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Blogs: State Ed Agency Fail, Faith, Percentages, Cheating

State Ed. Bureaucracies Fail the Test  Peter Murphy 
Can education bureaucrats spell "I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y"?

Education Secretary Not Mad, Just Disappointed ProPublica Blog
Oh, for shame. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania aren’t following the rules when it comes to spending stimulus dollars on education. And the Department of Education’s inspector general isn’t happy about it.

In School Reform, Faith Is Not Enough Claus von Zastrow41SM7BVPCnL._SL500_AA280_
Don't ever pin your reformy hopes on any single strategy.

Easier To Get Into Than You Think The Wire
Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby has published a new study showing that the conventional wisdom about rising competitiveness in university admissions is a myth. But that isn't the only interesting tidbit in Hoxby's grab-bag of provocative conclusions.

Do Times reporters know the difference between percentages and raw numbers? Sherman Dorn
I suspect the following is an unfortunate placement by the reporter on a story about record high percentages of young adults in college (with an emphasis on percentages).

Quotables Mike Klonsky
"Why don't they Trust me?"

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater Inside Research
A new survey shows that kids who cheat in high school are more likely than non-cheaters to lie to their spouses, bosses, and employees when they become adults.

Reform School: A Cautionary Tale About Good Intentions

Reform+school Some of us are of an age that we might have heard about something called reform school as a kid, even if we didn't understand exactly what they were.  We knew they were bad, and that we didn't want to go to them.  With any luck, that's where it started and ended.  Of course, reform schools were real, and thousands of kids were sent to them.  And, even though they're little discussed, a few still remain -- or did until now.  Their history is chronicled in this recent story about one of the last to close (Haven, horror at girls reformatory recalled).  Why bother remembering something so long gone?  Because reform schools were, like so many things being considered and tried today, begun with the best of intentions and with the clear goal to improve the lot of troubled children. 

News: Big Stories Of The Day

Drop the Mask! It’s Halloween, Kids, You Might Scare Somebody NYT
Deeming some Halloween traditions too scary or offensive, schools across the country are limiting what costumes are acceptable.Areyoutheregoditsmedodai102

Federal Researchers Find Lower Standards in Schools NYT
A study shows that nearly a third of the states lowered their academic standards to avoid the penalties under the No Child Left Behind law.

States set low bar for student achievement AP
Kids do far better on state tests than they do on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which is much more challenging.

Which states have the highest standards for students? Christian Science Monitor
Each state comes up with its own standards for student achievement. A new study from the National Center on Education Statistics compares them. Here are the top and bottom five.

Absences surge at region's schools due to flu outbreaks Washington Post
Waves of swine flu and flu-like illnesses are surging through Washington area schools, doubling the normal absence rate in several school systems and leaving some campuses with as many as one-fifth of students out sick.

Could Texting Be Good for Students? US News
Some teachers say the cellphone habit can have positive applications in the classroom.

Blogs: Sneaky States, Chicago Closings, Data Worries

I Am Shocked, SHOCKED  Robert Pondiscio 
Researchers at the National Center for Education Statistics have found evidence that “a majority of states may have lowered student-proficiency standards on state tests in recent years.”

Idiocy in paradise: Hawaii handles school budget cuts badly Jay Mathews
It is a fascinating state, the birthplace of our president, and its education policymakers have just taken a step that is a good example for the rest of the states of what NOT to do when you get into budget trouble---cut back the time kids are in school.
My comments at Edweek blog Mike Klonsky
No, the arbitrary closing of dozens of schools in Chicago wasn't a "wash." Yes, the closings did have an affect on academics and learning.

More Schools, Not Troops Nicholas Kristof
A compelling argument against more troops in Afghanistan rests on this trade-off: For the cost of an additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for a year, nearly 20 schools could be built.

Study: State Data Warehouses a Privacy Concern Inside Research
States are ignoring privacy protections while building data warehouses, a new study says.

From The Mouth Of A Test Scorer...  TFT
"After two days of training, nearly half the 100 people applying for the job failed the tests and were fired. Our unemployment lasted only about 12 hours."

Photo: Hunkerin

"The fad spread first to Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma, then across the U.S."

News: Closings, Online Education, ELL Problems, Jobs?

Report Questions Duncan’s Policy of Closing Failing Schools NYT
Education Secretary Arne Duncan closed dozens of schools when he headed Chicago’s public school system, but most students saw little benefit, a study says.

Boston publisher enters new chapter in textbooks Boston Globe
Houghton will be providing a computer-based teaching system it developed with Microsoft Corp. that will connect teachers, students, and administrators. It’s a radical shift away from the classic textbook publishing model and represents an industry transformation, as technology supplants books.
Many L.A. students not moving out of English language classes LA Times
Almost 30% of those placed early on in such programs in L.A. Unified were still in them when they started high school, study says. The sooner students moved on, the more they excelled.

