About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Books: New History Of The NYC Teachers Union

image from mail.google.com I just finished re-reading Tom Geoghegan's Which Side Are You On? (highly recommended) and am re-reading parts of Rick Kahlenberg's Tough Liberal (also very good).  

Next up on my list might be Reds at the Blackboard, a new history of the NYC teachers union being put out by Columbia University Press.  Ah, those were the days.Either that or the Terry Moe book, I can't decide.  

Beat me to the punch by reading an excerpt and telling me what you think.  What's your favorite book about teachers, unions, and their role in helping or hindering school reform?

Pictures: Duncan & Politico Guy, Separated At Birth?

Picture 17 Does Arne Duncan look like Politico's executive director (or Ben Affleck)?

That's what Mediabistro thinks -- except of course they think it's the other way around.  

Comment, don't care -- it makes no difference to me.    


AM News: Duncan Pushes White As Interim LA State Supe

image from webmedia.newseum.org US education chief gets involved in Louisiana's superintendent search The Republic: White hasn't committed to wanting the state job, saying instead he would consider it if BESE made the request...  10 Issues Driving Obama's Re-Election Campaign USNWR:  Obama ties investments in education to potential job growth. And he has put the spotlight on college education and boosting graduation rates. Typically he talks about "stepping up our game" in education. Schools may fare better under revised budget plan AP:  The state aid cuts to Michigan's public schools would not be as deep as previously expected under a plan that was taking shape Wednesday between state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder, according to Republican legislative leaders... Dade Schools Superintendent: Every Teacher Will “Have a Home” Next Year District Administration:  As the Miami-Dade school district strives to balance its $4 billion budget, its superintendent said there would be no teacher layoffs or cuts to arts and language programs, nor would he propose raising local school taxes...  Denver Public Schools seeking fewer, more committed substitute teachers Denver Post:  Glenn Anderson, who was substitute teaching Tuesday at Denver's Horace Mann School, is so dedicated that teachers often request him directly... Zero-tolerance policies criticizedExperts and parents say they punish students too harshly for small infractions... Union Sues to Stop School Closings NYT:  The lawsuit, joined by the N.A.A.C.P., says the city hasn't fulfilled its obligations to help the schools it wants to shut down. It also accuses the city of favoring charter schools in allotting space... 

NCLB: Obama's SuperSecret Special Ed Diversion Program

image from www.cardsmart.co.uk Wow.  A little-noticed provision in the Obama education "blueprint" for NCLB -- inserted at the behest of the Gates Foundation and/or Pearson and Comcast (no one's quite sure) -- allows schools to identify children as special needs and divert them into a resource room for up to a full school year -- without parents' knowledge or approval or the consent of the teacher of record.  According to section 45.321, a district can "identify, at its discretion, up to 5 (five) percent of student enrollment not already identified as having special needs, for alternative special services outside the normal course offerings, which may include (a) computer-assisted instruction, (b) group activities supervision by classified or certified staff, or (c) any such services as the district may deem appropriate...as long as the parent or guardian is notified within 180 days of such changes." The stated rationale is that early intervention could help reduce later needs for full-on special education services, but advocates are concerned about parents and classroom teachers being left out of the loop on educational decisions and the potential misuse of the provision for cost-cutting purposes or to advance a particular technology or vendor.  For more see here.

Chart: Kindergarten Career Chart Offers Hope For Future

ScreenHunter_14 May. 16 14.18
'Only one "princess" and one "millionaire."' (Hope For The Future Jezebel)

Quote: How Middle-Class Parents Unintentionally Block Reform

Quotes2 These comparatively affluent parents with a great deal of social and political capital fight like hell to divert as many resources as possible--including the best teachers--into a handful of schools in affluent areas... -- Atlantic columnist megan McCardle

NSVF 2011: Reformy Summit Returns To Silicon Valley

Last night's NSVF summit reception featured Target-branded cocktails and bass-heavy lounge music provided by a live DJ. Today the  San Francisco (adjacent) hotel where the event is being held will be swarming with sharply-dressed reformers and funders (but usually very few teachers or administrators).  Fill your day with long-distance scorn or envy by following along.  Send me email or tweets to let me know what I'm missing or what sessions I should go to:

Video: Dysfunction, Mis-Spending, & Despair In Detroit

Here's part one of Dan Rather's report on Detroit Public Schools that first aired last week-- available for free this week according to the folks from HDnet who are trying to make sure the show gets noticed:

I watched the first part and it's ponderous and predictable albeit with some great footage (including interviews with a former DPS employee who belatedly decided to blow the whistle on mis-spending at the central office.)  Does Rather add anything to the story we don't already know, or provide a useful reminder of realities we may have forgotten?  Here's a favorable review of the two hour report -- I didn't see many other responses -- and a link to the other two parts

