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FB: Online Quiz Useful For Teacher Recruitment, Evaluation, & Pay

QuizThere are lots of goofy quizzes on Facebook these days, and this one is probably no better or worse.  Except it's about schools:  What kind of teacher are you?. I know!  I haven't taken it but 57,000 others have.  Give it a try and tell us what you find out.  Maybe this is something districts could use instead of all that pricey Haberman stuff.  Or, even better, maybe we can work it into someone's teacher evaluation or performance pay program. 

BLOGS: "Back In Five Minutes."

Custom_1242498847209_2203227980_a224534bc4The Revolving Door of Teachers In Chicago Liam Goldrick 
While these statistics are slightly worse than Illinois as a state and the nation as a whole, CPS is not a huge outlier with regard to teacher mobility. It is a problem across the board.

The Firefighters' Case and the Schools Mark Walsh
What are the lessons for schools and school employees in the decision today in favor of white and Hispanic firefighters in New Haven?

Find the typo! and other national-stage blogging Sherman Dorn
The National Journal unveiled its new education policy blog yesterday. My first response has an embarrassing writing goof; see if you can spot it!...

Simple Math Change.org
"Everyone knows," he said, "that the subject matter itself isn't that hard. What's hard...is beating it into the heads of youngsters who hate every step.

Can teachers have lives outside of school? Get Schooled
A Gwinnett County teacher was named Miss Georgia Saturday, but Kristina Higgins turned down the honor the next day, saying she was worried about balancing her duties.

DC: Behold The Shiny New (Sponsored) FritzWire

Fritzwire logo It's a slow week in DC but the FritzWire is on fire.  The new version is formatted and (generally) nice-looking.  Plus it still has all the reports, events, jobs it always had. (Not that there's much going on this week.)  And Fritz is getting paid.  Check out today's version below -- sponsored by Widmeyer! -- and sign up at the bottom if you want to get it daily. 

Continue reading "DC: Behold The Shiny New (Sponsored) FritzWire" »

THOMPSON: Robeson High School

Bryan Robeson High School in Chicago has 400 incoming freshmen, with 150 already identified as "at risk." Despite having 17 pregnant freshmen, the school’s options are constrained by the lack of counselors and the district only has one alternative school for young mothers. Not surprisingly, many of the younger students have limited educational horizons, thinking that they just need "Food. Water. Place to Live. (and) You gonna need weed."

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Robeson High School" »

BLOGS: New Blog Options To Liven Things Up

Thanks to Dana Truby at Scholastic Professional Media for passing along this favorite education blogs list, which includes a number that  are new to me (10 education blogs I've been reading).  It's easy to let things get stale, and high time for some new voices and ideas.  Some of the new names on the list:

1911781644_fe16c0eb932.  Prone to Laughter
Should the teacher dance to the raunchy song?

3.  Line 46:
Intimacy and honesty from inside a classroom.

4. Change.org's Education Blog:
Straight out of Eugene, OR.

6.  Learn Me Good:
A male teacher in primary school, teaching math.

8. Wicked Teacher of the West:
How teachers misinterpret kids, and other classroom realities.

Are any of these any good?  Let me know. Or maybe your blog, or someone you know, has an even better one. 

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Chief Justice Roberts: High court not setting school rules USA Today
At a judicial conference, Roberts was asked how school administrators should interpret seemingly conflicting messages from the court in two recent decisions, including one Thursday that said Arizona officials conducted an unconstitutional strip-search of a teenage girl.

In Hartford, Stimulus Funds for Schools Leveraged for State Budget Crunch PBS
John Tulenko of Learning Matters reports on how one school district in Connecticut is weathering the recession, and how the state is using stimulus funds to close budget deficits rather than increase education spending.

75462598Sacramento vice mayor kicks county school board leader out of meeting Sacramento Bee

A meeting to discuss locating a school for at-risk youth at the corner of Florin Road and 24th Street took an uncomfortable turn Thursday afternoon when Sacramento Vice Mayor Lauren Hammond refused...

One College Sidesteps the Crisis WSJ
Harvard University put the brakes on a major campus expansion. Wellesley College froze salaries and laid off employees. Middlebury College cut financial aid for international students. But one private college is quietly skirting the ...

States weigh setting one bar for students CSM
A 'common' standard for K-12 education is in the works.

Montgomery, Md., Schools Made Teen Wait and Wait to Go to School WP
Jeff Sukkasem is a U.S. citizen and legal resident of Montgomery County, with a passport, a library card and a volunteer job at a local Thai Buddhist temple. For the past two years, however, he essentially has been barred from public school.

