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Five Best Blogs: Fewer Kids, More -- Or Better? -- Teachers


Trading students for employees EIA:  Twenty-seven states had fewer students in 2009 than in 2008, but 16 of them hired more teachers... America May Need Fewer Teachers In The Future, But It Will Probably Want More Yglesias:  information technology means we’ll “need” fewer teachers, but I’m not sure how much need really has to do with it... Building Better Teachers Kevin Drum: We had better figure it out before we commit to some massive nationwide program to train better teachers... Twilight for Education Policy's Idols Conor Williams:  One of the most frustrating things about the current education reform wars is the cults that form around dominant personalities...  Testing STudents To Grade Teachers NYT:  What do we know about using student achievement tests to judge teacher performance?... Teachers as temps PressTV:  The corporate education project has nothing to do with growing new generations of smarter, socially aware, independent-thinking citizens, but is designed to raid public treasuries through wholesale contracting-out of public schooling... Mark them tardy to the revolution Steven Pearlstein:  The battles over standardized testing and adoption of common national standards were just the warm-up.

Quote: Kline Reacts To Duncan Reauth Rhetoric

Quotes2 Instead of focusing on timelines and rhetoric, the House Education and the Workforce Committee is advancing a series of thoughtful reform initiatives that will address key areas for improvement in the nation’s classrooms... It is time to set preconceived notions aside and chart a new course. - House education committee chairman John Kline.

Video: "Teach For America Rap" On HBO Show

Here's the video I wrote about last week (lyrics and comments here), thanks to a reader and whomever uploaded it (here).  It's not as fierce as it might have been, delivered as it is by one of the show's silliest characters (Davis). But still an interesting hint of the pushback against "reform" making it into mainstream pop culture.  Next up?  A shrill version of Michelle Rhee making a cameo on The Simpsons.  

USDE: Duncan In Minnesota

image from www.google.com EdSec Duncan starts the week ith a school visit and Senator Al Franken roundtable in St. Paul, Minn, and ends it with an immigration event. What he does during the rest of the week, we have no idea.  Suggestions, there's no shortage of those:  How about getting to work on beefing up SIG implementation?  The USDE is shoveling money out the door like it was Stimulus funding or something -- not getting much for its money, far as I can tell.  Or maybe you know better.

Continue reading "USDE: Duncan In Minnesota " »

Video: Kindergarten Teacher Calms Kids During Shootout

You may have heard on NPR this morning about a kindergarten teacher named Martha Rivera in Monterrey, Mexico who helped keep her kids safe and calm during a deadly nearby shooting -- and recorded the event on her cameraphone.  Here's the video - already viewed by 900K folks in just three days.  She's been recognized for her bravery. 

Lobbying: NEA Lobbyist Makes List Of Top Guns

ScreenHunter_04 May. 31 10.15 The people who really get things done in Washington are the lobbyists and staffers, not the think tankers and pundits.  That's the NEA's Marc Egan in Washingtonian's 40 under 40 feature on top lobbyists -- the only education-specific name on the list.  Egan's biggest recent accomplishment?  Helping win passage of the $10B edujobs bill.  Anyone else working for the education industry on the list?  Let us know.  Thanks to MP for the tip.  

AM News: South Carolina Districts Want "Race" Money

image from webmedia.newseum.org S.C. School Officials: We Want Our Race to Top Money! EdWeek:  The AP is reporting that if [the governor] doesn't change her mind, the state associations representing school administrators and school boards want to apply for the money themselves... High school graduation rates up, but some states lag behind Yahoo: More high school students are hitting the books and getting their degrees within four years, data from the NCES show. But not every state is part of that positive trend...  Too Young for Kindergarten? Tide Turning Against 4-Year-Olds NYT:  Connecticut is considering holding back students born after Oct. 1, a process known as redshirting, so they won’t be overwhelmed by peers who have already turned 5... OSI, ACLU criticize state school board over suspensions Baltimore Sun:  Two advocacy groups are criticizing the state school board for failing to act more quickly to address high suspension rates and inequities in the way students are disciplined from one district to another... Charter school leader Vielka McFarlane brings personal history, passion to education LAT:  Vielka McFarlane, after winning a fight with Los Angeles County schools officials over California's 'parent trigger' law, plans to open a new charter school in Compton...  Students suspended after racist incidents in Calif AP:  Students at a California high school have been suspended for suspected scrawling of racist graffiti and joining together in a white supremacy gesture while the senior class picture was being taken, school officials said Friday... Robot Wars Prepare Kids For Manufacturing Jobs NPR:  High tech companies hope these clashes also turn on students to careers in industries that need their skills...  L.A. School District Tells Librarians: You're Not Teachers NPR:  The LAUSD plans to lay off thousands of employees, due to a budget shortfall. The cuts include 85 school librarians — who have been told that they no longer count as teachers. 

Five Best Blogs: Have New Orleans Schools Really Been Fixed?