Shortage of Vaccine Poses Political Test
Despite months of planning and preparation, a vaccine shortage is threatening to undermine public confidence in government, creating a very public test of Mr. Obama’s competence.

Stimulus jobs overstated by thousands AP
The errors could be magnified Friday when a much larger round of reports is released. It is expected to show hundreds of thousands of jobs repairing public housing, building schools, repaving highways and keeping teachers on local payrolls.

NCLB: Save SES! (Say SES Providers)

Not everyone's super pleased about the Duncan administration's waiver-happy ways or its ARRA priorities. Count among them the SES providers who sent out a release highlighting unmet need for tutoring services...

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...and warning against districts being allowed to do their own tutoring:

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EIA press release

Continue reading "NCLB: Save SES! (Say SES Providers)" »

Blogs: A Quick Spin Around The Blogosphere

Baby Einstein: No Sh*t, Sherlock TFT 
It is this lack of early interaction that early childhood education aims to supplement. The lack is the leading cause, IMHO, of the achievement gap, and it is manifested mostly in impoverished neighborhoods.

Picture 1Interactive Map: Profiles of Community Schools CAP
Community School Projects Across the Nation

I'm reading... Mike Klonsky
I think the problem is they've become too big, ill-purposed, and anti-democratic. But Billions of Drops is still worth the read.

Is homework necessary?  Uncle Jay Mathews
Now I am wondering if my faith in homework for middle and high schoolers has been misplaced.

Message to Educonomists: You Can't Ignore the Important Stuff LFA
The Hassels, like so many of their ideological brethren, seem to believe that great teachers are born, not made. Hence their relatively dim view of staff development.

Hechinger Announces Josh Benton
It’ll be fascinating to see what they come up with — not to mention many resumes they see from the nation’s top education reporters in, say, the next 24 hours.

Thompson's Yogi-ism: Nobody Says That Anymore; Since We All know It Is True

Obvious It is no surprise that the concept that gained the largest support in the Public Agenda poll of teachers was alternative schools for disruptive students. Overall, 68% of teachers predicted the proposal would be "very effective" while 27% thought it would be somewhat effective. A previous poll by the same organization showed that the idea is even more popular with teachers in high schools and high needs schools. Only 6% of this poll's teachers said that a safe, orderly and respectful atmosphere was a serious problem in their own school, while 39% said they faced a "manageable" problem. But 88% of high school teachers say that "the most pressing problems come from social problems and kids who misbehave."

The only other results that were so overwhelming were the opinions of 91% of teachers that too much testing was a major or minor problem.

The poll was full of distinctions that are obvious to teachers, but seem to be too subtle for outside experts.

Continue reading "Thompson's Yogi-ism: Nobody Says That Anymore; Since We All know It Is True " »

Advertising: Levi's Uses Rare Walt Whitman Recording To Sell Jeans

It's horrifying. It's sort of cool. Or both.  This Levi's ad, currently running around the country, wants you to buy $238 jeans and features a recording of Walt Whitman reciting his own poem, Pioneers! O Pioneers!

You remember the one:  "Pioneers! O Pioneers!  COME, my tan-faced children, Follow well in order, get your weapons ready; Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes? Pioneers! O pioneers! For we cannot tarry here, We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger, 5 We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!"

Journalism: Mickey Mouse Ideas About Credit

Chemickey All day every day, education bloggers like me highlight the reporting and writing of the articles written by education reporters, linking and commenting and quoting madly (not to speak of sending readers in very small numbers).  But do education reporters ever return the favor?  Not as often as they should, given how much they depend on readers' perceptions of credibility.  Do they even care about the links they get coming their way?  Not as much as you'd think they should.  Then again, most mainstream news outlets don't even acknowledge others of their own kind -- as is exhibited again today.

Continue reading "Journalism: Mickey Mouse Ideas About Credit" »

News: Big Stories Of The Day

After Complaints, Gates Foundation Opens Education Aid Offer to All States NYT Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recruited his chief of staff, Margot Rogers, and one of his assistant deputy secretaries, James Shelton, from the Gates ...

Federal complaint: Filipino teachers held in 'servitude' USA Today USA Today491_3c09af7fad2c793091f101d843ab4b17
More than 300 teachers have been imported to Louisiana from the Philippines since 2007, a group of educators who say collectively they paid millions ...

L.A. Unified to allow parents to initiate school reforms  LA Times
For the first time in Los Angeles, parents will be able to initiate major reforms at low-performing individual schools, rather than waiting for the school district to make changes, under a plan unveiled Tuesday.