AM News: Here Comes The Stimulus "Funding Cliff" -- Maybe

image from webmedia.newseum.org More than 1,400 Broward teachers losing their jobs Miami Herald:  The first to lose their jobs are those who have been with the school district for less than two years or those who signed a one-year contract this year. Those jobs were paid for by federal stimulus money that isn’t being renewed... A More Optimistic Budget Outlook in California, Other States EdWeek: An improving economy has brought a surge of tax revenue into the state coffers in cash-strapped California, which could mean that K-12 schools stand a better chance of avoiding deep budget cuts...  Former GM Exec Takes The Reins In Detroit HuffED:  Former GM executive Roy Roberts took over as the emergency manager of Detroit's public schools yesterday. And so far, he doesn't seem intent on bulldozing anything -- yet...  Minnesota: Weak on Bullying MPR:  The state's policy is one of the shortest in the nation. MPR presents the first comprehensive look at school policies on bullying, cyber-bullying and what schools are doing to solve the growing bullying problem.... Honor for Immigrant Activist NYT:  The University of San Francisco will award an honorary doctorate to an illegal immigrant, Isabel Castillo, 26, who has been a leading advocate for passage of the Dream Act... Bennet encourages undocumented youth EdNews CO:  Bennet joined 32 other Senate colleagues on May 11 in re-introducing the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act – commonly known as the DREAM Act... Hundreds protest Ga. charter school ruling AP:  Hundreds of Georgia charter school parents, students and school administrators are protesting a ruling by the state's highest court that overturned a law allowing the creation of state-approved charters... Penn. Lawsuit: White Teachers Told They're Unfit To Teach Black Students AP:  Four white Philadelphia teachers filed federal race-bias lawsuits that accuse a black principal of creating a hostile work environment and suggesting they were unfit to teach black children... Ohio Student Punished For Reporting Classmates Having Sex On School Bus AP:  A woman said Monday that an Ohio charter school is punishing her daughter for not immediately reporting that she saw two classmates having sex on a school bus and for changing her seat during the bus trip... Tony Bennett, Gavin DeGraw Lobby Congress to Save School Music US News: Fifteen-time Grammy winner Tony Bennett asks lawmakers to fund public school music classes.

Thompson: Private Money, Risk Tolerance, & Public Schools

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comMy take on the Columbia Journalism School workshop on foundations and education (and the subsequent panel with Wendy Kopp, the Ford Foundation's Jeannie Oakes, and NYC's Shael Polakow-Suransky) is a little different than Alexander's.  I were a billionaire philanthropist, I too would seek to leverage my investments so they did not follow in the footsteps of the Annenberg Challenge, and become buckets of water in a sea of dysfunction.  And in the private sector I want capitalists to take risks in investing their money.  But combining high leverage approaches with a high tolerance for risk-taking is a problem when it comes to improving public education.  Yes, we should have a sense of urgency about deplorable schools, but where is the urgency and concern about the test-driven policies, encouraged by private foundations, that are inflicting so much damage on many of our poorest students?  That being said, I was encouraged to witness the reflectiveness of  Polakow-Suransky when thinking through the potential harm of test-prep approaches to meeting accountability systems.  Polakow-Suransky did not convert me, but I was impressed with him as a human being and an educator. -JT(@drjohnthompson)

NCLB: Reformers Alienate Spellings At A Price

image from images.politico.comPolitico's story about Margaret Spellings (Talks leave Margaret Spellings behind) paints a pretty negative picture of Spellings' prospects for influencing NCLB reauthorization.  Former colleague Russ Whitehurst gets in a dig.  (I was surprised not to see a sweetly poisoned comment from former Bushie Mike Petrilli.)  And indeed Spellings and the Chamber are having to claw their way back into the reform conversation after a long absence.  But what reporter Abby Phillip leaves out is that Spellings isn't alone in pushing for retaining or even strengthening key parts of NCLB (some of the civil rights groups support the same) *and* that the Obama folks and centrist Republicans could end up being victimized by the distance that they've been creating between them and her.  In bashing NCLB and distancing itself from some of its key architects -- Spellings, Kress, the Roundtable, the Chamber -- the Obama folks in particular took the easy path and further fragmented the centrist coalition that created NCLB and could help push through a new version of the law. At some point along the way, probably near the end of a long and difficult process, Obama et al will need help from business groups in securing support from moderate Republicans. They'll need every vote to get something done and fight off extremist views on both sides.  The blind quote that ends the story hints that the Obama folks know this, too. 

Thompson: Other Teachers' Students

SpringCentral Park was full of students on post-test field trips last week and I couldn't resist interacting with a class of 8th graders I came across.  I told the teacher that his kids made me miss the classroom, and a wiry, assertive black kid took a leadership role -- talking a little trash with me in a friendly, familiar way.  He seemed just like my old kids.  I had to catch myself and not throw the standard fake punch to his belly.  Now that I am no longer a teacher, I'm no longer free to do that sort of pretend roughhousing with other teachers' students.  These aren't my kids.  Even though I'm on vacation, it sure made me miss the classroom. -JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Quote: What Shanker Might Really Have Said

Quotes2 I don’t represent children. I represent teachers… But, generally, what’s in the interest of teachers is also in the interest of students. -- What Al Shanker really said, according to Shanker Blog investigation of the origins of the much-repeated line.

Chicago: New Mayor Tiptoes Between Reform & Unions

image from www.wbez.orgI know, it's hard to imagine Rahm Emanuel tiptoeing through anything, but the very early indications are that he's trying to do just that in Chicago -- so far at least.  Chicago Public Radio's Linda Lutton noted that his speech sounded "like he was being sworn in as school board president rather than mayor," and then she created a word cloud to illustrate her point. Tribune columnist Eric Zorn read between the lines and came away thinking that the new Mayor seems fully prepared to go to war with the teachers' union (The way Rahm goes is the way Chicago goes).  The AP reports the new mayor distancing himself from union-busting strategies and confrontations of other nearby elected officials (Emanuel Takes Shots at Wisconsin).  And the Wall Street Journal has noted (here and here) that the Illinois reform law just passed downstate is much weaker than several other laws recently passed in other states.  Emanuel will have to make do with it.  

