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Rhee: Waivers Must Improve Accountability Not Abandon It

image from dc-cdn.virtacore.comMichelle Rhee is expressing concerns about the Duncan waiver proposal in terms of what it would mean for academic accountability: 

"To the extent that these waivers account for shortcomings in NCLB's standards they are welcome. However, this move will only be beneficial to students if these waivers are accompanied by rigorous and fair accountability measures. The measure for success will be whether the review process ensures that any waiver for increased flexibility will be conditioned on meaningful reform that enhances teacher quality and accountability. We are hopeful that state applicants will follow the lead of states such as Michigan and Nevada whose bipartisan reform efforts this summer have enhanced evaluations, set standards based on growth so they are more fair and increased accountability to ensure that every child has the best teacher available. "

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Quote: One Parent's Feelings About Cheating

Quotes2 Somebody didn't give a crap about my child. - Parent Chandra Gallashaw in PBS story on ATL cheating scandal

NCLB: Look At "Race" To See How Waivers Will Turn Out

Train wreck #nclb #waiver  Despite the lack of details and the fact that they made pretty much the same announcement a couple of months ago, here's a steady flow of news coverage and analysis of the Duncan waiver plan (see lots of links below the fold).  Never underestimate Team Duncan's ability to pull things out of nowhere, I guess. Still, it remains pretty unclear whether the waiver notion can go forward and if it will do any good. CEP just released a study showing that low-income kids have been making strong progress during the NCLB era.  Opponents and cautioners remain numerous and powerful (House Republicans, Jeb Bush, NEA, Ed Trust, US Chamber).  Everybody wants a waiver, sure, but not everybody wants NCLB rolled back or diluted. (Where are the reformers on this, I wonder?  I'm calling around to see what the accountability hawks and "by any means necessary" types are saying about rolling back accountability.)  And - this is perhaps most important -- we know from the RTTT process over the past two years that peer reviewing doesn't always yield strong or consistent results, that folks will promise pretty much anything to Washington whether or not they're ever going to do what they say, and that the Duncan team's ability to enforce implementation of its reforms is shaping up to be pretty weak.  RTTT timelines are slipping like mad, and some Race states aren't making much progress at all. Want to know what the waivers will look like? Look at Race implementation.  Links below.

Continue reading "NCLB: Look At "Race" To See How Waivers Will Turn Out" »

AM News: More ATL Fallout, HISD Rehires, Memphis Merger

News2 Judge rules Memphis city schools to merge with county NPR:  Public schools in Memphis, Tennessee, will be consolidated with those of the surrounding county beginning in 2013-14, a federal judge ruled Monday. The decision ends for now a yearslong fight over funding that spilled into questions of race and politics. 

312 HISD teachers reclaim their jobs for school year Houston Chronicle:  HISD and other districts also received new federal funds pushed by President Barack Obama's administration to save teaching jobs. 

DFER endorses three in DPS races EdNewsCO:  DFER is a well-financed New York-based political action committee with branches in 10 states, including Colorado. This is the first time it’s endorsed in DPS board races. 

Texas district cuts ties with ex-Atlanta officialA Dallas-area school board voted Monday to sever ties with its new superintendent, who was caught in the fallout of a test-cheating scandal in her previous district in Atlanta. 

Atlanta Starts New School Year Under Cloud of Cheating Scandal PBS:  Parks Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia, was a beacon of hope. Located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, it had built a reputation as a high-achieving school. 

Judge rules Memphis city schools to merge with countyPublic schools in Memphis, Tennessee, will be consolidated with those of the surrounding county beginning in 2013-14, a federal judge ruled Monday.  

Verdugo Hills parents and teachers foiled in naming new principal LAT:  Supt. John Deasy overrules Ramon Cortines, the former superintendent, and appoints an interim administrator. 

Judge Sets $500,000 Cash Bond For 3 Teens In Alleged School Shooting Plot AP:  Afamily court judge ordered $500,000 bond on Monday for each of three 15-year-old boys accused of plotting to kill two specific people and anyone else in their way on the first day of class at their suburban New Orleans school.

