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Five Best Blogs: Whitmire Tries For "Most Overheated" Commentary

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Education is the new abortion Richard Whitmire:  Abortion has nothing on education, except bumper stickers. And I can only assume those are in production.*

Not the Presidential Daughter Gambit, please Sherman Dorn:  Mr. President, please keep your daughters' homework out of public debate.

Doing One Thing Well EdWeek (commentary):  Rather than defining what they might do best and working diligently at it, the leaders of these education schools, in an odd mix of anxiety and arrogance, announce their omniscience and chase after several goals at once.

Obama Woos Liberal Elite MSNBC:  This year, the administration is sending five top officials [to the Aspen Institute Festival].

Obama's Passion Deficit Clive Cook (The Atlantic):  A bit more passion on budget reform, health care reform, energy policy and the rest would not have been amiss this year, or last year, or the year before...

Do Incentives Shape Teacher Behavior Or Don’t They? Matthew Yglesias: Talk of incentives is massively overrated. 

Tiny New England Hippie Schools Gawker:  The US Department of Education has a handy new website that allows you to easily compare the prices of all types of colleges in America. Its real purpose is to keep us up-to-date on who to make fun of.  

*Tom Hoffman calls Whitmire's post "utterly delusional"; Rotherham is only slightly more polite.

Quote: A Triumph Of The Bureaucratic Mindset?

Quotes2 The whole McKinsey-NCEE "let's-find-someone-to-mimic" industry is undoubtedly great at generating support from foundations eager for someone to tell 'em "what works." -- Rick Hess

Groupon: It's For A Good Cause!?

image from edooce.com

They're teaching kids to write Groupon ads in Chicago, according to this story in Vator News:  

"Some 4000 students from over 150 Chicago public schools participate in the 826CHI programs and have the chance to feature their own creative writing in a book that 826CHI publishes once a year."

The fact that it's for the tutoring program 826CHI only makes it somewhat OK.   But that's just me.  

Thompson: Schools Sorting Kids In Oklahoma City

SortNone of the five low-income elementary schools that feed into my old 6th through 12th school (Oklahoma City's Centennial) have more than 5% of their 5th graders score Unsatisfactory in reading, according to the Daily Oklahoman.  However, 42% of the 6th graders at Centennial score Unsatisfactory.  How could that be?  Most parents who can do so don't send their kids to Centennial.  The school closest to my home sends the majority of its elementary school graduates to a National Blue Ribbon middle school, a magnet that has been ranked 14th nationally, or a charter that feeds a school that has been ranked 68th nationally.  Other parents use the highway nearby to take their kids to one of a half dozen high-performing suburban schools.  Only a small number of kids go to Centennial -- those with the least options, usually among the lowest performing.  Once the color line was drawn by law, and occasionally machine guns emplacents enforced it.  Under the self-segregation of the "Big Sort" system that has replaced Jim Crow, we are just as efficient in separating by class and choice. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via

Budget: Obama Goofs Using Daughters To Mock Congress

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"Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. Malia's 13, Sasha's 10... they don't wait until the night before!"  That's what President Obama said at a recent press conference, not so subtly mocking Congressional slowness getting a budget passed (or whatever they're trying to do).  Alas, the President was slightly off about one key fact. Malia isn't 13 until next week. Small error, to be sure, but that's what you get for using your kids as political props.  (Via Gawker)

AM News: School Changes On In Ohio, Maine, & Mass.

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Student scores to be key factor in MA evaluations Boston Globe:  MCAS scores and other achievement data will become key barometers in evaluating the performance of their teachers and administrators.  

Maine governor signs bill to allow charter schools Boston Globe:  Gov. Paul LePage says Maine is now the 41st state to allow charter schools. 

Kasich Agrees With Obama On School Grants WHIO:  John Kasich said the federal Race to the Top education grant program is a rare area where he and Democratic President Barack Obama agree. 

Atlanta schools chief leaves amid cheating probe AP:  Longtime Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall retires this week amid allegations of widespread cheating and accusations that she ordered a cover-up of test tampering. 

Can DIY Movement Fix a Crisis in U.S. Science Education? PBS:  Miles O'Brien reports from a gathering in California on a growing movement that embraces the art of making cool things and a quirky do-it-yourself spirit.

A New Low in Graduation Speech Plagiarism Gawker:  Already this year we've had a medical school dean ripping off Atul Gawande, and a law school graduate pleading ignorance about the fact that plagiarism is frowned upon. 


Five Best Blogs: I Got My Degree At The NYT

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What's the Best Way to Grade Teachers? Mother Jones:  The proponents of the new "value-added" teacher evaluation often sound like they've confused the more advanced questions with the answer.

The RTTT Honeymoon is over in New York EdNext:  NYSUT yesterday sued the state’s Board of Regents and NYSED’s acting commissioner John King over the decision to ratchet up the importance of student test scores in a teacher’s annual evaluation.

