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MEDIA: Ed Sector Mysteriously Takes Down USDE Jobs Post [updated]

Dsl-internet-accessOn Wednesday, the Ed Sector's Tom Toch reported that Jon Schnur had -- finally -- accepted the chief of staff job in Arne Duncan's USDE.

He also reported on what Mike Smith, John Easton, & Bob Shireman were going to be doing. 

Then the post was taken down -- nowhere to be seen (as of early Friday morning).

Who made the request -- and why did the Ed Sector comply without any explanation to readers -- I don't know. 

So much for transparency and accountability -- not to speak of knowing how the Internet works.

Click below for the text of the "disappeared" post.

UPDATE:  Mystery solved?  Here's Toch's corrected update, which says little beyond  "I took the post down after I learned more details about their status."

Continue reading "MEDIA: Ed Sector Mysteriously Takes Down USDE Jobs Post [updated]" »

BLOGS: Best Of The Day

Could this ever happen in Texas? Dallas ISD
Georgia lawmakers are fed up with dysfunctional school boards, so much so that a bill is being considered to allow the governor to oust board members in failing school districts.

Philly's Ackerman Seeks Power to Transfer Teachers Teacher Beat
Philadelphia superintendent Arlene Ackerman recently unveiled her Imagine 2014 initiative. Part of this education-reform plan includes closing and restructuring a number of low-performing schools around instructional models with "proven track records" for success.

Cassette-tape-1Apologies... Small Talk
While it's true that she was highly critical of the education part of Obama's speech, which is certainly understandable, I made it seem like she "found nothing to support" in the entire speech.

Puke and Stuff Flowers and Sausages
My daily work life, and that of elementary teachers everywhere, is filled with a wide variety of bodily fluids. Pee, puke, poop, snot, drool, spit, and the occasionally, blood. That's a pretty thorough list in my opinion...I mean, there are very few other liquids that actually can come out of a person.

Teacher’s Work: Addicted to Busyness Ed Week Commentary
She stands up behind her desk, so that she can stuff envelopes faster. She pauses to take a call from the executive director (from a phone she wears at her waist), then says she has to run to the front of the building to speak to a student who is out of dress code. (Could we talk while we walk through the hallway, she asks quickly?)

Twenty Questions (about Education Me) Nancy Flanagan

It sure is fun hearing about how everyone is cleaning their garage, hiring a babysitter, or getting a fat-free caramel latte (venti)....

NCLB: Renaming Campaign Too Clever For Some

Fun is fun, according to this from the Seattle Post Intelligencer editorial (Don't be clever).  But Arne Duncan's call to rename NCLB -- aided ably by the duo of Andy Rotherham and Sam Dillon -- shouldn't distract from the reality that the law itself is what needs changing and the names aren't the point:

"Let's stop giving bills propaganda names like "No Child Left Behind Act," the "PATRIOT Act," etc. Use names more like the original aid-to-schools bill, passed in the Johnson administration: Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  It was a name that made no fireworks and told no lies."

POP CULTURE: 'Transformers' Starlet Visits Shool Of Former '90210' Star's Son

Megan-fox-brian-austin-green-son-08 Pay no attention to the starlet (Megan Fox of Tranformers fame). 

The key here is the Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, which Fox is leaving after having visited her (ex?) boyfriend Brian Austin Green's son and teachers. 

Yes, celebs send their children to public schools sometimes.  I thought they all homeschooled these days.

Wonderland has a 10 rating  from Great Schools. 

It's located just off Laurel Canyon Road, where I used to ride every day on my way to work.

THOMPSON: Stimulating New Thoughts

Bulb3 At the basketball game, a parent and I had another of those discussions on discipline. It was no different than the conversations that have been repeated throughout my entire career, but it left me more saddened than previous ones. With the recession, we agreed, disruptions would increase as would racial animosity.  (Just wait for the backlash over the new discipline policy in Washington D.C.)

As I replayed the conversation in my mind, I realized that the Stimulus Package could change everything. Now, the parent’s proposals made more sense than any that I had been wrestling with. So, here are his ideas for secondary schools:

1. Make classroom disruptions a priority; quickly remove students who are robbing others of an education.                                                                                                                                     

2. Hire additional In-House Suspension teachers so that most offending students would not serve their consequences on the streets.                                                                                                          

3. Hire counselor/graduation coachs so that every suspension is accompanied by a significant and caring intervention. - John Thompson

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Obama's Remarks on Education Get Mixed Reviews US News
Pundits react to the president's plan to improve public schools with skepticism and lukewarm praise.

Schools Say Stimulus Package Is Too Late NPR
He's offering up $115 billion toward schools in his stimulus package. However, local school officials say that money may not be enough.

Teachers' Satisfaction on Rise, Survey Finds EdWeek
eachers’ views on their profession have become markedly more positive over the past quarter century, concludes a report by MetLife.

Nation's top education official urges innovation to improve ...  Detroit News
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today Detroit's next mayor must take accountability for the city's schools, and he challenged the state's largest ...

Deskercise: Staying Jazzed And Focused At School NPR
Some schools are working short physical activity breaks into classes. Proponents of this movement-based learning say these short "deskercises" or "energizers" help kids stay focused — and burn off some calories, too.

BOOKS: "The Street Stops Here"


There are some really amazing parts to "The Street Stops Here," a newish book about the effort to help grow a New York City Catholic boys school, which I finally got the chance to read a few weeks ago. 

