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APRIL 1st: Fordham Fools

Fool For a long while, what seems like a long while ago, the education analysis from the Fordham Foundation (now Institute) was witty, self-deprecating, ideologically coherent, and, well, readable.

One of the highlights was their annual April Fool's education headlines, in which they made up all sorts of plausible-sounding nonsense and filled it with hot air quotes and sendups of everyone (including me).

In honor of Fordham's faded glory -- and in hopes of encouraging a return to form sometime before too long -- here are some suggested headlines for the Fordham April Fool's 2009:

Fordham staffer gets new job writing for "Two & A Half Men"
Credits Gadfly for honing his comic timing and depth of knowledge.

"Hey, what happened to my Foundation?"
Checker dismayed at decline during 10 month visit to Mongolia.

Former Bush staffer takes job working for Duncan
"I really didn't have as much government experience as I needed," said Petrilli.

Think you can do better?  Go for it. 

Your fool always


BLOGS: Around The Blogosphere

Reforming Teaching: Are We Missing the Boat? LDH & DH
While the interest in teacher effectiveness is overdue, this approach does not offer a strategy to ensure that teachers will have opportunities to gain the skills they need.

Secretary Arne Duncan Meets with Mayors to Discuss Recovery Act Funding USDE
In attendance were David Cicilline (Providence), Kevin Johnson (Sacramento), and Cory Booker (Newark), as well as Doug Palmer (Mayor of Trenton and CEO of the U.S. Conference of Mayors).

Duncan Appoints 7-Year Old as Top Aid Ed Notes Online
" The pendulum in the country has swung too far to adults" – Arne Duncan

The Jimi Hendrix district Joanne Jacobs
Jimi Hendrix is the role model in San Francisco public schools, reports Chronicle columnists Philip Matier and Andrew Ross.

Test Teens For Depression, Says Government Panel Jezebel
An estimated 2 million teens in America — or 6% — are depressed, and most don't receive treatment.

POP CULTURE: Charter Student Sings 'American Idol'

Large_American-Idol-Allison-Iraheta First, those homeschooled kids started winning spelling bees.  Now, charter school kids are competing in reality TV contests.  She's Allison Iraheta.  She's in the top ten finalists on this season's American Idol.  She was in the bottom three last week. She goes to Animo Ralph Bunche -- a Green Dot school in LA (sorry!).  Her older sister is a teacher at the same school. 

What next? Voucher kids winning the Rhodes.  Mormon compound kids winning the Seimens science contest. 

LIVES: Childhood Secret Of CA School Boards Assoc. Staffer

Remember Rudy Stein in the original Bad News Bears? Me, neither.  Well, sorta. Anyway, the kid who played Stein, now 49, is named David Pollock and he currently works for the California School Board Association as senior director of program development. He's also the former president of the Moorpark Unified School District in southern California. (The Bears Are Badder Than Ever via Deadspin).

MEDIA: Same Story, Different Headline

A couple of weeks ago, Andy Rotherham and Richard Whitmire (the new Tom Toch?) co-wrote a piece in The New Republic about Randi Weingarten. The headline of the story read Making the Grade: Can AFT president Randi Weingarten satisfy teachers and reformers at the same time?.

Thumb_adamo_craftsmanshipBut when I came across the story on Bloglines, there was an interesting (and much more pointed) headline there: Is Union Leader Randi Weingarten A True Educational Reformer Or Just A Shill For Obstructionist Teachers?

Which version came first? I have no idea. Who determined that the original headline was too harsh? Again, no idea.

The Bloglines version is much spicier, and the conspiracy theorist who lives inside me imagines that it was something dreamed up by a sleep-drived editor and then deemed too hot by Whitmire and Rotherham.  But the official headline is in fact more fitting to the piece itself, which raises the possibility of Weingarten's duplicitousness but then moves on to other, gentler and more constructive possibilities and observations. Weingarten's not playing us, we're told; she's just not seeing all the opportunities.

THOMPSON: What Works

Keep_it_simple Russ Whitehurst, the former director of the What Works Clearinghouse, makes a particularly profound argument that innovative "processes," are more effective than innovative "products."  His wisdom is timely because the rules for Stimulus funding, seeking to avoid "falling off the cliff" after the money ends, tend to favor the purchase of products as opposed to investing in the human capital for more promising, ongoing reforms.

Whitehurst is equally astute in recommending measurable efficiencies, as opposed to measurable outputs (test scores). Fundamentally, Whitehurst is counseling more modesty and less infatuation with  products.  Hospitals, for instance, get better outcomes from simple processes like checklists and ensuring that hands are washed properly than from  "paradigm shifting" innovations.  

