About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Happy New Year's Eve / New Year's Day!

1dinner-partyAMCHave a great dinner party / quiet night / TV marathon. 

Don't forget the pickled herring / Hopping John or whatever.

It was a great /awful year -- let's hope 2010 is the same.

See you on Monday (assuming I can make it that long).

/ Alexander

Millot: Charter Agencies Outmatched By National Management Organizations?


Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers... said Ball State University, which granted all of Imagine’s charters in Indiana, should have never done so considering the hand Imagine Schools Inc. had in the charters’ founding.... 

Kelly Soderlund and Dan Stockman, Ft Wayne Journal Gazette, November 1, 2009

(Larry Gabbert, Director of Ball State's University's Office of Charter Schools) said attorneys looked over Imagine's governance structure before the charter was issued, and everything passed the legal test.... Richmond....said it appears Ball State... failed in its duty to ensure local control. "That is absolutely unacceptable.... If the governing board is compromised, from that point on everything else has the potential to be compromised."

Soderlund and Stockman, Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, November 2, 2009

Continue reading "Millot: Charter Agencies Outmatched By National Management Organizations?" »

Quote: When Popular Ideas Are Wrong

"Once Gladwell had granted Ekman his intellectual seal of approval, no one in the popular media was willing or able to point out that the good professor's claims were spurious. For four years."
(Malcolm Gladwell's Stickiness Problem Gawker)

Humor: The Glengarry Glen Ross Magazine Subscription Drive

Baldwin_glengarry_glen_ross-1 "I'm here from downtown—from the school board on a mission of mercy...Your school's going to run out of cash before you start the fifth grade unless you start selling some magazines, starting tonight, Chip."

Short Imagined Monologues (McSweeney's via Eduwonk)

Media: Wash Post Quietly Reverses Course On Duncan

ScreenHunter_01 Dec. 30 09.26Should the Washington Post have reminded readers that their story on Arne Duncan represented a dramatic change from its previous reporting a year ago?  I think they should have.

A couple of days ago, the Washington Post ran a critical front-page article about Arne Duncan's legacy in Chicago (here)

Last year at just about this time the paper ran a very different account on the Obama pick for education secretary -- even though Chicago's lackluster NAEP results and other problems were already apparent. [see picture at left]

Readers will recall that I was nearly apoplectic about the superficial and credulous coverage that Obama's pick was getting from the national press -- and the shady claims that Duncan's team was making on his behalf (here). 

Thompson: Learning from Others III

Monkey-fish-netsuke-ebay-TN In the 17th century, when a stovemaker tested a new design he would soak a piece of coal in cat urine, and test whether the smell went up the chimney with the smoke. "Stove-making is more of a numbers game now," with the Gates Foundation and others seeking metrics for the cost-effectiveness of stove design that could save the lives of millions of people in the Third World. Even after decades of experimentation, designing the best stove is as difficult as determining best practices in education. As with teaching and learning, the problem is that "fire is a fickle, nonlinear thing ... (with) each variable amplifying the next and being amplified in turn, in a complex series of feedback loops."

As is also true of education, "stove design is riven into sects and disciplines." Ignore traditional methods and values and "your shiny new stove gets turned into a flowerpot" (as is true of so many educational silver bullets stacked unopened in school storerooms).

Continue reading "Thompson: Learning from Others III" »

Media: Best Education Books, Articles, Movies Of 2009

The best education journalism and media of 2009 that I could come up with in an hour last night while talking on the phone to my mom (shhh, don't tell):

ScreenHunter_12 Dec. 03 23.16 Best Books:  Making The Grades, NurtureShock, Columbine

Best Columnist: "Uncle Jay" Mathews

Best Magazine Article:  The Innovation Administration (Dana Goldstein)

Best Magazine Cover:  Michelle Rhee With A Broom (in TIME)

Best New Yorker Articles: The Secret Of Self-Control, The Instigator, Brain Gain

Best Movie:  "The Class" (technically 2008), "Precious"

Best Video: "The Marshmallow Test" [fixed]

