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Media: Education Writing Finalists Announced

100303_SIGNS_walk_into_townEX Here are some of the finalists for the annual Education Writers Association awards announced last week. Several are stories and bylines you've seen here during the past year: (Libby Quaid, Associated Press, Michael Alison Chandler Washington Post Poor Neighborhoods, Untested Teachers", David McKay Wilson Harvard Education Letter "The Invisible Hand in Education Policy", Mary Wiltenburg Christian Science Monitor "Little Bill Clinton: A School Year in the Life of a New American”, John Merrow Learning Matters Leadership: A Challenging Course.

There are also a bunch of interesting looking finalist submissions that I don't recall posting here: Helen Zelon and Karen Loew City Limits The Education Business: Teachers Missing at the Top, Sarah Carr Times-Picayune “The Challenge of Choice”, Peter Eisler Anthony DeBarros and Elizabeth Weise "Trouble on the Tray", Drew Lindsay The Washingtonian "Success Factory", Tom Detzel and Paddy Hirsch, Marketplace and ProPublica- “Allegations of Enrollment Abuses at University of Phoenix”.

Check them out.  Congrats to all.

News: RI Teacher Fired For Obama Effigy

Obama effigy hung at RI school with fired teachers AP:  A teacher at a failing school where he and all his colleagues are being fired hung an [in?] effigy of President Barack Obama in his classroom, apparently in reaction to Obama's support of extreme measures to ensure accountability in schools. [Fired.]11111111111news

Professor Calls For Balance In Textbooks NPR:  Conservatives on the Texas school board argue that changes they've proposed to the social studies curriculum will provide "balance" to a "liberal paradigm." Jonathan Zimmerman says conservatives are correct — many history books lean left. So he proposes a middle ground.

School board, Polansky agree on resignation deal Boston Globe:  A Connecticut school superintendent facing sexual assault charges and local school board members have agreed to a tentative deal for him to resign.

Continue reading "News: RI Teacher Fired For Obama Effigy" »

Pop Culture: The Angelina Jolie School For Girls

Thompson: A Turnaround Strategy for Secretary Duncan

Clone-of-addicts Six recommendations for a kinder, smarter, better turnaround strategy:

1Repudiate collective punishment of educators, with written guarantees that also meet the legitmate needs of turnaround specialists and others to improve teacher quality.

2. Stop the scapegoating. Reducing the percentage of stigmatized schools from 1/3rd to 5% gives no relief to urban systems where failing schools are disproportionately located.

3. Remember that you can’t just shoot urban teachers and principals, as suburban schools get relief. Otherwise, how can "reformers" stop rhe outmigration of educators to less challenging systems that would inevitable under his ESEA?

Continue reading "Thompson: A Turnaround Strategy for Secretary Duncan" »

Sattler: Now Show Me a REAL Blueprint

6a00e54f8c25c988340128778f924b970c-200wi My father is an engineer, and I know from blueprints. Blueprints have details, specifics.

The document published to launch the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization is not a blueprint.

So, in the absence of any real details, here's my analysis of what's in and what's out in the new proposal.

Continue reading "Sattler: Now Show Me a REAL Blueprint" »

News: Mixed Senate Response To Obama NCLB Plan

Plan to rework 'No Child' prompts concerns for rural areas Nick Anderson Washington Post:  Senate Republicans raised questions Wednesday about whether President Obama's plan to turn around struggling schools would fly in rural America.6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

Lawmakers Say Needs of Rural Schools Are Overlooked Sam Dillon NYT:  Federal education rules favor big-city school districts over rural systems, some lawmakers complain.

ESEA Plan Draws Bipartisan Praise—and Questions EdWeek:  Congressional panels see much to like, while flagging concerns about turnarounds, competitive grants, and rural schools.

Detroit Plan Would Close 45 Schools Susan Saulny NYT:  The move is the latest effort aimed at rescuing an academically failing district in the midst of a financial crisis.

Girl critically injured in beating at Fla. school AP:  Authorities say a 15-year-old girl was savagely beaten by a teenage boy while waiting for her bus outside a Florida middle school. 