In other words, should Joel Klein reconsider his $300 million annual investment in accountability and $10,000 per day in courier services for delivery of test data, while threatening to cut teachers? - John Thompson 

USDE: The Hideout Moves East

Hideout Still no word on any of the top top jobs, but in the meantime the flow of Chicago folks headed East continues.  The latest is the addition of a longtime Chicago schools staffer (and famous bar owner): Tim Tuten to work for Arne Duncan

Forget Obama's basketball team.  Pretty soon, Duncan is going to have enough employees (Tuten) and customers
(Cunningham) on hist staff to open The Hideout in DC.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Saving teacher jobs tough AP
Education Secretary Arne Duncan threatens to "come down like a ton of bricks" on anyone who defies the administration's plans to bring relief to states like California where 26500 teachers have gotten pink slips.

Schools ponder how best to use stimulus funds AJC
Guidelines on how districts can use some of the money will be released on Tuesday, US Education
Secretary Arne Duncan said.


Providence mayor seeks clarification on use of education funds Prov. Journal
Mayor David N. Cicilline sought, but did not receive, clarification from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday on whether his department will allow Rhode Island to use federal stimulus dollars intended for ...

Miss. schools get new rating system Sun Herald
Mississippi's public schools will soon have a new accountability rating system and officials say the top status will be harder to achieve.

Lower property values hurt schools USA Today
Way back when times were good -- last April -- builders showed up one day at Forest Grove Middle School and gutted a little-used classroom off the gym.

Ariz. boy arrested after explosion at school yard AP
A 15-year-old boy was arrested after a device made of drain cleaner exploded in an Arizona school yard Monday, injuring him and eight other students....

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Oxen Update Eduwonk
There is a growing confluence of interests around appearing to reform without actually goring any oxen.

Why Great Teachers Are Story Tellers Core Knowledge Blog
Just about every teacher at some point tries to trick their students into learning something by making it “relevant” to students’ interests.  

Brenda_starrHow Bill Gates Would Repair Our Schools Washington Post (oped)
President Obama and his education secretary, former Chicago school superintendent Arne Duncan, are on the same wavelength. During an electronic town hall ...

Speaking Freely, Sometimes, Biden Finds Influential Role NYT
He sent a two-page note to the wife of Education Secretary Arne Duncan after meeting her at Mr. Duncan’s introductory news conference.

Obama's shameful silence Washington Times

Doesn't Mr. Obama at least have something to say publicly to those children and their parents - especially when his own education secretary, Arne Duncan..

Heeding John Hope Franklin's education warning Boston Globe

Somewhere Franklin is smiling. He went from being the first black person to sit in a Vanderbilt office to seeing the first black person run the Oval Office. There is no standardized test to measure how the nation went from there to that.

THOMPSON: Citizenship II

Woodyguthrie Tom Friedman says that today is September 12.  Today is December 8, 1941 and we need all hands on deck. I had a friend who was torpedoed three times in the North Sea, and later blacklisted for being "a premature anti-fascist."  The non-communist Left continued to pit anti-communists against anti-anti-communists for decades.

Will a litmus test be imposed on today's educators seeking to serve in the "Race to the Top?"   Will educators be asked, "Are you now, or were you ever a non-anti-accountability sympathizer in the Broader Bolder tradition? - John Thompson

USDE: Another Windy City Pick For Duncan

Greg darnieder "Greg Darnieder, the longtime head of the CPS Office of College and Careers, left the district this week to become special assistant on college access to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan." according to Catalyst Magazine (which sponsors by Chicago blog).  Read more here:  College access expert leaves CPS for DC.

MEDIA: Weekend Catch-Up

Things I didn't get to until over the weekend:

No Touching Allowed At Connecticut Middle School Jezebel
A Milford, CT middle school recently banned all physical contact between students, including high-fives, handshakes, and hand-holding, in an attempt to cut down on "horseplay."

C0409_AR_Testing_01How much school reform will $23 billion buy? Josh Greenman
Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, should be thinking much bigger.

Why can't governors spend stimulus money however they want? Slate
What's really stopping governors from spending stimulus money however they see fit?

Education Is Like, So Totally Rad, You Guys! Jezebel
Maybe I'm just a bitter old lady who hates to see the American Idol/High School Musicalization of EVERYTHING, especially education.

The Culture Of Poverty NPR
Can a little money can make a difference to those who were born and live in poverty? And is poverty something you have control over?

"Sexting" Teens File Lawsuit Against DA Jezebel
Ultimately, the terrible, no good, very bad, scary "sexting" trend that uptight crazies think is threatening the purity of our teenage girls is something that should be a conversation between those children and their parents, without the involvement of the courts.

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse? The Onion
Panelists debate whether games are teaching children skills they'll really need in the End Times.

MEDIA: Jacques Is Bacques

 After six years in exile, former NYT education reporter Jacques Steinberg is returning to the beat -- sort of.

Steinber032709Steinberg reported on NYC and then national K12 stories from 1995 to about 2002.  He only covered the national beat for a few years but I recall his pieces on the education industry and testing as being particularly memorable and well-reported. (Got any faves, let me know).

He left education in protest over the passage NCLB.  (No, not really.  There were widespread reports that journalists would quit the beat over NCLB but none of them actually followed through.)