State Legislators Shape Agendas for Next Year EdWeek: Much of the discussion at this year's meeting reflects the financial pressures facing states, many of which have struggled to close budget shortfalls.Lawmakers will also be examining policies that could have a major impact on classroom practices, such as interim assessments for evaluating teachers and improving student learning.  

Five Best Blogs: Backdoor Blueprint - Or Massive Rollback?

Tumblr_lpi2ycVbYE1qczvmbo1_500Duncan's "Backdoor Blueprint" Strategy Rick Hess: In fact, the whole scheme sounds more like the framing of a back-door grant competition than anything else.

Obama Rewrites the NCLB Act  Brookings (Russ Whitehurst): The administration may well have the political clout it needs to overcome the ire of key committee chairs whose authority to legislate has been undercut.

Arne Duncan's Latest Step in the No Child Waiver Gambit RiShawn Biddle:  The footprint of mandated federal accountability [will] likely to be reduced under Duncan’s gambit from every school receiving Title 1 to just the 5,000 or so persistent failure mills. 
States Are Suddenly Redefining Expectations Richard Whitmire (USNews): Critics of these changes predict fallout from veteran teachers opting for early retirement and would-be teachers seeking other career paths.
How Much Time Have Ed. Reformers Actually Spent in the Classroom? Take Part:  How many years have today’s top reformers spent on the frontlines of America’s classrooms learning what it takes for schools to thrive? 
Confessions of a Presidential Fitness Test Underachiever The Tangential: The Presidential Fitness Test was invented by that same jerks who brought us Boy Scouts, energy drinks, and Michael Bay.  

Cartoon: Remember MTV's "Clone High"? (Me, Neither)

So apparently there was once an MTV series called Clone High in which Abe Lincoln, Cleopatra, JFK, Ghandi, and other historical notables go to high school together.  But apparently it wasn't such great viewing.  It only lasted a year 2002-2003.  Oh No They Didn't: MTV's Hall of Shame 

Thompson: Merrow Steps Into The Hornets Nest (Again)

32210_cartoon_main The first half of John Merrow's "The 'Alien Structure of Education, and Other Thoughts" could have been written by a leader of the Save Our Schools March. In fact, Merrow recounts fond memories of the wisdom of SOS leader Deborah Meier, and eloquently criticizes the amount of standardized testing in today's schools and how it is corrupting our educational values.  But then Merrow inexplicably changes the subject from a rally that was not about unions and asserts that they are a "huge part" of our educational problem.  Merrow cites a wonderful comment by Grant Wiggins that could have been written by Meier.  But out of nowhere, Wiggins sniped that our schools can't be fixed by "a march  through The Valued Past."  In Merrow's last line he inadvertently explains these contradictions, concluding that we "have to be pro-child, and pro-learning, not anti-this or anti-that."  The irony is that Merrow, in order to get his "pro-learning" advice across, contradicts himself.  Merrow offsets his pro-SOS position with an "anti" statement even though it was not relevant to his post. He (and Wiggins?) then balance an anti-testing message with an arbitary "anti-this and anti-that" argument.   And as a result, he provoked a string of negative comments, distracting from the positive values that he, Wiggins, Meier, the marchers, and most of his commenters share.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Photo: Where's Jonah?

Wheres jonah
Stand For Children's Jonah Edelman has kept a very low profile over the past few weeks, which is probably a smart move. He wasn't at the CAP event in Washington DC a couple of weeks ago. His organization was represented by Megan Irwin (white top, second from left) on the "Getting Things Done in Politically Complicated Environments" panel at this past weekend's KIPP Summer Summit in Tennessee.  To be fair, he lives on the West Coast and Michelle Rhee wasn't up there, either.  For all I know, he was standing next to Whitney Tilson, who took this picture and sent it out on his soon-to-be-even-more-infamous email blast.

Quotes: "I Dreaded The Kids. And They Knew It."