Continue reading "News: Mixed Senate Response To Obama NCLB Plan" »

Turnarounds: Urgency Meets Uncertainty

Make no mistake when you read my article about turnarounds just out in Miller McCune.  I'm not at all against turning schools around, including firing the staff if necessary.  I get the urgency behind the push to make improvements happen, and the many ways that schools have avoided making changes in the past under state and NCLB rules. 

 Mar. 17 14.42

But being "for" turnarounds doesn't mean that I think they always work.  I'm OK with that. Any honest observer would note the uncertainty here.  Focusing on the worst schools is a high risk, high reward strategy.  It's punching the bully in the nose.  

Movies: Starlet Plays "Bad Teacher" With Former Beau


Pop culture update:  As you can see from this production still, actress Cameron Diaz is shooting a movie called "Bad Teacher" with her former boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.  According to PopWatch, she plays the worst teacher ever: “She’s usually hungover when she gets to school,” he says. “She’s kind of foul mouthed. And she’s completely fixated on trying to afford breast augmentation surgery, and very open about it. She believes it will help her find the right man who will take care of her for the rest of her life.”

Video: Singer And Comedian Dominate Reform Debate

Oh, no. A comedian and a pop singer have gone viral with their debate over school reform. I think this means we're all doomed. First, comedian Bill Maher issued one of his "new rules" about what to do when schools aren't doing so well. Watch it below or read it here

Then, yesterday, crooner John Legend issued his stinging but respectful rebuttal here.

Media: Building A Better Reporter

07cover_span-sfSpan-thumb-200x243-96961 Some belated thoughts about the substance and the delivery of Elizabeth Green's recent New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, Building A Better Teacher.

First, the kudos.  It's a great accomplishment and a strong story over all.  It shows tremendous effort, curiosity, and smarts, and took amazing persistence to see it through.  The history of the profession is clear and well-written.  The characters of Ball and Lemov (particularly) are brought to life.  The snippets of classroom observation are vivid.  The focus on what to do with existing teachers is a welcome antidote to too much attention given to issues such as selecting, evaluating, and culling teachers.  Like I'm sure many other education writers, I wish that it were my story. 

That being said, there are some serious problems and minor annoyances that undercut the piece and raise questions about its findings and usefulness.

Continue reading "Media: Building A Better Reporter" »

Update: Sending Compliments (Or Complaints)

12623031463You can reach me via email at thisweekineducation at gmail.com or on Twitter at @alexanderrusso.  Or you can find  the good folks at Scholastic Administrator here. Or, write a blog comment for the blog. The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the author & do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic Inc. 

News: Selling The Obama Education Plan

Administration Seeks Converts to Education Plan Sam Dillon NYT:  Facing intense resistance from teachers’ unions, the Obama administration has begun trying to persuade union leaders, teachers and the public that its proposals for overhauling federal education policies are good for teachers and for public schools.6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

Spellings: 'No Child Left Behind' Is A 'Toxic Brand' NPR: Spellings has said the 2002 law has become "a toxic brand." She tells Linda Wertheimer it is ripe for retooling.

Senate votes against reopening D.C. voucher program Michael Birnbaum Washington Post: The D.C. voucher program's future appeared limited Tuesday after the Senate voted down a measure that would have reopened the initiative to new students.

VT Ed. Dept. says it erred in failing 2 schools Lisa Rathke AP: When the school's name turned up on a list of underperforming Vermont schools last week, school officials there were devastated. But it was the Department of Education's mistake.

Pa. school bus driver charged in 2nd fatal crash Patrick Walters Washington Post:  Prosecutors say surveillance video shows a sleep-deprived school bus driver running stop signs before causing a fatal crash last month outside a suburban Philadelphia middle school.

Tiny school's fate roils rural California district LA Times:  When Eastern Sierra Unified School District Supt. Don Clark stared down a projected budget deficit, he did what school administrators across the nation have had to do: consider laying off teachers and closing campuses.

Blogs Roundup: Twitter Tuesday


     It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. Hit "reload" on your browser to make sure you're getting the newest. Click the funky-looking links to find the articles.  You can "follow" me at twitter.com/alexanderrusso

    Media: How Much Would You Pay For This?