Dysentery School Performance In New Orleans Matthew Yglesias: It’d be better to have NAEP data instead of state test stuff, and it’d be better to look at demographic sub-group... School Reform in New Orleans Kevin Drum: We'll need a considerably more detailed analysis before we can genuinely conclude that their educational reforms have really worked... Money and L.A. Unified LAT:  Deasy says he will not "accommodate a funder" and that he'll set the agenda. But those lines can blur all too easily in a cash-strapped school system that must continually plead for money... Meet The Billionaires Who Are Trying To Privatize Our Schools And Kill Public Education Think Progress:   This rapid expansion of voucher programs is remarkable. After all, vouchers have been unpopular with the American public...  The Campaign to Discredit Michelle Rhee Richard Whitmire: That message -- getting rid of ineffective principals and teachers produces gains -- is a nightmare message for some... Teacher Evaluations through Student Testing Linda Darling-Hammond (on Education Nation): Smart evaluation will put test score data in its rightful place – as a small part of a much more comprehensive picture of what teachers do... 


Video: "All The Other Kids W/ The Pumped Up Kicks"

So this is apparently going to be one of the big pop songs of the summer, which starts this weekend. NPR's Morning Edition told me, so it's gotta be true. Have a good one. 

Movies: Race 3 -- Opening This Weekend


Thompson: Hess Hits Homeruns (When Not Striking Out)

Squarepeg When Rick Hess connects, his metaphors pack an awesome punch: "We would think it bewildering if we walked into a hospital and saw elite cardiovascular surgeons, novice residents, and bookkeepers taking turns conducting heart surgery and handling administrative duties. Yet that is standard practice in schools." Hess is absolutely correct that schooling is a team effort.  How he can square that awareness with a desire to hold individuals accountable for increasing student peformance is beyond me.  It is fun reading someone, however, whose homeruns and strikeouts are equally impressive.- JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.


Quote: Rhee Describes A Turnaround On Vouchers

Quotes2 I am a card-carrying Democrat … I always drew the line at vouchers … (I) completely changed my outlook. -- Former DCPS head Michelle Rhee

AM News: Governors Miffed Over "Race 3" Rollout

image from webmedia.newseum.org

South Carolina Stance on School Aid Is Criticized NYT: South Carolina’s education superintendent faced criticism the day after announcing that the state would not compete for federal money in the Race to the Top school improvement competition... RTTT Runners-Up Not Jumping at Chance to Split $200 Million EdWeek:  Now, Pennsylvania officials are telling me they might apply... Kentucky's participation isn't a sure thing either... New Fellowship Pays For College Kids To Drop Out NPR:  The "Twenty Under Twenty" fellowship provides $100,000 over a two-year period to each of the recipients... Conn. group fights to end seniority-based layoffs for teachers AP:  Leaders and supporters of a Connecticut group seeking education law changes are pushing lawmakers to stop school districts from using seniority to determine which teachers could face budget-related layoffs... Alabama Bill Shortens Teacher Termination Process HuffED:  The bill keeps both tenure and the timeline for achieving it in place for teachers but eliminates the lengthy federal arbitration process for firing tenured teachers... Lawmakers to Duncan: Keep NCLB's Tutoring Program EdWeek:  Some advocates, including T. Willard Fair want to see the reauthorized law keep the requirement that schools offer free tutoring to everyone, not just the kids in subgroups that miss AYP...

Philanthropy: Different Takes On NYT's "Paid Advocacy" Story

image from www.vegsource.comHere's what I've seen so far in response to the NYT story from over the weekend:  Gates' little-seen education chief Vicki Phillips touted the foundation's [IRS-required] transparency, noted that the Gates spending is a drop in the bucket compared to the $600B spent every year over all, and highlighted the collaboration taking place in its "deep dive" districts (or whatever they're calling them now). Celine Coggins, the ED from Teach Plus, complained that its and its members' motivations were misattributed to Gates rather than to the issues themselves. (She also noted that Gates doesn't fund TeachPlus' work in Indiana.)  Diane Ravitch focused on the fact that Gates et al have picked questionable policy solutions (small schools, value-added, charters).  Jim Horn argued that the article represented a fledgling effort by the Obama administration to break free from its reformy friends. (The Obama administration controls the NYT, apparently.) Sherman Dorn noted in comments that Dillon left out the Center on Education Reform's new Media Bullpen, which is getting nearly $300K to comment on media stories from a charter/choice perspective.  Ken Libby noted in comments and on Twitter that Dillon should have included$4M going to Stand For Children in 2009 and 2010.  DFER co-founder Whitney Tilson sent out an email calling reform advocacy "absolutely necessary to counter the enormous political power of the unions to block any and all reform." Though he hasn't addressed the funding he himself has received, Bellwether's Andy Rotherham debunked the notion that funders should give money without strings in a recent post. AEI's Rick ("Everyone's implicated") Hess finally weighed in publicly this morning, claiming that he'd been quoted out of context, noting that he's "raised questions about various Gates Foundation enthusiasms," and demanding equal time for organizations and individuals that take funding from non-Gates sources. 