MEDIA: School Reform Goes Tabloid

"WHICH former elected official has been cheating on her husband? This wife and mother was spotted going into a Midtown hotel with the head of a group pushing school reform, who's also married. Said our source, "Not the first time and not the last time" . . ." (NY POST JUST ASKING)

BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Stim 2: The Stimulus Strikes Back? PK12
Another stimulus package could very possibly be Coming Soon to a Congress Near You, at least if Warren Buffett has his way.

Money moneyNever Can Say Goodbye Charlie B.
No one booed when Arne Duncan said: The "charter movement is putting itself at risk by allowing too many second-rate and third-rate schools to exist."

Don't Mess With Success at This High-Achieving Charter Middle School Uncle Jay Mathews
Sometime last year, while negotiating a teacher contract for the KIPP Ujima Village charter middle school in Baltimore, founder Jason Botel pointed out that his students, mostly from low- income families, had earned the city's highest public school test scores three years in a row.

You want coverage of Malcolm Gladwell? We got it. Dangerously Irrelevant
If you can’t figure out what Gladwell talked about after looking at all of these, there’s no helping you! The Twitter hashtag for Gladwell’s talk was #necc09mg...

High School Secretary Uses School Computers To Change Her Daughter's Grades Jezebel
Perhaps this case speaks to the weird competitiveness of high school, the push for that ever-important class rank and the scholarships it may bring.

THOMPSON: Same As It Ever Was - or Not

Clockers The week before I began teaching in an alternative school for juvenile felons, NPR introduced me to Richard Price and his novel Clockers. A decade of living in a neighborhood devastated by the Reagan/Bush recession and crack and gangs had taught me what happens when the fragile wiring of our brains and the fabric of our social institutions are unraveled.

Price’s Clockers, and afterwards The Wire, were able to articulate the human struggle for survival and dignity in a thrown-away community. Soon, I intimately knew students like the "Buffalo," who was a teenaged version of Price’s character, Rodney, who knew every species of tree in the neighboring nursery and loved to watch the backhoe in operation. And I understood the logic of my scarred, brain-damaged young sociopath destined for life in prison, who was the spitting image of the character in The Wire, who in the last episode accepted a sweet deal and traded murder for legitimate profits.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Same As It Ever Was - or Not" »

USDE: More Windy City Natives Heading East

Compass-east A few more folks are heading to East, according to Catalyst, including staff for John Easton's IES communications office and new early childhood analyst for AIR. Check it out here

Meanwhile, Duncan's former Chief of Staff is headed to HHS, according to Lynn Sweet (here).

Anything else?

EDSEC: Duncan's Weekly Schedule

6a00e54f8c25c988340115700effab970c He's in Chicago, then back in DC, then out to Aspen for the Aspen Ideas Festival on his way out the NEA convention on Thursday.

Details below.

Friday is a holiday. 


Continue reading "EDSEC: Duncan's Weekly Schedule" »

MEDIA: National Journal "Experts" Blog Starts Today

National journal logoThere's a new education blog out there, starting today. (Just what the world needs, I know.)  This one's being hosted by the National Journal Group, and it's main appeal seems to be that it's somehow enticed all sorts of folks who aren't known to blog (Duncan, Paige, Spellings, Bennet, Kline, etc.) to give blogging a try in addition to the usual set of blowhards and know-nothings (myself included).  Hell, the NEA's even going to be there.  Of course, staffers will do most of the actual writing, and it remains to be seen whether anyone says anything interesting or new.  But I will do my best to call out any Beltway BS that I find, and urge you to check it out. It's being hosted by NJ's education reporter, Lisa Caruso. 

Continue reading "MEDIA: National Journal "Experts" Blog Starts Today" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Gerstner Says Obama Picked Wrong Advisers to Lead Auto Overhaul Bloomberg
Gerstner, a longtime proponent of education overhaul, praised White House efforts in that area and said he's “excited” about Education Secretary Arne Duncan...

Peer Review Programs Offer Mentorship to Struggling Teachers WP
Jean Bernstein rang a cowbell, her cue to quiet the sixth-graders at Roberto Clemente Middle School for a lesson on multiplying decimals. "You need to settle down," she said.

Urban high school's rare feat: No dropouts MSNBC
Angelo Drummond wears a pressed white shirt and a red power tie for his two-hour presentation to his harshest critics — a panel of fellow students at Camden's MetEast High School.

Mom charged with changing daughter's grades MSNBC
A high school secretary illegally changed grades in a school computer system to improve her daughter's class standing, according to criminal charges filed Thursday.

How Should We Teach English-Language Learners? NPR
The Supreme Court last week ruled that Arizona has not violated federal laws that require schools to help students who do not speak, read or write English. The decision raises a bigger question about why these students have been so poorly served to begin with.

