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Five Best Blogs: Insert Eye-Catching Headline Here

ScreenHunter_03 Aug. 31 15.33 Confessions of a bad teacher Salon via GothamSchools: Like every new teacher, thought all I needed was energy, good ideas and lessons that showed how life and literature were related.

Four Gripes About Standardized Tests and Why They're Wrong Miller-Mcune: Claiming testing measures are the problem is a little like suggesting the scale is broken because we got too fat. 
The Most Important Research Study Of The Year? Maybe Larry Ferlazzo: What’s important, though, about the study, I think, is that it highlights that “enhanced discovery learning” was particularly effective.
Unfunded Educational Mandates Ta-Nehisi Coates: This [antibullying law] is kind of thing that makes you sympathetic to the notion that people are asking too much of schools.
Common Core Standards Posters for Kindergarten TeachersPayTeachers: This packet includes everything you need to post the standards you are working on in your classroom.
Domino, Domino, Only Spot A Few Blacks The Higher I Go Jose Vilson: With all due respect to the racial sensitivities of my readers, the article felt like looking into a conversation full of White people...

Charts: Beware Reformers Bearing Charts

image from schoolfinance101.files.wordpress.comHere's @SchoolFinance101's nominee for "Dumbest “real” reformy graphs!," which Bill Gates apparently used to advance the argument that were spending more and not getting much for it while other countries surge ahead. "Among other things, the chart includes no international comparison... no real evidence of a lack of connection between spending and outcomes... [and] juxtaposes completely different measures on completely different scales to make it look like one number is rising dramatically while  the others are staying flat."


Congress: What Health Care Reform And NCLB Have In Common

Picture 29Make it to the end of this long New Yorker article about the jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and you’ll see an interesting discussion of star-crossed Congressional efforts to influence what goes on in schools. As you may recall, the original version of the federal "gun-free schools" law omitted certain key statements related to the Commerce Clause, which holds that federal laws be limited to those with a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The Court overturned the gun-free statute in 1995's US v Lopez decision and Thomas argued that the current standard for Congressional involvement was much too lenient and should be revisited.  It's an argument he’s made several times since then and will almost certainly make again when the Court decides on the health care reform legislation passed during the early days of the Obama administration.  As for the gun-free law, Democratic proponents including my old boss Dianne Feinstein went back and added a bunch of findings and interstate commerce language and passed another version in 1996, which still stands.  But if the Court is moving Thomas' way, as the article argues, that kind of window dressing won't be enough. "By Thomas’s reading, Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act, to say nothing of Medicare and Medicaid, might all be unconstitutional," writes Jeffrey Toobin. Challenges to federal education laws might follow (if Tea Party lawmakers don't repeal them first).

Quote: Turning School Reform Into A Soap Opera

Quotes2 Explaining Randi Weingarten’s or Eva Moskowitz’s challenges isn’t gossip and doesn’t diminish the important of the issues or their work. - Steve Brill response to Wendy Kopp (via W. Tilson read the full email below)

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Thompson: Turnarounds Dealing With The Angry 2 Percent

Girl_with_pearl_earbuds#sig One unambiguous benefit of  the turnaround process is that it brings reporters into urban schools.  For instance, the Las Vegas Sun will be intensively covering five turnarounds. The new principal, David Wilson, started the series with a commentary, "Laying Down the Law to Change Culture."  He plans to ban electronic devices, because, "when you have kids who are used to aimlessly texting and taking calls at will, walking into class with ear buds at will, listening to music and ignoring teachers, instruction suffers."  The principal plans to enforce the tardy policy and put an end to students "just walking the hallways aimlessly."  Wilson said that 80% will go along with the changes.  Another 20% will push back.  The angry 2% and their parents will loudly protest. The principal's estimates, as well as his policies, sound great to me.  But if school systems across urban America had been willing to deal with the 2%, we would never have gotten into such a mess. If our schools had always been full of reporters, perhaps teachers would have been allowed to teach, and we would not need mass firings.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Campaign: Colbert SuperPAC Stands For ... Education?

Picture 18

There's no real education SuperPAC that I know of - yet - but Stephen Colbert's SuperPAC (" Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow") might focus on education if enough of his contributors push him in that direction.  The screengrab above is a word cloud of the suggestions he's received so far (well, sort of).  You can watch the video for the full segment below.  There are some serious implications of what Colbert's doing, notes NPR.  Our campaign finance system is pretty out of whack.  

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AM News: Storm Forces Some Delayed Openings


Irene delays school openings across East AP: Power failures, flooding, road closures and other problems left by Irene have led some superintendents in New England and elsewhere in the East to delay the start of school.

Obama talks money for education jobs, school facilities Politics K-12: Obama talked about education in an interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a nationally syndicated radio program.

Bullying law puts NJ schools on spot NYT: The law, known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, is considered the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation.

Kansas City loses leader who began turnaround efforts NYT: After two years and a handful of drastic reforms, KC superintendent John Covington abruptly resigned last week.


