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DISTRICT [SWINE] FEVER: Thursday In At The EWA Conference

JOBS:  Time is passing and the jobs are filling up fast on Maryland Avenue.  It sems more and more like Jon Schnur isn't going to end up working at the Department after all.  Ditto for Andy Rotherham.  So what happened?  Personalities?  Nanny problems?  Ideological differences?  Power politics?  Someone should find out.  Both were considered shoo-ins not so long ago.

33_100-print6OLD TIMES:  Back in DC for the EWA annual conference, good to see lots of familiar faces and friends though I'm always aware of how different what I do is from what most ed journalists do. 

NEW MEDIA NEWS:  At a new media session (the web, it's so neat, so new!), Alan Gottlieb is telling a story about how his online education watchdog outfit (Education News Colorado) is creating all sorts of battles within the board and with the Denver Post.  The suburban supes don't like the scrutiny, the business folks are all for accountability.  The print and web sides of the Denver Post don't know what to do with each other's education coverage.  (Extra credit:  "Objectivity is over-rated," says Gottlieb.)

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Green from GothamSchools says loves doing the online reporting and the quick response and transparency and awareness are great, but that she's not sure what happens next with the site, given the economic situation.  Sounds like they're putting out for outside foundation money for next year.  No news yet on what happens to Green's time once she starts her Spencer Fellowship in September.

JOBS: Cardigan-Loving Denver Staffer Gets Top Duncan Job

Brad jupp Want to be considered for a top education job in the Obama administration?  Consider mixing classroom, union, and district experience like Denver's Brad Jupp. 

Just named senior advisor to Arne Duncan on teacher quality issues (The Denver Post), the cardigan-loving Jupp taught, unionized, and worked for the superintendent in Denver. 

He was one of the few "aisle-crossers" anyone could think of last week when I wrote a post about how few people have a mix of union and district or reform experiences.

USDE: Who The Hell Is Tony Miller?

TonyMiller Last night around 7:30 the White House issued the attached press release announcing the nomination of Anthony Wilder Miller as Deputy Secretary. A Purdue grad with a long string of private sector jobs, with a smidgen of budget work with LAUSD thrown in for good measure, Miller most recently worked at an investment firm called Silver Lake.

Bring on the deluge of disgust and excitement!  Didn't private sector guys just run our economy into the ground?  Isn't someone with strategic expertise just what we need to make our schools dramatically better? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Read on for the nomination, and scroll to the bottom for some helpful starter links with which to support your excitement or outrage whichever it may be.

Continue reading "USDE: Who The Hell Is Tony Miller?" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

House Panel Considers Federal Role in Standards EdWeek
State and congressional leaders agree on the need for common academic standards, but the federal role in the process is unclear.

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 10 22.12More than 100 US schools closed because of swine flu CNN
And Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement Wednesday that everyone involved in schools needs to "pitch in and do our part to prevent the spread

Bennet says education his issue Denver Post
Bennet doesn't sit on the Senate education committee, where significant reform legislation is expected to originate. He would work with the White House and committee members in developing the bill, his staff said.

Education cuts mean layoffs of Washington's newest teachers Seattle Times
Thousands of Washington's newest teachers will soon be told they may lose their jobs this fall, the result of deep cuts made to the state education budget.

Teen paper in jeopardy after LA Times cuts funding AP
One of the largest nonprofit teen newspapers in the country is seeking donations to stay afloat after the Los Angeles Times announced it can no longer afford the cost of printing the paper.

THOMPSON: Challenging the Poison of Poverty

Graph1 Attempting to fix inner city schools without fixing the city in which they are embedded is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door. - Jean Anyon.

David Berliner's "Our Impoverished View of Education," provides a corrective to the post modern, counter-factual speculations of the recent McKinsey report.  Building on generations of social science, Berliner offers fresh insights into the "600 pound gorilla" of closing the achievement gap - zip codes. The challenge is the interacting complexities of neighborhoods including low birth weight, lead and mercury poisoning, stress, poor nutrition, asthma, crime and domestic violence, mobility, inadequate child care, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental illness.  After all, a poor child spends 1000 hours per year in school and 5000 hours at home in the neighborhood.

Berliner is impressed with two studies that show how increased family income affects student behavior and school achievement. In one study, children whose families' income went up showed increased school readiness and scored as well as the students who had never been poor. In another study, after four years of moving out of poverty, formerly poor children had no more psychiatric symptoms than children who had never been poor. - John Thompson

VIDEO: "The Eye Of The Tiger"

That should be the name of this blog, shouldn't it? Anyway, some kids from PS22Adorable Kids Singing "Eye Of The Tiger"

Buzzfeed via Jezebel. Cute solo at :58./

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Best Blog Posts

33_100-print11State Stabilization Fund Update Ed.gov
To date, over $7 billion in Recovery Act funding under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund has been approved for eight states:

#1,958,125 with a Bullet Mike Antonucci
Since this seems to be a week for educators and self-published novels, let’s take a look at Crazy Fortunes, the romance novel penned by Lawrence, Massachusetts, school principal Beth Gannon.

