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Five Best Blogs: Hot Hot Friday Afternoon

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

 #sosmarch Ravitch lampoons education critics American Independent:  During a faux-interview Ravitch lobbed questions at herself that she’s answered throughout her career. 

Poverty, Reading Scores, and Resilient Schools New America:  In the resilient schools, poverty still plays a big role, but one that the school has managed to curb. 

Is the Charter-School Movement Stuck in a Rut? Checker Finn: This wouldn’t be the first “reform movement” in the history of education to turn into an ideologically rigid, pull-up-the-gangplank-now-that-we’re-aboard sort of vested interest. But it would still be a great pity. 

How did this happen? The Give Well Blog:  How does such a successful and acclaimed organization [as KIPP] struggle to raise the funds necessary to continue expanding? 

No Child... Gonna Make You Cry Susan Sawyers: A heart-wrenching portrayal of today's New York City public school system and the people who make up the school communities.

Radio: Common Core, Rick Hess, & Me

Megaphone The latest broadcast of Bloomberg EDU is now out online, including a Jane Williams interview with David Coleman (about ComCore, natch) and a friendly chat between me and Rick Hess about public officials making private school choices and our increasing questions about the viability of the Common Core. Check out downloads of previous shows here.

Thompson: Everyone Graduates

Danny_baltimore2 Claudio Sanchez in his NPR series on dropouts explains that some Baltimore schools "fudge" the numbers and "take attendance at 10 a.m. rather than 8 a.m. because they know if kids show up at all, they come in late and would be counted absent."  Having seen those tricks to make data look less dire, I suspected that Sanchez would soon be telling worse stories. (In another report, Sanchez explained  that Baltimore also has a zero-tolerance policy in dealing with kids who miss school.  It is a "last resort" where the district can fine parents $50 or put them in jail if their kids miss 20 or more days of school.)  But Sanchez then says that, "the district's key strategy, though, has been placing teams of psychologists and counselors ... to identify the kids who are most at risk of dropping out."  Baltimore is listening to Robert Balfanz' Everyone Graduates Center, and I wish more districts would use their majestic data systems to follow Balfanz's recommendation that we immediately identify truancy problems and work with the community to understand and address them before children are hopelessly behind.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Update: What's It Like To Cover A Turnaround Effort?

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Somehow in just nine minutes host Matt Weber manages to ask me all sorts of good questions about (how did the kids and teachers feel about me being around, visiting for the first time, etc.) on the new Harvard EdCast.  Check it out here and let me know if you want to have me on your show, podcast, book club, etc.  I've done a bunch of talks with education groups and training sessions and so far at least it's been lots of fun.  There are also a bunch of other interviews in the series, including actor Jim True-Frost (the failed cop who becomes a teacher on The Wire) and reform enthusiast Whitney Tilson.  I must warn you, however, that there is some tinkly Classical piano played to begin and end the show.  It is Harvard, after all.  

PS:  If you want to see and hear everything about the book, past and present, check out the Facebook page here or the blog category.  

Cartoon: "It Could Be Worse"

image from 1.images.theweek.comMike Keefe via The Week

AM News: Uncertainty Over SOS / White House Meeting


'Save Our Schools' Leaders Decline White House Invitation EdWeek:  Organizers instead say the White House can come to them, or they'll come to the White House on Sunday. Obama officials had no comment on the executive committee's response to their invitation. 

No area school districts meet annual progress goals Anderson Independent: The disparity led South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais to declare the federal “No Child Left Behind” law “broken.”

Parent group files complaint over performance goals in Gwinnett schools AJC:  While the No Child Left Behind Act requires 100 percent of schools in each state meet basic performance goals by 2013-14, the Gwinnett and Forsyth County school districts have promised contractually to do even better and increase the number of students.

Dropping Out, A Life-Changing Decision NPR:  Each year, nearly 1 million teenagers stop going to school, a decision that can hound them for decades. 

Schools Turn To Fees After Drop in State Aid NYT:  Texas school districts are turning to fees so that parents will make up some of the money that previously came from the state.

School Plan to Engage Parents Arouses Skepticism CNC:  The new leadership at Chicago Public Schools is taking another crack at one of the district’s thorniest problems: involving parents in their children’s education. 

Best Five Blogs: Waivers & Government Breakdown


Obama administration reaches out to education activists Answer Sheeet:  Is this a repeat of the administration’s efforts last summer to blunt criticism by a coalition of civil rights groups?  

Saving Our Schools? Eduflack: If one is serious about school improvement (setting aside whether SOS' agenda can be considered "improvement"), you need to offer a little more than arts and crafts. 

Reform Without Legislation Matthew Yglesias: It’s clever, and since it’s probably not the kind of issue around which congress will organize a massive backlash (compare to, say, the EPA) it just might work. But it should also be taken as another sign of the increasing breakdown of our machinery of government. 

