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Millot: Legal But Questionable Stategies to Control Charter Boards

6a00e54f8c25c988340120a6d7122c970b-150wi Sometimes you can protect yourself from board members that you chose, by getting undated letters of resignation from the start that can be acted on by us at any time.... Probably the most important concept that needs to be grasped by potential and sitting board members for our new schools going forward is that Imagine owns the school, not just the building.

Denis Bakke, President, to Imagine Schools developers, directors and principals (Sep. 4, 2008)

The slippery slope towards a captive charter school board begins with two moves entirely within the law. The first is to recruit and develop boards rather than approach ones that arise independently from their communities. The second involves facility financing.

Continue reading "Millot: Legal But Questionable Stategies to Control Charter Boards" »

Millot: Condem Bakke's Intention But Understand His Motivation

It is... our money and our risk, not theirs.

Denis Bakke, President, to Imagine Schools developers, directors and principals (Sep. 4, 2008)

We cannot condone theft, but we can sympathize with the laid-off father who intends to steal groceries, motivated by the need to feed his hungry children. Denis Bakke hardly became Imagine Schools' CEO in a fit of amnesia - he knew (or should have known) the laws governing charter schools before he entered the market. Nevertheless, while his memo to senior staff on charter school boards expressed wrongful intent with unambiguous clarity, his motivations for gaining control over schools in the Imagine network address show-stopping problems faced by every for- and nonprofit school management organization.

Continue reading "Millot: Condem Bakke's Intention But Understand His Motivation" »

Mug Shots: Setting Gym Teachers Back (Again)

"When I saw the video I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't believe that I'd ever do anything like that. I was raised to act in a respectful manner to women."

Gym teacher apologizes for hitting woman on MTV reality show (Gawker)

Media: The Atlantic Wire

Picture 19 As you may have noticed, I've been reading the Atlantic Wire over the past couple of months.  It does a nice job of distilling what people are saying about big issues of the day, including education issues at least occasionally.  It's way cleaner than the Huffington post, which I find nearly unbearable to read. 

Cyber-Stalking Your Favorite Educationistas

No-peeking-480 Go onto Facebook (you're probably on there already).  Pick an education person who's got a Facebook page but is for whatever reason not your FB friend.  Now, click on his or her profile picture.  What do you see?  In all likelihood, you'll be able to see that person's profile pics and maybe even pictures in which they've been tagged. 

What?!? It's true.  Even FB founder Marc Zuckerberg fell for this one, resulting in all his personal pictures getting downloaded and spread everywhere. Facebook changed everyone's default privacy settings to share all your information with everyone, regardless of whether you're friends with them or not (regardless of whether they're on Facebook, in fact).  Pictures are part of the deal.  So, lots of non-friends can see pics even if they can't see anything else.  Don't let that happen to you.  Here's how (Gawker).

GOOD Snags NYT Staffer For Education Page

ScreenHunter_22 Dec. 18 10.38Amanda Millner-Fairbanks is moving from the New York Times editorial department to GOOD, where she will be the new education editor.  GOOD says it's devoted to "pushing the world forward," which is fine with me as long as it doesn't result in naive boosterism.  (I wonder if "BAD" is already taken?) The education initiative at GOOD is being sponsored by the University of Phoenix.  Then again, everything's sponsored one way or another.  Longtime readers will recall that AMF contributed to This Week In Education way back when she was in grad school.  (See previous posts about her here here here.) At the Times over the past couple of years, she worked with Gail Collins and bylined several metro stories.  As education editor at GOODshe'll be writing, blogging, and videocasting about education issues.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. 

Books: Why Boys Fail (To Get Sympathy For Their Failure)

51FvI2LFsNL._SS500_ Girls are the new boys, and former USA Today writer Richard Whitmire has a new book out, Why Boys Fail, that takes a close look at how boys struggle in school and how schools try (or fail to) adjust to their needs.  (And whether some of the accommodations are sound or even legal.) There's a foreword from DC superintendent Michelle Rhee.  Check it out.    Previous posts on the "boys crisis" here here here here here and here.

