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ICE CREAM: Crush The Librarians!

ScreenHunter_25 Jul. 30 10.20 If librarians can can lobby for a library-themed Ben & Jerry's flavor, and Stephen Colbert can get his own, then why not one for education, too? 

Come on, we're 50 million kids and $550B in spending a year.  We're cute, we're zany, we're All-American (whatever that means these days).

But the competition is tough -- the librarians already have 40,000 people signed up for Facebook, and their flavor name ideas are some of them pretty awesome.  They've got the New Yorker helping them (Tasty De-Lit

Someone's going to have to really step up if we're going to pull this thing off and crush those eye-glass wearing, rule-enforcing ants.

BLOGS: Best Blog Posts Tweets Of The Day

504x_DONDRAPER071009What can I say? Turns out Twitter is pretty addictive. Here's some Don Draper to make it up to you.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    TEACHING: Shakespeare In Text-Speak

    Voltron_210x Rapping Shakespeare is so 1990s.  Now some teachers are trying to bring Shakespeare to the world of kids' Sidekicks.  Can you tell what famous scene this is?

    Bt w8, wuz dat lyt n d wndw ovr der?
    Itz d east, n Juliet S d sun.
    Rise ^, btifl sun, n kil d jLs m%n . d m%n
    S alrdy sick n pale W grief coz u,
    Juliet, her maid, r mor btifl thN she.

    Continue reading "TEACHING: Shakespeare In Text-Speak" »

    NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

    Not much news I can find, but some big editorials on RttT:

    Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’  WSJ
    The acid test is whether Messrs. Duncan and Obama are willing to withhold money from politically important states as the calendar marches toward 2012.

    Washington Steps Up on Schools NYT
    The federal government talks tough about requiring the states to improve schools in exchange for education aid. Then it caves in to political pressure and rewards mediocrity when it’s time to enforce the bargain.

    We Need More Parents Like Sonia Sotomayor's Mother. Learning The Language

    He noted that Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, a former ELL teacher and the superintendent of the Pomona Unified School District, has been confirmed as the Education Department's assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. Duncan mentioned that Melendez was an ELL student herself while growing up in California.

    Business Is Booming for Career Switcher Programs Washington Post
    The high unemployment rate has provided an unexpected boon for the nation's public schools: legions of career-switchers eager to become teachers.

    TWITTER DAY: All Twitter Thursday [Now With Tweets!]

    Picture 1 Today is a Twitter day.  No blog roundup for you.  But you can follow my inane Tweets and silly pass-alongs here if you're really disappointed. Or search Twitter here to see what everyone's blathering about. No joining or following required. Search for Arne Duncan and you'll find a real-time sighting from Chicago, for example.  

    UPDATE:  Now you can view my tweets without going anywhere at all, thanks to helpful folks who told me how to do this:

    Twitter Updates

      follow me on Twitter

      CARTOON: Not Everything Is A "Teachable Moment"

      via Slate

      THOMPSON: "Cocksure"

      Hubris2 The financial engineers (whose money, methods, and culture have so influenced the statistical engineering of education "reformers"), and who wrecked our economy, were not just motivated by hubris, writes Malcolm Gladwell. The "cocksure" arrogance of the powerful is an adaptive trait that is doubly dangerous because "in conflicts involving mutual assessments, an exaggerated assessment of the probability of winning" can produce "increases in the probability of winning." A mindset develops where "I’m good at that. I must be good at this, too." Then comes the fall.

      One would have thought that Michelle Rhee and her fellow newcomers to education would have been thrilled by the GAO report on the District of Columbia School System. It emphasized the extreme difficulties that reformers faced, and largely endorsed their goals. Even so, the report concluded that:

      The "DCPS lacks certain planning processes, such as communicating information to stakeholders in a timely manner and incorporating stakeholder feedback at key junctures, which would allow for a more transparent process." 

      Continue reading "THOMPSON: "Cocksure" " »

      MEDIA: Twitter Shuffles Education Rankings

      Rb A highly incomplete look at the numbers last night (see below) shows that some of those who may be big on blogs or elsewhere aren't so big on Twitter, at least in terms of followers.

      Others don't even seem have a Twitter feed at all.

      Where do you rank?  Who'd I miss?  What else do you notice?

      Continue reading "MEDIA: Twitter Shuffles Education Rankings" »

      NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

      There's gotta be more news than this, right?

