About this blog Subscribe to this blog

WEEKEND READING: May 30-31 [updated]

The Real Cost of High-School Dropouts Daily Beast
Graduation season, typically a celebratory time, has taken on a more somber feel.

47215510Battling Over Employee Free Choice In These Times
When Congress votes on the Employee Free Choice Act, it will decide not only whether workers will be able to organize unions more easily and whether America will build a stronger economy based on shared prosperity. It will also decide how democratic America will be.

7 Best Moments from the Scripps National Spelling Bee The Daily Beast Video
A star is born, another goes down courtesy of a synonym for bovine rabies, and the judges try but fail to steal the show.

Secretary Duncan Speaks About Education Reform CQ
MODERATOR: Isn’t it sort of backward, though, offering $5 billion divided among 50 states as a reward for spending $95 billion wisely?

School Segregation and Teacher Quality Ezra Klein
As low-income African-American students streamed into the schools nearer to their homes, high-quality teachers streamed out.

More below!

Continue reading "WEEKEND READING: May 30-31 [updated]" »

POOL REPORT: Toppo Does FLOTUS "Education" Event

Mapdata Education's own Greg Toppo was in charge of doing the pool report for a FLOTUS education event today -- well, planting vegetables -- and did a much more conscientious job than most. 

He describes her outfit, the kids' little speeches about the history of the carrot, and more.  Check it out. 

Continue reading "POOL REPORT: Toppo Does FLOTUS "Education" Event" »

VIDEO: Bee Kids With Attitude (Go Home!)

ScreenHunter_45 May. 29 17.51 Watch Deadspin's highlights from the Spelling Bee -- these kids are funny, not just awkward.  Then, go home! It's Friday. 

POSTSEC: CC Credits Help Character From "The Wire"

ScreenHunter_41 May. 27 16.55
Kati Haycock was wrong about community colleges, after all.  In the future, brainy drug dealer Stringer Bell "uses his community college credits to transfer to space community college, get his space diploma, and use his space-business acumen to open up a chain of intergalactic pizza parlors," according to this delightful post from Videogum.

BLOGS: Comments And Criticism From Around The Internet

An Attack on Preschool for All Jay Mathews
This report will inspire much more, both positive and negative, and help those of us overwhelmed by conflicting data to figure out the essentials, and see the weaknesses on both sides of the debate.

TestscanningmachinesHelp Me Help You Politics K12
From reportedly giving out his personal cell phone number to rural school superintendents to hearing concerns about the NLCB Act in school districts across the country, it's pretty clear Duncan is (or wants to be perceived as) The Nice Guy Who Listens.

A look at  Chicago schools under Duncan Daily Kos
The track record of both is not particularly sanguine.

Funding for Education in the ARRA  (PL 111-5) Open CRS Blog
This report provides a brief overview of the key provisions related to education programs that are or will be administered by ED that were included in the ARRA under Division A, Title VIII, Department of Education, and under Title XIV, State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Robert Gibbs a High School Joker Washington Whispers
Novelist Ace Atkins recalls Gibbs in Auburn, Ala.

PHILANTHROPY: Grading The Givers (Fair's Fair)

ScreenHunter_35 May. 22 22.16 All too often, educators feel like big foundations are rating education programs and approaches that the funders may or may not know a lot about -- without very much transparency or accountability for themselves.  There are at least two sites that take some steps towards grading the givers, however:  Charity Navigator and The Funded.  (If there are more, let us know!).  Click below to see how these two sites rate a big education funder, and what could (should) happen next.

Continue reading "PHILANTHROPY: Grading The Givers (Fair's Fair)" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

The Selling of School Reform The Nation
It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: Al Sharpton, Newt Gingrich and Mike Bloomberg--all failed presidential hopefuls--arrive at the White House for a joint meeting with President Barack Obama.

Profound shift in kind of families who are home schooling USA Today
Parents who home-school children increasingly are white, wealthy and well-educated — and their numbers have nearly doubled in a decade, a new federal government report says.

Court Backs New Jersey Aid Revision: Less Focus on Poorest Schools NYT
The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a year-old school financing formula that distributes aid more widely, instead of concentrating on 31, mostly urban, districts.

A Red-Letter Day at National Spelling Bee: Kan. Student Is First, Va. Boy 2nd Wash Post
One by one, seats opened up on the blue-and-red stage as the words that students traced on their palms turned out to be incorrect.