BLOGS: The Best You've Ever Read

States Should Decide How Tests Work Under NCLB PK12
The brand-new top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, said this morning that he's not wedded to the idea that states should test their students in reading and math once a year...

The Mod Squad Eduwonk
Dem moderates in the Senate weigh-in on the Obama education agenda with a letter to the President (pdf).  Depending on how all this goes down they could prove to be a key voting block for reform. 

SchoolchoiceWhat School Choice Looks Like Dana Goldstein
Doing away with school choice entirely seems like a bad idea...And yet, through both "choice" enrollment and neighborhood sorting, we are creating segregated mini-systems within larger school districts.

The Trouble With School Choice Ezra Klein
It's crucial not to leave behind the schools with little potential for excellence. Those, after all, are where the children will need the most help, and where we can't rely on their parents to give it.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Peer-Assistance and -Review...But Were Afraid to Ask Sawchuk
That could have been the title, anyway, of this Web site on peer-assistance and -review programs.

Better organized free stuff  Tom Vander Ark
Just a few years ago we had to rely on our weekly fix from EdWeek and now our inboxes and twitter boxes are full of news and views—a storm of info.

Vikky and Deoine, a Mott Haven high school’s “best couple” GothamSchools
Victoria Cruz and her girlfriend of two and a half years, Deoine, were voted “best couple” at their high school, Mott Haven Village Prep.

VIDEO: 8th Grader Aaron Shutway's Moment Of Internet Glory

A YouTube video was posted on June 9, 2009, in which an 8th grader named Aaron Shutway, standing at one end of a basketball court, performs a front handspring while holding the ball, and in landing the flip shoots across the court, and makes the shot. (Videogum)

TEACHERS: "The Cannon Fodder Of School Reform"

Much has been said about the effects of turnarounds on students and communities, but less so on their effects on rookie teachers and relatively inexperienced administrators who are often brought in to do their best. 
ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 16 16.15In part one of his four-part series (Change comes to Webb/Wheatley), freelancer Dan Charles focuses in some of the folks who were brought in to turn around one NE DC elementary school called Webb/Wheatley, including a principal who comes to the school from another, much more advantaged situation.  Check it out.  I think you'll find it's worth the time. 

In the second part (A tale of two teachers), Charles focuses on how hard it still is to find experienced teachers who are willing to come help with a struggling school.  In the third, Charles explores the tensions between traditional discipline and a kinder, gentler kind of discipline (The great behavior challenge).  The last section (Is it working?) discusses what's changed -- and what hasn't -- by the end of the year. 

URBAN: One Dad Explores Detroit Schools' Modern Ruins

ScreenHunter_08 Jun. 18 21.41 Well known to many others and already featured in at least one major magazine, the blog called Sweet Juniper reads and looks like an episode of The Wire, full of modern ruins and tales of poverty, corruption, and inattention.

As with Jesse Katz and Kate Boo and just a very few others, it's an example of how I want my narrative writing to read: curious, observant, humble.

Click the picture to get the full effect.  Thanks so much to Siobhan M. for showing it to me.

VIDEO: Who Needs Good Grades, Anyway?

Bill Cosby lays it all out for his son, who thinks that bad grades are all that he needs to be "regular people." Advice From Dr. Cliff Huxtable Jezebel


NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan: State-charter schools need work UPI
... States need to work with charter school operators to turn around struggling schools and offer students choices, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. ...


Congressional Support of Obama/Duncan Education Agenda: What's Up? EdWeek
... of the education "status quo" to stop appearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and stop lending support to President Obama's education agenda. ...

Supreme Court Says Child’s Rights Violated by Strip Search NYT
The justices ruled, 8 to 1, that Arizona school officials had insufficient reason to search for prescription drugs in the 13-year-old girl’s undergarments.

Supreme Court Sides With Arizona in Language Case NYT
The Supreme Court said the federal government should not be supervising the state’s spending for teaching non-English-speaking students.

SITE NEWS: "Often Irreverent And Proudly Impolitic"

So-much-reform160.pg University of Chicago researcher Charles Payne's book, So Much Reform, So Little Change, mentions my Chicago blog, District 299, in its introduction.  As Payne describes it, "The blog offers yet another level of scrutiny, often irreverent and proudly impolitic."  Indeed. 

That's very kind praise coming from Payne.  And all of those who write in with their comments and insights or send me memos and slideshows from inside CPS deserve much of the credit. 

You can check out Payne's book here, or read a longer excerpt from the introduction below.  Thanks to contributing writer John Thompson for letting me know about the mention.

