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Quote: Phone Hacking Impact On NewsCorp's Ed Plans

Quotes2 There will be fewer people who want to hear from Rupert Murdoch on questions that run right to the heart of student learning. -- Urban Education Institute's Tim Knowles in the Huffington Post via Valerie Strauss

Thompson: Broken School Discipline System Lacks Discretion

Discipline%20Dilemma Should we worry about the New York Times' chart showing that 15% of students receive eleven or more disciplinary actions during six years of secondary school? Or should we concentrate on the "half of those students who ended up in juvenile-justice facilities or programs for an average of 73 schooldays?" As explained in the Washington Post, suspension numbers do not tell us "whether some schools might be more tolerant of misbehavior, or better at classroom management or using alternative approaches." This is just another data-driven nostrums, another silver bullet for classroom management,  which simply reduces discretionary methods for fighting and classroom disruptions.  Our goal should be the most immediate and best interventions, not arbitrarily reducing numbers. But at the same time we should admit that we have terrible problems with anarchy in many schools and that the current system is horribly broken. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

AM News: US Students Still Lost On Geography


Geography Report Card Finds Students Lagging NYT: Even as schools aim to better prepare students for a global work force, fewer than one in three American students are proficient in geography. PLUS: US Students Make Scant Geography Progress WSJ. 

54 New Jersey Schools Found Above-Average Answer Erasures Asbury Park Press:  The Asbury Park Press and New Jersey Press Media Group successfully sued to get the reports from the state Department of Education. 

Teacher turnover much higher at LA charters than public schools KPCC: Turnover is also higher among white teachers compared to minority teachers. 

LAUSD Fights Summer Brain Drain Amid Budget Cuts NPR: Los Angeles' summer school budget was reduced from $8 million last year to $3 million this year. 

New Approach Proposed for Science Curriculums NYT:  A new approach for improving American science education includes focusing on core ideas and problem-solving.

36 States, D.C. to Apply for Race Early Ed. Money EdWeek: Governors in 36 states, along with District of Columbia officials, have told the U.S. Department of Education that they want to compete for $500 million in new Race to the Top money.

Fla. Education Chief: Give Miami-Dade, Duval More Time to Fix Failing SchoolsSix chronically failing public schools will have yet another year to get their act together under a waiver recommended by state Education Commissioner John Winn. 

One District Has No Instances Of Bullying, But Another Has 4,000 HuffED:  The increasing focus on cyberbullying has also become controversial, raising questions on whether a school is responsible for what happens beyond school grounds. 

Charts: Belief In Evolution Vs. National Wealth

image from www.calamitiesofnature.comThe wealthier a nation the more likely its inhabitants believe in evolution -- except for the US, of course. Via an unverified source. Caveat lector and alla that.  

Five Best Blogs: Busted Bonus Plan Bombs In NYC

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Bonuses dead. Kids didn't win. Where's Randi? Mike Klonsky:  I was disappointed ,but not shocked, to find that EdWize, the UFT website, contained no mention of the failed bonus plan. 

Do Principals Make Good Firing Decisions? Education Next: Principals are more likely to dismiss teachers who are frequently absent and who have previously received poor evaluations. They dismiss elementary school teachers who are less effective in raising student achievement… 

Not the Moment for Growing Suburban Charters Tom Hoffman:  All things being equal, there is no reason to think that, say, a Mandarin-immersion charter school is going to have better value-added ELA and math scores than their sending districts. 

How long did Weingarten teach? Joanne Jacobs: An education reformer with two years as a Teach for America teacher apparently has more classroom experience than the AFT leader.

Why Jonathan Kozol is Marching teacherken:  "I'm sick of begging members of the Senate, even those among them who have been my friends for years, to move two inches in the right direction." 

Continue reading "Five Best Blogs: Busted Bonus Plan Bombs In NYC" »

Quote: Blame The Cheaters, Not The Tests

Quotes2 It’s the cheats who need to go, not the tests. -- NYT op ed


Books: Inside The $4B Substitute Teaching Industry

Want to know what education is really about?  Hint: it's not innovation, or policy, or even curriculum.  Most days in most places it's about getting through the day, which means class coverage, which means absent teachers and robo-called substitutes -- complete strangers-- coming into your building every day teaching everything from chemistry to PE (if you still have PE).  

image from outskirtspress.comWith that in mind, here's a relatively new education book I hadn't heard of before (and maybe you hadn't either):  Sub Culture, in which Carolyn Bucior examines the life of a substitute teacher and the 500,000 person / $4B per year substitute teaching industry: "A quirky profession where many employees receive no training, are given enormous responsibilities, solicit sex from minors, and suffer unfortunate events, like having their hair set on fire." Via   

Read more here.  Reminds me of Todd Farley's Making The Grades, which describes similarly low-paid, barely-motivated individuals who grade standardized tests.  (What we need next is a memoir from someone who's working in the standards business, poring over Common Core documents until their eyes bleed.)

