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Turnarounds: Fierce Gaze Sends Critical Message

ScreenHunter_02 Jul. 30 11.06 Can we talk for a second about the picture on the cover of this new report (PDF) on the Obama turnaround plan? 

The fierce girl on the left looks like sthe photographer told her that this was a report about how Obama is out to hurt black and brown kids and take their schools away and so this is her reaction. Seriously.  Click the photo to get the full experience. 

Any other examples of odd or notable report cover art that we should know about?  Tell us in comments or send me a note at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

PS:  This is the report everyone's been talking about that includes the list of all the turnaround eligible schools in all the states, organized by Congressional district (hah!), all in one place. 

Research: Whitehurst Addresses Criticism Of "Zone" Report

Screen-shot-2010-07-22-at-11.34.52-AM Brookings' Russ Whitehurst put out a followup to his report on the Harlem Children's Zone that includes some new data and revised calculations as well as an attempt to clarify the focus of the report and correct our (mis)interpretations of its findings:  "Our quarrel is not with the HCZ but with the evidence for the Obama administration’s request to Congress for $210 million to replicate the HCZ in 20 communities across the nation," says Whitehurst.  Read the whole thing here:  The Harlem Children’s Zone Revisited

Technology: Beware "Analog Nostalgia"

Quote-mark "The fact that you spent hours in the college library writing papers doesn't necessarily mean that a student who spends those hours in her room writing papers (or crafting multimedia presentations) has had an education less rich than yours." (Analog Nostalgia | The American Prospect.)

AM News: Senate Dems Revive $10B Edujobs Bill

News2Senate Moves EduJobs and FMAP Funding Washington Independent:  This evening, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attached an amendment with funding to preserve teachers’ jobs and to provide much-needed Medicaid funding to states to a Federal Aviation Administration bill... Obama defends education policies in speech to National Urban League. Washington Post:  "Part of it, I believe, reflects a general resistance to change. We get comfortable with the status quo," he said, adding, "Even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we've got to make sure that we're seeing results in the classroom."...  Obama Defends His Schools Program Against Civil Rights, Union Criticisms Bloomberg:  “Getting states to say they will do things and actually getting them to do them are two different things,” Whitehurst said. “The political will to carry out the promised reforms will diminish over time.” [for more edujobs details, see below from CEF]

Continue reading "AM News: Senate Dems Revive $10B Edujobs Bill" »

Media: New Host Invites Duncan On "This Week"

image from www.latimes.com Sounds like Arne Duncan may be one of Christiane Amanpour's first guests in her new gig hosting one of those Sunday talk shows:   "On Tuesday, her second day working in Washington for ABC News, where she debuts Sunday as anchor of "This Week," Amanpour went to hear U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan deliver a luncheon speech. Her intention was to get close enough to invite him on her new show." (LA Times)  Hopefully he'll do it and she'll ask him some tough questions. 

Television: "Classroom Intervention" Premiers This Fall

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Move over, "Waiting For Superman."  The cable channel A&E has just announced a new reality show called "Classroom Intervention" that will premier in September.  A spinoff of its hit intervention show (which recent reports suggest has had real-world impact on its subjects), the new show will profile the performance of a struggling teacher in each episode.  Some of the teachers will be rookies.  Others will be veterans.  Each will be observed, then counseled in an intense evaluation and support program.  Some will improve.  Others will fail.  If it becomes popular, it could shed enormous light on the plight of classroom teachers and the challenges of helping them improve. The channel is asking teachers to send in recommendations for who could be on the show.  Self nominations are allowed. If only there was such a show for bloggers -- I'm sure I need the help.

Books: Talking To Teachers, Classroom And Otherwise

image from www.iupress.indiana.edu

Lots of interesting books coming out.  Here's one called  Conversations with Great Teachers in which author Bill Smoot (himself a teacher) goes out to find and talk to great teachers of all kinds, in the spirit of Studs Terkel's Working. 

"What is it that passes between the best teachers and their students to make learning happen? What are the keys to teaching the joys of literature, shooting a basketball, alligator wrestling, or how to survive one's first year in the U.S. Congress?"

Visit the author's website.