Continue reading "SITE NEWS: "Often Irreverent And Proudly Impolitic"" »

SCHOOLS: Wraparound Services

American Educator Summer 2009

Maybe it doesn't have to be either/or, after all.  The summer issue of the AFT's American Educator takes a look at what schools can do (and are doing) to provide or at least coordinate the provision of wraparound services for low-income students.  It also doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, the magazine tells us, profiling efforts in Cincinnati, Corpus Christi, and New York City. 

REFORM: Raising Caps Won't Get Charters To Do Turnarounds

ADMIT The EdSec's office just put out this press release about what Duncan really thinks about charters and turnarounds (below).  In it, he calls out Indiana and Maine for their caps.  There's nothing new there.  He thinks he caused the Tennessee and Illinois changes.

But he also seems to be pulling back a little on the notion that only charters can do turnarounds, and on the notion that he's for charters in some giddy, schoolgirl crush kind of way. 

The great irony here, of course, is that very few charter operators want to do turnarounds in the first place, despite the obvious need and the growing interest and support from the Gates Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund over the past couple of years.  Raising charter caps doesn't really have anything to do with turning around failing district school.  It's a convenient justification for pushing charters. 

Continue reading "REFORM: Raising Caps Won't Get Charters To Do Turnarounds" »

BLOGS: The Best Of The Day (So Far)

Assessing the Common Core Bill Tucker
If there's one thing that my assessment friends have taught me, it's about the co-dependencies and linkages between the two.

Picture 32The Legacy Of Columbine Continues Jezebel
For the past 10 years, Jason has believed that he, in part, caused the Columbine massacre, and used intravenous drugs as a way to escape.

Mayo Clinic for Education Knowledge Alliance
In the future perhaps Duncan might give some acknowledgment that our understanding about specific solutions in education is far from complete.

One for the Community Dale Mezzacappa
A remarkable thing happened at the School Reform Commission Wednesday -- impassioned community pleas actually had an impact.

Pioneer Days Jezebel
Former tennis champion Billie Jean King (R) speaks during an event to mark the 37th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX. Also attending the event were Education Secretary Arne Duncan (L) and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (2nd L).

HIGH SCHOOL: Nerd, Or Jock?

It's the eternal high school question:  nerd, or jock?  John Hodgeman tries to get to the bottom of the Obama mystery.

Hodgman and Obama nerd it up.

DISCIPLINE: Chicago Tops Big-City Suspension Rates


Out-of-school suspensions in Chicago outpaced those in the 10 biggest school districts in the nation, according to a new report from Catalyst Chicago (here).

But that's not all.

Nearly one in four black male students in Chicago Public Schools was suspended at least once last year, a rate that is twice as high as the district average.

Disclosure:  Catalyst is one of the sponsors of my Chicago education blog, District 299.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

School safety advocates praise DOE pick Bay Area ReporterAdvocates for LGBT student safety received a hopeful boost recently when US Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the...

Newspapers_01-thumbWeingarten resigns from NYC teachers union AP
The president of the nation's largest teachers union announced Wednesday that she is resigning from her other job as head of New York's United Federation of Teachers.

Accreditor for Teaching Programs Puts New Emphasis on Research and Real Life Chronicle
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education announced new requirements that will put a greater focus on research into effective teaching methods.

Upper Marlboro School May Be Named After Obama Washington Post
Barack Obama Elementary would be the name of a new Prince George's County school in Upper Marlboro under a proposal set for a vote tomorrow night.

Students Without Borders Washington Post
A team of very smart teenagers has set out to discover ways that maggots might make the world a better place. Two are from Loudoun County. Two live more than 9,000 miles away in Singapore.

DUNCAN: "Like A Ton Of Bricks"

"So if states and districts are doing a great job, we're going to highlight those innovative practices and shine a spotlight on them, but where we see a state or district operating in bad faith and doing something counter to the president's intent, we're going to come down like a ton of bricks."  Arne Duncan March 25, 2009  Thanks to LQ.

BLOGS: Good For Cocktail Party Conversation

Charters risk flexibility, freedom Joanne Jacobs
Bureaucratic, union-dominated public schools are the future of charters.

The Data Game Bridging Differences
Ah, data.

DataAt long last, Bronx Green Dot finalizes (tenure-free) contract Elizabeth Green
Teachers union president Randi Weingarten today signed her name to a work contract free of the word “tenure” — and then heralded the contract as a model for American schools.

Going Green! Eduwonk
TBD:  Big winner Randi Weingarten who can now sport a new reform cred?

“The Year of the Bad Teacher” Core Knowledge Blog
Wall Street Journal blogger Sue Shellenbarger asks what’s a parent supposed to do when a child’s teacher is a rotten apple? 