Q & A with NewTLA co-founder, Mike Stryer NCTQ:  Essentially, 98% of the members are only involved peripherally with the union when they vote, pay dues, or attend occasional rallies.  

How we evaluate success Shanker Blog:  There are several similarities between the bipartisan welfare reform movement of the 1990s and the general thrust of the education reform movement happening today. 

Riding the Waive Whiteboard Advisors:  The states just spent months coming up with Race to the Top plans; may as well get some mileage out of them.

Soon, the New York Times Will Be a College Gawker: Hey, squeezing money out of education worked for the Washington Post Co., so why not give it a try? 

Cartoon: The Gym Teacher, The Rich Sub, & The Bad Teacher


Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz in a movie directed by Jake Kasdan.
'What went so wrong that you ended up educating children?' (Anthony Lane)


Video: Should Math Be Taught In Schools?

A sendup of Miss USA questions about teaching evolution in schools. (The Daily What)

Quote: What Is Poverty?

Quotes2 Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul. - NYT Op Ed column Charles Blow

Speeches: Of Songbirds And Public Education

ScreenHunter_14 Jun. 29 11.18The best and most important commencement speech of the year was given author Jonathan Franzen, not Conan or Colbert. Speaking at Kenyon, Franzen delved into the psychological challenges of caring deeply about an issue that may or may not seem interesting or relevant or fixable to the rest of the world. In Franzen's case, the issue he cared about deeply was the environment -- trees and grass and clouds and all of that.  For most of us, the issue is education.

Continue reading "Speeches: Of Songbirds And Public Education" »

People: Meet Senate Dem Education Committee Press Secty

Picture 44 Meet Justine Sessions, the majority press secretary for the Senate HELP committee, one of National Journal's Hill Staffers Under 30 to Watch.  Don't hate her because she's 27 -- it's not her fault you're old / wasted your 20s working on that Internet startup. 

Sessions is from Connecticut.  She started out working for Dodd.  Education is her favorite issue over all the other stupid topics that the HELP committee has to cover (I made that up). More (real) info here.

Reform: A Teacher Reflects On Her Experience (& My Book)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Nicole Soussan taught English at Locke High School from 2006 to 2008, and was kind enough to let me share her reflections on what happened while she was at the school and what's happened there since she left: "Frank Wells hired me to teach at Locke High School after asking me to do one thing: tell him about myself. I'm not sure if it was my degree in African American Studies, my incredible enthusiasm for teaching at Locke, or the fact that he had hired a number of other Teach for America teachers that day, but a few minutes later, I was hired over a handshake. I had no idea then that my life and my job would unfold the way they did."  [continued below]

Continue reading "Reform: A Teacher Reflects On Her Experience (& My Book)" »

Media: "Parent Trigger" Reporter Wins LA Journalism Award

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Congrats to education reporter Patrick Range McDonald for being named best print journalist of the year by the LA Press Club. McDonald and his publication, the LA Weekly, took home a fistfull of awards (via  The Informer). He wrote California's Parent TriggerEducating Maria, and "City of Airhead.  

AM News: States' Saber-Rattling Over NCLB Compliance

image from webmedia.newseum.org States Threaten To Defy No Child Left Behind NPR: Duncan may have encouraged this reaction by announcing recently he would grant waivers to states that could not meet the law's standards. 

South Carolina debates using surplus for public schools Marketplace: Some want to reinstate funds into the K-12 school system, while others argue the money should go back to taxpayers. 

Walton Family Foundation gave nearly $12 million to Southland schools last year LAT:  Most of the schools received more than $200,000 each from the foundation, whose belief is that 'students shouldn't be forced to attend a failing school.' No L.A. Unified schools were given funds. 

'Times' Ticks On Inside Higher Educution:  The courses are yet another step toward full-fledged degree programs, which are coming, according to Felice Nudelman, the company’s executive director of education.

Marines Look for a Software Study Buddy Wired:  They want to find a particularly good tutoring device designed to teach 6th through 9th graders math and then mesh it with some of the principles developed in Darpa’s Education Dominance program.

The Dark Side of Celebrity Charities Rolling Stone:  According to sources, the death of West's mother, Donda West, played a major role in his foundation closing, since she was the driving force behind it.

Five Best Blogs: Partisan Wisconsin Hangover

So Disappointing... DFER Wisconsin:  On the whole the political losses and missed opportunities far outweigh the gains. The worst part, in my opinion, is the fall of bipartisanship on education and the rise of the political scapegoat. 

Rhee Engineering Education Washington Monthly (Tom Toch):  Nor could Rhee bring herself to build more health screening and other student and family assistance into her reform agenda, a strategy that Fenty’s deputy mayor for education, Victor Reinoso, advocated. 

Confessions of a Corrupt Educator Larry Strauss: Demoralization may work with snarky graduate students and boot camp recruits, but marginally skilled children in grades K on up to 12 do not benefit from such tactics, even if their lack of performance might justify it.

