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Video Interlude: "Whip My Hair" (Ice Skating Version)

Turnarounds: Why Some Chose To Restart, And With Whom?

It's no ScreenHunter_07 Apr. 28 13.08real mystery why there are just 31 "restart" schools nationwide -- 5 percent of the 733 listed by the USDE in its recent update on SIG models and schools nationwide (44 states).  The restart model is arguably the most dramatic (draconian?) of the four allowed, in that it involves a change of governance as well as (ostensibly) leadership, faculty, curriculum, and the like.  They can be run by a CMO or an EMO selected by the district, and must by law enroll the same grades and kids it used to enroll.  They require a district to hand over a school that is about to receive an influx of new cash, which few districts are inclined to do.  It also involves finding and vetting a provider interested and able in doing such a thing on very short notice, and getting state approval -- much more involved than finding new books or principals or teachers, relatively speaking.  All that work (all those angry teachers and concerned parents) and there's no guarantee it would work.  As Paul Tough once noted, charter schools aren't magic.   What I'm *really* curious about is (a) why some districts and states took this route, (b) why they picked particular schools to do as restarts rather than transformations or whatever else, and (c) who the districts got to do the restarts (what CMO and EMO folks volunteered for the job)?  Anyone?  Here's my handy dandy list of them for all you reporters and reformers following along (Restart Schools 2010-2011).  

Thompson: Remember The Mules

Gold_star Back when I was a graduate student deciphering equations, scholars obeyed the conventions of honest discourse, and that provided an advantage in debating the significance of evidence produced by algorithms. The Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR), however, continues the trend of violating the norms of social scientific inquiry in issuing another politicized study. This one is entitled, "Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs." CEDR is based in -- you guessed it -- Bill Gates' stomping ground of Washington. It announced that effectiveness-based layoffs using a value-added model simulation would increase reading test scores by .20 of a standard deviation. Apparently the students of 145 teachers would see those gains.

Continue reading "Thompson: Remember The Mules" »

Teachers: Strike Threat Blocks Reform, Say IL Reformers

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWhat's the main obstacle to reforming our schools?  In Illinois, it's the threat of a strike, apparently.  That's the gist of fast-track reform legislation that has the AFT alarmed enough to send out an email urging legislators to oppose it (and the state supe asking for a slowdown).  What's the big deal?  The legislation (PDF draft here courtesy of State School News) includes pretty much every reformy idea out there:  revamping tenure, layoff, and certification rules, plus the strike ban. The editorial page at the Chicago Tribune says "This Could Be Something Special." Labor Notes reports that several of the legislators behind the proposal just received big bucks from Stand For Children.  The legislation could get wrapped into a massive bill cutting spending and raising taxes and passed as soon as January 11.  

Quotes: Walking To Football Game & Doing Calculus

Quotes2 People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down. -- PA Gov Ed Rendell upset over cancellation of Sunday night football game because of weather. 

AM News: Textbook Error Mess In Virginia

News2 Shanghai Schools’ Approach Pushes Students to Top of Tests NYT:  Discipline helps explain why the city’s students outperformed those from about 65 other countries... Error-filled textbooks prompt Va. to call for revamped approval process Washington Post:  Reports of extensive errors in Virginia social studies textbooks prompted state education officials on Wednesday to propose revamping the approval process to prevent the issuing of flawed textbooks... Change You Can Invest In: Social Entrepreneurship NPR:  Small nonprofit groups headed by social entrepreneurs are tackling some of the world's biggest problems. Spurred by a spirit of innovation, the sector has grown to new heights. And both colleges and investors are noticing... Student Wins $1 In Free Speech Facebook Case MSN: The Pembroke Pines Charter High School grad is celebrating the end of a two-year battle over her first amendment rights that started when she declared her AP English teacher, Sarah Phelps, "the worst she ever had" on her Facebook page... Vt. teacher's license lifted for file destruction  Boston Globe:  A Vermont middle school teacher has had his license suspended for 10 days for intentionally destroying the special education file of a student from St. Albans.