Thompson: Collective Instructional Leadership Is Better

Post_full_127474001404_EducationTechnology The true beliefs of some principals around the issue of instructional leadership are eye-opening, as revealed in Kirsten Olson's recent EdWeek Commentary.  One good example:   "Being out in classes, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be seeing. ... "  Fortunately, EdWeek's Christina Samuels reports that collective leadership -- as opposed to the individual model -- increases student performance. A principal need not directly demonstrate effective teaching as long as he or she can set the conditions that enable teachers to improve. Unfortunately, collective leadership isn't all that common.  Rresearchers also found that much of the talk surrounding shared leadership is "meta-rhetoric," that denotes little reality on the ground.

Media: Time To Embed Reporters At The USDE?

Stanley-Lunch-Box-Cooler-Set While everyone else seems to be moving towards shorter, sillier stories (or long boring "I know this already" ones) -- or just covering the USDE storyline, Slate and a few other outlets are trying to revive the tradition of in-depth, investigative journalism that tells us something we don't already know (this is key).  A reader suggesting story ideas comes up with one that's especially appropriate to readers of this blog:  "Why not get inside one of the federal agencies, look at its mandate, look at what it says it's doing, and then look at what it's actually doing? Call it "embedding." It might be fun, and we all might learn a whole lot." (Help me find a long-form story).  I know, embedding has its weaknesses, but at least we'd get past the over-friendly, increasingly superficial stuff that we're getting now. 

Quote: DonorsChoose Defends "Superman" Collaboration

"We think "Waiting for 'Superman'" has the potential to make public education top-of-mind for even more people throughout the country, and we look forward to channeling this expanded interest into direct support for teachers and students." - DonorsChoose resopnse to concerns about its co-promotion with pro-charter documentary.

Unions: TFA Debate Spreads To Chicago

ScreenHunter_10 Jul. 24 05.22 No one likes to pay much attention to Chicago -- so far away! so humid! so corrupt! -- but, following several other districts where TFA has become a flashpoint, Chicago teachers union president Karen Lewis today called for the board of education to terminate its TFA contract, which calls for 200 new corps members to be placed this fall.  So maybe that's enough to grab some attention.  Or not.  The union and district are in contract negotiations, and the district faces a large budget gap.  Citywide teaching coaches have already been fired, and the district has threatened to lay off hundreds more -- some of them according to performance rather than seniority. Click here to download Lewis' fiery union rhetoric.

Media: Sentimental (& Inaccurate) Turnaround Coverage

image from www.principalspage.com Last week it was the nice principal in Vermont. This week it's the nice lunch ladies in Chicago.  The vivid but really sentimental story is from Chicago Public Radio and is focused on the lunch ladies at Deneen Elementary School.  In the piece, beat reporter Linda Lutton takes a tour around the cafeteria and notes that there are seven lunch ladies at the school, all of whom have to apply for jobs now. Plus a beloved school security guard.  I don't mind the story's focus on the disruption and collateral damage that school improvement efforts can cause, or the underlying questions about whether it's worth it to break these community ties.  But this is pretty sentimental stuff - especially since a certain number of teachers and staff at most turnarounds can and often do end up getting rehired at the same school, and there are legitimate budget and staffing questions that need to be addressed at many struggling schools. Bottom line: being asked to reapply for a job isn't the same as being fired.

AM News: Mixed News For Obama Ed Agenda

News2 States setting pace on school change; Obama agenda stalled in Congress Washington Post: While states are moving fast to overhaul public schools, President Obama's education agenda is hitting a wall in Congress... Senate Panel Approves Race to Top Renewal Politics K12:  The federal Race to the Top program would be renewed for another year under a spending bill approved today by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that deals with education spending—but wouldn't receive nearly as much money as President Barack Obama has sought. 18 States and D.C. Are Race to the Top Finalists NYT:  Eighteen states and the District of Columbia advanced to the second round of a national competition for federal financing to support education reform... Database on Schools Slated for Turnaround Coming Soon State EdWatch:  Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 2,136 schools have been identified as the most "persistently low-performing" and the first in line to receive a share of the $3.5 billion in stimulus-funded Title I School Improvement Grants.2nd Pa. student files suit alleging laptop spying AP:  A second lawsuit has been filed against a suburban Philadelphia school district accused of spying on students through cameras in school-issued laptop computers...Economic Scene: Study Rethinks Importance of Kindergarten Teachers NYT:  A new study found students with better teachers learned more in kindergarten — and earned more as young adults.