      Education secretary praises Orlando school Orlando Sentinel
      Duncan toured the NorthLake Park Community School and the Lake Nona YMCA -- which share a building -- as part of his 'listening and learning tour' that has visited eight states so far.

      WASL had some good points, researchers say Seattle Times
      A new study has concluded that the much-disparaged Washington Assessment of Student Learning had some good points that should not be lost in the streamlined test that replaces it.

      Teach for America: Elite corps or costing older teachers jobs? USA Today
      Despite a lingering recession, state budget crises and widespread teacher hiring slowdowns, Teach For America has grown steadily.

      New KC school superintendent sees job getting bigger KC Star
      John Covington knew running Kansas City’s schools would be a bear of a job. One month in, though, he’s finding the challenges even greater than he expected.

      BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Internet

      Pensioin spikes, firewalls, gap closing, college going, and more:

      Golden Parachutes Chad Adelman
      These salaries are a huge win for both district and union negotiators.  In turn, young, mobile teachers and state taxpayers lose out.

      Custom_1248773700217_f26fMiller's Revenge Petrilli
      Here's George Miller, proud California citizen, doing what he can to keep the Golden State from winning the Race to the Top. (Or, more fairly, trying to browbeat it into changing its laws in order to qualify.)

      Closing the gap Small Talk
      Monty Neil and Pedro Noguera, as expected, are on target. Andrew Rotherham, as expected, is the worst.

      Cost Bars the Way to College Claus
      I think Mathews gets it wrong.

      The Four Day Work Week Matt Yglesias
      The historical reasons for that are fairly arbitrary, and trying to get firms to switch to a four-day workweek has long struck me as a relatively painless way to reduce gasoline consumption.

      The Audacity of Normalcy Ezara Klein
      Presidential mandates are meaningless.

      THOMPSON: Respect

      Behavior The New York American Civil Liberties Union only studied six schools, but its recommendations are suggestive. As urban educators would confirm, the ACLU argues that metal detectors, "zero tolerance" rules, punitive discipline, and the criminalization of teenage misbehavior do not work. Trusting relationships are the key to school safety.

      I despise top down mandates that compromise my autonomy in the classroom, but the NYCLU describes an great accountability system. If students believe that a teacher’s policies contradict the school’s core values, they can appeal to a fairness committee. By respecting student voices, as well as investing in the staff necessary for timely interventions, I have no doubt that most students and adults can create an appropriate learning culture.

      Continue reading "THOMPSON: Respect" »

      MEDIA: Education Organizations And Twitter

      2511539541_b8c1-thumb The Associated Press and the British government have already put out rules and guidelines for employee use of Twitter, hoping to engage employees in productive uses of Twitter while warning them against mistakes and goofs that could embarrass everyone. New York Times, too.  What about state education departments, local agencies, and nonprofit organizations?  What about classroom teachers and school-based staff in general?  Free to Tweet, or banned entirely, or something in between?  Dare I even ask, what's the USDE's Twitter policy? Is anyone besides Duncan allowed to get in on all the fun?

      MEDIA: Blogs Counterbalance "Village" Journalism

       Kudos to Joanne Jacobs, whose long-running education blog gets mentioned in this much-read New York Nyrob logoReview Of Books article about the relationship between blogging a and traditional journalism (The News About the Internet). Jacobs' blog isn't particularly contrarian or watchdoggy but it's extremely successful at engaging readers in commenting.

      TEACHING: Widespread Class Size Increases Anticipated

      ScreenHunter_21 Jul. 29 08.50 "Forty-four percent of school districts[are] expected to increase class size. Classes in Los Angeles are expected to grow by two kids in fourth through 12th grades. Middle school classes will have 35 kids on average; juniors and seniors will have about 43 kids in each class. Kindergarten through third-grade classes will rise by four kids to 24." (AP: School budgets dip, class sizes grow). Average class size in America is about 20 students. 

      NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

      Cuts, criticism, turnarounds, school gardens:

      California schools chief reacts to U.S. criticism on teacher evaluation LA Times
      California's top education official sought Tuesday to counter federal criticism of the state's reluctance to use student test scores to evaluate teachers, paying a visit to Long Beach to highlight one of the few California school districts to make extensive use of such data.

      Vote on city teacher layoffs tabled
      During a debate that grew heated at times, City School District Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard said at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting that teachers could avoid layoffs entirely if the teachers union would forgo pay raises next year

      How three troubled Metro schools got back on track Tennessean
      As Metro Schools celebrates meeting standards after five years of missing them, principals and others are reviewing what went right in the three high schools — Maplewood, Hunters Lane and Hillwood — that allowed them to come off a state watch list after two consecutive successful years.