Update: Newark Got $100M Thanks To COPPA

Picture 21#nsvfsummit Rough transcript: "One of the reasons why I started researching education outside of Facebook is because there's this set of laws called COPPA that make it so that basically people under the age of 13 cannot use Internet services without a huge amount of friction where there parents have to in the US put a credit card in to authenticate... I just think like we can have a pretty minimal impact [within Facebook] until we can make it so that people who are actually under the age of 13 can actually use the service.  So that will be a fight that we will take on at some point and try to make it so that we can allow that...  So I decided OK well let's think of ways outside of Facebook that we can support this and that's how we ended up doing the research and making the investment we did." (at the 25:00 mark)

Thompson: "Transformation" Won't Save Centennial High

SeeworthPolicy people are often taken aback when I say that I have lost more than 40 students to being murdered or killing someone over the course of a long career in the classroom. Mongo Allen, principal of Oklahoma City's largest alternative school, Seeworth Academy, has produced a documentary about 300 students who are dead or in prison. Seeworth is only two miles from my old school, Centennial, and so I knew that his toll would include many of my kids.  Centennial is the lowest performing school in the state, with an NCLB ranking that is even lower than Seeworth's.  Our outcomes are largely determined by Seeworth's capacity.  Allen's documentary deals with the murder and funeral of one of my kids. Another former student was arrested at Seeworth this week, allegedly for a drive-by. After it is full in October, our neighborhood school loses its ability to create a safe and orderly environment.  Centennial is not perfect, but when the alternative school capacity was cut by 20% during an economic downturn, our fate was sealed.  Now, we will receive an $11 million SIG grant and become a transformation school, but it would have been better to have invested in high-quality alternative schools and to have avoided our complete collapse.  JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Foundations: Handy-Dandy Gates Foundation Advocacy Crib Sheet

Picture 20
#privatemonepublicschools Here's a handy-dandy little crib sheet for the Gates Foundation's $78 million one-year advocacy spend, based on Sam Dillon's NYT article and the accompanying documents, ranked from high to low.  All figures are for 2009 unless otherwise noted.  Let me know what I missed or got wrong, and if you've seen any interesting commentary or response to the article from observers or those named in the piece.  

Quotes: The "Humpty Dumpty Of Public Education"

Quotes2 The tragedy for our all our children may be that once the Humpty Dumpty of public education falls and is shattered it may never be put back together. -- Edie Shanker

Ideas: A "Miranda" Warning For Students

image from www.turgingsomedrama.comWhat if there was some sort of Miranda warning for students at risk of being expelled or "counseled" out of school?  Perhaps such a thing already exists but if not it might look something like this:  "You have the right to decline to answer questins about your immigration status, home situation, learning or behavioral issues, or anything else besides your age, previous school, and home address at the time of your enrollment...You have the right to stay at your school despite poor grades or spotty attendance or nonphysical behavioral violations (verbal outbursts, defiance, etc.)...  You have the right to have a parent/guardian, translator, and student advocate attend any  conference at which your continued presence at the school is discussed... You have the right to request in-school suspension or access to an alternative program within your current school site rather than any change of schools that may be suggested or initiated by school administrators... You have the right to appeal any attempt to determine residency or eligibility that takes place after March of any given school year... Any violations of these terms should be reported to the independent office of student pushouts at toll free number."

AM News: South Carolina Bows Out Of RTTT Round 3

image from webmedia.newseum.org

Responses To Public Information Requests Show Names Of Protesting Wisconsin Teachers HuffED:  In Wisconsin, most districts complied with the information request, but not Madison, which cited concern for protecting both teacher morale and safety... Detroit's Mass Teacher Layoffs May Prove Bellwether For Education Reform Nationwide HuffED:  Michigan’s Public Act 4 is the most extreme example, but lawmakers from New York to California are seeking ways to circumvent or eliminate public school teacher tenure, pushing for staffing decisions to be made based on merit rather than seniority... S.C. Won't Compete in Race to Top, Round 3 EdWeek:  Other states may be more willing to participate in the competition for what will likely be easy money... 9 States Get New Chance at Federal Education Aid NYT: By devoting $500 million to early learning, the administration is returning to a pledge President Obama made in his campaign... Obama aims to boost early-learning programs WP:  The federal government spends more than $7 billion on Head Start for children from low-income families, but the program covers only a small portion of eligible children... Report shows education choices expanding across US AP:  When it comes to education choices (AP) -- from kindergarten up through college - the decision is no longer simple.... Growth in Education Spending Slowed in 2009 NYT:  The change in spending, reported in census figures, is seen as a response by states to deepening fiscal woes and flatter tax revenues... New York Was No. 1 in Per Pupil Spending Last Year WNYC (via GS):  New York spent more on its public school students than any other state — an average of $18,126 — during 2009. States with the lowest spending per pupil in 2009 were Utah ($6,356), Idaho ($7,092) and Arizona ($7,813)... Schools struggle to recover amid years of cuts:  At least 21 states have proposed cutting spending on K-12 education for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That's in addition to at least 34 states that already have made cuts since the recession began... Students get big payday for skipping school  Marketplace; The Thiel Foundation announced 24 winners of its first fellowship. Each winner gets $100,000 to sit out of college for two years... Charter school group's petition for Compton campus is approved LAT:  Celerity Educational Group's petition to open a campus was rejected by Compton's school board. But its successful appeal to L.A. County education officials means that a kindergarten through fifth-grade campus will operate in a neighborhood church.