Half infamous layouts myspaceFirst and foremost is the complexity and humanity in the portrait of the principal, including his home and health problems and what he does at home after work.  Education attracts a lot of passionate, somewhat damaged individuals, and this book does a great job showing how heroic the adults' efforts can be -- even when the individuals are themselves flawed.  There are also some great details and observations -- about the dances at the school, and how the boys treat other boys who sometimes suck their thumbs despite being teenagers. 

There's nothing sentimental about the description of the school, or the kids.  You don't have to care much about Catholic education to see the implications here for urban schools in general -- though the author makes a strong case for parochial schools, which have educated the underclass in America going back to the days when the underclass was Irish. 

TODAY IN DC: Broader Bolder Accountability Meeting

The Broader Bolder Approach folks are convening today to lament Linda Darling Hammond's return to Stanford explore how a workable accountability system can be designed, and principles for a new accountabily system that will be presented to the Obama administration.

State_of_the_UnionWho's a member of this particular cabal?  Presenters will include: Christopher Cross, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education (1989-91); Daniel Koretz, author of Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us; Susan B. Neuman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education (2001-03); Tom Payzant, BBA co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education (1993-1995); Diane Ravitch (via video), former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education (1991-1993); Richard Rothstein, author of Grading Education, Getting Accountability Right; Robert Schwartz, Academic Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and founding president, Achieve.

Via Fritzwire.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Brookings study gives thumbs down to European test AP
When it comes to evaluating US students with their counterparts around the world, the National Governors Association and other groups would like states to include a European test used in 57 countries. ...

Study ranks Dallas ISD No. 2 among big cities for academic gains Dallas Morning News
Urban school districts continue to trail far behind suburban and rural school systems, but they are improving at a faster pace, according to the study released Wednesday by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

S.C. School In Obama Speech Needs New Site NPR
President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday to Congress contained references to the state of disrepair of a school in Dillon, S.C. Ray Rogers, superintendent of Dillon School District Two, discusses how the school stands to benefit from the stimulus plan.

No free lunch: Schools get tough on deadbeats MSNBC
A cold cheese sandwich, fruit and a milk carton might not seem like much of a meal — but that's what's on the menu for students in New Mexico's largest school district without their lunch money.

CHICAGO: Arne's Chicago Plans Fall Apart (A Little)


It's been not much more than a month since Arne Duncan left Chicago and more than a couple of things have been moving around. 

Chicago-theatreFirst, negotiations between CPS and a well-funded outside turnaround manager (Chicago RIse) fell apart.

Then, new CPS head Ron Huberman decided that roughly a quarter of the schools that had been recommended for closure or consolidation should be pulled off the list -- something that had never been done before at such a scale. 

Youth violence remains a major problem in the city, though most of it remains outside of the school buildings. 

Financial woes remain largely out of sight, though rumor has it that money problems -- not just your usual ones -- are coming soon.

Already, Chicago schools seem like less of a miracle than they were presented.  Not that many in Chicago ever believed that stuff.

BLOGS: Best Of The Day

Obama's Congressional Address: Education Key to Economic Recovery Politics K12
Obama set a new goal--that by 2020, the United States will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

12ef082ab9f4fcf70fd33f2522c6b4b64003995c_mQuote of the Day: 'Taking Kids Away from Home' Early Stories
Early Stories likes nothing better than coming across good journalism about pre-kindergarten.

Brain Teaser EIA
A proposed bill in the Utah legislature would ban school districts from contributing to the salaries of release-time union presidents. It’s customary for local unions to reimburse districts for the cost of a substitute, but some contracts have the district sharing the cost.

Ups and Downs for OLPC Schools For Tomorrow
In January, The One Laptop Per Child project cut 50 staff members and turned development of SugarOS over to the public.

Like Nails On A Chalkboard Eduwonk
President Obama said exactly this about charter schools tonight: “And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.” But judging by the various strong reactions over in The Arena at Politco you’d think that was the subject of the speech…or even just the education part…rather than a single sentence.

Turning School Buses Into Classrooms USNews
Two researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville want to turn school buses into virtual mobile classrooms across Arkansas after a successful yearlong pilot program.

MIAMI MYSTERY: Gathering Of Leaders

Here's some more information about this year's Gathering Of Leaders, New Profit's annual confab (no, they're not joining the SEIU):

Logo_gathering"The fifth annual Gathering of Leaders is bringing together a set of remarkable leaders who are ready to share their experiences and lessons learned with more than 170 Gathering participants. Our objective? To explore the opportunities for the Gathering community in this new era of social innovation."

Lead funder is the Knight Foundation.  Key speakers and panelists include the usual -- Fenty, Booker, Rhee, etc.  Schnur, Barth (KIPP), Steve Barr, Rob Gordon, Wendy Kopp. (The "fix it from outside" crowd, by and large.)  No, you're not invited.  (Neither am I.)  But don't worry -- there's lots of smart folks there and I'm sure they can get it done without us. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Obama puts spotlight on education deficit Los Angeles Times
He wants U.S. to have highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. President Obama on Tuesday laid out a series of challenges for the nation to meet in job training and college attainment, part of an effort to give every child a "complete and competitive education."