Now Gawker reports (here) that the Timesman will be the lead writer of a new blog on the Times' favorite education topic: college admissions.   Called The Choice, the site officially debuts today.

Congrats, condolences.

SENATOR: Duncan Move Is "Arrogance Beyond Belief"

"Do we really want a federal official an unelected federal official to be able to start handing out $700 million because they feel they have a moral obligation?," Graham is quoted as saying.  "That is arrogance beyond belief."

Greenville News

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Schools ponder how best to use stimulus funds Atlanta Journal Constitution
Guidelines on how districts can use some of the money will be released on Tuesday, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

Legislators haggle over education spending NW Florida Daily News
The state will need a waiver from US Education Secretary Arne Duncan to obtain $2.7 billion in stimulus money for education because state spending on public ...
6a00e54f8c25c98834010536fa9db8970b-150wi ccc
CMS cuts 106 jobs from its offices Charlotte Observer
On Thursday, Gorman met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other federal education officials.

Ousted Phila. schools leader fields calls Philadelphia Inquirer
Callers to ousted School Reform Commission Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn's radio show yesterday couldn't wait to tell their host how they felt about Mayor Nutter's decision to replace her on the school district's governing body.

L.A. Unified cuts spark protests, finger-pointing LA Times
In an attempt to redirect the school district's budget ax, parent groups, unions and other organizations have rallied their members to make calls and write e-mails and letters to the board.

YouTube Launches Education Site US News
For the collegebound or those who are just curious, university-produced videos in one spot.

THOMPSON: John Hope Franklin

Johnhopefranklin As a child in the all-Black town of Rentiesville, John Hope Franklin witnessed his father’s venture into the Pogrom of 1921. Then it was called the "Tulsa Race War," and a Black lawyer seeking peace and justice for the victims of one of the great crimes in American history was putting his life at risk. When the "Tulsa Race Riot" finally was included in some history books, the death toll was reported to be 12, and the idea that Whites bombed "the Black Wall Street" from an airplane was dismissed as folklore, as were the reports of truckloads of Black bodies being sneaked out of town. Now we know that the death toll was 300 or more.

I am pleased to learn that Dr. Franklin became a vocal opponent of standardized testing and NCLB ( the law that which makes it even more difficult for poor children of color to be exposed to their history), but that issue should be left for another day.

We can not turnaround our high-poverty neighborhood schools without engaging in a conversation about race, class, and the damage inflicted by history on so many families. Franklin’s parents, for instance, would have never attended an opera because of their refusal to enter a segregated theater, but they left the decision up to their son. Franklin was honest about the psychic trade-off, enduring a humiliation of Jim Crow versus closing off a portion of his humanity by denying himself the music he loved. Since John Hope Franklin was able to frankly discuss the unmentionable, with such grace and civility, educators should be able to follow his inspirational lead. - John Thompson

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Why we're all embracing conventional wisdom in a world that's so unconvential Kevin Carey
The longer I work in public policy, the more I think about conventional wisdom.

Five Ways to Innovate in Education CAP
Melissa Lazarín and Robin Chait detail five innovative initiatives that states and school districts can implement with recovery funds.

ARRAballMarch Madness
Charlie Barone brings the funk.

Duncan's Take on Teacher Prep and 'Union Jobs' Teacher Beat
The education secretary wants weak teacher-prep programs to shape up, and reminds union leaders that federal stimulus dollars are saving classroom jobs.

Brit School Kids To Learn Twitter, Podcasting Instead Of WW2 Gawker
Though mandatory teaching on Second World War would become optional, it's already covered heavily in secondary schools. Children would be required to learn two key periods, but the school could decide which one.

Why Hasn't the Media Stopped Our Youth From Smokin' Smarties? Gawker
America faces many problems today, but none is as pressing as the epidemic of our children smokin' Smarties. Yes, the media are scaremongering. But are they scaremongering enough?

Goal of Preschool for All Tests Education System WSJ
Even in better times, building a "universal" preschool system would likely be a slow and expensive proposition, given the patchwork nature of what currently exists.

VIDEO: "Where The Wild Things Are" Trailer

A favorite childhood book is finally coming to movie screens:

I only hope that it turns out to be good. Via Jezebel

EDU-FAMILIES: Meet The Riccards

Here's another edu-family to check out:

IMG_1125 Patrick Riccards (pictured, far right), writes Eduflack and is CEO of Exemplar Strategic Communications.  His father is a retired college president who headed institutions such as St. Johns College in Santa Fe.  His mother was a lifelong NEA high school English teacher, who walked the picket lines in West Virginia in 1990!

That's not even the half of it, however. 

Patrick's wife, Dr. Jennifer Riccards, is a senior policy analyst at the US Department of Education's OPEPD and runs their Doing What Works website.  His wife's father was a Massachusetts superintendent, recently retired. His wife's grandfather helped lead the desegregation of Philly's public schools when he was assistant superintendent.

