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USDE: No One Puts Carmel In The Corner

ScreenHunter_12 Jan. 30 17.30Arne has added another name to his official list of selections, and she is -- wait for it -- former Kennedy (and Bingaman) education staffer Carmel Martin.  I told you to watch out for former Hill staffers.  (Well, someone told me, and I just passed it on. But I was right to do so.) 

Congrats to Carmel and condolences to everyone else who wanted to be head of Planning and Evaluation (and to the Gates Foundation, which had just hired her). 

Of course, we still don't know how the top jobs are panning out -- Deputy Secretary, etc.  Click below to read Martin's bio (along with Peter Cunningham's who you already knew about).  Or, click over to Mike Petrilli for some more water-cooler gossip about Wendy Kopp, Ted Mitchell, and Ruslyn Ali the likes of which you usually only get here. Say what you will, but I taught him well.

Continue reading "USDE: No One Puts Carmel In The Corner" »

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

Sidebyside4Comparing the House and Senate Stimulus Bills EdPolicy Watch
While each version provides similar funding for most programs, the House passed version includes funding for a number of smaller initiatives that the Senate bill does not. (See chart at right.)

Restricted Funds Grow While Unrestricted Funds Shrink TQATE
Likely districts will have to lay off hordes of teachers that are supported with unrestricted funds at the same time that they hire teachers for special education and Title I activities.

Incentive Grants May Be Used to Reward Rigor Politics K12
Arne Duncan, the brand-new Secretary of Education, said today that he would consider using $15 billion in proposed federal incentive grants to reward states for setting more "rigorous" standards.

Going head-to-head with Arne Duncan Fordham
Arne calls it “an extraordinary opportunity.” Mike says it’s “redefining the federal role” in education.

Gates Foundation still has a lot to learn about education KDR
Never trust what anyone who in education tells you.

Steelers > School Thoughts On Ed Policy
More ridiculousness involving football and education.

Obama Effect on Education Will Be a Mirage Without Real Change Richard Whitmire
The Obama education halo could tarnish early. And if that happens, the letdown will be a lot less fun than the buildup.

THOMPSON: Sorting Our Words

Newsweek-mag2(3) Jay Mathews did not write the headline, "Sorting Children into ‘Cannots’ and ‘Cans’ Is Just Racism in Disguise," but he did write, "the people I admire in our schools want to be teachers. Sorting, they say, is a new form of racism but subtler." He argued that AP teachers who defend prerequisites for their courses are "educational gatekeepers" with "an excuse for not doing their job, which is to teach." They "measure themselves by how many top students they have in their classes, not how many struggling students they help become better."

Mathews had previously questioned the advocates of mandatory 8th grade algebra. His compromise was to "goad" middle schools by rating (sorting?) them in a way that "will cause a lot of stress," because "in public schools these days, a lack of stress is not always a good thing." So, the sorting inherent in NCLB-type accountability, or ranking the best high schools, is good if it is aimed at "leisure-loving primates (who) tend to slack off" in public schools.

But according to Mathews sorting based on the professional judgments of educators is the same "notion" that was also "used by defenders of slavery before the Civil War and of Jim Crow defenders." I would prefer to be accused of alcoholism by Frederick Hess. - John Thompson

MEDIA: Using Education (Reporters) To Sell The Stimulus

Buzzsaw It isn't by accident that this spate of articles about how the stimulus could help save jobs and improve education is coming out over the past few days. 

The new President is trying to get his bill passed -- with some Republican votes.  Sam Dillon's helpful article in the Times a few days ago made it clear that the education portions of the bill -- saving teachers' jobs, keeping schools open -- might be a good selling point to the public, who in turn might pressure Republican lawmakers to help out. 

The always-amenable Call Me Arne Duncan does a round of interviews with education reporters who are just happy to be among the first to interview him after his confirmation. 

Voila, message transmitted.

Problem is, the new stimulus money probably isn't going to get where it needs to go soon enough to prevent cuts and firings that are already happening, and isn't big enough (in a $500B per year industry) to make a real dent.  Plus which, the "reform" elements of the education package are, according to folks I talk to, weak. 

So don't let anyone tell you that the stimulus is going to save schools from making painful cuts over the next few weeks and months, or do much to change the course of school reform. 

USDE: Duncan Makes "The Daily Show"

Duncaned29x-large Oh, no, it's starting again.  Last night, Jon Stewart included Duncan in a bit on The Daily Show, mocking Arne for pulling his kids out of school just to have his son bring him a bottle of water at a boring confirmation hearing.  Then there was something about child labor laws and truancy and NCLB.   I wasn't really paying attention.  Want moar?  Click here and see if it's already online.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan: Stimulus aid could give schools help USA Today
"We have a chance to make education in America dramatically better — and, for a whole host of reasons, it has never been more important that we do that."