TEACHING: A Facebook For Lesson-Sharing

Picture 14 It was fun to meet some new faces at the NSVF event, including some folks who’d just gotten funded.  CEO Alex Grodd’s BetterLesson, a Boston-based startup, beat out a slew of other, brand-name folks (like TFA) who have been working on lesson sharing for years.  BetterLesson bills itself as providing “collaborative curriculum development.”  It sort of sounds like Yelp (or Metacritic) for lesson plans. Or, sure, Facebook.  Sorta. It's in private beta now -- check it out and maybe you can get in on the ground floor. Just make sure that they're not going to use all your best stuff without giving you recognition (and maybe even a slice of the N$VF pie).

A Reverse DonorsChoose
Facebook "Share" Makes Everyone An Education Blogger

BLOGS: "An Evil Plot To Destroy The World."

How to Miss School Even When You're in School Jay Mathews
What do we do about students who are forced to miss school when they are in school? Many people assume that if the kid shows up before the first bell and stays until the final bell, he has gotten a good education that day.

Scripps1052709The Power Of One Student's Story Linda Perlstein
The piece, when you think about it, is fairly bare-boned: no quotes from literacy experts , no “across the nation” context. But the skeleton Diette built, on a year's worth of hard work, could not be stronger.

Rules For The Eduroad! Andywonk
Here are the three most common assertions related to the debate that I’ve heard and some basic rules for non-eduwonks.

Why States Aren't Rushing to the Stimulus Stabilization Fund Politics K12
The deadline for applying for stabilization funds is July 1. So far, 19 states have been approved. At least 30 applications have been received. [ED:  uh, isn't that almost everyone?]

FUTURE: Our Soon-To-Be Outdated Beliefs (About Education)

ScreenHunter_30 May. 21 02.18 Jason Kottke links to a provocative discussion about how widespread beliefs (about race, sexuality, etc.) change over time, no matter how prevalent they may be during a certain period:  Our soon-to-be outdated beliefs

What current beliefs about schools and education do you think will no longer dominate, say a generation from now?  Education mandatory for 12 years. Student learning organized by chronological age. Government grants only for higher education. Schools organized and funded by obscure geographic entities (districts).

HUG HIGH: What's Your School's Hugging Policy?

ScreenHunter_43 May. 28 11.22 "Schools from Hillsdale, N.J., to Bend, Ore., wary in a litigious era about sexual harassment or improper touching — or citing hallway clogging and late arrivals to class — have banned hugging or imposed a three-second rule."  From the Times (Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’).  Even better, see the video:  Hugging Is Hip

THOMPSON: Try Ignorance

Badges If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Nearly 80 percent of New York City’s principals were not on the job in 2001. The percentage of principals under the age of forty has nearly quadrupled (to 22%), as the percentage who had less than five years of teaching experience doubled to 20%.  The principals' payroll increased by 43% while the number of students under their purview dropped from an average of 879 to 649 students.  Pay per pupil has jumped from $138 to $205 in 2008 dollars.  But a New York Times analysis shows that graduates of Bloom/Klein Leadership Academy were less than half as likely to earn A's on the district report card and almost twice as likely to earn Cs or less.

Orson Welles famously derided the arrogance of power with the line, "badges, we don't need no stinkin badges."  NYC schools, Bloom/Klein believed, didn't need no stinkin experience, and the results are not pretty. Teacher turnover has been higher at schools run by Leadership Academy principals — "over the summer of 2007, nearly a quarter of these principals lost at least a third of their teachers, compared with 9 percent of other principals. More than a third of teachers leaving the system cited the quality of school leadership as among the main reasons. 'Perceptions of principal leadership skills are drivers of attrition,' an internal report concluded."                                                                                                  

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Try Ignorance" »

TEST PREP: There's No Profit Like Nonprofit

Custom_1239901257771_money Slate's financial spinoff, The Big Money, has a fun piece about the "gobstopping" amounts of money being made by nonprofit testing companies like the College Board:Taking the $AT.

Via Eduwonk and Joanne Jacobs. 

If you like the story, be sure to check out the College Board's response (here).

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Teachers start hunger strike to protest layoffs LA Times
At least nine teachers and two activists take part in the strike, demanding that the district put forth a new budget that doesn't include layoffs or class-size increases.

New Push Seeks to End Need for Pre-College Remedial Classes NYT
States receiving stimulus money must improve high schools so college students do not need remedial classes.

Turning Around Troubled Schools USNews
Signs of how Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to fix failing schools, via his work in Chicago.

Carver Middle School wins national honor Richmond Times
Carver Middle has been transformed from a failing school, one that couldn't meet state accreditation or federal No Child Left Behind standards, to an exemplary one.

Virginia Considers Dropping Third-Grade History Exam Washington Post
Virginia could soon join a movement to roll back testing programs, as it considers abandoning an exam that spans such matters as bartering, the...

National spelling bee winnowed to 41 MSNBC
Of the record 293 participants at the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee, only 41 moved on Wednesday to the nationally televised semifinals that start Thursday morning.

