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NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Will Kids Spend More Time in the Classroom? US News
Districts are unlikely to lengthen school year as recession forces many to consider 4-day school week.

Oakland school board sues on charter funds San Francisco Chronicle
The Oakland school board has sued State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.

Michelle_obama_barbieObama pushes to reward great teachers Christian Science Monitor
His stimulus package adds $200 million to a fund that supports new teacher compensation systems.

Filipino teachers exchange homeland for jobs in America LA Times
More than 100 school districts, including at least 20 in California, are recruiting in the Philippines to fill teacher shortages in math, science and special education.

'Relentless Pursuit': A Year Teaching America NPR
Donna Foote followed four elite college graduates in the Teach For America program.

Gay-themed film cost Oklahoma teacher her job USA Today
Gay rights groups are complaining about the firing of a rural Oklahoma high school teacher who lost her job last week after assigning a play about the 1998 death of a gay college student.

THOMPSON: Correcting the Record

Deceit The Center for Education Reform claims that Oklahoma charter schools receive an average of $4,600 per pupil or 57% of the annual funding of regular students. In fact, Oklahoma charters receive 80% of the regular funding (a small school with a poverty rate of 15% was the one outlier). Districts are allowed to keep 5% of charter funds for overhead, which is less than their own costs due to heating and lighting the classrooms where charter students would have attended, but numerous other details explain much of the discrepancy. For instance, the poverty rate of charter students is nearly 20% below the rate of the Oklahoma City students, and the city schools have 50% more students on IEPs. Comparing apples to apples, our KIPP has a per pupil funding that approaches my middle school, but it has 1/3rd as many special education students.

Charter schools are supposed to be vehicles for innovation.  So why would Oklahoma Republicans seek a lottery that turns 20% of state schools per year into charters? - John Thompson

Update. Richard Whitmire and Andrew Rotherham are not deceitful, but their analysis personifies "spin." Completely devoid of evidence of the educational issues, that would have bored TNR readers anyway, their article obeys the lawyers’ maxim, when you don’t have the facts on your side, argue the law, and when you don’t have the law, spin a better tale.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Correcting the Record" »

BLOGS: Around The Internet

One Principal Knows What to Do With Stimulus Money. Do Others?  Jay Mathews
I doubt we will get much school improvement out of the roughly $100 billion in stimulus funds the Obama administration is about to spend on education.

Custom_1237299354693_smugWhat Bernie Madoff Can Teach Us About Accountability EdWeek (commentary)
The most compelling evidence for something's being wrong is often hidden in plain view .

Loose Talk & Charter Schools Nancy Flanagan
After 30 years in the classroom, I'm used the low-information things people say about schools and teachers.

In a somewhat contrite letter to Washington, D.C.'s public school teachers, schools chancellor Michelle Rhee has conceded to pushing too hard, too fast on her many reform initiatives.

Top Duncan Adviser 'Somewhat Skeptical' of Common Standards  Politics K12
Smith says there are some weak arguments in favor of common standards.

My Heart Is Torn Mimi
He has been the George Clooney in my love starved classroom drama. But last week, last week friends, I was led a bit astray. Not that my devotion to my Teacher Crush has subsided...nothing like that. No. I just met this new person, this amazing person, who rocked my world. In social studies.

BOOKS: The Return Of "Relentless Pursuit"

Jun_11_2008_vid000081_2 It's about four TFA teachers in their first year at a rough South Central LA school.  It's been through four hardcover printings.  It paints a pretty rough picture of the school and the experience, but it doesn't seem to have soured anyone on TFA.  Applications are way up for 2009.

Now it's about to be out in paperback. 

Catch author Donna Foote on Talk Of The Nation this afternoon for an update on how the four teachers are doing and all the changes at the school.  None of the teachers is still at Locke, but at least two are still in education:  One of the teachers (Rachelle) is working at a tutoring program and still comes back to the school. Another Hrag) just got his new charter school approved.

Related posts:

DISTRICTS: What To Do With "All That Money"?

This cartoon from the Philly Notebook says a lot:

ScreenHunter_05 Mar. 15 14.40

Check the Notebook out here.

EDU-FAMILIES: Kohmoos & Kohlmoos

Kohlmoos empire Last week, it was Anderson and Anderson.  This week it's Kohlmoos and Kohlmoos:

Jim Kohlmoos (president Knowledge Alliance), Ruth Goltzer (wife and mother) --- veteran volunteer tutor in Arlington Public Schools, Luke Kohlmoos (23 year old son)--- staff associate, Chancellor’s office, DC Public Schools (2008-9), Lacey Kohlmoos (25 year old daughter)--- teacher, Costa Rica (2007) and now International Development.  Not pictured: Bean (7 year old mut) ---- supporter for all of the above.

Your family full of educators, at least some of them prominent? Know anyone's whose is?  Let us know here, or email me at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

THOMPSON: Honest Evaluations

Honesty-pinnocchio-195x300 When announcing their pilot program for tracking the "value" added by individual teachers to the test scores of students, the New York City School System said it would obey state law and not use the data in a "formulaic" manner or for evaluations and tenure - at least until this summer. Given this ringing endorsement of the good faith use of data, should we be surprised by abuses by principals of this and other agreements?