Pop Culture: "Harry Potter" Actress Returning To Brown

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Emma Watson will be at Oxford in the fall but will return to Brown at some point during 2012, according to the Boston Globe.  

Watson left the school -- denying she'd been bullied into it -- earlier this year.

It's OK to admit you knew this already and have seen (or are planning to see) the last of the Potter films just out this past weekend.  

Business: Former NYC Chancellor Handling Phone Hacking Investigation

image from images.nymag.com Joel Klein is taking a big role in the NewsCorp phone hacking scandal that's led to a number of resignations at Murdoch media properties, according to local NPR affiliate WNYC and other news outlets.  Klein is considered to be knowledgeable enough to handle the crisis for Murdoch, though of course he didn't come to NewsCorp to do this kind of legal work.  Reuters has the story from yesterday morning here (via District Administration).  Image via.

AM News: Feds Involved In ATL Cheating Investigation

News2 Duncan: Feds 'looking at' cheating in Atlanta AP:  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday he has been in contact with the department's independent investigative arm about test cheating scandals in schools, including a widespread one in Atlanta.

Giuliani attacks Obama's economic policies The Dartmouth: He cited the US Department of Education as an example of an area that costs could be reduced. “Not a single student in this country would suffer” if Obama eliminated the Department of Education, Giuliani said. 

Teachers Move, Students Stay at L.A. Charter Schools AP: Both studies looked at the time frame between 2002 and 2009, when the number of charter schools in Los Angeles tripled from 53 to 157 campuses.

Report Details Texas School Disciplinary Policies NPR:  One finding surprised even veteran educators: 60 percent of all the students who were studied were suspended or expelled at least once between their 7th-and 12th-grade years. ALSO: Texas Study Raises Questions About Impact of School Discipline NYT 

States Test No Child Left Behind WSJ:  Wisconsin's Mr. Walker says he wants to use other measures to judge schools, such as the percentage of students taking and passing advanced placement classes. 

Molestation investigation shuts California school AP: The Creative Frontiers School was closed because of allegations from several current or former students about molestation dating back at least 15 years, Citrus Heights Police spokesman Jon Kempf said.

Quote: Hearing The Bubble Pop

Monopoly-guy The only foolproof indication of a bubble is when you hear it pop-- Venture capitalist Randy Komisar (Atlantic Wire)

Cartoon: "Thank Yous Four Getting Rid Of The Righting Test"

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A (mis-spelled) letter from a student to his state for getting rid of the writing portion of the state test, which Illinois among others are doing as a budget cutting measure (Chris Britt via Slate).

Chart: College Grade Inflation Skyrockets (Grad Rate Not So Much)

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It's easier than ever to get an A in college -- red equals "A" grades -- and yet the college dropout rate is as high or higher as it is at many high schools.  

Media: Where's The Coverage Of Edelman's Apology?

image from t2.gstatic.comIn case you hadn't noticed, the national media and even some of the education trade publications have been remarkably (if not surprisingly) slow to pick up on the Jonah Edelman video / apology. The son of a famous civil rights activist apologizing for having bragged about buying political support for a much-touted reform bill must be easier to ignore than I would have imagined -- despite the video and the apology letter.  Under pressure to keep up with competitors and to maintain some semblance of credibility with readers, some local and trade outlets are starting to pick up the story.  The Chicago Sun Times finaly ran a story (Braggart angers teachers' union), as did the Tribune (Blunt talk by education activist on statehouse politics), as did EdWeek (Stand for Children Leader Catches Heat).  But that's about it that I've found so far.  We're still waiting on the Washington Post newsroom, the NYT, USA Today, and the WSJ.  Haven't checked the reformy blogs.  Image via

AM News: NCLB "Waiver / Strings" Idea Limps Forward


New Details Emerge on Duncan's NCLB Waiver Plan EdWeek: There would be three kinds waivers under No Child Left Behind, and states would have to sign up for all of them—it wouldn't be an either/or thing.

Obama, CEOs to Discuss Education WSJ:  Bank of America Corp. said it would invest $50 million over three years in programs that, among other things, help prepare low-income middle-school students for college.

Los Angeles schools to revamp their ban on social promotion LAT:  One approach to ensuring that children are academically ready for promotion would be to provide extra help for students in key grades.

