh2It's not quite time for Hot For Education, but the Daily Beast has gotten things rolling with its post about Obama's Transition Hotties.

Their list of the "8 sexiest members of the transition and bailout teams" includes Melody Barnes (left)but mysteriously omits Heather Higgenbottom (right) who was part of HFE 2008 (though originally with the wrong picture).

Speaking of the transition, you should also check out this post about what's going on behind the scenes in the fight for sub-cabinet jobs:

"It’s the deputy secretaries, under secretaries, ambassadors, and special envoys of tomorrow who will have to tackle the big problems of the day. And the competition for those jobs is, if anything, fiercer and less dignified than that for the top jobs. Which is, of course, saying something," says this David Rothopf post (Washington's New Marriages Of Convenience:)  "But this all must be handled carefully, with a certain touch of discretion. In a town that is as known for liars and lies as Florence is now for its frescoes and churches, the most common of all lies these days is “I’m not interested in ‘going in.’”

JOBS: Assistant Deputy Secretary Moves To Scholastic

Mesecar Doug Mesecar has moved from the USDE's Office of Innovation to become a VP at Scholastic.  Before that, he was with Edison, I think. 

Here's some biographical information about his time at the USDE (Biography). 

Here are some previous post about or including Mesecar: How Spellings Strategy Could Screw Up Future NCLB Changes, Mesecar (& Others) On The Move.

Congrats, condolences. I can't wait to hear some of Doug's war stories from his time inside the machine. 

MONEY: How Parental Fears Might Shade Views Of Roland Fryer

Thanks to Alan Gottlieb at the Schools for Tomorrow blog for tracking down the embeddable version of the Roland Fryer interview from Monday night's Colbert Report.  You can check it out here:  Colbert interviews the bribe king.

Screenhunter_04_dec_02_0059It's curious and troubling that some people are so quick to deride Fryer's ideas as "bribery" when they could just as easily be labeled as rewards, incentives, or -- !! -- allowance. 

The payments are an otherwise-unlikely graduation present, doled out in little increments over time.  They're the cell phone minutes that would usually come from a parent who buys a family plan or rewards a child for taking out the trash. 

That it, assuming that anyone really makes their kids do chores anymore. Part of me thinks that the strong reaction against Fryer's ideas is really about middle- and upper-middle-class parents' fears about having spoiled (ruined?) their own children by giving them too much.

PHELPS: ADHD, Principal Mother, Cover Of Sports Illustrated

Mark_spitzzCvr_si Michael Phelps, Sports Illustrated's athlete of the year, has ADHD according to his mother, a Baltimore school principal. 

That's all I need to run these shots of the bare-chested Phelps, who was just named SI's athlete of the year, and his predecessor, Mark Spitz. 

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day (So Far)

Ca_latEmanuel: School Construction Money Will Be in Stimulus EdWeek
So it looks like school districts with crumbling infrastructures can look forward to an infusion of federal funds in the economic-stimulus package, which Congress is likely to approve in January.

Suburban Ohio school district wants a bailout, tooAP
The Olmsted Falls School District has asked the Treasury Department for $100 million from its Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP.

Kentucky schools look to contingency funds in face of cuts Lexington Herald-Leader
Many Kentucky school districts probably would have to dip into contingency funds to absorb a projected 4 percent state budget cut, but that might only postpone the pain, public school superintendents say.

State Gives Detroit Schools 'Final Chance' AP
The state superintendent is giving the Detroit Public Schools one last chance to fix its budget mess or else an emergency financial manager will be appointed.

L.A. school board takes no action on fate of Supt. David Brewer Los Angeles Times
The panel met in closed session on the schools chief, who is facing increasing pressure to resign. The absence of board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte complicated the deliberations.

MEDIA: EdWeek Site Access Customer Clearinghouse

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_0107 In light of EdWeek's prolonged problems providing site access for print subscribers (aka, "Premium Access"), Editorial Projects in Education, which owns EdWeek, has asked me to use allow them to use this space to provide readers with a place to describe whatever problems they are having accessing the site.