CHARTERS: Indirect Relationships Between Authorizers and Operators

The notion that some charter operators would claim not to be public employers struck some folks (including me) as pretty strange, given all the charter school rhetoric about how publicly accountable and Baldwin june2 coffee store posttransparent they are.  Especially when the claim comes in the context of trying to divert or avoid teachers' efforts to unionize their workplaces. 

Even more thought-provoking (to me, at least) was the realization that some unknown number of charter school operators don't actually hold the charters that allow them to run a school.  For better or worse, in these situations the relationship between the authorizing body and the operator is less direct. 

In these situations, the operators are are subcontracted by the outfit that receives the charter.  Usually it's a nonprofit receiving the charter and a for-profit EMO who's the subcontractor.  Though sometimes a nonprofit CMO like KIPP will consider operating a school for another nonprofit. How widespread is this subcontracting practice?  No one knows exactly.  The folks at the Alliance tell me that roughly 11 percent of charters are managed by EMOs -- a small percentage in all but four states. 

QUOTE: Don't Forget About Unfunded Mandates

"It is important over the next few years for the federal government...to be very mindful of the potential fiscal impact executive orders or legislation could have on states."  (Federal stimulus dollars, state deficits -- and federalism Stateline)

Bet this comes up around NCLB and common standards, if it hasn't already.

TURNAROUNDS: Graduation Day At Locke High School

This afternoon is the graduation for Locke High School's first class of seniors under Green Dot.  Hard to believe that just over a year ago this place was locked down and full of riot police.

Tshirt_style2The big news will be the number of kids graduating this year, which is up, and the colleges they're going to.  There are definitely many success stories to tell, along with a few notable setbacks and hard lessons. The LA TImes has a slew of stories out this morning to help us undestand it all:

A year of steady and promising changes at Locke High
Subtle signs of a turnaround on a troubled LA campus

Green Dot hopes starting early will improve academic culture

Shared control of special education proved problematic

It'll be interesting to see what Steve Barr has to say, fresh off his whirlwind trip to DC for the charter schools conference and to NYC for the signing of the Green Dot NYC contract agreement. Meantime, there's so much planning for summer school and next year that it feels like the future has already started even before the seniors are out the door.

THOMPSON: Will We Measure Up?

Backpackers "If a hostile and wily foreign power had somehow imposed on America the pervasively mediocre educational performance that exists today, we would have declared war on it."

Would a hostile power be more likely to challenge the gumption and the creative insubordination that we knew as "the American Character," or generations trained to fill-in-the-blanks and survive in an educational culture of compliance? Who would have thunk it, the creative culture that produced Google would be displaced in schools by "a culture of accountability?"

I partially blame the litigious desire for guarantees; "reformers" demand policies that educators can’t weasel out of, so education leaders demand "teacher proof" solutions that make it certain that the numbers will come out right. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "Cover Your Ass" is hardly the posture we expect of a great nation.

The last time we faced such an economic challenge, Americans repudiated social engineering and adopted the unlovely infrastructure-building of the W.P.A, the C.C.C., and dam construction. Now, the challenge of building an informational $80 billion infrastructure for medical records is also daunting, but

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Will We Measure Up?" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

AmeriCorps Board Member: We Initiated IG Firing Talking Points Memo
Walpin has claimed that he was fired because the White House objected to his pursuit of an Obama ally, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, in an investigation into the misuse of federal funds.

Subtle signs of a turnaround on a troubled L.A. campus LA Times
Locke High School English teacher Katy Bridger tried to give her fifth-period seniors a test while Byron Gordon sharpened pencils noisily, Deon Crockett wandered the room complaining at full volume and a girl cursed just as loudly at Deon for being rude.

Newspapers-766059 New plans will free up the 'Free Application' for student aid USA Today
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is announcing plans today to simplify the application...

Texas schools unsure whether federal officials will OK use of stimulus money Star Telegram
This time, they’re uncertain whether Education Department officials will approve state legislators’ use of $1.9 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to fuel a funding increase.

Bullying a Top Concern for School Safety Post Pick EdWeek
Kevin Jennings, now head of the Education Department’s office of safe and drug-free schools, was harassed as a gay youth—and later worked to fight such abuse.

German court: Rating teachers online OK MSNBC
A German court rules that schoolchildren may rate their teachers online, rejecting the case of a woman who argued her rights had been infringed by pupils who gave her bad grades on a Web site.

BLOGS: Momentary Distraction From Your Soul-Crushing Job

Duncan's "ton of bricks" quote Small Talk
The ton of bricks quote is all over the media. But no one seems to carry the exact quote beyond the words "ton of bricks." It would be nice to know what exactly we have to do before the bricks fall on us.