ED's Lobbying Disclosures Now Online Politics K12
Props to agency officials for the level of detail in their first report.

AFT (and Four Foundations!) Flesh Out the Innovation Fund Teacher Beat
I asked Weingarten who will have the final say over which projects get financed.

Precious moments School of Blog
Student 1: [burps loudly]
Me: Wow!

A part of teaching I hate teacherken

On Monday my students in the 3 Advanced Placement classes sit for their AP exam. 

REFORM: "Year-Round" Education, Chicago Style

Ck.home The recent announcement that scads of Chicago schools were going year-round sounded like a really good thing (Tribune:  More Chicago schools adopt year-round schedule).  Then it turned out that the schedule change (called Track E) doesn't actually create more instructional hours or days for kids, it just spread them out more evently during the year.  Chicago's anemic 170-day schedule remains.  And the vast majority of schools making the change -- voluntarily, Chicago says -- just happen to be located in Chicago's impoverished South and West sides. 

ADMINS: Performance Pay Falling Out Of Favor - For District Supes

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 26 20.08 "Bonus pay for performance is also on its way out, at least for now," according to Scholastic Administrator's Salary Report 2009, which quotes AASA's Dan Domenech on the topic:   “It’s almost become counterproductive,” says Domenech. “It’s become increasingly difficult to evaluate performance. School boards are forced to question the intention of superintendents, asking them if the financial incentive had affected their decision-making.”

MEDIA: Comparing NAEP Headlines

Here's a look at how the mainstream media covered yesterday's release of the latest NAEP scores.  Well, the headlines at least:

The AP headline states the results simply (Kids make gains in reading and math).  What could be clearer?

28plane.600 Lots of folks - the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, US News and EdWeek - focus their headlines on lagging secondary school students (Younger Students Show Gains in Math, Reading Skills, High-schoolers have made little progress, Younger Students Outshine High Schoolers in Reading, Math, Older Students Less Successful on Math NAEP).  Always playing the age card.

The Times focuses on the achievement gap and its political implications (‘No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap).  Saucy!

NB:  Looking beyond the headlines, there is some substantive disagreement.  Contrast the Times story immediately above with the AP's Libby Quaid, who writes: "The biggest gains came from low-achieving students. That probably is not an accident; the federal No Child Left Behind law and similar state laws have focused on improving the performance of minority and poor children, who struggle the most."

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 10 22.12First 100 Days CNN
The president also gave a nod to Arne Duncan, saying he's confident his Education Secretary will be written up as "one of the greatest Secretaries of Education we've ever had."

Invoking the Sputnik Era, Obama Vows Record Outlays for Research NYT
In a speech Monday, the president laid out an ambitious plan to invigorate the country’s pipeline for innovation.

Schools walk delicate line in swine flu response MSNBC
Swine flu poses a conundrum for school officials, who must balance schools’ critical role in monitoring the spread of the virus by staying open with their responsibility to keep kids safe. MSN

Without Cafeteria Trays, Colleges Cut Water Use, and Calories NYT
Schools are shelving the once-ubiquitous trays in the hopes of conserving water, cutting food waste, softening the ambience and saving money.

NEA: Top Union Lobbyist Set To Retire - Party On Thursday

Packer_banner_3 Forget Obama's first 100 days.  A fixture in Washington education circles for years, NEA veteran Joel Packer is apparently retiring this week. (Still waiting for confirmation but I think it's true.)  They're partying at the NEA on Thursday, from 6 to 8 PM. Well-wishers are invited to attend.  No RSVP required.

UPDATE:  It's been confirmed by the Packmeister himself, and was apparently first posted over at EIA a couple of months ago.  Free drinks on the NEA!

BLOGS: Around Them.

Authorities Scour Schools for Swine Flu Cases USNews
No one should panic, authorities say. 

Conventional Wisdom Watch Charlie Barone
A few items came over the transom while we were away, all of which go against conventional school reform wisdom.

Ralph_eats_pasteWhat's Missing in Obama's Education Plan?  Koretz
Make it broad.  Confront score inflation. Experiment and evaluate.

Schools Need Energy More than Experience Uncle Jay Mathews
Offering more experienced teachers big bonuses to teach in the inner city is not likely to have much effect on learning.

But Mommy, Why Do I Still Get Report Cards? Jim Moulton 
It seems that certain traditions are going to be harder to put away than others.

Freire Is Foul and Foul is Freire Robert Pondiscio
Mention the name Paolo Freire at a gathering of educated people and you’re likely to get blank stares. 

Nice Homework, if You Can Get It. Nancy Flanagan
Things Teachers Relish: Quiet. Order. Denim skirts. Lounge arguments about homework.

$3 million for not-very-matic pizza Joanne Jacobs
Let’s make our own low-cost, healthy pizza, San Jose Unified officials thought in 2003.

Lazy boy that I am, I'm going to save the NAEP long-term assessment results that just came out for tomorrow.

