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Weekend Reading: Law Schools Join Career Colleges Under Fire

ScreenHunter_05 Oct. 30 13.02 Law schools manufacturing more lawyers than America needs Slate:  The demand for lawyers has fallen off a cliff...at the same time, universities seeking revenue have tacked on law schools... Prime Number NYT:  11: The percentage decline in private donations to the nation’s biggest charities last year — the steepest one-year drop in 20 years... Is the best way to fix the American classroom to improve the furniture? Slate: Are you comfortable? If so, chances are you are not an American schoolchild... Creeper! Rando! Sketchball! NYT:  Student slang points to an increased need to patrol social boundaries... Coming Out Illegal NYT:  What happens when college students without papers reveal their status in public and put themselves on the line? ... Researchers Tackle the ‘Hipster’ Phenomenon Miller-McCune:  Researchers tap the indie marketplace to learn more about hipsters, who don't think of themselves as hipsters despite their obvious hipsterness...What's the Use of Experts? Why are American conservatives climate-change skeptics, while European conservatives are not?... Pushing against daylight savings:  Daylight saving doesn't just make winter more depressing, it also wastes energy, makes us less inclined to exercise, and generates excess pollution by forcing people to use more electricity... Rutgers students drop out after roommate suicide:  The two have been charged with invasion of privacy and may face possible bias charges because of Clementi's sexuality...How the Republican Congress will abandon Tea Party ideas Slate:  How the Republican Congress will abandon Tea Party ideas and legislate toward the center... "A" In Lady Gaga:  Beginning in the spring, Gaga uber-fan and University of South Carolina professor Mathieu Deflem will offer students a course on "Lady Gaga and the sociology of fame."...

Video: Gay-Bashing Arkansas School Board Member Apologizes, Resigns

Watch CNN's Anderson Cooper confront the school board member and win both an apology and a resignation.  Click here for some background on what he said in the past -- both the language that was used and the issues of bullying and child suicide.

Thompson: Using Data - Not Being Used By It

Tumblr_la1f5bFgTH1qdpdrro1_500  I expect my doctor to accurately report the results of a blood pressure test. That does not mean that I should trust the claims of the health insurance lobby. Similarly the best way for school systems to minimize the unintended effects of NCLB would have been to keep two sets of books, with a firewall between the two sets of data. That way, districts could have played games with numbers generated for "accountability," and still maintained reputable databases for decision-making purposes. Reading Bill Tucker’s excellent Ed Sector report, "Putting Data Into Practice," I was convinced that systems need to invest whatever it takes to follow Tucker’s recommendations. We probably would need to allow states to build sophisticated computer systems, and play whatever statistical games they want, to conform to the politics of the RttT. Then, we should invest an equal amount in usable diagnostic data systems and the honest culture of collaboration that Tucker seeks. - jt

Media: "The Education Of Ms. Barsallo"

Longisland__oPtLongreads is another promising site dedicated to long-form nonfiction writing including 1200 articles searchable by topic and reading time, including articles familiar (The Patron Saint (and Scourge) of Lost Schools) and new (to me at least) like The Education of Ms. Barsallo). My theory is that, withKindles and iPads providing reasonably good ways for folks to read longer articles and books online, there's been a surge in websites focused on finding and featuring the best long-form writing out there, new and old. Via Atlantic. 

Districts: Teachers Get Cosmetic Surgery While Neighbors Lose Homes, Jobs

ApplebeesfsaopauloThis is the kind of stuff that makes non-educators crazy, given how rough things are for so many other Americans:  "Buffalo teachers rang up nearly $9 million worth of taxpayer-covered cosmetic surgery in 2009, according to the state-appointed authority overseeing public school finances." (Taxpayers Paid $9M For NY Teachers' Cosmetic Work AP)  Of course, district administrators and board members signed off on the deal that provides the benefits, and it was probably made long ago before the current economic downturn, but still.  

AM News: "Residency" Programs For New Teachers Growing Up

News2 Chamber of Commerce Backing Anti-Ed. Dept. Candidates Politics K12:  My guess? I think education probably is really important to the Chamber, but, after doing a careful calculus, they decided that other things were more important, like revamping the new health care law, which they aren't fans of... In Sharp Rise, 47 City Schools May Close Over Performance NYT:  Decisions on closings will be made by mid-December, and closings will be done by phasing out a grade each year...  In Long Beach, a promise to help struggling students AP:  An innovative system of help centers aims to give students extra support in such courses as math and English to ensure that they stay in college and eventually move on to four-year programs... Michelle Rhee outspoken to the end Washington Post:  She is D.C. schools chancellor for just one more day, but that didn't stop Michelle A. Rhee from issuing one last warning Thursday, this one to ineffective teachers and the undergraduate education programs that granted them degrees. [ALSO:  Rhee shared her views on CNN.]... Standards for Teacher 'Residency' Programs Teacher Beat:  Endorsing the residency approach is one thing, but there are some hefty implications for the larger teacher ed. field, too. Will it be responsive to the idea of less emphasis on coursework, on the collection of things like value-added data and other outcomes-based measures? 