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_0107Please detail whatever issues or concerns you've been having in the comments section below.  This might include passwords that don't work, claim codes that are "already" claimed, customer support that hangs up on you or tells you that you are not in the system or that they are going through a "transition" of vendors and to call back in a few days.  A representative from EPE will get back to you as soon as possible.

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_0107On behalf of EPE, and EdWeek, I'd like to express my empathy for any of you who have had problems over recent weeks and months. 

BLOGS: One (Core Knowledge) Blog To Rule Them All

Rarely do I find three posts at a time from one blog.  Robert Pondiscio is on a roll:

Ckhome_2Michelle Rhee Is Scaring Me

With her appearance on the cover of Time Magazine this week, she’s now officially the face of education reform in the U.S. That face is wearing a scowl. 

Ckhome_2Behold The Writeulator!

What if there was a writeulator? wonders Paul, a public school math teacher who blogs at When Galaxies Collide.

Ckhome_2Say, You Look Familiar

Did you hear the one about the porn star who went to work as a teacher’s aide in an elementary school?  It’s no joke.

MEDIA: Fryer To Colbert: "You're Black Now, Aren't You?" [updated]

Emily Lazar strikes again!  Last night, Stephen Colbert had none other than Harvard economist Roland Fryer on his show, talking about paying kids for good grades.  [Who called Fryer?  Not I.  I guessed Geoffrey Canada or Peg Tyre. Dibs on Michelle Rhee being next.]

BrothermouzoneThe video isn't up yet, but Fryer did great whether you like what he has to say or not.  He wore some bold cordovan slip-ons and had a close haircut.  Something about him reminded me of Brother Mouzone  (pictured), the hired gun on "The Wire." 

Non-fashion highlights:  Colbert accuses Fryer of being racist for pointing out how poorly black kids do in school.  Fryer pulls out some money and puts in on the table as an incentive for Colbert to do a good job.  Colbert says that he must be black since he did so badly in school. They both joke about beatings as the original incentive for children to do well at school.  Hah. Hah. Hah.  Fifty bucks per A per 5 week grading period is the Chicago model.  Fryer says we still don't know if it works.  Colbert grabs the cash off the table at the interview's conclusion.  Best line of the night goes to Fryer for saying to Colbert "You're black now, aren't you?"

Screenhunter_06_dec_02_1256UPDATE: Fryer (left).  I rest my case. 

The  segment begins at about the 15 minute mark - sorry I can't find the segment alone. 

Click below for some other notable Colbert interviews and his best education segment of all time, IMHO.

Continue reading "MEDIA: Fryer To Colbert: "You're Black Now, Aren't You?" [updated]" »

FRITZ: The Inauguration Day Countdown

TinafeyvfcoverClick below for your weekly dose of the Fritzwire -- chock full of meetings, reports, events, and jobs (yes, jobs). 

It's like the PEN NewsBlast, only daily (and with more crazy formatting).

Or, check out the cover of the new Vanity Fair.

Continue reading "FRITZ: The Inauguration Day Countdown" »

The Dumbest Gamble


To paraphrase Darryl Royal, when you throw a "Hail Mary" pass, three things can happen and two are bad. As the recent CEP study reconfirms, our gamble on NCLB accountability has increased the focus on data and the achievement gap, but it has encouraged destructive classroom practices that hurt children, as well as their teachers. The worst of those practices is curriculum pacing.

I earn my paycheck by "reading" teenagers. I probe the students' background knowledge to determine what information they have retained from previous years. More and more, it is clear that previous lessons have "gone in one ear, and out the other." As teachers feel increased pressure to "cover" the material, teaching for understanding has decreased.