      A new crop of school gardens LA Times
      Even as state funding wilts, support for school gardens is growing.

      GROUPS: Elementary Teachers Get New National Head

      361228624_3jHKZ-M Diane Cargile is slated to take over as new head of NAESP, according to this article.

      I don't usually post this stuff but I loved the picture of the principal standing next to school bus in her bright blue shirt.

      Good luck, Principal Cargile.

      VIDEO: Paid Promotion In Valedictorian's Speech

      Wow.  A high school valedictorian got paid to insert a line promoting a movie in her graduation speech.  Gross.  Can they take away her diploma or something.  Working on it.

      'Viral' Ad in High School Graduation Speech Fails in Every Possibly Way Gawker

      BLOGS: Best Commentary Of The Day

      Much of what gets reported in the news is think tank research, not real research. And more:

      Who's On First Big Charlie
      We constantly hear from teachers’ unions that they want to work in partnership with government officials, and not be dictated to. But by advancing specious and disingenuous arguments, they illustrate why some have largely given up on trying to meet them half way.

      Wolves And Lambs…. Andywonk
      I’m no media critic but isn’t the lede here the unprecedented effort the teachers’ unions are undertaking to do this?

      Is Think Tank Research Muscling In on the Media? Inside Research
      Think tank studies aren't dominating news coverage, says a new report, but they may get more than their share of the spotlight.

      Who Produces the Educational Research Mentioned in the News Media? Paul Baker
      In an analysis of education articles published in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Education Week, Holly Yettick of the University of Colorado at Boulder finds that any given think tank report was substantially more likely to be cited than any given study studies produced by a university.

      "Highly Qualified" Appeals Lawsuit Tossed Stephen Sawchuk
      Perhaps no one but Teach For America will care about this, but a district court last week threw out an appeal in the Renee v. Spellings lawsuit over the "highly qualified" teacher provisions in the No Child Left Behind Law....

      RESEARCH: Ignoring The Results

      "At this point if Jack Jennings doused himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze in front of the NEA, would anyone notice?" (Education’s Learning Curve Hits A Plateau! Eduwonk)

      EDSCHOOLS: Stanford Makes Itself Look Bad

      Suse-logo2As if ed schools weren't already thought of as bastions of abstract theory and political correctness, Uncle Jay tears apart the folks at the Stanford School of Education for over-reacting to a rebellious (and bloggy) teaching candidate: They Messed With the Wrong Blogger). Yikes. Please tell me that Linda Darling-Hammond was not involved in any way.  

      DUNCAN: Magnet Admissions Scandal Brewing In Chicago

      ScreenHunter_17 Jul. 27 20.51

      News from Chicago is that some children have been getting "clouted" into competitive elementary and high schools based on connections rather than through merit or the lottery (District officials probe admissions at top public schools Tribune,  Investigation of CPS admissions requested Sun Times).  Duncan's replacement has ordered an investigation.  I've asked whether Duncan knew about this and what he did to address it. 

      NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

      Summer school's going online, K12 spending reaches $550B, and districts are starting to use stim dollars:

      Stimulus funds used to retrofit buses SD Union Tribune
      San Diego Unified has become among the first school districts in the nation using federal stimulus money to retrofit school buses with a pollution control device.

      28165111Ala. Gov. Boosts Education Cuts to 11 Percent. EdWeek
      Gov. Bob Riley ordered further cutbacks in the state education budget Friday because of declining tax collections and has drawn the last $116 million out of the state's rainy day fund to prevent deeper cuts.

      Census: Feds contributed little to schools in 2007 AP
      Per pupil spending in public schools varies widely from state to state, but the federal government contributes comparatively little to K-12 education, according to a Census report released Monday....

      Summer school students leaving classroom for the Internet Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
      Online courses have quickly been gaining ground in the state, with several school districts playing host to their own virtual schools and many more providing students the opportunity to take fully computerized courses. But online summer school has been a little slower catching up. There are signs that might be changing.

      During School Recess, New Focus on Playing Nice PBS
      Recess can be a chaotic, even violent, period during the course of a normal school day. Spencer Michels reports on how one non-profit is showing educators the health, and classroom benefits of teaching students how to play nice.

      TEACHERS: Charter Teachers Who Regret Unionization

      Picture 2 I couldn't help but notice that the kicker of Sam Dillon's cover story today reveals that Joyce Pae, one of the Chicago teachers who pushed to get her school unionized -- ended up regretting her decision, just like Kashi Nelson.