Unemployment Linked to Vasectomies, Chipped Teeth and Substitute Teaching Carolyn Bucior: Following the economic downturn that began in 2007, USA Today wrote that school districts nationwide were flooded with applications from people who wanted to work as substitute teachers. 

When the story is education, Rupert Murdoch gets involved GothamSchools: The same story reported that Murdoch relished his access to Journal reporters, with whom he sometimes discussed education issues.

Confession of a cheating teacher Philly Notebook:  She said she knows she's a good teacher. But she still helped her students cheat. 

The Gates Foundation and the Rise of the Cool Kids Jay Greene:  Whatever the mistakes to date, the Gates Foundation has in my mind has succeeded in serving as a counter-weight to the NEA. 

Video: "Untested...Competitions" Displacing Established Programs

Sen. Jack Reed had some tough questions for Secretary Duncan at yesterday's appropriations hearing, as reported in HuffED, but his concern apparently wasn't focused on the Promise Neighborhoods in particular but rather "untested, large-scaled competitive grant programs" pushing out established line-item programs like school libraries:  

"I’m concerned that the overarching strategy at the Department has been to focus almost exclusively on these untested, large-scaled competitive grant programs at the expense of some proven research-based programs that have a track record of success."  

PS:  Who's that sitting just off Duncan's left elbow, opposite Carmel Martin?  

Thompson: Culture Of Respect A Two-Edged Sword

Kanye-west I always had mixed reactions when told, "Dr. Thompson, students listen to you because they respect you." I never got over the implicit criticism of most of my fellow teachers.  I had the same feelings when listening to Claudio Sanchez' NPR  report on dropping out.  A mother told Sanchez that her son had trouble in middle school but it had little to do with problems at home. It was the fault of insensitive teachers, she said,  "he would tell me ... 'Momma, those teachers, they expect me to respect them, and they don't respect me at all.' "  Schools must be sensitive of the culture of "respect," especially when dealing with children from generational poverty.  But we drank the Kool Aid and told teachers that they must measure up to the street code, and earn students' respect before they could expect cooperation.  What are we saying to new teachers by telling them to prove themselves according to the rules of the street before they can be be seen as worthy of the school system's respect?  Where else will young people find adult institutions who will allow them to set the rules of the road?  When schools teach students that they can demand that educators conform to their interpretation of the code of respect, they are setting kids up for unemployment, prison, or worse.  Besides, do we really want a society where everyone unilaterally decides who is worthy and unworthy of being treated with  respect? Do we want a society full of people like Michelle Rhee and Kanye West?- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Charts: The State Of Education


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"In Singaport, South Korea, and Finland, 100% of teachers come from the top 1/3rd of their college classes. In the United States, nearly 50% come from the bottom 1/3rd." (State of Education)

Media: Education Journos Win Casey Recognition

Thumb160x_mm-mrskinlogo-790552 Kudos to Helen Zelon and Emily Hanford for having their work recognized by the Casey Awards for 2011 (Journalism Center on Children & Families).  As you may recall, Zelon's City Limits package looked into the accomplishments of the much-touted Harlem Children's Zone (Hype or Hope in Harlem).  Hanford explored the pros and cons of measuring teachers based on student test scores (Testing Teachers).  There are a bunch of education and education-related stories on the awards list, some of which I hadn't known about before.  

AM News: Graduation Rates Get Downgraded

News2 States Brace for Grad Rate Dips as Formula Changes AP: Michigan had a nearly 10 percentage point fall when they made the switch in 2007. Florida's graduation rate would have been nearly two points higher if it had continued under the old calculation.

Teachers Converging on Washington for 4-Day Schools Rally EdWeek:  The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association have donated about $25,000 each to the effort. Conference organizers estimated that they'd raised over $100,000 as of this week. 

Arne Duncan Defends Education Funding, Policies To Senate Committee HuffED:  Senators focused on the cost and benefits of Pell Grants, Duncan's emphasis on funding certain competitions, education in high-demand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and NCLB. 

Zero-Tolerance Policies Doing More Harm Than Good NPR: Many students leave school after experiencing strict suspension policies. ALSO:   A High School Dropout's Midlife Hardships.

Teacher who blogged about her 'lazy' students gets her job back AP:  The Philadelphia-area high school teacher who was suspended for blogging about some of her "lazy" and "frightfully dim" students will get her job back.

Once Nearly 100%, Teacher Tenure Rate Drops to 58% as Rules Tighten NYT:  Under new rules, the percentage of teachers granted tenure declined from 99 percent five years ago. 

St. Paul's School sued in bullying case Baltimore Sun:  A Baltimore County mother is suing St. Paul's School and two administrators for $150,000, claiming that the private school failed to protect her teenage son from years of harassment and physical assaults and effectively "condoned and supported the bullying students."