Feel like keeping this going?  Send me something about your family -- or a family you know about -- if you think it's up to the "edu-family" label.  Mail to thisweekineducation at gmail dot com. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

‘Virtual Town Hall’ Queries Range From Pot to Public Schools CQ
For 80 minutes on Thursday, President Obama morphed back into tech-savvy candidate Obama, presiding over a first-ever virtual town hall meeting from the East Room of the White House.

Duncan vows to deliver SC school funds USA Today
Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to send South Carolina's public schools as much as $700 million in federal stimulus cash, despite the objections of Mark Sanford, its Republican ...

NytoldGates Expands Free Microsoft Software to High Schools Bloomberg
Obama has proposed a performance-based compensation system for public-school teachers and is seeking higher pay for those specializing in math and science, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday on a conference call with reporters.

Democrats Gear Up to Sell Obama Agenda USNews
The Democratic National Committee will use political campaign-style techniques to reach many Americans

Obama Stiffs the Arts
The arts world is fuming over Obama's dubiously qualified "arts czar," and a humanities appointee who lacks a college degree.

Review: 'The Education of Charlie Banks' LA Times
Fred Durst makes an overly earnest directorial debut with a tale of a nerd and his bully.

CAREERS: "Call Of The Classroom"

Picture 2 In-depth, multimedia stories are great -- if you can get enough people to read them and make the effort worth it. 

Here's a recent example from AP's Libby Quaid (and others). 

Sometimes these stories are a big hit.

(Remember that AP story about states "gaming" their AYP calculations based on sample sizes and such?)

Other times, they don't really generate that much interest or spinoff pieces.

TEACHER U: Charter Folks Get Hands Dirty On Teacher Prep (Finally)


By and large, it seems, charter folks have tried to work around teacher preparation rather than take it on directly.  Easier to do alt cert and keep complaining about traditional prep than putting anything into changing the existing system.  Pretty typical charter school stuff.

HandcuffsBut now, reports Andy Smarick, Teacher U is finally taking shape in New York -- a creation of the leaders of Uncommon Schools and Achievement First and KIPP -- along with Hunter College. 

It's too soon to tell whether it's going to work, but it's a positive development that these charter-oriented folks are digging into one of education's core issues.  Other notable teacher prep efforts include the Boston Teacher Residency Program, AUSL in Chicago. 

Wouldn't it be cool if TFA got into the mix, too?  They've got the best brand recognition, and some subset of candidates who would actually like to be prepared for the job before they start doing it. 

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

States Start Redoing Their Tests The Hoff
Once again, Kentucky is out in front. Washington state and Texas aren't far behind.

Weingarten to Help Shape 2012 Primary Calendar The Saw
AFT President Randi Weingarten will have a hand in shaping the 2012 presidential primary calendar.

Tracy_flickARRA & Education: All Over the Map Barone
A roundup of state level mischief.

Who Lost Steve Lopez? Mike Antonucci
Steve Lopez is a columnist for the LA Times who is largely sympathetic to the claims of underfunding and overwork by the California public education establishment.

I received an apology Mike Klonsky
Here's what I found in my mailbox:

One For The KIPPer! Rotherham
If this whole thing becomes a debate about KIPP schools being able to dismiss teachers the union will most likely lose that one…

In Defense of Practice Dan Wilingham
“Drill and kill” are dirty words in education.

Education reform is a defining issue Harold Ford, Jr.

Toward that end, the president and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan should consider hosting an education reform summit at the White House.

REFORM: The War Within The Democratic Party

Custom_1237912656829_Frozen_Meat I finally got the chance to read Dana Goldstein's piece in The American Prospect, The Education Wars

I can't say exactly what big new thing I learned from it -- this "war" has been going on within the Democratic party for a long time now -- but it's a good recap and update on the state of play.  

Check it out.  There's not really much else going on. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

City takeover of Seattle schools: Would it help? Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Should the City of Seattle take over the school system? Results in other cities have been mixed.

Data: U.S. teachers contracted to work longer than G-8 counterparts CNN.com
Teachers in the United States are contracted to work more hours than their counterparts in other Group of Eight countries, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education.

SchoolforthegiftedStudents Sue Prosecutor in Cellphone Photos Case NYT
Almost unheard of a year or two ago, cases related to “sexting,” nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones, are popping up all over the country.

Budget problems dominate superintendent's first year San Diego Union-Tribune
Terry Grier has overseen nearly a quarter-billion dollars in budget cuts since he took the helm of the San Diego school district a year ago today.

Teaching Economics and Pizza Equations NYT
To help cope with budget cuts, a pizzeria owner donated paper to an Idaho teacher’s classes — with advertisements for his restaurant across the bottom of every sheet.

Arne Duncan and Country Singer Taylor Swift Make Same 'Tops' List EdWeek
He rang in at No. 98, edging out country pop star Taylor Swift, who was No. 100. Who beat Duncan? Cleveland Cavaliers' star LeBron James at No. 52.

DUNCAN: Questions To Ask The EdSec


EdSec Arne Duncan is scheduled to talk to the press about the President's budget at noon today. 