Quotes2 I kept singing the songs and reading the books and rolling the Play-Doh, but I dreaded each day. I dreaded the kids. And they knew it. Kids always know stuff like that. - Salon Lives

Duncan: More Saber-Rattling Over NCLB Waivers

Tumblr_lorkd63nxJ1qe5ytdo1_500A quick roundup of the obligatory coverage of Duncan's latest pronouncements on NCLB -- still no real details (or changes in how the Hill is going to react): U.S. to grant waivers for No Child Left Behind WP:  The final decision falls to Duncan, who said he expects that successful states will receive waivers in the coming school year. States will get school testing waivers AP: State and local education officials have been begging the federal government for relief from student testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law, but school starts soon and Congress still hasn't answered the call. Overriding a Key Education Law NYT:  The Secretary of Education announced he would waive rigid federal proficiency requirements for states that could prove they were taking appropriate steps to improve their schools. Obama Gives Go-Ahead for NCLB Waivers to States EdWeek:  Just what those reforms will be—and what freedoms states will gain in return—remain unclear. Those details will be made public in September, Obama administration officials said in a call to reporters.

AM News: School Starts Under Cloud In ATL (& Elsewhere)

News2 Atlanta School Year Begins Amid a Testing Scandal NYT:Nearly 200 teachers and principals in the city’s public schools have admitted to tampering with standardized tests to raise students’ scores. 

Gates Foundation pours funds into education advocacy groups Seattle Times:  Three of Washington's most prominent education advocacy groups share more than a desire to change the state's public-school landscape. 

L.A. School District Rehires 450 Teachers Laid Off In June LAT:  The Los Angeles school district has rehired 450 elementary school teachers who had been laid off in June. The AP reports that the jobs were restored after "a combination of retirements, resignations, dismissals and a four-day furlough agreement with the teachers union. 

School shooting plot in Louisiana foiled AP:  Authorities in suburban New Orleans said Friday they uncovered a plot by three teenagers for "an incredible and devastating" attack at their high school during the first day of classes, with plans for two specific targets, indiscriminate shooting and suicide.

For more headlines see also NCB waiver "news" above and Weekend Reading below.

Weekend Reading: Stop Freaking Out Over Class Size

A few education-related articles and columns from magazines and websites I don't check every day:

ElmerJohnston on Education Reforms Bloomberg EDU (audio):Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston discusses education reforms in teaching, leadership and funding for students with special needs.

Does class size really matter? Salon (Peg Tyre):  Parents are dying to get their kids into smaller classes. But research shows they may be panicking over nothing.

Public school budgets will rise in next few years SCPR: About a thousand public school teachers finished a one week union boot camp at UCLA Friday. After losing thousands of members to teacher layoffs, the California Teachers Association conference is training its remaining teachers in negotiating and organizing skills. 

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade Virginia Heffernan (NYT): Chances are just that good that, in spite of anything you do, little Oliver or Abigail won’t end up a doctor or lawyer — or, indeed, anything else you’ve ever heard of.

Study Links Decline of Unions to Rising of Income Inequality: Western and co-author Jake Rosenfeld, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, looked at the period between 1973 and 2007, when inequality in hourly wages spiked by 40 percent. 

Student Sues School Over Homecoming Week "Wigger Day" Gawker:  Rather than going along with the student council-approved theme in 2008 and 2009, Red Wing High School students at the predominantly white school held "Wednesday Wigger Day," which involved wearing clothes that, "from their perspective, mimicked black culture." 

Transcripts: Another Low-GPA Presidential Candidate

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Rick Perry Was a Horrible College Student Gawker

Five Best Blogs: "AYPocalypse" & "Teachmageddon"?

ScreenHunter_27 Aug. 05 20.30 AYPocalypse? Nah. DFER: We don't want to sound like we told you so or anything, but we told you so - more than once.

L.A. School District Rehires 450 Teachers Laid Off In June NPR: The Los Angeles school district has rehired 450 elementary school teachers who had been laid off in June.
Education Data Transcript ProPublica: Reporter Sharona Coutts, director of computer-assisted reporting 

A conversation: Kopp, West, Smiley Answer Sheet: Someone who found it infuriating just sent it to me, and though it took place months ago, it is still worth reading. 

Why You Love Learning Liz Dwyer: A new short film by director/producer Rick Mireki will have you positively itching to pick up some new skills and knowledge. 

Market-Driven Rhetoric Amanda Ripley: Without measuring what actually works, what actually does not and listening to the teachers, parents, principals and most of all the students affected, we will just keep arguing in circles, with only the talking points changing.