Elizabeth Green described a principal charged with violating the UFT/DOE agreement by publicly distributing all of ELA and Math teachers' data and telling the faculty that the information would be shared with principals, effecting teachers' abilities to transfer to other schools. A superintendent, but not the principal, apologized.  She describes a more recent abuse here

Equally mixed messages have been sent in Washington D.C. where teachers "who complain or eject too many students say they are tagged as weak in ‘classroom management’ by administrators determined to keep a lid on behavior issues." One principal even put it in writing "that any instructor who refers students to his office every day ‘will risk placement on some type of improvement plan,’ a probationary status such as the 90-day plan." And let’s not forget the extreme cases in Philadelphia.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Honest Evaluations" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan: Schools must improve to get stimulus money APEducation Secretary Arne Duncan says schools must make drastic changes to get money from a special $5 billion fund in the economic ...

At least three organizations have asked ED to weigh in on a previously little-noticed loophole in the language of the law, which states that school districts can use stabilization dollars for "any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)," among other statutes.

Changes to Title I Coming to a Department Near You? EdWeek
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is reviewing the package of regulations that his predecessor, Margaret Spellings, announced as she headed out of office last ...

New Grads Increasingly Turning to Jobs in Service, Volunteer Sectors
While the economy is down, volunteer and service program applications are up. Way up.

Killings of students provides a grim tally Chicago Tribune
Current US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan replaced Vallas as schools chief in 2001, and judging from local news archives, the counting stopped. 

Zero unsafe schools? Officially, yes Atlanta Journal Constitution
For three years running, no school has landed on the list of unsafe schools Georgia must keep under federal law.

IN THE TANK: Ed Sector Update

Tom toch Everyone thought that Rotherham would be the first to go, but in a surprise twist it is co-founder Tom Toch who says he's leaving the Ed Sector (to work for a local association of private schools).  Toch brought gravitas and journalistic credibility to the organization.  In his "so long" post, he says he's proud of what ES has accomplished and thanks Mike Smith for being an early supporter and funder.  

Meanwhile, Rotherham announces the winner of the NCLB renaming contest he was running.  I wonder if there will be a post about Toch's contributions, and what it's like working at an organization with so much uncertainty surrounding it.  What will happen to ES if Rotherham leaves, too?  (What will happen if he stays?)

BLOGS: Around The Internet

No Swimming Pools for You! Politics K12
Check out Vice President Joe Biden's tough-love advice to state officials during a White House meeting this week on stimulus implementation, among other good reads.

Das Blog-logoCalling the baby Ugly George Will
In Chicago he had a hammer—the support of His Honor, Mayor Richard Daley. Duncan may be about to receive an education in the difficulty of defeating local inertia from afar.

Ants At The Picnic? Rotherham
I keep hearing how everyone is down with performance-pay or whatever you want to call it and there is no friction there, but it just doesn’t seem like that’s the case.

Why Education Reform Can't Wait Matt Yglesias
One could argue for pursuing education reform now on the grounds that education reform is very important. But I think there’s a real technical reason for avoiding delay.

Growth Models: Not as Simple as They Appear NCLB2
When experts talk about accountability under NCLB, they agree on one thing: The future lies in growth models. Discussions usually end there, never delving into the complexities of what makes a good growth model, how to design one, or whether they accomplish what NCLB sets out to do.

FRITZWIRE: This Week In Washington

Paraglider_630x Wondering when those stim dollars are going to arrive in the mail?

Wondering what your favorite think tank is doing with all that foundation money?

Check out the Fritzwire for today (below) -- and sign up with Herr Fritz if you want to get a daily version.

Continue reading "FRITZWIRE: This Week In Washington" »

OBAMA MASK: Are You Offended?

Appropriate caution, or political correctness run amok? You make the call.

Obama maskConcerned that someone might find it offensive, officials at a school in Portland told a student he couldn't wear an Obama mask as part of his talent show dance performance (Principal: student can't wear Obama mask in show). 

Now, the student has withdrawn from the show -- he says he's too shy to perform with his face showing (Boy Says He Won't Dance Without Obama Mask). 

What about an Arne Duncan mask?

KIPP UNIONIZATION: A Teacher Changes Her Mind

Last week, Kashi Nelson realized that she’d made a mistake supporting unionization for herself and the other teachers at KIPP AMP.

On Thursday, she formally notified the union that she was withdrawing her support.

“I just don’t see how having the union be a part of our everyday life will help,” she said in a telephone interview on Sunday afternoon.

A veteran teacher who is new to charter education, Nelson had been one of those who had gone along with the unionization effort (A Veteran Educator's Charter School Experience).

Nelson’s reversal raises the possibility that the much-publicized effort to organize the Brooklyn charter school may fizzle.

Whether the school will rebound, with or without unionization, remains unknown.

Click below to read the rest.

Continue reading "KIPP UNIONIZATION: A Teacher Changes Her Mind" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

RI mayor asks feds to stop gov's plan for funding  NECN
Mayor David Cicilline wrote to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan after Carcieri released a state budget proposal that gives communities less stimulus money for education than they could have received.

FBI confirms probe into fights at Texas school AP
The FBI says it is investigating allegations of civil rights violations at a Texas school for mentally disabled people where workers were allegedly videotaped watching fights between residents....

Calif. teachers see red over pink slips MSNBC
In an annual spring rite, public school employees throughout California warned of wrenching classroom cuts as local officials faced a deadline for issuing layoff notices to educators.

Cash-strapped charter schools struggle Atlanta Journal Constitution
Also, President Barack Obama and US Education Secretary Arne Duncan have championed charter schools, referring to them as “laboratories of innovation.”