Education chief: Schools crucial to recovery AP
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the economy won't improve without the billions of dollars for schools in the president's recovery plan.

Education's Slice of the Stimulus Pie US News
Billions of dollars would be used for school construction, prekindergarten, and tech upgrades.

Stack_of_newspapers_150x155.jpegTeachers rally against education budget cuts Los Angeles Times
Thousands of teachers and other union members rallied Thursday at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles to oppose state and local cuts to education that are widely expected to result in larger classes for students as well as layoffs and more expensive healthcare.

Loss of Title I monies will cut core programs San Diego Union-Tribune
Once a week, roughly 25 students take turns seeing the counselor at Marvin Elementary School in San Diego's Allied Gardens to talk about everything from routine playground fights to emotional problems and troubles at home.

Case shows difficulty of firing incompetent teachers St. Petersburg Times
Pinellas district officials say John Hopkins Middle School teacher Curtis Brown didn't prepare adequate lesson plans. Didn't teach the assigned subject matter. Didn't use the required teaching software. And didn't improve despite repeated attempts by administrators to help him.

Seattle shutters schools Seattle PI
Amid angry parents, hecklers and much increased security, Seattle School Board members Thursday evening approved a slate of school closures and program relocations that will dramatically reshape the district next fall.

USDE: Duncan Kids To Attend Public School

"Diversity is really important to our family and we're looking for a great school that's diverse," said Duncan, who previously was superintendent of Chicago's public schools.

Arne Duncan in USA Today.

USDE: More Conjecture About The Duncan Education Team

 Seen any education jobseekers wandering around DC the past few days, having lunch or dropping by for informal visits? 

ScreenHunter_07 Jan. 28 23.17There's gotta be more Chicago folks wanting to come to DC now that Mayor Daley has named 37 year old Ron Huberman as the new head of CPS.  Chicago names to think about include John Easton, Tim Knowles, Xavier Botana, Mike Lach, Janet Knupp.  And if Duncan likes his former CAO (Barbara Eason Watkins) as much as people say, maybe he'll offer her a job in DC, too. 

Still no word about Jon Schnur as chief of staff, though I did hear that he told New Leaders he'd only go to DC if they offered him a Cabinet position.Yikes.  It's hard to imagine Duncan and Cunningham shooting the breeze with Schnur.  Plus which, Schnur's reputation as a manager is spotty (lots of turnover at New Leaders). Still the Obama folks may insist on giving him something.  Doesn't have to be chief of staff, right?

Linda Darling-Hammond won't return my calls so maybe she's still in the running - or cooling her heels after the rough treatment she's gotten (given?).  Funny how the two names that have been floated and then trashed in education these past few weeks have belonged to African American women (LDH and BEW).  

The way Eduwonk is winding down, I'm expecting a "goodby blogosphere, thanks for all the notoriety" announcement from Andy Rotherham any day now.   Deputy seems to big, though I'm guessing he wants more than head of OII (if only in order to be able to lord it over Petrilli).

Those rumors about Wendy Kopp coming down from DC to work for the Obama administration seem to have been just as short-lived as they seemed unlikely.  However, I can imagine some of the DOE braniacs wanting to come down and have some fun -- Chris Cerf and Garth Harries types.  If you see them wandering around Maryland Avenue, let me know. 

Last but not least, don't leave out the recently-departed / former Hill veterans who are likely in the mix.  This includes Charlie Barone and Michael Dannenberg (Miller and Pell/Kennedy).  Missy Rohrbach and Carmel Martin from Kennedy's office.  MaryEllen McGuire from Dodd (now at New America).  Hell, some current staffers -- Alex Nock? -- might want a shot at an Obama education job.  Not that any of them would admit it until it was (or wasn't) a done deal. 

BLOGS: Filling The Deep Need For EdWeek Bloggers


As the self-appointed godfather of blogs on EdWeek.org, I feel somewhat reponsible for their ongoing success.  And, as you know, the EdWeek roster of bloggers is now seriously depleted, what with the recent departure of Eduwonkette (and the less-noted September end to Marc Dean Millot's innovative business blog, edubizbuzz).  Sure, they've got a new import, the group blog called LeaderTalk.  But that's hardly enough.   So the question is:  who should be the next EdWeek blog?  My vote goes to Detentionslip.org, a blog devoted to misdeeds and mishaps that go on in schools every day.  But maybe you have a better idea. 

THOMPSON: Let's ALL Join the Boycott!

Boycott Los Angeles teachers are calling for a boycott of district testing!