Video: "Laugh At It And You're Part Of It"

ScreenHunter_13 Dec. 16 10.25 First it was texting while driving.  Now we have another bracing PSA from the other side of the pond -- this one part of a series about cyber-bullying that emphasizes the role of viewers and commenters (not just the original person who posts the text or pictures).  It's not as graphic as the driving one, but still makes the point.  At least one of the sexting suicides was apparently exacerbated by girls passing along nude pictures taken from a boy's cell phone. 

Fights, Fighting, Teachers, Teaching

In Arizona, Schools Fighting Back Against Recession PBS
In Arizona, public schools are buckling under the weight of a weak economy. John Merrow examines how two schools are handling the crisis.

L.A. schools chief orders weak new teachers ousted LA Times
Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines ordered administrators Thursday to weed out ineffective new teachers before they become permanent, acknowledging that the nation's second-largest school system has largely failed to adequately evaluate teacher performance.

Racial Tensions Grow Violent At Philly High School NPR
Dozens of Asian and Asian-American Philadelphia high school students are back in the classroom following an eight-day boycott.

Auditioning Their Hearts Out, for High School NYT
For young New Yorkers who perform, trying out for one of the many competitive arts schools has become a consuming, nail-biting effort.

New Jobs Bill Offers $23 Billion for Education EdWeek
Money in the version passed by the House could be used to stem layoffs; a Senate version has yet to be unveiled.

Teacher on leave for choir's Hooters lunch MSNBC
An Arizona music teacher whose students performed at a presidential inauguration event is on administrative leave after taking 40 high school students to a Hooters restaurant.

Reports: Think Tanks Vs. Authors (2007)

Picture 1 Thanks to a friend for pointing me to this 2007 Jay Mathews column about the dispute over changes made to a report on AP and IB programs that took place between a professor named Klein and the Fordham Foundation (The Secret Gripes of Professor Klein). 

"The results of such disputes, often not made public, can be messy," notes Mathews.  "We readers of such exercises should keep that in mind."

It's an interesting tale.  During the editing process Fordham wanted to change some of  Klein's conclusions.  Klein took his name off the report.  Fordham issued the report, altered, without revealing the dispute or posting the original report.  Klein complained. 

Blog Roundup Thursday Edition

"I will not hide the teacher’s Prozac" Bart's Blackboard
Season 8, Episode 13

Is Our Education Reporters Learning? Casey Lartigue
Journalists don't like to go places they have been invited. They want to go places where they must go undercover.
The Low Rhetoric of High Expectations Robert Pondiscio
At Public School Insights, Claud Von Zastrow calls out the casual use of the phrase “high expectations.”    It’s de riguer for education reformers to claim high expectations for schools and children.  “But scratch the surface of their rhetoric,” Claus writes, “and you’ll find that some of them have expectations that are really quite low.”

Court OK's "Bullying" Video
Just because some off-campus activity might interfere with the school environment is not enough for the school to take disciplinary action.

The Decade's 10 Big Ideas in Education Scholastic
As 2009 draws to a close and lists of the Decade's Big Ideas abound, it only seems fitting that education get its 15 minutes of fame. The education brains here at Scholastic have named 10 Big Ideas in Education from the first decade of the 21st Century--10 groundbreaking ideas that changed the landscape of American Education.

Millot: Imagine's Bakke - CMO CEO Behaving Badly

6a00e54f8c25c988340120a6d7122c970b-150wi I suggest that Imagine boards and board members have two significant roles. The first is to "affirm" (vote FOR if legally required) significant items like our selection of the Principal and the budget.... The second and most important role of board members is to advise (Millot emphasis)us on all matters of employment, policies, school climate, shared values, growth, building, academics and financial.

Denis Bakke, President, to Imagine Schools' developers, directors and principals (Sep. 4, 2008)

Memos like this are not intended for the public. It takes a rare combination of stupidity and arrogance for any CEO to explain attitudes and operating policies to staff that are clearly contrary to the law and public policies governing their market. Nevertheless, we have to thank Denis Bakke for providing his extreme views of charter school boards to help readers understand both Imagines' violations of law and more fundamental business problems faced by "E" and "C" MOs.