Comparisons: The "PISA Myth" Everyone Loves

image from 3.bp.blogspot.com Everyone loves the "US schools are awful" myth, according to this post (The amazing truth about PISA scores) Ezra Klein noted in Wonkbook this morning.  Why?

"The liberal left in U.S and in Europe loves this myth, because they get to demand more government spending, and at the same time get to gloat about how much smarter Europeans are than Americans. The right also kind of likes the myth, because they get to blame social problems on the government, and scare the public about Chinese competitiveness."

Take out uneducated nonwhite immigrants and American schools (red bar) aren't doing all that bad on PISA, apparently. 

Thompson: "You'd Be Surprised, The Soldiers That We Get Today,"

Armytraining "You'd be surprised, the soldiers that we get today,"  the director the Army's fitness school told NPR's Frank Morris.  After years on their couches playing video games, recruits "can't do simple motor function movements." Sound familiar?  But no one's addressing the situation.  If  educators could acknowledge cultural changes that are obvious to all, we also could respond with reality-driven policies. Instead, educators repeat  politically correct soundbites.  --   JT (@drjohnthompson) 

Turnarounds: Learning From "Tabatha's Salon Takeover"

image from assets.huluim.com
Last week's episode of Tabatha's Salon Takeover (on Bravo) had many of the elements of a school turnaround scenario:  poor services, a neglected facility, a dispirited and fractious staff, unclear lines of responsibility, and lack of accountability.  Tabatha played the role of Arne Duncan, providing a big dose of motivation and a bag of cash. But she also helped the salon employees regain a sense of value and ownership, listened to their ideas, and gave everyone a chance to re-apply for their jobs.  In the end, only one stylist had to go.

Photo: Korean Kids Learn English Via Distance Robot Teacher

image from 24.media.tumblr.com "Education officials in the South Korean city of Daegu have launched a pilot program aimed at teaching local children English with the help of a special English-teaching robot named “Engkey.”

"According to AFP, the robot, which is programmed to read books, sing songs, and play games, will be controlled remotely by English teachers based in the Philippines." (via The Daily What)

AM News: Digging Out From Budget Woes


New, outgoing SC school chiefs differ on bailout Associated Press:  The administration of South Carolina's incoming school superintendent says the state's failure to land $143 million in federal bailout money may not harm classrooms even though his predecessor forecasts it could lead to some difficult days ahead... States Hold Colleges Accountable For Graduation Rate NPR:  More and more states are looking to link college budgets to schools' performance -- such as number of degrees produced and the ability to graduate challenging students... Google Pushes Education Software Through App Store Business Week:  Google is talking with makers of educational software to help build a marketplace for online learning programs, an industry whose value may approach $5 billion... Los Angeles schools: 'School Pride' gets mixed grades LA Times:  One episode of the TV show 'reenacted' an event that didn't happen; another left shoddy work behind. Some benefits were noted, though... Fairfax schools chief seeks raises for employees; supervisors critical Washington Post:  Jack D. Dale, superintendent of Fairfax County public schools, has announced a plan to introduce significant pay raises for school employees in next year's budget - a proposal that drew immediate criticism from the county's Board of Supervisors... Calling on the pros during the college application process NPR:  The college application process can be a stressful one, and some parents are calling on the pros to try and get some help. Zachary Barr reports... Georgia Schools Offer Lesson In Living With Cutbacks NPR:  Public school districts across the country have been grappling with drastic budget cuts. For the rural Franklin County, Ga., district, that has meant teacher cutbacks, longer school days and a shorter school year.

Cartoon: "I Stopped By The Orphanage On The Way Home"

From this week's New Yorker.

Reform: Two Views Of Newark's Future

image from www.google.comFor a useful look at the long history of reform in Newark -- much of which was left out of the recent coverage surrounding the Zuckerberg donation -- check out Dana Goldstein's feature in The Nation (here).  For a look at how the new reformers are trying to do things differently (better) than in the past, check out this WSJ story from Barbara Martinez that was passed along by several readers including Whitney Tilson (here). What both make clear is that the $100M donation might make very little difference at all if it isn't used intelligently, and humbly, and that media coverage has been sorely lacking on this and several other fronts as it focuses on the gee whiz aspect of everything it touches.  