Race to the Top Promises Delayed Rodel Action Center:  After months of work across the state to define multiple measures of student growth, the Delaware Department of Education has asked the United States DOE for, and - word is - will receive, permission to delay implementation of our DPAS II teacher evaluation system, which will impact the roll-out of numerous other Race to the Top reforms.

Give Up on Homework Gawker:  Kids hate doing homework. Teachers hate grading homework. Now, students in LA are more or less free to never do homework again.  

Thompson: Rocketship & Khan Academy Not That Impressive

Khan Larry Abramson’s two-part NPR series points a way towards the proper use of educational technology. I would feel more confident that online learning would not be abused, however, if its purpose was to either save money or improve instruction, but without attempting both at the same time. The new but much-admired Rocketship Education uses tutorials for basic skills to free teachers to do what they would rather do - teach kids to think. One way the computer lab saves money, though, is by staffing it with lower-paid or even unpaid labor. Abramson also reported that Khan Academy improved instruction at Santa Rita Elementary School by allowing some elementary students to master calculus while others work on mulitiplication of decimals.  It "dunks these students into a completely self-paced world."  But Santa Rita is 15% low-income and 8% black and Hispanic.  It is both a "California Distinguished School" and a "National Blue Ribbon School."  If we want online technology to help children in our toughest neighborhood schools, we should heed the research of Susan Neuman showing that it is not enough to simply provide access to computers to poor children.  We must spend whatever is necessary to integrate technology into a holistic learning culture.  - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

LIFO: Mayors Endorse Seniority Phaseout (No One Notices)

Resolutions aren't binding.  This one about ending LIFO isn't even written that strongly.  Ending LIFO is much less of a pressing issue than it might have seemed to be a few months ago with New York City and many other places finding ways to avoid massive teacher layoffs.  But still it seems noteworthy in the long run at least that, apparently led by Sacto mayor Kevin Johnson and LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the US Conference of Mayors last week passed a resolution "setting a goal to end personnel practices in PK-12 education based solely on seniority  and replace those with ones focused on teacher effectiveness." If layoffs were really happening, this would be tantamount to a declaration of war with union locals. But the response has been minimal -- a passing mention in Rotherham's TIME column is all I can find. It passed unanimously in committee, I'm told.  You can find it on p.128 here (PDF).  


Quotes: Incentive Pay Probably Won't Cover Cosmetic Surgery

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Of the 100 largest school districts in the country only six offer bonuses on the basis of performance to individual teachers that would be substantial enough to cover the average cost of breast augmentation. - NCTQ on Bad Teacher


VIDEO: Don't Be Guh - "Read A Book" This Summer

Like Jazzy says: "I'm no flower, mad brain power, don't be sour, I read daily for three hours."  

Also: I knew "gully" but I didn't no "guh." (Anacostia News) Thanks to whomever sent this to me or wherever I found it (sorry forgot).

Events: Watching The Aspen Ideas Festival From Afar

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I'm not exactly sure how to describe the Aspen Institute's position on education issues -- reformy, to be sure, but perhaps not as aggressive or unreflective as others.  And of course the annual festival is a somewhat different beast from the Institute's ongoing work.  That being said, there are a few education-related things to watch at this week's AIF, including a morning conversation on  New Ways to Teach Our Kids with Salman Khan and an event titled Will School Reform Fix Education? tonight. Thursday morning features a Race to The Top discussion with Arne Duncan, a global education talk that night, and a Friday morning talk about gamification of learning.  All times are Mountain.  Aspen partnered with NewSchools earlier this spring. The Atlantic is a partner.  (Aspen Ideas Festival)

AM News: Duncan Sends Test Integrity Letter To States

Duncan letter stresses testing integrityDC_WP (2) Baltimore Sun: The Sun obtained a letter sent Friday from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to all state superintendents stressing the importance of testing integrity. 

Teacher Evaluation System Examines Classroom Performance NYT:  Spurred by President Obama and his $5 billion Race to the Top grant competition, some 20 states, including New York, and thousands of school districts are overhauling the way they grade teachers, and many have sent people to study Impact.

Mass. board to vote on new teacher evaluations AP: Public school teachers could soon be evaluated on student performance in the classroom and on Massachusetts standardized tests.

Anonymous Donor Gives Thousands to Tulsa Public Schools: Tulsa (Ok.) Public Schools received a very generous donation from an anonymous donor. 

Texas Is Not Paying Dues to National Governor's Group, Either EdWeek:  Texas, because of financial concerns, "hasn't been been a part of NGA for years," said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, in an e-mail. 

Five Best Blogs: The Biggest Hoax In Education History


The Biggest Hoax in the History of Federal Education Policy? Charlie Barone:  Schools can make AYP at least one of two ways and can do so "in any particular year," i.e., 2013, 2014, or 2020 for that matter, if the law continues to go unchanged.

Idaho Plays ‘Chicken’ with the Feds Thompson: The state would lose its Title I grant — approximately $54 million in school year 2011-12. 