      As you may recall, Nelson joined the unionization effort at KIPP AMP but then came to regret having helped initiate the process (A Teacher Changes Her Mind).

      It's just two people, and I'm sure there are many others who are glad that they decided to go for unionization, but seemed worth noting.

      Maybe the trick for charter teachers will be to make noises like they're going to talk to the union, but not really do anything.  

      BLOGS: Reax To The Race

      Concerns and criticisms about RttT that somehow escaped the "moonshot" media rush on Friday:

      The unions will first work to water down the regs, but Obama and Duncan will still get most of what they want. Then the districts and the unions will take the money, and four years from now, just like magic, everything will be exactly the same as it is now. (Battling the Elements EIA)

      ScreenHunter_14 Jul. 26 22.51This is Washington Knows Best at its worst, and runs the risk of seeing states superficially swear allegiance to these reform ideas but implement them half-heartedly down the road. (The carrot that feels like a stick Mike Petrilli)

      The issue is not the use of the data, but the value of the data. (Data Plan Approved by Obama TCKB)

      Aside from the fact that the model (lifting charter caps, more testing, performance pay) has no more research juice behind it than Reading First had, his RTTT leverage money is a piddling amount compared to what's needed to keep schools afloat--let along do systemic change. (Starving schools into "reform" Mike Klonsky)

      It’s unfortunate that the Department directs that at least half the RTT money must be distributed to districts based on a federal formula, but it’s a about the only way they can ensure that high need districts get help. (Stealth Education Reform Tom Vander Ark)

      It's an unfortunate pattern when the USDE doesn't give reporters enough time to think through what they're being fed and end up writing over-excited "ghee whiz" stories that they probably regret a few days later.

      GATESWATCH: Some 15 States Getting Extra Help


      Word from a usually reliable source is that some 15 states are getting extra help and support from the Gates Foundation in the form of consultant time and coordination in putting their RttT package together.  No response from the Gates communications folks but these states may include Tennessee, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Washington, Texas, Ohio and Minnesota.  I'm guessing Illinois is in there, too.  Know any others?  Meantime, we're still waiting to find out which of the 10 districts that were in the finals for the teacher quality "deep dive" are going to get that money:  10 Districts Vie For $500M

      THOMPSON: A Teachable Moment

      Dwb Our guest speaker had written for the Heritage Foundation and was the  editor of our reactionary newspaper. As I recall, the discussion took off when students asked about a news article on "community policing" in their notorious neighborhood, "the Highlands." The speaker replied that "police sweeps" are not racial profiling because they are irregular patrols that do not stop citizens based on ...

      "Yeah!" came the replies from all over the classroom, "they’ll stop any Black driver in the Highlands on Tuesdays and Thursdays!"

      Undeterred, the editor explained that its not just Black drivers who are detained during irregular police sweeps, it was ... "Yeah!" from across the room, "they’ll stop any of us walking in the hood on Tuesdays and Thursdays!"

      Continue reading "THOMPSON: A Teachable Moment" »

      DUNCAN: The Secretary's Media Schedule July 27-31

      OB-EB981_oj_1ch_D_20090717201859 Weekly reading.

      Speeches in front of La Raza and the Urban League and the GE Foundation.

      Orlando listening tour school visit.

      Nothing on Wednesday and Friday.

      Continue reading "DUNCAN: The Secretary's Media Schedule July 27-31" »

      NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

      Back to the real world -- cutting budgets, fixing failing schools, etc.


      In Bronx, An Alternative Fix For Failing Schools NPR
      Some school systems are hiring consultants who work with existing staff to turn around low-performing schools.

      How three troubled Metro schools got back on track Tennessean
      As Metro Schools celebrates meeting standards after five years of missing them, principals and others are reviewing what went right in the three high schools that allowed them to come off a state watch list after two consecutive successful years.

      10 years later, FCAT, school grade reforms get mixed grades Miami Herald
      How school grades and FCAT changed everything.

      As Charter Schools Unionize, Many Debate Effect NYT
      Questions linger about whether unions will strengthen the schools by stabilizing their teaching forces, or weaken them by blocking changes thought to raise achievement.

      Cellphones teach phonics, animation and more in school instead of cheating USA Today
      Smart phones now have hundreds of applications meant to educate kids from graphic calculators to animation programs that teach spelling and ...