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Thompson: The Future of Community Colleges

CommunitycollegeA record number of students are enrolling for post-secondary education.  Their qualifications also are up.  As the Hechinger Report's Jon Marcus explains, community college students have an incredible work ethic.  But, only one in five graduates with an associate degree in less than three years. One of the culprits is shared with public schools:  Too many students lack confidence in their academic abilities.  So, despite their determination, the more hours that community college students devote to bringing in a paycheck, the longer it takes to graduate, and the more likely they they will give up on the last best chance for an education and a career that is good enough to support a family. Marcus asks whether this generation of college age kids will become the first to be less educated than their parents?  And that leads to the question of confidence.  Will this be the first generation of Americans to have less faith in the future?- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Five Best Blogs: Give AYP Some Respect

Finger #nclb Give AYP Some Respect Nancy Connor (DPS): In schools that were doing poorly overall, this aspect wasn’t quite so critical, but even in those cases, it was helpful to learn, say, that math achievement was much higher than reading achievement.    

Most Americans Say They’d Encourage Their Child To Become A Teacher Matthew Yglesias:  Seventy-four percent say they would encourage the brightest person they know to teach if they expressed an interest in it, and 76 percent say we should try to recruit the highest performing students into that profession. 

Striking Graphics Make Philosophy Easy to Understand Atlantic:  What is absolutism? Humanism? Genis Carreras's designs render these philosophical movements—and others—comprehensible. 

The Trouble with Steven Brill's Black-and-White Rick Hess:  If Brill had been angling to pen anything other than a black-and-white shoot 'em up, he could've told a much more informed, intriguing, and constructive tale, and one which would have made his conclusions feel more like an extension of the narrative and less like an afterthought. 

All The Options That Are Fit To Print? EduWonk: Plenty of people do the wrong thing (in every industry) but in our field plenty more disadvantage themselves and their families in an effort to do the right thing. 

Quote: "Individual Teachers Should Not Be Exposed"

Quotes2 The public delegates the provision of public goods like education to specific agencies — and then holds them accountable for institutional performance. -- NCTQ

Money: StudentsFirst Not On NewsCorp Foundation List

HighSchool_magnumCheck out this Politico story from last month showing that Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp Foundation hasn't given any money to Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization (News Corp. 2011 giving favors Dems) so far in 2011 (and has been favoring Democrats recently in contrast to previous cycles).  The Brill book claims that Murdoch had given money to Rhee, though Brill hasn't named any sources or produced any supporting documents.  Of course, Murdoch and his cronies could be giving money to Rhee from out of his own pocket and it wouldn't show up here, or could have pledged money but never ponied up (are you still allowed to say that?). StudentsFirst, set up as a c3/c4 (not a PAC, apparently), isn't confirming or denying that they've received funding from Murdoch or anyone else.  NewsCorp has been publishing its corporate political giving since the spring. See the full 2011 list here (PDF)

Funders: The Missing Steve Jobs / Apple Philanthropy

Kopp and rhee and laurene powell jobsThe New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin (via @robreich) explains the convoluted, minimalistic focus on philanthropy that Apple's Steve Jobs has taken so far, along with some interesting education connections most of which are related to his wife (The Mystery of Steve Jobs's Public Giving).  Jobs' foundation lasted just a year, and Jobs shuttered most of Apple's philanthropic work 15 years ago.  Wife Laurene Powell Jobs (pictured to the left of Kopp) is on the boards of TFA, New America, Stand For Children, and NSVF and she helped found College Track, which looks like some sort of counseling / tutoring program. Jobs and his wife are worth nearly $9 billion and may have done some anonymous philanthropy but Jobs hasn't signed the Buffet pledge or made any big moves publicly. Then again, he's a relatively young guy, has been having much-publicized health problems for a while now, and he -- unlike Gates or Zuckerberg (or Buffet or Walton) --hasn't had the public relations need to boost his image.  Maybe he thinks his company's products do more to help the economy and the world than any charity he could provide.  Plus which, there's no guarantee he would give any of his loot to education-related programs, or that you would like the ones he picked.     

AM News: Superintendent Takes $800K Pay Cut (Voluntarily)


Fresno Superintendent Takes $800,000 Pay Cut Huffington Post: He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year – $10,000 less than a first-year teacher – and with no benefits.

USDE Backs Away From Fix to Help Disabled Student Borrowers ProPublica:  Instead of requiring all borrowers to go through the Education Department’s cumbersome, opaque and often redundant system, the agency could accept disability findings from Social Security and other federal agencies. 

Federal judge blocks Ala. illegal immigration law AP: Both supporters and opponents say Alabama's law is the nation's toughest against illegal immigration. Among other things, it would require schools to verify the citizenship status of students. 

Education Expert Nominated as Top Economist EdWeek: In a 2003 study of New York City's voucher program, Krueger found, contrary to other studies at the time, no significant advantage for students using vouchers to attend private schools. 