Thompson: The Problem With Hyper-Rational Policy Wonks

Drowning_data_quinn-anya Larry Cuban reminds us that data-driven instruction has been tried before, under the name of "measurement instruction" -- without much success.  Cuban then criticizes "reformers" for "rationality on steroids,"  a hyper-technocratic way of looking at things which fails to take emotions into account.  "Emotions, however,  are what get practitioners, not policymakers, over the inevitable potholes on the road to reform success."  Cuban also cites research by the IES What Works Clearinghouse which explains why the new silver bullet is not likely to be more successful than the old ones.  After examining 490 studies of data-driven instruction, the IES concluded that only six showed evidence of effectiveness, and their levels of evidence were low.  Why can we not admit the obvious truth of Cuban's conclusion, "Numbers may smell scientific. But we give meaning to these numbers?"-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Five Best Blogs: Preschoolers Get $500M, States Get $200M

UnderConstruction Bill Bennett, James Madison, and National Curricular Materials Chester E. Finn, Jr.: The paranoids among us will reply that what Duncan is about is trying—without acknowledging it—to IMPOSE a curriculum... Racin' on Preschool Legs Eduflack:  Of the $700 million going to RttT Round Three, only $200 million of it will go to these nine states... How to Reform School Boards Gene Maeroff: These are at least four major areas to address when it comes to school board reform... Public Schools Now Charging Thousands of Dollars Gawker:  Does your child attend a "public" high school? You're so old. Also, broke, due to the fact that America's public schools these days charge lots of money. Is this a new thing?.. Mark Zuckerberg Changes His Tune on Kids Using Facebook Atlantic Wire:  "We're not trying to work on the ability for people under the age of 13 to sign up… That's just not top of the list of things for us to figure out right now," Zuckerberg told the crowd at the e-G8 summit in Paris today.

Classrooms: Does TFA Displace Veterans -- & Do TFAer Really Stay?

The most recent episode of Treme, David Simon's New Orleans-based follow-up to The Wire, includes a biting rap about TFA candidates displacing veteran teachers that will ring true or false depending on your perspective:

Four years at Radcliffe, that's all you know
A desire to do good and a four point oh
You're here to save us from our plight
You got the answer 'cause you're rich and white
On a two-year sojourn here to stay
Teach for America all the way
Got no idea what you're facin'
No clue just who you're displacin'
Old lady taught fathers, old lady taught sons
Old lady bought books for the little ones
Old lady put in 30 years
Sweat and toil, time and tears
Was that really your sad intention?
Help the state of Louisiana deny her pension

At this point in the scene, another character breaks in and reminds the speaker that it was the government, not TFA, who let the veteran teachers go.  The response?  "A scab is a scab is a scab." Unfair and simplistic, to be true, but -- like race and background and where you send your kids to school -- still a real thing among those who believe it.  Then there's the issue of whether TFA's claims about retention of classroom teachers, which is being debunked by one of it's own.  Found here via Larry Ferlazzo. Anyone got a video clip?  You sure you want to try and end LIFO during a major recession?

Funders: Zuckerberg Wants To Educate Kids - On Facebook

image from www.youaredefinitelydoingitwrong.comSeemingly little noted by most of the reformy types attendance at the NSVF summit last week, Mark Zuckerberg revealed some startling thinking behind his interest in school reform and a controversial plan for Facebook going forward.  Outside of education, the remarks caught folks' attention and -- in combination with hearings back in Washington -- generated a flurry of coverage and concern (PCMagFortune TechInternational Business TimesAtlantic WireHuffington Post).  What's it all about?  Asked what got him interested enough to give $100M to Newark, Zuckerberg noted that part of his interest stemmed from frustrations with the federal law called COPPA that makes it difficult for users younger than 14 to sign up for Facebook and other social sites without a parent sign-off.  Learning is social, to Zuckerberg, and early learning is key.  But the educational benefits of commercial social media are unclear.  Recent reports suggest that 7.5 million children under the age of 13 have already snuck onto Facebook.  Zuckerburg seemed to be admitting that his motivation behind investing in Newark was at least partly fueled by the desire to push Facebook down into the tween and elementary school set, and the admission seemed especially ill-timed, considering that cyberbulling is a national concern and there's growing concern about privacy and monopoly.  Image via.