Thompson: "Over the Counter Children"

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 31 17.39 The "Civil Rights Framework" of the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign speaks a simple truth.  Even if Secretary Duncan's market-oriented "reforms" succeed, many poor children will be left further behind.  Competition that produces "winners," always produces "losers." Some Title I experiments will succeed as others fail, damaging real kids. The civil rights coalition recognizes the brutality of the choice being imposed on poor parents of color.  Who would seek a better educational future for a daughter in a charter or a small school if it means that her brother is sentenced to an even more destructive neighborhood school? The Framework's humane alternative is to invest in high-quality preschool and to transform low-performing schools into "Community Opportunity Networks."  The Campaign's web site links to an ecumenical pastoral letter, "An Alternative Vision of Public Education," that illustrates inevitable outcome of competition-driven reform.  Students in neighborhood schools are now called “over the counter” children.

Media: Bogus "Gap Year" Story In The Boston Globe

ScreenHunter_26 Jun. 20 15.20Slate's journalist watchdog Jack Schafer calls out the Boston Globe for peddling a story about the supposed increase in students taking a break between high school and college, noting that the Globe has no numbers to supports its anecdotes and has to confess this absence later on in the story.  ""While there is no data showing how many Americans opt for a gap year, some admissions deans say they are seeing an increase this year following more publicity about the benefits of delaying enrollment."

RTT: Round Two Finalists Announced

ScreenHunter_20 Jul. 27 12.27 And they are:  AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, MD, MA, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC via WSJ, PK12, etc.

If Illinois can be in the mix, then who can't really?

White House Names Race to the Top Finalists WSJ:  Finalists will make formal, in-person presentations before a judging panel in August. Winners will be named in September, and Mr. Duncan said he expects to pick 10 to 15.

Roundup: "Hot For Education"

Here are some of the latest updates from Hot For Education that are too hot, or ridiculous, or just plain delicious to make it here (but still might be worth a peek while no one's looking):Daria

If Only It Were True:  "Classroom Intervention" Reality Show

Video:  57 Yr Old 3rd Grade Teacher Tasered 12 Times

(warning:  footage is disturbing).

Movies:  Haley Joel Osment (Sixth Degree) to play virgin high school sex ed teacher

Picture: Rachel Maddow’s Blonde High School Yearbook Picture

Money: Hedge Fund Generates Criticism Of For-Profits

Resized_Telephone_Receiver_1A hedge fund paid a researcher to gather signatures from nonprofit homeless organizations on a letter criticizing for-profit colleges and universities for preying on homeless men and women - without fully disclosing who she was working for (and what the financial interests might be). The letter went to the USDE and became part of the case against for-profit colleges and universities.  I'm no defender of anyone, but are nonprofits (and the media) being tricked into helping hedge funds make millions betting against for profit colleges?  Next time you see a letter like that, or a news story, ask yourself -- or its source -- where it came from.

Via ProPublica: Investment Funds Stir Controversy Over Recruiting by For-Profit Colleges, and Researcher Says She Disclosed Tie to Investment Firm

AM News: Civil Rights Critics Raining On RTTT Parade

Ed Dept, civil rights leaders discuss reform AP:  Civil rights leaders are criticizing Obama administration education reforms aimed at turning around low performing schools and closing the achievement gap for minority students.... Race to Top Finalists Unveiled Tomorrow: Who Makes the Cut? PK12:  So, here's our list. After you're done looking at our takes, let us know in the comment section who would make your list... News2 Pearson H1 profit more than trebles AP:  Pearson PLC said Monday that first half profit more than trebled to 92 million pounds ($142 million), beating market forecasts and boosting the full year outlook, as revenue rose at the Financial Times, Penguin Books and educational publications... Civil Rights Groups Call for New Federal Education Agenda EDWeek:  Seven leading civil rights groups are urging U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to dismantle core pieces of his education plan, including Race to the Top... Arne Duncan: It's 'common sense' to let voters decide on mayoral control of Detroit schools AP:  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday he believes it is "common sense" to allow Detroit voters to weigh in on the possibility of mayoral control of the city's struggling public school system... College Students Hide Hunger, Homelessness NPR:  A growing population of college students is facing hunger and homelessness as tuitions rise and the economy is slow to recover. UCLA has created an Economic Crisis Response Team to identify financially strapped students and help keep them in school... New Orleans Superintendent Leaving Legacy of Charter School Expansion PBS:  As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the superintendent brought in to revive New Orleans' troubled public schools is bidding farewell after turning many of the schools into charters.