Best Instructional Video:  "Don't Bring A Gun To  A Snowball Fight"

Best TV Moment:  Arne Duncan Pretending To Guard Stephen Colbert

Best TV Shows:  Glee, Hung,

Best Cartoon:  "Slowly Lower In The Grant Money"

Best New Media Moments:  LA Times' Howard Blume Credits Bloggers, NY Review Of Books Praises Joanne Jacobs, Blogger Lists 100+ Reporters Who Twitter

Best Old Media Moment:  Editor Gets School Staffer Fired For Comments

News: Obama "Polishing His Predecessor's Apple"

Year in review: Obama's K-12 policy doesn't change much USA Today
A new president promised a fresh start but angered many in even his own party by polishing his predecessor's apple.

AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaIs the MEA trying to scuttle state's Race to the Top chances?The Grand Rapids Press
Is the Michigan Education Association telling local union leaders to scuttle the state's bid for federal Race to the Top cash? ...

Top News - Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2009: No. 5 eSchool News
Online learning might prove disruptive to education, but it also helped many schools avoid a disruption to the learning process as hundreds of schools closed temporarily amid swine-flu outbreaks in their communities.

Beverly Hills schools move to cut outside pupilsMSNBC
Threats on Facebook, name-calling, security guard escorts — tempers are running high around schools these days in this normally sedate enclave of ostentatious wealth.

Standardized testing hurting U.S. education Topix
America's increasing reliance on standardized testing as a yardstick for educational success is a flawed policy that threatens to undermine the nation's strengths of creativity and innovation, according to a provocative new book from a Michigan State University scholar.

Events: Fritz Has All The Best New Year's Eve Parties

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 29 09.49

Still looking for a good New Year's Eve party?  I'm sure the FritzWire can help you out.  Or at least keep you up to speed on DC events, announcements, and other such Beltway stuff. 

Continue reading "Events: Fritz Has All The Best New Year's Eve Parties" »

Media: Best New Yorker Education Article Of 2009

090831_r18750_p465I thought the piece lacked originality compared to previous versions but New York Times columnist David Brooks gives Steve Brill a shout out for his article about New York's infamous rubber rooms in Brooks' roundup of best magazine feature articles of the year (The Sidney Awards II).

My nominee for best New Yorker education article of the year?  Probably the one about the Marshmallow Test (aka executive function).

Blogs: Evaluating Duncan, Edison & The SAT

The truth about Arne Duncan and the Chicago schools Uncle Jay
If Arne Duncan is such a hotshot education secretary, then why are the Chicago schools he once led so bad?

The Rusty Gate Nancy Flanagan
Do teachers have a responsibility to be the gatekeepers of their profession? Can we settle for allowing our colleagues to give students less than they deserve?

2010newyear_colour.previewAbstinence Programs Have a Chance in Health Care Reform
Mary Ann Zehr
The health care reform bill pending in the U.S. Senate still includes $50 million for programs that teach youths to delay having sex, which are widely called "abstinence-only" programs.

Ten Best in 2009 Linda Perlstein
So, yeah. Awards, lists, arbitrary, wrong, blah, blah, blah.

First Case of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Found in U.S. Slate
U.S. doctors have discovered the first domestic case of drug-resistant tuberculosis—a disease so rare that only a handful of people around the world have ever contracted it.

Thanks, Thomas Edison, For The Light Bulb, Phonograph and…the SAT? Larry Ferlazzo
Did you know that a test created by Thomas Edison inspired the creation of the not particularly useful SAT?

Site News: Daily Email Still An Excellent Option

ScreenHunter_01 Dec. 29 01.07 Some folks like to get this blog via email, and that's totally cool with me.  This blog started out as an email, and I still get lots of stuff (ASCD SmartBrief, for example) as email.

Anyway, here's the place to sign up -- it's free and super convenient (though you do have to do an email confirmation and prove you're human by copying the strange letters into the box).  See picture at left. 

Let me know if you have any problems either by leaving a comment or by sending me an email (thisweekineducation at gmail dot com is the place).  Thanks!