Former NBA Coach Switches Gears At Charter School NPR
The former NBA strength coach has given up the big league to teach gym at the innovative charter school where the kids are only somewhat impressed with his NBA credentials.

Blogs: Hawaii Leads The Way, Turnaround Terror, Etc.

Waiting for the punchline RPOA [new blog!]
I’m always searching for new ways to motivate my students, and last week I thought I finally found something.

Hawaii Schools to Close on Most Fridays Mother Jones
California, Florida, and New Mexico have also asked teachers to take unpaid furlough days, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Putting the Brakes on Turnarounds Smarick
Though the inclination to fix our worst schools is understandable and is often the result of the best intentions, it is misguided.

Obesity-thumb-590x519-15733Duncan attacks Hawaii for being broke, cutting school year Mike Klonsky
But offers little in way of solutions

As aid shrinks, more 'stuck' for day care USA Today
As budget problems worsen, states are tightening rules for subsidies, eliminating enriched child care programs, raising fees that parents and providers pay, and halting new subsidies.

Schools often don't budget wisely Detroit News
This is a bogus argument. Schools have known for a year or more of the state's distressed financial condition.

Looking for Good Ideas to Reduce Teen Shootings Freakonomics
I had a number of ideas, but after spending some time talking with a group of Black Soul gang members with the help of one of my heroes, Arloa Sutter, I’m not convinced that any of my approaches can work.

Culture: Could A Rapper Make School Cool? Prolly Not.

“If Li’l Wayne would rap the times table, that’s what they’d be doing.”
Veteran gang member quoted in this blog post from Freaknomics about preventing youth violence.

Thompson: Its the Stupid Culture

Freedom-of-expression-go-to-hell Mrs. Krabappel is a lousy teacher but it was the toxic culture of Springfield that was responsible for the scissor-leg takedown that Bart Simpson threw on Nelson when the schoolyard became another Ultimate Fighting ring. Mr. Garrison is not an effective teacher, but he didn’t turn the citizenry of South Park into World Wrestling Federation junkies. And the answer would not have been the assassination of the caricature of fake wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, a la "The Manchurian Candidate."

Seriously, nobody knows how to draw the exact line for protecting our children from vicious popular culture while embracing the new. For centuries, though, educators have created permeable barriers between the sacred and the profane. And in our democracy the leakage between the two realms often produced a vibrant, hybridized popular culture.

It is a shame that the new generation of data-driven "reformers" chose to smack down "the status quo" rather than to change it from within. Charlie (education's Bart Simpson) Barone will have a cow if he reads further, but Sherman DornDick ShutzLinda Pearlstein and Claudio Sanchez have serious thoughts about the reform of education schools, for instance.)

Continue reading "Thompson: Its the Stupid Culture" »

Reform: What's It Take To Be The Next Big Thing? Not Very Much.

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What's it take to become the next big thing in education?  Not all that much, it turns out: 

1.The promise to meet an unmet if tangential education need. 

2. An approach that qualifies as unusual, contrarian, or -- best of all -- innovative. 

3. A catchy descriptor or phrase that lends buzz or private-sector cache (if such still exists).

4. A compelling personal backstory for the founder.

5. Prestige news coverage in a feature article that "discovers" this NBT. 

6. A powerful political or philanthropic champion.

7. Promising early results.

8. A "small but growing" number of supporters or pilot sites. 

That's it.  That's all it takes.  Not required:  A strong research base.  Sustainability.  Cost-effectiveness.  Scaleability.  A solution that addresses core needs. Political viability. 

Morning News: Kindles, Start Dates, Mouth Tape, Sharpton

School chooses Kindle; are libraries for the history 'books'? USA Today
Library watchers say it could be the first school library, public or private, to forsake ink and paper in favor of e-books. It also represents the first time a school has placed its students' intellectual lives so fully into the hands of a few online publishers and makers of electronic devices.

School start date up in air Journal Gazette (IN)
Right now, the decision is left to individual districts, with many starting in early to mid-August. Schools say it’s necessary to meet the state’s 180-day instructional requirement.

Colo. school worker accused of taping boy's mouth AP
Police say 45-year-old administrator Jennifer Carter was being held Monday for investigation of child abuse and false imprisonment, both misdemeanors. A jail official said a bond amount had not yet been set.

Rev. Sharpton appears with Chicago parents AP
Sharpton appeared Monday at Altgeld Gardens public housing with parents of Fenger High School students. The parents have organized a two-day boycott of the high school because they say it isn't safe.

NCLB Suit Dismissal Stands as Appeals Court Deadlocks EdWeek
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals spent 10 months deliberating on the suit filed by NEA and nine school districts.

Mad Men: "Do I Need To Worry For My Job?"