Atlanta Teachers In Scandal Told To Quit, Or Else NYT:  Atlanta Public Schools interim Superintendent Erroll Davis has sent letters home to all 178 employees implicated in the system's cheating scandal, informing them they can resign next week or face being fired.

District of Columbia Schools Fire Hundreds of Teachers WSJ:  Washington, DC, school officials fired 206 teachers on Friday for poor performance and put an additional 528 on notice...

Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs NYT:  Charters, normally thought of as a way to help poor areas, are being proposed in places that have good schools.

Advocacy Groups Under Fire for Supporting AT&T Atlantic Wire:  Like, GLAAD, the NAACP has received flack for latching onto the AT&T/T-Mobile-merger cause. 

Thompson: Kids Being "Fired" from Charter Schools

Charters Walking into my high school class on the first day of school, often it was obvious which kids had math or reading disabilities.  But if a child took a seat on the front row, pulled out his or her well-organized materials, and worked the plan that he or she developed with the special education teacher, this student on an IEP could be a class leader.  Special education students with more serious emotional disabilities are equally deserving of love and good instruction, but if too many of them are placed in the same classes, challenges increase dramatically.  There is a huge difference between students with cognitive disabilities or manageable behavioral problems, as opposed to children who have more severe conduct disorders.  The problem is that charters and other selective schools do not take a fair percentage of more difficult-to-educate children.  Michael Winerup's NYT column from yesterday, Message From a Charter School: Thrive or Transfer, describes a student being counseled out of the Harlem Success Academy.  As the student feared, he was "fired" from the school. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Five Best Blogs: States' "Race" Timelines Were "Overly Optimistic"

Knockout Assessing the Progress of Race to the Top New America: Many states have found that their original timelines were “overly optimistic” and have had to rework the planned roll out of different efforts. 

Academic Exceptionalism Amanda Ripley:  They are no-stakes for kids, who are likely to experience far more agonizing over real life’s setbacks on the football field than they do in the classroom.

Alternative certification isn't alternative, redux. NCTQ:  It sure seems as though the [training program] directors are more focused on teacher production than teacher quality. 

 Why Not Here? Andywonk:  I don’t want to imply that teachers’ union leaders are not committed to the success of public education.  

Research Calvinball Sherman Dorn: You don't get to learn anything new in your career if you not only are 100% correct but you always were and always will be. 

Being Run Down Doesn't Sound So Bad Tom Hoffman: Neither Alter nor Tilson have the slightest idea what's actually happening on the ground all over the country.

Movies: Before There Was "The King's Speech"

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Before there was The King's Speech there was a much smaller but just as interesting movie that addressed stuttering called Still Bill.  The 2009 documentary is about the singer Bill Withers, who performed hits like Aint No Sunshine, Lean On Me, and Grandma's Hands but has generally resisted writing or touring in the last 30 years despite ongoing interest in his music.  But it's also about stuttering, a problem Withers experienced until the age of 28 and which still appears now and then in his speech. There's an amazing scene where Withers goes to see a group of kids who stutter, along with lots of fascinating stuff about how stuttering affected his demeanor. (There are also some fascinating cameos by Tavis Smiley, Sting, and others.) Why am I writing about a two year old movie?  Well I saw a mention of the movie in a Vanessa Grigoriadis profile of Justin Timberlake in Vanity Fair (she described Timberlake as the current era's closest approximation to Sammy Davis Jr.) and just watched it online via Netflix instantwatch.   Image via

Events: Live From The AFT "Teach" Conference

#tch11 I'm at the biannial AFT training conference (formerly QUEST) moderating a panel on charters and unions (and talking about my book) later this afternoon.  Here's the livestream of Twitter updates from and about the conference, assuming I've picked the correct hashtag:

Let me know if there are other good sources of information about the event, and be sure and come up and say hi if you see me (I'm in the lobby wifi area now, bearded with glasses and earbuds).

Numbers: Spanking Still Widespread

Quotes2 Seventy percent of college-educated women spank their children; other studies have found that up to 90% of all parents use corporal punishment. - TIME 

Cheating: Is NAEP Next?

image from www.iowalive.netIncreasingly, NAEP scores are being used by big-city district leaders like former ATL head Beverly Hall as a defense against cheating allegations or other forms of gaming the accountability system.  Former NYC head Joel Klein and former DC head Michelle Rhee have also used the scores as a key statistic supporting their impact. The increasingly public use of NAEP scores raises the question whether "juking" NAEP is next.

In reality, it may already be happening.  