Quote: "The Handwriting Effect" On Teachers

"While we once judged handwriting as religiously tinted, now secular, we transpose our prejudices to intelligence." 
(Handwriting Is History Miller-McCune)

Thompson: Learning from Others II

Atulgawandeb Atul Gawande wants health care reformers to learn from the "battery of small scale experiments" that eventually improved American agriculture, and he correctly concludes that incremental progress is possible without a master plan. Gawande rejects the search for a "grand solution."  The health care reform bill is a hodgepodge of pilot programs - and "that is how it should be." And by the way, he ends with the modest words "we'll also need data, if we're going to know what is succeeding."

Larry Cuban wants educators to learn from the failure of Electronic Health Records to reduce medical costs, citing the $100 million Cleveland Clinic effort. Cuban says it is "no surprise that research follows changes in practice rather than the reverse. Giving too much credit to new technologies for organizational outcomes and well before studies support the claims is not peculiar to EHR and medical care. It applies to public schooling as well."

Cuban’s second point is that "boosters continue the tainted practice of falsely attributing gains in quality health care and cost containment or district test scores to technological innovations without having data in hand. Moreover, when that data comes up short, then ... blame is distributed

Continue reading "Thompson: Learning from Others II" »

Quote: Washington Post Joins Chorus Of Questioners

"Chicago is nowhere near the head of the pack in urban school improvement, even though Duncan often cites the successes of his tenure as he crusades to fix public education."
Education secretary’s legacy questioned AP/ Washington Post

News: Fuloughs, Mergers, Cuts -- And More

Hawaii teachers OK deal to reduce furlough days AP
The union that represents Hawaii's public school teachers has approved an agreement to reduce the number of furlough days in the current school year.

Study: Mergers don't hurt students Des Moines Register6a00e54f8c25c988340120a77999a7970b-200wi
School mergers might divide neighbors or drain the life out of towns left without schools, but they don't hurt students, new University of Northern Iowa research shows.

Governor advises education cuts Clarion Ledger
Gov. Haley Barbour is recommending a 68 percent cut to gifted, special and vo-tech education programs - a move that would result in a loss of $176 million in federal funds

Despite Teacher Pushback, D.C. Continues Schools Reform
PBS NewsHour
Gwen Ifill speaks with John Merrow for an update on efforts to reform Washington, D.C.'s troubled public school system.

A teaching model that would make Da Vinci proud LA Times
At Da Vinci Science High and Da Vinci Design High, students learn by producing elaborate projects -- paper roller coasters, models of Chicago tenements, children's books from scratch.

The "Harlem Children's Zone" Juggernaut

Harlem children zone The Chicago Tribune's Stephanie Banchero describes the HCZ but doesn't -- in my opinion -- ask many questions about its effectiveness, replicability, etc. (The "Harlem Children's Zone" Juggernaut). 

Blogs: Cut Science To Close Race Gap (& More)

To close racial gap, cut science Joanne Jacobs
To close the racial achievement gap, Berkeley High School’s Governance Council, made up of teachers, students and parents, has a modest proposal.Kid_obama

A bad idea from good people Jay Mathews
Sometimes it is the smartest, most concerned policymakers who do the most harm to schools.

A-N-A-C-H-R-O-N-I-S-M Robert Pondiscio
Some school districts are encouraging teachers to scrap spelling tests.  

Dumb Arguments for Stupid Ideas GothamSchools
The reauthorization of NCLB should require states that accept Title I money (i.e. all of them) to require all public school teachers to get buzz cuts.

The Two Thousands Reduced to Icons Gawker
For those of you sick of reading "decade in reviews," designer Phillip Niemeyer has come up with a chart plotting the culture and history of the last decade.

Fordham: Think Tank Lays A Big Wet One On Duncan

20091223_Kiss Fordham's Mike Petrilli lays a big wet one on his current favorite education secretary, Arne Duncan.  Seriously, Mike.  Enough with the sucking up.  There are more than enough other people competing for that job.  That's what education journalists are for.