Continue reading "Millot: Imagine's Bakke - CMO CEO Behaving Badly" »

"No Thanks" To De-Tracking, Say Suburbs

In 2007, 75 percent of schools nationwide tracked 8th-grade math classes and 43 percent tracked 8th-grade English...Urban schools are more likely to detrack than suburban or rural schools. (Education Tracking Continues To Stir Debate)

Obama Administration STEM Geeks

Thanks to a friend for passing along this recent video of Arne Duncan and his new math and science guy Mike Lach (yes, from Chicago) talking about science and technology.  Check it out if you're a STEM geek (or if you just want to see Lach's new haircut from all angles): 

Blogs: Comments Make The Difference At AJC

Picture 23 These days, lively comments are what set blogs apart from each other.  Who's got them?  Who doesn't?  Quantity isn't everything, but it looks like  Get Schooled, the education blog of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, is going strong after years and years and years. 

Thompson: A Teacher Walks into the Principal's Office

I_know_go_to_the_principals_office_sticker-p217461996605639307qjcl_400 Last week’s must-read blog was "A Teacher Walks Into the Principal’s Office," by Deirdra Grode. On her first day as principal Ms. Grode dealt with a student who "came to me in tears because his teacher had sent him to my office for behaving inappropriately. The student apologized and asked what he could do to make it up to me and the teacher. ... I spoke with him firmly, sent him back to class, and patted myself on the back for a job well done as a new principal. ...

With great confidence, I asked the teacher at the end of the day if the student had been on his best behavior upon his return. The teacher said, ‘No, he came back and acted exactly the same way he was acting before I sent him to you.’

Stunned, I realized the student had manipulated me. I wondered, How routine is this type of production for many students?

Continue reading "Thompson: A Teacher Walks into the Principal's Office" »

Obama Pushes "Socialist" Ornaments On Kids

The Obama administration has done it again -- trying to manipulate vulnerable schoolchildren into forsaking all that is good and right about America.  Last time, it was the Obama "back to school" speech.  This time, it's Christmas ornaments sent from the White House to schoolchildren.  Thankfully the Daily Show has exposed the socialist plot:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama's Socialist Christmas Ornament Program
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Go ahead.  It's just five minutes.  The best part is watching the kids at a Newark high school talk back to correspondent Samantha Bee.

Journalism: Late Arrivals To New Media

Now, in the waning days of the old media, some of its veteran organizations -- the Education Writers Association, the Hechinger Institute -- are hoping that they have the answer to new media. (See the column written by EWA's Whitmire and Hechinger's Colvin below.)  These are all good people who have all done good work.  But I have reason to be doubtful about whether much will come of these new efforts.Not the least of which is their insistence on linking to a recent Brookings report on education journalism that was criticized for being superficial and narrow (see my post and links to others' commentary here).

Pocketsquare_cropWhere were these organizations during the past decade when all the new media models were being developed, tested, and adapted? The reaction time has been painfully slow. The response - token panels, mainly -- has been underwhelming. Nearing 2010, EWA has little non-newsroom expertise.  It didn't even have a blog until a couple of months ago. (Seriously.)  Hechinger says it's going to provide foundation-subsidized education journalism -- all well and good.  But where are the commercial (paying) clients for its content, the social media, the opinion journalism?  And what's the start date?

Has anyone on the education beat done a good job at figuring out new media (and new media revenue models)? Sure. The LA Times had a full-featured (and staffed) education blog for a year or two. Education Week has been diligently experimenting with blogs, ads, interactivity, and various pay schemes.  The Washington Post, with two blogs (Valerie and Uncle Jay) plus a stable of reporters, is doing good things right now.  GothamSchools and the Philly Notebook have the content pretty well covered though the revenue part still needs working out. 

I'm just saying:  The subsidy model isn't a long term solution.  There's got to be a strong commercial revenue element. Much as I admire them, EWA and Hechinger don't have a strong track record developing or modeling successful new media ventures.

Continue reading "Journalism: Late Arrivals To New Media" »

News: Privately-Funded Administrators In LA

Key L.A. Unified staff positions are funded privately LA Times
Private money is paying for key senior staff positions in the Los Angeles Unified School District -- providing needed expertise at a bargain rate, but also raising questions about transparency and the direction of reforms in the nation's second-largest school system.

SpamrealgoodAt Many Colleges, Early Applications Rise NYT
This was the year when the frenzy to gain early admission to the nation’s most selective colleges seemed likely to subside, but there appears to have been no letup.