THOMPSON: Reflections

Americanoffice Spring break is always a time for reflection and Alexander asked me to extend my musings to the experience of blogging. My father taught me to never "tease" anyone, but that "kidding" is a compliment you pay a friend. As a small-time lobbyist, my influence came from translating complex issues into simple yet meaningful stories for the power brokers, but I also knew the right time for a joke that was just dirty enough for the occasion. And my students have since honed my trash talking skills. The challenge in blogging is to use humor in a constructive way, without being able to read peoples’ body language.

Britishoffice Blogging and subsequent e-mails have convinced me that many newcomers to education reform actually believe that a school with a poverty rate of 50% is "high poverty," and not the national average, and that we know how to replicate the experience of charters to turnaround the toughest neighborhood schools. Some simply do not understand the real-world effects of "the tipping point," and do not realize that a class where the majority of students have a paper trail documenting their "at risk" status is fundamentally different from a class where 20 to 30% of students are similarly troubled. Even some educators in KIPP do not acknowledge that they were born on second base, thinking that they had hit a double.

We watch the sitcoms "The Office" because everyone has experience with abusive bosses, and yet some in the edusphere want to hand the power over the careers of teachers over to "reformers" with the emotional intelligence of the Ricky Gervais and Steve Carrel characters.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Reflections" »

BLOGS: Around The Blogs (Commentary & Analysis)

Duncan Defends Proposed Education Overhauls CQ
There are a lot of moving parts in President Obama’s plans to overhaul the nation’s education system, and reactions to some on Thursday ran the gamut from a warm embrace to a dismissive wave.

White House voucher whispers Firefly
It’s short on details, but yesterday’s White House press briefing transcript offers a tidbit about President Obama and the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program:

ScreenHunter_04 Mar. 12 12.49Stimulus dollars don’t force judging teachers based on tests Gothamschools
 “We’re encouraging states to do merit pay,” he said. “But to get all of the stimulus money you don’t have to do merit pay.”

The Perfect Storm For Reform. Klein and Sharpton
Previous efforts to improve teacher quality have failed because they have misdiagnosed the problem.

Labor Unrest - Coming Soon to a District Near You EIA
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators staged a rally after the school board approved a plan that could lead to laying off 456 teachers and 83 assistant principals.

Hamlet on Facebook Joanne Jacobs
McSweeney’s posts the Facebook News Feed version of Hamlet.

MEDIA: The Jim Cramers Of The Education Press

Last night, Jon Stewart interviewed castigated TV money guy Jim Cramer about the financial press's role in selling economic fantasies to the American public.  It was in many ways an echo of Stewart's famous "You're hurting America" segment on Crossfire, in which he accused Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson of entertaining the public while pretending to inform them. 

What does this have to do with education?  Well, what Stewart was saying reminded me of similar issues with the education press and the commentators who are so frequently quoted in it.  Click below to read all about it.

Continue reading "MEDIA: The Jim Cramers Of The Education Press" »

FLOTUS: First Lady (& Kermit) Read To Army Kids

Army Brats Astonish Michelle, Muppet via Jezebel

POWER FAMILIES: Jo And Josh Anderson

Jo anderson Yesterday it was formally announced that Jo Anderson, former head of the Illinois Education Association, would join the Duncan team in DC (pictured right, see announcement below). 

What wasn't announced is that Anderson's son, Josh, is the ED of Teach For America Chicago. (This I know thanks to a friend of the site who clued me in.)

Congrats, condolences to the Andersons.

I've written about other cross-generation education families before (Dynasties In The Making) -- Haycocks, Edelmans, etc. -- but if there are other prominent  examples please let me know. 

Continue reading "POWER FAMILIES: Jo And Josh Anderson" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan Poised to Assert New Power as Education Chief PBS
President Barack Obama called for big changes in education earlier this week. John Merrow profiles Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who will be heading up the president's calls for reform and who may bring new strategies to the education policy arena.

Newspapers_01Examining Obama's Education Numbers NPR
In his education speech earlier this week, President Barack Obama described the U.S. education system in some pretty dire terms. He used some dramatic numbers to back up his claims.

4-day school week gains momentum MSNBC
With U.S. school districts strapped for cash, more are considering a schedule that delights students and makes working parents cringe: Class only four days a week.

D.C. Teachers Alleging Assaults Find Themselves Under the Microscope Washington Post
Woodson Academy teacher William Pow had just finished writing on the blackboard one January afternoon, he said, when he turned to face his algebra class and saw the textbook "Mathematics in Life" hurtling toward his head.

School Shooter Warned of Attack, in Chat Room AP EdWeek
The 17-year-old gunman who went on a rampage at his former school and killed 15 people before taking his own life gave a warning in an Internet chatroom only hours earlier and said he was "sick of this life," officials said Thursday.

DUNCAN: Tonight On The NewsHour

DuncanhpNot sick of Arne Duncan yet?  Think maybe John Merrow can get something besides canned talking points and that grimace of a smile out of the EdSec? 

Tune in tonight to the PBS NewsHour and see.

Or, I suppose, watch it online afterwards.

BLOGS: Around The Internets

Can It Really Work? Rachael Brown
If the programs and priorities Obama outlined are really, truly implemented, then perhaps it will be time to give teaching another shot.

Cover_newyorker_146OBAMA TALKS SCHOOLS. Ezra Klein
It's notable that Obama gave his first presidential address on education to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Arne, the Great Incenter Jim Horn
In Duncan's vocabulary, which was in full monotone overdrive last night on Charlie Rose, [incent] means pay-per-score.

Ending the ‘Race to the Bottom’ Times editorial
Only Congress can fully replace the race to the bottom with a race to the top.