Thompson: Learning from Others I

Healthcare Wouldn’t it be great to read in the New York Times Magazine that the education reformer’s "approach obviously involves some realpolitik. Since his fellow doctors teachers have so much clinical autonomy in the classroom, (the reformer) has little choice but to woo them. ... ‘He knows that the minute he says "I’m right, and you must do this" he loses everybody but the true believers.’ (He) is appealing to the idealistic side of doctors teachers - the flame, he calls it - that helped persuade their predecessors to adopt scientific methods [or their educational equivalent] a century ago. ... It would be a mistake, however, to see the deferential approach as solely political. ... Many medical teaching and learning questions still have no data-proven answer. Many never will ... Sometimes, intuition is the only good tool a doctor teacher has."

Public schools might obtain the "virtuous cycle of innovation, success, and expansion" made possible by evidence-based reforms if we could repudiate data-driven, NCLB-type accountability, and Dr. Brent James shows the way.

Continue reading "Thompson: Learning from Others I" »

Site News: A Late Convert To Micro-Blogging

Twitter I started having my blog posts sent out via Twitter at least a year before I did any real work on the micro-blogging service this summer.  But I have to say that being on Twitter has been one of the biggest pleasures of the year, in large part because of the higher level of interactivity -- retweeting, as they call it -- and debate that takes place there.  Much of that's been lost in the edublogosphere of late.  (These days lots of established blogs only write about or link to mainstream media, not to each other.)  So, though I don't always remember to get onto the site and worry about it's long term resilience, Twitter has been a great antidote.  Thanks, Twitter. 

Learning: The "Guitar Hero" Curriculum

Does this "Guitar Hero" curriculum seem likely to be workable and effective, or overly complicated and unlikely to contribute to student learning? You be the judge.

Guitar_Hero_Logo“The teacher who was organising this first got the children to write a biography of an imaginary rock star. Then they looked at each other’s writing and got the best five into a virtual band for the class. The band then made an album. Then it was decided that the album had gone double platinum, and the band had to go on a European tour. And this meant that they had to plan an itinerary, research capital cities and routes across Europe, hotel costs, flights, times, currencies...They even now have a national Guitar Hero challenge taking place in Scottish schools.”

(All the world is play)

AM News: States Spend 600 Hours On RTTT Applications

Two teachers ordered to return more than $148,000 in overpayments LA Times
Two former Los Angeles teachers face a court order to return salary overpayments of more than $148,000, part of an increasingly aggressive push to retrieve $9.4 million from employees who were inadvertently caught up in its malfunctioning payroll system.

To get federal funds, schools must apply stronger measures to struggling schools Washington Post
If a public school struggles year after year, is the solution to shut it down? Fire everyone and start over? Hand the reins to a contractor? Or help teachers and principals raise their game?6a00e54f8c25c988340120a77999a7970b-200wi

Extra Homework Applying for Education Grants New York Times
The Department of Education, preparing to give hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, estimated how long it should take each state to prepare its proposal: 681 hours.

D.C. Schools Chief Looks for New Breed of Educators PBS NewsHour
As part of a series of reports on school reform in the nation's capital, John Merrow checks in with D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee, who has had to make difficult -- and controversial -- decisions regarding school closures and staff cuts.

J.H. Fischer, Educator in Turbulent Times, Is Dead at 99 New York Times
Mr. Fischer led Baltimore to become the first large American city to integrate its public schools and brought reform to Teachers College of Columbia University as its dean and president.

Reading: Weekend Recommendations [updated]

Schools shouldn't block social network sites Slate
At a suburban school district near Washington, D.C., the most popular teacher happens to be a local star on YouTube. Unbeknown to him, students with cell-phone cameras have videotaped him dancing to "Soulja Boy Tell 'Em" and other songs taught to him by the students. [video removed]

Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Groups Cheer Health Care Reform

Conservatives are not, as a rule, terribly excited about health care reform. But one subset has high hopes for reform: proponents of abstinence-only sex education, who were pleasantly surprised to see an amendment that would provide $50 million in federal funding for their programs survive in the final Senate legislation.