COLBERT: Give To "Military-Serving Public Schools"

Thanks to Stephen Colbert, you can now donate to "military-serving public schools," which I think he said means schools with 50 percent or more parents in the military, organized by military branch (Army, Navy, etc.).  As usual, I admire DonorsChoose's creativity in always coming up with new schemes and angles, while at the same time I'm a little bit creeped out.  Imagine if the Stimulus bill put them in charge of giving out the education bailout money. 

THOMPSON: Our Dumb World

Chart The McKinsey report, "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools," argues that America's GDP might be $2.3 trillion greater if the achievement gap disappeared after we read The Nation at Risk

The report resembles an Onion parody, displaying nuggets of information with the full glory of digital graphics while being literally absurd. McKinsey’s scatter-grams isolate three pairs of neighboring states with large achievement gap differences. Three pages later, hidden in a multi-colored display, is the best explanation for the gaps. The lagging states have far greater black child poverty rates. Who would have thunk it? Delaware’s rate, for instance, is 50% worse than Maryland's, a gap-closer of that chart. In another part of the study, however, Delaware is cited as one of the success stories in closing the achievement gap.

My favorite was a scatter-gram of 91 dots representing unnamed urban districts,

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Our Dumb World" »

HOTSEAT: It's New Unionism Day!

On the HotSeat, Mark Simon of the reform-minded Mooney Institute talks about union-foundation collaboration (he's for it), progressive union leadership (there's more of it than you think), and debunks the myth that progressive union local presidents are usually defeated. Then he slams the Obama administration for not hiring enough progressive union types (yet). 

MarkSimon Simon tells us how the Mooney Institute grew out of TURN, and what unions (and reformers) can do to improve academic achievement. Then he predicts that KIPP will be unionized within a year and that "thin" contracts aren't all they're hyped up to be.  He's all over the place, this guy. 

Along the way I make him explain or apologize for everything union-related I can think of.

Thanks to TFA Michele for suggesting this interview.  If you've got ideas about who would be good -- innovative, counterintuitive, candid people who might not otherwise get the attention but have interesting things to say -- let me know.]

Continue reading "HOTSEAT: It's New Unionism Day!" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Ohio school closed in response to swine flu case AP
The third-grader, who is recovering at home, had recently visited several Mexican cities while on vacation with his family, state health officials said Sunday. His is among 40 cases of swine flu that have been confirmed in the U.S.

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 10 22.12Balto. Co. school year to end 4 days early Baltimore Sun
The school year in Baltimore County's public schools will end four days earlier than originally scheduled, because not all of the snow days built into the calendar were used, officials said Monday.

Scholars Probe Diverse Effects of Exit Exams EdWeek
Researchers find that high school graduation tests are hitting certain groups harder than others.

Cutting Costs, Florida Trims High School Games NPR
High school athletes in Florida will play fewer games for the next two years under a new rule approved by the Florida High School Athletic Association that is designed to save money during tough economic times.

Former Lubbock educator stole federal funds - Houston Chronicle Houston Chronicle
A former Lubbock teacher has been sentenced to five years probation and 198 hours of community service for stealing federal "No Child Left Behind" funds.

UNIONS: General Motors Vs. The United Teachers of LA

"At least with General Motors...there is the possibility of bankruptcy..."

Mickey Kaus last week, writing about the current budget impasse between LAUSD and the UTLA (here)

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Duncan's gain is reporters' loss Politico
Massie Ritsch is leaving the center for an appointment at the U.S. Department of Education, where he'll be overseeing outreach to education associations, foundations and think-tanks. [a little old but...]

Using czars in W.H. to focus on policy Politico
Gary Andres,Patrick J. Griffin say Obama's choice to use policy "czars" is complicated and bold.

9daydreamingLessons of the McKinsey Report LFA
Business champions of school reform have admittedly lost some of their luster in the current economic environment. Still, let's not ignore some of the report's most critical conclusions.

Swine Flu and Laptops  Jim Moulton
Several years back, at a conference held in Boston by the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation (AALF), I was introduced to a school leader from rural Québec who was advocating for 1:1 laptop distribution.

Ode to Joy Andy Smarick
We DC-based policy types are susceptible to getting dangerously far removed from the quotidian thrills and struggles of real schools. So I visited four schools earlier this week while in NYC. It was a complete delight

Topless Teachers Pose For Calendar DetentionSlip
Sex sells.

FRITZ: This Week In Washington

ScreenHunter_04 Apr. 26 20.10 Events, jobs, resources, reports.  Fritz has it all.  (Well, not swine flu hype and not the latest Lindsay Lohan update.)  Just think, though.  You would have had this an hour ago if you subscribed to the free daily FritzWire. Meantime, check out the Monday morning edition below. 

Continue reading "FRITZ: This Week In Washington" »

THOMPSON: Have you No Shame?

Alsharpton Al Sharpton compares people like me to George Wallace, saying we are "smiling liberals" and "all a bunch of condescending bigots." We "co-conspirators" and "door blockers" are robbing America of $670 billion per year because we protect the educational "status quo."