Mad-Men-Teacher-1Some of you doubted me when I first noted that the interactions between Don Draper and his daughter's pretty teacher would become one of the most interesting parts of this season of Mad Men (Hot For Teacher).

But indeed, the connection between Miss Farrell and Draper has been an intense one, developing and deepening even further in last night's episode. 

Has their interaction peaked?  Will things ever be the same?  "Do I need to worry for my job?" 

Blogs: Slam AACTE, Question New Haven, Worry About CMOs

Let's Keep it Real Charlie Barone (Hates AACTE)
Some of the strongest criticisms of teacher prep have, and continue to, come from within the field. Change, however, largely has not.

New Haven Contract = Trojan Horse? Mike Antonucci
We shouldn’t be too optimistic about reforms in AFT districts spreading to other AFT districts (see Cincinnati performance pay, Toledo peer review, Rochester “living contract,” et al.).

Education secretary may be giving up on school reform David Ellison (SJ Mercury News)
I would rather Duncan emulate Frederick Douglass, who boldly assailed the entire immoral institution that made Tubman necessary. Tumblr_krbnkcSMcG1qzj1h3o1_400

Laughed Out of the Room GothamSchools (Aaron Pallas)
To be a good prospect for scaling up in a Goal Four project, an intervention must previously have been shown to be effective in at least one site, using rigorous methods for assessing cause-and-effect relationships.

Today's Quote D-Ed Reckoning
"Why the belief that SES is causal is so deep and wide is perplexing and astounding. The only explanation I can come up with is that it lets publishers, professors and other "authorities", who ARE causally responsible, off the hook." (Dick Schultz)

CMOs:  Expansion, Survival, and Impact Tom Toch
Many of these organizations are going to be hard-pressed to deliver the many schools that Duncan wants from them.

Plans Unveiled for 'Bracey Memorial Fellowship' Inside Research
Friends of the late Gerald W. Bracey are looking to start a doctoral fellowship in his name.

Should Private Money Fund Public Schools? National Journal
Private donations are covering $18,000 of the $225,000 annual salary paid to a school superintendent in Indiana. In Boston, public schools worked with corporations, along with pro and collegiate sports teams, to boost school athletic budgets by more than 60 percent over the next three years ($4 million to $6.5 million).

FTC Forces Baby Einstein Refund Slate
The unusual move from Disney comes under the threat of a class-action lawsuit from parents who say they were conned into buying Baby Einstein because the products purported to be good for babies' development.

Thompson: Its the Culture Stupid

Future-of-freedom-440 In one of his last posts, Gerald Bracey wrote: "I do think that US schools which, far more than schools in other nations, encourage students to ask questions (one of the best ways of learning), give us an edge up. In most nations, as neither a student nor a professor do you ask questions.... I know that some countries, like Japan, who beat the bejesus out of us on tests do not garner Nobels because their culture discourages professors from undertaking the high-risk research that usually leads nowhere but occasionally leads to breakthroughs and Nobels (no US educational researcher is currently in danger of winning a Nobel, for the same reason; maybe Geoffrey Canada down the road). I think that culture gives the US an edge, not the schools."

Bracey was not alone in worrying that test mania is destroying the best of public education. The ideas of the late Ted Sizer “were not compatable with the current vernacular of standardization and testing, ...

Continue reading "Thompson: Its the Culture Stupid" »

Gates Foundation: Too Powerful...Or Too Malleable?

Getting-it-wrong_1 The basic premise of Libby Quaid's article (The influence game) is that billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates may be too powerful over districts, states, and even the federal government. 

And yet, as noted lower down, the foundation caved under pressure from state education agencies who complained that it was only helping 15 states with their federal grant application, and said they'd help anyone who asked. 

If that's being powerful, I don't want to know what being weak looks like. 

Malkin: Moderate Republicans Fooling Themselves About Duncan

"There are some delusional mainstream conservatives who think Arne Duncan is a friend because he pays lip service to charter schools. Wake up and smell the radical socialism!" (Malkin blasts moderate GOP Chicago Sun TImes)

ONS: The Most Dangerous District Job In Education?

Blog_Smith_Wesson Heading a big-city school district's new schools office may be the most dangerous job in education, melding as it does the new and the old. But new schools (and new schools offices) are all the rage, so officeholders seem to be able to find work again pretty quickly.  Josh Edelman, recently let go as head of new schools for Chicago, is apparently already back in Washington working for Michelle Rhee. Meanwhile, hard-charging Leigh McGuinan is headed to Chicago from her post in Cleveland, where she lasted less than a year.  Before that, McGuinan worked for a time as Director of Strategic Planning for Human Resources (whatever that is). 

Duncan: Secretary's Media Schedule

ScreenHunter_14 Oct. 22 10.10 Click below for the details.