In New York, a model for how to improve a school cafeteria USA Today
The cafeteria of Eastchester Middle School had run afoul of the public health code for several years. Between 2006 and 2008, county inspectors ...

Writing program rewrites teachers' approach to the craft Washington Post
In the 1960s, when he started teaching at the school, most of the writing teachers he encountered considered themselves topic-assigners and graders -- not writers.

Parents battle school over son’s locks MSNBC
School district officials say a youngster's long hair violates the dress code in his suburban Dallas school district.

Trends: The Hipster Educator

Hipster2 These days pretty much every nonprofit and schoolhouse has at least one hipster (or wannabe hipster). 

But hipsters can be hard to recognize -- and even harder to deal with. 

So now there's the blog "Stuff Hipsters Hate" to help with identification intermediation. 

For example, hipsters hate OldstersAuthorityWhen Their Friends Go to Law School, Repetitive Tasks, High-Fiving.

Good to know.

Millot: E/CMOs - Bakke Memo Suggests Bad Actors, Bad Oversight, Bad Law

[They] will believe that they are responsible for making big decisions about budget matters, school policies, hiring of the principal and dozens of other matters…. Before selecting board members we need to go over the voting process and our expectations that they will go along with Imagine…. It is our school….

Denis Bakke, President, to Imagine Schools developers, directors and principals (Sep. 4, 2008)

A lot of times, we’re not involved. Sometimes a group comes together and doesn’t approach us until they’ve decided to move ahead with the charter... We ask questions, but as I said, it’s not always ideal.

Larry Gabbert, Director, Office of Charter Schools, Ball State University to reporter (Nov. 1, 2009)

Even though (Imagine) formally doesn't control the charter or the charter board, the school would really not exist if Imagine doesn't stay, and that's the leverage Imagine has over a board… That's basically the same model Imagine uses everywhere.

Troy Bell, former Director of Development, Imagine Schools to reporter (Nov. 2, 2009)

Continue reading "Millot: E/CMOs - Bakke Memo Suggests Bad Actors, Bad Oversight, Bad Law" »

Wednesday Blog Roundup

Seventh-Grader Assaulted At School — Officials Blame "Hormones" Jezebel
Last Thursday, at a middle school near Richmond High School (site of October's brutal gang rape) a 12 year old pupil was allegedly raped in a stairwell during school hours. But school officials are already disputing the account.

Another Study the Washington Post Editorial Board Won't Notice Von Zastrow
We found that 25% of charter school teachers turned over during the 2003-2004 school year, compared to 14% of traditional public school teachers.

Congressional Appropriators Take IES to Task Debra Viadero
The conference agreement for the appropriations bill for fiscal 2010 chastises the Education Department's research agency for ignoring lawmakers' wishes.

Will Local Teachers' Unions Sign Off on State 'Race to Top' Plans? Stephen Sawchuk
States want local unions to sign off on their Race to the Top Plans, but will affiliates agree to do so?

New Jobs Bill Would Include Money for Facilities, Edujobs Politics K12
New measure would include $23 billion to help save and create education jobs, on top of the economic-stimulus package which is already pouring more than twice that much state coffers for that purpose

Almost 30 Percent of School Cafeterias Fail Inspection Requirements   Slatest
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is well aware that the program falls short but says the rule is pretty much impossible to enforce because the law never specified what would happen to schools that don't get inspected.

Turning Detroit Around Yglesias
Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley have a very interesting piece looking at successful turnarounds of dying European industrial centers and laying out a vision for making Detroit work again. A lot of this has to do with possibly wishful thinking ideas about government governance.

Cartoon: The Duncan Conveyor Belt

Duncan Youngkids.jpg

The Riff channels Diane and Deborah

Duncan: Selective Involvement In Local Issues

"The Obama Administration has repeatedly expressed support for merit pay and using student data to evaluate teachers. But Mr. Duncan loses his voice when it comes to backing Ms. Rhee in contract negotiations."

Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week (Rhee Is Getting Results)

Thompson: First Do No Harm

Cep2 I can’t deny that I enjoying writing a spoof of the Center for American Progress'’ latest paper on Value Added Models, and parts were awfully easy to lampoon. It was a serious paper, however, and balance is necessary. For instance I have long argued that growth models that misfire 15 to 20% of the time may be valid for incentives. But who would invest in a career that has a one in six chance per year of being destroyed by an invalid statistical model? Similarly the CAP wrote "few would dispute, for example, that the decision to terminate a teacher’s employment is a terribly serious one. In contrast, few would maintain that the decision to award a $600 bonus to especially effective teachers is anywhere near as serious."

I am willing to support local efforts to use VAMs to complement or supplement other evaluations, especially when that data is in the hands of a peer review committee, and not just an administrator. And the CAP admits "indeed, some empirical evidence of misattribution seems to militate against using value-added estimates for any purpose..."

Continue reading "Thompson: First Do No Harm" »

RTTT: Overplaying Their Hand?

Year-2013-calendar Supporters are crowing that Race To The Top has already turned into a big winner, and indeed that's true when it comes to press attention and states' efforts to get themselves in shape to compete for funding. 

Needless to say, I would be among those who aren't applying right away.  The money's too small, the prescriptions are too tight (and strangely arbitrary). The timeline's too short. Why not wait until NCLB is revamped -- sure to be a softer, slower beast than RTTT, given that whole Congressional approval thing?

Speaking of NCLB, I don't know if I've heard anyone point out yet that all this RTTT (and i3) hullabaloo could have the effect of further delaying reauthorization.  By making such a big deal of RTTT the USDE may run into a lot of wait and see / we did that already when the time comes for NCLB.  Plus which there won't be much interest (or need) for a big domestic accomplishment with health care reform in hand. Nor any money.  Etc. 

So here's what I'm going to say:  Technical amendments and some easy fixes in 2010-11, plus lots of hearings and suggestions, but no real full-scale reauthorization until the year 2013.  That's right:  2013.  Can you hear me now?

School Denies Jesus Drawing Suspension

School Denies Suspending Student For Jesus Drawing NPR
The school district said the second-grader was never suspended and that officials followed "well-established protocol."PH2009121503442

Arne Duncan at Grady Atlanta Journal Constitution
In his whirlwind tour of Atlanta Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan seemed to have the most fun with the students at Grady High School.

Reassurance Offered on 'Race to Top' Availability EdWeek
Plenty of money' will be left over after the first round of stimulus grants, Education Department officials tell states.

26,500 school cafeterias lack required inspections USA Today
No food-borne illness has sickened more schoolkids in the past decade than norovirus, and none is linked as consistently to improper food handling ...

Obama Administration Seeks To Improve High School Financial Literacy ABC News
In the wake of the worst financial crisis in generations, the Obama administration today announced a new campaign to promote financial education for high school students nationwide.

Number of homeless students soars Greenville News
The same thing is happening statewide — a 74 percent increase in the number of students identified as homeless since 2004, for a total of 8,744 during the 2008-09 school year, according to the latest figures available from the state Department of Education.

Quote: My Kind Of blogger

"She's not 26 years old and desperate to work for a DC think tank, a Democratic politician or a progressive institution."

Blogger Glenn Greenwald praising the independence of Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.

Economy: IN School District Agrees To House Gitmo Detainees

Images Forced to look for every possible way to raise revenues, the cash-strapped Merrilville (IN) public school system has decide to convert one of its largest high schools into a maximum security prison where detainees from Guantanamo Bay will be housed under contract with the federal government. 

"We really had no other choice," said superintendent Marvin Braxton about the decision, made at a board meeting last night after a hotly debated 6-3 vote.  "The building was empty and the Homeland Security money will help us make it to the end of the year."

The school district is the first in the nation to take such drastic steps.  Other districts have reduced the length of the school day, raised class sizes, put cell phone transponders in kids' backpacks, and raffled off principals as domestic servants. 

Blogs: The Over-Rated Achievement Gap

Why I have no use for the achievement gap Uncle Jay Mathews
I think the achievement gap is useless as a measure of school improvement, and we would be much better writing about how much each ethnic group, each school, each child is improving, or not improving.

36 States Plan to Apply for Race to the Top, Round 1 Politics K12 [it's back!]
The U.S. Department of Education has posted a list of 36 states that have signaled they plan to apply for a $4 billion Race to the Top grant in Round 1.