SIG: Computerized Voting To Change A Contract

ScreenHunter_34 Jun. 23 09.14 "To vote for this school improvement plan, press 2."  Well, almost.  A Delaware district is asking teachers at three low-performing schools to vote on the district's $2 million SIG plan -- using Surveymonkey.  But there's no differentiation among the three schools -- they're all lumped together for voting purposes -- the information provided is limited to time and pay issues not curriculum or other key issues, and it's not clear that the survey is open only to teachers at the schools (try it out, maybe you can enter your vote).  One additional wrinkle:  if the teachers vote the SIG plan down then the schools will may become part of a Mass Insight turnaround zone, in which case the options include also closing, firing staff, etc.

Continue reading "SIG: Computerized Voting To Change A Contract" »

RIP: Alma, Michigan Super Dies In Airplane Tragedy

ScreenHunter_08 Jul. 23 01.05 Public Schools superintendent Don Pavlik was headed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. with several friends and supporters when the plane started going down.  His friend and doctor Jim Hall wrote the following note, which was discovered in the wreckage:  "Dear All, We love you. We lost power over the middle [of] Lake Michigan and turning back. We are praying to God that all [will] be taken care of. We love you. Jim." (Farewell Note)

Thompson: Shared Accountability

Checklist2 Our tattered social safety nets, like our urban educational systems, are an inchoate mess of programs tacked onto programs that grew out of eighty years of unlovely political compromises. Had the data-driven crowd sought to scapegoat reform the War on Poverty instead of schools, they would now be attacking social workers’ unions. And social service providers would be complaining that they need help from schools to break cycles of poverty. Robert Manwaring's post at "The Quick and the Ed" would still be timely, however. Manwaring calls for community and school partnerships with a rational governance system, clear lines of authority, and shared accountability. The closest thing we have to such a system is the Harlem Children’s Zone where "Geoffrey Canada is the governance and accountability structure."  But the New York Times article on Tony Smith institutionalizing the concepts of the HCZ in Oakland is hopeful.

Events: Undocumented Students Protest Sen. Reid At Blogger Event

image from www.lilysblackboard.orgNot much education talk from the progressive and formerly much-discussed Netroots conference going on last week, far as I've come across. There are a couple of links to education issues / events, and a new blog I'd never heard of called Lily's Blackboard (Lily Eskelen) that may or may not be too closely associated with the NEA for my liking (disclosure-wise).  That video of undocumented kids protesting Sen. Reid was pretty interesting to watch, though, assuming you think immigration is an education issue (I do, I guess).  Were you there?  Did we miss anything. Too lazy to check Twitter.   

AM News: India Unveils $35 Touch-Screen Computer

Education funds out of Senate war bill Politico: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) faces growing pressure from the White House and Pentagon to accept the Senate verdict and not prolong the fight any further... Education Commissioner Defends Texas Projection Measure EdWeek:  Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott defended a policy Thursday that has allowed schools to boost their state ratings by counting some failed students as passing...News2 A $35 Tablet? India Is On The Case NPR:  The Indian government unveiled a $35 prototype of a touch-screen tablet for students. If it's produced, it would be the world's cheapest. Inexpensive touch-screen tablets have global appeal because there's no need for language-specific keyboards... Despite states' efforts, measures to protect students from predators sometimes fail Washington Post: For nearly three decades, Kevin Ricks exploited gaps in a system that is supposed to keep sexual predators out of the classroom...  Equity of Test Is Debated as Children Compete for Gifted Kindergarten NYT (Winerip):  Because test prep “boot camp” and $145-an-hour tutoring is available to those who can pay, children from wealthy families have an advantage, some parents say. 

Reform: Teachers Angry At DonorsChoose For "Superman" Promo

ScreenHunter_43 Jul. 07 17.48 Uh-oh.  Some teachers have cancelled their DonorsChoose accounts and urged others to do the same in response to the organization's promotion of Waiting For Superman, a documentary that supports charter school operators and Michelle Rhee (among other things).  Read some of the criticism and the organization's response here.

Rhee: Mass Firing (Of 241 Teachers) In DC

Asian-carp Let the debate over using tests scores and downrating teachers re-commence!  Late on a Friday afternoon the Wall Street Journal posted this story about Rhee firing 6 percent of her teachers.   It's unclear how many of the 241 (or how many of the 17 percent who were put on notice as minimally performing) were classified as such based on test scores, which matter more or less depending on what grade you teach and what subject.  

EdSec: Big Duncan Speech On Tuesday

Ger Word is that Duncan's going to announce something big on Tuesday at the National Press Club.  Results from the World Cup office pool?  His feelings about the oil spill in the Gulf?  Round two winners of Race To The Top?  Who knows.  His official media schedule is below.  (For a second there I thought it said he was going to do Howard Stern show.) I'm hoping it's an announcement, not a speech.  Speeches are just words.  Announcements have dates and dollar amounts.