Thompson: Fact-Checking the LA Times

Links Someone needs to introduce reporters Jason Felch et. al at the Los Angeles Times to the hyperlink concept. They are trying to soften the paper's latest attacks on teachers by praising Park Elementary for posting the district's greatest growth in math scores.  But click to the Times' own value-added web site, where the school is rated as "Least Effective," and nine of the 15 math teachers as "Less than Effective" or "Ineffective."  Should the Times guesstimates be used to praise the school, or to fire its principal and most of its teachers?  As the Times also campaigns against seniority, it should provide a link to the scores at the troubled Markham M.S. where the veterans who replaced the laid-off younger teachers posted higher value-added.   The more experienced teachers, that the Times wanted to lay off, increased scores more than any other middle school.  Perhaps hyperlinks would help Felch's editors to check whether the facts match his reporting editorializing? - JT (@drjohnthompson)       

Followup: NYT Profiles Test Cheating Expert

image from graphics8.nytimes.com Blog readers may recognize the subject of this new NYT profile (Caveon Uses Technology Against Cheaters) from previous blog entries.  He's John Fremer, one of the heads of Caveon Test Security and a former SAT testing expert.  Fremer's firm was brought by Beverly Hall in to investigate the Atlanta testing scandal and was the subject of a Hot Seat interview in September (Test Security Expert Tells All).  


Quote: "The Standard Teacher Impact Argument"

Quote-mark Anyone reading or hearing the endless repetition of the standard teacher impact argument may very well think that teachers are all that matters. - Shanker Blog

AM News: Nearly A Million Homeless Students In US Schools


Schools cope with shelterless students Washington Post:  For the first time since the Education Department started counting earlier this decade, there are nearly a million homeless students in the United States, according to government statistics... Rhee hire to exit D.C. schools; COO Tata will run Wake County, N.C., system Washington Post:  Despite assurances from former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee that the senior management team she assembled during her 31/2-year tenure would remain intact until at least the end of the school year, the system's chief operating officer will leave next month... Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees WSJ:  Some cities are charging religious groups property taxes on buildings no longer used for worship. Other localities are soliciting voluntary contributions. Albany, N.Y., recently passed an ordinance asking schools, hospitals and other nonprofits to contribute to city services... State is not backing away from teacher evaluation rule Baltimore Sun:  Nancy S. Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools, said recently that the panel has asked the governor for a six-month extension because of the complexities... Cheaters Find an Adversary in Technology NYT:  As tests become increasingly important in education, business has been good for Caveon, a company that uses “data forensics” to catch cheaters... Schools revamp, refocus MBA programs NPR:  The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is the latest college to revamp its MBA program. Professor Richard Shell chaired the MBA review committee, and talks with Bob Moon about the changes being implemented, why Wharton is putting a renewed focus on globalization, and the idea of tuition-free continuing education.

Quote: Not Trying To Start A War

Quotes2 We're not trying to start a war, we just want a better education for our children. - McKinley parent Shemika Murphy

Video: Cell Phone Videos Challenge School Police Account

image from cache.gawker.com A Los Angeles high schooler is out of jail after several months, thanks in part to the notoriety his case had gained through media accounts and an Internet website called Reddit (How a Google Engineer (and Reddit) Got a Teenager Out of Jail for Christmas).  The teen had been arrested at gunpoint and jailed after filming an incident during which a school police officer confronted another teenager.  The charge?  Inciting violence against the officer - contradicted by abundant video evidence from cellphone videos taken at the scene. 