Does neglectful oversight of vouchers violate IDEA? Sherman Dorn: If some portion of them is true, it demonstrates an amazing neglect of these students' interests by the state of Florida. 

Do We "Need" Teachers’ Unions? Shanker Blog:  We should be careful about discussing any unions – for teachers or any workers – in terms of whether or not the rest of us need or want them. 

U.S. Teachers Work the Most But U.S. Students Stay Average Atlantic:  While the average salary of a veteran elementary teacher in the U.S. was $44,172 in 2008, higher than the average of $39,426 across all OECD countries - 40 percent below the average salary of other American college graduates.

A Fear That Larger Classes Will Hinder Learning Mike Winerip: Class size is a priority for the district, but all around California districts are preparing worst-case budget plans.

Turds of Administration Teachbad:  Instead of becoming more comfortable, self-confident and amiable, she seems to have become more paranoid, self-protective and self-righteous.

Update: Stop Pretending Charters Are All Like KIPP

Tumblr_lmvejp8UIz1qhsl72o1_500 Charter supporters slammed me last week for raising quality control issues and raining on their conference week parade even though I'm not ideologically opposed to charters. Today on NPR  ('What Happens When Charter Schools Fail') and a recent series of stories in the Philadelphia Inquirer (here) they're looking into the issue in Philadelphia, where there are just seven people overseeing 74 charters (19 of whom are under investigation of one kind or another).

Some really good charters there, no doubt, but wide variations and limited oversight / quality control as in many other places (even including Chicago, where the district is the authorizer and the caps have been pretty tight).  

What you gonna do about, charter supporters /operators/ authorizers?  Pretend everyone's KIPP and hope people continue to ignore the issue, or take the lead and clean things up before states and Congress come to their senses and do it for you?

Thompson: What It's Really Like To Run A DC School

HENDERSON624_1294966260 The Washington Post's Bill Turque explains why DCPS principal Bill Kerlina resigned a job that could have been perfect -- and for which Kerlina seemed particularly well-suited. I hope readers will extrapolate from the exeriences of a favored principal, and imagine the impossible task that D.C., and other systems, are imposing on leaders of the toughest neighborhood schools.  Kerlina was surprised when the central office interfered with disciplinary consequences for a student who was a "behavior nightmare?" He was forced to indulge "questionable parent behavior?" He was pressured to recruit more white students even though parents with options want their children to benefit from inquiry-based learning. He could not make the DCPS leadership understand that their approach is "too scripted and doesn’t allow for students to think outside of the box." Let's be clear:  teachers cannot meet test score growth targets as long as schools cannot assess disciplinary consequences for violent students or value "group activities, hands-on projects and student curiosity." It's a sad but important illustration of a widespread problem.  - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Media: Huffington Post Adds Video "Coverage"


There are tons of video clips and news roundups on the Huffington Post along with a torrent of (mostly horrible) commentary and an increasing amount of (decent but not great) original reporting. The latest development is that the addition of some of its own video, pulling local TV video, news reports, and a bit of blog commentary into a segment on how one schoo's valedictorian turned out not to have enough credits to graduate.  It's a video roundup, basically.  One national connection:  Lack of a counselor at the school contributed to the problem.  AP has a story of schools cutting guidance counselors nationwide (Ratio of students to each counselor, by state).  

Quote: Perennial Dismay Over Perpetual Evaporation

Quotes2 Our perennial dismay over the perpetual evaporation of the past is in some respects just another instance of our raging against the dying of the light.  - The New Yorker "America's Report Card"

Video: Matt Lauer Queries NJ Gov. Over "Harsh" Response

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It's both awful and fun to watch Chris Christie scramble and bluster on the issue of budget cuts and sending his kids to private schools (and how he responds to critical questions):  Chris Christie Has Some Advice For Obama HuffED:  Host Matt Lauer asked the Republican governor if his remarks were "a little harsh" even for someone known not to mince words. (ALSO: Hedge Funders Create Group To Back Chris Christie's Controversial Ed Reforms NJ.com)

AM News: States Struggle To Maintain Ed Funding


State Could Lose $111 Million In Funding EdWeek: South Carolina may lose about $111 million in federal special education money for cutting its spending on students with disabilities for the last two years without the USDE's approval. 

New Laws Attract Lawsuits, Investigations HuffED:  A groundswell of backlash and legal action is following the flurry passed this legislative session that created or expanded programs that allow parents to use public tax dollars for private -- and, often, religious -- schools.

10 of 169 eligible Va. schools apply for merit pay AP:  The Department of Education says 10 schools applied for $3 million in state performance-pay funding, about 6 percent of 169 eligible so-called hard-to-staff schools.

Cheating puts annual tests in spotlight Baltimore Sun:  This week, Baltimore school officials said staff members at two elementary schools had erased wrong answers and replaced them with correct ones on Maryland School Assessment booklets in 2009 and 2010. 