Forty years ago, the United States had the highest graduation rate in the world, but we also had an industrial base. If my students’ parents were making $30 to $40 per hour for blue collar work, as opposed to $6 or $7 or so, perhaps we would still be making significant progress in closing the Achievement Gap. So, do we condemn our liberal brethren for failing to defeat Supply Side Economics and the deindustrialization of America? Do we need new witch trials into "Who Lost Health Care?," "Who Lost Welfare?," and "Who Lost the War to End the War on Drugs?."

The bigger question for the EEP, and Sharpton’s co-chair, is when will an apology be issued? - John Thompson

FOUNDATIONS: Broad, Gates To Fund "Union-Led Innovation Effort"

Aft_newsbanner Last week, I joked that the Broad Foundation should start recruiting and supporting talented individuals who might want to help run teachers unions.  Little did I know I wasn't that far off.  The AFT, Broad, Gates, Mott, and Ford are all pooling money to do some collaborative work around innovation.  The AFT is taking the lead with an event tomorrow (see advisory below).

Without more details it's hard to tell whether this is a fig leaf or something likely to generate changes from the status quo.  Innovation means lots of things to lots of people.  And it's not entirely unprecedented, at least for Broad.  Broad funded TURN earlier in the decade, and has funded local-led innovation efforts in the past.  There's also been funding for the Mooney Institute from Broad.

Continue reading "FOUNDATIONS: Broad, Gates To Fund "Union-Led Innovation Effort"" »

DUNCAN: The First Hundred Days

via Slate here

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

NYC prep school cancels classes over suspected flu AP
Classes and student activities have been canceled at a New York City private school where eight students may have come down with swine flu....

Michigan Student Aces ACT, SAT, PSAT AP
The Detroit News reported Saturday that the 17-year-old senior at southeast Michigan's Canton High School got perfect scores on the ACT — and the SAT — and the PSAT.

Obama Chides Colleges to Curb Spiraling Tuition NYT
President Obama challenged college and university officials on Friday “to put affordability front and center as they chart a path forward.

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 10 22.12 Model school or unaffordable luxury? Salt Lake Tribune
When a student at Granite High skips class, he'll likely get a personal phone call that day from Principal Carol Harris. It's the kind of school where sluffing doesn't go unnoticed, where the custodian knows you by name, and the guidance counselor will collect money to cover your college applications.

Rancor Where Private-School Parents Make Public-School Decisions NYT (Applebome)
A school board dominated by Orthodox Jews whose children don’t attend public schools has fostered resentment in a district that is overwhelmingly Haitian, African-American and Hispanic.

Novice-Teacher Support Programs Aim to Stem Attrition Washington Post
Montgomery's mentors have more clients than in the past, while Fairfax mentors have less time to meet with theirs.

Mayoral control of schools? Not likely here Minneapolis Star Tribune
The U.S. education secretary is calling for big-city mayors to take over struggling urban school districts. Local education experts don't think it's necessary here.

At Scrabble Championship, It's All About The Q NPR
It's hip to be square this weekend at the annual National School Scrabble Competition in Providence, R.I., where middle schoolers are facing off. The team that makes the highest play using the letter Q wins a signed Shaquille O'Neal basketball jersey.

Weekend Reading (April 24-26)

Sometimes I worry that skimming and posting these things mean I'll never actually reflect and write on them:

72320470CGetting Smarter About IQ The American Prospect
Simple advances, like adequate vision and dental care, can do more for the nation's children than theoretical debates about education inequality.

Woman Hires Stripper To Take Her Place At High School Reunion Jezebel
Wachner, class of 1995, decided that instead of returning to her high school, which she notes was "a pressure cooker"...decided she'd send a representative on her behalf—a stripper she hired to assume her identity and shock her former classmates. 

Obama Tactic Shields Health Care Bill From a Filibuster NYT
The tentative agreement would also apply reconciliation rules to a less-partisan fight over student lending, but does not include filibuster protection for energy or climate-change legislation.

Fighting Deadly Flu, Mexico Shuts Schools NYT
Mexican officials, scrambling to control a swine flu outbreak that has killed as many as 61 people and infected possibly hundreds more in recent weeks, closed museums and shuttered schools for millions of students in and around the capital on Friday, and urged people with flu symptoms to stay home from work.

Brain Gain The New Yorker
Unlike many hypothetical scenarios that bioethicists worry about—human clones, “designer babies”—cognitive enhancement is already in full swing.

090427_r18418_p233Moving Beyond Bias.The New Republic
Which falls more into the spirit of black uplift that you could explain to a foreigner in less than three minutes: teaching black candidates how to show what they are made of despite obstacles, or banning a test of mental agility as inappropriate to impose on black candidates?

Columbine Questions We Still Don’t Ponder In These Times
Neither the availability of firearms nor of Grand Theft Auto creates the original desire for violence.

Comment Is King NY Times Magazine
Most journalists hate to read it [reader commentary], because it’s stinging and distracting, and readers rarely plow through long comments sections unless they intend to post something themselves.