Video: Obama Visits Memphis School, Mulls Career Moves

Here's a brief clip from the Obama visit to a Memphis high school yesterday, plus some news coverage of the event: Obama: I'm president because of education USAT:  President Obama got personal today, telling newly minted high school graduates in Memphis, "I'm standing here as president because of the education that I received."...  Obama Delivers Commencement Address At Memphis High School  AP:  Offering a lift to a flood beleaguered city, President Barack Obama hailed the transformation of a once struggling but venerable Memphis high school Monday, telling its graduates, "You inspire me, that's why I'm here."... Obama Jokes About Following Sasha, Malia To High School, College AP:  The president liked the idea so much, he joked to the students that his next job will be principal at his daughters' high school. 

AM News: Court Decisions Influence Reform In HI, TX, and GA

image from webmedia.newseum.org

Court nixes case over anonymity at Hawaiian school  AP:  The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a dispute over whether to identify students challenging a private school system's admissions policy that gives preference to those of Hawaiian ancestry.... In Texas, school growth clashes with a shrinking budget Stateline Staff Writer: As Texas schools enroll 500 new students a day, state leaders are lopping billions of dollars from the education budget... SIG EdWeek:  The administration's four school improvement models would stay pretty much intact—with some important tweaks... In Georgia, Court Ruling Could Close Some Charter Schools NYT:  A ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday cast doubt on the future of 17 charter schools there.... Who Can Authorize Charter Schools? HuffED:  A Georgia Supreme Court decision that challenges a state commission’s ability to greenlight the creation of charter schools may have implications for other states seeking to do the same... The Money Playground NPR:  At Finance Park in Fairfax, Va., eighth-graders are playing grown-ups — for class credit. The park is a real world mock-up where schools bring kids to learn financial literacy... Paralyzed Student Retrofitted With Cyborg Capabilities In Time For Graduation Gawker: Austin Whitney, a 22-year-old UC Berkeley grad paralyzed in a 2007 car accident walked seven steps to collect his diploma, with the help of a motorized exoskeleton. 

Best 5 Blogs: The Fury Of Middle-Class Parents

20101218_xwd001A drastic break with failure LAT (column):  The students were trying to save an entrenched regime, one that shackles them to failure... High Pay Leads to Layoffs NYT (Winerip):  An audit found that the Henry Viscardi School, one of 11 schools of its kind in New York, paid its top executive $1.25 million over two years... Closing more bad charters sooner Jay Mathews:  The D.C. Public Charter School Board may soon close the Ideal Academy Public Charter School, more than a year and a half after I told it to... Gates' Education Buying Spree - For What? American Thinker:  Buying a group of number crunchers to determine what our children may be taught in the classroom has little connection to equipping children to better themselves in order to better society... Are gifted education programs a waste of money? WCI:  Hell hath no fury like the middle class in defence of its privileges... Teacher Quality In Finland Matthew Yglesias: Whatever approach you favor you’re necessarily having a conversation about how to get different people into the profession than the ones who are currently there... Farewell to Anchovy Sherman Dorn:  I will very much appreciate not having to work with colleagues to figure out how to write a brand-new dilemma every year for Orlando Quieto and his colleagues at Anchovy Middle School...Newt Gingrich and "the food stamp president" Salon:  He didn't call Obama a "strapping young buck," but his slur is coded racism (and not very Catholic) just the same...

Philanthropy: The Myth Of The All-Powerful Billionaires

20101020-MinerUltimateSuperpower.DuffySuperpower #privatemoneypublicschools I came away from this weekend's foundation-funded Columbia Journalism School workshop on the role of private philanthropies in public education eager for more transparency and accountability from funders but even more focused on getting the same from school districts, government agencies with education oversight, and the US Department of Education. Sure I'd love to see the internal evaluations foundations do on their programs (and would love for more humility and better policy choices from education philanthropies in general) but I don't really believe that that there's more transparency and accountability and opportunity for public input (aka democracy) in school districts and government agencies than among funders and the nonprofits who receive grants from them. Nor do I really believe that the richest people in America have free rein to impose any extreme or cockamamie idea they feel like on American schoolchildren. They choose from among ideas that education experts (including academics and practitioners) present to them, from the political mainstream, and have to maintain credibility with districts and elected officials in order to maintain access to public systems -- even as distressed and desperate as many are.

Most of all, I don't believe that there is something inherently sinister, or malicious, or even all that new about philanthropic involvement in public education -- or all that much better about public, for-profit, or nonprofit involvement. The fat cats are easy targets, convenient scapegoats, excellent distractions -- almost as much fun as the for-profit education companies and the public employee unions -- but they're not all-powerful or even disproportionately corrupt compared to the general population, far as I know. (Just a little more arrogantly annoying than the rest of us.)  Just because someone is a businessperson or wealthy or set up a foundation doesn't mean he or she is (a) Republican or (b) an evil capitalist.  (Just because someone is a teacher doesn't mean he or she is a saint, or necessarily good at his or her job.) 

In the end, the vast majority of American schools will likely elude any direct effects of the current foundation funded reforms, since most reform efforts are focused on the worst performing schools and systems and the public system is so large.  This current wave will likely have no really transformative effects on public education, for better or worse, as past waves have done.  So let's demand more transparency and accountability from everybody but let's not run off on some wild goose chase, give in to paranoia, or focus our skepticism on only one player on the education scene.  There are some really broken schools and school systems out there, and millions of kids getting really poor educations.  There's blame -- and opportunity -- enough for everyone to play a role. 