MEDIA: Easy To Confuse Charters & Vouchers

Another week, another obvious mistake in education coverage.  In an otherwise useful writeup (The charter school alternative), The Week confuses vouchers with charters and says that the Obama administration "recently curtailed funding for a federal charter program in Washington, D.C., schools."  Told of the error a few days ago, it remains uncorrected as of today.  

BLOGS: "An Evil Plot To Destroy The World."

Sometimes It’s Better to Get Caught John Merrow
My 12-year-old niece looked at me as she asked the question, then turned to her father, my younger brother.

I'm Glad 10What Makes The Spelling Bee So Special? Jezebel
Finals will be televised Thursday.

Speaking of advertising Joanne Jacobs
It seems much of education is turning into a PR campaign.

Determined Teachers and Social Services Jay Mathews
Only a deft mix of great teaching and energetic social services can do the job, particularly for children in the deepest trouble.

Shop Class as Soul Craft Slate
When Matthew Crawford finished his doctorate in political philosophy at the University of Chicago, he took a job at a Washington think tank. He quit after five months and started doing motorcycle repair in a decaying factory in Richmond, Va

10 Awesome Moments From Sesame Street Jezebel
Although the children's show changed the world it's now number 15 in ratings.

See also the earlier roundup of Facebook-found posts.

THOMPSON: Delayed Gratification

InstantgratificationFew teachers doubt the wisdom of the old marsh-mellow studies that revealed delayed gratification as a key to success in school and beyond.  One teacher turned cognitive researcher "became convinced that trying to teach a teen-ager algebra when they don't have self-control is a pretty futile exercise."  In the 1950s Trinidadians attributed the cultural differences regarding delayed gratification to racial differences between Africans and East Indians, but Walter Mischel showed that those differences were better explained by the absence of a father at home. With today's new research tools (and in cooperation with KIPP and other schools) the importance of self-control is being documented further.  And brain scans may help explore methods of teaching delayed gratification.

Mischel concludes, "even the most mundane routines of childhood - such as not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance ... are really sly excises in cognitive training: we're teaching ourselves how to think so that we can outsmart our desires."  If we could only teach "No Excuses" reformers to abandon their desire for the instant gratification of test score boosts, together we could invest the time necessary to teach students to be students.

Afterthought.  In the question and answer on the New Yorker blog, the lack of a father was discussed.  Mischel theorized that the "trust expectation" which is essential to delayed gratification is undercut when the male role model is missing.- John Thompson 

MEDIA: Facebook "Share" Makes Everyone An Education Blogger

I pride myself on finding great stuff to share, but no way I can find everything that all of you on Facebook find.  The Facebook "share" button makes everyone into a blogger. It allows allows any of Facebook's 200 million users to post an article of interest (with or without a little bit of your own commentary). And that makes my job a lot easier, especially since I'm friends with lots of education types like Lisa Snell and Kimberly Reeves.  Thanks!

Educators Suffering From Teaching Disabilities | The Onion.

Texting May Be Taking a Toll on Teenagers - NYTimes.com.

Effects of High School Assessments Questioned - washingtonpost.com.

Education Week: Chicago Group Promotes Links Between Districts, Researchers.

NCLB: Chicago Forced Into "Do-Over" For Duncan-Era Goof

Do-over The Board of Education for the Chicago Public Schools is being forced to vote on over 100 school restructuring plans that were not properly reviewed and approved over the past three years.  Apparently, Chicago schools had developed their own restructuring plans and submitted them individually  to the state.  Now that's decentralization.  Reality is, nobody in Chicago has really paid much attention to NCLB anyway.  We like to do things our own way. Click below to read the hilarious press release.  Cross-posted from District299.

Continue reading "NCLB: Chicago Forced Into "Do-Over" For Duncan-Era Goof" »

LAUSD: One Step Closer To Armageddon Parent Revolution

ArmageddonMoviePosterDutch He threatened the district with "Armageddon" and called dibs on Fremont High School in the recent New Yorker article, but I guess Cortines and Villaraigosa didn't respond the right way.  Now Steve Barr's Green Dot charter schools organization is turning up the heat even more, reviving the "parents union" idea and allying with other charter school organizations in LA to hold a rally and get parents to sign petitions that will help them take over their schools.  The threat of a conversion - or of parents leaving district schools en masse - is supposed to make the parent petition effective.  Click below to read about the parent revolution.  Meanwhile, the countdown to graduation at Locke continues.

Continue reading "LAUSD: One Step Closer To Armageddon Parent Revolution" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Sotomayor’s Record on Education Scrutinized EdWeek
President Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court has heard cases involving students with disabilities, school strip-searches, and racial discrimination in hiring.