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Five Best Blogs: The Brill-Bashing Continues


What's wrong with the education reformers' diagnosis and cures Richard Rothstein (Slate): Brill's briskly written book exposes what critics of the reformers have long suspected but could never before prove: just how insular, coordinated, well-connected, and well-financed the reformers are. 

18 Low-Tech Learning Innovations Tom Vander Ark:  A variety of tactics could fit into this category but most common is project-based learning, which can be engaging but make the target clear! 

What’s really wrong with ‘parent trigger’ laws Larry Ferlazzo: Educators should not let the strategists behind it pull victory out of the jaws of defeat by driving a wedge between us and the parents of the children we teach.  

The Union Wins a Big One in New York Education Next: Nice try, Regents. But NYSUT caught it and argued, according to Lynch, that such a scoring rubric was “contrary to the statute’s mandate that the composite score incorporate multiple measures of effectiveness….” 

Public School Choice Matthew Yglesias: A lot of school reform haters seem mighty impressed by this Freddie de Boer takedown of an argument about charter schools that I never made. So here, again, is my argument. 

Worthless Wonky Studies SchoolFinance101:  On balance, it is safe to say that a significant body of rigorous empirical literature, conscious of whether, who and when concerns, validates that state school finance reforms can have substantive positive effects on student outcomes including reduction of outcome disparities or increased overall outcome level.

Update: Union Defends Anti-Rhee Site / Attacks Rhee Secrecy

Picture 26 Confronted with news planted published in Politico that RheeFirst was an anonymous attack vehicle secretly created inside the AFT, the teachers union has now responded that there's nothing secret or untoward about the site:  "RheeFirst.com has acted as a truth squad, and that's what it will continue to do so."  See statement below. The site's "about page" lists no connection with the union and has a gmail.com contact listed.  The AFT statement also includes a call for StudentsFirst to release its anonymous donor list.  Yet another reason to bring back the old AFT blog and let the AFTies duke it out openly day in and day out.  

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Cartoon: The Obsolescence Of "What I Did This Summer"

image from www.newyorker.com
Via this week's New Yorker

Thompson: Reformers Should Oppose Data Release

HandshakeWhile serving on the Litigation Committee and the Board of the ACLU/OK, I saw how we nurtured a respect for the law.  We provided a black and a Jewish volunteer lawyer to defend the First Amendment rights of Nazis.  These officers of the court did not have to shake the plaintiffs' hands, but they were bound to vigorously defend them, because, "our client is the Constitution."   I was reminded of that ethic when a New York judge ruled against the Regent's evaluation system.  As explained in the New York Times, the law said that state test score growth should count for 20% of a teacher's evaluation, and teachers should not be determined to be ineffective based on only one measure.  This would have been a perfect opportunity for data-driven reformers to build trust by demonstrating respect for the law.  Advocates for test-driven accountability could have filed an amicus brief, arguing that they disagree with the substance of the evaluation law, and they will continue to work to toughen it, but in the meanwhile the clear intent of the law should be respected.  In that case, the two plaintiffs could have shaken hands, affirmed that we would be trustworthy opponents but not enemies, and then gotten back to work for our respective visions of school reform.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Update: Rhee Opposes Publishing Teacher Ratings Also

image from www.simrad.comFollowing up on last week's reminder that TFA founder Wendy Kopp opposes publishing teachers' value-added ratings (she calls it naive, basically) I was asking around whether other reformy types shared the same view.  

I seemed to recall that Michelle Rhee wasn't a big fan of the idea, either, but was too lazy to look back and see what she'd said.  The folks at StudentsFirst bailed me out with this quote from their newish spokesperson, Nancy Zuckerbrod: "We generally support empowering parents with knowledge of teacher effectiveness based on a broad-based metric with value added growth, peer evaluations, and other criteria including contributions to the school community all factored in.  Since we don't believe teacher performance is measured by test scores alone, we have concerns that these newspaper ratings don't account for the true and whole picture of effectiveness that parents are entitled to"  

Next up, KIPP.  Anyone know what Mike and Dave think about publishing ratings? Also -- has Arne changed his tune on the publication issue?  I know he was pretty gung-ho on it back last year when the LAT first published ratings but maybe he's changed his tune since then.  

Media: What Hurricane Coverage Can Teach Us

image from images1.dailykos.comIn the aftermath of this weekend's stormy weather, a few folks are asking questions about whether the media overdid it on the coverage and the hype.  Anyone who found him or herself (or a family member) stressed, hypnotized, overwhelmed but not necessarily usefully informed by the Hurricane Irene coverage knows what I mean.  This, of course, reminds me of education news coverage, which is often similarly superficial, herd-minded, inaccurate, speculative, and generally over the top (though of course not usually as extensive except when there are gunmen walking around a school or something).  After a weekend of sad, stress-inducing weather coverage I find myself wishing (again) that reporters would stick to what's happened rather than what could happen, rely less on emotionally-charged individual stakeholder interviews and more on overall numbers/trends.  It's someone's job to keep the outlet profitable and in business, but not yours.  And, perahps most of all, I wish that reporters and editors would strike out on their own rather than following the herd.  None of the major stations was brave enough to say that the storm was going to miss New York City, even when it was pretty clear that was going to be the case.  Too few education reporters are brave enough to check into and report similar relatiies in the education world (that massive layoffs aren't about to happen, or LIFO isn't such a big issue, really, or that Race To The Top really doesn't matter in the larger scheme of things).  I wish they would, though I don't expect it will happen anytime soon.  