Continue reading "Duncan: Secretary's Media Schedule" »

News: Big Stories Of The Day

Duncan Scolds Hawaii on School FurloughsWall Street Journal
As the state awoke to "furlough Friday," Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in an opinion piece in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper ...

Chances of Race to the Top money slim The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
While several states are scrambling to change their laws to comply, Montana isn’t one of them. Instead, Montana wants to change the rules of the race.772413AB7C644F8CA23BBEA0A58D71CA

Bill Gates sways govt dollars AP
Education Secretary Arne Duncan welcomes the foundation's involvement.

Hawaii: Protesting School Closings AP
Angry parents are protesting the loss of education for their children on the first day of Hawaii’s statewide public school closings.

Think tank to develop teacher-improvement plan Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh school board Wednesday approved a $1.8 million contract with a New Jersey think tank that's going to help the school district develop a pay-for-performance plan for teachers.

2 teens admit to role in Ore. school shooting plot AP
Two Oregon teenagers have admitted their role in an alleged plot to shoot students and administrators at schools in the Willamette Valley farming town of Turner....

Blogs: They'll Talk About ANYThing

What the First Round of Stimulus Data Tells Us NAF
Hopefully these limitations will not completely undermine what could have otherwise been an invaluable tool for evaluating the success of the stimulus.

The Quiet Revolution David Brooks
The Obama administration is using its competitive Race to the Top fund to push states to embrace real education reform.

Mediocre? Not Us! Inside Higher Ed
Education secretary's sharp critique of teacher ed leaves many programs saying he's right, just not about their campuses.

Test scores should be traced to ed schools GothamSchools
Plans are already underway to link student data back to teachers and their training programs, Tisch added.

Duncan's talk at Teachers College Sherman Dorn
Some quick impressions of the text of Arne Duncan's speech at Teachers College today:

Ackerman has learned lessons from 2002 Dale Mezzacappa
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and her team have apparently learned something from the myriad mistakes made during the city's ill-starred foray into school privatization in 2002.

What Works for Rich Kids Works for All Kids Deborah Meier
Dear Diane, We've got to stop agreeing so much! I can't wait to read your new book so I can go into "attack mode" again.

Who Took Fenger Video (& Why Fox Paid, Delayed Airing It) D299
The owner said that he  "wanted to document the violence his sister and others had to endure just to walk to and from school."

Yelling Is The New Spanking Jezebel
Oh dear. Oh no. It seems today's anti-spanking, "pregnancy-flaunting, soccer-cheering, organic-snack-proffering generation of parents" have a dark secret: sometimes they yell at their kids.

Quotes: A TFA Teacher's Lament

"What have I gotten myself into? I suck at this."

(I don’t know how much I can handle… Joanne Jacobs)

Public Responds To News That Math Skills Show Little Growth

Young Woman

Ann Gaddis, Fan-Blade Aligner

"Oh, no. All of our high-paying jobs differentiating between parallelograms and rhombuses are sure to go to the Chinese."

The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Quote: Something More

“Will we do something more than the Race to the Top? Will we revisit the Elementary and Secondary Education Act? Will we revisit the Higher Education Act?” (Chris Edley in GothamSchools)

News: Friday Furloughs, Detroit Dollars, PA Exam Hike

Suit Filed to Stop Teacher Furloughs in Hawaii AP
The lawsuit alleges that the furloughs constitute an unlawful unilateral change in the programs and services these children receive.

Cityroom_20090612_llutton_826465_Trac_largeDetroit mayor supports $500.5M schools bond issue AP
The financial manager for Detroit's public schools has enlisted — and received — the support of the city's mayor on an ambitious $500.5 million building plan expected to extend taxes for district capital projects through 2039.

Panel approves Keystone Exams for Pa. schools Philly.com
State regulators signed off Thursday on tougher graduation requirements for Pennsylvania students, a move designed to improve the value of a high school diploma that critics called costly and unnecessary.

State cuts school bus inspections Detroit News

State budget cuts are forcing some school districts to decide if they'll stop running buses as soon as Nov. 2, when the legally required Michigan State Police inspection program ends.

Cellphonometry Fast Company
In last year's pilot, students in the Project K-Nect group scored higher on state Algebra I proficiency tests than their nonconnected counterparts did.

Theodore R. Sizer, 77; educator, author worked to improve public schools WPost
Theodore R. Sizer, Leading Education-Reform Advocate, Dies at 77 NYT
Education Reformer Theodore Sizer Dies At 77 NPR

RIP: Ted Sizer (June 23, 1932 - October 21, 2009)

Ted SizerFrom the Forum for Education and Democracy:

"It is with great sadness that we at The Forum share with you the news of the death of our friend and mentor, Ted Sizer.  Ted lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday while at home with his family."