Cartoon: "I Will Not Use Dirty Words [Like Accountability] In Class"

"All I said was 'teacher accountability.'"

Newark: Questions Remain About $100M Zuckerberg Gift

Video:  CNN notes that there remain questions about the gift nearly a month after the announcement, and that the announcement helped Cristie and Booker at a key political time (not just Zuckerberg)Via Huffington Post:  $100M Donation To Newark Schools Comes With Conditions, Causes Controversy.

Events: Alan Ginsburg Retirement Party Today

S-NEWSPAPER-largeThe inimitable Alan Ginsburg is retiring from the USDE and his retirement party is today at the USDE, says Fritz "FritzWire" Edelstein: "After 41 years, Dr. Alan Ginsburg is retiring from the US Department of Education. Enjoy some of Alan's delicious desserts at this celebration. To be held from 3 to 5:30 PM in the Barnard Auditorium at the Department, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW. To attend RSVP to Azalea Saunders at 202-401-3132."  At this point, I would just crash the thing.  Remember to take pictures, make slightly inappropriate conversation with colleagues, and come back and tell us all about it. 

Evaluations: Observation & Value Added Both Weak, Says Teacher

Retro_great_teachers_inspire_greeting_cards-p137872526848721955q0yk_400The discussion over #value added has gotten hopelessly confused with issues of journalistic ethics and individual privacy, and the chances of constructive use of VAM seem to be diminishing by every week, but maybe there's still room for some discussion of the real world pros and cons of its use as an internal evaluation and support tool.  Here's an email describing the vagaries of the current evaluation system, the drive-by classroom observation, and the teachers' resistance to having their VAM scores released publicly, via Whitney Tilson's email blast, revealing both the relative advantages of value added over observations but also the potential pitfalls.  Which would you rather have -- a crappy classroom observation or a crappy statistical measure?

Continue reading "Evaluations: Observation & Value Added Both Weak, Says Teacher" »

Video: Shakespeare With The Original Pronunciations

#classroom #shakespeare English and drama teachers of the world, rejoice (or not)!  There's a push to perform Shakespeare with the original pronunciation (via The Daily What)

AM News: State Board Seats Also Part Of Campagin 2010

News2Accreditation at risk for Atlanta Public Schools AJC:  City schools Superintendent Beverly Hall, who talked with Elgart by phone Wednesday morning, publicly called on the board to get its act together. Parents, too, expressed outrage... New Federal Rules Set on Career Colleges NYT:  After receiving 90,000 public comments, the Department of Education will require program-integrity changes at for-profit colleges... Baltimore Tentative Contract, Take Two EdWeek:  There appear not to be many substantial changes to the contract, merely the addition of some clarifying language, the source told me. We'll know for sure when the BTU and the district make the second tentative agreement public... State Boards of Education Seats Up for Grabs EdWeek:  Those states include the perennial socio-cultural battleground, Texas, as well as Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah... Foundations Not Doing Enough For Vulnerable Children AP:  A philanthropic watchdog group is hoping to light a fire under charitable foundations that support education by releasing a report Wednesday that points out how few of them focus enough attention on helping the most needy students.

Policy: Is Education As "Broken" As The Rest Of DC?

image from www.mysafetysign.com#dfer #edujobs #rttt There's lots of talk out there on the campaign trail about how "broken" Washington is but not much if anything about if and how our education policy development process might be flawed beyond repair or just within reach of fixing.  One reason is that Congress hasn't done much on education lately, or at least since the first flurry that created ARRA and RTTT.  Committee folks who've been working on fixes to NCLB have been sitting on their hands for nearly three years now since Miller last toted out a possible bill. Another is that education isn't a big campaign issue.  We'll know more when we see the final outcome of the for profit regulations fight that's going on, and when the next budget and appropriations cycles take place.  There will be politicking aplenty, that's for for sure.  A Republican-run House of Representatives might want to look hard at the Stimulus implementation or even more so at "edujobs."  But what we still don't know is how the White House and USDE will deal with Hill Dems and Republicans during a real legislative battle, or how hard relatively newish outside groups like DFER and Stand For Children and the Gates lobbying folks will want to play, and frankly whether they're going to be any good at it.  