The Supreme Court takes failing to get it to a new level. Slate
That the school in question was looking for a prescription pill with the mind-altering force of a pair of Advil—and couldn't be bothered to call the child's mother first—hardly matters.

Is Gum Chewing Really Good For Your Health?
In yet another study touting the benefits of chewing gum, researchers suggest it may boost academic performance in teens.

USDE: Ed Sector Staffer Heads To USDE

SJ Fritz had it yesterday morning, and nothing's official until May but I think you can count on it: Ed Sector communications guru Stacey Jordan is headed to the Department, where she'll do intergov communications. Official title: Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of Communication and Outreach (or something like that). She used to work in the NYC DOE and for the Mayor of Providence, which will come in handy when it comes time to make sure these governors and mayors are doing right by their stimulus money. In addition to fancy bachelor's and master's degrees (official bio here), she's a proud graduate of Francis W. Parker School in Chicago. Go Colonels.

MEDIA: Good Stories I Missed

I asked my colleagues to send me some stuff they're writing that I might have missed in my morning roundups.  Here are some of the stories -- good stuff, I think:

National Curriculum Inching Forward [In Australia] EdWeek
Some [Australian] states have questioned whether national benchmarks would lower the bar for students already immersed in rigorous studies. Subject-area experts have suggested that draft outlines, particularly in English and history, have set unrealistic expectations.

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 19 00.38School district looks hard at travel funds Times-News (Idaho)
There's no state law governing school district travel policies, and conference spending varies greatly from district to district.

KIPP is ready to start bargaining Gotham Schools
Levin’s enthusiasm to begin bargaining suggests that he does not intend to abandon the Brooklyn school, a possibility some observers privately raised after the teachers first said they wanted to form a union.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice in the Age of Testing Harvard Ed Letter
“You can’t move forward with another half-hour of math if you see the kids are bouncing out of their skins,” says Alice Keane, a first-grade teacher at Lake Bluff Elementary School in Shorewood, Wis.

Schools to try educational effort on heroin Gazette Xtra
While heroin use among high school students seems to be mainly among 12th-graders, the last time Janesville students get any formal drug education is in freshman health class.

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Internet

Charter Schools’ Secret Weapon: Ivy Grads Uncle Jay
I am ignorant of many things, but I think I know charter schools, particularly what makes the best ones successful.

Mailbox_fullThe Economic Impact of Achievement Gaps Yglesias
To make a long story short, having a high- performing school system is extremely valuable.

Oklahoma Adopts ABCTE Program Teacher Beat
Nine states now support the credential, which is granted after candidates pass content-area and...

The Ed. Dept.'s NCLB Strategy Politics K12
An adviser to Arne Duncan says political strategy is behind the decision not to make more significant changes to Title I regulations.

Jay Mathews Yields to Persuasion LFA
You have to admire Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews for his openness to persuasion.  Unlike so many education commentators, he is willing to budge an inch or two in the face of compelling arguments.

DEMS: Sharpton Slams Education Protectors

“They appear like smiling liberals, but they are all a bunch of condescending bigots...It may be a different day, but the people in the doorway now are those we thought were our friends.”

Sharpton: ‘all a bunch of condescending bigots’
Washington Examiner



IEPAlert This time of year I always wish I could have known each student's story in August as I am now learning to understand them.  When our high school and middle school merged, I had a chance to review the old paper files from my students' feeder schools.  I was struck by the number of kids who were reported to be cheerful, bright, and successful before tragedies struck.  We're in the 21st century, and yet the system has no way adjusting so that the death of a mother in the 4th grade, for instance, does not sentence the child to a lifetime of educational failure and poverty?

When GEAR UP introduced the idea of IEPs for all students, I groaned as I anticipated another primitive, underfunded "quick fix" that generated more meaningless paperwork and prevented the assessment of disciplinary consequences.  Maybe I'm naive, but could the Stimulus money finance a state-of-the-art digital system for individual records and the results of previous interventions?  As with the health care industry's challenge of putting medical records online, the challenge would be huge - not something that teachers slap together in their spare time.  Even with the proper funding and recruiting the talent for such a task, the mission should keep the the computer people so busy that they wouldn't have time for devising silly value-added accountability models. - John Thompson  

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Stimulus money may fund summer school, teacher pay AP
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has some suggestions for how schools can spend their windfall from the economic stimulus law, including summer school and extra pay for teachers to coach struggling colleagues.

Federal education money waiting on Florida Miami Herald
On Monday, he met with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and says Duncan and his aides have not seen anything from Florida in writing.

Newspaper6_1Tutoring program not hitting its marks Las Vegas Sun
The findings suggest “we're not getting a lot for what we're paying,” said Gail Sunderman, a senior research scientist at George Washington University who took part in a five-year study of No Child Left Behind.