A new adjustable-height school desk that allows students to stand or sit is gaining popularity.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers said yesterday that a recent op-ed article written by D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee represented "an apology" to instructors and reflected a conciliatory tone that she has recently struck in contract negotiations. 

Study Finds Edge for Certain Early Math ProgramsThe federally commissioned experiment is thought to be the largest to test some of the nation’s most widely used math curricula.

EDUPRENEURS: Splinter Group Seeks Unionization In Miami

107377927_8ce35e9464 Word is trickling out from Miami that a handful of rebellious edupreneurs at this year's Gathering Of Leaders have approached SEIU about possible unionization. 

High turnover, uncertainty over performance evaluation, and unnecessary scheduling of meetings are among the reasons cited for considering the move.

New Profit's annual invite-only retreat (NSVF meets Six Sigma) has operated up until this point outside of any collective bargaining agreement.

Here's the report (PDF) from last year's conference.

BLOGS: Best Of The Day

CPS Changes Course On Six School D299
Late Monday evening, CPS announced that it was changing course on six of its school closings and turnarounds.

Governors Endorse 'Common Core' of Standards, Leave Debate for Later NCLB 2
Its members approved a policy statement that could lead to a set of national standards.

Is Arne Duncan Really Margaret Spellings in Drag? Diane Ravitch
I wanted to believe candidate Barack Obama when he said that he would introduce real change and restore hope.

Larry Copes on Education Reform and the Freedom to Mod learning.now
I find it interesting that the entire article on education reform, and all the responses so far, have equated education with schooling.

The Scoop on the Stim: Teacher Effectiveness Teacher Beat
If you're a teacher-policy geek like me, you'll want to check out all the teacher-related details in the completed stimulus.


The contemporary relevance of the advocacy organization.

THOMPSON: Alternatives

Peer_pressure   A decade ago, our district had a great instructional leader who predicted that our neighborhood schools would be almost completely replaced by magnet and alternative schools. Back then, my school was a typical inner ring suburban school struggling with the rise of crack and fifteen years of losing industrial jobs to the exurbs and beyond.

We conformed to the pattern described by Victor Harbison’s indictment of magnet schools. After losing their top students "neighborhood schools, without restrictive admission policies ... quickly spiraled downward — somewhat like an economy. Except in education, we can’t lay off students who have a negative impact on the school culture." Harbison was equally astute in arguing that investments in high-quality alternative schools would have been much more cost effective. "Imagine if pulling out the ‘bottom ten’ (percent) had been the policy for the past 30 years. Neighborhood schools could have purred along like the go-go 90’s under Clinton and the students with the greatest needs, facing the greatest challenges, would have had millions of dollars in resources devoted to their education."

Please notice the quotation marks on the "bottom ten." Before NCLB, our district’s goal was "Rolls Royce quality" alternative schools. I would never separate a student due to poor classroom performance, although alternative slots should be a positive option. And when a student is emotionally incapable of functioning in a neighborhood school, we are not helping anyone by allowing a constant pattern of disruptions. - John Thompson

USDE: Jo Anderson To Join Duncan Team

There hasn't been any official confirmation yet, but at least a couple of knowledgeable bloggers are reporting that Jo Anderon from the Illinois Education Association is going to join the Duncan team -- perhaps as head of the innovations effort:

Three over coffee. « Fred Klonsky’s blog.
I hear Jo Anderson, Executive Director of the Illinois Education Association is about to announce that he is leaving that job and is heading for Washington to work for Arne Duncan.

The Education Optimists: Duncan's Team.
Jo is a dynamic presence and a thoughtful advocate for public education. He's also the type of guy who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.

I don't know Anderson, but I've heard a lot of folks speak highly of him. 

GREEN DOT: Back To Locke High School

110201362_37c26bda34 Over all, things seem like they're going pretty well at the school -- though of course there's lots of school left and there remain a lot of things they want to improve. 

It's the second semester, so kids are once again walking around with schedules in their hands. Most everyone --kids and teachers -- seems to be back.

There's some new fabric covering the cloth barrier that -- in theory -- keeps the black shirts away from the white shirts. The original must have gotten tagged or ripped.

I saw a new student being shown his classes and waiting for a lunch card.

A police helicopter made tight circles over a sunny after-school soccer game, looking for whoever fired shots on Avalon Avenue right next to the school.

OSCARS: Remembering What "Milk" Is About

Harvey-milk-pic Sean Penn's big win on Sunday night is a reminder that the film he won for -- MILK -- is about among other things the effort to fight against discrimination against gay teachers in San Francisco. 

There's nothing quite as obvious going on now, though I feel like there's still a lot of discrimination against gay educators (and can't believe that there are only two openly gay big-city school superintendents).

Sure, lots of schools have LBGT clubs, and perhaps a few openly gay students.  But where are the gay teacher, administrators, and principals? 

They're still closeted, I fear, understandably thinking that schools, like the military, still work on a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

State budget doesn't alter plans to lay off teachers San Jose Mercury
In the meantime, districts are awaiting news of how President Barack Obama's stimulus package will affect them. They are likely to receive funding that will support special education and poor students, but they won't know how much of a potential...

Oregon School Cuts Back to Four Day Weeks NPR
The tough economy has taken its toll on many schools. For the Oakridge School in Oakridge, Oregon, cutting the school week to four days has been a cost cutting measure.