Tough Choices in Tough Times LFA
A Las Vegas Sun article about Nevada's use of stimulus funds highlights the challenges many states and districts feel as they balance the desire for innovation against the need to fill budget holes:

TextbooksIn defense of conferences  Andy Smarick
Years ago, when I was just entering the education reform world, an old hand heard that I had registered for a big conference and dismissively replied, “Conferences are for the uninitiated.”

Are we really passing kids? Philly Notebook
The pressures of passing underperforming or de facto, failing students in the school district of Philadelphia.

Green Dot Founder Eyes D.C. Charters PK12
Steve Barr says he'll be talking with Chancellor Michelle Rhee about bringing his model for small high schools to the District of Columbia.

One more reason not to use Elsevier Sherman Dorn
If fake journals created at the whim of pharmaceutical companies weren't bad enough, how about paying people to assign five stars to textbooks in Amazon's review system?...

Turnaround Jumper Chad Adelman
This process will not be clean, and Duncan may have overreached with the five percent figure (why not start with the five worst schools in each state, or some other definable, achievable number?), but he's set the right goals.

QUOTE: How To Make Sure Your Report Gets Covered

"Never go up against NAEP. Bad news sells better than good news and non-news. A slow newsweek in the dead of summer beats a crammed news week in June."  (Flypaper)

THOMPSON: Climb to the Top

Sugar Creek If we did a real cost benefit analysis of the greater good for the greater number of families by funding the proposed "Race to the Top" innovations with the benefits of "No Child Left Inside," the race would not be close. Test scores may or may not reflect real learning, but blood pressure test scores; blood sugar counts; and Body Mass Indices are unquestionably real. Yes, we must build a "green economy," but how can we do that without building green values, and bringing children out into the green world?

Candidate Obama recognized that a huge part of the Achievement Gap is the result of summer learning loss when poor children are not exposed to museums, outdoor activities, and travel. Chairman George Miller recognizes that environmental education builds "critical thinking, problem-solving, team work, ... and critical analysis." The tough-minded approach, though, would be to use "Race to the Top" funds to meet the immediate and absolutely necessary challenge of creating innovative environmental education and getting kids into the countryside.  We could invest in data systems if money is available during NCLB reauthorization.

The first time I took inner city kids camping and fossil hunting, a 3rdgrader found a "real live dinosaur nose! It still has blood on it!" When the toughest brawler tried to summon the courage to take his first step into the woods, it was like a kabuki dance, taking several minutes of wrestling with his terrors. I gained new insights into the fears that drove T___ to violence as I held him all night during his migraine headaches.

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Climb to the Top" »

REFORM: 10 [Crazy] Ways To Save Education

200907_toc "From killing tenure and the SAT to requiring Spanish classes for everybody (er, para todos!), nutty ideas abound. Here are 10 crazy ideas for remaking our schools from K through College." (10 Ways to Save Education The Atlantic):

1) Eliminate summer vacation.
2) Extend the School Day.
3) Expand Bilingual Education.
4) Raise Compulsory Education Age
5) Kill the SAT.
6) End tenure.
7) Pay for Your Major.
8) Smart Loans to Make College Affordable.
9) Smart Certificates to Make College Non-Essential.
10) Rank Everything.

That's their list.  What's yours?  My favorite crazy idea was that recent one about selling futures on poor kids' future earnings.  Getting rid of local school districts is Matt Miller's.  Banishing teachers unions. Outlawing private schools is a Barr favorite.  What's yours?

REFORM: Why Charters Get So Much Attention

Talking to a friend on the phone yesterday morning on my way into Locke High School (it's graduation week), we were trying to come up with the reasons that charter schools get so much attention despite their small numbers.  Here's what I remember coming up with:


Small set of very good charter schools.
Magic bullet status.
Still "new" to many people, 20 years later.
Still seem reformy.
Instant "maverick" cred.
Wedge issue for Dems.
Media loves wedge issues.
Evolving politics (ie Obama and McCain both supporting them).
Public ambivalence over unions.
Everyone loves a good startup (Ira Glass on "origin" stories).

Maybe you've got better ideas - this doesn't seem the whole story. 

I'd guess that charter schools get roughly 25 percent of the high profile media coverage going to education -- it might be higher these days (since Obama came into office).  This despite educating less than 5 percent of US kids, and not yet having "fixed" education.  Yes, I'm contributing to the problem by writing about it. Yes, I've spent the last year reporting on a charter school.  Totally hypocritical.

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Obama's Education Budget Sees Some Pushback on Capitol Hill US News
Federal plans to reform failing schools and provide opportunities to students face questions.

Court Says Parents of Special-Education Students Can Seek Reimbursement NYT
The Supreme Court ruled that parents of special-education students may seek government reimbursement for private school tuition, even if they have never received services in public school.