AM News: Search For The Cheating Cure


States Search for Anwers to Cheating Scandal NPR: The publicity is pushing states to look for better ways to detect and prevent tampering with the test results, and some say constant vigilance is required to guard against cheating.

Schools enjoy unexpected funds, but midyear cuts are possible LAT:  After three lean years, unexpected state funds have given school districts from Sacramento to San Diego a financial breather, allowing them to rehire staff and restore smaller class sizes and programs just as most students prepare to return to school in coming weeks.

Front-runners, Long Shots for Race to Top Early Ed. Grants Politics K12:  Eleven states: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont.

 NY comptroller nixes school deal with Murdoch co. AP:  New York's comptroller has spiked a $27 million contract with one of media giant Rupert Murdoch's companies because of the phone hacking scandal in Great Britain.... 


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Weekend Reading: Matt's Mistake, TFA's Treachery, Etc.

image from www.miller-mccune.com

While you're waiting for the hurricane to arrive:

Don't Confuse Matt Damon TNR:  Getting a chance to make your case to policy makers is what political activists are supposed to want. That's the goal.

Teach For America goes after teachers unions - in a new way TeacherKen:  "Our presenters will include staff from The Future Is Now Schools formerly Green Dot Public Schools), who are building a network of unionized charter schools around the country, as well as several LEE members serving in union leadership positions."

Speaking of LEE:  LEE Members meet Secretary Arne Duncan at the Department of Ed.

Speaking of TFA:  Elite Teach For America thrust into APS scandal 11alive via Mary:  Teach For America's ties to district leadership run deep, and some of its most ardent supporters fared the worst in the report.  

 Teacher Collaboration Gives Schools Better Results Miller-McCune: The world’s best school systems depend on teacher collaboration, but the concept has not caught on in the U.S. We found schools where teamwork is making a difference.  

Appellate Court Gets It Wrong on NYC Teacher Data Rick Hess:  When the shortcomings become clear, when reanalysis shows that some teachers were unfairly dinged... value-added will suffer a heated backlash. 

Update: Naive To Print Teachers' Scores, Says TFA Founder

Tumblr_lps78bCXrw1qz6f9yo1_500#valueadded #vam Just a day after a New York court found that value-added ratings for public school teachers should be revealed and reported publicly -- something that Joel Klein's DOE succeeded in encouraging the press corps to ask for -- TFA founder Wendy Kopp shot back at the notion that her organization should reveal the value-added ratings for its teachers -- and in particular the charge of being "hilariously hypocritical" in Steve Brill's book. Brill claimed that, because it promotes accountability so fiercely, TFA should reveal its teachers' performance ratings.  Kopp claims to have been outraged at the LA Times' decision to name names last year and she writes, "Is it really naive to think that we should not be printing the names of teachers and the results they get on standardized tests in newspapers?  Or is the naivete the notion that this might be a good path forward?"  I wish Kopp had been so clear back a year ago when this was all first being debated -- it would have been brave and right of her -- and I love to poke TFA in the eye for, well, whatever I can think of (it's not hard to find things).   But she's right that publishing the names and ratings is dumb, that the LA Times shouldn't have done it, that there's nothing necessarily hypocritical about TFA's decision to use the scores internally, and that Brill was amusing but incorrect to slam TFA in his book.  Full Kopp statement below.

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White House: Senior DPC Staffer Headed To OMB

image from budget.senate.govPerhaps you were paying better attention than I was but longtime White House DPC deputy Heather Higginbotton -- a former CIS, Kerry, Kerry-Edwards, and Obama staffer who's worked on education and other domestic policy issues -- has been nominated for what many would argue is a much bigger job as deputy at the OMB and is currently awaiting full confirmation.  She's already won Committee approval. Whether her nomination will get full Senate confirmation is undecertain. I'm sure it will get worked out (or not) via good old fashioned horsetrading that has nothing to do with Higginbottom's qualifications or abilities.  

Celebrities: Britney Spears, American History Teacher

image from img.metro.co.ukIn an interview with PopJustice.com, the 29-year-old mother of two opens up about the career choices she might've made if she hadn't reached international stardom at a young age. "I'd probably be a teacher," she tells the site. "I love kids, and even in what I do now one of my favorite parts of my day is getting to meet my fans before the show. Especially the little ones. They are always so cute." "I'd specialize in reading and history," she says, adding that her favorite historical period is the 1920s. (via US News) Image via. Yes, you're much too good for this site. Up next:  Jake Gyllenhall, charter school principal.  