Utah fires science curriculum leader
Salt Lake Tribune
Some teachers are saying the firing of a state science education leader was unfair and political. Velma Itamura, who said she worked to help develop and implement the state science curriculum at the Utah State Office of Education, said she was terminated from her job as state science specialist

'Math wars' drag on as school board delays vote on new program
Seattle PI
The Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors postponed voting on a new high school textbook program, needing Director Cheryl Chow to break a tie.

10 homeschooled celebrities
Agatha Christie was a painfully shy girl, so her mom homeschooled her even though her two older siblings attended private school.

MEDIA: New Spencer Journalism Fellows Announced

Spencer logo I'm happy to say that the new batch of Spencer Education Journalism Fellows has been announced -- the second year of the program, based at Columbia's Journalism School. The 2009-10 fellows include: Peg Tyre, a former senior reporter at Newsweek Magazine; Sarah Garland, a reporter at Newsweek International; and Elizabeth Green, who covered education for U.S. News & World Report and the now defunct New York Sun. Congrats to them all.  I'm sure their projects are going to be amazing. 

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Ff_perfectmemory4_fOverhyping Teach For America, Undercutting Millions of Students Huffington Post 
It's heartening and important that many Yalies want to teach in the Bronx, but even those best and brightest can't salvage this thing on their own. 

Quotables Mike Klonsky
"Friedman has been wrong on so many issues. He is mighty lucky the NY Times doesn’t use a pay-for-performance model."

Another Piece of Evidence for Mayoral Control Chad Adelman
Instead of evaluating a district leader solely on the basis of student test scores, it would be nice to know more information like this, on the quality of the work force.

Realigning Resources for District Transformation CAP
Report from CAP and Education Resource Strategies provides recommendations for using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to advance a strategic education reform agenda.

Stress-Induced Poverty Freakonomics
Makes you wonder how poverty might be fought in the future. Perhaps more focus on mental-health [...]

More of the Same is Not Reform  Assorted Stuff
You won’t find much “reform” for American schools in what he [Duncan] has to say.

Is there a benefit to allowing internal teacher transfers? Dallas Blog
I have to say that I've never understood this process and wonder why DISD does it.

Effective Dissemination or Shameless Self-Promotion? The Ed Optimists
Getting quoted in the paper frequently can have unintended consequences, including making others think you want it to be all about you.

JOBS: More Aisle-Crossers

Picture 2 Turns out there is at least one more person who's braved a change from one side of the school reform divide to the other: 

Michele McLaughlin was the NCLB person at the AFT (and a key figure on the AFT's much-missed education blog).  Now she's doing state and federal policy for....TFA (AFT Blogger Gets Big TFA Job). 

My bad for not putting two and two together.  If that ain't crossing the aisle, I don't know what is. 

DUNCAN: Five Hard Questions For The Education Secretary

 Bored of seeing Arne go around the country giving out money and talking about how the stimulus money is going to make schools dramatically better?  Concerned that many the stories you're reading (or writing) are nothing more than fluffy "beat sweeteners" not real news?  Here are some questions to consider:

1 -- What's up with the slow pace of appointments? This Washington Post article suggests that the USDE is lagging behind. Still no Deputy, in case you hadn't noticed -- can we have one by Memorial Day?

Liddell-rua2 -- Tell us again about that "Renaissance 2010" thing, will you?  A newly released report from Chicago suggests that the new schools created under Duncan's signature reform program aren't any better than the ones he closed down.  Any evidence that you did better in the second two years?

3 -- So you like to close schools, do you?  A second report from Chicago, this one dug out by an advocacy group called PURE, suggests that the impact closing down low-performing schools isn't as clear as you claimed. Any regrets or things you'd change about the closings?

4 -- What about all the violence?  Thirty-two school-age kids have died in Chicago since September -- a record amount already.  None took place on campus, but the problem of gangs and gang "control" of schools is obvious to educators in Chicago.  Who's responsibility is that, and what did you do to make sure that the issue was getting enough attention?

5 -- How exactly how are you going to give states and districts more flexibility while measuring them against common (international) standards?  Tight/loose doesn't work when the elements you're talking about are directly contradictory.

THOMPSON: Constructive Criticism of IDEA

SpecialEd_coverIt was at the funeral of my Seriously Emotionally Disturbed student when his father, who had repeatedly insisted that his son had no future, walked out of the services when I decided I could not leave the classroom and turned down a prestigious opportunity in Denver that would have tripled my salary, so please do not take this wrong. Most special educational students are delightful and have too much dignity to abuse IDEA protections. And the Progressive Policy Institute’s outstanding report on special education covers a range of issues. I just have to cite its analysis of the issue, discipline, where so much damage is done to neighborhood inner city schools.

"Fair or not, there is a perception among school personnel that the IDEA simply blocks discipline," said a principal in Virginia, describing a case where an elementary student’s "drug-holding was related to disability... that the student had low self-esteem rooted in his speech and language deficits, and that the student became involved in drug use in an effort to obtain peer approval."