OLPC Releases Pictures of XO-3 Tablet GOOD
Nicholas Negroponte, Yves Behar, and the One Laptop Per Child outfit have just released renderings of a new product, a flat touchscreen tablet called the XO-3.

It's the Only Way They'll Learn
An Ohio mother called the cops on her 6-year-old daughter, who shoplifted a $3.11 packet of stickers, then toyed with claiming the $30 reward.

Hispanic Higher-Ed Policy Misses the MarkTumblr_kvattpEtYg1qz7lxdo1_500
The majority of Hispanic K-12 students are native-born (87 percent) and native English speakers (80 percent).

Anxiety Abounds Over Explosive Growth of Advanced Placement Enrollment Atlantic Wire
Are too many under-prepared, under-motivated students being squeezed into once-selective A.P. courses?

A Heartwarming Work of Edifying Genius GOOD
Valentino Deng, the central figure in Dave Eggers's What Is the What, is turning the dream of education into a reality for Sudanese youth.

France's school curriculum: La fin de l'histoire Economist
Enough of history, decides the state.

Foreign students in America Economist
Between them, Germany, France and Italy still sent more students to America in 2007-08 than did either India or South Korea.

Greetings: This Bothersome Holiday Interruption

Grinch Merry Xmas. 

Hope you got some good loot. 

Only X more days until the kids go back to school and you get your life back.

See you Monday.

Money: College Scholarships...In Table Tennis

Only three colleges offer table tennis scholarships in the US, according to this New York Times article (A Ping-Pong Boom).  Click below to find out which three. Or not. 

Continue reading "Money: College Scholarships...In Table Tennis" »

Lip-Dub Showdown: Who Wins?

091204_littlepicture-thumb-440x599 These whole-school / single-shot / massively complicated lip dubs (some of them executed in reverse) are increasingly popular it seems.  And some of them are actually good. 

So Thanks to a friend of the blog for sending along these dueling videos to help make the day pass more quickly and give a bit of a peek inside real schools with real kids and teachers. The description: 

"One school [Shorecrest] made a video with kids lip-synching an Outkast song and challenged a rival school. Kids at the latter institution [Shorewood] not only produced a Hall & Oates lip-dub video but also did the song & video backwards." 

It's not quite the opening shot to Boogie Nights or the long single shot in the middle of Atonment, but there are some seriously complicated logistics here. I wonder if anyone's done a "how to" on pulling these things off. 

Picture unrelated.

Events: New Haven In Late Winter

Picture 8 It's time yet again to make it up to New Haven for the annual Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference, scheduled this year for March 26th. 

In addition to the usual suspects (Kopp, Harries, Gist, Barr, Grumman), this year's big additions are Charlie Barone, the wild wizard of DFER, Arthur Levine, former head of Teachers College, and Joan Devlin, this year's sacrificial lamb from the AFT. There's also some teacher action research prize. 

Click below for links to posts from the past three years.

Continue reading "Events: New Haven In Late Winter" »

Schools Search For Stimulus Money & More

Schools have trouble tapping stimulus funds USA Today
Red tape makes it hard to raise money through a bond program meant to aid schools' construction and repair projects.

1111111111111111111'Race to Top' Driving Policy Action Across States EdWeek
Governors and lawmakers are looking to change state laws in hopes of winning coveted stimulus grants amid a gloomy fiscal landscape.

Ga. Schools Tighten Test Rules After Cheat Audit EdWeek / AP
In the wake of the scathing June report, districts have cracked down on where answer sheets are stored once they are completed by students and now require the sheets be turned in to collection warehouses immediately rather than being kept on campus for several days.

In Yemen, tribal tradition trumps education LA Times
Seventy boys in khaki uniforms cram shoulder to shoulder into chemistry class, where there are no chemicals or test tubes, only the squeak of the teacher's magic marker drawing diagrams and equations in the minutes before recess.

Media: "Linkphobia"

"If you link to an outlet...you've lost. You got scooped and all your colleagues are going to look down on you. Linking is a huge sign of weakness---you just can't do it."