Potentially useful tidbits of information: Joann Barkan is putting out another article in Dissent next week on teachers and unions.  (In her presentation Barkan kept saying she wasn't suggesting a conspiracy theory but after a couple of repetitions that seemed, well, disingenous.) Meanwhile:  IRE has an RSS feed for education stories from around the country.  ProPublica's Jen Lafluer provided all sorts of ideas and resources (PPT here). Stanford poiltical scientist Rob Reich gave a provocative presentation (@robreich) and is on a panel tonight with Wendy Kopp and others in NYC. I hear there's a New Yorker article on Newark in the works.  One of New America Foundation's prestigious fellowships is going to go to an education writer.

Cartoon: "Sorry -- I Just Didn't Respond To The Material"

What if teachers rated student work like editors or book reviewers?

ScreenHunter_13 May. 16 10.01

Update: Who's Going To Offend Ravitch Next?

image from www.wednesdaynightservice.com The easily-offended Diane Ravitch appears to have been thwarted in her effort to engage RI's Deborah Gist in some sort of debate over meeting etiquette and now must slouch away in search of some other offense-giving person.  This is not Ravitch's first time at the offense-taking game, and likely won't be her last.  As readers may recall, Ravitch took offense in the extreme to a column I wrote in the Huffington Post outlining my concerns about her newfound convinctions and demanded that her already-lukewarm book blurb be taken off my book.  Several reporters and education types relayed similar (unverified) stories about Ravitch's thin-skinnedness.  Indeed Ravitch has recounted to me a long list of people and instutions who've wronged her. She is aggrieved with great regularity and seems to make admirable use of being slighted.  As for the latest case, Gist sent Ravitch a conciliatory letter, according to EdWeek, and Ravitch -- this may have been a tactical error -- seems to have accepted. 

Quote: WSJ Puts IL Reform Bill In Context

Quotes2 The Illinois bill is far weaker than those recently passed in Ohio, Florida, and Indiana

-- Wall Street Journal editorial page, debunking much-ballyhooed IL reform bill

AM News: Duncan Denies Kansas School Rating Exemption

image from webmedia.newseum.orgL.A. school board runoff grows expensive and contentious LAT:  The race for the last available Los Angeles school board seat has turned both expensive, with almost $3 million spent in all... Duncan Denies Kansas' AYP Waiver EdWeek:  While Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been issuing a ton of waivers from No Child Left Behind requirements, he's stopping short of offering the big one... Developments on 'Effectiveness' Materialize in Texas, Illinois EdWeek: In adopting the system, which is scheduled go into affect for the upcoming school year, Houston officially becomes the largest school district to use a "value added" method in teacher evaluations... Teachers at Cape charter to unionize Boston Globe:  Teachers at a Cape Cod charter school [are] the second independently run charter school in Massachusetts to take the step, union officials announced yesterday. Appreciation Week Brings Little Cheer To Teachers NPR:  May is the month when teachers win awards and have their appreciation week, but tight budgets and campaigns against public employees have lots of teachers feeling anything but appreciated... PETA pushes for anti-dissection ads in Pa. school AP:  A national animal rights group has offered a cash-strapped school district an undisclosed amount of money if it allows ads in school promoting alternatives to animal dissection.... Ga. school system taken off probation, now stable  AP:  A Georgia school district that lost its accreditation due to its "dysfunctional" school board has been taken off probation by a national standards agency.... Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten? NYT:  Enrichment programs like Kumon are gaining from, and generating, parental anxiety about what kind of preparation children need — and whether parents themselves have what it takes to provide it...  Student Is Allowed to Attend Prom in Connecticut AP:  James Tate was suspended for breaking school rules by the manner in which he asked a fellow student to be his date... Arne Duncan, Sidelined EdWeek:  In case you haven't noticed, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been MIA from several recent events...

Weekend Reading: How Academia Got Rid Of Rick Hess

image from media.nj.com

Weekend reading from Slate, Salon, and some of the other magazines -- tell me what I missed: Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, to See Here, Folks Rick Hess:  David Imig, the then-president of the AACTE, suggested that the University of Virginia (my then-employer) really ought to consider whether, given my skepticism about teacher education, I deserved to be employed at its School of Education... The secret sex lives of teachers Salon:  The revelation that Judy Buranich, the same woman teaching classics like "Catcher in the Rye" to high school students, also writes erotic novels with names like "Rednecks 'n' Romance" shocked a small group of parents in the town of Middleburg, Penn... I.R.S. Moves to Tax Gifts to Groups Active in Politics NYT:  Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics... State ignores teacher licensing violations Star Tribune:  More than 900 Minnesota teachers over the past five years have violated licensing rules aimed at making sure that children get a proper education, including 62 instructors who taught with no license at all...New Autism Findings  WBUR On Point: A new study finds 1 in 38 children have traits of autism. We'll ask how that can be. And what it means... Death to high school English Salon: I lived for English, for reading. I spent so much of my adolescence feeling different and awkward, and those first canonical books I read, those first discoveries of Joyce, of Keats, of Sylvia Plath and Fitzgerald, were a revelation... Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation New Yorker:  In late 1979, a twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur paid a visit to a research center in Silicon Valley called Xerox PARC. He was the co-founder of a small computer startup down the road, in Cupertino... What happened to the "Huxtable Effect"?  Salon: Now, new data from both politics and pop culture raises the possibility that we're suddenly headed back to the pre-"Cosby Show" days...The longest 40 minutes Slate:  What makes some minutes feel longer than others?... PS22 chorus covers the Smiths, owns this town Salon:  Staten Island's public school system is sitting on a gold mine, what with PS22 having the best known elementary school chorus on the planet."