AM News: "Snowpocalypse 2010" Can't Stop The News


Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers NYT:  Once an internal measure that principals could choose to heed or ignore, the city’s teacher ranking system has been thrust into the spotlight, bringing its relevance into question... Low-achieving Va. high school turns crisis into challenge Washington Post:  When the bell sounded one autumn morning, the first-floor hallway at T.C. Williams High School was nearly empty. No lingering. No fights like last year's. No one talking on cellphones or dragging in late to class... Watch Again: Helping Teachers Improve Via Video NPR:  The Gates Foundation is spending millions of dollars to answer a very difficult question: What makes a great teacher great? The program records video of teachers, which is then scientifically analyzed. Some teachers appreciate the method, while others want individualized, personalized feedback... Economist’s Plan to Improve Schools Begins Before Kindergarten Chicago News Cooperative:  James J. Heckman, a University of Chicago economist, offered a provocative idea for reducing budget deficits and strengthening the economy: investing in early childhood development.

Video: Have A Very "Glee" Holiday

A high school. A Christmas episode (sorry, all you non-Christmas celebrators). Some singing. What more could you ask for?

See you on Monday.

Books: (Where Are) The Best Novels About Education?

image from g-ecx.images-amazon.com While there are lots of movies about education there aren't all that many novels that I can think of -- at least not that many memorable ones.   My list would include The Class (Entre Les Murs), Prep, To Sir With Love, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Blackboard Jungle, Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, and The Wonder Boys. (Maybe you could add Push (which became the movie Precious.) A few more from educationistas kind enough to share their thoughts:  From Joanne Jacobs (Up the Down Staircase, Rector of Justin, The Thread that Runs So True). From Jay Mathews (Acceptance, the Harry Potter books, and The Centaur). From Susan Sawyers (Getting In). From Greg Toppo (America's Report Card). Jason Varner suggests A Thousand Cuts. What are we missing?  Where's the hilarious "Devil Wears TFA" sendup, the Shteyngartian teaching abroad novel, or (even better) the Teacher With A Dragon Tattoo classroom murder mystery?  Fill me in, or get to writing.  


Jargon: How Do You Say "NCLB"?

Picture 67

 It's a little late to be debating this, but, according to the NYT, NCLB is rightly an initialism not an acronym.  That is, for all of us who refrained from calling the law "nickle-bee," which never really took off as far as I could tell.  From the NYT:  "When the abbreviation is pronounced by the names of initial letters, like C.I.A. (“see eye ay”), U.C.L.A. (“you see ell ay”) or the unwieldy WWW (“double-u double-u double-u”), then it’s best to call it an initialism." (On Language)

Quote: Playing The "Knowledge" Card

Quotes2 If someone wants to play the "knowledge" card, I'll just accuse them of being a defender of the status quo.  -- Patrick Riccards' YouTube alter ego, Wannabe Edu-Pundit

Measurement: The (Online) Numbers Game

image from blog.smartpagerank.com Schools aren't the only ones struggling with measurement issues, you might be heartened to know.  There are several key elements of the Internet economy plagued with vexing measurement problems.  The first and most obvious is independent, comparable measurements of how much traffic a website gets. No one really agrees on how to define web traffic (uniques, pageviews, visits).  Anyone who tells you their traffic numbers doesn't really know or is probably lying (and anyone who shows you someone else's figures is showing you an estimate of traffic not an actual count).  Google's famous PageRank system, which has been used for years now as a measure of success but is subject to constant manipulation by advertisers and businesses who hire "search engine optimization" experts to help them figure out how to beat Google's secret algorithm.  Then there's the pageview system "CPM" used to charge advertisers (and pay some bloggers),which is increasingly gamed by websites seeking to maximize their pageviews.  All it takes is a few slideshows and lots of page breaks to bump traffic numbers up, with no real increase in readership or quality. The result of all this is that there are few numbers anyone considers credible -- not even Twitter followers are considered a good metric anymore -- and advertisers and others are increasingly unwilling to pay for readers, pageviews, or clickthroughs. What makes the situation even worse online is there is that constant illusion of specificity -- the reams of reports and graphs and spreadsheets that Google Analytics and Omniture can produce. Sound familiar?  Sure does.

Video: Duncan's Broken Nose

This is from a little while back but seems a propos given news of Duncan's recent cheek injury:

ScreenHunter_05 Dec. 20 17.50
"I hurt it playing basketball and it wasn't the President" (Secretary Duncan speaking to SETDA ED Forum).  Thanks, Doug!