Five Best Blogs: Civics Teachers Parachute Into Washington


Emergency Team Of Civics Teachers Dispatched To Washington The Onion:  With lawmakers still at an impasse over increasing the debt ceiling, a special team of 40 eighth-grade civics teachers was air-dropped into Washington earlier today.

Pushing Deaf Kids Away From Sign Language Atlantic:  Cuts in Indiana could slash budgets for state schools for the deaf, forcing some children to attend "mainstream" schools.

 Where private foundations award education cash The Answer Sheet:  Teach for America, the nonprofit organization that recruits newly graduated college students to commit to teach for two years in high-needs schools, was tops on the list of recipients, with 31 percent of the total. ALSO:  Walton Family Foundation Gifts TFA $49.5 Million HuffED

Speaking of Intellectual Corruption! Greg Forster: Everyone’s onto Jennings’ game, so no one cares about his nonsense. 

The "We Don't Want Trouble" Defense Makes a Comeback GOOD: In this case, fear of violence is code for fear of change. And that's not much different from the Jim Crow era. 

Top 5 Most Shocking Public School Cheating Scandals TakePart:  In 2006, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) hired Caveon Test Security to analyze state test results for signs of cheating. Preliminary analysis revealed 699 schools with suspicious scores. 


Video: Another Unhappy Moment For The Edelman Clan

"Poor" in America - Peter Edelman


Maybe the Edelman men should just avoid cameras for a while. Last night on the Colbert Report renowned anti-poverty advocate Peter Edleman (father of Jonah) seemed unwilling or unprepared to do battle with the host, who pestered him with questions suggesting that the poor aren't really poor and ended by asking:  "Did you bring any poor people with you? I was hoping this was going to be one of those Jack Hannah segments where bring me a baby poor for me to hold."  It was pretty intense stuff, though not all that unusual for Colbert. Edelman seemed miffed and walked offstage immediately upon the conclusion of the segment despite Colbert's encouragement to stay with him. 

SOS March: What People Are Saying

Here are some of the best / most eye-catching comments on the upcoming #sosmarch - feel free to add more: 


Advocating for a Public that Often Disagrees With You EdSector: The American public—that they claim to champion—disagrees with much, if not most, of the K-12 education vision outlined by SOS’s organizers.

Schools march won’t unite us, but so what?   Jay Mathews:   If I were at the "Save Our Schools" march around the White House, my sign would say “Bring Us Together.”  

If dogs became kings And the Pope chewed gum Sara Mead:  How do we [bridge] the gap between systemic changes we seek and the emotional realities of what parents want in the most concrete of terms everyday for their children?  

Coverage of the Reform Rishawn Biddle:  The Baby Boomer teachers who oppose school reform are looking out for their retirements; like their colleagues outside of education, they are also dealing with tremendous debt burdens, and low levels of savings, so they may have to work longer than they want. 


Why I Won't Be Marching Last Stand For Children First:  Frequently, I hear teachers from urban schools talk about the difficulties their students face on a daily basis and immediately feel sorry for these kids being saddled with teachers who have low expectations for them.


Cartoon: The Pink Panther Version Of School Reform

The Pink Panther and Inspector Clouseau paint a column in a never-ended loop, each painting over the other's work. It's pink! It's blue! It's pink again!

AM News: New Mexico Smashes Duncan AYP Prediction

News2 In New Mexico, Almost Every School 'Left Behind' HuffED:  By the standards of the decade-old No Child Left Behind law, almost 87 percent of New Mexico's schools aren't making AYP.  

Atlanta School Board Members To Keep Jobs, On Year-Long Probation HuffED:  The board's agreement to state scrutiny comes after the AJC and state investigators revealed a culture of covering up the widespread cheating.

Despite Interventions, No-Show Students Drop Out NPR:  Danny Lamont Jones (right) raised lots of red flags not long after he enrolled as an eighth-grader in a Baltimore school. He was quiet, struggling academically, and he didn't show up very often. 

Teen Fights To Succeed In Rural S.C. Community NPR:  Nearly a third of students in rural areas don't graduate. In states like South Carolina, lots of teenagers just don't think they need a high school diploma.

Memphis Standoff Could Delay Schools' Start AP:   The mayor says he doesn't have the money. And besides, the city doesn't usually have to pay until September. The board and council rarely get along, so it's not clear if they will come up with a compromise in time for classes to start. 

States fret over 'game of chicken' on federal debt ceiling Stateline:  State officials are bracing for the impact of what Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam calls “an incredible game of chicken” over the federal debt ceiling, even going as far as calculating how long they can run programs without federal money.

Five Best Blogs: Cheating Cheaters Cheerily Cheat

Dumpster Corruption and Blaming the Test Kevin Carey:  Being under pressure to increase student test scores is not at all the same thing as being the parent of a hungry family. 

Questions about cheating could hinder efforts to improve schools Washington Post:  Of more than 100,000 public schools in the United States, about 300 recently have faced suspicions, allegations and, in some cases hard proof, that teachers and administrators cheated to inflate standardized test scores.