      REFORM: Unanswered Questions About "Race To The Top"

      Rocket02 Q:  How many states currently meet all the requirements for receiving funds?

      The USDE says everyone's eligible to apply but won't say how many are currently in any kind of a position to do so. My guess is no more than 15.

      Q:  Which states (besides CA and NY) currently aren't eligible (ie, firewalls, lack of data systems, charter caps)?

      Again, the USDE won't say who's out of the running if they don't make substantial changes or commitments. Am working on this.

      Q:  About how many states are going to get funded, and what is the grant amount going to be?

      Big surprise -- no answers on this one, either.  My guess is 8-10 states, max.

      Q:  Is RttT funding linked to any larger, ongoing funding sources (FIE, Title I)?

      I'm pretty sure the answer to this one is no, which begs the question why would a state jump through lots of hoops to get so little money.

      Q:  Have the main stakeholders -- chiefs, governors, teachers, state legislators -- indicated their interest and approval in the RttT process?

      The teachers are hedging their bets (see AFT presser below and NEA quote here).  Not sure about the others, but I think not.

      Continue reading "REFORM: Unanswered Questions About "Race To The Top"" »

      BLOGS: For The Win!


      Race to the Top: 5,4,3,2,1...... Charlie Barone
      Imagine what Obama and Duncan can accomplish if they hang tough and keep the bar high.

      ‘Poof! I was in template land’ Joanne Jacobs
      Florida elementary students are using colorful writing on the state exam — the same colorful phrases in essay after essay.

      AlvinA culture of collaboration Philly Notebook
      If I wanted to, I could go all day without seeing another adult in my building, aside from the attendance secretary with which I would exchange pleasantries in the morning while signing in.

      Just Asking Chad Aldeman
      To all those who argue mayoral control of schools is bad for democracy, isn't it a good thing that schools are the issue in this year's New York City mayoral race?

      Reconstitution Plan Gets Detroit Teachers Hopping Mad Stephen Sawchuk
      Detroit schools financial manager is requiring 2,600 teachers at 41 schools being reconstituted to re-apply for their jobs—and gave them less than a week to do so.

      A Blogger Writes on 'Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics' Inside Research
      Blogger Aaron Pallas illustrates the trouble with the growing numbers of Web databases that allow users to compare schools.

      THOMPSON: Real Numbers

      Statsignificant "A potential time bomb" threatens New York City’s graduation rate. The 30% of the city’s students who earned a Local Diploma in 2007  will not be able to graduate in 2012 without passing five Regents exams. So, Joel Klein’s Department of Education should have welcomed the audit of the city’s graduation rate.

      The press has concentrated on Comptroller Bill Thompson's audit of 43,651 graduates, without noting that they represent only 40% of the students who were scheduled to graduate in 2007 under that year's lower standards. The study questioned whether 9.6% of the graduates met the graduation requirements in terms of earning credits and passing Regents exams (when required.) The audit also showed that 20% of the graduates did not meet the law’s attendance requirements, with graduates having  attendance rates as low as 64%. They originally found "little or no evidence" to justify the classifications of 17.5% of students as "discharges" rather than as possible dropouts. The transcripts of more than 50% of their sample of students categorized as "still enrolled" had been changed (in addition to 25% of the graduates). And they documented other loopholes for understating the dropout rate (students under the age of 17 were not counted as dropouts and 1/7th of the sample of the "still enrolled" appeared to have left school).

      Pad the numbers by 9.6% here, 20% there, 17.5% over there, and 14% around the corner, and pretty soon we’re talking about real numbers.

      Continue reading "THOMPSON: Real Numbers" »

      USDE: So Much Coverage, So Little Real News

      Last night, suspiciously close to the official 11 pm release time for the new RttT backgrounders, the mainstream papers and EdWeek all posted pieces:


      Teachers could earn more under plan USAT
      Obama to Unveil Guidelines for New Fund WSJ
      States to compete for extra stimulus dollars AP
      'Race to Top' Guidelines Stress Use of Data EdWeek
      CA told to use scores in evaluating teachers LA Times
      Administration Takes Aim at Laws on Teachers NYT

      The Post played its cards smart and insisted on 20 minutes of face time with the POTUS (President Obama Discusses New 'Race to the Top' Program) in exchange for their story (Obama Uses Funding to Pressure for Change). ABC News comes off worst, not realizing that Duncan talked to pretty much everyone (EXCLUSIVE).