Cheating-related news coverage is everywhere, it seems -- though no one can really say whether there's more cheating or just more coverage (the shark-sighting problem, let's call it).  Here's a quick sample:  Officials replaced amid Atlanta cheating scandal: The fallout from the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal continued to spread as four area superintendents were replaced and a school district in Texas put the superintendent it recently hired from Georgia on paid leave... Report identified dozens of PA schools for possible cheating Philly Notebook: The odds that the wrong-to-right erasure patterns that showed up on Roosevelt's 7th grade reading response sheets occurred purely by chance were slightly less than 1 in 100 trillion... Under Immense Pressure, Educators Accused of Tampering With Tests HuffED: The rigor and scale of Georgia's independent investigation will either spur states into action when it comes to questioning rising student test scores or scare officials away from drawing attention to potential flaws at their schools.  

But it's only an AP story (here) that edges close to raising questions about NAEP, which can no longer really be considered low-stakes for big city districts where scores are reported (school-level NAEP scores are coming soon, too). Testing experts and NAEP make the claim that the test is cheat-proof, but the AP story notes that there are ways for educators to influence scores , including by "providing only a sample of their highest-performing students for the NAEP managers to pick from."  That's not the only way to make things look better than they might otherwise.  Some districts like NYC have had much higher special ed and ELL exemption rates than others, for example.  I'm not saying NAEP cheating is widespread, just that no test is invulnerable to manipulation and that reporters and policymakers should monitor TUDA results in particular. 

AM News: Weingarten Lashes Out At "Self-Styled 'Reformers'"

Latest_news_large_image Union Chief Faults School Reform From ‘On High’ NYT:  The president of the American Federation of Teachers called for education reform that emanates from teachers and their communities, rather than from “those who blame teachers for everything.” 

AFT teachers union to defend educators in cheating scandals USAT: Weingarten didn't mention cheating in her keynote address to teachers, instead pushing back against recent state legislation that limits workers' collective bargaining rights, telling teachers that the "barrage of attacks on our profession" should lead them not just to defend themselves but to push for programs that prove how well public education can work.

Highly rated instructors go beyond teaching to the standardized test LA Times:  Some Southern California teachers are finding ways to keep creativity in the lesson plan even as they prepare their students for standardized tests.

Business moves to center of school policy debate Stateline: At a time when cuts in K-12 funding are going straight to classrooms, as Stateline has reported, business groups are moving beyond their traditional role of broadly supporting education to take a more active role in creating school policy.

Innovation schools catch on Boston Globe:  A growing number of school districts from Boston to Western Massachusetts are embracing a new kind of school to pursue educational innovations and compete more aggressively with charter schools.

Five Best Blogs: Slow, Hot Monday (Debt Ceiling Looms!)

10CNCTEACHERS-popup Of Jonah Edelman and other braggarts Sherman Dorn:No one should be so naive to think this stuff doesn't happen behind closed doors. No one should be so naive to think this stuff is helpful to productive negotiations. 

Charter School Sends Message Mike Winerip (NYT):  It was not a natural fit for the Success charters, which are known for discipline and long school days. From Day 1 of kindergarten, Ms. Sprowal said, he was punished for acting out. ALSO:  Success Wins EdNext.

Business moves to center of school policy debate  Stateline:  Long counted on mainly as a funder and promoter of K-12 education, corporate America is immersing itself in discussion about the way school systems should be organized and operated. 

Math And Literacy Are Vocational Skills Yglesias:  It’s not about everyone needing to have basic reading and math competency so they can go to college; it’s about everyone needing to have basic reading and math skills so that they know who to read and do basic math.

Why parents love a lower-rated school - Class Struggle Jay Mathews:  The Wakefield Chapel parents are angrily demanding that their children be allowed to stay with the poor kids.

Summer Camp Just as Unbearable as College Now Gawker: You don't want just any old collection of log cabins around a lake filled with children's bodies. No: You need a place with evidence-based instruction and measurable skill-development! 

Update: Reformers Refute "No Excuses" Article

image from www.uab.eduWhitney Tilson has published an email sent to Paul Tough, author of last week's "No Excuses" article in the New York Times, by one of its subjects, former Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, who's been making the case that some good things are happening and shouldn't be torn down.  As you'll see, Alter agrees with the need for reformers to broaden their agenda and avoid excuse-making, acknowledges some flaws in his original remarks, and takes issue with the notion that progress shouldn't be considered as important as absolute achievement levels. "We shouldn't excuse 15 percent proficiency. But we also shouldn't run down year-to-year improvement. After all, that's what we want, isn't it?"  There are other emails included, sent by Wilson to Tough, the gist of which is that Tough's piece was an unfair slam on reformers, but nothing from Tough himself. My take on what the piece missed is here. Image via

Thompson: Does "Race" Round 3 Represent A Shift On Testing?