School Reform, Chicago Style WSJ:  At 7:15 on a chilly May morning, Marshall Metro High School attendance clerk Karin Henry punched numbers into a telephone, her red nails clacking as she dialed. 

L.A. Unified's new homework policy gives students a break LAT:  Homework will now count for only 10% of a student's grade. 

LA schools step up oversight of stumbling charters AP:  The auditorium at the Los Angeles Unified school board was awash in varying shades of blue shirts at a recent meeting - sky blue belonged to parents from Crescendo Schools, while navy was worn by parents from ICEF Public Schools. 

Top Students Converge at Mind Summit in Montana NPR:  High-performing students from around the country are meeting with some of the nation's top thinkers at an enrichment event known as 'Adventures of the Mind.'

Weekend Reading: That Long Summer Vacation

image from brian.hoover.net.au

Catching up on magazines and articles from the weekend and the week behind (image via):

Cameron Diaz and Other Reasons People Hate Chicago Teachers The White Rhino:  We're not going back to medieval teaching conditions and women will not be prevented from taking maternity leave.

Numbers that private schools fear Jay Mathews:  As they have in the past, spokespersons for the Sidwell Friends School and St. Albans School declined to tell me how many Advanced Placement exams they gave in 2010.

Teach for America and Me Mark Naison (Fordham): Something was really wrong here if an organization who wanted to serve low income communities rejected every applicant who came from those communities.

The Food-Stamp Crime Wave James Brovard (WSJ): The number of food-stamp recipients has soared to 44 million from 26 million in 2007. 

Unions Work to Turn the Tide In These Times: Taking direct action and staking out an independence from the Democratic Party while also working to transform it. 

Locke High's slow and steady turnaround LAT (editorial page):  Green Dot did not pull off quick academic miracles, but these are all signs of long-overdue hope for students who have had too little.

How a yearbook became child porn Salon:  The photo wasn't spread by text message but rather a school yearbook in San Bernardino County, Calif. 

What's on the School Chopping Block? TIME:  Schools should be about learning for kids not jobs for grown-ups so if performance isn't being factored in, why not?

Teachers' Hero or Education Hypocrite? Megan McCardle: As much of a Ravitch critic as I may be, like Goldstein, I believe that there are some coherent ties that bind old and young Diane, and perhaps surprisingly, one of them is Friedrich Hayek.

Why do schoolchildren get a three-month summer vacation? Slate: For one thing, it's expensive to keep schools open, just like it was in the late 1800s. 

Video: "Bad Teacher" Mocks Teachers - And Incentive Pay


There's more than enough to amuse or offend everyone in the latest Cameron Diaz / Justin Timberlake vehicle (which from the trailer looks like "Bridesmaids" remade in a middle school setting): Uncaring teachers, ridiculous test score bonuses, and a lot of swear words and dirty jokes.

Thompson: Duncan Can Shoot -- But Can He Rebound?

image from www.csmonitor.comElementary teachers make .7 decisions per minute of teaching, according to research cited recently by Larry Cuban.  A teacher has 1200 to 1500 interactions with students per day.  The numbers are significant because, as Cuban explains, they show the "astonishing amount of cognitive labor" that goes into both teaching and rebounding, the "cascade of  instantaneous micro-decisions" that teachers and successful rebounders make. He concludes "effective teachers, then, like top jazz musicians and basketball rebounders improvise–decide on the spot–as they deal with both the routine and unexpected in the art of teaching."  It's a must-read response to posts John Merrow and I have written in the Huffington Post about how Duncan is over-focused on a narrow set of statistics and not enough on subtle classroom basics that can decide whether things go well or not. That's Duncan in the dark shirt at the left, flat-footed and out of position, as others fight for the ball.    - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via

Events: Duncan DREAMs of the Aspen Ideas Festival

image from latinopoliticsblog.com On Monday, Duncan, Chicago Mayoral Rahm Emanuel and others will appear at West Point to talk about the DREAM Act.  One of the two will reveal that he is actually an undocumented alien (no, not really).  

More DREAM on Tuesday, then appearances Thursday and Friday at the Aspen Ideas Festival related to every reformers' favorite new book, Class Warfare and videogaming, too.  

Anyone going to be at the AIF this year and want to cover it? Let me know.  Image via

Continue reading "Events: Duncan DREAMs of the Aspen Ideas Festival" »

AM News: Committee Demands Details On Duncan Waiver Plan

image from webmedia.newseum.org GOP Lawmaker Challenges Duncan on No Child Left Behind WSJ: The Republican chair of the House education committee said Thursday he won't rush into a revamp of NCLB.

Republican Challenges Administration on Plans to Override Education Law NYT:  Representative John Kline of Minnesota said he would use a House rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law to rein in Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s influence.

Rep. Kline Seeks Details on Duncan's NCLB Waiver Plan Politics K12: Kline is especially uneasy with Duncan's assertion that the flexibility would be given in exchange for states' willingness to embrace a package of reforms dreamed up by the department.