Washington City Paper commentary deriding the Washington Post's "linkphobic" behavior in trying to cover the snowball / gun incident without linking to other outlets (like the City Paper).

Media: Two Maps, Two Charter "Explosions"

ScreenHunter_01 Dec. 22 00.12LEFT:  Here's the graphic that Columbia Journalism School students produced this past summer, showing the "explosion" of charter schools over the recent years. 

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 22 00.16


RIGHT:  Now, here's the graphic from US News from more recently.  Note the similar terminology and graphics package.

What do you think?  Coincidence, or ripoff? 

I'm told that the students pitched their story package to the magazine but were turned down. 

Thompson: The Expectations Gap

Collereready"When asked to identify the most important mission of high school, only nine percent of teachers surveyed chose preparing students for college and only 10 percent said that ensuring students graduate high school is a primary mission. ... In stark contrast, the survey found that low-income parents and students rank preparing students for college the most important purpose of high school—42 percent and 48 percent, respectively."  The Deloitte poll"also uncovered a gap between student aspiration and actual preparedness. Encouragingly, 70 percent of students indicated that they "definitely" plan to attend college ... (but) only about a quarter feel "very prepared" to handle college courses."

The report concluded "we must re-evaluate the way we measure our teachers and schools and the way we view success. We must move away from focusing solely on state tests and other immediate metrics and apply a longer term view that aims at providing our high schools students with real learning that is applicable to college courses and even further down the line in the workforce."

Claus Von Zastrow expands on these issues here and here.

EDSEC: Arne Duncan's Very Long Holiday Vacation

Wallpaper-world-map-2006-large All year he talks to us about a longer school day and year, and yet Arne Duncan is gone -- away -- off somewhere for a full TWO WEEKS of what's rumored to be a family vacation.  What kind of an example is that for America's educators and schoolchildren?  Especially given Peter Cunningham's recent surfing trip extended listening tour to Guam and Hawaii. Meanwhile, Congress, the White House, and everyone else is either snowed in or too busy to go much of anywhere.  I mean, shouldn't Duncan be around to help President Obama make congratulatory calls to Senators on Christmas Eve, when the health care bill gets voted on?  Isn't there some school that needs to be shoveled out?  Bitter USDE staffers who are working while the boss is off relaxing, email or write in and tell us where he's gone. 

Roundup: Biggest Controversies Of The Year?

Picture 18 Think that the back-to-school speech by Barack Obama delivered just after Labor Day makes it into The Week's list of 12 biggest controversies of 2009? Click to find out.

Among educators, that has to be one of the biggies of 2009.  I'm working on the rest -- let me know if you have any ideas.  Broader, Bolder vs. EEP is so 2008 but there were a few during 2009 worth remembering. 

NEWS: One Principal Evaluation To Rule Them All

Review Backs New Tool for Principal Evaluation EdWeek
A look at eight instruments used to assess school leaders finds only one system [Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education] measures the characteristics sought after today for principals.

Early childhood educators anxious about jobs due to full-day kindergarten Canadian PressNews
As Ontario swiftly ushers in full-day kindergarten in September, early childhood educators are panicked, anxiously waiting to see what will happen to their jobs, their centres and their profession. Via EWA.

Effort to Reform D.C. Schools Stirs Fierce Pushback PBS NewsHour
John Merrow reports on the controversial steps D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee is using to shake up the city's school system, including closing 23 schools by 2010.

D.C.'s City Collegiate Public Charter School plans to close Washington Post
A four-year-old D.C. charter school plans to close at the end of June because of falling enrollment and financial concerns.

In preparing kids for school, Oregon suffers 'pilot-itis' Statesman Journal
A Statesman Journal analysis found the Mid-Valley's early childhood landscape disjointed in part because of a lack of quality early childhood programs and resources, weak efforts in developing school readiness assessments and a conglomeration of policy makers with no clear leader.

Seattle tops list of literate cities Education News
Cities where lots of people read also tend to feature a vibrant singles' scene, a study suggests. It finds that Boston, Seattle, Washington, ...