ArneHas the Duncan team finally turned the corner and begun to understand the real limits of high stakes testing and accountability?  Probably not, but there's always hope.  About the next round of Race To The Top Dana Goldstein is cautiously optimistic about the administration's push for low-stakes pre-school assessments that measure children’s social, emotional, physical and artistic, as well as academic readiness for kindergarten. Goldstein urges Duncan to listen to the social science and "use test scores to help teachers better target instruction toward individual children, not to reward or punish either individual children or adults in the system."- JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.


Books: Half Million Paid For "Whatever It Takes" Followup!?

image from graphics8.nytimes.comCalled The Success Equation, Paul Tough's followup to Whatever It Takes isn't out until next fall, though parts of it have been published in the New Yorker (here).  The book -- bought by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a reported $500,000 -- is described as "a character-driven exploration of cutting-edge research on success and failure by economists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and animal behaviorists looking at why some children succeed while others fail—and what exactly we can do to move individual children toward their full potential for success.” (Bookpage)  

Update: Edelman Apologizes For "Arrogance In My Tone"

Picture 61 Jonah Edelman's Stand For Children has largely gotten away with a series of slip-ups and tactical mistakes over the past few months but the organization and its leader may not escape from this most recent incident entirely unscathed. 

In an emailed apology Edelman confirmed to me is genuine he expresses regret for among other things "an arrogance in my tone" in remarks he made at the Aspen Ideas Festival a couple of weeks ago -- a video that I've had posted on my site since last week but others think was taken down from the Aspen site (unconfirmed).

Read on for more about the Edelman video, and the history of recent slipups of which this would seem to be just the most recent, the nagging questions about whether the Illinois law that Edelman has touted as transformational may instead be incremental, and the likely impact of the video and the unusual apology.

Continue reading "Update: Edelman Apologizes For "Arrogance In My Tone"" »

Quote: HCZ Schools Doing The Lion's Share

Quotes2 High-quality schools are enough to significantly increase academic achievement among the poor. Community programs appear neither necessary nor sufficient. - Roland Fryer et al study of HCZ results (via Yglesias)

Weekend Reading: "Policy Is For Suckers"

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Testing 4-year-olds isn't the answer Salon: Nations like Finland are getting better results by de-emphasizing exams. Why are we doing the opposite?

How the Latest Study on Autism is Getting Woefully Misconstrued TNR: The study suggested that, while genetic factors play a critical role in autism, environmental factors appear to be more important than was previously thought. 

Chattering Crass The American Prospect: Politicians may talk about important issues like education and the economy, but the truth is in the artifice, the hidden political strategy, the interest group appeased and the key demographic courted. 

Kid bombs ‘Jeopardy’ answer: This kid Neil should stay away from game shows, spelling bees, and even highly advanced board games from now on.

This One Time, At Space Camp... Slate: The camp, which opened its doors a year after NASA’s inaugural shuttle launch, has provided succor to more than half a million space geeks over the decades, and counts several current astronauts—and Chelsea Clinton—among its alumni. 

Five Best Blogs: Reformers, Poverty, & Moving Forward

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How Can President Obama, Diane Ravitch, and Paul Tough All Be Right? EdSector:  Diane Ravitch is partially right. But, so is Barack Obama. And, while Tough is right that students deserve better, Bruce Randolph appears to be part of the solution, not the problem.

What the Education Debate is About Tom Hoffman:  What's at stake is much more fundamental than the issues Dana raises. Considering what's really at stake, this is has all been pretty mellow. 

HCZ Success Is Primarily Attributable To Good Schooling Yglesias:  When kids get access to quality schools, they learn more. 

The Untransformational President Mike Tomasky:  Liberals thought they were getting a transformational president. Instead, they’re saddled with someone who cares far more about being the most reasonable guy in the room. 

Of Spanking and State Violence Racialicious: How do you keep violence away from your door? How do you teach your children to respond to a violent world?  

Radio: Whitmire Vs. Russo On Bloomberg Radio

image from t1.gstatic.com image from www.thebeeeater.com This week's Bloomberg EDU radio show features host Jane Williams' interview with Ruslyn Ali about the dispiriting equity findings from the USDE report and a friendly smackdown between Richard (Bee Eater) Whitmire and yours truly over all things education.  Whitmire thinks the Atlanta cheating scandal is a shocking example of testing pressures run amok.  I don't.  Whitmire thinks the debate over education reform has gotten particularly nasty.  I think that's sort of ridiculous to say (though remarkably attention-grabbing to put out there).  It's amiable disagreement just like know you like it.  Check it out tonight at 10 and re-aired several times over the weekend.