Secret Ravitch Group at Duncan's DOE? Mike Klonsky:  Ask Secretary Duncan or his press guys Cunningham or Hamilton about DOE staffers assigned to the secret Ravitch Group.

Thompson: There's STILL No Free Lunch

Beat-the-oddsSarah Ransdell's recent study, There’s Still No Free Lunch, refutes the claims that "high expectations!" and a focus on instruction can single-handedly erase the effects of poverty and close the achievement gap. Ransdell identified "resilient schools" that have higher reading scores and higher poverty levels than other schools. But she found that resilient schools "obtain more state money per pupil, have less crime, and have a better student to teacher ratio." By high school, "school and teacher resources" were of negligible importance. Ransdell concludes that if a district, "chooses to improve reading scores by improving teaching and instruction alone. It will fail." The work is based on a study of 259 Florida schools with 270,000 students. - JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Pen Pals: You Could Be Writing Your Future Husband

image from www.hellomagazine.com


In a revelation that could save -- or doom -- the ancient practice of kids writing letters to other kids across town or in far-off countries, acteress Carey Mulligan is engaged to marry her childhood pen pal.  

Parents: Getting Your Kids The Education They Deserve

From guest contributor Peg Tyre, a recent Spencer Education Journalism Fellow (and author of The Trouble with Boys):
image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com
A new article on Time.com purports to be an insider's guide on how to pick schools for your kids-- arguably one of the most important decision parents will make for their children. It's written by Time.com's education columnist, Andrew Rotherham, the ultimate ed policy insider. His advice is 1) look at test scores 2) go for a tour and 3) talk to your friends. Oh, and by the way, we need more charter schools.  Really? That's it? C'mon, Mr. Rotherham!  Show some respect for the school choice process!  I just wrote a book called The Good School: How Smart Parents Get their Kids the Education They Deserve. (You can pre-order it here on Amazon or find out more about it here). The purpose of The Good School is to help parents understand important elements of excellent schools-- so they know it when they see it and can agitate for it if they don't.  It covers topics like: how to pick a pre-school, what test scores really mean, how much recess should a kid have, what does a good reading program look like, what about class size, how to prime your kids to  be successful in math, the importance of good teachers and how to spot them.   Parents of school-aged are hungry for real information about schooling. Looks to me like Time.com punted on a great opportunity to provide their readers with what they so vitally need. 

AM News: Lots Of Action In & Around Denver

News2 California loses federal funds for teacher database LAT:  The $6-million grant must be returned because the governor cut funding from the state budget for the program to track teacher and administrator information.

County Ups the Ante in Voucher War WSJ:  Douglas County does it differently, acting as middleman between state and student—and taking a cut. ALSO: Denver School Performance Increases Slightly As Colorado Sees Flat Test Scores Overall AND: Colorado Gearing Up For Major Education Funding Vote HuffED:  

States seek waivers from No Child Left Behind law Stateline: All told, during the past six months the department has received waiver requests from five states.  ALSO:  States Seek Waivers In Light Of More Schools Deemed 'Failing' Under NCLB HuffED:  

Can Seth's Law Help Combat Bullying in California Schools? TIME:  AThe 2010 death of Seth Walsh was part of a rash of bullying suicides that stunned the U.S. Can California turn outrage over the incident into law?

Media: Washington Post Names New Ed Reporter

image from a3.twimg.comMeet Lyndsey Layton, who moves over from the FDA beat (and before that transportation issues) and is joined by Michael Alison Chandler (Montgomery County) who got back into the country a couple of months ago. Nick Anderson moves up to education editor on a permanent basis.  Craig Timberg is off the education desk for greener pastures (international affairs, defense, whatever). You can follow her on Twitter here. I'll let your figure out her email on your own. Congrats, condolences to everyone involved.  [Corrected:  It's Lyndsey, not Lindsey.]

Five Best Blogs: Sugar Baby Teacher Edition


This one goes out to all the #sugarbaby teachers out there, unable to find work or LIFO'd despite all their efforts:

Really Good News Petrilli:  How about all of us—reformers and skeptics alike—agree to make the most of the good news that falls in our lap every now and then? Poor kids in Florida and a few other states are making HUGE gains. Let’s figure out why. 