Newspapers-766059Justices Rule For Parents Of Special Ed Student NPR
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that an Oregon family can seek reimbursement from the public school district for their son's private school tuition, even though the family did not try the public school's special ed program first.

Two students, two schools -- 20 miles and a world apart LA Times
Their backgrounds may be worlds apart, but their dreams are similar.

Education Dept. Dumps Symbolic Schoolhouse of No Child Left Behind Washington Post
Seven years ago, a rally at the Department of Education promoted one of then-President George W. Bush's most significant domestic achievements -- the No Child Left Behind law.

Police: Ga. principal arrested in cheating probe AP
The resulting higher scores helped four schools meet standards and avoid sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Schools that don't meet standards under the law must offer extra tutoring and allow parents to transfer their children to ...

BLOGS: A Quick Roundup Of Opinions & Updates

33_100-print7corrected Duncan: Charters Have Role in Turnarounds PK12
Education Secretary Arne Duncan challenged charter school operators to play a hands-on role in turning around the nation's 5,000 lowest-performing schools.

Doctors Quality, Teacher Quality: A Double Standard Ed Notes Online
There's all this hysteria about teacher quality and the claims that this is the most important factor in education. But when it comes to people who can seriously damage or actually kill you, there is an amazing lack of concern.

ESEA and common core standards Rich Long
Development of common core standards is going to change the nation's education focus.

Bullish on turnarounds? Andy Smarick
For those of you optimistic about our ability to fix broken schools via “turnarounds,” please consider the following.

Glasses Help School Go From F To A DetentionSlip
If only we had known sooner that LensCrafters had the solution!

CHARTERS: Fighting For Relevance

It's the best and worst of times for charter schools right now.  What they need to focus on next isn't expansion for expansion's sake, however, or even culling the herd to improve overall effectiveness.  They need to make themselves relevant and useful to improving public education. And Arne Duncan and George Miller need to help.

Continue reading "CHARTERS: Fighting For Relevance" »

CARTOON: "He's Barack Obama, He's Come To Save The Day"

ScreenHunter_10 Jun. 20 01.15Lyrics from the latest Jib-Jab cartoon (He's Barack Obama):

Fix the schools! 

Go to space! 

Punch a robot 

in the face!

THOMPSON: Win Win Solutions

Mother_child_reading The Democrats for Education Reform propose an expansion of charter pre-schools for ages three and four.  I ambiguously support charters for k-12, but those schools have the inherent disadvantage of "creaming" top students and educators from neighborhood schools, and often inciting more animosity in school reform debates. 

But I sure can't see a downside to DFER's pre-school proposal.  I can only see the potential to bring new resources, talent, and quality to pre-school.  And charter pre-schools could be the antidote to the situation where educated parents pick early childhood education that respects the whole humanity of their kids, while poor children end up in "high cost day care."

Continue reading "THOMPSON: Win Win Solutions" »

EDSEC: Duncan's Big Week Ahead

ArneduncanMonday, June 22

8:35-9:15 a.m. EDT OPEN:  Secretary Duncan will deliver remarks on school turnarounds at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 9th Annual Charter School Conference, Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl., NW Washington, DC

1:20 p.m. EDT OPEN:  Secretary Duncan will kick off the administration’s summer service initiative, “United We Serve,” at Fanwood Memorial Library, North Ave. and Tillotson Road, Fanwood, NJ

Tuesday, June 23

9:00-9:30 a.m. OPEN:  Secretary Duncan will give brief remarks followed by Q&A at the Academic Improvement & Teacher Quality Annual Meeting on Title II in Arlington, VA

Continue reading "EDSEC: Duncan's Big Week Ahead" »

NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

Texas not sold on education standards Express-News
The state is one of four that is sitting out an effort to create voluntary national standards for what students are expected to learn in school.

School cutbacks force parents to scramble for summer replacements LA Times
Boys & Girls Clubs, libraries and other nonprofits anticipate a surge as budget problems force cancellation of usual programs.

When friends make you poorer Boston Globe
Peer pressure can make people, especially young people, do stupid things. New research finds that this includes one’s choice of career.
Education Chief to Warn Advocates That Inferior Charter Schools Harm the Effort Sam Dillon
Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to invite invite charter school leaders to help out in the administration’s broad effort to remake several thousand of the nation’s worst public schools.

An Interview With Randi Weingarten EdWeek

The Obama administration has focused on closing troubled schools, a strategy Education Secretary Arne Duncan employed while in Chicago. Although Weingarten was careful to point out that she doesn't oppose such closings per se, she said it makes sense...

Ideas & Trends: Get a Life, Holden Caulfield NYT
Young readers now see the protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” as a whining preppy, not as a virtuous outcast.