Video: Even "The Simpsons" School Has A Rubber Room

This episode of the Simpsons featuring an un-dismissable teacher named Edna Crabapple and a NYC-style "rubber room" is almost as good as the one a few years ago in which administrators reclassified Bart as special education in order to raise school test scores.

Sorry about the preview ads - not my fault.  Via EIA

Quotes: Duncan Opposes "National Curriculum"

Quotes2 We have not and will not prescribe a national curriculum. - Arne Duncan via EdWeek

Charts: Popular Lesson Sharing Site Not That Popular

We bloggers love us some Better Lesson -- who could resist Alex Grodd? -- but this chart from Education Sector reveals that other lesson sharing sites have lots more action:  

Come on, BL!  You can do it! (Though you might have to get off the charter school crack to move up the rankings.) Teachers Swap Recipes

AM News: School Aid, Activity Fees, & Board Patronage

image from webmedia.newseum.org NJ gov.: I'll heed court order to boost school aid AP:  After New Jersey's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the state spend more on low-income school districts and Gov. Chris Christie agreed not to stand in the way, it's up to state lawmakers to figure out how to do it... Tea party targets schools for 'Constitution Week' AP:  A national tea party group wants a conservative publishing house in Idaho to teach America's kids about the U.S. Constitution this coming school year... Public Schools Increase Fees Charged to Students WSJ:  Dakota Ridge High in Littleton, Colo., charges sophomores $15 for basic 10th grade English but $50 for honors, which uses additional materials... Investigation finds Elizabeth school board pressures workers to fill campaign coffers NJ Star Ledger:  A four-month investigation by The Star-Ledger, drawing on interviews, lawsuits and internal documents, shows [the school board] can also be a relentless political machine... Board officially cancels community elections over school-reform plans LAT:  Galatzan listed a string of reported election abuses, including intimidation tactics and incentives such as gifts, parties or course credit... Stimulus Aid Sparked Progress on Goal EdWeek:  States made use of ARRA funds to boost school data systems and make improvements in other areas, a first round of reports say...Michelle Rhee Faces Firestorm For Role In Controversial Ohio Teachers Bill HuffPost:  While collective bargaining was not a topic of organizational focus, [Rhee's spokesperson] stressed that on this matter, Rhee and Kasich did not see eye-to-eye...Khan Academy looks to bridge the education gap with online learning Marketplace: Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, discusses the education problem his organization can solve and technology's role in schools.

Best 5 Blogs: Ravitch Apologizes To Gist (Sorta)

Esq-j-crew-ludlow-suit-052011-lgMinnesota inches closer to banning Common Core Kathleen Porter-Magee: The Minnesota Commissioner will not be able to adopt common standards in any other content area, no matter how good those standards may be...  Political Andywonk:  Underneath all the chattering there is a quiet consensus among some key players that current law – with all its problems – is preferable to a law that only focuses on 5 percent of the schools... Illinois Is Proving any State Can Change its Schools Suzanne Kubach:   A dozen or so leading citizens, backed by local and national philanthropy, put Illinois on this path to becoming a national leader in education reform, distinguishing its approach from its neighbor... VideoGate, Day 7 Jay P. Greene: There is something self-serving and potentially insincere about Ravitch’s generic denunciation of “the spirit of meanness that now permeates so much of our public discourse” coming only after she is potentially caught in making inaccurate allegations against others.... [Or: Ravitch Backs Down Gracefully Tom Hoffman]... Rhee Teams Up With Former Union Chief Parker Stephen Sawchuk: Parker's positions were never simplistic, and they were influenced both by pragmatism and by a deeply divided WTU membership, which made for very challenging politics... The Service of Democratic Education Linda Darling-Hammond:  Public education has a secret weapon—a Trojan horse, if you will: the members of the profession like yourselves who have mastered a strong body of professional knowledge, who hold a strong ethic of care and who are determined to transmit this knowledge and this commitment to others throughout the education system...

Stray Dogs: Getting Real About Making Schools Better

image from hinessight.blogs.comThe most memorable part of my Southern California Public Radio interview with Madeleine Brand earlier today was her honest but somewhat heartbreaking response to my description of the hard-won improvements that have taken place at Locke since 2008 -- the safe grounds and quiet hallways, the kids feeling like their teachers care about them and that they can succeed in school.  "That sounds sort of depressing." Brand said.  Indeed, not getting gangbanged in the hall or humiliated when you have a question in class is no big deal to most of us, and it's not hard to look at all the work that's gone on at Locke and hundreds of other turnaround efforts and think the same thing: no big deal. I get that, and have had the thought myself many times.  But then I remember how big a difference it makes when I feel safe on my way home to Brooklyn or how big a difference it makes when an editor is even the slightest bit engaged and supportive. Little things make big differences in all of our lives.  We're unsettled and unproductive when they're not the way we want them; it's just that the little things at Locke are different than most of ours.  Expecting big things immediately is understandable but ultimately destructive.  It's a habit we have to get out of if we want to have any chance of making a real difference in the long run.  