"Axing these district assessments would spare jobs by saving millions of dollars -- and would improve instruction at the same time," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. Weighing a pig doesn’t make it heavier.

Of course, district testing makes the district’s NCLB scores look better. In a downturn, our cosmetics budgets should be the first on the chopping block. Yes, periodic assessments are like an eminent hanging; they concentrate minds.

But here’s the deep dark secret. That is where the real waste occurs. Bad news on benchmark testing sends the entire system scurrying around, frantically manufacturing good news. Testing is the issue that most fundamentally separates people who are really inside schools and outside observers. If policy people would even stroll around schools during testing times, I can’t help but believe they would join teachers on this.-  with extra pride in my profession, John Thompson

SPED: Insufficient Laws Governing School Restraints

Image_77149 Schools restrain disabled children all the time, according to this post from ProPublica, but the state laws governing what restraints are allowed and whether parents should be notified are uneven and often lacking -- and students have been hurt or even killed due to restraints in schools.  (Lack of Regs for Restraint of Disabled Children). 

Fewer than half the states even have laws addressing the use of restraints, and those that do are often full of gaps.  "About 40 percent of states have no law concerning restraint and seclusion in schools. Fewer than half of states ask schools to notify parents when children are restrained or placed in isolation, and 90 percent of states allow face-down restraints."

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

As to Ice, Chicago Still Obama's Kind of Town Washington Post
Washingtonians have bickered for decades over whether the region is too quick to close its schools for snow and ice. Now they're arguing over whether one of their newest neighbors, who happens to be president, was right to take sides in the perennial debate.

Obama-factory-bolts_gt_20090126Closing Seattle schools could save $13M - if no students leave district Seattle Times
Seattle Public Schools estimates it will save $12.6 million over five years in day-to-day costs if the school board votes Thursday to closes five schools and move all or part of eight others to new sites. But that calculation doesn't take into account the state funds the district would lose if students leave the district because of the closures. 

Students Protest Arizona Education Cuts NPR
Students from across Arizona are demonstrating Wednesday at the state Capitol against budget reductions in education funding. Some of their professors canceled classes to allow them to attend the protest.  RELATED: Four-day school week proposed, 6 of 18 Maine school reorganizations OKd

Pa. boy's death during horseplay is ruled homicide AP
A popular 12-year-old boy was struck and killed by a bus in front of his middle school as he apparently horsed around with friends before class, and officials have ruled the death a homicide....

OBAMA: "In Chicago, School Is Never Canceled."

"In Chicago school is never canceled," said Barack Obama according to the Huffington Post (Obama Incredulous Over School Closing).  

"You'd go outside for recess in weather like this. You wouldn't even stay indoors."

BLOGS: Best Posts Of The Day (Or So)

Gates Speaks Kevin Carey
Turning around a chronically underperforming school is really difficult. So difficult that it's worth asking why we should try, when there are other, better, faster, less expensive options instead?

BuzzsawIs the honeymoon over? Flypaper
Word is that Senate Democrats have stripped virtually all of the reform-friendly provisions out of the House stimulus bill (a bill that was not terribly reform-friendly to begin with ).

From Qualifications to Results Center on American Progress
In a new report, Robin Chait makes the case for a focus on teacher effectiveness, not qualifications, and how federal policy can make it happen.

Where Have You Gone, Poky Little Puppy? TCKB
A request from her son for a family collection of picture books to read to his toddler son set writer Donna Scofield to wondering: What ever happened to Little Golden Books, the series of simple stories that used to be a ubiquitous part of childhood for generations of young readers? 

Publishers Feeling the Reading First Cuts Curriculum Matters
Some of the publishers that made a heap of money off the Reading First program...arereporting losses now that the budget has been axed.

Monograph on education reform… Richard Whitmire
The segment of most interest to boy advocates would be the charter school piece written by Kevin Chavous, the former head of [...]

OBAMA: Not Enough Examples Of Challenging Party Status Quo

"There are few examples of him making decisions...that offended his own party’s constituencies, or using rhetoric that challenged his own supporters to rethink assumptions or yield on a favored cause."

Recent Politico article: Seven reasons for healthy skepticism

STIMULUS: Saving Teachers' Jobs...Or More Booze For Alcoholics?

0604Class_Main “This is going to avert literally hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Rick_hess “It’s like an alcoholic at the end of the night when the bars close, and the solution is to open the bar for another hour,” [Rick] Hess said.

Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education NYT

FAMOUS LAST WORDS: "There Will Be No Big Bailout For Schools."

"There will be no big bailout for schools."

Words I wrote in the January 2009 issue of Scholastic Administrator, pontificating about what -- before Christmas -- seemed an unlikely course of events.