Britain is tossing out 'i before e' rule MSNBC Generations of schoolchildren have learned "i before e, except after c." Now the British government advises teachers not to teach the rule because it has too many exceptions.

WEEKEND: Things To Read June 20-21

The CEO of my favorite nonprofit earns more than $200,000. Slate
Is that outrageous?

Dirty Jokes Slate
What kidding about sexual predators and innocent teens says about us. And them.

Why Wal-Mart Workers Need the Employee Free Choice Act In These Times
Since liberal Democrats and their labor supporters introduced the Employee Free Choice Act into Congress earlier this year, opposition to the legislation has reached a fever pitch.

88585125Rise of the ‘daddy blogger’ The Week
Stay-at-home dads have come a long way since “Mr. Mom,” but are they any match for the powerful “mommy bloggers”?

Strange Maps: New Ways to Know Your World Esquire
From hilarious takes on colonialism and Iran's Middle Eastern stature to genuinely mind-blowing pieces of modern cartography, a highly illustrative blog worth bookmarking.

10 Net Memes You Can Share with the Kids (And a Bunch You Can't) Wired
How to bring the boys up to speed on internet culture without spawning years of therapy.

What's with all the prayer breakfasts? Slate
Why so many prayer "breakfasts"—rather than prayer lunches or teatimes?

A teen book burns at the stake Salon
A Christian group hopes to set fire to library copies of Francesca Lia Block's novel about a gay boy coming of age.

The long debate over adding ununbium to the periodic table of the elements. Slate
The periodic table added its 112th official element Wednesday, when scientists in Darmstadt, Germany, announced they had received official approval for ununbium from an international body of chemists.

D299: Too Serious For The MSM, Or Too Silly For A Nonprofit?

Doubled banner Is my Chicago education blog District 299 too serious for the Tribune's new Huffington Post-killer, ChicagoNow, or too light and zany for nonprofit Catalyst Chicago magazine?  Or both?  Find out the answer at BeatBlogging.org, a social media blog directed by NYU media critic Jay Rosen. Lead editor Patrick Thornton has posted the results of a recent interview we did, in which he exposes how lazy and grandiose I really am. (Russo bringing District 299 to Tribune’s ChicagoNow).

BLOGS: The Best Of Them.

Dads and Schools: Not Strangers Anymore ISR
A survey out this morning picks up some double-digit increases over the last 10 years in the percentages of fathers who participate in their children's education.

'The Today Show' Hosts Discussion on Bilingual Education LTL
Personally, I'm not convinced that the debate was left behind in the 20th century.

D2409US0USA vs. The World Kevin Carey
New Jersey isn't an autocratic city-state on the tip of the Malay peninsula or a Nordic socialist paradise or anything like that. Nor is Massachusetts (well, maybe the socialist part) or Minnesota or New Hampshire or Kansas.

How Do I Help Students Handle Information Overload on Social Media Sites? Poynter
How do you help students strike a balance between wanting to feel connected, but not overly distracted by flurries of Tweets, Facebook status updates, links distributed on social media sites, etc.?

"You Can Read Whatever You Like" ASCD
As part of the school-wide celebration, the ridiculously talented and energetic teaching staff created and performed "Read Whatever You Like" a riff on T.I.'s hit song and roll call of some of the students' favorite young adult fiction.

Ohio yearbook has hidden F-word on cover DetentionSlip
Well played Shaker Heights, well played.

EDSEC: Hometown Protest To Greet Duncan In Chicago

6a00d8341bf90b53ef00e55503007c8834-800wi Sorry about all the Chicago posts but a teacher-led reform group called CORE is going to welcome Arne Duncan with a good old Chicago-style protest when he shows up to speak Friday morning before a newly-formed (and Gates-funded) statewide advocacy group called Advance Illinois, which is putting out a new report called We Can Do Better that is full of all the usual reformy talk.

I think this may be the first time Duncan has encountered protesters since he became Secretary. The teachers are protesting the impact of Chicago's school turnaround efforts, which have despite all the kudos given them by the mainstream press displaced thousands of veteran teachers -- many of them African American -- and not always made an obvious positive difference.  An EEOC complaint has been filed. 

Yes, you can follow them via Twitter.

CHARTERS: Chicago Teachers Vote Union Again

Mask It's happened -- again.  Teachers at three Chicago charter schools voted to unionize and will have a press conference Friday morning.  Or at least that's what the Thursday evening press release tells me. 

You may recall that the teachers' first efforts were invalidated when their employer, Civitas Charter Schools, got someone at the NLRB region 13 office to agree that they weren't a public employer.  Hence the re-vote. 

Rest of this post:  Superficial analysis.  Necessary exaggeration.  Barely hidden self-importance.  General hand-waving.



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.