Congress Revisits Construction Tiff EdWeek
As Congress rushed to finalize the $787 billion economic-stimulus package on Feb. 12, one relatively small program held things up: school construction.

Ackerman's plan for Phila. schools Philadelphia Inquirer
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman hopes to close failing schools and reopen them under private management or as charters.

Well: The 3 R’s? A Fourth Is Crucial, Too: Recess NYT
The best way to improve children’s performance in the classroom may be to take them out of it.

BLOGS: Best Of The Day

Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st century Joanne Jacobs 
How a bill becomes a law in 2009. Via Instapundit.

84986287Will Bloomberg dump Joel Klein?Ed Notes Online
Total distractive bullcrap.

New name suggestions for No Child act Times Online
Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman offered a serious suggestion for the education act, the Quality Education for All Children Act.

Weekend QuotablesSmall Talk
Ravitch uses Linda Darling-Hammond's return from the White House to Stanford to cover her attack, claiming to support Linda but oppose Obama.

Margot/Mom on "Becoming a Part of the 'Reformy Crowd'" Charlie Barone
Pie in the sky or not, I like setting a goal of moving towards 100% proficiency. To do otherwise begins to beg the question of what level of proficiency ought we expect–and for whom do we lower the bar?

Kahlenberg on KIPP Kevin Carey
KIPP stays under the microscope of suspicion until it proves that it can help every poor child, while thousands of public schools across the country stay open even though they've definitively proved unable to help any poor children?

THOMPSON: Survivor Bias

B-17_Damage_Cologne The Car Talk puzzler was "a tale worthy of John Le Carre" where "life-saving wisdom emerges from the inky shadows." Interviewing flight crews after a bombing mission, without recognizing "survivor bias" or the different perspectives of the men who did not return, can actually create dangerously false information.

"Reformers" in education, seeking to replicate "best practices" from more effective schools, make the same mistake by not listening to teens who have been driven out of urban schools. How many drop out due to violence or the chronic disruptions that wear down students’ will to learn? As Robert Pondiscio says, how much of the "achievement gap" is actually a "time-on-task gap" because of classroom disruptions?

Survivor bias can also illustrate the inherent contradictions between data-driven accountability and data-driven decision-making.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Survivor Bias" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Obama to Tell Congress How Agenda Will Aid Economy NYT
The speech offers Mr. Obama his most expansive opportunity yet to explain how he believes principal pieces of his agenda can — and need to — be accomplished. He hopes to expand health care coverage, improve education programs, increase the country’s ...

Takeover Idea Out of Consideration, Rhee Says Washington Post
Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee says the District is no longer exploring the idea of seeking federal legislation declaring the school system in a "state of emergency," a move that would have freed it from the obligation to bargain with the Washington Teachers' Union.

Rename Law? No Wisecrack Is Left Behind NYT
Educators, wonks and assorted rabble-rousers are working to rename the No Child Left Behind act.

Creative Leaders' Will to Succeed Is Key to KIPP NYT
Jaime Escalante, the man who taught me the power of great teaching, had a Spanish word he used often in his East Los Angeles math classes: ganas. It meant the will to succeed, the urge to make an extra effort.

Storytelling, Ghetto Film School-Style PBS
In a converted former piano factory overlooking the East River in the Bronx, kids learn top-notch film school techniques — and don't pay a cent for the experience. It's the Ghetto Film School, and its mission is to teach the art of narrative storytelling to kids from New York City.

TEAM & FAMILY: A Veteran Educator's Charter School Experience

When two teachers came up to Kashi Nelson earlier this year and invited her to a meeting, Nelson was not at all enthused.

After all, it was all the extra meetings at the KIPP school in Brooklyn that the veteran educator felt were making the school year so hard. 

But this wasn't just another hastily-scheduled, superfluous-seeming meeting where administrators would lecture teachers.  This was a meeting for teachers to talk about whether to join the union or not. 

Knowing that, the 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher decided to go. 

"If something's going on around me, I want to know," says Nelson."Let me just see what's up."

Nelson's experience at KIPP AMP sheds light on how teachers at the small charter school came to believe that union representation was the best way to go, and illustrates some of the challenges that charter networks like KIPP face when their numbers increase and their faculties become more diverse.

Continue reading "TEAM & FAMILY: A Veteran Educator's Charter School Experience" »

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

A Principal's Really Bad Day Mark Walsh
Imagine that on the day the auditors are visiting, there's a small fire...

Getting real-er Joanne Jacobs
More states are linking academic standards and graduation requirements to what students will need to succeed in college and careers, reports Achieve in Closing the Expectations Gap.

Disparate Views of Teacher Performance in San Francisco Teacher Beat
There are a lot of interesting findings to pick through, but the section that most struck me concerns teacher evaluations.

090209_ex_PeanutButterStudies Show Teach for America Teachers Are... Ed Notes
As we all know from these growing studies, TFA first year teachers are at least thousands of times more effective than any other teachers that ever lived.

Teachers union pitches KIPP’s alleged resistance to national press GothamSchools
The national branch of our local teachers union apparently has decided that the story of the KIPP charter school network’s alleged ...

Fordham Discovers Federalism! Again! Eduwonk
It’s well worth reading, illustrative, and important, but for the foreseeable future this awkward federal- state marriage is going to be the game...