Here are some suggested questions:

-Is there anything that we can do to incent you to tell us who your Deputy Secretary is going to be?
-Is it really appropriate suggesting that reporters buy Peter Cunningham's daughter's CD?
-Is there anything we can do to make this press call dramatically better for you?

THOMPSON: Citizenship

Aobama_i_want_you The Army has a program where nearly all of it potential recruits get a GED within six weeks. The high success rate is attributed to discipline and the elimination of distractions. Why can’t we create a similar program for education where dropouts get help with their GED in return for working in community schools? How many twenty-somethings are still paying the price for being too immature in their teens to succeed in school, but who would be excellent mentors today?

Similarly AmeriCorp has provided 3000 Citizen Teachers to 44 schools, and it seeks to triple its program.  Volunteers "dramatically expand" the length of the school day, raising the aspirations and linking poor children with real world learning opportunities.  Volunteers include scientists to guide project based learning. - John Thompson

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus money will save 3,800 teaching jobs, Morton says Mobile Register
About 3,800 teacher positions will be spared with the $1 billion federal stimulus funds Alabama's education budget will receive over the next two years, state Superintendent Joe Morton told local superintendents and educators today.

Schools revamp schedules to save money USA Today
Schools are moving to four-day weeks, shortening the school year, staggering start times and making other schedule adjustments to save money.

Letters from 34,000 kids sent to Obama Baltimore Sun
Missives by elementary students in all 50 states emerge from handwriting project.

State may nudge bar upward for graduation rate Boston Globe
The graduation rate is one of the standards the state uses to judge whether high schools are in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

New ethics code would cover charter schools Philadelphia Inquirer
Charter-school administrators would be barred from using school funds, school credit cards, or lines of credit for personal gain under a new ethics code being released today.

Mass. school's ban on beverages riles teachers Boston Globe
Teachers in Lawrence are promising to fight a new rule that prohibits them from bringing water bottles or any other beverage into public schools.

LOCKE HIGH: Marching Towards Spring Break

Doubleturn I'm back out at Locke high school again for a few days, checking in on how things are going.  (I'm certainly not alone covering the story.  There's a New Yorker reporter who's been around, plus Howard Blume from the LA Times and others.)

It's nearly halfway through the second semester -- two weeks before spring break.  I can't tell you everything I've seen, but it's no secret that things continue to go well -- though not perfectly.  It's been that way for a while now.

Continue reading "LOCKE HIGH: Marching Towards Spring Break" »

THOMPSON: Lifelong Love of Learning and Love of Life

Excercise  A principal in the Oakland "Low Income School Program" said he was not exaggerating about the down side of the extra attention on reading strategies and instructional remediation. His kids "don’t have any exposure at all" to jump rope, hopscotch or team exercises, and the inability to constructively work off energy in recess carried over into the classroom, encouraging fights and a lack of focus. "Coach Michelle" came to the rescue teaching social skills through play. Now disputes are solved through "Rock, Paper, Scissors."     Fatchunk540 

In an equally inspiring school-based program Oregonians vie for the award of a lump of fat in the "biggest loser" competition. The community’s diet and exercise program has produced "miraculous results."  "There are people who needed knee surgery [who] no longer need knee surgery. People's blood pressure is down. Their cholesterol levels are down. It's just astonishing. We've got to be one of the healthiest little communities in Oregon." - John Thompson

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus money unlikely to save teachers' jobs Santa Cruz Sentinel
The state's nonpartisan legislative analyst is at odds with California's top education official on whether to let schools have the money now -- as districts have been desperately hoping -- or use it to brace them from the severity of future cuts.
HighfiveSupporting students with dyslexia Seattle Times
Teachers need to know more about dyslexia and how to teach students who struggle with this particular learning challenge. The Washington state Legislature is moving toward a solution.

Multiracial Pupils to Be Counted in A New Way Washington Post
Public schools in the Washington region and elsewhere are abandoning their check-one-box approach to gathering information about race and ethnicity in an effort to develop a more accurate portrait of classrooms transformed by immigration and interracial marriage.

Why Teachers Want to Ban Cellphone Cameras From Classrooms US News
Conn. teachers union says secretly recorded videos uploaded to YouTube can hurt teachers' reputations.
Strip-Search of Young Girl Tests Limit of School Policy NYT
A case involving the strip-search of a thirteen-year-old student will require the Supreme Court to consider how far schools can go to enforce zero-tolerance drug policies.

Roundup: Other countries' efforts to develop and support teachers CSM
A recent study identified teaching-related areas in which nations with high student achievement tend to have an advantage over the US.

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

A better approach to school reform Baltimore Sun
Therefore, may I suggest that the president and Education Secretary Arne Duncan work to better organize the nation's public school systems instead of ...

Perdue: Racing to Base Camp Charlie Barone
At least one Governor wants to do the right thing with ARRA stimulus education money.