    500x_paywallgood How much would you pay for this (or anything else online)?  Millions, I know. But there are precious few outlets that require readers to pay for access to content in the education space as everywhere else. There are just too many free options already in the mix for anyone to wall themselves off.  More and more each day.  And recent polls show readers will just move elsewhere when they're charged for content. 

    But some folks seem to have pulled it off, including the Wall Street Journal and other high-end outlets.  In education, EdWeek comes to mind, with its hybrid model, along with the Marshall Memo, the Title I Report, Ed Daily, the updates from Dave Deschryer et al at Brustein, and a few others priced into client services. Now John Bailey and Andy Rotherham are set to join the fray with a subscription newsletter announced here, described as a complement or addition to the posts at Eduwonk.   

    Whether this new entrant will be primarily a marketing tool, a freebie thrown in for clients, or a robust standalone product remains unclear, as is the eventual pricing scheme.  Mainstream outlets say they only need 5 or 10 percent of readers to make the subscription route pay off.   How much would you (do you already) pay for trends and analysis that you might be able to get elsewhere for free? 

    Thompson: Are We Arming Barney Fife With Teacher Evaluation?

    HickokTuttHarpers-500Tennessee, and other states have made a mockery of Secretary Duncan’s sound bites on evaluation, as they have committed to a single measure of test score growth for firing teachers. Educators, however, must meet multiple measures to keep their jobs.President Obama balanced the investments of tens of billions of dollars to save jobs and improve early education with hundreds of millions of dollars for data systems to fire teachers. The RttT, and now his ESEA NCLB II, provides the gun that management can lay on the poker table as it sits down with unions, growling "Deal." Most districts’ lawyers will look closely at the dangers of actually using growth models to indict teachers as ineffective, so wise leaders will restrain their administrators like Andy of Mayberry handled his deputy. But Barney Fife, we should remember, kept putting his bullet back into his gun.  The Center for American Progress’ new reports should rebalance these equations.

    Continue reading "Thompson: Are We Arming Barney Fife With Teacher Evaluation?" »

    Quote: Massive Manipulation Eclipses Minor Cheating

    "[Cheating] scandals are minor compared to the ways in which states have manipulated the scoring of tests to produce inflated results."

    -- Diane Ravitch in The New Republic

    USDE: Civil Rights Role Too Small Or Too Big?

    14child_CA0-popup Dueling editorial views on the role of civil rights in education from the NYT (Civil Rights in Education) and the Wall Street Journal (Civil Rights Overreach). 

    At right, a picture of GWB during the good old days. 

    I think he's telling the kids that it's more fun going to schools where everyone's poor and black or brown. 

    News: Pink Slips, NCLB Rewrite Reality Check

    Pink slips sent to thousands of Calif. teachers Robin Hindery, Associated Press:  State school districts had issued 21,905 pink slips to teachers and other school employees by Monday, the legal deadline for districts to send preliminary layoff notices.

    L.A. Unified panel recommends changes in teacher evaluations LA Times: High-performing teachers should earn more pay, tenure should be more difficult to achieve and teacher reviews should be tied to student test scores, a Los Angeles school district panel is expected to recommend Tuesday.News2010

    Array of Hurdles Awaits New Education Agenda Sam Dillon NYT:  The challenges of implementing a new education policy for the Obama administration are political and practical.

    Interest Turns to ESEA Plan's Chances of Passing EdWeek:  The administration's blueprint for replacing NCLB draws support from some—but sharp criticism from the national teachers' unions.

    Changes to No Child Left Behind would affect schools differently Nick Anderson Washington Post: For most public schools, the perceived heavy hand of the federal government would become a lighter touch under President Obama's plan to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law. But for others, the consequences of academic failure would stiffen considerably.

    Duncan coming to Denver Denver Post:  US Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be in Denver Friday for both official business and a fund-raising stop for US Senator Michael Bennet.

    Cartoon: "Time For Playing After You Get Into College"

    ScreenHunter_60 Mar. 15 15.20
    From the latest New Yorker

    Thompson: The Truth is the First Casualty

    Courage "No Child Left Behind produced the best history scores ever for all groups and all grades." - Karl Rove

    If you believe that revisionism, President Obama has an ESEA plan for you. It will even make all high school graduates college-ready by 2020!