Thompson: Coherence Vs. Dynamism (Or Both)

One-size-fits-all Fordham's Mike Petrilli shows another way out of education's "day to day vitriol" with his "One Size Fits Most."  America needs both, the "Coherence Camp," which looks to curricular coherence and professionalized instruction to improve our school systems, and the "Dynamism Devotees," who want to "unbundle" schooling.  Linda Darling Hammond, Marc Tucker, and David Cohen would draw upon international examples and create national standards and a handful of national curricula.  I am not convinced that our low-poverty schools are broken, but I am confident that the Coherence Camp would produce real improvements.  Rick Hess, Paul Hill, and Tom  Vander Ark could encourage choice schools that "make it easy to drop out of the "One Best System."  The Dynamism Camp would produce failures that lead to "poorly served school's (and kids)," but unsatisfied parents could then return to the "One Best System."  It is equally certain, however, that creative disruption would produce incredible success stories.  None of those thinkers specialize in the lowest-performing 10% of schools.  On the other hand, perhaps it would be easier to turnaround our toughest high-poverty schools if we concentrated on their problems, as they really are, and not politicized solutions designed to please data-driven reformers, while not antagonizing traditional reformers too much.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.   

Back To School: Remembering High School (Pictures)

image from www.chicagoreader.com The Chicago Reader asked a bunch of local / alt weekly luminaries including Dan "It Gets Better" Savage (pictured) and teacher union president Karen Lewis to reflect on their childhood memories of high school (Back to School).  

Who cares about them, though -- what I want to know is what you, my educationista friends, remember best (or worst)?  Be you famous or famous-for-education or not famous at all, share your memories.  We want to know (or at least, I do).  I'll go first in comments, assuming you don't get their first.

And also, what'd you look like back then? 

Quote: Balancing What NCLB Did & Didn't Do

Quotes2NCLB created positive momentum and inspiring results in some states and local communities … [but] overall its theories of action were fundamentally in conflict with the institutional landscape on which American schooling operates. -- Paul Manna via Kevin Koser at Eduwonk

AM News: NY Court Says Teacher Ratings Not Private


N.Y. Court rules that teacher ratings can be public LA Time: A New York state appeals court ruled Thursday that performance ratings for thousands of teachers can be made public, potentially clearing the way for the largest such data release in the country.

Teachers' union behind anti-Rhee site Politico: An tracking tool traces the IP address back to the AFT’s offices in D.C. The site has since jumped to several other IP addresses.

Hispanics' College Enrollment Rises NYT: The Pew Hispanic Center says the increase was not just about population growth, but reflected educational attainment goals as well.

Making professors more productive Marketplace: The University of Texas has a plan to get more out of its faculty. 

5 Years Later, Jena 6 Moves On EdWeek: The town of Jena, Louisiana is moving on from the perception of racial tension that once defined it.


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Five Best Blogs: Lots Of States Changed Tenure In 2011


Use Your Teacher Voice classroomsooth:The goal is to have a viral video campaign of teachers talking into a camera in an effort to reclaim what has been lost: our authority in our vocation.

Randi and I Argue, Earth Rumbles Rick Hess:  If memory serves, the old TV show Hart to Hart used to begin with the narrator intoning, "And when they met, it was murder."

18 states changed tenure laws in 2011 Joanne Jacobs: “More state legislatures are beginning to embed teacher performance evaluation in decisions to grant tenure or to explicitly state the terms of contracts,” ECS states.  

Baaaaaaaah! Mike Antonucci: Bringing sheep into a union would be a bit more problematic from a PR standpoint, as it opens up a whole line of jokes not relevant to goats.  

Are Charter Schools Draining Private School Enrollment? Liberty Street Economics:  We find that while charter schools led to a fall in private school enrollment, the decline was modest. We also find that with the passage of time, as the charter sector matures its effect on private schools increases. 


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Reform: Here Comes The Vallas Group

Picture 21 Fresh off his stint running the New Orleans school system, Paul Vallas has a shiny new(?) website advertising The Vallas Group. Of particular interest is the leadership team, which lists NACSA's Greg Richmond, Charleston's Sue McGinley, Sue Gamm, and a variety of other folks. I'm too lazy to look and see who's on the client list.  Should we be glad or worried that there are so many folks hanging out their shingles and saying they can help save education?

Quote: "Nobody Believes In School The Way Americans Do"

Quotes2 The idea that school, by itself, cannot cure poverty is hardly astonishing, but it is amazing how much of our political discourse is implicitly predicated on the notion that it can. -- James Traub via Alex Kotlowitz (and others)

Update: Damon, Duncan, & Obama

ScreenHunter_09 Aug. 25 09.32
Duncan was desperate to talk to Damon before the SOS event earlier this summer, according to the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss (citing unnamed sources).  The USDE doesn't deny extending an invitation.  Obama slammed Damon's latest movie, The Adjustment Bureau, at the Correspondents Dinner.  Caseclosed. 