Thompson: Teaching Backwards

Cant If a teacher does not know how to set learning objectives, then "you can't get there from here," if "there" is defined as the mastery of standards.  Rather than teach teachers how to plan their instruction for meeting high standards, the accountability hawks simply made standardized tests the goal.  Joseph McDonald, of NYU, argues, "there is a consensus around planning backwards from standards, but there is not a consensus on planning backwards from specific tests." McDonald says that "the trick is how you can deal with the tests in a way that also [helps students learn] the standards on which the tests are based."  I would argue that we should also hold the data-driven folks accountable for that oversight.  They imposed a goal over "there,"  without having a clue about whether it was possible for school systems to get there by using standardized tests.   - JT (@drthompson)

Stray Dogs: Teaching Turnarounds

Picture 33Think your students might be interested in seeing what it's really like to do a turnaround?  My  book isn't officially available until April but a couple of ed school professors are already adding my book to their course assignment list.   Cool beans, right?  I'm pretty excited about that.  And if you're also teaching a course and looking for something to add to your list -- about turnarounds, urban education, politics of education, etc. -- you're more than welcome to order the book, too.  Just send me an email at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com if you're interested and I can help expedite things.  (I'm also happy to do a webchat or skype session for the first few folks who think that might be a useful thing to do.)  Thanks.  

Thompson: "The Middle School Type"

Ednext_20111_meyer_opener My old high school was the lowest performing in the state, but the challenge we faced was not comparable to the problems in our middle school. When I used to turn the corner from our high school wing and into the middle school hall, I was often hit by a wall of sound that was so intense that it was physically painful.  I would look that the "thousand yard stares" of the 8th grade teachers, see the screaming tweens, and often choose another route to my class. Peter Meyer's "The Middle School Mess" in Education Next provides insight into why neighborhood middle school teachers have to adopt the personalities of bungee jumpers.  His best idea is breaking up the critical mass of students in the "psychosocial-engagement holding pens" that we call middle school.  In a challenging  middle school with 900 students, the troublemaking ten percent (90 kids) will wreack havoc.   In a comparable 900 student pre-k to 8th school, the 30 most most challenging students will be more manageable. - JT (@drthompson)

Quote: The "Only Hope" For NCLB Reauthorization

Quote-mark The only hope for bipartisan agreement is if the Republicans find it expedient to make an exception for education. -- Jack Jennings in PDK


Update: More Details About Death Of Duncan Mentor

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com The Sun Times is now reporting additional details surrounding the circumstances leading up to Michael Scott's suicide last year, including news of cancelled contracts, outstanding loans, and deals gone bad.  A Daley insider who handled a number of City hall jobs, Scott headed the Chicago Board of Education during most of Arne Duncan's tenure and usually took the point during rancorous monthly board meetings. All of this information was initially redacted in the report given to the Sun Times by CPD.  

Media: The AJC Tries -- And Fails -- To Finger Atlanta Superintenent

Pl_brown_elevatorpitch_fAm I the only one who's confused and unconvinced about the wrongdoings alleged in this AJC article about cheating allegations in the Atlanta Public Schools?  I can't put my finger on exactly what's wrong here -- maybe it's just that the antipathy towards Beverly Hall (whom I've never met) jumps off the page so obviously, or that there's no real smoking gun that I can make out just a lot of allegations and innuendo. Maybe I'm just not ready to contemplate the collapse of the whole testing and accountability industry this close to the lunar eclipse.  I get the sense that APS wasn't judicious about its interactions with the blue ribbon commission and outside auditors assigned to investigate -- but that doesn't seem particularly nefarious to me.  What am I missing?

USDE: Who Injured Arne Duncan?

"A spokeswoman for Mr. Duncan said he’d been hit in the cheek, but wouldn’t say whether the blow required medical attention, or who the culprit was."

Duncan Also Injured Playing Hoops Wall Street Journal 

My guess is that it was Reggie Love, the President's assistant.  