    As the war on inner city teachers intensifies, we should set the record straight on its second casualty. Central Falls High School was a different type of victim of Secretary Duncan’s definition of "multiple measures," which means that it can only take a single measure (a test score growth target) to destroy a teacher’s career. But educators may need to get past multiple subjective measures in order to remain in the classroom.

    Continue reading "Thompson: The Truth is the First Casualty" »

    Roundup: Popchips Are The Best


    Obama and NCLB Valerie Strauss:  So many people had so many high hopes for Obama’s impact on education.

    The Big Idea Diane Ravitch in the LA Times:  There have been two features that regularly mark the history of U.S. public schools. Over the last century, our education system has been regularly captivated by a Big Idea -- a savant or an organization that promised a simple solution to the problems of our schools. The second is that there are no simple solutions, no miracle cures to those problems.

    Washington State Enters the Race to the Top Rob Manwaring TQATE: Congratulations to education reformers from my home state, Washington, for helping to pass a package education reform bills that take a significant step forward for a state that did not even bother to apply for the first round of Race to the Top.

    Did Newsweek Suffer a Pang of Conscience? Claus Von Zastrow LFA:  Newsweek has apparently scrubbed its lead story on education of some offensive content. The original headline read "The Problem with Education Is Teachers." Well, that's gone. So is the following subhead: "Getting rid of bad teachers is the solution to turning around failing urban schools."

    Picture:  Popchips salt and pepper solves nearly every problem I encounter.

    NCLB: Reporters, Advocates, Respond to Obama Proposal

    Educationx-largeHard to get all that excited about the Administration's NCLB replacement proposal, aka "the blueprint" or the "college- and career-ready" act, though I have to admit being curious and having nothing better to do than read over the coverage so far. As usual, initial coverage is all about reporters madly trying to understand and explain something new on a short deadline (and get good quotes), and advocates and bloggers positioning themselves to their best advantage (and give good quotes).  Some of it's pretty yawny.  Or maybe that's just me.  But there are a couple of errors or mis-statements slipping in already, it seems. 

    Continue reading "NCLB: Reporters, Advocates, Respond to Obama Proposal" »

    News: Turmoil Over States' Lists Of Worst Schools

    Tempers may flare as worst-performing schools named Providence Journal:  Turmoil recently broke out in Massachusetts when it released the names of the state’s 35 worst schools...Rhode Island was first to erupt, because of its much-hated law requiring districts to lay off by March 1 all teachers who MIGHT need to be actually laid off in the summer when budgets and enrollments are known.News2010

    New funding projection could squeeze Obama's education agenda Washington Post:  In the final push to pass a major student aid bill pending in Congress, funding for key elements in President Obama's education agenda is dwindling.

    Schools Across U.S. Grapple With Closures NPR:  Kansas City, Mo., has just approved one of the largest school closures in the nation's history. All over the U.S., the number of districts shutting schools is growing rapidly in the face of declines in both revenue and enrollment.

    Senators critical of salary expenses at Boys & Girls Clubs of America Washington Post:  Several Republican senators are questioning expenses at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a national nonprofit organization that receives millions of dollars in federal funding.

    Innovation: What SES Was Supposed To Look Like?

    22school.600 A few years ago at a conference a NYC DOE guy named Joel Rose came up and said hello and told me that he'd gotten hooked on The Wire via my early and incessant blogging about it. 

    It was and is still one of the nicest things that anyone's ever said to me about the blog.  But it turns out that Rose isn't just all about high quality HBO drama.  He's also got this thing called School of One that's been profiled in the Times and in TIME.  (I know, I know.  Computerized instruction.  New York City.) It's a hybrid program that uses a mix of instructional approaches (online and real life teaching) plus a bunch of different content providers rather than just one.  And now it's expanding to additional school sites. 

    Jenny Medina profiled the pilot version in the Times last summer.  TIME named it a top innovation.  