Black Student Barred from Being Valedictorian, Says Lawsuit Gawker: Kym's federal lawsuit claims she had the highest GPA in her class and was told she would be valedictorian, but got pushed out last minute for white students.

Teach For America and Charter Schools Are Not Enough PolicyMic:  I commend TFA and charter schools for their significant role in this work, but it is not their burden to bear; it is all of ours.

The Ne Plus Ultra of Enraging Trend Stories Gawker:  It has an inequality-in-education angle, a rich kids angle, and a private jets angle. 

Cheating: System "Rife With Abuse" For 20 Years Now

image from images.usnews.com


"Intensifying demand that the nation's $228 billion annual investment in public education pay greater scholastic dividends... coupled with astonishingly lax security among the nation's leading standardized basic-skills tests...produced a school testing system that is rife with abuse--and consequently less and less useful as a true measure of educational success." -- 1992 US News & World Report cover story, Schools For Scandal via Bill Turque WP (anyone have the cover image?)


Update: Looking Deeper Into Charter Teacher Turnover

Tumblr_losbxbXCNH1qz7lxdo1_400 Several media outlets including the LA Times have reported on a new Berkeley study showing eye-openingly high annual teacher turnover rates at LA-area charter networks.  But at least one of them, Green Dot, says that the report may overstate the real numbers. CEO Marco Petruzzi claims that Green Dot's annual teacher retention rate varies between 82- and 86 percent, compared to the 50 percent cited in the Berkeley report. Report author Bruce Fuller says that his study uses the same data set that Green Dot sends to LAUSD, but does not identify specific CMOs, and that the study needs to be updated to include more recent data.  Still, how does everyone come up with such different numbers?  One possible explanation is that Fuller et al include any and every kind of teacher movement, including folks who are asked to leave, who transfer from one campus to another, or who leave for greener pastures.  Sixteen percent of the teachers at Locke left voluntarily last year, for example (27 of 170 teachers).  But another 13 percent weren't asked back (for credential reasons, mostly).   Lumping the departures all together isn't inaccurate, per se, but I'm not sure it conveys what we really want to know, which is how great or awful it is to work at a charter school. [corrected link]

Events: Saving The SOS March [UPDATE]

image from upload.wikimedia.orgThe upcoming Save Our Schools march in DC this week needs something more than angry frustration and sanctimonious scolds if it's going to attract cameras, new followers, and make itself a widespread movement rather than one that seems mostly made up of older upper-middle class white teachers and parents. Inspiration would be great -- but so would humor. And, looking at the lineup of speakers (and assuming Jon Stewart isn't available*) I'm thinking that the humor might have to come from the audience.  It's not too late.  The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (depicted right) helped get the anti-creationism argument across. Billionaires For Bush did the same during the Bush administrations. How about Duncan lookalikes dressed up as Margaret Spellings?  Or Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and Jonah Edelman masks for everyone to wear? Or Richie Rich Reformers all dressed in top hats and long gloves? 

UPDATE:  Rumor is that Stewart is addressing the crowd via videotape.

Quotes: Obama The Patronizing Jr. High School Principal

Quotes2 Obama lectured the leaders of the House and Senate in the sort of patronizing tone that a junior high principal might use with immature delinquents. - NYT columnist David Brooks

AM News: The Heat Is Gone


Christie and National Expert Duel Over School Reform NJ Spotlight: To have Darling-Hammond and Christie as the two last speakers of the afternoon provided a provocative duel of ideas. 

A Young Mom Resists A Cycle Of Failure NPR:  Not a day goes by that Lauren Ortega doesn't regret quitting high school. ALSO: From Drug Dealing To Diploma, A Teen's Struggle

California: Half of ‘Dream’ Act Signed NYT:  Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to receive privately financed scholarships for state universities. 

Texas School Board to Discuss Employment of Former APS Official District Administration: A former Atlanta Public Schools administrator named in the cheating scandal could step down from her new job as a superintendent in suburban Dallas.
Another Victim of Budget Cuts: State Education Agencies EdWeek: One of the starkest examples of cutbacks can be seen at the Texas Education Agency, which saw state lawmakers chop $48 million off its budget for the next two years. 

Construction halted for independent schools in south Dallas IRE:Matt Haag from The Dallas Morning News reports that several schools (most in southern Dallas) in the Independent School District (ISD) have halted their construction projects. 

Black Student Can't Be Valedictorian, Lawsuit Alleges HuffED: After four years of nearly straight-As, Honors and Advanced Placement classes, 18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly achieved the highest GPA at McGehee Secondary School southeast of Little Rock, Ark., according to a court complaint.

Five Best Blogs: Political Control Of Schools

85902a00129ce99a1ec8e60ac4422d4ccf5ea5cc_m Atlanta: Bellwether Or Whistleblower? Shanker Blog: The more we rely on these tests for all kinds of decisions, the more they are likely to change the nature of education itself, and not in ways that will be good for future generations of students.