Child Homelessness In America Is A Growing Problem Jezebel
Homeless children are twice as likely to be held back a grade in school, to be suspended, or to drop out of high school.

Dangers and Opportunities in Federal Stimulus FairTest
FairTest and other assessment reformers have opposed any national test.

SIMPSONS: "How The Test Was Won"

I'm not a big Simpsons fan, but here's an education-themed episode that you might not have seen already. It originally aired on the first of this month, and is called "How The Test Was Won."

The plot involves Bart and Lisa's school's nefarious plans to game the high-stakes "Vice President's Assessment Test" by manipulating which students -- the Barts or Lisas -- take the test.  (Yes, the plot is quite similar to the King of the Hill episode "No Bobby Left Behind".)

The episode opens with Homer and Marge celebrating with champagne and hats that say "Happy New Year." Bart and Lisa wander in and wonder what's going on. Marge: "It's the first day of school!" Homer: "You're the government's problem now!"


THOMPSON: God Does Not Play Dice

GodComputerFarside-th The Education Sector's "Are We There Yet?" offers a number of caveats in its analysis of Tennessee's growth model, as well as a refresher course on Zeno.  But unless you are irrevocably committed to NCLB-type accountability, I'd skip the discussion of educational issues and enjoy the review of  ancient Greek philosophy.

Tennessee's growth model measures student progress against benchmarks based on predicted or "expected" scores needed to attain proficiency in three years. This is an analytical construct, however. It can offer no insight into what should be expected of a teacher in a high poverty neighborhood school.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: God Does Not Play Dice" »

USDE: Communication Breakdowns At The USDE

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 12 10.42Education reporters have long made fun of (or complained about) the long history of mishaps from the USDE communications office -- especially email announcements that included mis-spelled words or that were "recalled" moments later. It took a few weeks for any such fumbles to show up under the new Administration, but this week there were a couple of flubs.  

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 12 10.42First, no one at the USDE notified education reporters that the President was making a major education speech.  The White House sent out notice, but few education reporters are on that list.  Then, pretty much the same thing happened when Arne Duncan was scheduled to do a presser the following day, to amplify and explain the Obama speech. 

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 12 10.42Minor stuff, to be sure.  And typical, too -- the USDE and White House press offices have never been particularly well-coordinated.  But it's amazing that, in 2009, there's not even a dedicated education media list at the White House -- you get ALL the announcements from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or you get nothing. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan Chides South Carolina Governor for Refusing Education ... US News
US Education Secretary Arne Duncan chided South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford today for his refusal to accept $700 million in federal stimulus money that could ...

Duncan Talks Merit Pay and Standards, Again, Some More EdWeek
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a conference call with reporters today to expand on President Barack Obama's major education speech, ...

6a00e54f8c25c98834010536fa9db8970b-150wi cccEducators Split On Obama's Big Plans NPR
Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee talks about the President's education plan.

Glance at school shootings in recent years MSNBC
A gunman opened fire at a high school in southern Germany on Wednesday. Here is a glance at some of the worst school shootings in recent years:

Charter operators see opportunity in district restructuring Philadelphia Inquirer
The two most successful charter operators in Philadelphia - Mastery and KIPP - want to expand and hope to be part of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's plans to change the district.

Not even ‘Sesame Street’ is safe from recession MSNBC
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of “Sesame Street” and other kids’ programs, is cutting about one-fifth of its work force because of the economic downturn.

BLOGS: Comments And Criticism From Around The Internet

Some disparate takes on the Obama education speech and the issues it raises:

The Five Ponies of Education KDR
This plan is long on lofty rhetoric, but short on anything that stands a good chance of working, much less has an established track record.

Obama Thinks Big on Education Mathews
President Obama’s education speech this morning was, in my memory, the largest assemblage of smart ideas about schools ever issued by one president at one time.

Patty3909You Had Me At Reform Rotherham
I’ve been lukewarm on some of the stimulus, more on that later, but this is an important speech.

Obama Knits Together a Teacher-Policy Narrative Sawchuk
In his big speech this morning, President Barack Obama reached back to grasp various threads that he's laid out...and knit them together to provide what's probably the clearest statement so far of his priorities for education and for teacher policy.

The Origins of Summer Vacation Carey
Turns out that our irrational school calendar is more a function of what was convenient for rich people than is commonly understood, which all things considered isn't surprising. 

NCSL Won't Join Rally for National Standards Hoff
The governors are for a national effort to set academic standards. So are the chiefs. But don't count on state legislators.

THOMPSON: What's There Not to Like?

Obama-thumbYesterday, President Obama called for major investments in early childhood education; world class standards and high-quality assessments as opposed to the fill-in-the-bubble lunacy of NCLB; critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving; performance pay programs like the Teacher Advancement Program, which has the support of the American Federation of Teachers, the termination of ineffective teachers which the AFT also supports; and the turnaround the 2,000 schools that produce 50% of the nation’s dropouts.

Increasing the number of charter schools will produce more challenges for the unions, as well as high poverty neighborhood schools after the charters have creamed off more of the most motivated students and families. But charters will also be a fertile recruiting ground. It is hard to believe that the creation of twenty Harlem Children’s Zones would not increase union membership in teaching and in the other professions who would join the crusade. Inevitably, investments of billions of dollars in the poorest schools will dramatically increase union membership. And those of us who remain in the toughest neighborhood schools would become more charitable to charters, saying "brothers depart in peace," if we were not subject to the degradation of high stakes testing.