How Do We Solve a Problem Like South Philadelphia High? Racialicious [new blog]
When you see a headline like “30 Asian Students Attacked,” one would think there would be massive rage.  An outcry about violence in schools.  A discussion of why our kids aren’t safe. 

Should Colleges Let in the Same Number of Guys and Girls, Regardless of Who Applies? GOOD
Female over-representation at the college level strikes me as a good—or at least not-bad—problem to have.

Tracking Tools Let Parents Obsess Over Infant Data Slatest
New technology allows parents to track the minutiae their babies' developmental progress.

No Recession for Schools EdNext Blog
The Winter 2010 issue of Education Next is just  hitting newsstands (and subscribers’ mailboxes). 

Quote: How HCZ Hypnotized Anderson Cooper

"What is it about the Harlem Children’s Zone that causes pundits and reporters to suspend disbelief?"

-  Aaron Pallas in GothamSchools

Thompson: The CEP CAAT Calculates Your Students' Pain

Empathbear The forty fire alarms that have disrupted instruction this year at the District of Columbia’s Ballou High School (where students have a Reading proficiency rate of 24%) illustrates the problem with Value Added Models for evaluation purposes. While not prejudging that principal’s policies, the Ballou teachers who find themselves, once a week, twiddling their thumbs outside of an evacuated building rather than teaching progressing towards their growth targets are a reminder that classroom instruction is only one determinant of students’ performance.

As the Center for American Progress acknowledges, it would be tasteless to calculate the value-added of teachers comforting their students in hospitals and funerals; assisting in suicide interventions and with psychotic episodes; and in grief and drug abuse counseling as well as guiding students through the legal system. Were we to calculate the pain endured by the students of inner city teachers, the toll would be so horrific that some would be tempted to abandon the blame game and invest directly in kids. That might sound too liberal. 

Continue reading "Thompson: The CEP CAAT Calculates Your Students' Pain" »

Duncan In Atlanta: Let's Get Competitive!

From left, Grady principal Dr. Vincent Murray, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Adolfo Carrion and Beverly Hall listen to a discussion of the Social Diversity Club during his visit to Grady High School in Atlanta. Student at right is Alexandra McColl, 16.

Duncan repeatedly stressed Monday the "competitive" spirit he wanted to see in schools moving forward.
U.S. schools chief stops in Atlanta on ‘listening and learning' tour AJC

News: Districts Wary Of RTTT Rush

Local school districts wary of 'Race to the Top' initiative Contra Costa Times
School districts that want to be part of the federal grant program must join the state's application, but the details of how to do so have been slow in coming and have made some local educators hesitant about participating.

Since hearing, states take little action on restraint in schools USA Today1111111111111111111
A handful of states have moved to restrict or regulate school staff who restrain or seclude children, but many more have done little or noth ...PLUS:  Q&A with Rep. Miller

Certification Is Just One Step In Being Able To Teach NPR
At Northwest Halifax High School in a rural corner of the state, all the teachers are qualified, but the student test scores are still abysmal.

Years Of Schooling Leaves Some Students Illiterate NPR
Her new book, Why cant U teach me 2 read, follows three young New Yorkers who legally challenged the New York City public schools for failing to teach them how to read — and won.

Police: Girl, 12, raped in school stairwell MSNBC
A 14-year-old boy is facing charges, and two school officials are on administrative leave, after authorities say a 12-year-girl was raped in a stairwell at a California school.

Books: NYT's Tough Outlines Next Project

"The book I'm hoping to work on is broadly about why some kids succeed and why some don't, and what we might be able to do to help the kids who are failing to succeed."  (Paul Tough in the New York Observer)

Sattler: Approps Beats Reauthorization

Cheryl sattler headshot From Title I guru and new contributor Cheryl Sattler:

Who needs reauthorization when there's appropriations?

Last night, the Senate passed the appropriations conference report that funds, among many other things, education. The House passed it last week, so it now moves on to the White House for Obama's signature.

In the absence of an ESEA/NCLB (pick the one that offends you least) reauthorization, Congress has stepped in with a number of interesting new developments.

Continue reading "Sattler: Approps Beats Reauthorization" »

Unions: Gates Dives $358K Deep Into NEA

800px-DSCN3153 The Gates Foundation has given the NEA Foundation $358K to to create a new institute focused on local innovation.