Thompson: A Realistic Reformer Acknowledges Reality

The-man_t600New Schools for New Orleans CSO Neerav Kingsland is on the cutting edge of reformers who are acknowledging the existence of reality.  Poverty exists, scaling up new social experiments may or may not be possible, and "the Man" is inescapable. Kingsland is a reformer who admits that power corrupts.  He writes, "if you stay in the classroom, there’s a high likelihood you’re going to work for a low-quality principal at some point. ... If you get a bad principal and this principal fires you – there goes your career." If we don't want another couple of decades of reformers "working very, very hard for moderate results," we need both unions and choice.  Unions will need to commit to increasing student learning, as well as organizing charters and charter organizations.  Above all, unions allow educators to speak truth to power, thus allowing for reality-based policies. And if reformers really want sustainable good for kids, they should speed up the transition by inviting union organizers.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.  

AM News: Duncan Eases Turnaround Timeline


ED offers SIG schools extra time for teacher evaluation systems Politics K-12:  The USDE has quietly invited states and schools to apply for some extra time to figure out the trickiest—and, arguably, the most crucial—component of the federal turnaround strategy.

Highlights from Arne Duncan's Twitter Town Hall Politics K-12: During a 30-plus-minute, rapid-fire Q & A between Arne Duncan and moderator John Merrow, we learned that 10 days of testing is too much, merit pay for teachers should be voluntary, and the U.S. Secretary of Education is a Twitter "novice."

N.Y. teachers score court victory NYT: A judge ruled Wednesday that the New York State Board of Regents overreached in its interpretation of a new law on teacher evaluations, offering a victory to the state teachers’ union.

Santa Monica-Malibu  schools keep chocolate milk on menu LA Times: Bucking a trend, the Santa Monica-Malibu school board decides the benefits of chocolate milk for young people outweigh its risks.

D.C. mayor says most schools will open on time Washington Post: Mayor Vincent C. Gray said nearly all D.C. public schools will reopen Thursday because inspectors determined a day after the earthquake that they were safe for students.

Ky. judge pushes for neighborhood schools EdWeek: A Kentucky appeals court judge called Wednesday for the state's largest school district to end the "social experiment" of busing students for desegregation purposes and revert to neighborhood schools, stepping into what has become a high-profile political issue.

Test-Driving Online Learning NYT: Signing up for some online classes, a reporter discovers she has forgotten a lot about math. Also, that studying in front of a computer is lonely.

Cartoon: Perry's "Texas Miracle"

Via The Week

Five Best Blogs: CA To Add Retention To Ratings

Tumblr_loju2gnrdd1qm0gcdo1_500 California education bill gets an A LA Times (editorial): If implemented correctly, the bill [which adds dropout rates to the mix] also could encourage schools to shift away from what has become an overemphasis on test-oriented "drill and kill" in basic subjects. 

The Education Swamp Kevin Drum: Anyone who gets too obsessed with only one or two pieces of the ed system is just guaranteeing that they'll never understand what's going on. ALSO:  Brill’s blinkered view Felix Salmon: As a general rule, anybody who thinks that anything about education reform is “simple and obvious” is wrong. 

What if the Gates Foundation rewarded results? Rock The Schoolhouse: The Gates Foundation is at an important pivot point in its development. It has built a strong brand in health care philanthropy and an education operation that is notable for how top-heavy and PR-driven it is.

Documentary on Chicago gang violence is the most necessary film of the year Salon: Rather than lecturing in schools or running drop-in centers, they get out on the street... and do what it takes to resolve conflict on the spot, whether that involves wresting a chunk of concrete out of the hands of an angry teenager or taking a disaffected 19-year-old dropout to get her first-ever manicure.

The Education Secretary’s Poor Sense of Touch  NRO:  He feels badly, does he? Something wrong with his sense of touch? He can’t tell wood from water from sand? Does he feel sadly and terribly and angrily too? Via LOOG 

Thompson: Value-Added Can't Handle The "Leo" Effect

KoretzDaniel Koretz, in Measuring Up, recounts the story of educators puzzling over a drop in test scores for a class that lasted for one year and which was repeated in subsequent years.  "That's Leo," explained a teacher, referring to a particularly disruptive student that  brought down performance in all of his classes.  Whenever Koretz repeated that story, veteran teachers would laugh knowingly.  Of course, the real problem is classes with 8 to 12 "Leos."  Charter schools do not need to keep more of those students than they can handle, and the other "Leos" are dumped on the most vulnerable neighborhood schools, and then on the streets. Koretz explains why we are not able to create growth models that adequately control for the effects of concentrations of disruptive students.  So, rather than trying to work around that problem when creating data-driven systems, why not provide high-quality alternative schools so that the "Leos" and their classmates can be educated?- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Media: How SchoolBook Aims To Get More Folks Involved

Paper-Rhino Everybody who creates an education site wants super active readers and commenters, but not everybody knows how to get and keep them (or how to get them to do anything more than comment randomly). One of the most interesting things that SchoolBook is going to do to address this challenge is make use of a database of commenter/experts created by Minnesota Public Radio / American Public Media.  Another strategy they're planning on using is to get folks involved via text and cell phone voicemail messages, not just smartphone and Internet-based interactivity, since many folks (esp. low-income and immigrant) rely on regular cell phones.  Read below for some more details based on a phone conversation with WNYC's John Keefe.