      But still, most of these stories are heavy on what the regs hope to accomplish and thin on whether they're going to take effect or make much of a difference in the real world.

      No surprise -- what's been released are only draft regs and no one's had much chance to review them yet.  Hardly worth a story, really.  What's absent, however, is much about just how small the RttT's $5B is, just how small the stimulus is looking to states right now, and just how unlikely it is that, at the end of the day, most states that want them won't get RttT funds.  Seriously.  The education press corps is following the Obama narrative pretty damn closely these days, even as the national press corps is asking increasingly skeptical questions on other issues. I can't do much about it, but I can point it out.

      LEARNING: Print Still Motivates Kids, Says "Staggering" Dave Eggers

      Eggers "Our students at 826 Valencia still have a newspaper class, where we print an actual newspaper, and we do magazine classes and anthologies where they're all printed on paper. That's the main way we get them motivated, that they know it's going to be in print. It's much harder for us to motivate the students when they think it's only going to be on the Web.  The vast majority of students we work with read newspapers and books, more so than I did at their age. And I don't see that dropping off. If anything the lack of faith comes from people our age, where we just assume that it's dead or dying." Interview in Salon.com

      JOURNALISM: "Wrong Wrong Wrong," Says AP's Quaid

      ADMIT "Wrong, wrong, wrong," writes AP's Libby Quaid in an email response to my melancholy post about education journalism last week.  "My mom was more excited about the ed beat than all my previous beats combined, including the presidential campaign.  It's also viewed as a good beat in my newsroom. Note that Toppo had it once. And that one of our White House folks, Ben Feller, had it." 

      MOVIES: Jenny Lumet To Direct "Strange Prom" Movie

      Jenny lumet Good news! Sidney Lumet's daughter Jenny (who directed Rachel Getting Married) is working on the movie version of "Strange Prom" -- last year's New York Times story about immigrant high schoolers planning their school's first prom. Check it out, and then read my interview with Brooke Hauser, who wrote the NYT article that was published last summer (On The HotSeat).

      BLOGS: All Of Today's Best -- All In One Place

      An eclipse! An eclipse!  Plus lots of bloggy goodness.

      History Lessons Offer Caution on Stimulus Spending PK12
      The Education Department's Office of Inspector General looked for patterns in its investigations since 2002 and found pervasive problems with spending federal money.

      An Education President From Wal-Mart Chronicle
      It's hard to know which is more irritating--the galling cheapskatery, the wretched ideas for spending the money--more standardization! more managerial control! a teacher-proof curriculum!--or his cynical, self-congratulatory contempt for the education of citizens outside the professional managerial class.

      504x_eclipse072209_01Want Change? Have a Crisis Jim Moulton
      In Kansas City, “More than 100 Kansas City teachers face layoffs as school year nears,” according to an article posted on July 20, 209 by the Kansas City [MO] Star. Bad news for those teachers, and for the students they have worked with.

      Master's Degrees in Education: A Better Way? Stephen Sawchuk
      There are times when you know a story is going to upset a lot of people, such as this one I wrote this week on the cost of paying teachers more for earning master's degrees in education.

      Road to Capitol rooted in Peace Corps Politico
      Sen. Chris Dodd and Reps. Sam Farr, Tom Petri, Mike Honda and Steve Driehaus have all been among its ranks. And it’s not just elected officials who have served in the Peace Corps before making their way to Washington.

      Wasting Talent John Merrow
      ‘Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air’

      DUNCAN: What Does That Guy Do All Day?

      A few days ago, I asked the nice people at the USDE press office for a copy of the Secretary's schedule, hoping to find out a little more about what that guys does all day in between press events (In Search Of The Secretary's Schedule). Some of you thought that was a good idea.  Some of you probably thought it was ridiculous.  After thinking it over for a little while, the word came back:  No.  I was politely directed to the FOIA site.

      Foia_papersNow, I really didn't want to FOIA anyone.  I'm really lazy and I wasn't even sure why I wanted to see the Secretary's schedule.  But I felt like I had no other choice.  My other request, which was to spend an "all-access" day with the Secretary, was also rebuffed. 

      Plus, I was curious about whether the Department -- bastion of transparency and accountability -- would do something amusing like invoking executive privilege or citing national security concerns.   

      So now I've done it.  What happens next, I have no idea.  But it's probably not good. My FOIA request is below.  Duncan is doing some sort of RttT event with the White House on Friday and playing basketball in Louisville this weekend.