Idaho Will Defy NCLB, Schools' Chief Luna Tells Duncan Politics K12: The Council of Chief State School Officersplans to lead an orchestrated effort to flood the department with waiver requests.

Hispanic, white achievement gap as wide as in 90s Seattle Times:  The achievement gap between Hispanic and white students is the same as it was in the early 1990s, despite two decades of accountability reforms.

Math Videos Go From YouTube Hit To Classroom Tool NPR: Now, some adventurous school districts are trying to bring Khan's approach into the classroom.

NFL Player Turns To Teaching During Lockout NPR: In April, Denver Broncos safety David Bruton started teaching math and social studies to students in grades one through 12.

Video: NBC's Censored Version Of The Pledge Of Allegiance


Here's a reminder of just how touchy we are as a nation about issues of culture and nationality -- as well as religion: Over the weekend NBC Sports included footage of some kids from a prominent parochial high school in Chicago reciting the pledge of allegiance in the package leading up to the final round of the US Open -- a move that raised lots of eyebrows on the right in particular. Here's the unedited version, thanks to Fox Chicago.  

Thompson: Newark Plan Lacking Educators' Input

BookerYesterday's NPR story explained why privatization is a likely result of the Cory Booker/Chris Cerf/Chris Christie approach to "reform"  in Newark, including charters and all the rest.  Corporate powers have already been granted a voice.  In fact, citizens complain that Booker is presenting a plan that was fully formed by the business elite without parental input.  A long-time Booker supporter, Reverend Bill Howard, has a charter housed in his church, but  Howard says that he told Booker, "Talk to educators."  Booker supposedly replied, "'I'm talking to the educators!" But Howard says, "I can't meet any he's talking to. "He's asked me who he should talk to and I've recommended people. They haven't heard from him yet."-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.


Media: City Paper Declares Ravitch The "Anti-Rhee"

Image001 (1)Folks on both sides of the education debate are taking a look at City Paper's cover story on Diane Ravitch, which names her the "Anti-Rhee." 

Those who are critical of Ravitch seem to be enjoying the somewhat unflattering photo.  Those who support her point to the sidebar raising issues about Rhee having been in danger of losing her political base. There's an interesting sidebar about who's joined Team Rhee since she left Washington, including many names you've read about here and a few you haven't.

The link to former Rhee is understandable given the City Paper's focus on Washington and is a good excuse to run yet another set of stories about Rhee, but I don't think of Ravitch as being particularly focused on just Rhee. Maybe they just didn't want to put Rhee on the cover?  I'm still checking it out and may have more thoughts -- as may others.  I'm  sure there'll be more.  Feel free to share your thoughts about the article in the comments or on Twitter.  

Update: Nearly 500 Kids Graduating From Locke High School

IMG_0493I'm at my godson's graduation in DC otherwise I'd be at the Locke High School graduation taking place this afternoon in Los Angeles-- the third since the school shifted over from LAUSD to Green Dot.  The last class of kids who started out under the old regime is finishing up.  The school board president is going to be there, which is a nice sign of ceremonial cooperation between the district and its charter brethren.  Over all, 484 kids are going to graduate, a larger number than in the two previous years (and the last year under LAUSD though the 2007 number may have been close). The numbers for next year -- the first set of kids who've been through four years under Green Dot -- should be even stronger, I'm told.  There are 525 juniors currently on track to graduate in 2012. Pictured are Mike, Vick, and T -- three of the tough but warm campus aides who generally helped Locke kids feel good about coming to school (and made sure they went to class).  

AM News: Duncan Creates Federal Turnaround Office (Finally)

image from webmedia.newseum.org

School Turnarounds Get New Emphasis Within Ed. Dept. EdWeek:  The U.S. Department of Education is creating a new office to focus on school turnaround efforts, officials there announced today... 

Joplin school district tries to rebuild, reinvent AP:  It killed seven students and one teacher and destroyed three school buildings, including the only public high school. Seven other buildings were badly damaged.... 

Students in 'Dropout Factory' Schools Explore Why Kids Quit NPR: There are currently more than two million teenagers attending so-called "dropout factory" schools where only 60 percent of the students finish high school in four years... 

Schools Blend Computers With Classroom Learning NPR:  In an era of budget cuts, some schools are trying blended learning — where students in a class are divided into groups and then they split time between computer lessons and instruction with a teacher. 

Lawsuit, Appointments Follow Detroit Education Plan Announcement HuffED:  Nearly 30 Michigan residents filed a lawsuit Wednesday that seeks to overturn a law that gave state-appointed "emergency managers" near carte blanche in cases of state takeover of indebted municipalities and school districts...

Texas Pulling Out of Council of Chief State School Officers EdWeek:  The commissioner felt that "our values don't align with each other" on education policy, said Suzanne Marchman, a spokeswoman for the agency. "We didn't see a return on investment from participating in the organization."