USDE: Duncan Defends Choice Of Successor In Chicago

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 28 00.50 The smalltown stink of Chicago politics never goes away, I guess.  Having failed to get Mayor Daley's approval for his own pick for successor -- a long-serving African-American educator who served as his chief academic officer -- newly minted Obama EdSec Arne Duncan nonetheless showed up dutifully at the Tuesday press conference where Mayor Daley announced his pick for Chicago schools CEO, the 37 year-old son of Israeli immigrants who's been bouncing around city government for the last few years wherever Daley needs him. 

At the event -- attended by no other officials or community leaders besides the three principals -- Duncan dutifully hailed the Mayor's choice (Ron Huberman) as a great pick who would do a great job. (See coverage here.)

It's not so objectionable to me that Huberman is the third white guy in a row to head a school system that is overwhelmingly black and Latino.  It's not that a non-educator can't run a big city school system.  It's not even that Duncan's pick -- Barbara Eason-Watkins -- would necessarily have done a better job.  Rather, it's the absence of any kind of national search that might bring in a new energy and thinking for CPS, and -- perhaps most of all -- Duncan's decision to support a decision he clearly disagrees with.  Come on, man.  Stand up.  

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education NYT
The Department of Education’s discretionary budget for the 2008 fiscal year was about $60 billion. The stimulus bill would raise that to about $135 billion this year, and to about $146 billion in 2010.

Stack_of_newspapers_150x155.jpegStates Grapple With Unique Difficulties in Economic Downturn PBS
As the impact of the economic downturn ripples across the U.S., four public broadcasting reporters describe how the recession has impacted their states and local communities.

2-day furloughs ordered for school employees Atlanta Journal-Constitution
All Fayette County school custodians, secretaries and office staff will have to take two unpaid days off before June 30 to offset a projected deficit.

Calif. Governor Names Consultant As State's Secretary of Education EdWeek
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed a Sacramento consultant as his secretary of education, the fifth person in as many years to hold a job that has come to be seen as ineffectual in setting policy.

The horror! Neil Gaiman's spooky book wins Newbery AP
"I am so wonderfully befuddled," the best-selling author said Monday after winning the 88th annual Newbery for "The Graveyard Book," a spooky, but (he says) family friendly story about a boy raised by a vampire, a werewolf and a witch.

HILL: Could Card Check Legislation Affect Charter Schools?

Man-with-the-plan-320x250 Labor is pushing hard to make it easier for non-union workplaces to organize (The top lobbying fights to expect). 

Could this affect charter school teachers who might be interested in collective bargaining, or the unions who might be interested in organizing a small but growing sector of workers?

No idea.

FUNDING: Education Spending As An Investment


"We will find the money to do this because we can't afford not to."

Paul Tough (left), quoting Barack Obama, in the latest issue of Mother Jones (Harlem's Man With the Plan).

There's also an article in the Balto. City Paper about that town's interest in starting its own Children's Zone.

HILL: The Chairman Claps Alone

Check out this giant panorama pic of the swearing in, which you can use to pan around or zoom in (sort of like Google Earth or Streetview).  No sign of Duncan that I can find, but maybe you can do better at finding some education names in the crowd.  They've s gotta be there somewhere.  Or maybe there's a seating chart you can show us. 

Miller claps at inauguration

Meantime, here's a screen shot of Chairman Miller applauding during the Obama speech.  I think Justice Thomas is taking a nap. 

BLOGS: Best Posts Of The Day

A Sad Day in the Education Blogosphere Thoughts On Ed Policy
Before people move on with their lives full of inferior blogs I hope they remember the five wishes with which Jennings and Aaron Pallas left us.

A074c16cc1f45d45ee6196f9ec472b37368b4a94_mGates: 80% college ready Joanne Jacobs
In a letter on his foundation’s work, Bill Gates advocates a national education goal: “Ensure that 80 percent of our students graduate from high school fully ready to attend college by 2025.”

PS 150: The Real Game Behind Closing Schools Education Notes

Everyone knows if you close a school and replace the teachers, nothing much will change. Except that the school with a newer crop of inexperienced teachers will be much more unruly.

Your Content Eduwonk
Over the course of a week I get hundreds of emails asking me to post things on the blog. 

My Harem of Buxom 18-year Old High School Seniors and I Would Like to Share a Few Words I Thought A Think
Sure, I'm two weeks behind on this one, but Stacy, Stacie, and Stacey asked that I blog about it, so hey!

Never work harder than your students Notes On The Whiteboard
The defining point seems to be that instead of looking for hard-and-fast answers to questions that arise while teaching, a master teacher understands that asking the right question is the more important act (2).