      Continue reading "DUNCAN: What Does That Guy Do All Day?" »

      HOTSEAT: Teacher - Turned Blogger - Turned Author

      IMG_1042 Eight years into her teaching career and two years into blogging, Jennifer Scoggin (aka Mrs. Mimi) this week announced that Kaplan was turning her blog, It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, into a book. 

      Scheduled to come out this fall, the book expands on Scoggin's classroom blog, which features colorful stories about children and the people who work in schools.

      On the HotSeat, Scoggin talks about how she's different from her blog character, how her blog got turned into a book, and what she'll do when people start figuring out what school she's been teaching at. 

      Check it all out below, and then go check out the blog, which is generally delightful and bracingly candid about teachers' lives. 

      Continue reading "HOTSEAT: Teacher - Turned Blogger - Turned Author" »

      CARTOON: Duncan As Harry Potter (Plus Big Teeth)

      GR_PR_090717DunkanDuncan as Harry Potter -- check out the teeth!.  Well worth it even if it comes from a bit about Duncan's prowess wrangling VIPs to participate in his readalouds:

      "Under his spell, the White House offered up Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, press secretary Robert Gibbs, top political aide David Axelrod, and longtime adviser Valerie Jarrett. Axelrod recently read First Dog, which prompted kids to ask about first pup Bo."

      Harry Potter and Arne Duncan Fight the Summer Reading Slide
      USNews Washington Whispers

      NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

      I'm still reeling over last night's flat press conference. How about you?

      Study Disputes 'Plateau Effect' in Test Scores EdWeek
      State test scores are as likely to increase or decrease as they are to level off after making initial gains, the research finds.

      Metro schools meet state standards, avoid takeover  Tennessean
      After five years of failing scores on the TCAP and Gateway tests, the district faced a total takeover that could have come as early as the fall. (via EN)

      539wBook-banning's digital future Slate
      Most of the e-books, videos, video games, and mobile apps that we buy these days day aren't really ours. They come to us with digital strings that stretch back to a single decider—Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, or whomever else. (thanks, AT)

      Transgender teacher calls it quits AP
      When word got out that Mr. McBeth, a popular substitute teacher at two southern New Jersey school districts was about to come back to class as Miss McBeth, it caused an uproar.

      N.Y. Students Manage Emotions for Better Test Scores PBS
      Lessons like these are taught throughout the school and now in about 10 percent of public schools nationwide. States are getting behind it, making social and emotional learning a requirement.

      Two Military Daughters Start Sisterhood For Teens NPR
      They are trying to organize the first major get-together for the children, specifically daughters, of troops who have gone to war.

      CARTOON: Grant Money Changes Everything

      ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 18 16.40

      From the New Yorker.

      MEDIA: Blog Does What No Mainstream Journalist Can

      ScreenHunter_06 Jul. 13 22.13 The Core Knowledge Blog goes all Matt Drudge on us and unearths a draft copy of the Voluntary National Standards that are being worked on.  He's not impressed with the standards, but I'm pretty impressed that someone -- not a working journalist, I would note -- dug them up.  One for the blogs, I say.

      BLOGS: A Quick Spin Around The Internet

      What else did you expect to find?

      Casting Doubt on My Pro-Testing Bias Uncle Jay
      The scholarly Rothstein family, father Richard and son Jesse, are taking turns removing the intellectual underpinnings of people like me who want to judge schools based on standardized tests.

      Bill Gates Vs. Harvard Law TAPPED
      Bill Gates never talks about integration.

      PH2009071503943Union, KIPP Dispute in Baltimore Stephen Sawchuk
      The Baltimore Sun has an important story up about a dispute over teachers' pay and working hours in one of its Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools.

      Modest but real grad rate concerns Elizabeth Green
      The accelerating 2009 mayoral campaign is distracting from real information inside an audit of city graduation rates released by the city comptroller’s office today.

      Books That Defeated Me Kevin Drum
      What famous (or, in a pinch, reasonably well known) books have you given the old college try but just couldn't get past the first hundred pages or so?  I can think of five big ones off the top of my head.

      Bogus College Stereotypes The Daily Beast
      Are Cornell students suicidal? Is Dartmouth all Republicans? Is Vassar really gay? Kathleen Kingsbury investigates which college reputations are bunk—and which are well-deserved.

      MIKE BOWLER: Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally

      48208152 Mike Bowler gives us the inside scoop on yesterday's wildly enthusiastic test score results bash at Abbotston Elementary in Baltimore, held to trumpet the city’s performance on the 2009 Maryland School Assessment:

      "In all my nearly 40 years observing the Baltimore City school system I never saw the likes of yesterday's love-in at Abbottston Elementary School.