Continue reading "Media: How SchoolBook Aims To Get More Folks Involved" »

Reform: Tim King Is WINNING!

Gq logoTim King and Urban Prep's endless self-promotion/ victory lap in the media continues with glowing articles in Crain's (Chicago) and GQ (national).  I wonder if this makes other reformers and funders cringe or worry or roll their eyes.  They don't all agree or get along, you know, though it's not usually publicized.    

Media: When Journalists Do Their Own Data Analysis

110829_cartoon_057_a15718_p465 Behind the scenes, Green Dot charter schools and the LA Times continue to debate the merits of the paper's story from last week (LAUSD bests reform groups in most cases), which purported to show that low-performing district schools were making more progress than turnarounds operated by Green Dot or the Mayor's cluster of schools which are operated by outside nonprofits.  Read below if you're interested in what Green Dot's saying, how the newspaper has responded, and what the implications are for other newsrooms interested in conducting their own research.

Continue reading "Media: When Journalists Do Their Own Data Analysis" »

AM News: Newark Sued Over $100M Facebook Donation


Parents, ACLU Sue N.J. City Over Facebook Records NPR: Parents sued because they were denied access to records requested under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act; the city maintains the information is privileged. 

 NCLB forces transfer decisions AJC: The 300 transfer students, now housed four miles away from Druid Hills in the shadow of a Walmart in a less affluent part of the county, must take a bus to the main campus if they want to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. Their testing scores will count toward Druid Hills’ scores.

Newest Race to the Top stresses early ed. metrics Politics K-12: The U.S. Department of Education is telegraphing what it deems to be the most important part of improving early childhood in states: developing a public rating system for those programs.

NYC announces major layoffs The New York Times: Nearly 780 employees of the New York City Education Department will lose their jobs by October, in the largest layoff at a single agency since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002.

Decade later, schools find lessons in 9/11 AP: It's etched forever in the minds of their teachers, but for the majority of school children, Sept. 11, 2001, is a day of infamy they don't remember.

Some D.C. schools damaged in quake, others await inspection Washington Post:  The school system is reporting that about 12 schools sustained structural damage, but they are still assessing the others. 


Continue reading "AM News: Newark Sued Over $100M Facebook Donation" »

Quote: Building A Newer, Better Vision Of Reform

Quotes2 Maybe we can ensure that the next 20 years of education reform aren’t two more decades of great educators working very, very hard for moderate results. -- New Schools For New Orleans' Neerav Kingsland

Five Best Blogs: What Annual Test Results Miss

ScreenHunter_07 Aug. 23 17.07

Our Annual Testing Data Charade Shanker Blog: Any newspaper... that heralds changes in proficiency rates without at least examining the grade-by-grade change in actual scores may very well be hiding more than it reveals. 

Taunting Michelle Rhee EdNext:  Winerip is right: Rhee really should discuss the brewing Washington, DC, public school cheating charges that a USA Today reporting team unearthed last May.

Have National Education Standards Arrived? Kevin Kosar: As I see it, a host of issues remain between where we are and a system of national education standards. 

The name game Mike Petrilli: Corporations hate controversy; real reform is controversial; ergo, “corporate reform” is an oxymoron.

American Teacher Uprising: A brand new documentary called American Teacher tells the stories of four teachers from 4 different cities who passionately struggle to remain teachers sometimes at the expense of their own well-being. 

If Porn Stars Can't Teach in Schools, What Will Become of America? The Awl: Mr. Loftis, also known as Collin O'Neal, contends that if he'd been in straight porn, administrators wouldn't have blinked. I do not think that is true! 

Why Don't We Teach Kids How to Use CTRL+F? Liz Dwyer: Ninety percent of people don't know that they can use CTRL or Command+F to find a word in a document or web page.  

Chart: "Pretty Much Anything Goes" (Preservice Training)

image from www.nctq.org

Pretty much anything goes when it comes to preservice student teaching hours required by ed schools, notes NCTQ. Individual institutions require anywhere from zero to 800 hours, and state averages range from almost 300 hours (GA) to under 50 (ND).

Thompson: I Still Think Brad Jupp Is A Genius

Jupp I just read Brad Jupp's contribution to I Used to Think... Now I Think... and I find my opinion of him unchanged.  As for my own beliefs, well, I used to think that 49% of the union's job was protecting its members, while 51% was representing students.  Now I agree with Jupp that the primary purpose of unions should be measurable improvement of student performance.  I used to think that the best thing we could do for kids was to merge the teachers' and the principals' unions.  Now I agree with Jupp that unions should also recruit early childhood and adult educators, and teachers in dual-enrollment programs, charter, online, and private schools.  I still think that innovative union leaders like Jupp are moving as quickly as possible to bring the rank-in-file into the reform process, but now I agree that we need a mass movement to close the achievement gap.  Jupp respects the opinions of his former colleagues who say that teacher-bashing and simple-minded "reforms" are making it more difficult to persuade teachers to support innovations like the ones he pioneered, but he mostly blames the internal structure of unions.  I used to think that teachers would have to mount an aggressive legal campaign against the misuse of reforms pushed by Jupp's colleagues in the Duncan Administration before we can move forward collaboratively.  I still do. -JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Media: SchoolBook To Rely On Crowdsourcing, Require Facebook ID