Continue reading "EdSec: Big Duncan Speech On Tuesday" »

Books: A New Offering From PBS's John Merrow

image from belowclevel.org I'm late in noting the publication of John Merrow's new book, Below C Level, which answers all the questions you always wanted Merrow to answer (or at least all the answers he's going to give you as a journalist).  Merrow is one of the more interesting figures in education journalism. He's got a face for TV -- and a voice for radio (and has done both).  He produces the NewsHour education segments through an independent production company, Learning Matters.  (He was ProPublica before there was a ProPublica.)  He lives on the West Coast and works on the East - or at least he did until this week, when he moved back to town. I spent my first two or three years in New York City freeloading once or twice a week at a spare desk at Learning Matters and learned a lot from John and the rest of the hard-working reporters and producers there, watching them research and then find ways to shoot and tell stories that non-educators would want to watch.  I haven't always agreed with him, disrespectful snot that I am, but it's always fun exchanging ideas. Check out the advance praise for the book and all the rest here.

Reform: A Rough Initiation For The Harlem Children's Zone

340x_apple This was the week that the Harlem Children's Zone got initiated.  Until now, the Zone had either gotten glowing press (the vast majority of the time) or simply ignored the negative (the City Limits article and a few other items).  Jay Mathews' columnset it off -- no one would have noticed the Brookings report without Jay's weighing in to defend the Zone model.  Then the rest of us piled on, and Canada's response -- making some good points along with signaling a certain defensiveness -- came out yesterday.  It's happened before.  Other organizations -- TFA, New Leaders, KIPP come to mind -- have gone through the same general process, and I always feel sympathy for do-gooders working in them who are struggling with the first time experience of public questions and criticism from a source that has up until that point been friendly and compliant, while at the same time I struggle with their sense of justice and prerogative, their desire to be judged by their intentions rather than their accomplishments and to control the story.  At least Canada responded, however belatedly.  All too often, the choice is to ignore the criticism and encourage others to ignore it, which only delays the process of one day the news about what really happened coming out.

Thompson: The Perils Of Mis-Identification

ScreenHunter_04 Jul. 19 19.55 The other day on NPR, Larry Abrahamson reported on political pushback against the Race to the Top, citing Kate Walsh, of the National Council on Teacher Quality, complaining that the media will produce painful stories as some districts "screw up" and star teachers are wrongly identified as unsatisfactory.  Walsh is worried about the political damage of those stories, but she is oblivious to the educational damage that will result from the inevitable misidentification of effective teachers by primitive methods of using test scores for evaluations. Assuming as a best case scenario that growth models are 95 percent accurate, that means in an actual school one in twenty teachers will be placed in jeopardy every year.  What will be the educational effect of stories being recounted in faculty lounges throughout the nation?  What will the effect be on the careers of effective teachers due to not-ready-for-prime-time evaluation models financed by the RttT?  And what if scholarly research proves correct, and two or three of every 20 teachers in high-challenge secondary schools are incorrectly identified, every year, as ineffective? 

AM News: Cortines To Resign From Los Angeles Schools

Feds strongarm Mass. on education standards Boston Herald:  "Moving away from this standard, hitching our wagon to some to-be-developed-and-vetted-later-on national process for standards and testing is not fair to our students, and is not fair to our state," saidGOP candidate Charlie D. Baker... Virginia's latest attempt to secede from the United States Washington Post (Steve Pearlstein):  Now, Virginia will bring its battle against federal authority right into the classroom with its decision to opt out of the movement to establish national standards for educational proficiency for elementary and high school students...News2 Alonso orders investigation into plummeting test scores at elementary school Baltimore Sun:  State education officials are investigating possible testing violations at a Northeast Baltimore elementary school where in some cases 100 percent of students passed annual reading and math exams last year but where scores plunged by as much as half this year... Oakland Schools Struggle, but Emeryville May Point a Way Up NYT:  Superintendent Tony Smith of the Oakland schools has a five-year plan to turn the system around, and it’s based on his success in the nearby Emeryville district... The Cortines effect LA Times:  The district has been lucky to have one of the most able crisis managers in the field of education — not once but twice... No Visa, No School, Many New York Districts Say NYT:  Civil liberties advocates have unsuccessfully asked the Education Department to stop localities from imposing enrollment barriers on immigrant children, intentionally or not. 