KarateJudge prohibits L.A. teachers strike LA Times
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday prohibited the city's teachers union from staging a one-day strike this week to protest layoffs and other budget-cutting proposals.

Job Training Gives Boost To High School Grads NPR
Teens can dramatically improve their shot at a job by getting training in high school.

Recession Imperils Loan Forgiveness Programs NYT
Cutbacks in loan forgiveness programs could result in fewer students going into fields like teaching and nursing.


Here, here! 13 years of perfect attendance MSNBC
Stefanie Zaner, Iron Kid of Darnestown, is closing in on her 2,340th straight day of public school. Not once in 13 years was she marked absent: not for a cold, a vacation, or a senior skip day.

PHILANTHROPY: A Reverse DonorsChoose

 Not seeing anything you like on Donorschoose.org?  Want to create your own fabulous unit about, say, drums and unicorns?  (Dibs!) Click on over to the Generation Project and you can design and fund an activity for teachers to choose as they see fit.  Picture 13It’s like DonorsChoose in reverse: the donors do the designing, teachers do the picking. It’s the brainchild of Michigan-based Jessica Rauch, a TFA alum and staffer who was kind enough to come up and say hi to me (by mistake) at the NSVF event in Pasadena.  No idea if it’s a good idea or not, or well-executed, but I’m always ready for new ideas on the micro-donations front.

DUNCAN: Senior Staff Profiles

Nerve-120 They're not quite as juicy and revealing as some of the Nerve.com online dating profiles I've seen heard about over the years, but these new blurbs about nine senior staff members in the Duncan inner circle include some tidbits you might want to read. 

Continue reading "DUNCAN: Senior Staff Profiles" »

BLOGS: In No Particular Order

Sometimes a simple picture says a lot teacherken
Teacherken recommends a sweet picture that's been going around of late.

Bad Rap EIA
The New York Post misses the mark in this story, emphasizing the union charter school’s test scores relative to other charters.

09medium.xlarge1Six Reasons Merit Pay is Unfair Robert Pondiscio
Dan Willingham wanders into the fray with his latest video, “Merit Pay, Teacher Pay and Value-Added Measures,” and offers six reasons why “value added [...]

Battering BloomKlein ed notes online
There are three current articles that take BloomKlein to the woodshed on a number of issues.

Wither Education? Andywonk
Education is always just one crisis away from irrelevance on the policy agenda…

Update on school lunches Notebook
The Inquirer reported Sunday that the Obama adminstration's Department of Agriculture supports the Bush administration's plan to end the universal feeding program.

The three-year degree already exists The Dornado
There already is a three-year degree, and I don't mean the small number of three-year degree options that have largely failed to attract students. 

THOMPSON: Talking about Race and More

Williamjuliuswilson William Julius Wilson’s More Than Race supplies the balance that is still missing in educational debates. Conservatives often criticize Wilson’s conclusion that the legacy of Jim Crow, and deindustrialization are more important than gangsta rap in explaining the Achievement Gap. "No Excuses" true believers like Michelle Rhee and Andres Alonso, when challenging Wilson’s conclusions that structural conditions produced "often dysfunctional social norms," are as strident as the Black Power ideologues who attacked Patrick Moynihan for mentioning the breakdown of the Black family. When jobs disappear, "The work ethic, investment in the future and deferred gratification make no sense. ... Men, unable to support their families, abandon them; women become resigned to single motherhood; children suffer from broken homes and from the bad examples set by both peers and adults."

It is easy to understand why today’s education reformers, especially those rooted in civil rights litigation, would recoil from Wilson’s "levelheaded" approach. But "the urban poor need remedies that judges" (and school superintendents) "cannot order: public and private investment to create jobs that pay a living wage, training to help them learn new skills and understand the job market, and ... economically integrated neighborhoods where there are better opportunities and healthier cultural norms." Even so, Wilson’s "unemotional analysis should help such badly needed policies prevail in the court of public opinion." - John Thompson

FRITZ: This Week In Washington

Pudding052209 I met Fritz last week for the first time -- he's just like he sounds on the phone:  brash, straight-talking. 

Anyway, here's your weekly FritzWire -- it's nothing pretty but it's got jobs and events and legislation and all the rest so stop your complaining.

You can sign up for the daily version, or just check it out weekly here.

Continue reading "FRITZ: This Week In Washington" »

WEEK AHEAD: The Secretary's "Public" Schedule

Either Duncan's slacking off already or this is a pretty spare definition of "public."

Tuesday, May 26
· No public events

Wednesday, May 27
· Secretary Duncan will visit Billings, Montana. Details TBA.

Thursday, May 28
· 3:05 p.m. - The Secretary will deliver remarks at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Research Symposium, Alexandria, Va.  A question and answer session will follow.