Video: "Superman" Folks Not Done Yet By A Longshot

Fritter away the last of the workweek by fast forwarding to minute 51:00 to see some heated(?) debate between George Miller and Chris Christie from earlier this week, or just let the video run from the start if you want to get a sense of the people behind Waiting For Superman, who include Participant Media, Walton, Gates, the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, and others. CNN's Jessica Yellin (pictured above) is the host. @waitingsuperman

5 Best Blogs: Conservative Infighting A Delightful Diversion

8889ded3cf466b85e38b2a422cb47a4a7acfa598_m Fordham and the Use of Passive Voice Jay P. Greene: Fordham, in coalition with its friends at Gates, Pearson, AFT, and the US Department of Education are trying to subvert this historical and legal consensus against federal control by failing to be candid about what they are proposing... Common Core Meltdown Whiteboard Advisors:  These folks are not the tools of Beltway bureaucrats — that much is certain. This will ultimately be their decision, not Washington’s...  School Turnarounds: Time to Try, Try Again? Education Next:  Even if most individual turnaround attempts fail, you can achieve a cumulative success rate of 70 or 80% by retrying rapidly: bringing a new, more capable leader; closing the school and starting fresh with a new operator; or closing the school altogether and dispersing the students to other, better schools... The Obituaries for Data-Driven 'Reform' Are Being Written John Thompson: We should not rejoice in a return to the 1970s. But the sooner we throw the data-driven accountability hawks on the ash pile of history, the sooner we can get back to reality-driven school reforms...  Spring Cleaning EdNext: School districts “with off-cycle elections pay experienced teachers over 3 percent more than districts that hold on-cycle elections.” ...The Facebook Worm Named After a High School Girl Gawker: Nicole Santos does exist. She's a high school student in Northern California running for vice president of her class...  

Cartoon: Holding Teachers Accountable, CEO-Style

image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com


Quote: Chafee Backs Gist Re: Ravitch Kerfluffle

Quotes2 From my perspective, Commissioner Gist comported herself in an appropriate and respectful way at all times during this discussion. - Lincoln Chafee in the Providence Journal

SIG: Turnaround Mess In New York City

02kahlenburg-commWith funding for 30+ efforts available from Washington, the city has announced rescue plans that sound pretty wishy washy -- for only nine low-performing schools (NYT,GothamSchools, NY1).  There are no charter conversions in the bunch, and no turnarounds, either.  (Apparently -- I've never heard of this before -- union approval is considered necessary in NYC for the turnaround option, which requires that at least 50 percent of teachers be replaced at a school.)  The city says it had no other options, absent union agreement, other than closing schools which no one wanted to do at this late date and on such a great scale.  The union blames the city (here).  "They are not changing anything," says one principal who's school is going to go through the process next year.  Seems like there's blame enough to go around unless the city and union pull this mess out of the fire.  

AM News: IL Lawmakers Pass Reform Over Union Objections

image from webmedia.newseum.orgLawmakers Pass Education-Overhaul Bill, Despite Union Objections WSJThe measure is one of the most far-reaching overhauls of teacher tenure and bargaining rights in a state where Democrats control both the legislature and the governor's office... How Should Teachers Be Fired? HuffED:  Laws that alter collective-bargaining rights or the hiring and firing of teachers have passed in Wisconsin, Georgia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Arizona. Last year, Washington, D.C. changed seniority rules through district contract negotiations. Recent bills introduced in Illinois and Tennessee show promise of passing...ISD approves new evaluation for teachers Houston Chronicle: The board's action prompted immediate praise from US Education Secretary Arne Duncan and continued concerns from leaders of the district's two largest teacher groups. ...  Teachers arrested in protests at Calif. Capitol AP: More than two dozen California teachers, including the president of the state's largest teachers union, were arrested at the state Capitol Thursday night as part of a protest over education funding in the state budget...  For-Profit Colleges: Targeting People Who Can't Pay NPR:  The for-profit college industry has grown substantially in the past decade by targeting underprivileged students who qualify for federal loans, investigative journalist Daniel Golden says. But he says many of these students aren't getting what they hoped for out of college... The turnaround starts with attendance Boston Globe: It was the kind of a morning that school leaders worry about: cold and gusty, with a rain that pelted students on their way to school and gave them an excuse to stay home...Planned merger of charter school organizations dissolves LAT:  Financially troubled ICEF Public Schools, backed by Richard Riordan, was to be acquired by Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, but the deal has been scrapped, and ICEF's leadership is in flux...  Improving the Science of Teaching Science NYT:  A study explores improving classroom instruction, using research-backed methods for testing students’ understanding as well as how science is taught... Father Sues Elite Washington School, Saying Psychologist Had Affair With His Wife NYT: The father of a kindergartner at Sidwell Friends School in Washington filed a lawsuit claiming that the school’s psychologist had an affair with his wife while treating his daughter. Trespass at School. Post Prom Invitation. Get Barred From Event. Become Famous NYT:  This week’s topic in Modern Love 101 is clearly James Tate, the high school senior who has become the world’s most famous would-be promgoer... 