Guest Commentary: Harlem's Under-Dressed Emperor [upd]

Doublebowtie_crop Guest contributor Helen Zelon, author of one of the most in-depth looks at the Harlem Children's Zone, weighs in with her thoughts on what the Zone does and doesn't offer for the children of Harlem and the rest of the country, including a helpful explanation of how the selection and participation pipeline works within the Zone and an update on the Zone's attempts to expand into East Harlem.  Many thanks to her and to City Limits for joining in. 

[UPDATE 3:00 pm:  See discussion of disputed quote below.]

Continue reading "Guest Commentary: Harlem's Under-Dressed Emperor [upd]" »

Reform: Canada Takes Down Whitehurst

Md_horiz It's a Zone-storm, a Canada-fest, World Of Statcraft! Check out this point by point response (Brookings Institute study response) from the Zone's Geoffrey Canada, which can be considered a takedown of Brookings or an indication that the Zone is worried (or both).  

In it, Canada calls the Brookings paper "wrong-headed" and full of statistical misinterpretations (including leaving out the second Zone school, an issue Helen Zelon mentioned in her guest commentary below). Canada also clarifies (er, admits) that the schools are a small part of the Zone, and calls for his schools to be measured on progress not just absolute achievement results."Despite starting out below the average for black students in New York City, the middle school students closed the achievement gap with white students over their first three years."  No word about the closed middle school, and the dropout rate, or the watered-down NY testing standards,

Over all, it sounds a tad defensive in places, but also like there may be some good points.  Your turn, Russ! 

Campaign 2010: Tea Party / RNC Asleep At Wheel On Common Core

5216_130077416619_660976619_3653307_8219762_n Amazing how little attention this whole Common Core thing has gotten, what with the Tea Party and the RNC pushing hard against government intrusion.  They've been asleep at the wheel on this one, which bodes poorly for their chances to take the House in November.  Meantime, here's a sampling of mainstream commentary, courtesy of the Atlantic Wire:
The best part is the headline, though:   Should States Let the Federal Government Set Education Standards for Schools?

Business: High-Priced Report Promi$es Unique Insight$

image from www.whiteboardadvisors.com Reports and conferences are a dime a dozen in Washington -- the vast majority are free.  But that's not the approach being tried by Dutko's new ed policy endeavor, Whiteboard Advisors, which is putting out a July 29 report/webinar on ESEA reauthorization.  It's just $499 for the single event (Margaret Spellings and Alice Cain will be there!) or $4,900 for a year's worth of Education Insider reports and events. What do you get from paying that you can't get pretty much anywhere else (like on Andy or John's Twitter feeds)?  Essentially it sounds like they're going to get all the conventional wisdom by asking all the usual suspects the usual questions -- sort of like EdWeek did a while back with its insider predictions -- but the marketing materials tout "unique insider survey methodology" and "best possible forecasting."

AM News: MA Approves Common Core

Mass. Adopts Common Standards Amid Fiery Debate EdWeek/AP:  The state board’s vote is seen as a tipping point in the effort to set common guidelines for what students learn in school... Has Obama’s “Race to the Top” Lost its Shine? Fox News:  Randi Weingarten, president of the American Teachers Union, called the program a mixed bag. “The real issue is that ‘Race to the Top’ in principle would be a good program if we didn’t have the kind of budget shortfalls that we have right now. It’s hard to be innovative and to do new and different things that require time and resources when we’re seeing state after state having devastating budget cuts.” News2 ... Arrests highlight education busing issues CNN:  The arrest of 19 protesters at a rancorous school board meeting Tuesday brings the issue of busing and diversity in education into the national spotlight... In tough economy, Arkansas' lottery launch exceeds expectations Stateline:  Arkansas is the latest state to create a lottery whose proceeds fund college scholarships for state residents. In less than a year, revenues have come in well above what was expected, and 28,000 students will get money this fall... Sodexo to pay $20M for overcharging NY schools Boston Globe:  Food services giant Sodexo Inc. has agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it overcharged 21 New York school districts and the State University of New York over a five-year span.. Borders introduces textbook marketplace online Boston Globe:  Bookseller Borders Group on Wednesday said it is introducing a texbook marketplace on its website in an effort to gain market share in that area.