Leave 'No Child' requirements alone News Chief: The schools need a wake-up call, and now's the time for that bell to ring. 

Gates Foundation Follies Jay P. Greene: They’ve realized that the focus of their efforts has to be on the political control of schools.

‘Just right’ parents and No Child Left Behind The Answer Sheet:  The experience of some private, parochial, charter, and even some traditional public schools is that they do better when they acknowledge an institutional obligation to promote the social and emotional well-being of their children. 

Students May Be Left Behind Mike Winerip: Parents are supposed to rank their choices for the district lottery when it comes to selecting middle schools for their children, but the guidebook is vague about what each school is looking for. 

Why the Liberal Base Has so Little Leverage With Obama PPI: Next time there is an open Democratic presidential nomination contest, the organized left will almost certain to make far greater ideological demands on candidates, and make a far less speculative choice of a favorite, than it did in 2008. 

Cartoon: "My Collie Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student"

image from www.newyorker.com

From this week's New Yorker.

Thompson: The Best Way to Cut the Budget

Heat The best way to cut budgets is to use common sense, as California has done.  After cutting as much as possible from standardized testing, the next logical step is to temporarily cut the school year.  During times of economic distress the work load goes up dramatically, and often the best we can expect for troubled schools is to hold the line.  Think of athletic coaches during this heat wave.  If they shorten their workouts and increase the number of water breaks, is that showing "low expectations?"  Similarly, in times like these, what would be the problem with adding a couple of breaks during the long stretch between MLK's Birthday and Spring Break?  How much learning would be missed by cutting a week after the standardized testing ordeal is over?  Even so, the the Education Trust-West and Eric Hanushek  blew their stacks when California cut the school year by seven days rather that inflict nine months of damage by laying off 2,000 teachers.  It gave the Trust an opportunity to use their anti-union zinger, claiming that they think that schools are "job agencies, not educational agencies." Incomprehensibly, Hanushek condemned this tried and true method of saving money as "the new worst way to deal with budget problems." The bottom line, however, is that these theorists showed how divorced they are from reality.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Parenting: How Emanuel Outburst Differs From Cristie's

AP emanuel photo in wbez Folks remain deeply divided over Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to send his kids to private school and the outburst that occurred when asked about the decision.  Some tidbits:  Emanuel refused to apologize to the reporter afterward.  Lab School is unionized, unlike most other private schools in the nation.  Other local and national leaders (Daley, Cristie, et al) have gotten something of a pass for sending their kids to parochial schools.  (By that token, Emanuel should have sent his kids to St. Ignatius, the top Catholic school in the city, even though he and his family are Jewish. There is no elite Jewish high school in Chicago.) A roundup below. AP photo via WBEZ

Continue reading "Parenting: How Emanuel Outburst Differs From Cristie's " »

Dropouts: NPR Focuses On Troubling Issue

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Over the past several months, Claudio Sanchez – NPR’s longtime education reporter – has been hard at work assembling a set of stories about dropouts that's going to run all week. As long a project as he’s ever worked on, Sanchez’s quintet of segments comes out of the economic reporting that NPR has already been doing on "Planet Money" – stories that focus on the real-world impact of the recession. In five segments ranging from five to seven minutes each, Sanchez wanted to look at those who were most likely to have been laid off first (or never employed in the first place), and to be unemployed longest (unless jail counts as a form of employment these days).  There are apparently some bright spots – kids making progress and programs doing good things to help kids out and get them a diploma.  But no doubt the dropout issue, like unemployment and poverty, has been off the front burner of domestic policy too long.  Retention and recovery programs get little attention, and accountability and school safety programs create more dropouts as collateral damage. “Suspension and expulsion big contributors to dropouts,” says Sanchez. “Very few states have a handle on that, and schools’ predisposition is to dump people.”Sanchez calls getting accurate honest and up to date data on dropouts “next to impossible” despite several much-touted efforts to do just that. (Recall that in 2005 45 states and the NGA committed to developing a common measure for HS graduation rate.)  It's not strictly an education problem, though of course there are substantial educational implications. 

Continue reading "Dropouts: NPR Focuses On Troubling Issue" »

Media: The Cheating "Crisis" & Teacher Culpability

Typewriter-007Like others I'm a big fan of education writer Dana Goldstein (and love the line in her latest piece about the current mood of "brutal optimism" about testing). But the piece in Slate - about how "a growing spate of evidence from around the country suggests that the most egregious practices in Atlanta... are part of a national, and indeed a historic trend... bolstered by No Child Left Behind's emphasis on pressuring educators to produce spectacular test results" -- seems overheated in its claims and makes several questionable connections. Goldstein presents no real evidence that there is a cheating crisis going on in America, greatly overstates NCLB's real-world threat to educators, and seems to presume that educators are both unable to resist everyday temptations and shouldn't be included among those who should be held accountable for their actions. To all of this and more, I protest.   