Video: Teaching Candidate Fired For Making Stunt Video

A student teacher named Mr. Steffen made and posted this parkour (free running) video (A Normal Day for Mr. Steffen), which then went viral.  He says he can't get fired because he hasn't been hired anywhere.  

USDE: Doomsday Threat Safely Passed, Duncan Joins Twitter

ScreenHunter_01 May. 24 11.26
Fearing that our enthusiasm for his aw-shucks demeanor and locker-room speaking style was fading -- and releived that Doomsday had come and gone without incident -- the education secretary has joined Twitter (@arneduncan). It is a move I'm sure he will regret as soon as the National Writing Project and others find him but it offers many chances for entertainment for the rest of us.  Someone please register @secretaryduncan and go to town.  I nominate Michelle McNeil.  Via GothamSchools.

Thompson: Tests, Learning, & The Tulsa Race Riot Of 1921

image from www.blackpast.org In Mother Jones, Kristina Rizga's What Standardized Tests Miss describes the tension between skin-deep instruction to cover tested material and engaging, in-depth learning that can change students' lives.  In particular, Rizga describes a student's pride and the inspiration that grew out of researching the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.  That reminded me that I used to introduce Oklahoma History by explaining the textbook selection process to my students, and how a committee choose Danney Goble's book after he completed his sales pitch by reading an amazing passage about the riot.  Once, the bell rang just as I completed reading Goble's concluding words.  Nobody moved.  Then the strongest weightlifter in the class rose and said solemnly, "Please tell Dr. Goble that we appreciate what he his doing."  The class leader shook my hand, as if I was a preacher.  Every student did the same as they filed out of class. JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.    

Head Start: Reformy Approach Spreading To Early Childhood

image from www.bcvfund.com I told you a few weeks ago about the potentially groundbreaking move on the part of HHS to bring new providers into Head Start and get some of the lowest performing programs out of the way.  Here comes another form of competition -- a for-profit Head Start startup called Acelero that, while it hasn't actually made a profit yet, could shake things up in good ways or bad.  The story describing the fledgling company (A for-profit approach to Head Start) comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer and Hechinger and sketches out both a handful of successes and some obvious challenges, along with lots of parallels between efforts to reform K-12 education and what's now being tried in ECE.  Performance pay, a focus on outputs, venture philanthropy funders, cost-cutting, all the rest.  

AM News: Los Angeles Is Where All The Action Is

image from webmedia.newseum.org Court Decision Could Upend N.J. Schools WSJ:  The court could order billions of dollars more in schools spending during Mr. Christie's term, pinching spending in other areas... Stimulus recipients owe more than $750 million in taxes Washington Post:  The GAO report estimates that as many as 4,500 stimulus recipients could owe upwards of $909 million in taxes despite receiving a combined $29 billion in stimulus funds... High schools offer grade boosts to students who improve test scores LAT:  A voluntary program at 39 L.A. campuses allows students who improve test scores from one achievement category to the next to qualify for a higher grade... Tests for Pupils, But the Grades Go to Teachers NYT:  New York City officials are developing tests whose main purpose is to grade teachers, not students who take them... New study tells students the worth of their majors AP:  The choice of undergraduate major in college is strongly tied to a student's future earnings, with the highest-paying majors providing salaries of about 300 percent more than the lowest-paying, according to a study released Tuesday...  Catholic School in Harlem Is Closing Over Financial Woes:  The board of directors voted to close Rice, a Roman Catholic boys’ high school, after it became clear that it could not attract enough students to make ends meet... Gun fired at Hawaii school, 1 student injured AP:  A loaded handgun brought to a Hawaii middle school by a student was fired on campus before school started Monday, narrowly missing one student and leaving another with minor injuries, police said....



People: New Face At USDOE Press Office

image from www.mrc.orgMeet Daren Briscoe, the USDE's new Deputy Press Secretary, who comes to the job from another spot within the Obama administration and before that a stint covering Obama for Newsweek during the campaign -- a move made by several journalists that was upsetting to some media watchers and conservatives. Me, I don't care.  I just love the 'stache and the cool Wild West last name and if he calls me back when I blow up his cell phone with some stupid question about what Duncan's wearing.  Via Edweek.  Image via.

Best 5 Blogs: Debating Valerie Strauss (& Education)

6a00e54ef96453883401538e8b83e9970b-250wiValerie Strauss is the Lou Dobbs of Education Jay P. Greene:  Just as CNN needed a reinvented Dobbs to capture some of the audience attracted to O’Reilly at Fox, maybe WaPo needed a reinvented Strauss to capture some of the readers attracted to Ravitch and Eduwonkette... Teach Plus changes Web site to reflect reality Valerie Strauss:  Today the nonprofit organization Teach Plus changed its “Why We Exist” statement on its Web site in regard to the importance of teachers in student success... A Times Derby Education Next:  How did we get to the point where we now can’t teach kids unless we first fix their parents and make them middle class? Cheaters Cheaters...Everywhere? Luke Kohlmoos:  It is statements like these that push the message that there is an epidemic of cheating that undermines all test scores, all assessment measures, all efforts to increase accountability...Creating Educational Monocultures John Thompson: Given the deplorable conditions in our urban schools, there is much to admire in the sense of urgency that private donors bring to education ...Why Movements Matter: Paradigm-shifting elections don't shift paradigms if there aren't corresponding social movements for change...Want Kids to Win the Future? Turn Them Into Makers Wired:  Nolan Bushnell once almost destroyed his family's garage. As a youngster in Utah, he went tooling around with a liquid-fuel rocket on a roller skate and things went awry... At the Movies! Eduflack:  Pop the corn, fill the barrel of soda, and get ready for the next round of the "great education movie."