5 Best Blogs: Everyone Hates Rigor (& Eva Moskowitz)

340x_checklist425 Bias against rigor in urban schools Jay Mathews:  Rhee and the principals and teachers she brought into the system talked about raising the ceiling on achievement and bringing more Advanced Placement and other college-level programs into D.C. high schools, but they didn’t do much... It's Broke, So Fix It Cynthia Brown (CAP):  The next version of ESEA should look markedly different than it does now, and such significant change will require hard, bipartisan work...  Middle School 'Graduation' Is No Time for Excessive CelebrationRobert Schwartz (HGSE): Downplaying the pomp of eighth grade culmination ceremonies may do little for the circumstances of students living in poverty; however, the expectations that adults have for students can help change such circumstances and eighth grade culmination is as good a place to start as any... Cultural Differences Two Years At The Blackboard:  While new teachers often feel the urge to try to "blend in" in the community in which they serve, there's really no point; they can tell you are white/rich/educated/etc, and students can smell B.S. a mile away... Texas to Layoff 100,000 Teachers While Giving Millions to Formula One Racing GOOD:  There are plenty of examples of misplaced funding priorities to be found, I haven't heard one as egregious as Texas' plans to slash education budgets and layoff almost 100,000 teachers, all while agreeing to pay $25 million per year through 2022 to Formula One auto racing... Moskowitz makes a play for brownstone New York Capital New York: This time, she’s going after the middle class.Publish

Thompson: Lessons from Los Angeles for New York City

Sort I will have to wait for for the experts' judgments on the new analysis of the value-added of teachers by the Los Angeles Times, but it is already clear that it should be read as a warning for New York City.  The Times further confirms the power of peer pressure which makes it more difficult to raise student performance in segregated schools with high concentrations of poverty, as well as reaffirming the importance of multiple years of data in order to estimate teacher effectiveness.  New York City, however, is rushing forward with the worst of all worlds approach to using test score growth.  As the New York Times reported, the proliferation of choice is causing even more segregation.  NYC has ordered principals to take test score growth into account in awarding tenure, even if they only have one or two years of data.  In doing so, they empower the administrators who should be the last people to use test scores for high stakes decisions.  Whether or not principals are to blame for the district's policies, they are held responsible for them.  So, principals have a conflict of interest in determining whether the failure to meet growth targets are the fault of individual teachers or the system's choices.- JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Cartoon: Pop Quizzes -- For Teachers

image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com


Quote: Teacher A "Basketcase" Until Experience Set In

Quotes2 The second I stopped taking it so personally, I became a better teacher. Because the focus returned to conveying information effectively, instead of becoming a basketcase who turned her classroom into a carnival of the lowest common denominator to reach the couple of kids who could've broken my heart forever. -- Teacher commenting on merits of experience

AM News: State Supe Refusing NCLB Test Requirement

image from webmedia.newseum.org Montana school superintendent rejects increase in federal testing goals Daily Journal:  NCLB required Montana to increase its goals for grade-level competency from 83 percent of schools to 92 percent in reading and from 68 percent of schools to 84 percent in math....  Illinois Overhaul of Schools Gains, Despite Turmoil WSJ:  Legislation that would make it easier to dismiss ineffective teachers statewide and allow mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel to lengthen the Chicago school day unanimously passed an Illinois House committee Wednesday... Rep. Kline Sketches Out ESEA Game Plan EdWeek:  He said that he's aiming to mark up the program-elimination bill at the end of the month, and the flexibility bill in June. He added that the committee would also be dealing with accountability, the issue at the heart of ESEA, sometime in early fall... Detroit's Education Rehab: Are Charters A Solution? NPR:  Now, Michigan has ordered the city to close half its schools in two years. But the district's manager has a contingency plan: turn weak schools over to charter operators... NEA Leaders Propose Teacher-Evaluation Shift NEA:  A "policy statement" going before the Representative Assembly would open the door to the use of standardized tests as a part of evaluations... Following the money to the country’s worst schools Hechinger Report:  The total number of schools eligible for the grants numbered 15,277, about 2,000 more schools than the federal government had previously estimated. That’s 16 percent of all U.S. schools—a much higher figure than the “bottom 5 percent” policymakers frequently mention...Raise $1 million in a week to save school jobs? Not even in Beverly Hills LAT:  The Beverly Hills school district falls short of its official goal but raises enough cash to cause the board to cancel 11 layoffs.

5 Best Blogs: Deception, Rage, Enemies - Personalization?


Deception and Rage The Question Sheet:  I may disagree with Michelle Rhee about school vouchers but that doesn’t make her deceptive...  Will liberals finally jump the Rhee ship? Mike Klonsky:  This must be embarrassing for liberal Democrats who lauded Michelle Rhee when she was D.C.'s schools chief or who were moved by her anti-public-school demagogy in the film, Waiting For Superman... The Real Enemy of Unions Washington Monthly:  Organized labor should join with entrepreneurs to bust the corporate monopolies threatening them both... The History of "LIFO" Dana Goldstein:  The acronym powerfully recalls one of the most potent critiques of teachers' unions, that they provide incompetents with job protections for life... Obama Made the Right Choice GOOD:  If you watch it all the way through and see what kind of change is possible in some of our toughest schools, it's pretty impossible to not walk away feeling emotional and inspired... The pitfalls of personalization Diana Senechal: Subjects can be leveled and individualized only up to a point. In every subject, there are topics that touch many levels and go beyond skills... Boy's Romantic Prom Invite Gets Him Banned from Prom Gawker: A senior at Shelton High School in Connecticut wanted to make a grand gesture when inviting his "good friend" (riiiight) to the prom, but now that gesture has gotten him banned from the very prom he hoped to attend.

Charts: States Give Education A $15B Haircut

You guys seem to like charts whose methods and conclusions may be unclear so here's another one showing states seeming to take turns at the top of the list of those cutting spending each year:

I think I saw this first on the blog written by that TFA corps member who's leaving his school at the end of the year -- the one who wrote about data manipulation within TFA.  