Oh, and people are freaking out on D299 about Mayor Daley's appointment of 37 yo Ron Huberman as the next head of Chicago schools. 

THOMPSON: You Are Not the Problem, I Am Not the Problem, The Problem Is the Problem

Cancercells Cancer and heart disease must be the two main causes of educational failure at my school. When illness disrupts a vulnerable family, many poor children fall hopelessly behind and society has no system for putting them back on the conveyor belt that we call education. Substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, incarceration, fatal and nearly fatal stabbings and shootings, and complications with teen pregnancy are pervasive also, and we like to concentrate on blameworthy conditions. It is harder to hold families and schools accountable, however, when the villain is the genetic predisposition for cells to wildly replicate.

Almost every time I visit a hospital, I see students and their families being treated for major medical crises, usually from the emergency room. What if we saved the human and financial resources that are squandered by our dysfunctional health care system? Even if we spent that money like a drunken sailor, it would still pay for a world class educational system.

Often I believe that education "reform" is just another round of morality plays. According to William Julius Wilson, few of us are innocent or completely guilty. The exception is the Rightwing which accelerated the decline of our industrial base, shredded the New Deal more than necessary, and perfected "wedge politics." By the 1990s, the easy milage from the politics of anti-abortion and "quotas" was declining, and both the Right and the Left discovered teachers and schools as ripe targets for righteous outrage. Nothing human is ever that simple, but the tone of our education debate often sounds like another reincarnation of peoples’ need for demons to exorcize. To paraphrase another overly simplistic slogan, "what if they held a ‘blame game,’ and nobody came?"  - John Thompson

REFORM: Rethinking The Conventional Wisdom

While the selection of Arne Duncan and other recent events may make it look like the more centrist (aka "reformy") crowd is tromping the more traditionally liberal (BBA) reform crowd, there are a couple of counter-examples that bear noting: 

Cover_newyorker_190Linda Darling-Hammond could still end up as a muckety-muck in the Department or as a special assistant in the West Wing.

Centrist advocates like DFER had to throw BFF Joel Klein overboard in order to avoid seeming to have gone too far to the right.  Watch your back, Rhee.

During his time in Chicago, Duncan spent way more time arguing for more resources and better programs as he for merit pay and charter schools.  Hated AYP, too.

The $100B education funding in the current stimulus package over all seems to focus more on resources for schools than on accountability or charters or merit pay. So much for reform out the gate.

Last year saw a rebirth of traditional Democratic education advocacy (in the form of the BBA) and the rebranding of NCLB as a comic punch line. 

President Obama has no real record (beyond generally supporting charters and performance pay) of going against his base. 

BLOGS: Goodbye, Eduwonkette

Eduwonkette-batsignal_web People were confused about my off-hand comments about Eduwonkette earlier this winter, but now the news can be told.  A year and a half into her successful blogging career, Eduwonkette (aka Jennifer Jennings) has got a job offer from NYU and is closing her blog. 

Congrats, condolences. Eduwonkette was fun, smart, and unafraid to take on the self-important reformy crowd.  Plus, she was good at PhotoShop.

Click on over to her final post and say goodbye.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus Bill Sends Thrill Through Region Washington Post
As Congress prepares legislation to pump more than $800 billion into the economy, governments in the Washington region are lining up for their share: dollars that could mobilize stalled projects to mend water mains, repave roads and rebuild schools, as well as plug other budgetary holes.

Stack_of_newspapers_150x155.jpegVa. school system adopts new grading scale EdWeek/AP
For decades, the scale required Fairfax County high school students to earn at least a 94 for an A, with 64 being the lowest passing score. Most school systems nationwide, including in Falls Church, D.C. and Montgomery County, use a 10-point scale, making scores between 90 and 100 an A, and 60, the bar for passing.

Teach for America comes back to Compton Los Angeles Times
The group, which has a long history in the district, has been allowed to return to the school district after a five-year hiatus. But several board members remain wary of the program. LaShawnda Henderson graduated from college last spring, and this winter she's right back where she starte.

CTA president to run Chicago Public Schools Chicago Sun Times
CTA President Ron Huberman, an all-purpose mayoral troubleshooter with no background in education, will be appointed Tuesday to run the nation’s third largest school system

BLOGS: Best Posts Of The Day

Custom_1232567916499_84391455Ya Think? EIA
Headline from Associated Press story: “Stimulus school money could be hard to cut later“

What's This Card Check Stuff All About? Ed Notes
Card check means if a majority of people sign a statement they want a union they get it without having an election.

Introducing the Obama Administration Education Reform-o-Meter! Flymetothemoon
We don’t have to keep speculating; with him in power and making decisions, we can start keeping track instead.