Study: Students Pretty Much Expect B's For Breathing Jezebel
Sure, too much self-esteem boosting can make someone overconfident and lazy, but too much emphasis on grades can make them — well, obsessed with grades.

Heartland High School Principals Classify Rent as 'Edgy' Again  Gawker
While the she show's composer Jonathan Larson and his producers and cast may not have found the show scandalous fourteen long years ago, some sweater-vested principal might find his own school's version to be Last Tango in Paris: For Kids.

17-Year-Old Dalton Student Jumps to Death from 11th Story Window Gawker
Reports indicate that a group of students witnessed the as-yet-unidentified boy's death.

MONEY: Think You Know Your Stim Numbers? You Have No Idea.

Chutesladders The Administration is running around telling everyone how much money they're going to get but in reality state and local education agencies have no idea how exactly how things are going to pan out. 

That's the gist of this (Speculation Rampant) story from the Title I Monitor, which points out that there are lots of twists and turns inside the stim that folks still don't understand -- how the money is allocated isn't necessarily how it's going to be spent, for example -- and that state funding formulas and district by district decisions could affect how the money is used.  Check it out.

Continue reading "MONEY: Think You Know Your Stim Numbers? You Have No Idea." »


There's some great writing in Jesse Katz's award-winning story, The Test Of Their Lives -- especially the profile of teacher Jim Moore, a strange mix of ambivalence and ambition:

"He is not a miracle worker, the white savior from an after-school special. He is not one of the cool young teachers, the kind eager to show off their rapport with inner-city kids. Moore is a Gen Xer lurching toward middle age, trying to pay the rent, hoping to win the girl, struggling to live his life without being a fake. “Up to now, I haven’t exactly been a do-gooder,” he says. “Some teachers, they’re like, ‘Oh, the children…’ I’m not sure if I have that driving, crazy love. I’m kind of a half-assed crusader.”

FUTURE: "Education Today and Tomorrow"

Here's a video that a couple of people have sent to me -- thanks!  It's meant to be mind-expanding, and maybe a little frightening, even though it's already somewhat dated.  

Whether in the case of 2 Million Minutes or this or STEM or Flat World stuff in general, my usual thought is that we shouldn't take our eyes off the basic prize:  literacy and numeracy and some basic content knowledge for as many kids as possible. 

Technology doesn't change that.  Demographics don't change that. But maybe I'm missing something. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

GOP senator, education official clash over tests South Carolina
State Sen. Jane Orie glared intently at state Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak yesterday as they clashed over Gov. Ed Rendell's ambitious plan to create new tests for high school students called Graduation Competency Assessments.

Pine-tree-car-air-freshenerD.C. Area Schools Chiefs' Perk That Refreshes: Travel Washington Post
School superintendents in the Washington region work punishing hours as a rule, with duties that blur day and evening, week and weekend. Some ease the strain by getting away from the office -- far away, and often.

Obama Adds An Urban Affairs Czar Congressional Quarterly
The White House gained another czar on Wednesday when President Obama made good on his long-rumored decision to appoint Adolfo Carrion to the new post of Director of Urban Affairs.

Dewey Principal Passes Away During Local School Council Meeting District 299
Dr. Janice Buckley, principal of Dewey Academy of Fine Arts, 5415 S. collapsed and died yesterday during a school LSC meeting.

Crist wants payback Politico
After supporting stimulus, Crist says help for his schools "will be looked on favorably."

USDE: Stanford Professor Not Joining Duncan Team


Stanford Professor Linda Darling Hammond is spreading the word that she's not going to be joining the Duncan team at the USDE after all, citing a desire to return to California and to be with family.  According to a letter that was passed on to me, she's got an ailing daughter and a policy center she aims to develop:

I'm sure she'll continue to do well at whatever she does, but this outcome -- predictable as it is -- seems like a shame.

Also, 30 days into the Obama administration we still don't have most of the USDE senior posts filled.  (Steve Robinson apparently has signed on as a special assistant to AD but that's it.) There's no stimulus excuse anymore.  What's the holdup?  Who's under consideration? Is there going to be a "stim czar" at the Department to help shovel out all the loot?

UPDATE:  A group email from LDH to friends and colleagues is below.

Continue reading "USDE: Stanford Professor Not Joining Duncan Team" »

BLOGS: Once Around The Blogosphere

Stop Worrying, Florida
There's no way that President Obama is going to travel to economically struggling Fort Myers, Fla., to stump for the stimulus, appear with Gov. Charlie Crist...and then deny the state access to its share of a huge chunk of the money.

Arne Duncan will meet with mayor, then visit a Brooklyn charter
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is meeting with Mayor Bloomberg probably as I type to discuss how the federal stimulus package will help the New York City schools.

03lent2_190Chicago, NYC closings follow similar pattern Medill Reports
Click on the PDF to see a full breakdown of the similarities and the procedural differences between two of the nation’s largest school systems, each struggling to overcome generations of poor academic achievement. Via GothamSchools.

The Accountability Illusion
Today the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Kingsbury Center at Northwest Evaluation Association released a groundbreaking new study, The Accountability Illusion. It peels back layers of the No Child Left Behind Act as implemented and reveals an enormously uneven and misleading system of school accountability.

Rethinking Rahm Emanuel's Mandatory Student Service In 2006, Emanuel and Bruce Reed called for 3 months of service in their book.