Continue reading "Media: The Cheating "Crisis" & Teacher Culpability" »

AM News: Implicated ATL Teachers Not All Leaving

News2 41 Educators In Atlanta Cheating Scandal Quit AP/Huffington Post: Now, Atlanta officials are deciding what to do with the remaining 137.

School Dropout Rates Adds To Fiscal Burden NPR:  At a time when federal and state budgets are tight, dropouts costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue, health care, welfare and incarceration costs.

Holder says Texas suspensions a “wake-up call” Yahoo!:  "Maintaining safe and supportive school climates is absolutely critical, and we are concerned about the rising rates and disparities [...] 

Was the $5 Billion Worth It? WSJ:  A decade into his record-breaking education philanthropy, Bill Gates talks teachers, charters—and regrets. Via GS

Web restrictions draw ire of some educators USAT: Connecticut librarian plans "Banned Sites Day" to draw attention to Internet restrictions in schools.

Change in Rating Formula Creates Anxiety in Schools Texas Tribune: The annual accountability ratings for Texas’ school districts are coming out soon, but a change in the ratings formula will surely cause grief in numerous districts.

High turnover reported among charter school teachers LAT: Around 50% of teachers in charter middle and high schools left their jobs each year over a six-year period studied by UC Berkeley researchers, who released their findings last week. 


Weekend Reading: Magazines, Alternative Weeklies, Etc.

Alphabet blocks

A roundup of magazines, alternative weeklies, and other sources I don't check every day (along with a few I do):

UPDATE:   Joel Klein Leads Internal News Corp. Inquiry NYT: At one point, [Murdoch] quietly donated $1 million to an advocacy group, Education Reform Now.

Our elementary-school teachers instilled certain fundamental ... Utne Reader:  Advocates of a new crusade to bring environmental literacy to public schools want students to better understand green issues and their personal relationship to the natural world.

Who Teaches The Teachers Yglesias:  Otterman gives a great overview of some of the practitioners making efforts to improve things in a first-order way with new programs. 

Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops Wired Magazine:  In the vicinity of the schools where the dynamic displays were installed, drivers slowed an average of 14 percent. Not only that, at three schools the average speed dipped below the posted speed limit.

Failing forward Lucy Bernholz/Philanthropy 101: We ought to be getting better at knowing when we're succeeding and, concomitantly, when we're failing. 

How Khan Academy Is Changing The Rules Of Education Wired: Story of education website that offers free video tutorials tailored to students of differing abilities.

How To Be A Writer Molly Backes:  "Let her be lonely. Let her believe that no one in the world truly understands her. Let her have secrets. Let her write poetry on her jeans and backpack" 

When Columbine Never Ends Esquire: Rep. Kevin Parker on then and now, Columbine and Spokane, and the memory of Gabby Giffords, too.  

Update: Emanuel Storms Out Over School Choice Questions

Remember when Chris Cristie freaked out in response to a question about his keeping his kids out of the parochial system?  Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel did his best to top that in an interview last week, storming out in response to questions about where he's sending his kids to school.  You can watch it here:

If it's so clearly a private decision like Cristie and Emanuel say then why does it make them so angry (and why do people keep asking it over and over again)?  At some level it matters, just like what color you are and where you went to school.  

Video Interlude: A Typeface For Dyslexics

Research by the University of Twente indicates that the typeface decreases reading errors by dyslexics. (A typeface for dyslexics) Via Kottke.

Quote: How Will Reform Look 50 Years From Now?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Just as many of the current school reformers consider themselves to be progressive, American eugenics was considered a progressive movement, and was often couched in terms of concern for the children and for the future of society. -- Scientific American  blog via Larry F

Media: New NYT Education Reporter Comes From Sports

image from a1.twimg.comLast year the new education reporter at the Times was from the Style section.  This time he's from Sports.  

Meet Alan Schwarz, the longtime sports writer (and Pulitzer nominee) for the NYT who from some recent bylines and his Twitter bio (@alanschwarz) is transitioning to education.  

No word yet on whether ther are any other shifts or shakeups going on within the education team, or whether the move is permanent.  

Chart: What An 18 Percent Spending Cap Would Look Like

ScreenHunter_17 Jul. 21 22.03 Capping federal spending at 18 percent of GDP, which is what many Republicans propose to do as part of the budget deal, is a funding level that hasn't existed since 1966, notes the Democratic-leaning Center on American Progress, at which time federal spending on education was roughly a third of what it is today (in constant dollars), or roughly $4,000 compared to the current $12,000 plus. Click the link to see how much things have changed since 1966 in other parts of American life. 

AM News: Closures, Gay History, Evolution & More


Memphis School Year Faces Indefinite Delay Slate:  The start of the academic year for Memphis public schools could be delayed indefinitely if the mayor's office does not reach an agreement with the local school board soon.