Click below for the rest of the announcement.

Continue reading "RIP: Ted Sizer (June 23, 1932 - October 21, 2009)" »

Video: Teacher Acquitted Despite 800 Texts With Student

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Today on Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulous interviewed Nicole Howell, the Kentucky teacher who was accused -- and acquitted -- of having had sex with a high school student.  She admitted having ignored sexual tests from the student, which she said were commonplace.  She explained 800 texts between herself and the student as nothing out of the ordinary.  The contents of the texts were purged by the phone company before they could be reviewed by the court. (Video clip:  Teacher Says Her Life Was "Ruined" By Student's Sex Accusation).  What do you think?  The situation sounds sort of shady to me, frankly, though at times US consent laws seem ridiculous.

Blogs: Needy Prep Schools, Duncan Contradictions, Curriculum Vs. Governance

Goldman Sachs' Neediest Cases Gawker
CityFile rummaged through the past recipients of Goldman's largesse. Guess what they found? Tony, preposterously expensive private prep schools, that's what!

Duncan to Reiterate Criticisms of Teacher Education Teacher Beat
Am I the only one that sees a little bit of tension between the thrust of this speech and the proposed Race to the Top criteria?

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Early Obama adviser waiting to see Elizabeth Green
Obama’s strategy has to stretch beyond simply, “Be like Joel.”

The Roger Ebert of Science Teachers Curriculum Matters
A big science teachers association offers reviews of the scientific accuracy of Hollywood flicks.

A gadfly remembered Sherman Dorn
I only met him a handful of times in the past 20 years of his persistent, indefatigable efforts to poke holes in every public report or news story he saw as an effort to demonize public schooling.

Least Undesirable Edition TAPPED
Rather than have “governance people” in the administration take over the education agenda, the author proposes to prioritize the evaluation of curriculum effectiveness among teachers and local agencies.

Making Physics Fun [Weird Science] Jezebel
A musing about the state of science in children's lives; chemistry sets have given way to "boogerology" kits, emphasizing gross stuff in an effort to lure kids.

According to ProPublica's stimulus tracking site, the USDE has only spent 22 percent of its stimulus funding.

Quotes: Jeb Bush And Arne Duncan "Agree On Everything Important"

"I'd like to see Republicans work closely with the Obama White House on education, an area where Jeb Bush and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, agree on everything important." (Prospects for Bipartisanship Matt Yglesias)

Teacher Training: The Anti TFA

The Urban Teacher Education Program is small, generally shuns publicity, and features a lengthy, classroom-based preparation program.  It makes the current handful of "residency-based" teacher prep programs (Boston Residency, AUSL) look like drive-by affairs. In an age of quickie teacher prep programs, UTEP is the anti-TFA. 

Of course, it probably costs a ton of money, and may be completely unscalable.  And there's no ed school involved, so ... well... don't even get me started about that.  Worst of all, it's run out of the University of Chicago.  But in six years it's got a 98 percent retention rate.  Something to think about. 

Thompson: The Gag Rule

Asset_upload_file967_4081_img "Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?" I am less direct in asking such a sensitive question because I know what the answer will be. And sure enough the enquiring teacher at T.C. Williams High School was told "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study." The teacher was stunned by another angry response, "’You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us.’ When I did, not one hand went up." Through their words and behaviors our urban students are voicing their pain at being abandoned. Theorists and "reformers" just disrespect our kids further when they take the easy out and blame "low expectations."

The best part of Patrick Welsh's story is his account of the three-day conference they dubbed "Equity and Excellence," one of the many efforts to sell the "idea that once schools stop being racist and raise expectations, these low achievers will suddenly blossom." Teachers in Alexandria, Virginia who want to address the root causes of low achievement are offered "a ticket to Fairfax County." In Oklahoma City the phrase is "Edmond is just down the road."

Continue reading "Thompson: The Gag Rule" »

Ed Schools: Duncan Calls For Changes, Omits Bold Proposals

Yesterday the USDE leaked bits of Duncan's speech at Columbia (scheduled for this afternoon) and somehow got a few folks to cover it as news.  Nick Anderson is impressed (Duncan to ed schools Washington Post). Libby Quaid is...descriptive (Obama’s education secretary calls for overhaul of college teacher prep programs AP).

Scaled.0830_met_duncan05_t651 What the coverage leaves out is that Duncan won't be anywhere near the first to tout the importance of teaching or lament the sad state of teacher prep programs.  Or the first to mention Alverno, Emporia State, residency programs, the Levine report. 