The new/old myths about tenure
If you read an entry earlier this month on Fordham's Flypaper blog, you might have the impression that Ohio Governor Ted Strickland rolled the unions by wanting tenure to be awarded after nine years and changing the dismissal standards to "just cause."

MEDIA: Covering Online Ed Is Where It's At, Says EWA Editor

Nerds.jpg EWA editor Linda Perlstein says that online education the next big thing for education journalists to cover:

"If you want to know what’s going on in schools, get into the classroom. But if you want to understand one of the fastest growing trends in American education, here’s a new imperative: Sit in front of the computer."

Perlstein recommends taking an online course to see how it feels.  Having written about online education, I'd say that spending time with the teachers who support  online classes -- or the computer centers where kids take online classes -- is a better way to go.  But there's lots of good information and ideas in the piece.  Check it out (EWA News). 

THOMPSON: Integrity

Barney-frank-sm Rachel Maddow is so beguiling that I was almost bought her suggestion that the Obama administration should renege on Bush’s TARP agreements. But her guest, Barney Frank, was unequivocal, "We know how to stop this from happening again. But the principle that you do not go back and retroactively (change the rules) is a very important principle. We as liberals should be honoring this."

It would be nice to have a magic wand that would righteously undo past agreements, and identify and remove the less effective teachers and save promising young teachers from lay-offs. Here’s an idea for renegotiating contracts without dishonoring our liberal principles. Bill Raabe of the National Education Association says, "I can tell you that there are hundreds, thousands of contracts that have language in them that says a step increase can be withheld for ‘just cause’ and usually that is linked to performance." What if we actually utilized that language and linked seniority protections to continued demonstration of effectiveness?

Or we could negotiate plenty of other systems - as long as we maintain the integrity exemplified by Congressman Frank. - John Thompson

BLOGS: TIME "Best Blog" Owes Me Big Time

25_blogs_detentionslip Forget the puny "Colbert bump."  The press release announcing that DetentionSlip.org -- a litany of misdeeds and mishaps in class and on campus -- has been named one of the 25 Best Blogs for 2009 cites me as a "prominent education columnist" who makes frequent use of the site (here).  Hilarious, I know. 

Congrats to Anthony and Chuck.  Condolences to Anthony's parents, who are both educators.  Take that to all of you who think that education has to be solemn and polite all the time. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Florida school leaders warned of deep cuts Tallahassee Democrat
Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith warned school superintendents Wednesday of the possibility of a 16-percent budget cut that would affect the 2009-2010 school year.

How to Spend $100 Billion on Education US News
The stimulus money could help pay for college, Head Start, and special ed but not construction.

6a00e54f8c25c98834010536fa9db8970b-150wi cccA sweeping new plan for Phila. schools Philadelphia Inquirer
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman yesterday presented a sweeping, controversial vision for the Philadelphia School District's future that includes shutting down failing schools and potentially reopening them as charter schools, reducing class sizes, and overhauling teacher hiring.

For young Ohio engineering team, the future is green USA Today
The middle-school winners of the National Engineers Week Future City Competition envision a eco-inspired urban living.

ACLU Sues N.C. School District Over Access NPR
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued a school district in North Carolina, claiming the Wilkes County schools denied access to a pacifist who wanted to talk to students about alternatives to the military.

Board Told to Open Up About Closed Sessions Washington Post
The public knows only that the board is getting legal advice, not the topic.

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

States Take Up Tenure Reform Teacher Beat
Hold on to your hats, because it looks like the issue of teacher tenure is poised to leap onto the national scene, with at least three states considering...

The Miracle Teacher, Revisited Diane Ravitch
Isn't it wonderful that we have economists with tons of data (but no practical experience) to tell us how to find and reward great teachers?

090223_fairey04_p323Roberto Rodriguez heads to the White House Gadfly
Roberto Rodriguez, a longtime staffer for Senator Ted Kennedy, will be working on education policy issues from the White House Domestic Policy Council. [ED:  I also read that former Obama Senate aide Steve Robinson will be a special assistant to Arne Duncan.]

All Eyes on Illinois ... Ed Policy Watch
Both President Obama and Arne Duncan, his secretary of education, hail from the Windy City, and both played a role in expanding early education programs in Illinois and Chicago. It seems reasonable to expect that their experiences will inform their federal policy agenda for early education.

Black Market Crackdown EIA
It must be time for another media wave.

“The Most Powerful Ed Secretary Ever” Core Knowledge
The ed world continues its efforts to simply wrap its collective mind around the just-passed stimulus bill and the gaudy sums it contains for education.

Teacher fights to wear mask at school Detentions Slip
With a history of severe allergies, all she wants is to wear her respiratory mask around campus when she isn't in her air-filtered room.

THOMPSON: What Would Orwell Say?


NPR programing is brought to you by "Edutopia, What Works in Education!"

"What works" is the brand of the gold standard of research, which is great. Educational utopia is visionary and idealistic, which is great, but it is the antithesis of their new slogan.

In education, aren’t words supposed to have meaning? Isn’t there a problem with completely turning our policy discussions over to public relations? - John Thompson

HOT...FOR EDUCATION: The Top Twenty For 2009

Charles best 2 Lindsay mask It's Wednesday afternoon.  It's snowing.  The stimulus excitement is over.  The economy still sucks.  There's at least another month of winter ahead of us.  And so, here they are, the 20 hottest education folks of 2009 -- an all-new set of education hotties from the worlds of journalism, philanthropy, policy, politics, practice, and even the classroom (sort of).