Foundations: Katzir Leaving Top Spot At Broad Foundation

image from www.broadfoundation.org Longtime education guy Dan Katzir is stepping down from the top education spot at Broad, according to this email from the foundation.  He will be replaced by two folks whose work I don't know very well:  Gregory McGinity and Rebecca Wolf DiBiase.  There's also some gobbledygood about strategic planning and new grantmaking priorities. Congrats, condolences to all who are affected  

Continue reading "Foundations: Katzir Leaving Top Spot At Broad Foundation" »

Teachers: Court Throws Out Case Against Annoying Student

Teacher Marion V. at an earlier court proceeding in May. Photo: DPA

"A German court on Tuesday threw out the case of a schoolteacher against a pupil who allegedly tormented her by scrawling pictures of rabbits on the blackboard to aggravate her rabbit phobia." (Court rejects teacher's suit against student for 'rabbit terrorism' The Local via Deadspin)

Deseg: Income-Based Magnet Plan "Lost Ground" In Chicago

Screen-shot-2010-01-25-at-4.32.05-PMA windfall for the white and the wealthy, just as many worried it would be.  Here's a roundup of the coverage of the new SES-based deseg plan Rick Kahlenberg cooked up for Chicago's magnet and selective schools, which seems to have failed to maintain diversity at the district's most coveted sites, according to numbers released yesterday - even with the last minute addition of 100 additional spots using race: Plan maintains diversity but increases individual segregation Tribune:  For instance, at Northside College Prep, arguably the most competitive public high school in the city, the move [to add spots after the fact] more than doubled the percentage of black students accepted, from 6 to 14 percent... Minority enrollment in city's best schools has 'lost some ground' Catalyst:  Huberman noted that actual enrollment could be different from the acceptance figures presented Tuesday [likely they will get worse given busing limitations]... CPS maintains diversity after admission changes Sun Times: Notable blips across the board are an increase in the Hispanic student enrollment at these schools, and a corresponding decrease in both the African-American and Asian student enrollments... Who's Admitted to Top Schools Under New Magnet Policy Chicago Public Radio:  Thirty-nine percent of students at Northside College Prep were white last school year. The incoming class will be 44 percent white.

Reform: Debunking The HCZ "Conveyor Belt"

HczFirst, check out contributor John Thompson's defense of the Zone (below).  Then check out my commentary on the issue at Valerie Strauss's Answer Sheet.  One of the biggest myths surrounding the Harlem Children's Zone is that the kids who get early childhood and after school services are the same ones who go to Zone middle schools later on  -- that there's a conveyor belt of services that individuals can receive from cradle to college.  Alas, that's not exactly the case, as I explain in this guest column. Only a fraction of the 17,000 HCZ participants get into the three Zone schools, which serve only 1200 kids.  Until recently, there wasn't even any guarantee that Zone participants would get into Zone schools.   Or maybe I am totally wrong.  Uncle Jay and others have already started tearing my arguments to shreds.   

Thompson: A Cheap Shot at the Harlem Children's Zone

School_work001_rc Grover Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution attacked the Harlem Children’s Zone based on the test scores of nine successful schools. I do not doubt Whitehurst's claim that three "school-centric" KIPP schools may produce significantly higher 8thgrade test scores than the HCZ’s middle school. But is KIPP planning to scale up to serve entire inner city communities?  Another Whitehurst paper for Brookings  showed that the best preschool, early reading, and dropout programs were very effective, as it also made the case for curriculum reform. Then, he modestly concluded that "leaving curriculum reform off the table ... makes no sense." Now with much less evidence, Whitehurst grandly concludes that community schools are not a part of education reform, and should be removed from the table.

Movies: School Reform Lessons From "Toy Story 3"

image from i.thisislondon.co.uk Spoiler alert: Some of the biggest flaws of our current teacher assignment system are, surprisingly enough, illustrated in "Toy Story 3," the Disney / Pixar sequel in which the toys at a day care center called Sunnyside have decided that only the newly arrived toys should have to deal with the roughest students (the toddlers, in this case), and that the good kids should be for the veteran teachers who have paid their dues, etc.  Sound familiar?  Only after the removal of the tyrranical stuffed bear Lots-O-Huggins do the toys realize that the only fair way to do things is to spread the burden evenly among the toys so that everyone takes his or her turn. Now, about "Inception"...