Cartoons: Leveling The Playing Field -- Through Budget Cuts

image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com Via Slate

Media: Local Education Blogger Moves To NYT

image from gothamschools.orgNews is out that GothamSchools' Anna Phillips is headed to the New York Times to be a metro education writer, starting just after Memorial Day.  The reporter worked at GothamSchools for a little more than two years.  The announcement was posted on Friday here. Close observers will undoubtedly have some views on Phillips' work or how it compares to the other reporters on the site, but I haven't followed closely enough to have formed my own views.  You can read her stories at GothamSchools here.

Foundations: What If It Were Koch Or Soros Doing The Funding?

image from www.olympicforest.org Longtime readers of this blog already know about and care or don't care about the Gates Foundation's enhanced role in what's politely called advocacy work, but what about the role of independent and mainstream blogs in mainstream news reporting, and what about the use of the tax code to further political goals?  Sam Dillon's NYT article on the Gates Foundation's much-expanded advocacy work (Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy), along with the figures and annotations accompanying the 990 form notes that a revealing Gates Foundation memo appeared on Valerie Strauss's Washington Post blog and quotes Ken Libby, the 990-loving blogger who first uncovered the mis-spending within Green Dot, as well.  That's one glimmer of hope, I'd say (unless of course it turns out that they're getting Gates money).   As for the underlying issue at hand -- are Gates and these groups violating their IRS tax restrictions -- you might want to check out this Steve Krigman article on the recent brouhaha (When "educating" is the same as propaganda) and imagine it's the Koch brothers or Soros doing the giving. Image via.

Video: Rhee Names Former DC Union President As Ally

Looking for something you haven't seen before (and might not have ever imagined)?  Watch Michelle Rhee introduce her former WTU opponent as a senior fellow with Students First above, or read about it in the NYT here.

USDE: Duncan Goes Back To Harvard

image from www.crimsoncanopy.com Lots of speeches and one supposedly big announcement in Arne Duncan's media schedule this week, but the highlight for Duncan is probably a return to Harvard to participate in graduation ceremonies on Thursday.  It's his class's 25th anniversary -- time flies! -- and he was apparently picked as some sort of representative of the class.  I'm sure there'll be lots of graduates heading into TFA and other quick-drying teaching programs to cheer him.  

Continue reading "USDE: Duncan Goes Back To Harvard" »

AM News: LA Teachers Union Battles Reform Efforts

image from webmedia.newseum.org Obama Presses Congress for Overhaul of No Child Left Behind Law AP:  President Barack Obama nudged Congress to overhaul the No Child Left Behind law by the end of the year and give states and local schools more flexibility in a student's education... L.A. teachers union seeks to halt school district initiatives  LAT:  Union opposes testing of a new teacher evaluation system and wants to thwart plans to hand over South Los Angeles campuses to a charter organization... Los Angeles teachers union seeks to block test of evaluation program LAT:  Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy appeared to have momentum in the effort to revise educator evaluations in the LAUSD, but the teachers union is digging in its heels... Pawlenty, an Education Guy, to Run for President EdWeek: For a glimpse into what Pawlenty's education platform will look like, check out this recap of a campaign stop he made in Iowa earlier this year...Gender Games: Born on Sideline, Cheering Clamors to Be Sport NYT:  The N.C.A.A. is being asked to put cheerleading on track to gain full status as a championship sport... Small, Poor, Successful School Waits for Obama, in Vain NYT:  One of three finalists in the White House’s 2011 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge had hoped for a graduation speech delivered by the president himself... Tennessee Senate Passes 'Don't Say Gay' Bill AP:  If you're a young Tennessee student and you want to talk about what it means to be gay, you might just have to wait till high school... Leaf recognition software TDW:  Leafsnap currently includes the trees of New York City and Washington, D.C., and will soon grow to include the trees of the entire continental United States.