ScreenHunter_05 Aug. 22 22.50A few more tidbits about SchoolBook I picked up since yesterday: SchoolBook was co-conceived by education editor Jodi Rudoren (whom I've met and freelanced for once or twice) and interactive guru Aron Pilhofer (one of the wonderboys who's supposed to "save" the Times) as both a promising standalone project and also a way to try things out that might spread to other parts of the Times.

Rudoren says that (a) the Times has dedicated three staffers to the site, including beat reporter Anna Phillips, but is otherwise relying on user-generated blog entries, crowsourcing, etc., (b) there were discussions about folding in existing NYC education sites like InsideSchools and GothamSchools but in the end the Times decided to do its own thing and partner with WNYC which has radio shows, event space, a database of sources that seems important or valuable called public insight, and a bunch of new foundation funding, (c) like DealBook, SchoolBook won't require a Times subscription and comments won't be prescreened before being posted unlike on the rest of the Times site, (d) however commenters will be required to register via Facebook and their comments will be searchable but their comments will not appear on their personal walls.

I'm pretty skeptical from my experiences running my Chicago schools blog and watching others try the crowdsourcing thing about readers doing anything more than heavy commenting -- and even more so about readers wanting to give their real names.  What else?  It's a bit of a blow to niche education sites that cover schools to see a mainstream paper like the Times go its own way rather than pick them up (though I'm not sure any other big city paper has the resources or interest in going this route).  And:  If anyone can make this happen, the Times probably can -- based in large part on the intense hunger that parents and teachers have in knowing what's going on citywide and in the school down the block.  There aren't enough "good enough" schools in NYC, public or private, or in many big city districts, and there are lots of struggling ones under pressure from the community or from the DOE.  

Last but not least:  SchoolBook seems like a strange name -- shouldn't it be GradeBook, or NYCSchools?  

Previous post here.

AM News: Ackerman Is Out In Philadelphia


Ackerman Out as Philly Superintendent Philadelphia Inquirer: Posts by Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham on the costly buyout of Ackerman's contract and other reaction from around the city.

US DoE Gives $10 million Grant for Charter School Facilities EdNews: The Local Initiatives Support Corporation assists charter schools with financing facilities requirements -- a high-priority need for many charter schools.

Ca. charter school association gets $15 million grant LA Times: The grant is the largest yet to the California charter schools group and the biggest of its kind from the nonprofit set up by the founders of the Wal-Mart Corp.

Talks between Chicago school and teachers hits snag Chicago Tribune: the two sides failed to come to agreement over teachers' raises and other concessions by the school district.

NYC reports increase in allegations of cheating The New York Times: Official allegations of cheating have risen more than threefold since 2003

D.C. charters have 'voice at the table' Washington Post: D.C. is now the second-most charter school-dense city, and officials want more.

Detroit Schools enrollment van seeks students EdWeek: Public schools officials are scouring Detroit in the district's bright blue enrollment van to sign up students.

Mo. Teachers Group Sues Over Social Networking Law EdWeek: A Missouri teachers' union said Friday that it is challenging a new measure that restricts teachers' use of social networking sites and their contact with students, saying it violates their constitutional rights.

Five Best Blogs: Ackerman Reportedly Out Of Philly

Riis (Custom)

Why Are Finland's Schools Successful? Smithsonian:  It was the end of term when Kari Louhivuori, a veteran teacher and the school’s principal, decided to try something extreme—by Finnish standards. 

110 schools [42pct] meet AYP targets Notebook:  Philadelphia schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman gave an emotional speech and received a rousing ovation from principals assembled on Thursday at Lincoln High School for the District's annual leadership convocation. UPDATE:  Philadelphia pushes out schools chief Arlene Ackerman WP

Teachers Aren't Plaster Saints! Rick Hess:  I'm fairly confident that isolated cheating scandals will eventually snowball. 

Rhee-Visiting DC Cheating Eduwonk:  At this point she should stay quiet until the ongoing investigation is done and cooperate with it.

Is Wyoming Bowing out of the Common Core? Kathleen Porter-Magee: Even if Wyoming does move forward the Common Core ELA and math standards, there is still some question about whether the state will opt to administer the assessment. 

$7 billion-plus in shopping and everything else The Answer Sheet:  Here is everything you ever wanted to know — even things you didn’t know enough to know that you wanted to know — about the back to school season.

Quote: Unions As Red Herrings

Quotes2 If every school was a charter school, then the charter school operators would be lobbying for as much funding and as little accountability as possible. -- Matt Yglesias (Unions As Red Herrings)

Cartoon: The "New" Proud Parent Bumper Sticker



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.