Continue reading "The Dumbest Gamble " »

TRANSITION: Petrilli's Cockamamie Commentary [updated]

UPDATE:  From Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard:  "Obama has dozens of lesser posts to fill, and no doubt he'll use some of those jobs to assuage the left. Labor can probably have whomever it wants as secretary of labor. For all Obama's talk about education reform, chances are he'll bow to the teachers' lobby in choosing an education secretary." (Obama Looks To The Right )


Who knows if Chicago's Arne Duncan will be Education Secretary -- it will be sort of depressing if that happens, given Duncan's lackluster results -- but Fordham's Petrilli goes way over the top in calling Duncan one of Obama's "good friends."  That's just nonsense. Duncan's never been described that way in any other account. Perhaps Petrilli's confusing Duncan with Bill Ayers?  Or perhaps he's just trying to make sense of the cockamamie "insiders" poll he's insisted in running day after day.  Who are these insiders, again?  Are they the same from day to day? Where is Petrilli getting this stuff?

MONEY: Advertising Model Moves To Classroom Handouts

TestadsxlargeSan Diego teacher sells ads in margins of exams in order to pay for copying costs.

Ads on tests add up for teacher

USA Today

PRIVATES: Why It Matters How Private Schools Are Doing

Aiga_shaw_helvetica_1_6 The New York Times reports that local private schools are claiming to be just fine, thank you very much -- contrary to rumors of parents pulling their kids out in droves or asking for scholarships (Private Schools Say They’re Thriving in Downturn).  The schools have had to send out letters to jittery parents and donors, however, and the Times helpfully collects and posts them online. 

You may think you don't care, but imagine what would happen if the economy really got bad enough that private school parents did actually start returning to the public system in large numbers.  For starters, there'd be a lot of upset public school parents.  The private parents would want into the best schools and programs, which are already overcrowded and competitive. Districts would struggle to serve these new, demanding families.  Ultimately, it might be for the better, but it's not something that would happen easily. 

Anyone out there seeing folks leave the privates, or giving public schools a second?  Tell us all about it. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Times122Co-founder of NLNS could get education post Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Among other duties, he represented the campaign in several forums and media appearances related to education.

Obama's promises, vision to collide with reality AP
With the budget stretched thin, a huge infusion of cash for early childhood education or college costs seems unlikely. Federal spending on education has already been rising for more than a decade. Congress and the White House will be in no hurry to tackle No Child Left Behind, which was due for a rewrite in 2007; the economy, the war and health care are stickier and more pressing concerns.

Civic leaders press Brewer to leave L.A. Unified Los Angeles Times
Sources say school board is scheduled to discuss buying out contract of superintendent, who has handed over most authority to Ramon C. Cortines.

Dark Fiscal Future for Schools Washington Post
For the first time, Prince William County, which has one of the region's fastest-growing school systems, could see its education budget shrink in the coming year because of plunging house values and a likely residential property tax cut.

Progress Prized In Brownsville EdWeek
A Texas border district sees teacher training and data-based instruction as paths to learning gains—and the $1 million Broad award adds validation. 

SENATE: So Long To HELP Committee For Senators Clinton Obama

Ap_clinton_obama_070711_mn Hillary Clinton was named as the Obama appointee for Secretary of State today -- a mystifying move to me but I'm sure others can make better sense of it. 

For education, this means a second open spot on the Senate HELP committee.  (Both Clinton and Obama were both members, though neither stood out in my mind as doing anything particularly notable during their time. 

What will happen with Senator Kennedy's chairmanship of the committee is another question -- probably much more important than the departures of Obama and Clinton.

RHEE: "The Thing That Kills Me About Education Is That It's So Touchy-Feely."

1101081208_400 It's hard to say anything new about DC's Michelle Rhee, and folks are going to have a field day with the TIME cover picture of Rhee using (on?) a broom (Can She Save Our Schools?). 

But there  there are in fact some things worth noting in this profile, including several lively anecdotes, the increasing involvement of Randi Weingarten in the DC negotiations, and Rhee's questions about Obama.  And there are some great flame-thrower quotes from Rhee, of course:

"The thing that kills me about education is that it's so touchy-feely.  People say, 'Well, you know, test scores don't take into account creativity and the love of learning.'  I'm like, 'You know what? I don't give a crap.' Don't get me wrong. Creativity is good and whatever. But if the children don't know how to read, I don't care how creative you are. You're not doing your job."