Missing from the speech was an endorsement of testing for punitive reasons or the loaded words of "merit pay."  Without test-driven accountability, we have little to fear from "value-added models." "Data-informed" education is the antithesis of data-DRIVEN accountability. If there is anyone who seems intuitively aware that education is a people business and that reform must be driven by the values of hope, not fear, it is Barack Obama.

Of course, there may be an omnipotent cabal who will shanghai Arne Duncan, transform him into Michelle Rhee, and turn the "Race for the Top" stimulus fund into a Hurricane Katrina, so urban education can be rebuilt in their image on cleared ground, but .... Seriously, we should nail down our own reform proposals and worry less about our opponents' agendas.

OBAMA: Presidential Proposals (But No Clear Plan For Enactment)

Lots of coverage of Obama's first big education speech since becoming President, even though no one's quite figured out if and how the proposals (several of which seem to go beyond the scope of the stimulus) get enacted:

Obama Outlines Five Top Education Priorities PBS
Obama: 'We've let our grades slip' MSNBC
Obama backs teacher merit pay, charter schools AP
Obama Criticizes U.S. Schools, Calls for Reform Washington Post
Obama, Taking On Unions, Backs Teacher Merit Pay NPR
Obama wants to overhaul education system from 'cradle to career' CNN
Obama Outlines Plan for Education Overhaul NYT
Obama Calls for Ambitious Education Policy Agenda CQ

Or, you can just watch the speech yourself.  Here's a 30-minute clip:
Frankly, I'd rather just see him take care of the economy and fix the health care system right now, rather than make promises and pronouncements that he can't do much about (eliminating state charter caps, for example).

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Students killed in German school shooting  Guardian (UK)
Ten confirmed dead and several wounded by gunman reportedly wearing combat fatigues.

Substitute teaching applications surge USA Today
Standing in front of the classroom and filling in for absentee teachers has traditionally been a promising place of work for the unemployed ranks until now.

LA school board approves big layoff notice AP
More than 8,800 teachers and other employees of the nation's second-largest school district will receive notices of impending layoffs for the next school year, Los Angeles school board members decided Tuesday.

6a00e54f8c25c98834010536fa9db8970b-150wi cccAmid protests, CMS sets stage for teacher cuts Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved a plan Tuesday that could lead to laying off 456 teachers and 83 assistant principals.

To fight truancy, Wise County judge trades hall monitors for ankle monitors Fort Worth Star-Telegram
To keep tabs on students who are habitually absent, Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson can now place a GPS ankle monitor on them for 30 days.

Schools Try Separating Boys From Girls NYT
Single-sex classes are being tried as an experiment to address sagging test scores and behavioral problems.

Chiefs Talk Stimulus and Standards With Duncan & Co. EdWeek
"The idea of 50 different benchmarks is not the way for us to move forward," said Jon Schnur, who is serving as a consultant to the Obama administration. He called common standards a "national priority."

Arne Duncan Interview Charlie Rose [tonight]
Arne Duncan is an American education administrator and currently United States Secretary of Education since January 20, 2009.

AWARDS: Predicting Who Will Get This Year's $25K McGraw Prize

Based on a casual careful analysis of past winners (see below), I predict that the winners of the 2009 McGraw Prize will include Jon Schnur (New Leaders For New Schools) Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford University), and Charlotte Danielson.  But I really have no idea what I'm talking about, and folks have to submit nominations for anything to happen.  Who do you want to see given the award?  I'm sure you have much better ideas than I do.  You have until the 20th. 

Continue reading "AWARDS: Predicting Who Will Get This Year's $25K McGraw Prize" »

BLOGS: Around The Internet In 60 Seconds

Bethany Little to Senate Education Committee Politics K12
Little brings a lot of expertise in education redesign, including in teacher quality, high school overhaul and college readiness, issues that have been getting plenty of attention lately.

08convservative3_190.jpgTHERE IS MADNESS AMONG US. Ezra Klein
This article about the 14-year-old conservative pundit [pictured] who parlayed a (genuinely eloquent and well-delivered!) three minute speech at CPAC into a popular YouTube video and a friendship with Bill Bennett is a cute read.

Friday the 13th – A California Educational Horror Story
The California Teachers Union (CTA) has declared next Friday to be Pink Friday in honor of all of the teachers that will be given pink slips by that day.

700 apply for Ohio school janitor position Detentionslip
At over $15/hour, this has become one of the most coveted jobs in the area.

508 Chicago kids shot in just 16 months SurvivoR
None of these children was shot in school, it's important to note.

Celebrity must-haves now include a political adviser The Hill
Trevor Neilson won’t divulge his client list.

Horace Mann's Little Roy Cohn Writes Letters [From The Mailbag] Gawker
Little right-wing creep kid Charles Stam sent a two thousand word letter to the editor of the Horace Mann Record, his high-school paper.

OBAMA: Big(?) Speech On Education Today

Seems like the White House didn't know whether to play up today's speech on education or not -- it was teased last week as the equivalent to the health care summit but didn't get much of a rollout yesterday.  That won't stop the edusphere from buzzing, though, so here's a roundup of the coverage:

President Obama to Call for Incentive Pay, Rigorous Standards Politics K12
In his first major education speech as president, Obama will emphasize and flesh out many of the details of his education redesign agenda.

Obama takes on teachers' unions Politico

He will propose a merit pay plan today, an idea that once earned him NEA boos.

Obama Thinks Big on Education  Washington Post
A test of his sincerity will be how hard his education secretary, Arne Duncan, pushes for these changes.