Everybody Knows… Eduwonk
Education is a field where there is an awful lot of “everybody knows…”, in other words various truths that “everybody knows” about issues, people, research, etc…regardless of whether there is much evidence to support them. 

MEDIA: EdWeek Ups & Downs [updated]

0470482095 EdWeek has a new book out on the Obama education agenda -- already!? I knew that he'd already taken care of the acheivement gap, but...

Meanwhile I'm hearing rumors that there's something not so good going on at the venerable Bethesda-based publication.  Layoffs?  Suspending print publication?  Sex scandal? 

I have no idea -- but maybe you do.

UPDATE:  Virginia Edwards, president of EPE, emails the following:  "While budget cuts, including now some staff reductions, have been necessary over the past several months, our work continues to be focused on repositioning ourselves to be as strong as possible – and to serve our print readers and online users as well as possible – in the years ahead....Print subscriptions remain solid and steady, and online usage continues to post substantial increases year over year."

ADMINISTRATOR: Elizabeth Green & More

MBAopenerShameless pitch: 

There's lots of good stuff in the latest Administrator magazine (besides the stuff I wrote), including an Elizabeth Green piece about the continued rise of fancy consultants in education (MBA Invasion).

Other highlights include:

Engineering Like a Girl
Lift the Cell Phone Ban
Profile of Houston Supe Abelardo

TECH: Netbooks, Cloud Computing, Open Software, Virtualization

Crankcalls121808 Good roundup of game-changing technologies and market trends out there, with clear ed tech implications ($200 Laptops Break a Business Model NYT)

NCLB: Top Dog Among Domestic Laws, Says J-School Dean

Cover_newyorker_190 NCLB "may be the single most influential piece of domestic legislation in a generation."

Columbia Journalism School Dean Nicholas Lemann in a New Yorker piece about the difference between popular and truly great Presidents.

VIDEO: Kid Rides A Zip Line To School

And you think your commute is scary.
Kid Rides A Zip Line To School.

HELP COMMITTEE: People-Watching During The Duncan Confirmation

ScreenHunter_15 Jan. 25 23.55
The best part of pretty much any Washington event is watching the people who are behind the people who are talking.  Click below to see some screen grabs of Arne Duncan's confirmation hearing (and my lame captions). Or, watch the thing yourself and do your own: Video here.

Continue reading "HELP COMMITTEE: People-Watching During The Duncan Confirmation" »

THOMPSON: All the Love

Parks_img_3 During the inaugural week I only cried once at school (and also at home during the opening of the "We Are One" Concert at the Lincoln Memorial with Bruce Springsteen and the choir singing "The Rising.") Suzan-Lori Parks’ reading of "U Being U" was a bouncy tribute that did not seem likely to prompt tears. Parks wrote to the president, "I think I'll teach, and learn, from all I meet. I think I'll apologize in person for all our faults and try to make amends for our shortcomings. And also, I think, I'll brag, just a little bit, about how cool We The People are."

I was facing my students, though, when I read the stanza, "so I am giving you All the Love, All the Love, All the Love, All the Love." I couldn’t make it past "Because I believe in the dream." So a student took over for the last verse. - John Thompson

STIMULUS: Big Money For School Districts On The Table

ScreenHunter_18 Jan. 26 00.47 There is an awful lot of money for schools in the stimulus package being voted on this week -- roughly $142B out of the $825B total.  The addition of $13B will roughly double the current Title I funding levels -- a bigger increase than in the first years after NCLB was authorized. 

Looking at those numbers you'd think education was a big deal or was connected to economic recovery.  Or maybe the education groups are much better at lobbying than I knew.

Jim Kohlmoos at the Knowledge Alliance points us to this helpful CRS report for estimates of the amount of education funding each school district will receive.  Just as an example, Chicago public schools will receive an $527M increase in the first year alone. 

Stimulus: School money will be hard to cut later

What’s inside the stimulus package for education?

Schools eye their slice of stimulus pie

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus school money could be hard to cut later Associated Press
If the government spends billions on education to help jump-start the staggering economy, what happens when things improve and schools have grown used to the largesse?

25wwlnmedium_650In School for the First Time, Teenage Immigrants Struggle NYT
More than 15,000 students in New York schools have had little or no formal schooling and face unique problems.

Texas moves closer to new science standards AP
The State Board of Education moved a step closer to dropping a 20-year-old science curriculum requirement that critics say is used to undermine the theory of evolution.

O. Perry Walker High School educator with a super-size heart is making a difference Times Picayune
Big Mike is sitting with a student in a windowless office. It is a private meeting. The typically patient man is frustrated.