AM News: I See National Standards, Everywhere

States Embrace National Standards for Schools NYT:  States that adopt the standards by Aug. 2 win points in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition for a share of the $3.4 billion to be awarded in September... D.C. and Massachusetts to vote on national school standards Washington Post:  School boards in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are on the verge of adopting national standards for English and math, adding momentum to a movement that in a few months has swept Maryland and two dozen other states... News2 'Common Core' standards clearer, more rigorous AP:  An analysis by an education policy think tank finds that the common academic standards many states will be adopting are clearer and more rigorous than those currently used in most states... Mass. Democrat Joins GOP Against Common Standards Vote EdWeek/AP:  Two leaders of the landmark 1993 Massachusetts education overhaul said Tuesday that a proposal set to be voted upon to replace the state's math and English public school curriculum with the common core standards was "high risk" and "a retrograde step."... Racial tensions roil NC school board; 19 arrests AP:  Protesters and police scuffled Tuesday at a school board meeting in North Carolina over claims that a new busing system would resegregate schools, roiling racial tensions reminiscent of the 1960s... District To Pay Lesbian Teen $35K Over Prom Dispute NPR:  Constance McMillen challenged the Itawamba County School District's rules banning prom dates of the same gender and allowing only male students to wear tuxedos. The rural Mississippi school district responded by canceling its prom, prompting the ACLU to sue claiming the teen's rights had been violated.

Video: "Look At Your Grades. Now Look At Mine."

This ad for the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU* spoofs the now ubiquitous Old Spice ad pretty well:

"You're in the library, with the man your grades could be like."

*Mormons. I know. Just enjoy it for what it is. Or don't. Via LikeCool.

Thompson: Forced Transfers Don't Work

The Education Sector's Chess Kevin Carey compares my union to George Wallace opposing desegregation because it represents teachers who may not want to work in high-poverty schools.  From Carey's lofty perch, teacher experience is just "a resource that needs to be equalized."  But he acknowledges that "assignment of teachers to schools where they’d rather not teach is nobody’s idea of a best-case scenario." Carey should look to Denver where forced placements created a managerial nightmare,  and where Superintendent Tom Boasberg has already ended forced transfers into the lowest-performing schools.  He should also read Steve Shawchuk at Education Week on the great potential of empowered teams of teachers choosing to transfer to high-challenge schools.

Cartoon: This Is Our New Incentive Plan"

Picture 9

My favorite entry from this week's New Yorker caption contest.

Quote: Incentives Vs. Policies

"For all of its insights, behavioral economics alone is not a viable alternative to the kinds of far-reaching policies we need to tackle our nation’s challenges." - Economics professors Lowenstein and Ubell in a recent NYT op-ed

AM News: Edujobs Dies; RTTT Funding Intact

Jobless benefits to pass without education aid Wonkbook:  The bill doesn't include any of the state and local relief measures -- like Medicaid funding and aid to keep teachers on the job -- that were initially envisioned... Obey’s axe hovers over Obama's $1.3B education program The Hill:  Unlike the clash over the supplemental, the White House and House Democrats appear willing to find middle ground on the 2011 funding levels... News2 Charter Backers Flex Political Muscles WSJ:  In one of the most closely watched races, Basil Smikle, a Democratic political consultant allied with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has raised $145,000 in his effort to topple Sen. Bill Perkins, a Harlem Democrat and a charter-school critic... 2 former Mass. education chiefs back test changes Boston Globe:  Two former state education commissioners are backing a proposal that would require Massachusetts to replace its own math and English public education standards with proposed federal guidelines... New York Will Make Standardized Exams Tougher NYT:  Officials said that state standardized exams had become easier to pass and that they would recalibrate scoring... 

Continue reading "AM News: Edujobs Dies; RTTT Funding Intact" »

Debate: What Is "Ghetto Parenting"?

image from www.chicagonow.com"Ghetto parenting is cursing around, and at, a child. Ghetto parenting is letting your child roam the streets until somebody else's mother has to tell the child to go home." Shocked?  Bored?  Me, too.  This is from a recent Mary Mitchell column from the Chicago Sun Times in which some (many) readers thought Mitchell was denigrating poor families while others thought she was doing a valuable service in calling out bad parenting. There's a roundup of the coverage on the New York Times parenting blog called Motherlode: A New Term for Lousy Parenting.    Let's skip over the question of whether there is such a thing as ghetto parenting.  We all know that there is.  The real question is what are the acceptable uses of the term?  Is it useful, or offensive, or both?  Do you have to BE ghetto to describe something as ghetto?  Have you (would you) ever used the term out loud? [Cross-posted from D299]

Cartoon: Mom Wears Russian Army Boots

A brief interlude from the ever-serious world of school reform:

Picture 7
From this week's New Yorker.



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