Obama’s Remarks on Education WSJ
"My outstanding Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars. It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works."

Is there anything all that new here? 

IDEAS: Big Stories I'm Too Lazy To Cover

I know, I know.  Journalism is dead.  But still, here are some stories that I hope someone -- not me -- is working on:

Three_martini_playdate Mr. Duncan Goes To Washington:  He talks like a goofball.   He hates the law he now oversees (NCLB).  He probably can't name the ranking members of the House and Senate education committees.  The stimulus gives him all sorts of dollars to dish out. He's the 2009 version of Rod Paige.  Someone should tag along with him all year and give us a sense of what it's like to walk into the beast's lair - if only for the pleasure of being able to drink hang out with Peter Cunningham after work once in a while.

Stimulating School:  Watch school districts and state agencies squander billions in taxpayer dollars just like in the past (Class Size Reduction, School Modernization, E-Rate, Empowerment Zones).  Hang out with a stimulus czar and see how government regulations, logistics, politics, and compliance-minded stupidity get in the way of making much good out of the Stimulus money.  Happy to be wrong, but I bet that South Carolina school is still dilapidated a year from now. 

The "Anti-Michelle":  Michelle Rhee may be the first TFA alum to run a big-city school district (besides Cami Anderson, of course), and she won't be the last.  But what about finding a rising star who came up the old way -- teacher, principal, etc. -- and is doing good things at scale?  What's new is old, what's old is new.  Polka dots for spring. 

The Modern American Ed School:  Ed schools have been under attack for at least a decade, and many have tried to revamp what they do in order to get better at preparing teachers.  But tradition, financial incentives, and faculty politics often get in the way of change. Carpetbagging political scientists and economists aren't helping any.  Find a reform-minded ed school dean and, over the course of a year, watch him or her get beat to smithereens.  Expert quotes from Art Levine. 

THOMPSON: Human Capital

Bombmemorial I am somewhat pessimistic about school systems’ capacity for investing Stimulus Funding. I would put as much as possible of the windfall into reserve, and take the time needed to think through a realistic plan. We should remember the fundamental reason why our society got into this educational mess - too many children have had too little adult guidance in their life. Our children are not suffering because they have too few opportunities to sit in front of a computer keyboard or too few chances to prepare for online assessments. Besides, the rate at which technology can produce improvements will be largely determined by the rate that we build up human capital.

Aside from investing in early childhood, the most obvious use of Stimulus money would be in peer review and mentoring programs like the American Federation of Teachers "Toledo Plan," which would efficiently remove the least effective 8% of teachers every year. Surely, that program would qualify for "Race to the Top" funding ...

I would purchase a school bus for every high poverty school, and set the expectation that it would be used daily for field trips to museums, zoos, colleges, etc. The driver should be cross-trained to serve as a mentor. In my school, it would mean that every student would have eight opportunities a year to explore experiences that middle class kids take for granted. Who could begrudge such a modest goal? Who could begrudge a child in Oklahoma City the chance to visit the Murrah Bombing Memorial? - John Thompson

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day [not money]

All-out-of35,000 college seniors apply to teach in low-achieving schools San Jose Mercury News
Teach for America, a Peace Corps-style program, seeks to eliminate educational inequality, close the achievement gap and catalyze change in education.

Broward school officials tweet their news Miami Herald
Move over, Facebook. The Broward School District has joined Twitter, the microblogging site that allows users to post short messages -- called tweets -- that can be viewed online or delivered directly to followers through their cellphones and other computer applications.

Discipline of Military Redirects Dropouts NYT
A program run by the National Guard is proving effective at using military atmosphere and discipline to turn around at-risk teenagers.

Chances Dim for Fairfax School Time Change Washington Post
The Fairfax County School Board yesterday indicated its firm opposition to a proposal that would have altered school schedules and rearranged bus routes next fall for all 169,000 county students, largely to give teenage students more sleep.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day [money]

All-out-ofState Seeking Hardship Waiver, Education Funds Tampa Tribune
Smith's public get-together in Washington with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will occur at a forum on data-use in education.
Superintendents see problems with Stimulus money KXXV News
Title one, a section from no child left behind which government officials are using to help determine funding for schools, will only grant schools funding for new programs.

As LAUSD layoffs loom, debate over teacher seniority resurfaces LA Times
Richard Rivera joined the Algebra Project at exactly the wrong time.

Recession, tax plans worry donors and nonprofits AP
Chicago philanthropist Richard Kiphart contributed generously to Barack Obama's campaign and is glad he backed a winner.

BLOGS: Comments & Criticism From Around Teh Internets

 The Sleight of Hand Behind Obama's Agenda Washington Post
And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy.

Success story! Amy Fagan
So here’s an inspirational article about a once-struggling Florida school that pulled itself up from a “D/F” rating to an “A” rating two years in a row (and they expect a third “A” this year).

A 14-Year-Old Takes Down Ruby Payne Ed Policy Notes
Not to be missed.

Frida_eyebrowsEducation Reform and the Freedom to Mod Learning Now
We cannot turn the television off at home, we cannot provide a supportive home environment, we cannot cook dinner or enforce bedtime (although at my school we do send food home to needy students).

Labor Reunification Hits Speed Bump? EIA
That’s what Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times is reporting.

Union Bashing Won't Reform Our Schools Ed Week (commentary)
(And Neither Will Job Protectionism)

Doubling Down Tom Toch
Here's one way to spend some of the cash: Build a new generation of full-service facilities for poor kids.