In addition, there are precious few real details in Duncan's speech about what if any means the Secretary is going to try and use to make ed schools change their evil ways.  He mentions changes will come as part of NCLB reauthorization, but that's a long way off.  He mentions teacher quality partnership grants, but that's less than $200M.  No bold specifics like rating ed schools based on graduates' performance or longevity, or limiting Pell grant eligibility to ed schools that meet certain performance characteristics.

To Duncan's credit, he notes that this is a quality problem, not a teacher shortage, and that alt cert programs train fewer than 10K candidates a year (out of 200K overall).But it's just a speech.  A very nice, somewhat long, quote-laden speech that someone finally sent me this morning.  In other words, in thiss balloon-boy era, it's news!  The text of the speech is below.  See for yourself. 

Continue reading "Ed Schools: Duncan Calls For Changes, Omits Bold Proposals" »

News: Teacher Hiring, School Attacks, H1N1 Spread, Homeschooling

Veteran L.A. substitute teachers losing work LA Times
Veteran substitute teachers, who have recently lost teaching assignments because of an effort to help laid-off full-time instructors, won't be getting the work back any time soon, Los Angeles school officials confirmed this week.

MeeksprincipalPolice: NY teen planning school attack was bullied AP
A 15-year-old boy accused of stockpiling gasoline, propane and a machete for a planned school attack on the anniversary of the Columbine school massacre burst into tears and admitted to police he was upset about being bullied, according to the detective who interviewed him....

Pressure to improve schools Journal Gazette
“The problem is just speed,” he said. “How do you turn around a 35,000-some student system that has teachers and unions and adopt project-based programs that encourage highly motivated students? It’s very hard to break inertia.”

Delays in Swine Flu Vaccine Trouble SenatorsKansas City infoZine
... Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano and Education's Arne Duncan - about what they are doing to thwart the spread of H1N1, also known as swine flu. ...

H1N1 spreads fast in schools this week USA Today
The USDE on Wednesday reported that 198 schools in 15 states had closed due to high absentee rates from the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

A Child Left Behind Seattle Weekly
Per the guidelines of the Riverview School District's homeschooling program, Pomeroy attended Carnation Elementary two days a week—often enough for at least two of her teachers to notice the slightness of her frame. while these start-ups find their footing.”

Secretary Gladwell: Sports Are What City Schools "Do Best"

Proving yet again that pretty much everyone has a wacky idea about how to fix public schools (and that there are certain ideas that only a biracial New Yorker writer can get away with espousing), here's part of Malcolm Gladwell's response to a question about what he'd do if he were in charge of education:

Gladwell_malcolm_f "In inner-city schools, the thing they do best is sports....So I’ve always wondered about using the principles of sports in the classroom. Go same sex; do everything in teams; have teams compete with each other. I’d like to try that. I don’t know whether it will work, but it’s certainly worth a shot, and we could learn something really useful."

(via The Moderate Voice)

Breaking: Duncan Appoints Death Panel Discoverer As School Lunch Czar

Responding to mounting concerns about districts micromanaging students' diets and pushing a "liberal" vegetarian agenda with so-called "meatless Monday" lunch menus (see Lou Dobbs segment below), Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today that he had named Betsy McCaughey, among the first to warn about the death panels contained in various health care proposals, as "school lunch czar" in charge of making sure that there is no ideological meddling in local school lunch decisions.  Richard Heene, father of the balloon boy, will be handling media. 

Blogs: Superintendents, Bracey, RttT, & Maya Angelou

Superintendent Smackdown LFA
The Baltimore Sun compares Baltimore's and Washington DC's school reforms, and it finds DC's wanting.

Gerald Bracey RIP Ed Notes Online
I didn't know much about Jerry Bracey and had little contact with him, but the work he did in battling the Ed Deformers was immense.

Eye-chartStates' Race to the Top: Where Are They Now? Charlie Barone
The list here is not comprehensive, but it does reflect action in states where reform efforts have been pursued or spotlighted in the public sphere.

Pontiac v. Spellings Goes the Way of the Pontiac Mike Antonucci
Now you know why NEA was trying to negotiate a settlement.

Colorado Supreme Court Jumps into the Abyss of School Finance Firefly
Colorado’s state Supreme Court defied national trends on Monday, handing down a decision in Lobato v. State that thrusts the judiciary into the middle of the state’s educational finance disputes.

Fixing Detroit Public Schools & The “Cosby Effect” John Merrow
Secretary Arne Duncan referred to Detroit as "New Orleans without Katrina," and we’ve seen pictures of some truly awful schools.

Censors Try To Silence Caged Bird Jezebel
School officials read aloud the child rape scene from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at a Huntington Beach City Council meeting — in order to shock council members into banning it.