    Media: Team-Based National AP Coverage

    Ggap Used to be that you could look for pretty much one byline if you wanted to follow AP's national education coverage. Feller, Sack, Toppo, Quaid -- I'm sure I'm missing a few.  But that all seems to be gone now.  Quaid is gone (or soon will be) on maternity leave (congrats and best wishes, Libby!).  National education stories are getting posted by all sorts of different reporters in all different parts of the country - not all of them fulltime education reporters.  Ray Allen wrote this one about Central Falls, for example.  It's a similar approach being used by AP on other beats as well. The team effort is coordinated under one editor (in Seattle, I think) and sent out via this group Twitter list Dorie Turner set up.

    Thompson: The Science of Teaching

    Head caseElizabeth Green’s excellent "Building a Better Teacher" addresses the three (or four-legged) stool required for improving instruction. Green recounts Doug Lemov’s "content-neutral" taxonomy for instruction, and Deborah Ball’s subject-specific tactics. (The Comer Project was not mentioned, but it has been equally scientific in teaching the same strategies since 1968.)

    Given the excellence that already exists in many systems for teaching classroom management, Why do we need a third (or fourth) leg for improving instruction?  Why do we need special efforts to attract better teaching talent and cull ineffective educators, or the $335 million Gates effort to videotape 3,000 classrooms and correlate best practices with growth metrics?

    Continue reading "Thompson: The Science of Teaching" »

    Turnarounds: Central Falls Not The Only Drama

    340x_depp2 Central Falls teachers aren't alone in already facing layoffs in response to low performance, notes the Facebook group Teachers Letters To Obama.  Other examples that are being tracked include LA's Fremont HS (here) and Philadelphia's Vaux (here).  There are probably others -- or will be soon.  Let us know. 

    USDE: Civil Rights Reviews For 30+ Districts

    Is this the much-delayed return of the USDE's Office of Civil Rights Enforcement or just a little distraction to help get us through the day?

    Officials Step Up Enforcement of Rights Laws in Education NYT:  As part of that effort, the department intends to open investigations known as compliance reviews in about 32 school districts nationwide, seeking to verify that students of both sexes and all races are getting equal access to college preparatory curriculums and to advanced placement courses. The department plans to open similar civil rights investigations at half a dozen colleges.340x_shortbus

    Ed officials to step up civil rights enforcement AP: The federal Department of Education plans to intensify its civil rights enforcement efforts in schools around the country, including a deeper look at issues ranging from programs for immigrant students learning English to equal access to a college preparatory courses....

    Duncan will pressure schools to enforce civil rights laws Washington Post: Ali said the department plans to initiate 38 compliance reviews this year. There were 29 initiated last year, she said, and 42 in 2008. But she said the depth of the reviews will be "much greater than in the past."

    Quote: Teachers Unions React Angrily

    “I ripped the Obama sticker off of my truck."

    Houston Federation of Teachers official Zeph Capo reacting to Central Falls in the NYT

    Duncan: The EdSec's Media Calendar

    340x_custom_1267655106643_statue Here's the EdSec's media schedule for next week, back after a couple of weeks' absence.

    Fun fact:  Duncan and I are the same age and both grew up in Chicago.  My high school friend Tony ("Leadfoot") Kahan claims that he once held Duncan to very few points in a a basketball tournament. 

    Let's all be sure to consider his every appearance and speech as "news." 

    Continue reading "Duncan: The EdSec's Media Calendar" »

    News: 100 Districts Already Down To Four-Day Week

    $2b later, Kansas City, Mo., may close half its schools AP:  Kansas City was viewed as a national example of bold thinking when it tried to integrate its schools by making them better than the suburban districts where many children were moving. 11111111111news

    Districts Explore Shorter School Week WSJ: Of the nearly 15,000-plus districts nationwide, more than 100 in at least 17 states currently use the four-day system, according to data culled from the Education Commission of the States. Dozens of other districts are contemplating making the change in the next year.

    Schools fear budget crash AJC:  After several years of steep state budget cuts and a drop in local property tax revenue caused by the recession, dozens of school systems, most of them rural, now find themselves in previously unthinkable straits.

    Duncan won't cancel Montgomery school visit  AP:  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will meet with students as planned at Montgomery's Robert E. Lee High School, despite a state legislator's call to cancel the appearance.