Quote: What A Students' Union Would Bargain For

Quote-mark "Say there was a students' union. Might they ask that the dropout rate be lowered? Might they stay at the negotiating table until it was below 50%? We ought to ask kids whether they think the status quo is working.." -- Bill Gates in Parade 

Homework: Teachers Read "Yahoo Answers," Too

image from 25.media.tumblr.com
Now they have to read Facebook Questions too. (Via The Daily What)

USDE: National Anti-Bullying Campaign


Religious Undercurrent Ripples In Anti-Gay Bullying NPR:  The letter comes amid worry that anti-gay taunts -- some of which have led to suicides -- have a religious thread. But some Christian conservatives are rejecting anti-gay religious rhetoric and pushing for tolerance... Study: Half of teens admit bullying in last year Andrew Dalton, Associated Press:  Half of high school students say they've bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half say they've been the victim of bullying, according to a national study released Tuesday... Help Stop Bullying, U.S. Tells Educators NYT Sam Dillon:  The Department of Education sent out a letter to schools reminding them of their legal responsibilities on preventing harassment of students... Gay teen suicide coverage may spark contagion, experts say:  Experts added that not enough attention has been paid to the mental health of youth grappling with suicidal thoughts. 

AM News: PA School Nixes Biden Visit

News2 Pa. school nixes Biden rally for Dem candidate Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press:  A congressional candidate accused a suburban school district of playing politics by canceling a visit from Democratic Vice President Joe Biden days before the midterm election, a decision a school spokeswoman blamed on logistics... City teachers union releases contract Baltimore Sun:  New details added to pact as negotiations continue...  DPS charter school takes kids with severe disabilities Denver Post:  Last year, only two students with severe cognitive or physical disabilities were among the 7,000 charter-school students in Denver Public Schools. And around the state, only two charter schools have been set up to specifically work with children with disabilities: Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Golden and Vanguard Classical in Aurora... Parents to protest as school closings loom James Vaznis Boston Globe: In an open letter to Boston families, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson lauded her recommendation to close six low-performing schools as a way to “move students into schools and classrooms that get results.’’... Needing Students, Maine School Hunts in China NYT Abby Goodnough:  A Maine high school hopes to solve its financial woes by persuading Chinese students to pay $27,000 a year there...  

Video: Two Million $180 Computers Delivered, Says Negroponte

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nicholas Negroponte
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Research: Adults Ignoring Sleep Deprivation Research

Post_full_1285352029matt-damon-2 Kids just want/need to sleep in a little later in the mornings (A Day in the Life of a Sleepy Student) but the adults are having none of it (Delaying School Start Times Causes Alarm).  

Who cares what research (and common sense) tell us?  There's tradition, and convenience, and, well, tradition.  Both articles from Miller-McCune.  

Yes, Matt Damon with an apple on his head -- from GOOD, I think.  

Thompson: Parents Can Refuse (Some) Standardized Testing

Conscience Kudos to Teacher Magazine's Anthony Cody for introducing us to Shahila Changebringer, who protests "reform" by refusing permission for schools to impose standardized tests on her child.  I personally would not deter a student from taking A.P., SAT, or graduation tests.  Neither would I impose a cookie-cutter morality standard on all parents, grandparents, or teens old enough to make their own decisions.  But if this bubble-in craze violates your conscience, it is time to object.  If only the educators who believe that their district's testing regime is educational malpractice pulled their children out of the meat-grinder, that would be a great start.  If just a fifth of parents refused permission to test their children, what would that do to "reformers" value-less arithmetic models? -JT     

Opinion: The Atlantic Wire's Convenient Roundups

Am I the only one who's addicted to these Atlantic Wire roundups of opinion on key issues, which include recaps and helpful links?   Here's a couple of recent examples compiled by Alex Eichler: 

Picture 41

Biden Tells Third-Graders Obama Is 'Really Cool':  During a recent visit to an after-school program in Redwood City, California, Biden repeatedly described Obama as "really cool" to a group of third-graders. "Barack Obama is really cool," Biden told the students. "No, he's not coming today, but he's really cool." According to MSNBC, Biden also called Michelle Obama "the nicest person you'll ever meet."