 The Dreaded “Corporate Foundation” Kevin Carey: The politics of Henry Ford and the interests of the Ford Motor Company are by no means aligned with the strategies put forth by the Ford Foundation. 

Public Opinion On Teacher Compensation Matthew Yglesias: What’s tricky is a “let’s spend more money precisely in order to get different people in this field” coalition. ALSO:  How to improve teacher education now (and why Teach for America isn’t the answer) Arthur Levine: Higher education is where the teachers are. All other remedies pale in comparison.

An Incoherent Protest Against Education Reform Kevin Carey (again): The Koch brothers aren’t getting rich by running charter schools. Bill Gates didn’t cause the economic crisis or put Chris Christie in the New Jersey governor’s mansion. 

 Matt Damon, Arne Duncan and the Divisive Teacher-Quality Debate The Nation (Dana Goldstein): Absent that kind of guidance, the protests of the Matt Damons of the world will only grow louder, and the Obama administration will lose crucial public support for its teacher-quality agenda.

New York Teams up with IBM to Reboot a High School DFER:  This inventive school is only possible because of the city's decision to close the persistently failing Paul Robeson High School, which P-Tech is replacing.

The Next Standoff: Appropriations Policy Riders Matthew Yglesias: When it comes time to write appropriations bills, House Republicans are going to return to cartel behavior and seek to write legislation that  unites rather than divides their caucus. 

Programming Note:  Watch former contributor @amandafairbanks talk w/ Dr. Drew tonight about est 400k "sugar babies" seeking financial help http://ow.ly/5Viuq  Maybe there really are some sugar baby teachers out there - who knows?

Picture: Mis-Spelled Anti-Testing Sign

Poster boy
#sosmarch Sign reads: "We want an education not test preperation." Via EIA

Books: Favorite Education Book Club


image from rentalsblog.projector123.comWhat's your favorite education book, and what (if anything) did you get out of reading Stray Dogs, Saints, and Saviors?  These are a couple of the questions being discussed at the Teach Plus Education Book Club that's starting in a few days (but people are already writing in).  Sign up and join the conversation.  Tell everyone what great education books they're missing, or all the things I got right (and wrong) about what it's like to teach in a turnaround high school (or for a unionized charter school network).  Current and former teachers welcomed alike.  See you there.  Image via


Video: CNN Takes Up Matt Damon SOS Smackdown

"Don't mess with Matt Damon" is the theme of Anderson Cooper's segment on the exchange between the actor and the reporter, or he will use phrases like "intrinsically paternalistic" on you:

Not that Reason is feeling bad -- a national mention on TV is worth it.

UPDATE: AFT President Explains Trigger Document Takedown

Megaphone#parenttrigger AFT president Randi Weingarten emailed me to say that she'd never seen or approved the PowerPoint below until yesterday. "The powerpoint didn't represent AFT or my views, nor does it represent the Conn Fed's views," she wrote. It was apparently one of many presentations posted online after the July TEACH conference in DC (which I attended).  In this case, the panel was called "Damaging Legislative Proposals and What You Can Do to Fight Them!" There's now a note on the AFT site explaining "We have received complaints about these materials and have removed them because they do not represent AFT's position." Somewhat like Jonah Edelman in his apology for the infamous Aspen Ideas Festival video, Weingarten is clear about the wrong tone and choice of words having been used but isn't distancing herself from the legislative work that was done to modify the trigger proposal.  "We are proud of the work in Conn, but disagree with the wording and what the wording in the power point represented."  (And of course, it wasn't Weingarten who gave the ill-considered presentation in the first place.)  One last point to keep in mind during the next 24 hours of bloviation and grandstanding:  many of the reformy organizations that often do battle with the AFT are ambivalent if not opposed to the parent trigger themselves, and some of the pro-educator organizations like Parents Across America have members -- Caroline Grannan for one -- who are vehemently opposed to the trigger idea as well.  

From the AFT: "We received complaints about the PowerPoint, and, after reviewing it, took it down because it didn't reflect our work.  The truth is that we created an avenue for parents in Connecticut to become involved in their children’s school.  As a result, parent councils are being formed all over the state, which will lead to better schools.  We are proud that we were involved in passing this law and believe it will serve as a model for other states."