South Carolina's Governor vs. Obama, the Knockout  Politics K12
Rebuffed a second time by the White House, Mark Sanford is now turning down $700 million in stimulus dollars, which would have been used primarily for education.

A shift in philosophy at the ED? Knowledge Alliance
We think that ED Daily made a very interesting observation last week about an apparent major shift in ED policy from previous administrations.

The Big Laugh Ed Notes Online
When this was brought up at the Labor Notes Troublemakers School on Saturday, every UFT'er in the room laughed.

Book Review: COLUMBINE DetentionSlip

The author digs deep into the minds of the killers, their classmates, the police, and the entire community in his detailed, graphic account of this unfortunate day in our history.

Nancy Pelosi was setting a trap, an Official Dem ... Daily Howler
On Monday, we’ll return to Arne Duncan’s fascinating statement to Brooks about the way some states “lie to parents.” In the meantime, we’ll advise Obama not to bother trying to “master quantum mechanics.”

Obama's Ed Speech: Misinformed, or ... Change.gov
If Obama innocently passed his talking points along from Arne Duncan's team at the DoE, then we have cause to worry that our Secretary of Education lacks either knowledge or intellectual integrity, and neither explanation is encouraging ...

Education's Ground Zero Washington Post
Education reform could be the most potent antipoverty program in the country, and Ms. Rhee represents the vanguard in this struggle to try new tools to revive American schools.

Improvement requires will AJC editorial board
While the reforms championed by Obama are worthwhile, none is new.

FRITZWIRE: This Week In Washington


It's Monday, time for the FritzWire -- Fritz Edelstein's daily roundup of legislation, jobs, events, and reports. 

Check it all out below, and sign up for Fritz to get the daily version. 

Fritz knows all, sees all, sez all.

Continue reading "FRITZWIRE: This Week In Washington" »

THOMPSON: Lifelong Testing Competence

Rhee_timemagazine1128  Aaron Pallas (Skoolboy) cites a memo by Michelle Rhee to principals describing the Saturday Scholars program targeted toward "students on the cusp of proficiency," otherwise known as the "bubble kids."  Rhee warned, "every principal must do what it takes... as we continue to measure the success of Saturday Scholars, your school's attendance rates will be an important part of our analysis."  

"Saturday Scholars," says Rhee, "will give District students confidence and instill lifelong testing competence.” - a completely astounded John Thompson

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day (Pt. 2)

Partnership with charter school reaps rewards for Central Falls school Providence Journal
The superintendent of Central Falls’ schools, Frances Gallo, is nothing if not a fierce crusader for kids.

Fairfax School Board Votes Against Time Change Washington Post
The Fairfax County School Board late last night killed a plan to rearrange bus routes and school start times to give high school students an extra hour of sleep.

Chicago Deals With a Rise in Student Deaths USNews
Chicago Public School Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, a former police officer who took over for Arne Duncan earlier this year after Duncan became ...

Career-change teachers’ significance, quantity up AJC
One of the only benefits of living in such tough economic times now is that you have folks getting laid off and looking for work,” said Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s education secretary.

At a Prep School, the Gloves Are Off NYT
A complaint from an ex-student of a high-profile all-girls boarding school offers a tantalizing window into a world that has been glamorized and vilified by everything from “The Official Preppy Handbook” to “Gossip Girl."

DUNCAN: Someone Get The Phone!

Phone_ringing The Treasury Secretary isn't the only Obama official operating without enough staff for the job, notes Newsweek:

When NEWSWEEK called Education Secretary Arne Dunca 's office last week, the phone rang for two minutes before someone picked up. The person at the other end said that she normally doesn't answer phones, but added apologetically, "There's a lot of empty offices around here."

The Enemy Of the Good

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day (Pt 1)

Obama pursues agenda despite bonus brouhaha AP
It is "a vision of America where growth is not based on real estate bubbles or over-leveraged banks, but on a firm foundation of investments in energy, education and health care that will lead to a real and lasting prosperity," Obama said.

Some Rich Districts Get Richer as Aid Is Rushed to Schools NYT
In pouring cash into school districts, Washington is using a tangle of well-worn federal formulas that seem to take little account of who needs the money most.

School Districts Gird for Bad-News Budgets NYT
Bracing for the worst as they prepare their budget proposals for the next school year, school district officials across Westchester said they feared that many residents would reject needed increases.

Obama Visits School After Students Make Video About Economic Fears PBS
As part of a school assignment, high school students in Pomona, Calif., articulated the economic fears of millions of Americans in a video called, "Is Anybody Listening?"

L.A. third-grader basks in glow of a presidential moment LA Times
Ethan Lopez became an instant celebrity at his Los Angeles elementary school Friday, the day after President Obama selected the 8-year-old to ask the final question at a town hall meeting.