Geographic Divide Chad Aldeman
I knew the South had lower educational attainment rates, but I don't think I realized just how stark it would look on a map.

Ten Things They Hate About Joel Klein! Eduwonk
Actress Julia Stiles starts a blog and promptly begins gushing about Joel Klein. 

Robot Teacher Files Grievance Against Asimov’s Three Laws  EIA
The Japanese are experimenting with a robot teacher, named Saya, in a primary school. Saya “can speak different languages, carry out roll calls, set tasks and make facial expressions.” Rumor has it, however, that Saya is unhappy with her working conditions.

THOMPSON: Team Players

Clinton-Obama-2008_v240 We should think less as educators, and more as citizens volunteering for President Obama’s three-pronged stimulus strategy. We will do much more good for children if education money is invested in alignment with investments in health care and the green economy.

Pedro Noguera correctly argues that, "Perhaps most important, there is the possibility that education can also play a role in the economic recovery. ... Schools should be supported in developing career academies and internships with industries in biotechnology, organic food production, telecommunications, robotics and a wide variety of "green jobs." This is especially true in economically depressed areas like the de-industrialized rust belt cities of the northeast and Midwest. Put most bluntly, there can be no future for the auto industry if the public schools in Detroit, Flint or Gary are not capable of educating a new generation of workers to design the cars of the future."

A decade ago, I always had a few students wearing those pastel dresses signifying that they were on the path to good-paying and respected positions in the medical field. Because Career Tech supposedly signified "Low Expectations," my students no longer have that option for escaping poverty.  (In Bergen County where they invest $20,000 per year on Vo Tech, elite students flock to those schools where they are "empowered and given more opportunities."). Neither can I forget my young buddies who would have loved a hands-on curriculum that prepared them for 21st century jobs. And as Van Jones has correctly observed, environmental education could be a mechanism for community-building.

Especially now, we need fewer architects of their own educational agendas and more team players. - John Thompson

FRITZWIRE: What's Going On In DC This Week

Rainbow_0 You can get the FritzWire weekly here, or sign up and get it every day from Fritz directly. 

It's free, it's chock full of all sorts of education stuff -- legislation, events, jobs.  Today's edition includes new stim guidance. 

Scroll all the way to the bottom and you'll see there are even restaurant recommendations and online dating profiles. 

People have gotten married off this thing, I'm pretty sure.

Continue reading "FRITZWIRE: What's Going On In DC This Week" »

HOTSEAT: Detention Slip Duo Will See You Now

Anthony and Chuck are high school buddies with a long history of mocking the foibles and misdeeds of educators. As teenagers, they created a guerrilla newsletter about their school that at one point resulted in the principal threatening to sue them. 

Chuck and anthonyNow, with DetentionSlip.org, they’ve got one of the fastest-growing (and disreputable) education blogs out there, recently named one of the top 25 blogs in the world by TIME magazine. 

They’ve still got day jobs – Anthony in New York, Chuck in Florida – but for how much longer it’s not clear.  They’re friends with the folks at CollegeHumor, and are soon going to be rolling out some ideas for creating school-level versions of Detention Slip in 2009.  (Be afraid, teachers and administrators.  Be very afraid.)

Some people love their irreverent, politically incorrect take on education.  Others find their relentless focus on failure to be destructive (or worse).  You like 'em, or you hate 'em.  (I won’t surprise many by saying  that, in moderation,I tend to like the site.)

Click below to read the interview.

Continue reading "HOTSEAT: Detention Slip Duo Will See You Now" »

VIDEO: Former Justice Pitches Civics Ed.

Last week, none other than former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor showed up on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to pitch her effort to return civics education to US schools:

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

U.S. to Nation's Schools - Spend Fast, Keep Receipts NYT
Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, sent a message to the nation’s school officials last week: Heads up!

Costs of lengthening school year would be a challenge Galesburg Register-Mail
If Education Secretary Arne Duncan has his way, American students will spend more time in the classroom in the future. ...

Newspapers_01RI ready to pursue additional school aid Providence Journal
Rhode Island also may be poised to receive a portion of a massive $5-billion discretionary fund that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will distribute to a ...

Teachers pair up for Wednesday night space shot AP
Two science teachers who have spent the past five years under NASA's tutelage are about to graduate with high-flying honors.

Students post videos of schoolyard brawls online Associated Press
In schoolyards across the country, all it takes to attract a crowd are the words "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

A Web-Friendly Ed Department Inside Higher Ed
So at Shireman's initiation, department officials filed the appropriate paperwork with the government's General Services Administration, did the technical handiwork necessary to ensure that the URL's in question forward to the appropriate department Web pages, and voilà, the financial aid system is just a little user-friendlier than it was last week.

THOMPSON: Race to the Top

Racetotop It is hard to imagine why differences in opinion on the use of "teacher identifiers" should be relevant to the race for 21st Century Skills. The Democrats For Education Reform (DFER) and, presumably, Charlie Barone argue for "bold, aggressive, comprehensive, and systematic" use of "specific indicators for tracking progress" of students. But Barone recently said "surely, until issues are resolved about how to use student data to evaluate teachers, agreement could be reached to use such data to help teachers and schools better serve students."

Agreed! And can’t we also agree that states who seek good-faith efforts that are more modest, less aggressive, more targeted, and less adversarial should be welcomed into the "Race to the Top?"