FRITZ: The Week Ahead In Washington

180px-US_House_apportionment_(current)Legislation, events, and jobs -- all courtsey of the Fritzwire. Get a weekly dose below, or sign up for the daily email.  

Continue reading "FRITZ: The Week Ahead In Washington" »

SLUMDOG MUSKETEER: Award-Winning Film References Dumas Novel

Slumdog460Teachers and parents and others who may wish to promote the reading of literature may be happy to know that the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" -- set in the slums of Mumbai, India -- refers at various points to the popular 19th century French novel the Three Musketeers.   

TRANSITION: Domestic Policy Guru Makes Times Magazine

ScreenHunter_07 Jan. 19 23.57
The only education-related staffer who got her picture into last week's NY Times Sunday Magazine article called Obama's People was Melody Barnes.

Strange picture but I thought I should pass it along. She also won Gawker's hottest Obama staffer contest, BTW.

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

A Familiar Face on the Senate Education Committee Politics K12
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., may have lost the White House but he got the next best thing: A seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

The Hidden Flaws in China and India Schools Jay Mathews Washington Post
Tooley shows that India and China, despite their economic successes, have public education systems that are, in many ways, a sham.

18scap-600Reforming and/or Busting Unions? Bridging Differences (Debbie)
There is something good to be said about the recurrence of the same debates—a kind of reassurance about our humanity? We’ve alternately blamed almost every potential sector of society. This time it’s teachers and public enterprise.

Chicago's venture philanthropists Small Talk
Aarons' puffy no-questions-asked Edweek piece is underwritten by the Wallace Foundation. Don't worry though. It's just the business model rolling up it's sleeves.

ACLU sues ‘Muslim’ charter school Joanne Jacobs
Calling it a “pervasively Muslim school,” the ACLU has filed suit against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a public charter school in Minnesota that shares space with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.

Karl Rove: Please go away Firefly
Many conservative commentators blame the dismal state of the Republican Party on the talk-show crowd: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and the other blowhards who play on people’s fears for a living. I wouldn’t argue that point, but the moment I viewed the GOP (and the conservative cause) as entering a tailspin was when [...]

QUOTE: Obama Gutting NCLB "A Fantasy"

"The notion that Obama would gut a law exposing the maleducation of millions of black children is a fantasy."

Richard Whitmire in a recent op-ed (Bush leaves gift of education reform behind).

TRENDS: What About Schools Gentrification Passes By?

There's a big public high school in the middle of downtown Park Slope, one of the most gentrified parts of Brooklyn.  Outside on the street, it's all Ugg boots and strollers and fleece and "didn't I see you down at the Inauguration?"

Cans_n42Inside the building, however, the kids are mostly black and brown.  They come from other, less affluent parts of the borough.  They throng in noisy teenage groups outside the school before and after class, and then go home. It's a totally different world.

This is just the most recent example I've seen of a phenomenon that defies the conventional wisdom, which is that schools necessarily all gentrify along with their neighborhoods. 

To be sure, many do.  The elementary school down the hill is filled to the brim with the children of white, college-educated parents who dominate the neighborhood.   But it seems like at least one or two schools in gentrifying neighborhoods don't get lifted up by the arrival of new parents. 

Gentrification isn't all good, to be sure, but getting left out isn't all good either.  These schools often lose neighborhood kids whose parents move away, and the funding that goes along with it. They start getting more kids from outside the neighborhood -- overflow kids with fewer neighborhood connections (and parents who can attend event and support kids).  Poverty funding goes down but it's not immediately replaced by enrichment or special program dollars.  It seems like they're in an eddy.

The point of all this is to note that neighborhood gentrification isn't monolithic, nor necessarily a bad thing.  It's certainly not a rare thing.  But very little attention seems to get paid to helping schools figure out how to deal with changes in student demographics, parent expectations, and funding streams they may experience. Making schools reinvent the wheel each time seems la shame.  Ditto for new parents who gentrify a neighborhood and sometimes have heartbreakingly frustrated experiences negotiating the neighborhood schools. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus Measure Advances in House EdWeekStack_of_newspapers_150x155.jpeg
The Appropriations Committee approves the plan, which includes some $120 billion for education.

Study Sees an Obama Effect as Lifting Black Test-Takers NYT
A performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a test all but disappeared after the presidential election, researchers said.

State school chief offers new test plan Seattle PI
Washington's new superintendent of public instruction wants to replace the Washington Assessment of Student Learning with two separate tests, and use a computerized testing system.

Graduate student decapitated at Virginia Tech AP
A female Chinese graduate student was decapitated by a fellow student in a campus cafe at Virginia Tech...