Other Virginia principals described the difficulty of maintaining two sets of disciplinary consequences, and the temptation to lower behavioral standards for all because the school could not discipline students on IEPs,

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Constructive Criticism of IDEA" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Achievement Gaps Drag Down Economy, Study Finds EdWeek
The United State risks "the equivalent of a permanent recession" unless the situation is remedied, a McKinsey and Co. researcher warned.

EuropapersUpside of a downturn: Dropouts drop back in AP
In hard-hit Elkhart, Ind., and across the nation,  education experts see a bright spot in the dismal downturn: more students may opt to stay in – or return to – school.

Dropout rate declines in some cities Kansas City Star
In all, 13 cities saw double-digit improvement in their graduation rates, according to the study released Wednesday by America's Promise Alliance.

Ind. Lawmakers Pass Teacher Lawsuit Shield Indy Star
House Bill 1462, which now heads to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, would provide "qualified immunity" to educators who follow school procedures while breaking up a fight or disciplining students. The law is designed to make it easier for judges to dismiss lawsuits brought by parents who disagree with disciplinary actions. Via ECS.

High school exit exam hinders female and non-white students, study says LA Times
California's high school exit exam is keeping disproportionate numbers of girls and non-whites from graduating, even when they are just as capable as white boys, according to a study released Tuesday.

VIDEO: "I Love Charts," Says Sid The Science Kid

You'll either love or hate this sweet video from PBS Kids called "I Love Charts."

I loved it. Then I hated it. Then I sort of liked it again.  It's Wednesday afternoon -- come on. (Via FlowingData.)

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

School Construction Bond Distributions New America
Turns out, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance and allocations for the program to states and LEAs in mid April.

Swimming Without A Suit Tom Friedman NYT
If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher.

Coach17Reform's faulty assumptions  Mike Klonsky
Wolk holds up as a model the very system that most embodies the faulty assumptions he is attacking.

Will the Unions Have A Say on the Stimulus  Sawchuk 
Just what kind of say will teachers and teachers' unions have on how the various stimulus dollars are spent?

In Russia, Homework Procrastinates On You! Videogum
I hope those guys got whatever the Russian equivalent of an A is for their AP Death Metal Thesis class.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day [Part 2]

TimesComp Either the Times is late posting these stories online, or my Bloglines is getting slow at picking them up.  Anyway, here's more Wednesday news (not all from the Times):

Large Urban-Suburban Gap Seen in Graduation Rates NYT
A new study shows the average high school graduation rate in the nation’s 50 largest cities was 53 percent, compared with 71 percent in the suburbs.

Sacramento-area schools use race-based assemblies to push standardized tests Sacramento Bee
The bleachers in the Laguna Creek High School gym were filled earlier this week with students gazing at an outline of Africa on a big screen.

City Tries New Tactic to Convert Catholic Schools to Charter Schools NYT
The city will try to get around a state ban on converting private schools to charter schools by arguing that the new charter schools are entirely new entities.

College Board steps into the immigration debate LA Times
Trustees of the association that administers the SAT vote to support the Dream Act, which would offer some undocumented youths a path to citizenship through college or the military.

Alaska school punishes students for taunting moose AP
Eighth-graders at an Alaska school have been disciplined for taunting and frightening a moose so severely it suffered a fatal injury....

BULLYING: Some Schools Still Under-Reacting

Another 11-Year-Old Boy Commits Suicide After Homophobic Bullying
Feministe via Jezebel

Bullying sucks, no matter what you're being bullied about. 
For a couple of years in school, I was bullied.  No one did anything
about it.  Adults seemed confused, and sorta intimidated by the bully.

MEDIA: New York Times Steals (Back) From Me

Besides a quote from Dave Levin and a nice picture of Kashi Nelson, the KIPP teacher who belatedly changed her mind about unionization, yesterday's NY Times story about the KIPP AMP mess (here) didn't seem to add much to the story I  reported last month (A Teacher Changes Her Mind). Yes, reported.  Take a look and I think you'll see what I'm talking about. 

Kashi nelsonTo be sure, I would have loved some acknowledgment for having been first to report this.  My scoops are rare, since I do so little reporting.  Then again, everyone knows that big papers don't like to credit competitors who beat them to a story, especially annoying little blogs.  Things like this happen all the time. 

And of course, I steal stuff from the Times every day, including for example this nice picture of Kashi Nelson, the KIPP teacher who belatedly changed her mind about unionization. So I don't like it, but I guess it serves me right. You know I broke this story.  They know, too.  They're probably just trying to even the score. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

But They Did Not Seat the Deputy Washington Post
The Cabinet agencies filling up fastest so far, counting holdovers, are the Justice Department, with 29 percent of its openings filled; Agriculture, at 25 percent; the Pentagon, with 21 percent; and the State Department, coming in at just under 19 percent, according to the NYU data.

2009_04_27-thumb-233x318Ads Aim to Build Political Support EdWeek
An advocacy group for children and youths has mounted a media effort aimed at federal lawmakers from four states, urging them to vote for President Barack Obama’s proposed 2010 budget because of the increased funding it would provide for early-childhood programs.