Friday, May 29
· 10 a.m. - The Secretary will deliver remarks to the National Press Club's Newsmaker Luncheon, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

· 11 a.m. - The Secretary will conduct a question and answer session with Delaware Valley, Pa., Elementary School Students.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Aspiring Teachers Flunk Math Test US News
Nearly 75 percent of Massachusetts teaching candidates fail new licensing test.

Principals Younger and Freer, but Raise Doubts in the Schools NYT

By some measures, the New York City principals who have come through the city’s celebrated Leadership Academy lag behind veterans who did not.

U.S. education secretary says California students in peril LA Times
Speaking to mayors, trustees and superintendents in San Francisco, Arne Duncan challenges state lawmakers to embrace difficult reforms. 'Honestly, California has lost its way,' he says.

PLUS:  Hundreds of high school students protest teacher cuts

The New Math: Teachers Share Recession’s Pain NYT
As school districts face budget gaps, some teachers are offering to forgo raises, take pay cuts or dig into their own pockets.

Interview With New York Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein Washington Post
Before D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) took over the city's public schools two years ago, he paid a visit here to learn about a school system at the center of urban education reform.

Letourneau hosts 'Hot for Teacher' night MSNBC
Mary Kay Letourneau and her former sixth-grade student — the father of her two youngest children — are hosting a "Hot for Teacher" night at a Seattle nightclub.


Catching up on new and recent magazine articles and blog posts while everyone else is at the BBQ:

Embrace your inner show-tunes nerd Salon

Pretty much anyone who remembers the merciless absurdities of high school life a little more vividly than they'd like to will savor this very clever, very original new comedy.

Some Teachers Offer to Share the Economic Pain NYT
Even in some of the places where unions have voted to help out management, some members have balked.

The charter school alternative The Week
Are small, independent public schools the future? [note error re DC charter program]

The Case for Working With Your Hands NYT Magazine
Changes in the economy have had the surprising effect of making the manual trades more attractive.

Relaxing052209Across District Lines TAP
"School choice" does not have to be code speak for privatizing public education.

How to make charitable donations that also boost the economy. Slate
How to make charitable donations that also boost the economy.

Stimulus money going to scofflaw companies Salon
Major recipients of U.S. contracts have paid big fines for breaking environmental, safety and discrimination rules

The evolutionary argument for Dr. Seuss Salon
Why do we often care more about imaginary characters than real people? A new book suggests that fiction is crucial to our survival as a species.

A Prom Divided NYT Magazine
Outside the classroom at Montgomery County High School in Georgia, segregation endures.

VIDEO: Banning Songs Is So "Two Thousand And Late"

Some schools are banning dirty songs at prom and graduation parties, according to a link from DetentionSlip.org. Thankfully, the Black Eyed Peas' springtime hit, Boom Boom Pow (Gotta Get That), isn't on the list. Turn your speakers down and click the start button. You know you want to.
Want the original, slightly more funky version? Click here.

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogs

Drop7-apple-lg-73481538An Intriguing Alternative to No Child Left Behind Jay Mathews (Washington Post)
If the No Child Left Behind law, focused on raising test scores, proves to be a dead end, what do we do next? I rarely read or hear intelligent discussion of this question.

Has the Research on Formative Assessment Been Oversold?  Stephen Sawchuk 
Though called assessments, in practice they're more like exercises teachers use to gather immediate feedback on whether a student is responding to...

Pity the state superintendents  Mike Petrilli
Maybe if [the Duncan team] had an state education agency (SEA) person on their team they’d know that the state agencies are hemorrhaging staff right now, thanks to state budget cuts, which makes even relatively simple tasks like this one more difficult.

Stimulus Funds Can't Rescue California Now Politics K12
Now that voters have rejected several budget fixes, the $4 billion in state fiscal stabilization fund money headed to California is barely going to make a dent in the state's deficit.

Like A Bad Penny… Eduwonk
…teacher testing in Massachusetts is back!

MEDIA: Just How Many Dropout Factories High Schools Are There?

The NYT editorial page ran a piece about high school reforms earlier this week (Dropout Factories) but mis-stated the number of high schools in the US by a factor of ten.  There are apparently 20,000 high schools in the US, not just 2,000. 

OBAMA HIRES: Surprisingly Brilliant...Or Obscure & Disappointing?

Thelma There's part of me that's been excited and curious about all the new and relatively unknown faces that the Obama administration is picking for its top education jobs. It would have been sort of disappointing and bland if things had turned out predictably with lots of Clintonistas and self-promoters at the helm. Yay, surprises.