USDE: Duncan Responds To Citizens' Ideas (Last Week)

Even before his nomination sailed through the Senate on Tuesday, Arne Duncan had already begun responding to all the ideas that folks had been sending into the Transition. Maybe he talks about your idea! Not likely. Here's his entirely nonsubstantive but mildly interesting video response from last week:
Found at Opposing Views.  Original source:  Change.gov.

DUNCAN WATCH: New Secretary's Team Meets With Senior Staff

Fritz3 The all-knowing Fritz Edelstein (pictured) just reported that Duncan brought the following folks into a meeting with senior career staff at the USDE this AM:

"* Matt Yale who will be Deputy Chief of Staff and worked with him in Chicago (he will handle scheduling until somebody is hired for that job next week) * Peter Cunningham who has worked 6 years with him in Chicago and will be Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach * Margot Rogers will be the Senior Counselor to the Secretary; she has worked in DC for 17 years * Melanie Munzer will be the White House liaison responsible for arranging schedule C and political appointments * Tony Miller will be Chief Operating Officer; he has worked at McKinsey consulting and most recently for a private equity firm in Los Angeles * Ann Whalen will be his Special Assistant as she was in Chicago * Jonathan Schnur has been working on the stimulus legislation; he now heads the New Leaders for New Schools; he worked under Secretary Riley and also at the White House under President Clinton."

No big surprises there -- Ann Whalen has been named on my Chicago blog among those headed to DC. The real question is what's holding up the announcements of other appointments that need to be made before Duncan can get in the mix.  Is Schnur holding out for Deputy or Undersecretary?  Is LDH still in the mix?  Does Rotherham's near-silence on his blog mean that he's back in the game?  Perhaps Fritz knows.  But he ain't telling yet.

QUOTE: "Which Will Win: Teaching, Or Sorting?"

"The sorting instinct seems part of our DNA, that tribal primate urge to know where everyone is in the pecking order...[It] is too often adopted by educational gatekeepers as an excuse for not doing their jobs, which is to teach."

Sorting Children Into 'Cannots' and 'Cans' Is Just Racism in Disguise Jay Mathews in the Washington Post

BLOGS: New Name, New Pic for EdWeek Blog

K12-header-1 EdWeek's Campaign K12 is going to stick around, as Politics K12.  They've got a new logo, and co-blogger Alyson Klein gets what looks like a new head shot.  Holla! I guess that's what they give you in Bethesda if you stay late into the night to watch the stimulus markup.  Politics K-12. [Alas, fancy graphics and stylists can't help them keep up with the likes of little old me.] 

THOMPSON: Human Nature

Brandy%20standing%201[1] Dan Willingham offers cognitive research to undergird the concept of "No Child Left Inside." "Urban environments," writes Willingham, "provide too many stimuli," but "nature is restorative because it provides a rest for the directive attention system." That may be why the late, lamented institution of recess "does provide a cognitive boost for students." Even watching pictures of nature has benefits.

When I changed from an over-educated hiking counselor, and legislative lobbyist, to an urban teacher, I did not realize that I was looking for a daughter from generational poverty. Now, my former student and I see ourselves as father and daughter. The encouragement Brandy received while hiking out of the Grand Canyon was something she had never before experienced. It was as restorative as nature’s grandeur. Now, Brandy teaches in a high-poverty elementary school. I honestly believe that Brandy Clark is the best teacher who I've known.- John Thompson

DUNCAN WATCH: Checklist For The Newly-Minted Secretary

ScreenHunter_11 Jan. 20 20.27 Here are some of the top priorities for the new Education Secretary, in no particular order: -Find a home and a new school for your kids and move the family here.  (Just don't rub the President's face in it if you choose a public school.) -Let a couple more schools off the closing list in Chicago.  (That way there's less heat and unhappiness left behind you.) -Get involved in shaping the Stimulus.  (It could be the biggest policy lever you have for years to come-or an embarassing giveway that holds everyone back.) -Tell Schnur you'll give the Chief of Staff job to Wendy if he doesn't answer soon.  (Tell Wendy you'll give her the top job recruiting teachers...for a three-year residency model program.) -Hire people with a record of getting things done (Shireman, Barone, Dannenberg, Piche, McGuire, Nock, Wilkins, Petrocius, Martin.) -Call Rod Paige in for lunch. (He's who you don't want to end up being.) -Call Dick Riley in for lunch. -Put a reminder on your computer that few of the people you are about to hire care about or will be loyal to you. (They work for Obama.  Or themselves.) -Promise yourself that, at some point before you leave, you will break with the folks at the White House tell you to do or say on an issue of importance.  (Maybe twice, to make up for not ever having broken with Daley.)  But not yet. 



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.