Charts: Percent Chance These Bars Will Reach The Top Of This Graph

image from also.kottke.org

Via Kottke

Books: Brill's Guide To Familiar Reform Figures

Picture 18Let's see if we can use the promotional copy for Steve Brill's forthcoming school reform book, Class Warfare (via Andywonk), to figure out what Brill is going to say. The book's length will provide lots of room for details that wouldn't make it into a magazine or newspaper but will Brill introduce people we don't know or things we haven't already read about?  It's not entirely clear.  There are lots of super-familiar elements, including an allusion to Race To The Top ("an unprecedented plan that will infuriate the teachers’ unions because it offers billions to states that win an education reform “contest"), the creation of DFER (" a Fifth Avenue apartment where billionaires plan a secret fund to promote school reform"), Joel Klein ("an antitrust lawyer who...now forms a partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates to overhaul New York’s schools"), Wendy Kopp ("a naïve Princeton student who launches an army of school reformers with her senior thesis"), Mike Johnston ("a rookie Colorado legislator who writes the most sweeping education reform law ever"), Antonio Villaraigosa ("a California teachers’ union lobbyist, who becomes the Mayor of Los Angeles") and Randi Weingarten ("an anguished national union leader who walks a tightrope between compromising enough to save her union and giving in so much that her members will throw her out," and Brill's own NYT Magazine story about charter school co-location.  That being said, there are three references that aren't immediately obvious (to me at least): "a young woman who... becomes so talented and driven that fighting burnout becomes her biggest challenge"... "a visionary Florida special education teacher who persuades her union to make peace with the reformers"... "a stubborn young teacher, who, as a child growing up on Park Avenue, had been assumed to be learning disabled and who ends up co-founding the nation’s most successful charter schools."  

AM News: That NCLB Rewrite? Not Gonna Happen

image from webmedia.newseum.org No Child Left Behind fix lagging in Congress AP:  Kline, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, said there is no chance of meeting President Barack Obama'sAugust deadline for reform of the 9-year-old bill... 'Chiefs for Change' Serves Up Principles for ESEA Reform EdWeek:  All schools, not just the lowest-performing schools, should be held accountable for the academic performance of all students...K12 buys Kaplan grade school education programs Boston Globe:  K12 Inc. , which runs online public schools across the country, said Thursday that it is buying Kaplan Inc.'s K-12 online curriculums for an undisclosed amount... Philanthrophy comes back to school NPR:  After two years of stock market gains, big donors are opening their checkbooks for colleges and universities...  Education Legislation Struggle Breaks Old Alliances, Builds New Ones Texas Tribune:  A bill aimed at relieving school district mandates required by the state is a tough sell on both sides of the aisle... Parents Battle School Districts for Special Support Bay Citizen:  In San Francisco, a growing number of parents of special-needs children are challenging the budget-crunched school district over federally mandated support.... Austin Woes Are Capped by Decision to Fire Teachers and a Student Protest Chicago News Cooperative:  Seven of Austin Polytechnical Academy’s 30 teachers are being dismissed and five of them received the school district’s controversial “do not hire” designation... Kevin Jennings Leaving Education Department to Head "Be The Change" Metro Weekly:  The head of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools will be leaving that role...What They Are Really Typing Inside Higher Ed:   The average student in the Vermont study cycled through a whopping 65 new, active windows per lecture, nearly two-thirds of which were classified as 'distractive.' [via HuffED]... SF school swaps out name of racist Calif. governor Associated Press: For decades, a San Francisco preschool in an underserved, predominantly black neighborhood bore the name of Peter Burnett, California's first elected civilian governor... 


Best 5 Blogs: Carey & Greene Call Out Hess & Ravitch

Drink through coffee lid What Does Rick Hess Believe We Should Do? Kevin Carey:  When do we get to the part in this story when all of the aggrieved Hill staffers and disrespected small-government conservatives actually explain how their sacred principles translate into law?.. Diane, Release the Tapes — Day 1 Jay Greene:  A video of the meeting would reveal the answer and it will be released if all parties give permission.  Gist has already done so and we are waiting for Ravitch... Liberals See Victory in Their Wisconsin Union Defeat Atlantic Wire:  Republicans are less motivated by the union fight, Silver says. That means that the "enthusiasm gap" Democrats suffered last  year could shrink... Agents of Change or an Oppositional Force? Students First:  If kids and quality education are ever to win out, the power of the teachers unions must be drastically reduced... When Should Governments Contract Out? Megan McArdle:  We should be extremely cautious about privatizing services with a captive audience, especially when the people they are supposed to serve have little political voice...Why Don't Schools Learn From Each Other? Scholastic:  Within a year, teachers in Fresno, Oakland, Compton, and Garden Grove were trained in Map2D and math scores in their districts were going up, too... 

Quotes: Lead With Values, Not Facts

Quotes2 You don't lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.. -- Mother Jones

Cartoon: We're Not Forgetting History -- We're Ignoring It

image from www.newyorker.com

Thompson: Expectations Mismatch Between Models & Rhetoric

MotivesLook below the surface and you'll see an interesting disconnect between value-added teacher rating models and reform rhetoric.  The value-added models used by the Los Angeles Times and described elsewhere are explicitly in acknowledging the correlation between income and student achievement. But district leaders are pushing them deny that those "expected results" should be expected.  They are of the "no excuses" school of opinion, but their value-added models aren't.  JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.



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.