But this week gave us yet another little-known appointee, and I'm starting to wonder.  She's Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, for ESEA head. And, just like Arne Duncan, she wasn't exactly at the top of everyone's lists. She's got less than three years at the helm of a smallish district (Pomona), before that a stint with a smallish foundation (Stupski), and little if any experience with high schools (supposedly the focus of a lot of attention in the new NCLB). She's got a PhD in Philosophy (or  Education, depending on who's talking).

But she's not a Broad Prize winner, or a nationally known researcher.  She's got a bad blog.  So how'd she get the job?  Being from California doesn't hurt.  Ditto for the foundation connections.  She's pretty clearly an elementary school person, also an advantage.  Everyone will deny it, but female and Latina is part of the equation, too.  Especially the Latina part.  She's only the second Latina (the other is Gabby Gomez for leg affairs).

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Carved pencil 3Economic Slump Slows Down Summer Schools NPR
The economic downturn has prompted many school districts to reduce funds for summer school. That's bad news for students who need remedial work and for those who are taking summer classes to advance a grade.

Schools prepare for devastating losses of funding LA Times
After voters rejected ballot measures that would have restored state funding for schools, educators across California on Wednesday braced for $5.3 billion in cuts over the next 13 months.

Arne, Gavin and Hydra Beyond Chron
Many eyes will be on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when he speaks today at the San Francisco School Alliance Luncheon at the historic Palace ...

US schools chief pushes change Indy Star
Arne Duncan, the nation's energetic new schools chief, seems as puzzled as many Hoosiers by misguided efforts to cap the growth of charter schools in ...

Honors for a President, but Not Without Debate NYT
Is it too soon to start naming public buildings after Barack Obama?

Texas teen maps out a win in U.S. geography bee USA Today
Eric Yang, 13, of The Colony, Texas, won first place in the 21st annual National Geographic Bee along with $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Galapagos Islands to experience geography first-hand.

SCHOOL PHOTO: Another Reason To Smile For The Camera

"According to a study out this month in Motivation and Emotion but excerpted in the Economist, if you smiled in high school, you'll live happily ever after. If you glowered, you'll glower to the grave. ...What is more interesting, however, is if there is a relationship between senior quotes and marital status (Gawker: Surly Seniors Become Sad Divorcées)."

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Into Thin Air Swift and Big
"Who's ready for a race to the top?"

A blogger to USDOE? Sherman Dorn
Peter Orszag is being joined by Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, the newly-announced assistant secretary of education nominee, who has maintained a blog while running the Pomona school district....

N17403488_31347196_2775759The Burbs Kevin Drum
Even on a purely voluntary basis, I suspect that fostering "regional partnerships between urban and suburban districts" will never have more than a tiny impact.

Aspen Institute's Wurtzel To Join Permanent Ed. Dept. Ranks Politics K12
Judy Wurtzel is in line to take a full-time position under Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

State Budgets Vary Chad Aldeman 
Reform efforts should be focused on the places that actually have the capacity to do so, as opposed to the places focused on just digging themselves out of giant financial holes.

Philly Culinary Arts Teacher aka 'Drill Sergeant' NPR
Wilma Stephenson's culinary arts course at Philadelphia's Frankford High School is not your mother's home-economics class.

STIMULUS: A Windfall For Edupreneurs?

Pasadena GreetingsI'm back in Brooklyn but still digesting the NSVF summit this year.  So far my takeaway from the event was that the innovation and entrepreneurship folks -- the Republican wing of the Democratic party? -- feel really warm and fuzzy about all that's going on in Washington these days.  Obama with his charter cap-lifting talk, Arne Duncan, who they consider one of theirs, and many of Duncan's hires who come from the Gates/ Broad/ NewSchools world.  And they're REALLY excited about the "Race To The Top" funding that is accompanying the stimulus -- it's like the federal government just dumped a ton of cash on top of all the Broad and Gates money that they already had. 

Of course, there were relatively few real-world district and state administrators or union leaders or elected officials there, the folks who will actually have to receive and implement these changes (and whose political and budgetary issues are still much larger than Gates and RTTT combined).  This has always been a weakness of NSVF, and seemed even more apparent this year.  Michelle Rhee, the darling of last year, was in attendance but not featured in any of the panels. Too aggressive and fate uncertain, I guess.  Ditto for Joel Klein, who used to be these folks' best friend, or Cory Booker or Adrian Fenty.  Even with all the RTTT money and the pipeline into the USDE, the edupreneurs and innovations folks still seem to be working at the margins and still seem weak on the political / real-world fronts.  Or maybe that's just how it seems to me.

Cross-posted from D299:  A Windfall For Edupreneurs?