School strip-search arguments vex justices MSNBC
The Supreme Court seemed worried Tuesday about tying the hands of school officials looking for drugs and weapons as they wrestled with the appropriateness of a strip-search of a teen.

Stimulus money puts teachers in layoff limbo CSM
Funds trickle out, leaving many state and local education budgets in flux.

International Exams Yield Less-Than-Clear Lessons EdWeek
Differences in demographics, policies, and cultural norms among nations make it difficult to judge the value of the tests.

Help: My Teacher Is a Robot. Really US News
A robot substitute "teaches" in a Tokyo elementary school.

MEDIA: Colbert Does DonorsChoose (Again)

Donors-choose-colbert What's the world coming to? Apparently, the regular stream of education types on the Colbert Report aren't all just due to the influence of super-producer Emily Lazar, who's also the wife of Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter. Colbert himself is involved.

Specifically, he's a new board member for DonorsChoose.org. Those rascals really know how to do the media thing, don't they. And today, Colbert, DonorsChoose, and Vicki Phillips (of Gates) did an event at a Manhattan school.  Footage to come. 

Colbert's done DonorsChoose things in the past -- his run for President included a DonorsChoose bit, and he talked about them a lot during this interview, too (DonorsChoose On The Colbert Report). 

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogs

Employment Failing in the suburbs Joanne Jacobs
While some immigrant students are doing fine, others are choosing to join the “rainbow underclass,” writes Jason DeParle in the New York Times.

NEA Drops $1 Million in California; SEIU Counters with $500K Mike Antonucci All that labor solidarity we’ve been hearing so much about is being put to the test in California.

Good For Me, But Not For Thee Robert Pondiscio
A new survey by the conservative Heritage Foundation reveals 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives sent their children to private school.

What's Wrong With Merit Pay Diane Ravitch
Is it possible to have an education system that mis-educates students while raising their test scores? Yes, I think it is. We may soon prove it.

DUNCAN: EdSec To Visit To Key Appropriator's Home State

Mapdata  EdSec Duncan (and the VPOTUS) are headed to Iowa on Friday for a school visit.  Smart move -- Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is a key appropriator on the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee. 

Continue reading "DUNCAN: EdSec To Visit To Key Appropriator's Home State" »

VIDEO: What If FedEx Ran Homeroom?

In its review of these Nextel ads, Slate says "I would like to see a sequel in which the kids wise up with their own walkie-talkie-coordinated escape and then spend an awesome skip day drinking Mountain Dew and doing whatever it is kids do these days—Twittering naked pictures of themselves onto the Xbox chat room and what have you." (The weird populism of Nextel's new ads)

THOMPSON: Predictably Irrational

Fairysm Dan Ariely's experiments in Predictably Irrational offer another explanation of why it was inevitable that data-driven accountability would have a corrupting effect on schools, and the theorists who embraced it. Ariely showed that cheating increases dramatically when the stakes are not money but a coupon, even if it can immediately be transformed into money. This obviously explains the additional lure of corruption with stocks and complex financial packages, as well as NCLB-type accountability. Dishonesty also increases when people see others cheating in an open manner, thus creating a social acceptance of the transgression. Cheating grows further when it is obvious that violators come from the same social milieu. Dishonesty is discouraged, however, when people see cheating by people from another social set.

Neither does Behavioral Economics does not lend support for Pay for Performance. People who would change a flat tire for free are less likely to help if offered five dollars, because the transaction is thus switched from the "social domain" to the "market domain."

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Predictably Irrational" »

JOBS: Working Both Sides Of The Street

OneUSD_both_sides Over at District 299, there's an interminably long and self-involved post about my long-ago near-brush with working for the UFT (My Almost-Job With The UFT).  The most interesting part of the whole thing is considering how few people have worked on both sides of the union-management divide, which I think would be a good thing for everyone involved. 

I know of only two -- Jonathan Gyurko (NYC DOE / UFT) and Matt Gandel (AFT / Achieve).  A friend reminds me that Denver's Brad Jupp went from the union local to the central office.  Are there others who've worked both sides of the street, so to speak, and -- more important -- has it helped them do their jobs better in any observable way?  If so, I propose that TFA and the Broad Foundation start placing people in union locals ASAP.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 10 22.12Aid Expert Appointed (Finally) Inside Higher Ed
Monday, Duncan that Shireman would join the administration on a permanent basis, as deputy under secretary for postsecondary education, which a department spokesman described as a new position that would not require Senate confirmation.

Charter Schools Weigh Freedom Against the Protection of a Union NYT
As the number of charter schools swells, unions have become more aggressive in trying to organize their teachers — an effort not all teachers welcome.

10 Years On, Columbine Principal Still on the Job EdWeek
Frank DeAngelis is still at his desk. He says he won't retire until after the students who were in kindergarten the year of the bloodshed have graduated in 2011.

Pa. boy orders secret state tests to 'play school' AP
The Pennsylvania Education Department plans to tighten security after a fifth-grader who wanted to "play school" ordered a batch of secret state school assessment tests from his western Pennsylvania home....



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.