Thompson: Upscale Bake Sales Aren't A Real Solution

Fundraising%20For%20Churches In the first of two stories, NPR's Guy Raz reveals why California's "Parent Trigger" law and many other school improvement efforts are such a cruel hoax: the state's schools are woefully under-funded.  Beverly Hills, for instance, contributes an extra $3000 per student to maintain quality schools. Fundraising efforts are increasingly sophisticated - and sometimes bizarre, according to Raz's second story.  A fundraiser explained, "Probably the strangest thing was the vasectomy for you and your cat, an unwashed Lance Armstrong jersey that went for $110,000. We just auctioned off a flight in Harrison Ford's biplane. It went for something like $55,000." JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Media: More Skepticism Needed -- But Not More Paranoia

image from www.voiceseducation.org Journalists and others will be gathered at Columbia's Journalism School this weekend to discuss the role of foundations both in shaping school reform and in shaping media coverage of education issues.  Stories about philanthropic influence are turning into something of a cottage industry what with the Dissent story (Got Dough?), the Newsweek/Center on Public Integrity takedown (Back to School for the Billionaires ) and the Charlotte Observer story (Who's the power behind CMS?). Having written about these topics frequently over the years, I've found them all interesting -- it's important for reporters and others to understand how the media and the reform movement are being shaped -- but not entirely convincing, in that they generally seem to ascribe a certain all-powerfulness to private foundations at the same time they're gleefully reporting that privately funded efforts haven't worked.   There's also a certain whiff of witch hunt that can easily get into stories like these: the notion that anyone who's taken foundation money or done anything reformy has lost all capacity for independent thought or credibility.  And yet, I agree with the basic notions that funders and reformers are trying to influence public opinion through the media, and education reporters should be much more skeptical and critical than they have been. Image via.

AM News: Patty Murray's Big, Bold Literacy Push

image from webmedia.newseum.org Murray's literacy plan a test of clout EdWeek:  Murray is staking her power in Congress behind a bill that would authorize nearly $12 billion over five years to help students from preschools to high schools to read better... A Less-Publicized School Plan from Mitch Daniels EdWeek:  The Republican governor signed into law a measure, HB1074, that will require that elections for those boards be held in the fall, rather than the spring... Mom in Conn. school residency case heads to courtDefense attorneys are asking a Connecticut judge to dismiss charges against a homeless single mother accused of stealing nearly $16,000 in schooling by enrolling her son in the wrong school district... School Residency Cases Raise Fairness Questions AP:  McDowell and Williams-Bolar are low-income black single mothers, a fact that disturbs civil rights activists who question whether they are being singled out unfairly... Obama Will Give Booker T. Washington High Commencement EdWeek:  The school has had a jump in its grad rate lately, according to the White House press release, increasing from 55 percent in 2007 to 81.6 percent in 2010... Lady Gaga, Robin Hood Raise $47 Million for Poor, Veterans Bloomberg via Whitney Tilson:  The Robin Hood Foundation gala, Wall Street’s largest single-evening fundraising event, had Lady Gaga onstage and took in $47.4 million last night at its annual New York dinner... Pastorek Expected to Resign as Louisiana Schools Chief EdWeek:  Paul Pastorek is reportedly set to resign as Louisiana's state superintendent of education, concluding a tenure marked by aggressive policy changes and occasional controversy... LAYOFF STUFF BELOW

Continue reading "AM News: Patty Murray's Big, Bold Literacy Push" »

Quote: Funding Doesn't Mean Brainwashing

Quotes2 Just because an outside foundation is putting money into something doesn't necessarily mean there's a heavy-duty agenda of trying to brainwash participants. -- Former NYT reporter and current local school board president Gene Maeroff

Video Interlude: Jetman Flies Across Grand Canyon

Something perhaps for the school science club to aspire to.  (No, not really. I mean, right?) 'JetMan' finally flies in Grand Canyon, Trevon Milliard, Las Vegas Review Journal via The Wire


5 Best Blogs: Nationalization Weasels & Feckless Allies

ColorblockPique-7035 Nationalization Weasels Jay Greene:  If advocates of the nationalization of education had greater intellectual integrity, they would openly declare that they favor nationally uniform standards, curriculum, and assessments, and that producing greater uniformity was desirable... Order of Battle Tom Hoffman:  I'd put Gates first, and throw Pearson, ACT and the College Board in for good measure.And beyond that everyone who stands to collect consulting fees from the transition, the Dana Center, NCTE, etc... Preparing for Growth CAP:  Better-performing charter management organizations, or CMOs, must grow at much higher rates, which will require significant resources, including talented people, to make this happen... How deceptive is this letter from Rhee’s organization? Answer Sheet:  Those not steeped in education reform might not know that the reforms referred to in this letter are in many cases geared toward privatizing public schools... Says Who? Lots of Folks, Actually… Core Knowledge: If teachers have come to suspect that the world looks at them and thinks the only thing standing between every child and upward mobility is them, it’s not something they just made up... “Science On The Simpsons” Larry Ferlazzo: A collection of video clips from The Simpsons television series that could be used by science teachers. They’re downloadable, but not set-up to stream on the web..

Quote: Twitter & The Decline Of Fordham

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Their tweets are some of the dumbest, ill-conceived things I’ve ever seen from such intelligent people. -- Jay Greene  


Reform: Does Klein Have A Roadmap?

image from cdn.theatlanticwire.comTwo new pieces from Joel Klein -- a long piece in The Atlantic (The Failure of American Schools) in which he calls for "a major realignment of political forces" and another in the WSJ (Scenes From the New York Education Wars) in which he calls for "a full-scale transition from a government-run monopoly to a competitive marketplace."  OK, fine.  But even assuming that realignment and full-scale transition are good things, does Klein have any viable ideas for how to get from here to there?  (No, banning private education -- favorite notion of Klein and others -- doesn't meet the viability test.)