THOMPSON: Say it Ain’t So

Gladwell_ I am still hoping that Outliers will be an outlier. I am hoping that my favorite popular science writer hasn’t "jumped the shark." I laughed off the implication that my city’s schools were failing because Okie "good ol boys" were the descendants of sharecroppers, not Asian wet rice farmers. While not knowing enough to disagree with Gladwell on the merits of KIPP, I wondered whether he knew enough about educational systems to conclude that KIPP is the "most promising charter school movement" in terms of being replicable. I was enjoying Gladwell’s account of the full court press, and I was assuming he would then explain why it wasn’t as effective with the long NBA season. But, Gladwell then wrote that the "David," underdog strategy, was rejected by the "basketball establishment" because the effort required to run a full court press is "too daunting. They would rather lose."

In other words when faced with additional nuance, Gladwell took the easy path and issued a blanket indictment of the "status quo." Rather than ask how to sustain "David" strategies, like the full court press or KIPP, Gladwell played the "drama" card, instigating conflict and disparaging the other views. Checking hyperlinks, I learned that the sports blogosphere is not forgiving of newcomers who do not bother to learn enough about their field before issuing blanket statements.  Supposedly Gladwell asked for an hour interview with Rick Pitino, the Kentucky coach who used the press to win a championship,  and was told, "Son, you’ll be lucky to get five minutes."

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Say it Ain’t So" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan Pressed to Set High Bar on 'Race to Top' EdWeek
The education secretary told Congress he’ll hold states to a high standard in doling out $5 billion in discretionary stimulus funds.

Education Secretary Duncan Calls for State Standards on Restraints in Schools Washington Post
Citing "disturbing" reports of schoolchildren harmed when teachers physically restrained them, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called on state school chiefs yesterday to develop plans this summer to ensure that restraints are used safely and sparingly.

Stack_of_newspapers_150x155.jpegLittle Detail on High School Improvement EdWeek
Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent the morning briefing the U.S. House's education committee on his boss' school agenda. But his testimony wasn't overrun with details on their high school improvement strategy.

DPS will ax 900 jobs to cut deficit Detroit News
Detroit Public Schools' emergency financial manager said Tuesday he plans to cut more than 900 of the district's employees and take other drastic cost-cutting measures to eliminate the system's multimillion-dollar deficit.

Roosevelt High teachers give the Education Mayor a failing grade LA Times
 'We basically switched one bureaucracy for another one,' one teacher says.

Entire Groveland, Calif., school board recalled LA Times
Furor over firing of a teacher spurred effort to remove all five members of small district near Yosemite.

PHILANTHROPY: Seventy-Eight Schools In Afghanistan

I'm way more hard-hearted than most, but this segment about the man who wrote Three Cups of Tea and helped build 78 schools in Afganistan is still pretty moving:

The kicker: his mom, an elementary school principal, helped start it all by inviting her son to talk to her students.

BLOGS: PBS NewsHour Team Adds Blog To Podcasts, Broadcasts

Picture 7 John Merrow's outfit, Learning Matters, has now added a blog called the News Desk to its podcasts, emails, and signature broadcasts (usually on the PBS NewsHour).  They're a welcome addition, though the field for daily news roundups is already crowded.  Here are a couple of recent posts to give you a taste of how the blog is developing so far:

VIDEO: Sixteen, Pregnant Again, & Abused At Home

Precious wants a light-skinned boyfriend with nice hair, and to be in a BET video. But in real life she's sixteen, still in junior high school, and pregnant for the second time.

Oh, and she's being abused by her mother.

It's the trailer for the Oprah Winfery/Tyler Perry backed film "Precious," based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

End Is Near in a Fight on Teaching of English NYT
After 17 years of litigation, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether Arizona is complying with federal laws requiring public schools to teach children to speak English.

Custom_1241123277305_skymallBloomberg's WayEdWeek
The state law that changed the governance of the system is sunsetting next month, setting off intense scrutiny of the system over the past seven years.

Seattle Public Schools to cut 172 teachers, staff EdWeek
The Seattle Public School District said Friday it will lay off 172 teachers and other certificated staff to meet a huge funding gap in the coming school year.

Mere 30-point bump on SAT can pay off big USA Today
A 30-point boost in math and critical-reading scores on the SAT reasoning test is statistically meaningless yet could make or break a student's chances of admission at "a substantial minority" of colleges, a research paper says.

In Baltimore, expulsions are forever Baltimore Sun
Parents agonize as kids face harsh penalty for school arson, violent behavior

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Of The Day

Shuttering dealerships or schools?  Knowledge Alliance
Is there a meaningful analogy here.

How to Spend $100 Billion to Fix Schools (Cont.) Uncle Jay Mathews
The top five ideas, ranked in the order of reader approval, were...