    See previous post for stories from the weekend. See me on Twitter for updates throughout the date

    Weekend Reading: The Problem With Peer Review

    Fixing schools by firing teachers Salon:  You can't bulldoze a system and call it fixed.

    PLUS:  School’s Shake-Up Is Embraced by the President NYT07teachers-art7-popup

    Japanese princess bullied at elementary school Salon:  Japan's Princess Aiko, granddaughter of the emperor, has missed several days of classes because of bullying by boys at her elementary school, a spokesman for the royal family said Friday. 

    Police search for Oklahoma City principal’s attacker NewsOK.com:  The man attacked principal Brian Staples about 3:30 p.m. in the school’s parking lot, Oklahoma City School District spokeswoman Tierney Cook said.

    Warning: Your reality is out of date  Boston Globe:  The arc of our educational system is to be treated as little generalists when children, absorbing bits of knowledge about everything from biology to social studies to geology. This might have been useful in decades past, but in our increasingly fast-paced and interdisciplinary world, lacking an even approximate knowledge of our surroundings is unwise.

    Turning peer review into modern-day holy scripture Spiked:  Often, the colleagues they are reviewing and refereeing are their competitors and sometimes even their bitter rivals. The contradiction between working as a member of an expert community and one’s own personal interests cannot always be satisfactorily resolved.

    A rare pact: Teens' double suicide rocks Pa. town Salon:  As the high-speed Acela train came thundering down the rails, a teenage girl screamed at her friends to get off the tracks.

    The states react Stateline.org:  Notable reactions from Alabama Governor Bob Riley, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, chancellor of the NY Board of Regents.

    Cartoon: Stimulus Math Vs. Regular Math


    From Slate:  "Is this in regular money, or federal stimulus money?" 

    Blog Roundup: Give Obama Credit For Ed Reform

    Give Obama credit Washington Post:  340x_mic_Why did Bill Clinton fight for NAFTA and accept an end to the welfare entitlement? Why did George W. Bush push a Medicare prescription drug benefit? Why is President Obama pursuing education reform with such creative vigor? 

    Yikes! A charter-friendly superintendent Uncle Jay / Washington Post:  Charter schools and traditional public schools are usually at war. But St. Mary's has a different attitude.

    Drastic School Reforms Spark Debate on Fixing Education PBS NewsHour:  Weingarten:  "The school that the president applauded had worse math test scores than this school."

    Duncan answers questions about R2T EdNews Colorado:  Why was Colorado the only state west of the Mississippi to make the finals in the Race to the Top? Arne Duncan takes questions

    Endangered Species: The School Photographer?! Jezebel:  According to a heartbreaking and alarming piece in today's "Styles" section, the itinerant school photographer is a dying breed.

    Quote: "Real Men in Maine Have a Wife Who’s a Teacher"

    "The public is beginning to question the legitimacy of public unions’ power because taxpayers know that commitments for worker health care and pensions are busting state budgets all over the country."

    -- Bloomberg.com: News commentator Amity Shlaes

    Thompson: Making Middle Grades Work

    I can’t believe the National Journal discussion on fixing middle schools didn't mention the efforts of High Schools That Work and its proposals to help middle grades students become independent learners by replacing "worksheet science" with Project Lead The Way and other exploratory learning programs.

    Robotics031I wonder how many middle school students get to "solve mathematics problems other than those in the textbook at least weekly." Given the chronic disorder in so many neighborhood middle schools how many urban students get to "complete science projects that last one week or longer?"  Middle schools that work "teach students the habits of successful, independent learners, build trusting relationships, teach teens how to "study, manage time, and get organized." They may provide "four to six week summer bridge programs." These are not summer school "remediations" that are just Cover Your Rear programs for adults, but "hands-on, real world learning." 

    We can debate whether these proposals are curriculum-driven or not, data-driven or data-informed, accountability-driven or collaborative - or we can get down to the work of providing respectful learning cultures for neighborhood schools. 

    Video: Controversy Over "Step" Dance Contest

    In a nutshell:  White sorority learns step dancing 15 years ago at a black/white sorority mixer, enters and wins national contest last month (see performance above).  Controversy ensues, contest sponsors declare a tie.  Washington Post article here.