School Safety: School Practices For H1N1 Outbreak

Clip_art_wash_hands In preparation for a possible swine flu outbreak (and to show off its digital offerings), one Chicago high school told 150 sophomores stay home and keep up with school via the Internet and videoconferencing (Virtual Learning Is an Antidote to School Closure Edutopia).This is the first I've heard of this, but perhaps not the last.

On The Move: Another Outsider Moves Inside

Alex johnston You all know how embarrassingly over-enthusiastic I am about reformy "outside" types taking the leap (putting their money where their mouths are?) and getting some real-world experience in government work.  So you can imagine how glad I am to hear that outspoken reformer Alex Johnston, CEO of ConnCAN, is joining the school board in New Haven, Connecticut (Reformer Moves Inside).

I still don't buy that there's any big wave of national alignment going on in New Haven, and it's way too early for any talk about a national model, but clearly some interesting things are happening there.  Congrats to all.  Via Whitney Tilson. For a taste of how Johnston thinks, check out his recent blog post about accountability and innovation here.

Caption Contest: What Were They Saying?

Come up with your own captions for this recent picture of Duncan, Sebelius, Rhee, and Fenty.  Or, check out my lame ideas below. And then come up with better.

Continue reading "Caption Contest: What Were They Saying?" »

Thompson: Introducing the Bedouin in the Obama Administration to Water Skiing

Scales Russ Whitehurst convincingly argues that "curriculum reformers" would provide a much bigger bang for the buck than the "governance reformers" of the Obama administration. People who are trying to create more charter schools, or pressure unions to allow more flexibility ..." writes, Whitehurst "do not sort with people who are try to improve teaching ..." The Administration is staffed with people "who may be oblivious to curriculum for the same reason that Bedouin don’t think much about water skiing."

Whitehurst shows that "Obama-favored policy levers" such as charter school expansion, reconstituting the teacher workforce, performance pay, and content standards are not even close to being as potentially effective as the best curriculum reforms.  He makes the same argument in regard to community schools and pre-school, but I am going to issue a concurring opinion on that.  And the programs with the greatest effect sizes are the reforms that would be most welcomed by inner city secondary teachers - dropout prevention efforts such as Accelerated Middle Schools that dramatically increase "progressing in school," as well as allowing teachers to teach by reducing chronic disruptions in class.

Whitehurst recounts the enormous gains produced by the best pre-school investments, as opposed to less effective early interventions. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Introducing the Bedouin in the Obama Administration to Water Skiing" »

USDE: Innovations Chief Shows Great Return On Investment

Shelton Talk about a good return on your investment.  According to this post from BlockShopper.com (Charity program director sells in Le Droit Park), Shelton more than doubled his money when he recently sold his Florida Avenue condo. Shelton is in charge of the i3 innovation fund that you've been hearing a lot about. 

Duncan Plan: Remove AYP, Replace with "Demonstrated Success"

ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 20 18x I'm told that pages 105-107 of the House-passed appropriations bill contains the language that the Duncan administration is seeking so that districts can receive i3 funding whether or not they have made AYP. 

I'm guessing that the highlighted language -- inserting "demonstrated success in significantly increasing student achievement" is the pertinent line.

I think it's a bad precedent that is only going to complicate things further down the line.  However, no one else seems to care about creating yet another way of picking and measuring schools.  So I must be wrong.

News: ED Chastises 3 States, Budget Cuts, & More

Are states following stimulus plan rules for schools? CNN
In a recent memo, the Department of Education's inspector general's office warned Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania about not following the rules.

ScreenHunter_46 May. 29 19l;l;Recession prompts Hawaii to close schools on Fridays AP
Only 11 US states have school years less than 180 days long, with North Dakota -- at 173 days -- coming closest to Hawaii's 163.

Teacher inequalities still haunt Nashville schools Tennessean
Students attending schools at the center of Metro Nashville controversial rezoning plan are more likely to be taught by inexperienced teachers, despite incentives to attract and retain staff at the high-poverty schools.

Tutoring dollars harder to come by Post and Courier
Competition for millions of federal dollars is getting tough among companies that provide tutoring services to low-income children in struggling schools. Diane Knich, The Post and Courier, Oct. 19, 2009

Nearly 60,000 spankings in Miss. schools last year Clarion Ledger
Kent's district, like many districts statewide, practices corporal punishment. Mississippi has one of the nation's highest rates of corporal punishment.

Wake schools to take new path News & Observer North Carolina
A new school board majority that wants to end busing for diversity will bring changes as soon as next school year.

Swine Flu: Schools Helping Out In Delivering Vaccines

"Johana Villafuerte,6, receives a H1N1 nasal flu spray vaccine from nurse Shajaira Powell-Bailey at the Broadmoor Elementary school October 19, 2009 in Miami, Florida." (Jezebel.)



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.