Documents: How The AFT "Diffused" The CT Parent Trigger**

Embedded for your convenience, here's the PDF that blogger RiShawn Biddle found and passed along, which the AFT has apparently taken down from its own site (but not disavowed, far as I know).  

**See updated information above.

Thompson: What (Some) Principals Really Think

Tumblr_lopy0uweP51qzleu4o1_500 The City Limits' Helen Zelon interviewed three New York City principals and in doing so took us back to the pre-NCLB era where administrators were allowed to express reality-based opinions.  

One commited admitted that her job wasn't necessarily to save every single kid in the school. "If you reach even 10 students, you change the history of ten families." Another observed that the "genius" of the Progress Report is that "it allows DOE to pretend they're supervising schools while maintaining total protection from bad results." (Another told her that "The buck stops at schools when it's failure, and at Tweed when it's success.") 

These school leaders even committed the second-worst heresy in this age of "reform" by questioning whether outcome-based accountability means what it's purported to mean. After debating the "scrubbing" of Regents Exams (regrading them to pass students who were on the bubble), one principal observed that the controversy is "predicated on the idea that these exams really measure something that matters."  

JT (@drjohnthompson)

Media: NBC's Newer, Better "Education Nation 2011"

image from association.drupal.orgSo NBC News is ramping up for its second week-long series of programming and events known as "Education Nation," which will culminate kick off with a two-hour teacher town hall that host Brian Williams calls the week's "signature moment." Click below to read the release. This year, NBC has created an essay contest for teachers and will bring winners to NYC to participate.   

Looking back to last year's version, NBC News head Steve Capus admits that they "probably spent a little too much time" talking about things like Waiting For Superman and Michelle Rhee that were hot topics but not necessarily representative of the full range of issues and perspectives. (There wasn't any breakout star or viral moment from last year's event in part -- this is my take -- because the proceedings were so tightly controlled and the attendees came from partner organizations predisposed to one side of the discussion.) They're trying to make sure that this year's event is both more diverse in terms of views presented and more focused and in-depth on the topics it chooses to cover -- to get beyond the "tired talking points" as much as possible -- and to ensure that teachers come from not only all kinds of classrooms but all kinds of backgrounds and viewpoints.  

Capus and his team held a trade reporter / blogger conference call a couple of weeks ago and patiently heard out everyone's complaints and suggestions (and blatant sucking up). They're involving the unions as well as the reformy organizations in the recruiting of attendees. They seem sincere about wanting to make this a more credible, interesting event -- though of course the proof is in the pudding. 

In a perfect world, the event would be going out on NBC rather than the cable channel, and there would be some sort of lottery or open registration so that any educator could get in.  But the big question -- no news on this yet -- is what they're going to focus on and who they're going to have on their panels.  Ideally the weeklong event won't be limited to or dominated by super-predictable reform names (Kopp, Rhee, Duncan, Cristie, Klein, Gates, Canada, Brill) and ultra-reformy topics (value-added, national standards, LIFO, charter schools) with everyone  being in polite agreement but avoiding difficult issues of scalability, effectiveness, funding, and politics.  No one (but me) wants an all-out food fight-- I'm still looking for video of that 2008 exchange between Rhee and Klein Weingarten. But to get the credibility and traction they clearly hope for, Team NBC needs to make these into probing discussions among equals with different views on what needs to be done and leave room for some unexpected moments and eye-opening exchanges.

If that happens -- fingers crossed -- then maybe Education Nation will make some news along with informing us.  

Continue reading "Media: NBC's Newer, Better "Education Nation 2011"" »

Washington: Anti-Terrorism, Anti-Bullying

image from barenakedislam.files.wordpress.com In what some are calling a long-need comprehensive effort to prevent extremism and others are calling a touchy-feely mishmosh of disparate programs cobbled together with no particular means of effectiveness, the White House is rolling out a new initiative to counter radicalization that includes USDE funded anti-bullying programs.  How is radical extremism related to bullying?  The example used in this NPR story is a girl being teased in school for wearing a hijab, who might become radicalized by her experience or influence family members (White House Report To Detail Anti-Extremism Effort).  I'm not sure I'm buying it, and not sure what the anti-bullying people feel about being pulled into the anti-terrorism business.  Image via