What does the Massachusetts Miracle teach us about teachers unions?  Mike Petrilli
A few weeks ago I was at a conference when Diane Ravitch made the point that if teachers unions are such obstacles to reform, how can we explain Massachusetts, a “strong union” state that boasts highest-in-the-country NAEP scores and dramatic gains for poor and minority kids over the past decade?

SmallTalk: We're public! No we're private!.
In an attempt to block teachers from unionizing, charter operators around the country are now claiming that they are private.

Stephen Colbert Calls Tom Brokaw His "Personal Assistant" - Caught On Tape
Tom Brokaw spoke at Fordham University's commencement in the Bronx on Saturday, where he read an underminery note from Stephen Colbert.

Michelle Obama Sets a Good Example Sara Mead
Seems like everyone these days wants to be like Michelle Obama--even a little, furry, red muppet!

NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena

Check out my tiny Tweets from the NSVF conference here --  including breaking news that NSVF number 2 Joanne Weiss is going to head Arne's Race To The Top fund. 

MEDIA: Fact-Checking The Administration's Claims

ALeqM5hc-DnUJcff3LCBGjD_AWXeZ_Zphw The AP's Libby Quaid digs into the stats and pronouncements that are coming out of the Obama administration and finds that things aren't quite as dire as we're being led to believe:

"While they're not in first place, U.S. students generally hold their own on international tests. They spend more time in school than the Obama administration would have you believe. And their college graduation rates stack up better than reported."

Check it out for yourself:  Are US students really that bad?

By the way, this isn't the first time that the Obama folks have been called out for their education rhetoric. Factcheck.org hit them on similar items a few weeks ago (Tearing Down US Education Achievement). 

NSVF: Another Spring, Another Summit

Each year, the NSVF annual summit gets a little less secretive and -- probably -- a little less interesting. Hell, they even invite press now. The real summit takes place the day before.

Picture 10This year's event -- my third -- is in Pasadena and features David Kelley (no idea) as the keynote speaker. Other speakers include Duncan (via video), Deasy, Feinberg, Fryer, Hess, Villaraigosa -- the usual suspects, that rotating crew of Gates-Broad-NSVF-Obama administration types. Here's the agenda

For a look at previous summits, click here:  The "Sundance" Of School Reform (2007), Microblogging The NSVF Summit (2008). For a peek at the full reach of the NSVF empire, click below. I'll be there, bringing the overall quality of the event down as usual.  I might even Twitter.

Continue reading "NSVF: Another Spring, Another Summit" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Schools restrain, confine disabled children  USA Today
Children with disabilities are being secluded from classmates and restrained against their will to control their behavior, ...

Picture 13 Detroit school reform faces labor obstacles Detroit News
US Education Secretary Arne Duncan's vow to help turn around Detroit's public schools may be a historic opportunity, but that isn't translating into ...

Teen fires at teacher, then shoots self MSNBC
A Louisiana middle-school student stormed into a classroom Monday and fired a gunshot over a teacher's head, then shot himself in a bathroom.

N.C. School District to Replace Laid-Off Teachers With Novices EdWeek
Some experienced teachers being laid off in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., district will be replaced with 100 new Teach For America recruits.

'Innovation' Push Raising Questions EdWeek
Experts are urging that effectiveness, not just newness, should be reformers’ goal. PLUS:  Costly Plan Failed to Improve Miami Schools EdWeek

In India, School Principal Works to Changes Lives of the Poor NPR
Sister Cyril Mooney, principal of the Loreto Day School in Kolkata, India, is working to provide poor children a place to learn by day and a safe haven at night. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.

THOMPSON: Out of the Closet

Domesticviolence A recent study in Education Next prompted a great discussion at the Core Knowledge Blog. Robert Pondiscio has long argued that the "time on task gap" aggravated by chronic classroom disruptions, explains much of the Achievement Gap, and 77% of teachers have agreed that discipline problems undercut their instructional effectiveness.

Researchers identified 4.6% of the children in a school district of 30,000 as coming from households where domestic violence charges were brought by a parent. Elementary school boys exposed to domestic violence performed at the 37 percentile academically, as opposed to boys not exposed who ranked in the 52nd percentile. Forty-three percent of the boys exposed to domestic violence had disciplinary incidents as opposed to 25% of boys not exposed.

The study also found statistically significant negative effects on the peers of the children exposed to domestic violence, such as increasing disciplinary infractions of classmates by 16%. Adding one troubled boy to a class of twenty decreased the male classmates’ test scores by two percentile points. (That is 7% of a standard deviation.)  And that is before the domino effect of chronic disruption spreads into middle school and beyond!

Fortunately, the study found that

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Out of the Closet" »

VIDEO: Yearbook Photo Flub

Picture_1_anonibA Florida student's mom demands the school yearbook be reprinted after her daughter is shown bottomless, with no panties.




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.