The Damage Done


The remaining supporters of NCLB-type accountability still seem to sincerely believe that the law has encouraged "best practices" in the classroom. An increasing body of research shows that NCLB has damaged the quality of classroom instruction, and that so-called "research based" practices are just the latest incarnation of the "policy churn" that damages children, as well as teachers. The Center on Education Policy demonstrating its typical balance, shows that six representative schools in Rhode Island have increased their focus on data and the achievement gap. The study further explains, however, why schools with higher numbers of English language learners and poor children were more pressured and responded with more destructive methods.

The three elementary and three secondary schools focused more attention on the "bubble kids," narrowed the curriculum, imposed excessive test prep, and reduced instructional time in order to increase testing. Younger students lost socialization opportunities through reduced play time and field trips were cut. "Teachers at all school levels expressed concern over the loss of depth and richness in the curriculum," and parents also complained that the quickened pace of instruction resulted in "lower levels of understanding, rather than teaching to mastery." Administrators acknowledged the negative effects of excessive testing on teacher morale and the development of the whole child.

Continue reading "The Damage Done" »

TRANSITION: Who's Who On The Policy Review Team [updated]

Calfskin2_cropUPDATE:  See some helpful additions in the comments section below.

ORIGINAL:  You already probably know who Linda Darling Hammond is, but what about the rest of the policy review team? I know a couple of them but am already off duty up in Boston so will leave the rest of the biographical sketches to others:

Ian Bassin - ?
Jeanne Century - ?
Robert Gordon -- CAP guy, worked on weighted student funding in NYC for a while
Kris Gutiérrez - UCLA professor
John Jackson - Alliance For Education
David Kirp - ?
Goodwin Liu - Law professor
Ray Mabus - ?
Geri Palast - Campaign for Fiscal Equity
Steve Robinson -- Senate education guy for Obama, former science teacher*
Bob Shireman -- former Clinton White House and Sen. Paul Simon education staffer (higher ed)
Jon Vaupel - ?

Post your thoughts and whatever you know about individuals in the comments below -- I'm not checking email very often today.  It seems like a pretty traditional Democratic group, full of established figures on the more liberal side of things with a couple of exceptions.

WEEKEND: What The "Live Puppy Feed" Really Means

I've blogged about this (officially called the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam) before but thought it would make a relaxing weekend post to tide you over.  Then I got thinking:  What does it say that so many millions of people are watching these oversized and apparently aggressive (aka "prey oriented") puppies grow up via Internet?  No idea.   Is there anything educational about this?  Probably not. Is there any symbolic or allegorical meaning to the puppies?  Yes! It's so obvious!  (Push play to start the live feed):   

Penned up together in that tiny space, the puppies represent (a)  various factions within the education community each vying for the attention of the Obama transition team and Congress -- then napping; (b) various policies struggling to be top dog -- Red collar is UPK.  Yellow is merit pay.  Etc.); or (c)  six candidates for Education Secretary.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Ca_latObama inauguration is all the buzz at L.A. schools LA Times
Some lucky students will get to go to Washington for the historic event, which is expected to draw an unprecedented number of young visitors.

Former Chief Of Pr. George's Schools Gets 6-Year Term Washington Post
Former Prince George's County schools chief Andre J. Hornsby was sentenced yesterday to six years in federal prison for steering contracts to a girlfriend and a longtime business associate and then orchestrating what prosecutors called an "egregious" coverup.

L.A. Unified settles dispute over payroll system LA Times
Deloitte Consulting agrees to pay $8.25 million and forgive up to $10 million in unpaid invoices after its software under- and overpays teachers and staff. The district had millions in other losses.

 Apathetic About Ethical Standards Washington Post
In the past year, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are apathetic about ethical standards.

Lessons From 40 Years of Education 'Reform' Wall Street Journal
Let's abolish local school districts and finally adopt national standards.



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.