Chart: College Haves & Have-Nots

Picture 42

It's an unfair, unfair world -- and on the whole America seems to be OK with that.Full chart below.  OnlineSchools via Progress IL

Continue reading "Chart: College Haves & Have-Nots" »

Charters: Allies Join Critics Demanding Quality Upgrades

image from blogs.edweek.orgIn case you hadn't heard there's a big charter conference going on in Atlanta (AJCEdWeek).  The House Republicans have conveniently revamped the federal charter school law at the same time.  There are even some of those controversial Harmony charters on the new Newsweek best high schools list.  There's a big push to create more charters (thanks to Team Duncan's mystifying focus on charter expansion in Race To The Top).  But it's still unclear to me what kind of a future role charters have going forward, given the unaddressed issues surrounding quality -- as well as cost and self-sufficiency concerns and the seeming lack of any real impact on the rest of the public education system. I'm generally pro-change, and perfectly fine with the idea of charter schools, but, two years after studies showed us that charters might be popular with parents, and safe, but weren't much better academically there's STILL no real movement on quality issues --just lots of talk. Indeed, one of the most pro-charter groups out there, Democrats for Education Reform, this morning issued a list of concerns about the House charter bill focusing mostly on quality (see below). I get that charters have helped a lot of kids, and brought a lot of energy and talent into public education.  I don't want that to go away.  But operators and authorizers don't seem able or willing to police themselves, and reformers seem afraid to criticize what's become a powerful stakeholder group.  Me, I want so much more from charters than we're currently getting.  Twenty years in and billions of dollars and so much media hype, there should, frankly, be more. 

Continue reading "Charters: Allies Join Critics Demanding Quality Upgrades" »

AM News: The Never-Ending Atlanta Cheating Scandal

image from webmedia.newseum.org

Ex-APS official: Hall ordered destruction of documents tied to cheating AJC:  The accusations appear in a letter to the superintendent from a lawyer representing Colinda Howard, who headed the district’s internal investigations office.

What Will the Detroit Reorganization Mean for Teachers? TeacherBeat:  Reaction from the Detroit Federation of Teachers and other state unions has been lukewarm at best...  

Detroit Education Reform: Few Details Emerge On Michigan College Promise HuffED:  Synder said the scholarship fund would be modeled after a similar program for residents of Kalamazoo, Mich... 

College entrance exam ATC's validity questionedA new study finds that parts of the test have "little or no" ability to help colleges predict whether applicants will succeed... 

America's Best High Schools Newsweek:  Eeach school’s score is comprised of six components: graduation rate (25%), college matriculation rate (25%), AP tests taken per graduate (25%), average SAT/ACT scores (10%), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10%), and AP courses offered (5%).

Education envoy keeps the peace Politico: Union leaders also say that despite Anderson’s influence, Duncan sometimes pursues a path at odds with his adviser’s counsel.

 Teacher Sues 'Three Cups Of Tea' Author Accused Of Fraud AP: Two Montana lawmakers have filed a similar claim there claiming they were duped into buying Mortenson's best-selling book and donating to his charity based on lies they thought were true...

Five Best Blogs: Introducing "Mr. Teachbad"

image from www.arthurmurrayboston.com

Evaluating innovation is not an oxymoron Lucy Bernholz: Evaluating Innovation provides a framework for thinking about evaluating efforts at innovation, presents examples from the Knight, MacArthur... 

Charter Supporter Gather in Atlanta (of all places) Tom VanderArk: About 5% of Georgia kids are educated in charter school but some of those are charter in name only... 

Rage Against the Machine EIA:  While the anger is boiling over in several locations, it’s still under a lid at the national level – though it does seem to be percolating... 

First Year of Teacherpocalypse EIA:  Last year’s workforce numbers, and they show – for the first time in ages – a decline in the number of K-12 full-time equivalent classroom teachers... 

Segregation Nation The American Prospect:  Omaha’s radical experiment in school integration could serve as a national model—though local resistance indicates it might be a tough sell... 

I Feel So Cheap And Dirty, Part II Mr Teachbad:  I’ll give him the same final exam, his actual same final exam with his writing on it right now, and he can make corrections on it. How about that?... 

Detroit A Bellwether For Education Reform Nationwide Huffington Post:  Most of the districts looking to switch from a seniority- to performance evaluation-based system for teachers are millions of dollars in debt. 

Funders: Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Starts In-House Blog

Msdf_logoThere aren't many education foundations with program officers regularly posting to a blog -- none that I can think of, actually -- but the folks at the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation have done just that.  Some early posts include:  Just data is not enough: Education questions still needs answers, Evaluating, and elevating, the school accountability discussion, and Blended learning: Innovation shouldn’t outweigh core educational values.  Check it out, and add it to your blogroll if it seems interesting (or look away quickly if you're worried they're trying to control your mind).  No, I don't get any funding from them.  