Photo: Cellphone Lockers At Clemente High

image from graphics8.nytimes.comThe picture accompanies a Chicago News Cooperative article on school safety research that I think may give premature credit to efforts that followed the murder of Derrion Albert in 2009.

AM News: Duncan Softens On Publishing Teacher Ratings

image from webmedia.newseum.orgU.S. schools chief backs off on publication of teacher ratings California Watch:  He now avoids saying whether he thinks teacher-effectiveness ratings should be published by media outlets... Announcement Delayed CNN:  The schools initially were notified that the announcement would come Monday, but it has been delayed, leaving them on pins and needles a bit longer.... Chicago Fight Threatens Illinois Education Overhaul WSJ:  [Proponents] said CTU officials went home early, while others stayed to hammer out the specific language of the bill after the final negotiations... L.A. Unified plans major staff shakeup at Huntington Park High LAT:  Teachers judged ineffective and forced out of one school will be entitled under the union contract to fill positions at other turnaround schools... 'Last In, First Out' Among Teacher Layoff Policies Under Scrutiny PBS:  In the last year, several states passed laws to get rid of last-in/first-out and other seniority provisions in teachers' contracts. Superintendent Adamowski is hoping Connecticut's legislature will follow suit... Education Programs Assail 'U.S. News' Survey  NPR:  Many education schools are opting out, saying they question the methodology. Pa. gov links teachers' unions to failing schools AP:  Pennsylvania's public schools have focused too much on teacher contracts and not enough on curriculum, Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday... Feds: Illegal Students Entitled To K-12 Education   AP:  The letter comes amid reports that schools may be checking the immigration status of students trying to enroll... Police: Man set mom aflame, held teacher hostage AP:  A Texas man set fire to his mother, then went to a nearby school and tried to sexually assault a teacher at knifepoint before the superintendent broke down the door to help free her, police and school officials said Monday...  Bill to Allow Concealed Guns in Class Advances AP:  Texas state senators have voted to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons into public college classrooms...


Best Five Blogs: Now It Gets Interesting

Nyt andy rementer 050811 Now It Gets Interesting Rick Hess:  A few months back, I noted that the impressive early success of the Common Core effort risked breeding overconfidence, complacency, and inattention to how the effort would play out in practice... The Challenging Mathematics Of Producing Economically Integrated Schools Yglesias: There’s no way to solve the problems of high-poverty schools merely by dispersing people. You need to actually attack the poverty, and you need to actually get better outcomes out of schools... Trust For Teachers Andrew Sullivan (quoting Klein): It is a system built on trust, and the film really drives home the notion that trust – rather than faux accountability – leads to real results... No more blame game on teachers Washington Post:  If anyone is demonizing teachers, it’s those who believe all teachers should earn the same pay, and get the same raise, no matter how much harder they work or how much more some of them accomplish. We think teachers deserve a different sort of appreciation and respect... Margaret Spellings vs. Mitch Daniels Mike Petrilli: Daniels is humble about his accomplishments in Indiana and humble about what the feds can do to fix our schools... Long-Term Gains In Minority Education: An Overlooked Success? Jack Jennings:  In both reading and math and at all three ages tested, each of the three major racial/ethnic groups made greater gains in achievement than students did overall... The DeVos Family AlterNet:  Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education.. Do We Need a Class War in Education? Education Next:  Their silence in the face of crushing inner city educational failures has been deafening.  Not a single protest, that I know of, during this long inequality crisis...  Alabama to Undocumented Kids: No Prom For You! Mother Jones:  Having trouble finding a date for the prom? Don't worry; under a bill that recently passed the Alabama state senate, undocumented teens might not be able to attend either.

Video: "We Want To Learn" [Dan Rather Report Tomorrow]

160x120_0721facebookignore "...People think that the children from Detroit public schoolsare stupid and brutish, because of what they see on television But it's not to true.  We want to learn.  We want to be able to have the same opportunities that other children have.  It's like they're keeping us down and then you find out that the people who are supposed to be looking after us, after our well-being, they're stealing from us. Every day I want to know why.  Why is this happening?"  This is my favorite part of the trailer for Dan Rather's HDNet report tomorrow night on the Detroit schools.  Read below for more about it. 

Continue reading "Video: "We Want To Learn" [Dan Rather Report Tomorrow]" »

Thompson: The Brutality Of NYC's Choice System

Winners Liz Robbins of the New York Times  describes some of the brutality of segregation even when it is ostensibly done by choice.  Most of Radcliffe's classmates celebrated, while others cried, as they learned whether they were accepted at the high schools of their choice.  Radcliff held his feelings in, however, until he could cry in his bedroom.  Middle School students who are not in a position to exercise choice may or may not drop tears, but they are just as sensitive about their status.  Kids know they have been dumped into horrible neighborhood schools.  They are also aware that the system that dismisses them as expendable also chooses to reward others.  And if these teens do not already understand it, as high school students they will realize that the Market could not be so efficient in benefiting some had it not also chosen the sacrifice them. - JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Update: Letter Opposing Publication Of Value-Added Scores*

Picture 15"On behalf of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, all signatories to the L.A. Compact, we urgently request that the Los Angeles Times give serious consideration to not publicly release individual teacher “value-added” or academic growth over time (AGT) ratings.  So begins the one-page letter sent to the LA Times last month (Letter to LA Times 4 26 11 PDF).  The main concern expressed in the letter is that the LAT ratings and the ones being rolled out by LAUSD are different, and will create confusion and delay.  The LA Times mentioned the letter prominently in its story yesterday but declined to release the letter to me today, citing privacy issues (of all things):  "The letter is not a public document and we are unable to provide it to you." [*exclusive?]



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.