EDU-FAMILIES: From Montessori Supporter To Charter Founder

Narcissa-Cox-Vanderlip_1x2 Last week's edu-families post was really popular, so here's another post based on a reader submission. Van Schoales, founder of the first Expeditionary Learning charter school (in Colorado), recently discovered that his great grandmother, Narcissa Cox Vanderlip (pictured) invited Maria Montessori to help her establish the first school in the US to the Montessori method.  Writes Schoales:  "The Scarborough School which no longer exists could not have been more different from the Italian version nevertheless provided a model for an important line of progressive education."

Got one or several prominent educators in your educator-filled family?  Write in and share your story.  Previous entries include Kohlmoos, Anderson.

KIPP: Different Unionization Paths For KIPP NYC Schools [updated]


Things are heating up on the KIPP unionization front:

At the KIPP AMP school, where a majority of teachers initially voted to join the union, a couple more teachers have joined Kashi Nelson in changing their minds -- but not enough to change the outcome of the vote.  (Others may follow.) The PERB meeting that was supposed to happen yesterday has been rescheduled.

Meanwhile, the teachers at the two already-unionized KIPP schools want to get out from under their UFT affiliation.  Click below for the announcement (and some additional background from Elizabeth Green).  

This is not apparently something that's coordinated or linked to KIPP AMP, though the timing is notable. No word yet from the UFT about these latest developments.

UPDATE:  Here's a feisty statement from Randi Weingarten, who sounds more than a little annoyed:  "Given that we have represented KIPP Academy since 1995 without any issues that would remotely rise to the level of dissatisfaction, much less disaffiliation, today’s announcement is surprising. Regardless, I welcome the opportunity to meet with the staffs at both Academy and Infinity, and find out what is going on." "What is interesting is this move comes after the KIPP AMP teachers started their organizing drive and on the eve of the PERB hearing on recognizing the union at KIPP AMP. KIPP management is obviously fighting hard because it doesn't want their schools to be unionized."

Continue reading "KIPP: Different Unionization Paths For KIPP NYC Schools [updated]" »

USDE: Leg Affairs Goes To Former Miller (& AFT) Staffer

Gabriella gomez Inch by inch, step by step, the Obama administration is filling top USDE jobs.  

This week's addition is Gabriella Gomez, who's been nominated to head the USDE's legislative affairs office.  She's a former House staffer (Miller) and AFT lobbyist.  Details below.

Congrats, condolences.

NYT pic of Gomez during her AFT days. Click below for a Facebook pic that I think is of her, too.

Continue reading "USDE: Leg Affairs Goes To Former Miller (& AFT) Staffer" »

THOMPSON: Avoiding Worst Case Scenarios

WorstcasescenarioAs with so many neighborhoods, ours has an elementary school with a poverty rate of 85% and a non-White population of 80%. On the other side of the park is the old "Oilman’s Row," where children naturally go to the Montessori school, or some other private schools. As an unintended effect of NCLB, because the neighborhood school is failing, the system must provide a bus for rich families to an elite public school ten miles away.

We can live with that sort of silliness, but what if a poorly crafted Voucher Law took effect? Oklahoma City has 6,909 private school students. If 1/2 of the families who would never send their children to a public school were to cash their Vouchers, our district of 36,400 regular students and 4,400 charter students would sink.

I would support a grandfather provision for current Washington D.C. Voucher students, but we must avoid worst-case scenarios. Like the D.C. Blue/Green contract, or value-added models without guarantees that they will not be misused in evaluations, some mistakes could destroy the already leaking ship that is urban education. Besides, we still have charters and magnet schools.

As I will be explaining, charters not a mortal threat but neither are they a panacea. Running a little school system is no picnic especially after the more easily educated students have been creamed off. I predict that the national market will soon be as over-saturated as it is in my city. - John Thompson

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Edu. secretary Duncan to visit New Orleans AP
Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit New Orleans on Friday to get a first-hand look at reforms the Obama administration is ...

Obama goes west -- to California-- to sell his plan Tribune
The Santa Ana teacher who had gotten a pink slip asked if education money from the president's stimulus package would go to urban school districts "that need it the most." She said class sizes in her school run as large as 44.

State, Federal Auditors Aim to Stop Stimulus Fraud Before it Happens PBS
Hoping to cement a strategy that protects the $787 billion stimulus bill from waste and fraud, state and federal officials testified before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Thursday about how to track and prevent wasteful spending.

High school held cage fights, records show MSNBC
School district documents show employees at a Dallas high school staged cage fights among troubled students, making them settle their differences with bare-knuckled brawls in a steel utility cage.

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Internet

SwatTurmoil at Two KIPP Schools Jay Mathews
Can KIPP weather times of trouble as the network swells to 84 schools this summer? What happens the next few months at KIPP Fresno and KIPP AMP will provide some interesting answers.

Debate Over Curriculum Narrowing Continues The Hoff
The argument that NCLB is narrowing the curriculum is not going away.

KIPP, Kopp and Klein join the Advisory Board of the Broad Center
Working diligently to achieve their hostile takeover of public education.

Top 5 Vegetarian Friendly High Schools Chuck
While most of the free world drags it's knuckles catching up with the enlightened crowd, some US high schools are taking steps to offer dietary choices that are better for the environment, and better for the students.