If so, DFER should change its position that "only states that are moving forward to use student-level data to drive policies that measure classroom-level effectiveness ... should be eligible for inclusion in the Race to the Top." (Emphasis mine) "To be blunt," wrote DFER, states like New York that have stopped the use data for tenure at least until protections are negotiated, are "progress-killing" and their more cautious approach "should instantly disqualify a state from even being considered for "Race to the Top" funding.  (emphasis theirs)

If readers find this dispute arcane, that’s my point. We are fighting over two issues, data-informed decision-making versus data-driven accountability and whether states who want test results to supplement, though not "drive," accountability should be denied stimulus money. - John Thompson

BLOGS: Around The Internets

Throwing billions at schools won't fix them Pedro Noguera
If unions were the problem, the South would have the best schools.

Patronage at the School District must end Philly Notebook
Time to roll out our top contender for a “School District Expense That Makes No Sense.”

Bradnancypic030509'Race To The Top' Is, Um, Actually A Race DFER
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter this week appointed Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien to serve as his hand-picked "Race To The Top" czar...

Obama pours money into discredited programs Bruce Fuller
Obama went along with House Democrats last month who seized on the stimulus package, a long awaited chance to dramatically boost school spending and make college more affordable.

The loud dumb fellow got it wrong Daily Howler (scroll down)
Why didn’t the editors laugh out loud when told that we can rate our teachers by keeping track of their attendance? By observing them in class? No one could think that such silly reforms can fuel the transformations envisioned.

Stop Avoiding the Issue of Failing Boys
Why not do what Australia did and launch a federal probe into the boy problems?

THOMPSON: 90% of Accountability

Schooling-for-the-future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said that "sunshine is the best disinfectant."  John Thomasian, Best Practices Director of the National Governor's Association, says that "90% of accountability is transparency." 

Daniel Schorr demonstrated the same wisdom in regard to the vetting process for presidential nominees, predicting that detailed accountability rules will mean that potential public servants would increasingly say "thanks but no thanks," and that we will have "a lot of empty desks in government offices" unless we rely on "transparency." 

Scott Marion from Center for Assessment is a strong supporter of data, and 21st century assessments, and in the Education Sector online discussion, he sagely wrote, "I would advise the new Secretary (of Education) against requiring the integration of technology with assessment and/or instruction. (emphasis mine)  But I would advise him to provide both considerable research and development funding so that we can improve our current knowledge base and incentive funding for states and/or districts to experiment with current versions of innovative systems."  As I read the discussion, with just two exceptions, I was impressed with the participants' sensitivity to the human dynamic of taking a great leap into the future. - John Thompson

Update.  I agree with Charlie Barone that readers should read the entire discussion, which was overwhelmingly constructive.  And his comment on yesterday's post strikes me as being exactly the point I was trying to make, but I'll give the readers three guesses who answered an excellent question about the challenge of assisting poor students with an anecdotal attack on a teacher in an affluent school.  If Barone and DFER got their way, I hate to think how many more inner city classrooms would be empty of teachers.

SNOWBALLS: Driver Incites Students To Target Vexing Student

"Two students were arguing on the ride home. The frazzled bus driver tried to intervene. Then came, according to authorities, the driver's offer to the entire bus: $20 to anyone who would bombard one of the boys with a snowball."


"Seven took her up on the offer, and now Loudoun County school bus driver Katina M. Mitchell, 34, of Sterling has been charged with seven misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. And she's the talk of the county."

School Bus Driver Charged for Inciting Snowball Attack Washington Post (via a friend of the blog). 

CARTOON: "These New Regulations Will Fundamentally Change The Way We Get Around Them."


From the current New Yorker.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Shy teen spotlights battle over failing schools Reuters News Service
A shy 14-year-old girl plucked from obscurity by the White House and given star treatment has come to symbolize a battle over how to fix dilapidated U.S. schools.

Seattle special-ed teachers suspended for refusal to give test Seattle Times
The teachers say they're honoring parent wishes and that the test is inappropriate for their students, who have severe physical and cognitive disabilities.

Newspapers_01Taking Sides on New York’s School Chancellor NYT
In some circles, Mr. Klein is revered: as a star prosecutor turned crusader for the underclass, a fearless innovator willing to take on the powerful teachers’ union...But among some of the state lawmakers who will determine the fate of the nation’s largest school system, Mr. Klein is reviled.

Arne Duncan: ‘No Child’ is ‘toxic’ On Point Radio, MA
The education world is now listening carefully to the words of President Obama’s point man, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and trying to figure out how exactly the administration might reform No Child Left Behind.

Students challenge school's gay club ruling MSNBC
An attorney for two gay students at a Florida high school told a federal judge Thursday they should be allowed to form a campus club promoting tolerance toward gays, despite a school prohibition.

Students at 2 Schools Allegedly Have Mouths Taped Shut Washington Post
Elementary students in two Prince George's County schools allegedly had their mouths taped shut by teachers in separate incidents in the past two weeks.

BLOGS: Around The Blogosphere

Michelle030509.jpgDems to voucher kids: No hope for you Joanne Jacobs
Some of Sasha and Malia Obama’s classmates at Sidwell Friends may lose their scholarships — unless President Obama stands up to congressional Democrats who are trying to kill school vouchers in D.C.

The journalistic standards of the New York Times continue to decline KDR
The basic rule is to never use a stronger motivational system than you need to get the job done.

Duncan: Inching Toward Specificity Charlie
"The challenge isn’t an intellectual one, it’s one of political courage."

Don’t hate Barbie because she’s beautiful Joanne Jacobs
Barbie dolls would be banned in West Virginia, if a Democratic state legislator name Jeff Eldridge has his way.



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.