In no particular order, based on the best pics and advice available, with apologies in advance for any misidentifications (like last year's Heather Higginbottom fiasco).  Thanks to Facebook, this might be the hottest group ever.  But I'm sure I got some wrong.  Send pictures or links to back up your claims!  Thanks for all the input.  Sorry not to be able to include everyone's secret crushes objective recommendations.

Continue reading "HOT...FOR EDUCATION: The Top Twenty For 2009" »

ALT ED: First, Get Rid Of All The Magnet Schools

I'm late in pointing your attention to Victor Harbison's blog post against magnet schools, which is now running in the New York Times:

"When educational leaders decided to create magnet schools, they didn’t just get it wrong, they got it backwards...What should have been done was to pull out the bottom ten percent. Educational leaders could have greatly expanded the alternative school model and sent struggling students to a place that had been designed to meet their educational needs."

What do you think?  Should there be "bottom ten" schools instead of magnets?  It's politically problematic -- parents and many educators would scream bloody murder -- but I'm not so sure it doesn't make sense on substance.  Click here  to read the whole post (Magnet Schools: More Harm Than Good?).

Cross-posted from D299

MEDIA: Not Enough Education Goodies On ProPublica

 There's not a lot of investigative journalism out there these days -- or at least not as much as some folks would like. ProPublica is supposed to solve that. 

PropublicaBut what does ProPublica offer by way of education-related content? Not much, to be honest. There's no dedicated section to education issues. I can find just a few recent items related to education (Justice Department Sat on Youth Suicide Study).  And, last week, ProPublica ran an item on the school construction funding debate (How Much Your School District Stands to Lose) that seemed more like something the Administration would have put out than something independent or critical minded.  (In fact, PP was just passing along some numbers generated by the Dems to make the Senate bill look bad.) 

But all is not lost.  There's a good State-by-State Breakdown of the Economic Stimulus Plan that links to some IDEA and Title I numbers, for example. Now that the legislation is law, the information seems more useful (and less inflammatory) than back when the debate was in full swing.   

MEDIA: New Guy At The New York Times

843c442b47ff38dd41d19d6eac984c326f6cd0f1_m  Let's give a This Week In Education welcome to Javier C. Hernandez, the New York Times metro reporter whose byline has started to appear pretty regularly above education stories during the last few weeks. Here are a few recent examples of the reporter's work:

Hurdles for a Plan to Turn Catholic Classrooms Into Charters
Giant Manhattan School to Be Broken Up
To Close a School: A Decision Rooted in Data, but Colored by Nuance

Welcome, and watch out!

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

For Education Chief, Stimulus Means Power, Money and Risk NYT
Arne Duncan must decide how to disburse $100 billion in emergency aid for schools and colleges.

Stimulus Aid to Schools a Management Challenge EdWeek
Federal officials will have to balance speed and accountability in dispersing billions of dollars in education assistance to states and districts.

NewsstandFacing Budget Deficits, States Eye Stimulus Funds PBS
As governors and state legislatures examine the economic stimulus bill President Obama plans to sign Tuesday, they are assessing whether it could help them avoid raising taxes, cutting jobs or scaling back programs to close growing budget deficits.

State school chief apologizes after some find remarks offensive Seattle Times
A few weeks ago, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn ticked off some legislators when — without at least consulting them — he announced plans to do away with the Washington Assessment of Learning.

Thousands rally for Oregon's schools The Oregonian
Students and parents urge state lawmakers not to let budget cuts force classes to end early

BLOGS: Once Around The Blogosphere

Beards-and-moustaches-smTen Teachers Who Made a Mark in Another Field Brittanica Blog
These ten individuals left teaching and went on to achieve greatness in their chosen fields.

The largest education slush fund in history Petrilli
Here’s one eye-popping number: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will have a $650 million kitty he can use to fund “innovative” states, school districts, or non-profits.

That's Settled Kevin Carey
By my count NCLB is now "fully funded."

NBPTS Unveils Video of Teachers Teacher Beat
If you've ever wanted to find out just what it is that sets national-board-certified teachers apart from their peers, now's your chance.

KIPP charter school funders Republican Party donors GothamSchools
The people who have been the charter school network’s major benefactors are also among the Republican Party’s most generous contributors.

Battle of Boston: Charter vs. Pilot Schools Class Struggle
In the national charter school debate, Boston has special significance. The city has unleashed imaginative teachers to run both independent charter schools and semi-independent “pilot” schools, with much of the rest of the country waiting to see which does best.

READING: Weekend Catch-Up

Here are some worthwile stories that I missed from last week:

Emergency Aid May Not Stop Layoffs of Teachers Wall Street Journal
School districts across the country say an emergency federal aid package pending in Congress will go a long way toward averting teacher layoffs, but hasn't eliminated worries over the potential damage to education from the current economic slump.

Alonso comes 'as is' Baltimore Sun
In July 2007, Andrés Alonso — the immigrant with four Ivy League degrees — charged into Baltimore to bring a culture of high achievement to a school system where historically only about half the students have graduated. It is an enormous task, one at which many have failed, not only here but in cities across America.