Maybe the NEA complained that foundations were giving money to the AFT and not to them.  

Or maybe the Gates Foundation realized that, maybe, throwing a little bit of money the NEA's way might help it realize its dreams of total takeover of major changes to the education system.

Continue reading "Unions: Gates Dives $358K Deep Into NEA" »

Ideas: "Stereotype Threat" Vs. The "Obama Effect"

Somehow I never grasped that the opposite of the so-called "Obama Effect" (which remains controversial among researchers) is something called "stereotype threat." (NYTimes)

Blogs: Monday Morning Commentary

Picture 21 Hmmmm Knowledge Alliance
How can the quote above be reconciled with the lead education story of the week, Dept of Education issues highly restrictive guidance on how schools should use SIG funds to turn around low-performing schools?

Detroit Parents Want Teachers, Administrators Jailed Robert Pondiscio
“Somebody needs to go to jail. Somebody needs to pay for this. Somebody needs to go to jail, and it shouldn’t be the kids.”

Looking for some assistance with my next survey of the edublogosphere DI
I’m looking for a few folks who might be interested in helping me with my next survey of the edublogosphere.

Bad signs for Bennet CQ
Colo. Sen. Michael Bennet is losing to all three of his GOP challengers, according to a new survey.

Democrats for Education Reform DFER
Who would have guessed that in less than one year we would be looking at such significant coast-to-coast policy changes at the state level.

Number of Hungry American Kids Skyrockets
Twice as many children are hungry in Philly as were last year.

Wonks and Teachers Yglesias
I’m not sure that a sixth grade teacher is the image that comes to mind when words like “wonk” and “expert administration” get tossed around—it’s a pretty standard middle-class occupation with practitioners to be found all across the country.

Kids Today The Awl
Hot with the kids now: Pot, pain pills, and ADD drugs. Not so hot: Cigarettes, meth, and binge drinking.

Thompson: Professional Development and Gentrification Take a Bow

Achievement-gap The reasons given for the District of Columbia’s continued improvement in NAEP Math scores are persuasive, "an increased focus on the use of games, calculators and written responses -- to help students demonstrate their reasoning in solving a problem ... The emphasis dates to Janey's tenure but has been redoubled under Rhee." Before the increased investments that accompanied NCLB, how many elementary teachers had a background in math and/or math instruction? As recently as 2007, 45% of 8th grade Black math students had a teacher without a major or minor in math, while 52% had an 8th grade math teacher who left before the school year was over. So, the Win Win strategy of increased professional development makes sense.

Even with the urban district that has received accolades after the latest NAEP report, the details point to a second factor - gentrification. D.C. 8th grade scores rose only for students in the 90th percentile, as the scores for Blacks declined slightly and low income scores remained flat.

Continue reading "Thompson: Professional Development and Gentrification Take a Bow" »

RTTT: LA Times Editorial Page Questions RTTT

"It's a one-time grant that adds up to less than 2% of what the state spends on schools annually."

Schools race to -- where, exactly? (LA Times editorial)

News: Teachers, Teachers, Teachers

Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment Washington Post
Reports show that Florida and Texas are moving toward linking test scores and teacher preparation. Maryland and Virginia officials said they are studying Louisiana's approach. Sally Clausen, Louisiana's commissioner of higher education, said officials from Minnesota and elsewhere have sought advice.

Performance pay for teachers would quadruple under bill approved by Hill Washington Post
Federal funding for performance pay in public schools would quadruple, to $400 million a year, under a bill moving through Congress that reflects the growing political momentum behind an education reform idea once considered anathema to many Democrats and labor leaders. 1111111111111111111

California's neediest high school students have the least prepared teachers, study says LA Times
The good news: A steep drop in the total number of 'underprepared' teachers. The bad: Aspiring teachers aren't being taught how to emphasize critical thinking skills and 'real world' learning.

When is it time to close a D.C. charter school? Washington Post
President Obama wants more good, independent public charter schools. He has also said he wants states and cities to close bad charter schools. Which charters in the District could we do without?

For students, a right to be mean online? LA Times
With schools meting out discipline for what they see as cyber-bullying, some courts, parents and free speech advocates are pushing back.