California Brings Gay History Into The Classroom NPR: Proponents say it presents a more accurate view of history but opponents say the requirement promotes a "homosexual agenda." Now teachers are figuring out how to incorporate the new material. 

Ed Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle NYT: New models for teacher preparation are thinking outside the box. Are they too far out? 

Debate renews on for-profit colleges Marketplace: Hearings seek suggestions on how to improve success rates at for-profit colleges and also reduce high rate of defaults on federal student loans. 

Fight over teaching evolution in Texas fizzles AP:  State education officials made only minor changes to new science materials for the coming school years. 

New Initiative Targets 'School-to-Prison' Pipeline EdWeek:  A new undertaking from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education targets school discipline policies that end up pushing children into the juvenile-justice system.  

Video Interlude: Colbert's "It Gets Better" Story

In a rare appearance as himself, comedian Stephen Colbert describes being bullied in middle school and how he learned to handle the jeers:


Cartoon: "Anti-Layoff" Provision Earns Editorial Mockery

image from castateofemergency.com
The Sacto Bee published this cartoon, and the CTA responded with a letter-writing campaign that, according to union critic EIA, backfired.  

Five Best Blogs: Fordham V. Fordham

Tumblr_lo3l86g2nS1qkgph1o1_500 The Key To Sustainability Tom Toch: It’s becoming tougher and tougher to find the talented education entrepreneurs needed to open high-quality charter schools. 

Student teaching criticized in new study; schools of education fire back Hechinger:  The NCTQ points out that often these mentors aren’t required to be highly qualified or good at mentoring. 

Hey, MOE! Thompson:  ED has already threatened to cut $4 million from Iowa’s IDEA allocation and a whopping $111 million from South Carolina’s.

 This Glass is Half-Empty Chester E. Finn, Jr.: Mike can crack open the champagne if he wants to. But don’t pour me more than a thimble full. 

Educational Advocacy Quotes™ Chad Sansing: By purchasing any quote, you acquire the license to use the quote in perpetuity as if you wrote it. 

What Kind Of Speller Are You? The Awl:  "Good spellers are often drawn to poetry and wordplay, while bad spellers, for whom language is a conduit and not an end in itself, can excel at representation and reportage."

Update: Soon *All* Media Companies Will Be Education Companies

image from www.edweek.org #murdoch There's an interesting Ian Quillen article and great photo of Joel Klein leaving Parliament with Murdoch and his wife up on EdWeek, which describes the increasing involvement of NewsCorp and other media giants like the New York Times into the education space. Over at The Nation, Dana Goldstein has a roundup of concerns about Murdoch's involvement in NYC and a kind mention of my post about funding of StudentsFirst.  Wouldn't it be strange if the WSJ, the NYT, and other big papers joined the Washington Post in being substantially supported by education-related revenues?    That would make worries about Gates, Broad, and Walton seem like fond memories. 

History: Oakland Teacher Recalls Stanford Prisoner Experiment

image from www.stanfordalumni.org The current issue of Stanford magazine has an article looking back at the (in)famous Stanford prisoner study, in which students were assigned to play the role of guards and prisoners for two weeks and took to their roles so completely that the experiment had to be shut down prematurely.   One of the "prisoners" was a community college student named Richard Yacco who is now an Oakland school teacher and describes a connection between that time and the present: "One thing that I thought was interesting about the experiment was whether, if you believe society has assigned you a role, do you then assume the characteristics of that role? I teach at an inner city high school in Oakland. These kids don't have to go through experiments to witness horrible things. But what frustrates my colleagues and me is that we are creating great opportunities for these kids, we offer great support for them, why are they not taking advantage of it? Why are they dropping out of school? Why are they coming to school unprepared? I think a big reason is what the prison study shows—they fall into the role their society has made for them." 

Events: Hollywood Gets Obama Support For "Imagination Summit"

image from upload.wikimedia.org

7/26 Note Correction At Bottom
In what seems like an obvious sop to former supporters and potential 2012 funders, the Obama administration is participating in a summit today focused on creativity and arts education.  The event is the result of efforts from a group of Hollywood bigwigs called the Creative Coalition that has been pushing the Obama administration to do more to support the arts and creativity (USNews).   The Obama response is called "Champions of Change."  Later today, USDE pretty boy Peter Cunningham will be rolled out in front of the group -- they're calling the event an "Imagination Summit." Details below.  
7/26 CORRECTION:  The Creative Coalition and the Imagination Summit came across my desk at roughly the same time and seemed like that must be related but, alas, are totally different. The Imagination Summit is the product of the Lincoln Center Institute, which is completely unaffiliated with (though might do well to get to know) the Creative Coalition. Apologies to all involved in what I'm sure was a spectacular event.