Cartoon: Isolating The Funding Gene

ScreenHunter_24 Dec. 20 20.19

So sad.  Slate seems to have eliminated the "education" category from its list of cartoons (Comic Strips). Not to worry.  I'll keep looking for them in other places.  Here's a good one from PDK.

Blogs: Jezebel Loves Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik is my bloghero for having gotten a big shout out in bigtime blog Jezebel.  Wow.  Super impressive.  Granted, the link was for his story about co-ed college showers and includes a topless picture of what may be a young Sean Penn.  But I'm still jealous.  Jezebel is not only one of Gawker's most popular blogs, it's actually pretty good a lot of the time.  I mean, you have to audition to be a commenter there.

Funding Group Gets New Executive Director

Back in the day (by which I mean the 1990s), the Committee on Education was a fairly powerful lobbying group led by the unstoppable Susan Frost.  Things have slowed since then -- for a while I thought the organization was defunct.  But now it's got former NEA budget guru Joel Packer at its helm.  We'll see if Packer can revive the group and find education some money in upcoming years. 

Continue reading "Funding Group Gets New Executive Director" »

Thompson: Teaching as Politics

Democracy1 Teaching is fundamentally a political process. At least in my world, the principle of "pick your battles" is not just a good idea - it is a fundamental law. Even for a disciplinarian Especially for a disciplinarian like me, power derives from the "consent of the governed." You can’t mandate real learning. I earn my paycheck by listening and responding to body language, and the all-important motivational process is like a political campaign. I win over my base in the first few days, or even years before the students arrive in my class. But the time it takes to woo over the others is the time it takes to woo over the others, and it’s a long campaign. The big difference between the politics of the classroom, as opposed to educational politics, is that forthrightness is an essential asset with students, not a potentially fatal flaw

I wish I dared to speak with my fellow educators with the honesty of Deborah Meier who condemns the pretense of reformers, now holding belated community meetings, as "'democracy' as satire." More daring is Meier's words "assuming, which many don't, that we trust that most school people (and parents), ... want to do their best, ..."

Continue reading "Thompson: Teaching as Politics" »

Teaching: "Don't Bring A Gun To A Snowball Fight"

There are lots of reasons to watch this video of a middle aged black DC detective freaking out over having his Hummer pelted during a hipster snowball fight at 14th and U over the weekend (warning: it's an ugly situation and some of the language is graphic), but the one that relates to education most closely is that it's a great lesson in classroom management.

This guy does everything wrong: loses his temper, engages with his hecklers, makes empty threats, and escalates the situation, etc. Seriously. Like the chant says, "don't bring a gun to a snowball fight."  Show this to prospective classroom teachers and they will thank you for it. [More details at City Paper]

Cute POTUS Visit To Boys & Girls Club

500x_custom_1261433008775_94990333 At the end, Niko Letterbough, 7, gave him T-shirts for his daughters on behalf of the group, and asked if he'd come back and if he'd play him at Foosball.

"You know, I hate getting beat," POTUS told him."

"I'll let ya win," Niko said, and they fist-bumped.

POTUS: "That's what I'm talking about."

From the White House pool report coverage of a Boys and Girls club in DC on Monday afternoon (Gawker).

LA Schools Sued Over Charter Plan

Teachers union files lawsuit over charter takeovers LA Times
The union representing Los Angeles teachers filed a lawsuit Monday to block the potential hand-over of new campuses to charter schools under the district's groundbreaking and controversial school-reform strategy.Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Study: Schools face shortfalls after stimulus ends MSNBC
Using federal stimulus money to avoid layoffs at schools is going to create a shortfall even more difficult for states and schools to contend with when that money runs out, according to a first-of-its-kind study released Monday.

Split decision: Schools divided over whether to start winter break early Washington Post
For hundreds of thousands of students, the snow days are snowballing.

Teachers Defying Gravity to Gain Students’ Interest NYT
Educators took flight, and starred on video, all in the name of science and math.

Are You A Blogger Or Just A Fanboy?