Media: What "Reforming The Reformers" Leaves Out

image from graphics8.nytimes.comThere's not much to disagree with in Paul Tough's recent commentary on the state of education reform, though there are a couple of things to add:  (1) This isn't the first or only call for reformers to back off on the claims and excuses and beef up the supports and services part of their efforts.  Linda Darling Hammond, Pedro Noguera, Valerie Strauss, and many others have said much the same thing for quite a long time. (2) That the work is incredibly hard isn't the most complete explanation for the recent excuse-making, either.  Internal pressures to make (and defend) outsized claims are a key part of the underlying dynamic, as is the never-ending credulity for miracle stories by the press, public, and politicians. Also at play here is the reality that it's much harder to win funding and support for mundane-seeming things like nutrition programs and prenatal home visits than for ideas that are presented as "new" and "innovative." What's happening to the Promise Neighborhoods program that Tough's piece tacitly endorses is a prime example.   

Duncan: Which Broadway Show Will Arne See?

image from www.concierge.com There's not much of note on the EdSec's media schedule next week, though he is coming to New York City for an ed tech event in the middle of the week.  

Maybe he should take a page out of Palin's playbook and do that whole unscheduled summer bus trip thing.  

Or maybe he should just get one of his lackeys to find him some "Book of Mormon" or "Spider Man" tix.

PS:  I'll be in DC on Tuesday for the AFT conference, moderating a panel on charter schools, then heading to the beach for the rest of the week. 

Continue reading "Duncan: Which Broadway Show Will Arne See?" »

Thompson: The Culture Of Fear

Cheating-schools Did the devil  NCLB make an Atlanta principal force a teacher to crawl underneath a table to humiliate the educator for not raising test scores?  Or did Atlanta's system of using test score growth for principal evaluations make cheating inevitable?  The official report on cheating in Atlanta is bound to prompt a debate whether or not the scandal is just an extreme version of the corruption caused by data-driven accountability. The report shows that some of the district’s behavior was qualitatively worse than the legal but dubious behavior that has become common in urban districts. Much of the behavior prompted by the "culture of fear" in Atlanta is indistinguishable from the practices lauded elsewhere as a "culture of accountability."  We cannot say that NCLB-type reform caused any specific abuses in Atlanta, D.C., New York City, or elsewhere, but clearly it made those sorts of outrages inevitable. If the Duncan Administration continues to impose NCLB on steroids on our lowest performing schools, the new devil the use of tests scores in evaluations will invite abuses that are even worse. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Reviews: Channeling Ravitch

Blueberry imac There are some excellent points made in Joanne Barkan's new article about the reformy focus on teacher effectiveness, but so many mis-statements, thin spots, and exaggerations that I fear few will read or heed what Barkan has to say other than those already of like mind. 

Even those who (like me) share some of Barkan's concerns will find that, while there are tantalizing moments reminiscent of the reporting and insight of Barkan's previous article (on philanthropy in education) and some excellent zingers, there's too much argumentation and too little new or in-depth reporting.

Read on for the strengths and weaknesses I found.    

Continue reading "Reviews: Channeling Ravitch " »

Media: Meet AJC Reporter Heather Vogell

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Education writers rarely get on TV to talk about their work, but AJC's Heather Vogell has been all over the place the last couple of days talking about the cheating scandal in ATL and the paper's work digging up the story, including here on the PBS NewsHour.  

AM News: Feds Weighing In On Montana & DC Flashpoints

NewsneonEd. Dept. Gives Montana Deadline to Comply With NCLB EdWeek:  The U.S. Department of Education has given Montana an Aug. 15 deadline to report how the state plans to comply with NCLB,

U.S. Education Department joins D.C. test probe Washington Post:  The U.S. Department of Education has joined the District’s investigation into allegations, a D.C. official said Thursday.

Atlanta Delays Search For School Superintendent AP:  The Atlanta school board is delaying its search for a new leader as it grapples with a cheating scandal.

Illinois cuts writing from standardized exam Chicago Sun Times:  Illinois schools are down to two R's as the state continues to slash its budget to meet shortfalls. 

Indiana Drops Cursive Writing Requirement Slate:  Computer keyboards and smartphones are finally taking their toll on a centuries-old art form: cursive writing.