Lessons From the Virginia Civil-War Textbook Flap:  The book's author, Joy Masoff, says that she based the assertion on Internet research, and according to the Post, at least a few of Masoff's sources trace back to groups like Sons of Confederate Veterans, who maintain that slavery was not the principal cause of the Civil War. The vast majority of Civil War historians reject the notion that blacks were a significant presence in the Confederate army, and there doesn't seem to be any evidence for Jackson's "two black battalions" at all.
There'll probably be one later today on whether the Obama anti-bullying effort is campaign grandstanding or belated sincerity. 

AM News: Anti-Bullying Effort Goes National (Letter)

News2 U.S. campaign takes on anti-gay bullying in school Washington Post Nick Anderson:  The Obama administration is launching a campaign to prevent anti-gay bullying and other harassment at school, advising educators that federal law protects students from many forms of discrimination... Minn. district clarifies anti-bullying policy Chris Williams, Associated Press:  A Minnesota school district that has been caught in an emotional debate about how it treats gay students after a teenager's suicide earlier this year tweaked several policies Monday night to clarify that the harassment or bullying of gay students won't be tolerated... Police: Conn. woman gave son weapons for school AP:  A woman in Connecticut is facing charges for allegedly sending her 12-year-old son to school with a BB gun and a folding knife so he could protect himself from bullies.... Philly teaching town hall features Danza, Duncan:  Arne Duncan has taken his national teacher recruitment campaign on the road to a town hall meeting with actor-turned-teacher Tony Danza... Homeless students on the rise throughout Washington:  In the 2008-09 school year (most recent year for which data are available), schools reported 20,780 homeless students statewide, up from 8,141 in the 2003-04 school year...  As S.F. schools struggle, board raises its budget SF Gate:  All told, the board has increased spending by 28 percent over the past four years, which includes the added cost of televising board meetings as well as increases in staff salaries and benefits, according to 600 pages of public records obtained by The Chronicle.

Roundup: Unions Pro, Con, And In Between

Winner1_976434371Teach Tony Danza Philly Notebook:  I must admit. The first time I watched it, I cried like a baby, right along with the 59-year-old actor who is facing his mortality and wanting to travel down the “road not taken” by becoming a teacher... Many years later, NPR unloads one of its hacks Bob Somersby (via Kevin Drum):  Finland’s test scores let a bunch of know-nothing journos push a preferred press corps narrative: Our public schools are a mess! (Maybe we need to privatize! It’s all the fault of the unions!) Finland faces none of the daunting educational challenges we face, of course. But so what! All pundits on deck!... Teachers Unions and Shifting Winds Bob Bowden:  Have they finally understood the shifting winds? Have they finally gotten a clue? Or is it a publicity stunt?...  Is a paradigm shift really needed? Dan Willingham:  It’s not important to me that he fails to acknowledge his intellectual forbears. It’s important to me that he fails to acknowledge that many many people have tried to create schools inspired by these ideals before. A few were spectacular, inspiring successes. Most crashed and burned...The Real Effect of Teachers’ Union Contracts EIA:  We pay a 20.7% premium to have unions. Isn’t the onus on them to demonstrate their worth to students, parents and taxpayers?... WEEKEND QUOTABLES Mike Klonsky:  “They discussed American competitiveness and education, especially reforms such as the President’s Race to the Top initiative.”...  Remembering Paul Wellstone Ezra Klein:  Sen. Paul Wellstone died eight years ago today. He was one of the first politicians I ever met, and one the people who inspired me to go into politics.  

Thompson: Treating Value-Added Decisions Like Foreclosures

ScreenHunter_10 Oct. 18 10.09 What would happen if legal challenges forced districts (and district-hired attorneys) to certify that the numbers derived from statistical models are an accurate reflection of an individual educator's practice?  That's what they're doing with home foreclosures now, putting attorneys on the line (NPR). Attorneys are officers of the court, and judges don't like to be lied to.  Hat tip to Eduwonk for a link to a discusion of why "a flood of lawsuits is certain to occur" when test scores are used in evaluations. Unions need to make the top social science and legal expertise available to officers of the court throughout the nation. In doing so, we should remind attorneys and judges that the real issue is the integrity of our legal system.  Then teachers, principals, and "reformers" can sit down as equals at next year's evaluation summit. - JT

Cartoon: Believing In The Concept Of Public Education

Picture 40
Scene:  Two affluent moms sitting in the park with their kids in their laps.   Caption:  "We believe in the concept of public education."