Video: How To Become An Edu-Pundit

"If someone wants to play the "knowledge" card, I'll just accuse them of being a defender of the status quo."  A much-needed bit of humor from Patrick ("Eduflack") Riccards. Guesses on who he's talking about?

AM News: Central Falls Teachers Not Showing Up For Work


Obama reads his children's book to 2nd graders Associated Press: President Barack Obama took a lower-key approach Friday, reading selections from his new children's book to a group of delighted second-graders in suburban Virginia... Troubled RI school grapples with teacher absences Boston Globe:  Records show a Rhode Island school where the entire teaching staff was fired, then rehired, has spent $44,000 since September because of teacher absences... Laws fail to keep sex offenders from working in schools, federal report finds Washington Post:  People with a record of sexual misconduct are often able to land positions in public and private schools as teachers, support staff, volunteers or contractors, slipping through a system of background checks meant to thwart them, federal investigators reported Thursday...Spell Check To Be Allowed On Oregon State Tests Huffington Post:  The move is supposed to help the assessments focus less on typos and more on their writing skills. "We are not letting a student's keyboarding skills get in the way of being able to judge their writing ability," said state Superintendent Susan Castillo. "As we're using technology to improve what we're doing with assessments as a nation, we believe that spell check will be one of those tools."

Reform: Could Lowly Illinois Lead The Way?

5062542725_441ce65c8c_b-450x785 A school reform backwater for the past decade, Illinois seems on the verge of breaking out (or falling apart, depending on who you ask).  Two new well-funded reform organizations have landed there, the Gates funded Advance Illinois and Stand For Children, clamoring for a RTTT application that narrowly missed getting funding, supporting a bunch of reform-minded candidates who won, and -- most recently -- a package of revisions to state education laws (Illinois lawmakers considering plan to limit tenure, strike rights Catalyst) that could, thanks to a split among Democrats and the need for a tax increase -- make it into law as early as January (Epic Miscalculation Has Illinois Teachers Unions in the Crosshairs Huffington Post).  Speaker Madigan created a new committee and scheduled hearings ( Tales from the chalkboard, dust and all Tribune).  There's lots left to happen before anything takes effect, and many who doubt that the reform package is going to make things that much better, but still:  Take THAT, rest of the country! More coverage and commentary: The Upcoming Education Reform Fight Progress Illinois... Should teachers be allowed to strike? WBEZ... An Illinois House subcommittee takes up teacher evaluations WBEZ... Watch the hearings here.

Thompson: If The Gates Report Met Research Standards

Readexplore I wonder how the Gates Foundation's "Learning About Teaching" would be different if  the report was required to meet the standards of traditional social science before being peddled to reporters and the public.  It would begin with an introduction that objectively provided background information.  An early paragraph in the report would explain something like this:  "Youth (in grades one through three) are improving their reading comprehension MORE during the months they are in school. However, beginning in the fourth grade, that is no longer true! The above pattern implies that schooling in itself may have little impact on standardized assessments after 3rd grade."  Moreover,  the "common interpretation is that families have more profound effects on children's reading and verbal performance than teachers."'  Also, "state English test scores actually reflect the reading comprehension skills that the student brought to class, and they are insensitive to teacher effects.".... - JT (@drthompson)

Quote: Union "Not The Villains"

Quotes2 We are not the villains of education. We are the solution. - UTLA VP Julie Washington