Sad Third Grader Hopes to Work For Dov Charney
"Dear Mr. Charney," begins the most misguided letter ever from a third grader to someone she looks up to. What are they teaching in the schools now, porno sex for the kids?

OBAMA: Tearing Down US Education Achievement

Wildthingstopboards Speaking of Obama, FactCheck.org is slamming the President for under-playing US kids' academic achievement:  "The high school dropout rate hasn't "tripled in the past 30 years," as Obama claimed. According to the Department of Education, it has actually declined by a third. Eighth-grade scores haven't "fallen" to ninth place compared with other countries. U.S. scores have climbed to that ranking from as low as 28th place in 1995."

OBAMA: Why The Contreras Learning Center?

MapdataPresident Obama is scheduled to visit the Miguel Contreras Learning Center in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon, and the event is supposed to include a town hall.  Villaraigosa and Schzwarzenegger are supposed to be there, too.  

Why Contreras?  It's across the street from the Board's downtown offices.  It's newly upgraded, and it's beautiful looking.  It opened in 2006.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

In Pontiac, Mich., Schools, Everyone Gets A Pink Slip NPR
Pontiac Superintendent Linda Paramore says the school board has sent every employee a pink slip — including teachers. Officials say they'll call back only the employees needed for next school year.

Nevada requests waiver SF Chroncle
In his letter to US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Gibbons said the state is in a severe economic slump and the $396 million in stimulus funds for ...

Study of Charters in 8 States Finds Mixed Effects EdWeek
Researchers discerned little evidence of better test scores in charters, but cited some differences in graduation and college-going rates.

Dallas ISD records show school held 'cage fights' Dallas MN
The principal and other staff members at South Oak Cliff High School were supposed to be breaking up fights. Instead, they sent troubled students into a steel utility cage in an athletic locker room to battle it out with bare fists and no head protection, records show.

D.C. Schools Chief Turns To Rookie Teacher Corps NPR
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is attracting young teachers to the troubled school system who aren't vested in the old contractual arrangements with the teachers' union. Many of these new teachers are receptive to the changes that Rhee is proposing.

CELEBRATIONS: St. Patrick's Day In The 'Hood

St_patricks_day_clipart_2 I don't know if this is an LA thing or what, but St. Patrick's Day is (I found out yesterday) a very big deal in South Central Los Angeles.  I've never seen so many African-American folks wearing green -- not even in Boston.  Little kids with construction paper headbands.  Every variation of green you can imagine -- no particular focus on kelly green.  And weather in the 80s.  Maybe I'm just ignorant but it certainly isn't like this in Chicago.  Not sure about other places.  It was very sweet, if sort of strange.  Who knew that a holiday focused on pasty white folks getting all happy would be so popular in such an unlikely place.  But I guess people take on / take over all sorts of holidays. 

BLOGS: Around The Internets

Thoughtful, Purposeful, Disruptive
I was working in a school district in Vermont just days ago where the superintendent and the curriculum coordinator sought proposals for disruptive innovations from teachers.

Down with ‘achievement’ Joanne Jacobs
In a letter in the New York Times, a former teacher, principal and superintendent from Portland, Oregon urges President Obama to improve schools by ignoring “achievement” and “rigor.”

Great Job! Wait, not so fast...easy on that praise! Early Stories
Turns out, all that praise may not be such a great idea.

The Ed. Department's Pearly 'Gates' Politics K12
Several education department officials have strong connections to the Gates Foundation.

Obama Unleashes His “Many-Million Mouthed Dog”* Politico
I hope someone told the House switchboard operator. *

CHICAGO: So Many Kids Dying That They Can't Keep Track

Is it 27, 28, or 29? 

Chicago-theatreThere are so many kids being killed in Chicago this school year -- a record high despite lots of bloodshed in the past -- that they can't seem to keep track. 

Ditto for the number of kids who've been shot. One estimate has it that over 500 kids during the past 18 months.  Another says it's double that. 

What no one disagrees about is that few of the incidents are happening in schools or during school hours. 

Amidst the carnage, no one knows whether to address -- and report -- this through the schools or through law enforcement, or both. 

In the past, I've argued that kids killed out of school are kids, not students.  At this point, I'm not sure it matters.

Teen is 29th CPS student killed this school year Sun Times
CPS: Actually, 27 kids were killed this school year Sun Times

MOVIES: Everyone Likes "The Class" But Dan Brown

The-class-france-s-2008-oscar-nomination-film-the-class-cannes-palme-dor-oscar-france French movie "The Class" (Entre Les Murs) has garnered a ton of positive reviews for its nuanced portrayal of a lively classroom of diverse students outside Paris.  But that's not enough for blogger Dan Brown, who calls out the movie for "the startling hollowness of its narrative." 

Geez.  I bet Dan thought that Slumdog Millionaires was unrealistic poverty porn that shouldn't have won all those Oscars, too. 



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.