    Sattler: Growth Isn't Enough

    Sattler head shot 
0209Secretary Duncan loves to tell the story of a hypothetical fifth-grade teacher who is considered a failure under NCLB despite having raised a child's reading level two grade levels in one academic year because that child entered reading at a 2nd grade level and so is still a year behind.  Now I'm not aware of anything in the NCLB that actually calls any teacher a failure but it's true that the child would still not be performing on grade level and that would contribute to a school's failure to make AYP.  And I agree with Duncan that the teacher in question should be considered an excellent teacher not a failure.

    But when Duncan uses this example to talk about how we should focus on growth, that's where I start worrying.

    Continue reading "Sattler: Growth Isn't Enough" »

    News: Re-Staffing Announced For 6 Boston Schools

    Dramatic shake-up planned at 12 Boston public schools James Vaznis Boston Globe:  Boston school officials announced yesterday that staff at six schools will have to reapply for their jobs and five principals will be replaced after the schools were listed among nearly three dozen statewide that will probably be declared “underperforming’’ and subject to drastic change.11111111111news

    Grant Program Opens Door Wide, Some Lament Eliza Krigman National Journal:  New York failed to enact a law to increase the amount of charter schools permitted in the state, and it doesn't allow test scores to be used as a factor in teacher tenure decisions, two reasons insiders weren't optimistic about the state's chances.

    Teachers Suspended Over Role Model Choice Jennifer Steinhaur NYT: Three white teachers got three-day suspensions for picking O. J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul as exemplars for Black History Month.

    Click below for links to more morning news stories.

    Continue reading "News: Re-Staffing Announced For 6 Boston Schools" »

    Business: Core Standards Will Help Publishers

    "The implementation of core standards would reduce the burden Pearson faces in adapting materials to individual state requirements. It could also open up an opportunity for Pearson to win a new contract measuring the progress of that common-standards initiative."

    - Wall Street Journal Education Unit Helps Lift Pearson Results

    Quote: The New AYP

    “States would measure school performance on the basis of progress in getting all students...on track to college- and career-readiness, as well as closing achievement gaps and improving graduation rates for high schools.”

    - Duncan in yesterday's hearing, as quoted in the New York Times.

    News: Possible Compromise In Central Falls

    Rhode Island school nears compromise on mass teacher firings Nick Anderson WP:  The instructors have offered support for a longer school day, as well as more rigorous evaluations and training, among other steps.6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi

    Teacher firings ripple past Central Falls’ border Boston Globe:  Boarded-up tenements are common, the main park is marred by X-rated and other offensive graffiti, and many of the narrow, crowded streets in the state’s smallest and poorest city are riddled with potholes. 

    Union Victory in L.A. Schools Showdown Ups Ante LA Times EdWeek:  After edging out charter operators in a high-profile contest to manage 30 schools, the teachers’ union is now under pressure to deliver.

    Duncan Covers Familiar Territory in ESEA hearing Politics K12:  Not only were there no new specifics, there were very few new phrases from the secretary.

    Click below for a few more headlines.

    Continue reading "News: Possible Compromise In Central Falls" »

    Latest Updates: Find Me On The The Real-Time Web

     Looking for the absolute latest? My most recent Twitter updates can be found here:Tumblr_kyenckRENr1qa42jro1_500

      It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. Hit "reload" on your browser to make sure you're getting the newest. Click the funky-looking links to find the articles.  You can "follow" me at twitter.com/alexanderrusso

      Thompson: Oklahoma City Vs. NCLB

      NclbbushLast week, I was so proud of Oklahoma City as a ten-year Report Card on our school reform efforts was issued. 

      One reading of the Report Card was that the Oklahoma City Public Schools, until recently, has remained clueless, but that would be unfair. Yes, it took the business community to demand high-quality early education, community schools, "Rolls Royce quality" alternative schools, and middle school reforms that respected the humanity of students. These conservatives had rejected top down management, teach-to-the-test, and the narrowing of the curriculum.