Continue reading "AM News: Feds Weighing In On Montana & DC Flashpoints" »

Five Best Blogs: Add Supports To Reform Agenda

Ben franklin daily schedule

Reforming the School Reformers Paul Tough:  These are excuses. (In fact, they are the very same excuses for failure that the education-reform movement was founded to oppose.) 

Axe Public Programs That Don't Yield Results Joe Klein:  We can no longer afford to be sloppy about dispensing cash to programs that do not produce a return. 

The Math Problem Grantland:  Sports teams are seeking out the safety of math, trying to make extremely complicated personnel decisions by fixating on statistics.

Richard Dreyfuss on Civics, Public Education SOS:  Teachers are not the problem. Teachers are the solution. 

The Education of LAUSD’s Steve Zimmer Jewish Journal:  The teachers’ union, his most ardent supporter in the last election, has told him it will consider endorsing an opponent, which could prove a blow to his campaign. 

Managing the Teacher Workforce  Education Next:  If the RIF-notified teachers made the average salary in their district, it would only be necessary to lay off roughly 20 percent less than actual number of teachers who received layoff notices. 

Magazines: Dismantling The War On Teachers

image from dissentmagazine.org "In the last few years, attention to the role of public school teachers has escalated into a high-profile, well-financed, and seriously misguided campaign to transform the profession." 

That's a line from Dissent magazine writer Joanne Barkan's new article (Firing Line) on the rise of what many call the war on teachers.

This new piece follows up on her much-discussed article on the role of philanthropy in education reform (Got Dough?).

Haven't read it yet, not sure I'll agree with much or all of it, but that shouldn't stop you from digging in. Find anything good in there, let us know.

AM News: Kline Derides Murky Duncan Waiver Plan

Kline Unhappy With Duncan's Waivers Plan EdWeek: The [Duncan] letter doesn't say when the waiver plan will be finalized, how waiver requests will be reviewed, or when the waivers would become effective.

Gay stories to join history in Calif. schools? USAT:  Traditionalist believers are praying California governor Jerry Brown doesn't sign legislation that could change how public school classroom teachers... 

Alonso signs on to lead schools for four more years Baltimore Sun:  City schools CEO signs new contract, will earn same salary.  

State to Appoint New Board of Education in Bridgeport NYT:  In Connecticut, an elected body votes to dissolve itself after years of division and dysfunction. 

Programs try to save students from 'summer slide' in academics LAT:  Schools are offering summer camp-style programs to make learning fun. 

LeBron increasing involvement in education causes AP: The Miami Heat star is changing the scope of his annual bike-a-thon in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, building it around a two-week camp featuring reading and technology classes for 360 children. 

PTA Moms Arrested For Ponzi Scheme And Grand Theft AOL: Three Diamond Bar PTA moms at Armstrong Elementary School allegedly duped around 40 investors in a Ponzi scheme that lost victims up to $4 million.

Video: Don't Think Cheating Is Widespread, Says Duncan

Countering those who say cheating is rampant (and, implicitly, that large numbers of educators are willing to act unethically), here Arne Duncan challenges the notion that cheating is systemic nationally or that the pubic should assume progress has been made illegitimately:


Take note that in this instance as in several others the reformers -- those blamed for the "war on teachers" -- are backing teachers up (in the process of defending testing and accountability), while the reform critics are -- implicitly if not directly -- suggesting that large numbers of teachers are susceptible to ethical lapses and then trying to blame the lapses not on the teachers but on the systems. Link here.

Jokes: The Teacher, The Tea Partier, & The CEO

image from fastcache.gawkerassets.com A school teacher, a Tea Partier, and a CEO are sitting at a table.

In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it.

The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, then looks at the Tea Partier and says "Watch out for that teacher-she wants a piece of your cookie!"

Comment and image via Gawker

Update: Trouble At Obama Middle School In LA

image from media.wavenewspapers.com
Uh-oh.  The principal's been removed, and the first year didn't go particularly smoothly at Obama Global Preparation Academy, in South LA, according to the LA Wave.

Quote: "Meaningless Outside Of The Union"

Quotes2 The teacher evaluation policy statement and the performance pay language are not phony shifts...But as a practical matter, they are meaningless outside of the union. - EIA's Mike Antonucci 

Five Best Blogs: Cheating In Perspective

Picture 39 Test Cheating In Perspective CPRE:  Educators are not morally different from other people: many wouldn’t cheat under any circumstances, but some will cheat if they can benefit and expect to get away with it. 

Answer: “Essentially, Yes…” Thompson:  In their eagerness to remedy a legislative error and ensure that SIG funds are used for “extra” services, the department has unnecessarily complicated an already confusing area.