Magazines: Inside The Latest Issue Of "Administrator"

ScreenHunter_40 Oct. 22 14.26There's lots of good stuff in the fall issue of Scholastic's Administrator Magazine, the generous and kind sponsor of this here blog.  It's also a beautiful magazine, with a great digital reader experience that's not unlike the New Yorker's (except the images and layout are a lot more fun).  On the cover, Emily Richmond has an update on how different states are dealing with cyberbullying (as opposed to the old-fashioned kind):  Cyberbullying.  There's a brief but lively interview with Diane Ravitch here (and a great picture).  A roundup of some of the crazy fees schools are charging here. Some blathering about how Arne Duncan's loose/tight NCLB scheme doesn't really make sense (here).  Some real-world administrators weighing in on teacher tenure (here).  Plus lots and lots of tech stuff for your geeky side.  Check it out.  Tell us what you think. 

Events: Fear-Mongering Educators Dominate DC Rally


Restore-sanity-keep-fear-aliveAfter nearly a month of debate over the validity of the Fear-Moderation Spectrum (FMS) and the fairness of public listing of individual names attached to their FMS scores, here's a revised and expanded list of who in education reform is going to this weekend's Colbert/Stewart rally on the Mall and which side of the aisle they're slated to be sitting on.  

Keep The Fear Alive (Colbert FMS 50%>):  Davis Guggenheim, Diane Ravitch, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Randi Weingarten, Chris Cristie, Tim Daly, Sam Chaltain (lucky just to be named), others? 

Take It Down A Notch (Stewart FMS 50%<):  Nick Lemann, Jack Jennings, Kati Haycock, others?

Note that seating assignments are based on a complicated statistical measure of anxiety expressed or conveyed not on particular ideology or views on particular policy solutions.  No word yet on whether USDE employees are being allowed / encouraged to attend.  Previous post:  Assigned Seating At Daily Show / Colbert Report Rally

AM News: "Value-Added" Approach Spreads Into Higher Ed

Putting a Price on Professors WSJ:  A 265-page spreadsheet, released last month by the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, amounted to a profit-and-loss statement for each faculty member, weighing annual salary against students taught, tuition generated, and research grants obtained... 10 students burned as portable stove explodes at Torrance high school AP:  Three of the gas-operated devices were being used in a classroom for cooking during a lunchtime fundraiser for UNICEF. Some students burned on their necks, faces and hands, and several of the injuries were considered serious... D.C. Teachers' Union election will affect survival of Rhee's initiatives Washington Post:  District public school parents have a stake in the upcoming elections for leadership of the Washington Teachers' Union, which will have a major role in implementing some of outgoing Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's reforms... New charter, transformation schools proposed in city in 2011 Baltimore Sun:  Seven charter schools and four transformation programs are being proposed to launch in Baltimore next year, many of which would focus on single-gender education and unique curriculums... Jindal orders $107M in cuts to balance La. budget Associated Press: Gov. Bobby Jindal said higher education, health care and social services will take the largest cuts Friday when he orders reductions to rebalance the budget and close a $107 million deficit... Teacher drops lawsuit in burning crosses case AP:  An Ohio public school teacher accused of burning the mark of a cross on students' arms said Friday he dropped a lawsuit over his firing because it would have interfered with a public airing of his complaint in a different venue.

Video: SNL Skit Mocks "School Danger" News Stories

This weekend's SNL skit mocks local TV newscasts that feature scary-sounding, implausible-seeming teen trends like "souping."


It's funny enough but the truth is that it's not just local TV newscasts that run this stuff -- print and online outlets do it, too, creating a perpetual anxiety machine for parents and schools that distracts from more serious, substantial issues.  

Reform: Republican Gov. Chris Cristie Makes Unlikely Champion

image from si.wsj.net
Here's the profoundly disturbing fixed-grin photo of NJ Gov Chris Cristie, Oprah Winfrey, Cory Booker, and the Facebook guy (Mark Zuckerburg) accompanying this WSJ article rehashing the fight between Cristie and the teachers union (and making a big bolt-on deal out of his supposed presidential ambitions).  What makes it interesting is the thought that, in a post Michelle Rhee world, Cristie is reformers' unchosen new champion -- their loudest voice against the status quo, etc.  Awkward, no, to be tied to a big blustering white guy -- even if the other side might sort of wish him dead.  On the other hand, it may take a Republican to do what reform Democrats want done.  Or at least someone who's still going to be in office not too long from now.  

Weekend Reading: New Yorker On Bullying, Reform™, Etc.