Reform: Nine Reasons "Everyone" Hates The Parent Trigger

Christmas-Tree Here are some of the reasons why the coverage of the parent trigger in Compton is skewing against the petitioners who want to do a conversion turnaround and hand the building over to Celerity:   (1) Turnarounds of any kind are high-risk, uncertain propositions that cause a lot of displacement and collateral damage.  (2) People -- educators -- are really angry and feel scapegoated by the recent reform trends (value added, removing charter caps, etc).  (3) Current reforms haven't (yet?) proven to be any more successful or effective than NCLB or anything that's come before; there's little to show for RTTT etc. (4) People -- educators -- are feeling empowered by the emergence of champions like Diane Ravitch and the defeat of opponents like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein.  (5) The economy is in the tank and everyone's worried about jobs, mass layoffs, etc.  (6) Parent Revolution and its head, Ben Austin, don't seem to have the personal authenticity and track record to persuade skeptics to give them a chance.  (7) Burned in the past or mad at the LA Weekly, the LA Times has decided to emphasize the issues raised by parent trigger opponents rather than the other way around. (8) Direct democracy -- elected school councils in Chicago or state referenda in CA -- is a messy business that's nearly always manipulated by organizers and advocates.  (9) Displaced rage against the holiday season.

Technology: District Portal Address Tops Google Search Terms

image from michaelzimmer.org What's the most-searched term in Chicago for 2010?  It's "student.cps.k12.il.us," the Web portal for Chicago Public Schools students to manage grades and assignments (Google Zeitgeist 2010). Apparently kids and parents don't know or care about the difference between a search box and a web address (we've all done it, but not repeatedly).  According to Google, "students were likely bringing home fliers or notes from teachers with the URL printed on it. Their parents would then type the address into a Google search bar instead of their browser's address bar."  Or maybe not just the parents.  

Books: Inequality, Diversity, Prep School

image from press.princeton.edu Heads up that Shamus Rahman Khan’s new book, Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School is coming out in February from Princeton University Press.  Khan, a sociologist and former student and teacher at St. Paul’s school [whom I met briefly last year at a holiday party] "pulls back the curtain on how private schools are helping create a new more diverse adolescent elite while still contributing to inequality in America." You may recall that Khan and his colleagues in the Elites Research Network, Sudhir Venkatesh and Dorian Warren, were profiled in the New York Times earlier this fall (here).   Read all about it here. I'm curious about how the book will match up with previous books about prep schools and the awful/juicy 2006 Vanity Fair article about the scandals that Khan's old school went through during that period of time (A Private-School Affair).

Thompson: How "Value-Added" Will Hamstring Turnaround Efforts

Reading Suppose you are a teacher who wants to commit to a high-needs school where test score growth plays a substantial part of your evaluation, but you have just read last week's Gates study which further highlights the importance of student behavior and summer reading.  You know that it's not teachers who establish and enforce a school's disciplinary policy and that many urban students don't learn to read for comprehension by 3rd grade and are less likely to supplement in school learning that way. The rational response would be to stay away, or to leave.  - JT (@drthompson)

Followup: Experts Debate "Thinktankia"

ScreenHunter_16 Dec. 15 15.29 Comments continue to come in on the issue of whether "thinktankia" (Ravitch coinage?) is a viable and creditable career path for education researchers.  In addition to the initial set of folks (Ravitch, LDH, Dorn, Hess) there are now comments from Bill Mathis, Arthur Levine, Paul Hill, Jeff Henig, Tom Loveless, Brenda Turnbull, and a feisty guy named Alex Trenton.  Take a look and join the debate - no expertise required.  


Media: Journo Explores Korean Education System

image from 1.bp.blogspot.comWashington Post education reporter Michael Alison Chandler is on a Fullbright and blogging about her experiences in Korea learning about its education system (Confucian Times).  Check it out if that's your kind of thing.  


AM News: Board President Saved By "Board Binder"

News2Schumer: Little-known tuition tax break extended:  A little-known tuition tax break that was due to expire this month has been renewed for middle-class families nationwide and will provide as much as $2,500 a year in tuition relief through 2012, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday... Boston school endorse reformsThe Boston School Committee has approved plans intended to plug a projected $63 million budget deficit over the next fiscal year and improve the quality of academic programs... Obama, business leaders promise to work together on economy and relationship: Obama's tone in the closed-door session was similar to that of a meeting two weeks ago with congressional Republicans, during which the president promised to work closely with his political adversaries after Democrats were badly defeated in the November elections. Fla. School Board Shooter Ignored Pleas:  As the board was in the midst of a discussion Tuesday, Clay A. Duke walked to the front of the room, spray painted a red "V" with a circle around it on the white wall, then turned and waved a handgun. He calmly ordered everyone to "hit the road" except the men on the board sitting behind a long beige desk... L.A. teachers union won't accept pay cuts, 'value-added' evaluations:  The state's largest teachers union Wednesday fired an early salvo in contract negotiations, serving notice that it wouldn't accept pay cuts easily and that it won't consider linking teacher evaluations to student test scores in the Los Angeles Unified School District... GAO: Registered sex offenders finding jobs in schools:  Registered sex offenders are getting jobs in schools as teachers, administrators, volunteers and contractors, despite state laws that prohibit ... 