Continue reading "Events: Hollywood Gets Obama Support For "Imagination Summit"" »

Quote: "Patting Some Kids On The Head"

Quotes2 If we don’t have a chance to fail, no one will know that we need help. We won’t be able to improve. Then we will be back where we were before, patting some kids on the head... and passing them on to the next grade until they are fit for nothing better than the unemployment line. - Jay Mathews 

Teachers: "Dispositional" Screening Stirs Controversy In Chicago

image from www.technologyview.netChicago public schools may be the biggest school system in the nation to roll out an online screening program for new hires that focuses on candidates' "dispositions" rather than academic or instructional knowledge -- and essentially blackballs those who fail the online exam for 18 months.  Teachers have been raising concerns on my other site for weeks and now (herehere) and now the local papers have written about the situation. It's been a rocky rollout, to say the least, and it's possible that the district will retreat on the non-discretionary nature of the program as currently implemented.  Other districts that use this type of screening offer the information to principals as a consideration but do not to my knowledge make passing the exam a condition of hiring. Of course, principals and districts have been looking at disposition for years through interviews and observations, but it's a little bit creepy to have it computerized with a hard cut score.  Next up?  Brain scans, or -- my favorite -- growth measures for disposition as well as test scores.  

AM News: New Ed School Report Rankles

News2 Training of Teachers Is Flawed, Study Says NYT:  The National Council on Teacher Quality is drawing criticism over its plans to publish its rankings of schools of education.

LAUSD leader suspends new homework policy LAT:  Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy suspends a new homework policy, saying that it did not receive enough public input and that it will be reworked. 

N.J. schools probed for possible test cheating USAT:  New Jersey state education officials will investigate 12 public schools for possible cheating after a state analysis of scores from 2008 to 2010 ...

Helping Weakest Students Could Cost This School VOSD: Giving students more time to absorb lessons is a big push for the Obamaadministration, but lengthening the school day would have to be negotiated with the teachers union.

Bronx Charter School Disciplined Over Admissions Methods NYT:  Academic Leadership Charter School is the first New York City charter disciplined for violating admissions rules, which require purely random selection.

Five Best Blogs: Are You Smarter Than A 12th Grader?

ScreenHunter_06 Jul. 19 06.37  The Army of Angry Teachers Jay P. Greene: What feels like success to angry teachers is actually sowing the seeds of failure for the teacher union. RESPONSE: Anger Management Liam Goldrick

Are You Smarter Than a 12th Grader? Mother Jones: I'm a pretty smart guy and I read a lot and I keep up with things better than most people, but this was tough stuff. 

Myths of school discipline challenged Donna St. George: Harsh discipline is not always a reflection of the students in a particular school. It can be driven by those in charge. 

Duncan’s Dilemma The Enterprise Blog:  He’s fighting a losing battle in the court of public opinion when it comes to NCLB and the role of Washington in school reform. 

The Wrath Against Khan Hacked Education:  While students receive these sorts of videos positively, they are actually learning very little or learning very superficially. 

Our schools’ secret success Mike Petrilli/Fordham: Today’s poor and minority students are achieving one, two, and sometimes three grade levels higher than their counterparts in the early 1990s were.

Reform: Michelle Rhee Won't Say If Murdoch Is Funding Her

image from www.chicagonow.com While much is being made of the Rupert Murdoch-Joel Klein connection this week, few seem to have considered the connections between the beleagured businessman and another big-name education reformer: Michele Rhee, who has been trying to drum up $1 billion to fund her new organization, Students First, for the past six months. A full donors list has never been released by the organization and federal 501c(4) rules allow for anonymous funders, but it's widely rumored that Murdoch was one of the first big-money guys to commit to funding the fledgling effort.  After two days of emails and phone calls -- they must have been freaking out behind the scenes trying to figure out what to do -- a Rhee spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the Murdoch money.  "Our policy  doesn't allow me to reveal who our donors are or aren't."

Breaking: Colo. Reform Coalition Launching New Campaign

Picture 1

Some of the folks involved with CO's reform law, SB 191, and others, are gathering together to push for an advocacy and organizing campaign to help with implementation of 191 (rulemaking, etc. has yet to be completed), keep the momentum going, and push things ahead in Denver in particular (there are elections in November).  Called "One Chance Colorado," the effort is supposed to be unveiled next week. I've got confirmation that the idea and the text above are for real (the chessboard is apparently an aftermarket addition).  Two of the listed organizations, Stand For Children and DFER, recently clashed over the Illinois reform law, SB7, but apparently that hasn't affected things in CO or they've patched things up.  Stand is the fiscal agent but not the lead organization in the coalition, I'm told, which makes sense given the present discomfort surrounding that organization's leadership.

Video Interlude: Watch Guitar Strings Oscillate

The guy puts his iPhone inside his guitar and captures the wavy movement of the strings as they are strummed.  Via Kotke (Guitar string osillations caught on video).  Think he starts with Tears In Heaven, but am note sure.  



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.