261.x600.feat.essentials.illio9 The New Yorker on bullying, drug sniffing dogs for rent, Reform™, and more to come:  Behind the anti-gay bullying New Yorker:  The problem is a culture of exposure that is far more advanced than any efforts to combat online cruelty. Bullying feeds on weakness, anger, and, lately, the systematic undervaluing of privacy. There’s such a thing as violating your own privacy, too... Wanna be a School Reformer? You Better do Your Homework! Gary Stager:  In public education today, unqualified is the new qualified. The celebration of inexperience and lack of preparation is particularly disconcerting when it comes to education policy. When you allow billionaires, ideologues, pop singers and movie viewers to define reform, you get Reform™... Company Renting Drug-Sniffing Dogs to Insane Parents [Parenting] Gawker:  A Maryland company is renting out trained drug-sniffing dogs for $200 an hour. The target customer: Parents who want to find their kids' drugs. And a bonus: The dogs can find guns and explosives, too!..  Radio: Reading, Rockets, and 'Rithmetic Freakonomics: We ask Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, where the idea came from — and whether it was a tough sell, and what kind of results he’s seen so far... Once-fired Oklahoma City teacher retains job on appeal News OK:  He appealed the decision to district court, arguing he did not neglect his duties, but had been singled out for termination because of his outspoken advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights... 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers Online College Courses:  For every participant liberally dishing out misspelled racist, sexist and homophobic talking points, there is at least one whose channel genuinely offers something provocative and educational...  Teacher  Found Guilty of Murdering Her Romantic Rival Via Skydiving Sabotage Medialite:  Yesterday a Belgium court sentenced schoolteacher Els Clottemans to 30 years for murdering her romantic rival by sabotaging her parachute, ending a bizarre and fascinating saga of love, murder, and skydiving... America’s High Schools Still Top Producers of Violent YouTube Content [video] The Awl:  Do you think school administrators, like, ever search for their high school’s names on YouTube? Because students actually prefer to name their schools in the videos. It gets… better?

Schedule: Duncan And Danza

ScreenHunter_15 Jan. 25 13.24 Other than what sounds like an awkward event in Philly with Ackerman and Tony Danza, Duncan's got a pretty light week for media events next week.

I wonder what he's dressing up as for Halloween, and what the rules are for USDE staffers about going to the Colbert/Stewart event on the Mall next weekend.

Anyone know?

Continue reading "Schedule: Duncan And Danza" »

Thompson: "Teacher Quality" is Not Enough

Teamwork_team_work_team_ABasing "reform" on the thin reed of "teacher quality" has destructive unintended consequences, such as misuse of test scores. Even if teacher quality is the most important factor in schools as they now function, Dan Willingham says we should not assume that improving instruction should be the main or sole driver of reform.  Neither would I trust wraparound services, alone, as the key to improving schools.  Improving schools is a team effort that will require "all of the above."  We need schools with respectful, collaborative learning cultures where being a good, conscientious teacher is enough to be an effective teacher.  Schools need teamwork, not one man teams supermen overcome poverty.- JT

Cartoon: The Reformer Always Wins The Game

Reformer monopolyThe new Monopoly:  "Short game. One player is named reformer.  He wins." via Toles

AM News: Republican Candidates Slam Stimulus Funding

Plus an update on the NYC VAM mess below.


Publisher To Remove Black Confederate Reference:  In Virginia, a new textbook for fourth graders has created a stir. The line in question claims that thousands of blacks fought for the South in the Civil War. It's a claim disputed by most historians and an idea pushed by some to minimize slavery's role as a reason the war was fought.... Down With the Stimulus, GOP-leaning Congressional Ads SayPolitics K12:  Some examples of campaign ads that trash the stimulus...State schools wait for federal money Charlston Daily Mail:  State may have to wait longer than expected for one time infusion... California unable to determine if charter schools are meeting students' nutritional needs LA Times:  A state audit to determine whether public charter school students are receiving nutritional meals on campus could not be fully completed because government databases are not reliable or detailed enough, officials said Thursday.Is Morehouse Ready For The 'Mean Girls'? NPR:  A Vibe magazine article titled "The Mean Girls of Morehouse" profiles four students who attend Morehouse College -- the nation's only all-male historically black institution -- but dress in women's clothing and identify themselves as androgynous.

Video: Obama (Finally) Does "It Gets Better"

Advocates have been clamoring for the POTUS to do one of these antibullying videos that have been sweeping the Internets, and finally they get one:

It's belated, and very strangely written and cut, but still pretty powerful. I can't imagine all the angles that had to be considered here -- political ones, especially, given the proximity to the midterm elections.

Value-Added: Will NYC Media & Advocates Act Responsibly?