Thompson: OKC Teachers Propose "Slimmed-Down" Contract

Aft The Oklahoma City AFT local has presented its reform blueprint in which the union calls for a new teacher evaluation system that may include student growth measures, teacher attendance and other factors, along with an expansion of the district’s peer-evaluation system.  The AFT local is offering to mend seniority, consider pay for performance, and help address hard-to-staff schools. As part of the deal, teachers also want a student behavior plan that is enforced, including alternative education settings for students who violate the plan, and behavior contracts for everyone, from teachers and students to school board members. They seek to use input from students, parents and teachers to remove poorly performing principals. The union proposes an independent hearing officer at termination proceedings. In essence, the local is offering a "slimmed-down" contract. Ed Allen, the AFT/OKC president, says that collective bargaining has traditionally been limited to certain topics, but he would like to see those limitations to the dialogue waved. This could be the most important proposal. I know and respect OKC's central office administrators as talented and sincere, and I would second Allen’s praise for the district’s superintendent. But the OKCPS, like other systems, is under continual pressure from all governmental levels to adopt one ideology-driven "silver bullet" after another. The single best representative of the students is their teachers. A primary responsibility of the union is to bring the professional judgments of educators to the planning process. -JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via. 

Video: Christie Vehemently Defends Sending Kids To Private School

Do Not Ask Chris Christie Where His Kids Go To School (via Atlantic Wire)

Chart: Staffers Mostly White, Private-College Know-Nothings

ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 20 21.18
Not only are top Hill staffers overwhelmingly (93 percent) white and disproportionately (51 percent) educated at private colleges, according to this National Journal story, they're woefully inexperienced (50 percent less than 10 years).  

AM News: Big Plans - & Questions - For Detroit Schools

image from webmedia.newseum.org Plan Aims to Revitalize Detroit Schools AP: Michigan officials announced a plan Monday to overhaul Detroit’s struggling schools by moving the worst ones into a new system... 

Low-Performing Schools Get A Makeover NPR:  The program creates a mini district for the city's lowest performing schools...

Kentucky seeks to replace No Child Left Behind standards Courier Journal:  Kentucky is seeking to become the first state in the nation to use its statewide accountability system to determine whether schools are meeting the requirements of the federal NCLB law... 

Duncan Restructures Safe, Drug-Free Schools Programs Politics K12: Its [remaining] programs will be moved into a new Office of Safe and Healthy Students... 

Perry Signs Controversial Criminal Disclosure Measure AP: The law will require written notification of student arrests as well as details about parolees from the juvenile justice system... 

N.Y. Teacher Takes Students on a Virtual Trip NewsHour: A high school teacher in New York City decided to set aside the usual curriculum and take her students on a virtual five week journey to the Middle East to learn about the millions who have fled the war in Iraq and became refugees...  

Charitable Giving Rose Last Year for First Time Since 2007 NYT:  Giving was up 2.1 percent last year, and if it continues at that pace, it will take five to six years for it to regain its 2007 peak of $326.57 billion.

Five Best Blogs: "Disruptiness" In Education Reform

Singinintherain Disruptiness in K-12 Sherman Dorn: To wave one's hand and ignore either the history of public-private interfaces in education or the history of problems with unregulated privatization is foolhardy... First Year of Teacherpocalypse EIA:  Hiring 81,000 people one year and laying off 31,000 the next is the hallmark of a system in which there is no direct relationship between the size of the workforce and the mission it undertakes... Dear Diane: Education Next: After several years (more or less) of fairly relentless criticisms of school reformers, she is back to her old self today, telling the New York Times that the new NAEP history  test results are “alarming.”... “I Used to Think . . . And Now I Think . . .” Harvard Education Letter: I used to think that policy was the solution. And now I think that policy is the problem... When you actually know the topic about which The Economist writes:  Schools aren’t being shuttered willy-nilly, leaving little Johnnies and little Susies without... Fact Checking the National Council on Teacher Quality John Thompson: The problems are always the same - education schools, due process, not enough performance pay, and the failure to use enough standardized testing when evaluating teachers... 


NCLB: Waiver Debate, Week Two

DiscmanAnother mini-roundup of NCLB waiver commentary and analysis, though the issue seems pretty dead to me:  Can We Get 'Plain Writing' on Duncan's NCLB Waiver Plan? Politics K12:  How about Duncan explains what he means by "regulatory relief" in exchange for a "basket of reforms"... Reauthorize, Reauthorize, Reauthorize CAP: The secretary should grant waivers, not regulatory relief... The Regulation Threat Sandy Kress:  Every major administrative step the Administration has taken has had a weakening effect. And it appears that - for a favored few - more is in store...  Reauthorization, Waivers, and the Third Variable Problem DFER:  The decibel level from the usual suspects inside the Beltway is enough to rattle anyone's nerves, especially those new to the game... States Take the Lead on Accountability CCSSO Press release: Federal action must support, not hinder, state leadership on next-generation accountability systems and provide states with room to promote continuous innovation.  None of the Above The American Prospect: Next month, the National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teachers union, which has called for an overhaul, will decide at its convention whether to endorse Barack Obama in 2012... For additional takes on the issue see National Journal here.



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.