Sad that bloggers Kevin Carey and Matthew Yglesias can find time to blog about a Joss Wheedon TV show called "Dollhouse" but can't -- still -- find time to address the impact on think tank research credibility from the Ed Sector CMO report debacle.  Dodging such an obvious topic in favor of fanboy obsessions makes it hard for me to take them seriously.

Research: The "N-Effect"

Want to score higher on the SATs?  Find a less-crowded test taking room. Seriously.  Nurturesheock author and blogger Ashley Merryman digs out a study showing that individuals do worse in large group settings.  I'm not sure if SES is factored out -- that'd make a big difference -- but interesting stuff.

Latest Evidence Of NCLB Working

The number of people in U.S. prisons has been rising since 1972, but now it's expected to drop. (The Slatest)

New Appropriations Staffer For Labor-HHS

N528404489_622 From Jim Kohlmoos at Knowledge Alliance:

"Howdy to Lisa Molyneux, the new staffer on the House subcommittee for Labor HHS Education replacing Charmaine Mercer (who now works at the ED). We are set to meet with her next week along with her boss Cheryl Smith about approps issues."

Picture may or may not be of the "real" Molyneux.

Thompson: Passing Words

Society invests plenty in policing after alleged gang-related murders, but the emotional effects on fellow students can be lost to adults.

This week as I rushed past some hall-walkers to address one of my student’s situation, a kid’s perplexing smirk/smile - the type that can make 13 years olds so annoying - caught my eye. He was dancing around in a graceless, ants-in-your pants manner, almost backpedaling, and not seeming to take much enjoyment in his escape from class.  He reminded me of my recently deceased student. So rather than issue a perfunctory "where are you supposed to be?" interrogation, I took careful note for future reference. In passing, I overheard:

"Did you see him die?"

"Yeah, I saw the whole thing."

Duncan: No Media Events For The Secretary


THE WEEKS AHEAD: Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009-Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010

 No public events scheduled.


Detroit Negotiates New Deal With Teachers

Race to the Top Hopefuls: Clear the Week of March 15 Politics K12
If you're a finalist for a Race to the Top grant in Round 1 of the competition, then the week of March 15 is when your state team will have to come to Washington, D.C. and make your in-person pitch...

City Schools’ New Criteria for Diversity Raise Fears New York Times Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
The Chicago public schools’ response to a recent court desegregation ruling is raising fears that it will undermine the district’s progress on racial diversity.

Detroit Schools Push for Change Wall Street Journal
Under the deal, teachers, school counselors and other staff agreed to defer $10,000 each in pay over the next two years to help the district pay its bills.

Beverly Hills Schools to Cut Nonresidents NYT
Currently about one in seven of its roughly 4,800 students — or 775 — attend with out-of-district permits.

Bar set low for lifetime job in L.A. schools LA Times
Los Angeles Unified often hands out tenure with little or no review of novice instructors' ability or their students' performance.

Some schools drop driver’s ed to cut costs MSNBC
Budget cuts are forcing many schools to cut back on behind-the-wheel instruction or eliminating it altogether, leaving it to parents to either teach their kids to get them trained

New Orleans School Rebuilds NPR
Wilson Elementary Rises from the Floodwaters

Weekend Reading

Deflating the Grade Inflation Scare Miller-McCune Cmk_web_cboy_school
A sociologist and an economist look at collegiate grade inflation and find a bogeyman that doesn't frighten them at all.

The Old Collegie Lie Democracy
The biggest problem with American higher education is that too many of the students who do enroll aren’t learning very much and aren’t earning degrees.

Handwriting Is History Miller-McCune
Writing words by hand is a technology that's just too slow for our times, and our minds.

Upper Mismanagement The New Republic
Why can't Americans make things? Two words: business school.

Reading People’s Faces Reason
These days, even art on your neck, collarbone, and wrists is barely enough to signal your commitment to subcultures that are totally legal.

The Maven Of For-Profit Colleges National Journal ($)
A California entrepreneur without a college degree is making colleges profitable.



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.