Quote: Fancy Credentials / Lost Without GPS

Quotes2 They come in with these high credentials, and you say, wow. But then you realize they’re literally moving through the city with a GPS-- Baltimore Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway Union Baptist Church on out-of-town principals hired by Andres Alonso


Thompson: "The War on Teachers"

Central-falls-teachersjpg-c3c2b6342140ee35_large If you have any doubt that the "war on teachers" is doing serious harm to students, listen to Claudio Sanchez's " All Things Considered" report on the state of Central Falls H.S.  Six teachers have been absent due to stress, 18 have resigned, and more are expected to leave.  Reading about the school transformation does not convey the full poignancy of its collapse.  The venom in the voices of the "reformers"conveys the real issue.   State CommissionerDeborah Gist set the tone, but the sarcasm of the bureaucrat that overseas the school took the cake, as he ridiculed the teachers who might bring students home for Thanksgiving, saying he just wants them to teach.  Questions were raised about the reasons why teachers do not step in and correct students cursing and screaming.   Only non-teachers would not understand this predictable reality.  When administrators do nothing as teachers are assaulted, ignoring it as a "shove," we have no choice but to roll with the punches.  If Gist et. al do not understand that, they are too clueless  to participate in a successful reform. - JT (@drthompson)

Turnarounds: Half Measures Not Cutting It At Central Falls

Tumblr_lbhrbjCRwv1qdp2j8o1_500The way NPR's Claudio Sanchez half-whispers into the microphone it's hard not to feel like he's telling you a secret; the way he focuses on the feelings of the teachers at Central Falls high school it's hard not to feel like teachers were wronged last year when threatened with being fired and subsequently being told to raise their performance.  But it doesn't seem like the no-firing plan is working out for the kids or the school or even for the teachers who clawed to keep their jobs -- what a toxic environment -- and I'm thinking that RI state superintendent Deborah Gist might be regretting the move that let the teachers stay -- unhappily -- and hasn't seemed to make much of a difference at the school (After Firings Halted, Some Bemoan State Of R.I. School).  Not that making everyone re-apply for their jobs is any guarantee of a successful turnaround, or that the media (ahem, NYT) did any great service to the world last year making it seem like teachers were going to be taken out back and shot, creating public pressure to rescind the layoffs. 

AM News: Some Districts Using Edujobs For Bonuses


Poll: Most want easier way to fire bad teachers:  An overwhelming majority of Americans are frustrated that it's too difficult to get rid of bad teachers, while most also believe that teachers ... Ohio School District Uses Unique Peer Evaluations to Grade Teachers PBS:  Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports how public schools in Toledo, Ohio, are implementing a unique peer-evaluation program for educators that looks to nurture teachers, but make it easier to remove ineffective ones... Education stimulus money to fund state teacher bonuses Arkansas News:  Kimbrell said most of the state’s 239 school districts have indicated they will use the funds for one-time bonuses ranging from $500 to $700... Rural New York School Recruits Overseas Students NPR:  As hundreds of districts consolidate their schools, some remote communities are fighting back by seeking out international students to fill their nearly empty classrooms... Gunman Opens Fire at School Board, Kills Self WSJ:  A gunman who opened fire at a school board meeting and then exchanged shots with a security guard has killed himself, police said.

Video: Something About Math

" The Japanese give recreational mathematician Vi Hart a run for her money with their mind-expanding multiplication-problem-solving doodles." (The Daily What)



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