Lacostelogo_crop For me, value-added is more about journalistic ethics and the privacy of personnel files than anything else right now.  The question is whether NYC media will behave more responsibly than the LA Times did if they get their hands on the database, and whether advocates will be able to see that pushing VAM too hard the wrong way is simply going to make it too controversial to ever happen in any useful or broad way.  Seven news outlets requested New York City's value added data, according to this Christian Science Monitor article (New York City spat over publishing teacher rankings reaches brief truce) and one of them -- GothamSchools -- has already pledged not to report teachers' individual scores, which I applaud. Rotherham hates to sound cautious (and discloses that he's taking union money for some other work) but he knows it's the right thing to do to be cautious (here).  Secretary Duncan is a little more careful in what he says in this Washington Post article, though he still seems to equate VAM numbers with "how teachers are doing" over all.  Even TNTP's Tim Daley seems like he's a little bit on the defensive this time around (WSJ).  Does this mean everyone has learned his or her lesson here?  Probably not.

Reform: On Being Called A "Teacher Basher"

52505846"I feel bad for Guggenheim and Baldwin, but being called a union-basher or a teacher-hater only hurts if you give a cr*p. The arithmetic is simple: “If you say x, I will call you y. So don’t say x.” Each person makes his own judgment whether that’s a fair exchange. The only permissible alternative is to become Diane Ravitch, earning accolades for telling them exactly what they want to hear." - Mike Antonucci

Teachers: KIPP Teachers Fighting To Leave Union

image from t0.gstatic.com Administrators make it hard to join a union, and unions make it hard to leave.  I guess that's what they do.  Word is that the teachers at KIPP AMP are now about to start going through a secret ballot process to see whether they are going to remain part of the UFT or not.  As you may recall, the teachers voted to organize a couple of years ago, and then some had second thoughts and eventually enough of them wanted to leave that they signed a petition (see April 2010 GothamSchools update here).  The union challenged the decertification petition -- sort of like Facebook until recently not letting you have your pictures and email lists back -- and that's forced the current procedure.  As you may recall, I broke some of the news surrounding the earlier events and was lucky enough to interview one of the key figures, a veteran teacher who was new to KIPP (A Veteran Teacher's Charter School Experience). No word yet on how the faculty at the school split on staying in vs. leaving.

Television: Reality Show Features "Extreme Makeovers"

1276034409638s "You don't need to be an expert in school policy to make a difference. It just takes a little bit of local organization and communities can come together and start forcing change all by themselves. And even on an individual level from the comfort of your home, School Pride gives you the opportunity to give back. We have a partnership with Donors Choose, where you candonate money or get involved with classroom projects at a school locally anywhere across the country."

Can Reality TV Really Make Over Failing Schools? (GOOD Education)

Ratings: Repeat Of LAUSD / LA Times Debacle In NYC

ScreenHunter_07 Apr. 28 13.08 There's blame to go around when it comes to this latest flareup over teacher ratings and public disclosure: 

Why did news outlets push to obtain data that they know is misleading and problematic when released "raw" without any contextual information (ie, classroom observations, etc)? 

Why didn't the NYC schools try harder to withhold teacher records, which should rightly be considered part of teachers' personal files? 

Why didn't the union know this was going to happen and file an injunction ahead of time to make the city follow the contract? 

New York to release teachers' ratings LA Times... City’s data release could be first time some teachers see scores GothamSchools... Teachers Union Sues to Halt Release of Teacher Evaluations WNYC

AM News: Schools Neglect Early Elementary Absenteeism

News2Early grades new front in abstenteeism wars EDNews CO: An average of one in 10 students younger than grade 3 nationwide is considered chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of school. That’s about 18 days in a normal 180-day year, according to the San Francisco-based Attendance Counts and the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation and others... Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized over claims on black Confederate soldiers Washington Post:  The issues first came to light after College of William & Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter's copy of "Our Virginia" and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers... Much hope at dedication of Barack Obama Elementary School in Upper Marlboro Washington Post:  The students at Barack Obama Elementary School boasted presidential manners and flashed toothy grins, eager to show off songs they learned for the school's official dedication last week... City program is honored at White House Boston Globe:  A Boston program aimed at reducing the dropout rate for city public school students who are not fluent in English was one of 15 programs nationwide to receive the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award yesterday.