Questions for Bill Ayers: Radical Cheer Times Magazine
The former Weatherman talks about why he didn’t speak out during Barack Obama’s campaign, what he’d like to do with Sarah Palin and why he always looks on the bright side.


How to Protect Your Child's Mental Health US News
Parents and schools can make the difference, according to the Institute of Medicine.

The ACLU Sues a Florida School District Over Gay-Straight Alliance US News
The district has prohibited two students from starting a Gay-Straight Alliance group on campus.

The Myth of Bipartisanship American Prospect
Given the consistent failure of compromise between Republicans and Democrats, it might be time to take away the minority's most harmful weapon: the filibuster.

What to do about teens and their dumb naked photos of themselves. Slate
Say you're a middle school principal who has just confiscated a cell phone from a 14-year-old boy, only to discover it contains a nude photo of his 13-year-old girlfriend. Do you: a) call the boy's parents in despair, b) call the girl's parents in despair, or c) call the police?

MEDIA: Great Stories About Education

Two of the three winners of this year's Medill public service journalism awards are directly or indirectly related to education:

NewsstandThe Test of Their Lives LA Magazine
For this profile of the academic decathlon team from Jordan High School in Watts, Katz was there on the first day of school in September and returned day after day until the end of the competition in February.

Nine Miles and Spreading LA Weekly
With remarkable depth and access, Landesman tells a powerful story of gang life in LA’s most violent neighborhoods, and shows through riveting personal portraits how gang activity has metastisized, undergoing a murderous qualitative change while spreading far beyond its former urban boundaries into suburbs and even the countryside across the nation.

STATISTICS: Measuring What's Important -- Or What's Easily Measured

Basketballstatistics Critics of the more simplistic uses of standardized testing and performance pay will find much to love in this Times Magazine article on how basketball (and other pro sports) often use statistics that focus their attention on the wrong things and this miss out on what's most important: 

"For most of its history basketball has measured not so much what is important as what is easy to measure — points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots — and these measurements have warped perceptions of the game."

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

States Hope Stimulus Will Boost Sagging Local Economies PBS
With state officials scrutinizing the stimulus plan for funding they hope will revive regional economies, four business writers examine what the real impact may look like.

Tennessee schools want to raise money with color ads on buses The Tennessean
Tennessee school buses soon could be carrying advertising slogans along with students as cash-strapped school districts attempt to plug holes in their budgets.

270925293_61974096a6Homework isn't done? It's OK at Hazel Park Star Tribune
A St. Paul school is trying a new way of assessing if kids know their stuff. Some parents are skeptical.

Industry Makes Pitch That Smartphones Belong in Classroom NYT
Proponents of the sale of cellphones to schools say they are making the same kind of pitch the computer industry has been profitably making since the 1980s.

Early Launch for Language Washington Post
One in an occasional series comparing two takes on teaching popular subjects.

Lessons Of France's 'The Class' Transcend Borders NPR
Authenticity was important to the producers of The Class,, which is based on a book by a former middle school teacher. Some American teachers say that while the film is set in France, it also provides a window into what goes on in an urban middle school in the United States.

PETA Urges Obama to Give Kids Vegetarian School Lunches USNews
PETA tells President Obama that he could fight childhood obesity by cutting off funds for meat.


Sisyphus I’m not the sort of teacher who gives tests during Homecoming, much less Valentines Day. This week, however, I saw no alternative. It wasn’t pretty.  I believe that the discipline of a test on Friday did more good than harm. Something was needed to concentrate our minds, and eminent hangings were not an option.

Accountability measures can be useful as long as they are not overused. Whenever I have to use grades as leverage, my classroom instruction has fallen short. But I do not blame myself unless I have failed with the really important tools of teaching - listening, sensitivity to body language, choosing the right tone of voice, timing, thinking ahead, and making adjustments. I had a feeling that this week’s challenges would be coming at us nonstop, and I was not mistaken. The recession is just starting and students will be bringing even more of their pain to school. And when a child cries out, who would just respond with the stone of accountability? 

There are few activities where you can keep your feet on the ground and receive the same adrenalin rush as teaching in an urban secondary school.  We teachers can take a weekend break from our challenges.  Many kids do not have that option. - John Thompson

TRAGEDY: Buffalo Plane Crash Hits Clarence School District

Education-pix1 The New York Times notes that, among the 50 people who died in last week's plane crash, there were two with connections to the Clarence Central School District -- Ellyce Kausner, a 2003 graduate of the district high school, and the husband of Karen Wielinski, a secretary in the school district’s personnel department, whose house was hit by the plan (Fifty Varied Lives, Ended on a Cold, Foggy Night).

“It is both surreal and somber,” said Thomas G. Coseo, the superintendent of schools in Clarence who handed Ms. Kausner her diploma more than five years ago. “On one level, these two cases help personalize for the people who live here the stories of the others who were on board. There are ties between human beings that you don’t realize until a tragedy like this happens.”

STIM: Florida Seeks Stim Exemption

Stimulus Let the begging and wheedling begin! The stimulus bill isn't wasn't even signed into law yet when Florida politicians began petitioning the Obama administration for a hardship exemption from the Stim's maintenance of effort requirements (Crist, Nelson and Martinez beg for relief by Mark Matthews).  States are required to maintain their 2006 funding levels.  Florida has apparently already cut $600 million in education spending, which would make it ineligible for the state fiscal stabilization funding.  For more details see here.



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.