Student, 18, wounded in shooting at La. school AP
Police in the northwestern Louisiana city of Shreveport say a female student was shot on the grounds of a high school and a suspect was arrested.

Weekend Reading

Rotten meat for kids The Week
Why are schools feeding children beef and chicken that wouldn't make the cut at fast-food restaurants?

The best iPhone apps for kids Slate500x_playdoh121109
The iPhone has become the Swiss Army knife of mobile parenting.

Why kids self-destruct with cell phones and online Slate
The bar for becoming a cyber-bully, or even a cyber-bully's accomplice, is much lower than the bar for becoming an actual bully.

My boys love astronomy. I couldn't care less. Slate
The other night, my boys curled up on the couch with my husband and went to the moon. They were enthralled by a grainy video of Neil Armstrong's 1969 shaky descent onto the pitted lunar sand.

Hard Times Revisited American Prospect
Two new books show how the gap between the rich and the poor shaped the culture of the 1930s.

Push Comes to .GOV American Prospect
The problems government agencies face as they start using social media are the same issues faced by any organization that wants a significant online presence: dealing with comments, coming up with content, and striking the right tone.

Duncan: Upcoming Media Events

THE WEEK AHEAD: Sunday, Dec. 13, through Saturday, Dec. 19
(All times are Eastern Standard Time)

Continue reading "Duncan: Upcoming Media Events" »

Media: Band Of Bloggers

A recent article in Politico suggested that once autonomous bloggers are slowly losing their independence from the Washington establishment.

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It may well be so. However the more immediate problem in my experience is the tendency to hew too closely too each other.

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Latest example: none of these popular policy blogs has taken note of the controversy surrounding Education Sector's much-altered charter schools report that broke more than two weeks ago - not even to denounce it as a non-issue.

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None.ScreenHunter_03 Dec. 11 13.50

The topic is right in their wheelhouse, and yet, nothing. 

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What use are bloggers to us if they get so clubby that they won't take each other on in any meaningful way? 

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Isn't that why we wanted to get rid of the mainstream media?

Blogs: Stimulus Trickle, Oakland Bargaining

Education stimulus funds only a trickle EdNews CO
Only $7 million out of $312 million in federal stimulus funds for education has actually been paid out to Colorado districts.

South Philly principal had troubles in NJ The Philly Notebook116l4yt
South Philadelphia High School principal LaGreta Brown, who has been notably silent during the recent controversy regarding the safety of Asian students, once received a “no-confidence” vote from her faculty when she was principal of Atlantic City High School.

Jokeland Mike Antonucci
The Oakland Education Association is demanding a 15 percent raise over three years in its teacher contract negotiations.

Three Great Books to Read Aloud to Your Tweens & Teens Daily Riff
Here are three that you may have never thought of - so give yourself a holiday gift, or two:

Educational Approaches Pop! Tech
This week in PopTech 2009 video releases, find out the difference fifteen minutes can make to a child’s cognitive performance in parenting guru Ashley Merryman’s presentation, why school turnaround visionary Steve Barr thinks private school should be outlawed, and the way legendary teacher Dennis Littky has transformed student performance through personalized curriculae.

Stats: The "Exploding" Charter Schools Fallacy

Watch out for this US News story (The Explosion of Charter Schools). 

Picture 18

The actual rate of growth for charters has been moderate  -- nothing near an "explosion." The number of charter schools -- fewer than 5,000 -- is still very small.  And the prospects for additional growth are extremely uncertain, assuming states don't just open the floodgates and let anyone start one.

Video: Cold Weather, Flagpoles, Kid's Tongue

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jobs: NYT Paul Tough Leaving Sunday Magazine

6807Paul Tough, who came to prominence in education circles in part through his writing about Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone, has taken the latest New York Times buyout and is going to write full-time.  Here are some past blog posts about Tough:

Paul Tough On The HotSeat
Updates On Harlem Children's Zone
Hot For Education 2007
Teaching Parents To Play With Their Kids

No word yet on what his next projects are going to be.  Congrats to him, condolences to the Times. 

Quote: Telling The Truth

"Ninety-nine times out of 100 you got to tell the truth, and the 100th time you don't need a PR guy, you need a lawyer."

USDE media guy Peter Cunningham in an article about the closed-mouth demeanor of his Chicago public schools replacement.



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.