Funders: Key Differences For The Broad Foundation

image from hartofsuwanee.com It's easy and convenient to lump all the big name outside funders into one pile but they aren't all actually as similar as they may appear from the outside.  This is especially true when it comes to the Broad Foundation, run by gazillionaire Eli Broad in LA.  Rick Hess among others thinks it's notable that Gwinnett County GA, the Broad Prize winner for 2010, isn't full of charter schools and is in fact fighting against them.  He calls it unreformish (a nod to "unreformy").  But Broad has never been for charters as much as others - has never made it the center of its grantmaking.  Instead, Broad has focused on improving the quality and capacity of central office administrators and on strengthening school boards.  At one point SEIU president Andy Stern was on the board.  They're also involved in funding labor-management innovations (with Gates and AFT).  So it's not so much a surprise that the Broad prize would go to a more traditional district.  And -- subject of another post -- even the more openly pro-charter funders aren't funding charter expansion the way that they used to. 

Thompson: Reformers Being Hypocritical About Teachers' Roles

Npr_talkofnation_fullNPR's Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan pulled off a concise summary of the "teacher quality" debate that's well worth listening to.  "Tenure is simply due process," Weingarten explained, "but it has acted as the evaluation system because we haven't had real evaluation systems."  The big problem is the conditions in urban schools that drive 1/2 of teachers out of the classroom within five years.  So-called "reformers," who ignore those realities, are "talking out of both sides of their mouth."  They "talk about how teachers are so important," and then ignore our judgments about teaching effectiveness and removing ineffective teachers.  Its just "inconvenient" for adult interests management to engage in the give and take of collective bargaining. - JT

Video Interlude: The Theme From "Mad Men" (Live)

I wasn't really feeling Mad Men this season but that doesn't stop me from admiring this live to tape rendition of the theme that opens the show performed by some recent college graduate looking types (please don't tell me they're 30).  Enjoy!


Quote: Don't Put It All On Teachers

Quotes2 Differences in the quality of in-school experiences can explain about one-third of the differences in achievement. -- Richard Rothstein

Campaign '10: Stand For Children In Illinois

340x_nerd-fishing Stand For Children is joining DFER in finding centrist Dems and Republicans state-level races in places like Illinois where it recently doled out more than half a million dollars to nine candidates (six of them Democrats) according to this Progress Illinois story (A New Player In State Education Politics).  The Illinois  chapter of SFC joins Advance Illinois, an advocacy shop set up recently to do statewide policy work.  Illinois didn't get RTTT but that hasn't stopped folks there from pushing on reforms.  Meanwhile, the state's being accused of watering down its state assessments year after year in order to make scores look better.  

AM News: NEA Helps GA Republican Gubernatorial Candidate

News2Union's Behind-the-Scenes Campaign in AL Governor's Race? EdWeek State EdWatch:  The newspaper  chronicles Bentley's campaign securing support from the union, which eventually "pummeled Byrne with a barrage of attack ads and automated phone calls," the story says... Ga. school district wins $1 million Broad prize AP:  Georgia's largest school system has won the nation's top prize in public education, which will provide $1 million in college scholarships for needy students in the district... Small doses of education can make a big difference for parents with sick children LA Times:  A Los Angeles-area school district is offering the training, which had previously been confined to Head Start... Delay on state regulation for teacher evaluations Baltimore Sun:  A state legislative committee has delayed the adoption of a regulation that would require student achievement to be at least 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation in Maryland... More K-12 on the Campaign Trail Politics K12:  The midterms are almost here! And education is starting to come up in some of the senatorial debates... Montgomery school system loses out on Broad Prize for Urban Education Washington Post:  Montgomery County public schools came close to winning the country's largest award for urban school systems Tuesday but lost out to a suburban Atlanta district... In a Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks NYT:  Though the world of print is receding before a tide of digital offerings, college students weaned on technology appear to be holding fast to traditional textbooks, but at a price.

Quote: Winning Back Students' Minds

Quote-mark You don't believe that we believe you're smart. -- Donoghue Elementary School teacher Ms. Ford addressing two of her students in the award-winning 1993 radio documentary "Ghetto Life 101"

Thompson: First Rhee, Now Baltimore

Drink-out-of-a-hoseTennessee Governor Phil Bredesen articulated the conventional wisdom that so-called reform must happen all at once - and that educators must "be prepared to be overwhelmed" like "drinking from a fire hose." But the rejection of the Baltimore Teachers Contract is an indication that we should slow down the pace of change.  The Baltimore Sun reports that teachers balked at "signing a blank check" by endorsing an evaluation system that had not  been developed.  Union leaders must rush through agreements to keep up with the overwhelming rate at which the Obama administration seeks to impose change.  The first risk is that the rank-in-file will rebel.  The greater danger is that haste will wreck the actual implementation of reforms.  - JT



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.