States Lagging in Drawing Down ARRA Title I and IDEA Funds New America: It is surprising that so many states still have significant portions of their allocations so close to the end of the federal year. 

Oregon Governor Appoints Himself Superintendent of Schools Jay Green:  Win or lose, Kitzhaber has taken a bold step to assume responsibility for progress in Oregon schools.

Why we published the leaked document The Notebook: The best way to minimize controversy [is] by cramming public discussion of dozens of proposals into the narrowest timeframe allowable under the state law governing school closings – three months. 

Month 9 As a Failing School InterACT: What has reform done for the students at L.A. Academy?  Interrupted their instruction.  Stressed out their teachers.  Caused a mass exodus of faculty. 

Image via New Yorker.

Thompson: More AP At Local Juvie Than My School

Propublica_logo A funny thing happened when I checked out the new ProPublica web site that uses data from the USDE Office of Civil Rights to document educational inequities:  It showed that 3% of students at my old school, Oklahoma Centennial, took advanced math.  It has been years since Centennial  offered Advanced Placement or advanced science classes.  I clicked the link to similar schools, and guess what appeared?  The search function identified the juvenile prison as an institution that was comparable!  So, I clicked the function that compared Centennial to nearby schools, and discovered that 30% of their students take AP.  Soon, the federal government will be using this data to push the buttons of districts like mine.  Then the central office will push some buttons and shift scarce resources so that my school can offer more challenging courses.  The question is whether we will have the capacity, and the patience, to create a viable AP program. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Chart: Raise College Grad Rates By Changing Religion

image from graphics8.nytimes.com
Forget making schools better, or making college cheaper, or any of those other things people always talk about.  Just convert kids to another religion (reform Jew or Hindu, in particular) and you'll increase their chances of graduating college and making $75K, notes this NYT story from, well, May 11.  How come no one thought of this earlier?

Media: Ravitch Comparable To Krugman, Says Fordham

Image002 (3)

Making the case that Twitter is fast replacing traditional op-eds and even blog posts, Fordham's Mike Petrilli lists the top education Twitterers, divided into policy and teacher categories, based on both followers and Klout.  His most eye-grabbing claim is that high-influence Tweeters like Diane Ravitch match that of mainstream columnists like Paul Krugman:

"Diane Ravitch’s Klout score of 73 makes her the most influential tweeter in education, and she’s on par or close to it with other opinion leaders, including columnists Paul Krugman (@nytimeskrugman) at 73 and Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) at 76."

That seems like a bit of an overstatement ot me, but who knows?  It's too good to fact check.  

Update: Report Finds Systematic Cheating In Atlanta Schools

Tumblr_lmz15d46ey1qbjn44o1_500 A mini-roundup of ATL cheating report coverage:

Investigation into APS finds unethical behavior AJC:  In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy. 

Dozens of Atlanta educators falsified tests, state report confirms CNN: Dozens of Atlanta public school educators falsified standardized tests or failed to address such misconduct in their schools, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday .
Systematic Cheating Is Found in Atlanta’s School System NYT:  Some 12,000 students whose tests might have been tampered with have attended remedial classes after school and on weekends. 
Probe Finds Systematic Cheating In Atlanta Schools NPR:  Dozens of principals, educators and others are implicated in the scandal. Deal says he intends to turn over his findings to prosecutors. 
Atlanta superintendent knew about cheating AP:  Former Atlanta schools Superintendent Beverly Hall knew about cheating allegations on standardized tests but either ignored them or tried to hide them, according to a state investigation....
Keep in mind that the state and district have long been enmeshed in a battle over control of the system, and that it's all NCLB's fault. 

AM News: Waivers Risk Legal Challenge Says Kline

No Response from Ed. Department on Waiver Letter EdWeek: Kline's staff also pointed reporters to a June 28 report from the Congressional Research Service handicapping possible legal challenges to the Secretary's plan to give states on leeway in exchange for action on certain reforms. 

Tight Budgets Whittle Away School Days NYT: Los Angeles slashed its budget for summer classes to $3 million from $18 million last year, while Philadelphia, Milwaukee and half the school districts in North Carolina have deeply cut their programs or zeroed them out.  

From 1 struggling school to another Globe: More than half of the teachers pushed out of seven underperforming schools in Boston last year now work at other low-achieving schools across the city that are also under pressure to improve, according to a Globe analysis. 
Ed. Dept. to Create Up to 6 Promise Neighborhoods EdWeek: The grants will be $4 million to $6 million each, to be spent over three to five years, the department announced today.



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