      Click below to read the rest.

      Continue reading "MIKE BOWLER: Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally" »

      THOMPSON: Small Schools and Creaming

      Creaming Can’t we just agree that advocates of small schools like Joel Klein and many charters like KIPP would like to minimize the effects of "creaming," but that choice invariably leaves neighborhood schools, or "default" schools, with a greater critical mass of challenging students? Is there any doubt that New York City has and will continue to produce some of the best schooling in the world? Would anyone question the rationale for the small schools movement (or charters) or the need for an honest discussion of their inherent trade-offs? Is there a better starting point that "The New Marketplace?"

      A 2005 report by the Parthenon documented the burden imposed on neighborhood schools by high concentrations of challenging students. So, it made sense to create small schools for 58,000 of the city’s 297,000 high school students, and to offer smaller classes and temporary relief (creaming) so that small schools did not have to take their full share of ELL and special education students during their start-ups. Predictably, new small schools were safer and had a better environment for learning. And it still makes sense that those schools would see an increase in attendance and graduation rates.

      Equally predictably, old neighborhood schools were left with greater overcrowding, greater disciplinary challenges, and lower attendance and graduation rates.

      Continue reading "THOMPSON: Small Schools and Creaming" »

      MOVIES: "Prom Night In Mississippi" Finally On HBO

      You may remember the long saga of Charleston High School's prom, which Morgan Freedman offered to pay for last year -- if only it would finally become racially integrated.  Well it was, and now a year later it's finally being broadcast on HBO: Prom Night In Mississippi.

      NEWS: Big Stories Of The Day

      Just remember, it's all downhill after noon.

      School closings eyed as swine flu toll tops 700 AP
      The worldwide death toll from swine flu has doubled in the past month, reaching over 700 since the start of the outbreak, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

      Blog_NYTMaryland Students Gain in Reading, Math Washington Post
      Maryland elementary and middle school students posted more gains on state tests of reading and math skills this year, state officials said Tuesday morning, but troubling pockets of low academic achievement remain in a state whose educational system is considered among the best in the nation.

      Report Urges Halt to Extra Pay for Master’s Degrees EdWeek
      States and districts could free up money for teacher-compensation reforms that might promote student achievement, the authors say.

      New iPhone apps classes let you learn, test and earn USA Today
      Colleges are offering courses in programming iPhone applications, that allows students to create, test and distribute their app, many times for ...

      Bill Gates: U.S. education uses wrong tools AP
      The U.S. must improve its educational standing by rewarding effective teaching and developing better measures of performance for students and teachers, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says.

      TWITTER: Twitter Fever For Toppo

      Toppo2_bigger USA Today's Greg Toppo is at the Duncan event in Baltimore and he's gone Twitter-crazy. Check him out. 

      BOOZE: "Another HS Board Has Lost Its Mind"

      Another HS School Board Has Lost It's Mind (The Daily Tube)

      BLOGS: Helping You Get Through A Rainy Tuesday

      Some good posts -- and a blog-to-book announcement -- in today's roundup of blog posts:

      Against comprehensive reform -- of anything Salon
      History shows that piecemeal reform is better than a Big Bang. That goes for most of the Democrats' domestic agenda

      The Quick and the Ed Elena Silva
      Getting and keeping great teachers in all MCPS schools is a product of the county’s convenient close-in spot to DC and its ability to offer a job that’s better (in pay and otherwise) than PG and DC school systems.

      51cOLPmctdL._SL500_AA240_Frank McCourt on Teacher Voices, the UFT, Class Size and More.
      Ed Notes
      There is some irony in the accolades coming toward Frank McCourt from the UFT at Edwize. McCourt used to have the typical teacher attitude toward the UFT before the UFT started courting McCourt.

      Bringing Home Life “Out of the Shadows” Robert Pondiscio
      Making schools better “should be only one part of our national strategy” on education, writes Harvard’s Ronald Ferguson.  “Life at home has been a relatively neglected topic and needs to come out of the shadows.”

      E-texts get mixed reviews Joanne Jacobs
      College students aren’t wild about e-book readers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Pilot projects have returned “mixed reviews.”

      Drumroll, Please Mrs. Mimi
      Friends. I am not even sure how to announce this properly (although secretly, I want to strap on my most fabulous heels and scream it from the roof tops). 



      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.