      But then came NCLB. Torn between two contradictory directives, the school system complied with NCLB and if you accept the law’s definitions they did so in an effective manner. Now, the Report Card gives us an opportunity to say the things that educators cannot, and  address the challenge of a 40,000 student district where 91% are on free or reduced lunch, and where 20,000 children in the service area are raised by their grandparents or other relatives.

      Continue reading "Thompson: Oklahoma City Vs. NCLB" »

      Teaching: New York Times Sunday Magazine Preview

      Yay, Spencer Fellows!  Get a head start on your weekend reading with this preview of Elizabeth Green's big Sunday Times Magazine article, Building A Better Teacher:

      "ON A WINTER DAY five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful career as a teacher, a principal and a charter-school founder, he was working as a consultant, hired by troubled schools eager — desperate, in some cases — for Lemov to tell them what to do to get better. But as he went from school to school that winter, he was getting the sinking feeling that there was something deeper he wasn’t reaching." 

      Sexting: Nude Pics Are "Digital Tattoos"

      "A lot of kids don't seem to understand yet that sexts are like digital tattoos—that you can't make them go away, however hard you scrub."

      - Slate writer Emily Bazelon (When should sexting be illegal?)

      Sattler: Don't Blame Feds For Lax State Standards

      Sattler head shot 0209There's an interesting historical inaccuracy in week's National Journal education experts question, which asks in regards to the proposed college and career-ready standards , "Would it be problematic to change Title I funding in this fashion? Is the federal government reaching too far with this proposal?"   

      Truth is, the feds have been linking money to state standards for years, in response to low or even nonexistent standards for poor minority students. But not everyone seems to remember that, and some of the NJ experts seem to be blaming low standards on the feds rather than the states.  Diane Ravitch, a Bush I education staffer (here), seems to blame the existence of the standards requirement itself for the fact that states have dumbed down their standards. 

      In reality, states were already dumbing down standards before the feds came along, by having separate standards for poor and minority children (and, although it got less press, for students whose first language isn't English). The whole rationale for the federal government's involvement in education is the fact that, without federal intervention, states were not doing right by these kids.

      Continue reading "Sattler: Don't Blame Feds For Lax State Standards" »

      Photo: First Lady Reads "Cat In The Hat"

      Caption:  First lady Michelle Obama reads Dr. Suess's The Cat In The Hat during an event at the Library of Congress on March 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Over three hundred local students participated in the event to promote reading and to mark 'Read Across America day.' (I Meant What I Said And I Said What I Meant). [Looks like she's thinking about Rham, doesn't it?]

      News: Teachers Say They Want Support Not Cash

      Supportive leadership helps retain top teachers WP Nick Anderson: A national survey of more than 40,000 public school teachers suggests that while higher salaries are far more likely than performance pay to help keep top talent in the classroom, supportive leadership trumps financial incentives. 

      US teachers more interested in reform than money Donna Gordon Blankinship AP:  U.S. teachers are more interested in school reform and student achievement than their paychecks, according to a massive new survey.11111111111news

      Board Passes Plan to Restrict Busing of Students AP:  The board that controls schools in Raleigh voted 5 to 4 on Tuesday to begin moving away from a policy of busing children throughout the district to achieve economic diversity.

      Duncan to Name States Qualifying for School Grants WSJ:  Mr. Duncan has won bipartisan support for Race to the Top, but that could change as lawmakers and governors realize only a small minority of states may emerge as winners.

      States Band Together to Increase Graduation Rates for College AP:  Seventeen states have formed an alliance to improve college completion rates. The nonprofit group has raised $12 million.

      Union files state complaint over RI school firings Eric Tucker AP: A teachers' union has filed a state labor complaint over a school board's plan to turn around one of Rhode Island's worst-performing high schools by firing the entire faculty.

      Thompson: Fixing Middle School, 100 Students At A Time

      Science_fairI got my start in education working with urban middle school kids in community gardens, taking them hiking and camping, and of course, schooling each other on the basketball court, but I just bring a layman’s perspective to the National Journal discussion on fixing middle school.

      The single most realistic proposal in the discussion was "the 100-students-per-grade formula." Until we develop more sophisticated personalization strategies, size matters in the middle perhaps most of all.

      Continue reading "Thompson: Fixing Middle School, 100 Students At A Time" »



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