Video: Bald Actor Takes On Toothy Reporter

"That's the thing.  You take this MBA-style thinking, it's the problem with ed policy right now. It's this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that."  That's why Matt Damon said, convincing no one but looking good doing it.  And that's Michelle Fields, from Students For Liberty, with the Reason TV microphone. That's apparently his mom on the left. See the full video here. Via Gawker 

AM News: States Brace For Reduced Federal Funding


With debt deal, states brace for cuts in federal aid WashPost: This year, the states had to close more than $100 billion in budget gaps, mostly through spending reductions that often affected programs previously considered sacrosanct.  

Teachers' Unions Unhappy With Debt Deal EdWeek:  The nation's two major teachers' unions both voiced reservations about deep cuts to government programs included the congressional agreement. 

Debt Deal Could Cut K-12 Spending, Poison No Child Left Behind Process HuffED: About 84 percent of school districts nationwide are already facing budget cuts. 

Debt ceiling bill's super committee has lobbyists preparing Politico: In all, state and local governments have cut 577,000 jobs since 2008.

Apollo Group to Buy Maker of Math Courses NYT: Hoping to retain more students, the company behind the profit-making University of Phoenix is paying $75 million for Carnegie Learning, which offers computer-based math instruction. 

Justice Dept. challenges tough Ala immigration law AP: The Obama administration is challenging Alabama's new law that would let police detain those stopped for traffic offenses who they suspect are in the country illegally, a statute described as one of the toughest immigration regulations nationwide. 

Scores fall for some D.C. schools amid test security questions Washington Post:  Reading and math scores on citywide tests fell this year in several D.C. schools that came under scrutiny for potential security breaches in the previous year’s exams, according to data made public Tuesday. 

NYC kindergarten teacher, 80, sues over firing AP:  She was teaching kindergarten at 80, but Lillie Leon wasn't ready to close the classroom door on her career.

Five Best Blogs: Phoebe Price Teacher Gets Fired

ScreenHunter_10 Aug. 02 10.02 What Ed Sector gets wrong Petrilli:  How about a little less skepticism, and a little more love, for one of the gutsiest projects in education reform history? 

The teacher who encouraged me to write Dave Eggers: Jay Criche made "Macbeth" seem edgy to suburban teens -- and he helped me believe I could be an author GS 

Why Alternative Education Needs to Go Mainstream GOOD:  A ten-year plan that's well thought-out and truly student-centered is what's needed to change the alternative into the mainstream. 

Cruel lesson for a teacher Kevin Cullen, Globe Columnist: The persecution and humiliation of Deb Caldieri, the teacher who responded to the suicide of Phoebe Prince with a compassion so utterly lacking elsewhere in South Hadley High School, is complete. She was fired last week.

The mess we are in LDH:  We have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its inmates — populated primarily by high school dropouts on whom we would not spend $10,000 a year when they were in school, but we will spend more than $40,000 a year when they are in prison – a prison system that is now directly devouring the money we should be spending on education. 

Politics: Who Wrote The Bill Your Representative Just Introduced?

Peeled-tomato-mp-shutterstock_76249843Reform-minded education advocacy groups aren't the only folks to watch out for and worry about at the state legislative level, reports ProPublica in a story package about the shadowy conservative legislative juggernaut known as ALEC. The organization develops, writes, and promotes passage of laws affecting education and pretty much every other issue but its workings aren't always clear or transparent in the states where they're working.  It doesn't have a liberal equivalent, according to ProPublica, though some would argue that Stand For Children is the prototype for a centrist version on the education front.  Check out who ALEC is contributing to and receiving money from here. Check out the ALEC Exposed site if you like your conspiracy theory hot and fresh.

Thompson: NCEI Report Shows What All Teachers Really Want

Teacherswant The National Center for Education Information’s "Profiles of Teachers in the U.S., 2011," reports that there are generational differences in the attitudes of teachers toward performance pay, tenure, and unions. I was struck, however, by many of the beliefs shared by teachers of all ages. Both alternatively certified and traditionally prepared teachers want "more autonomy in what and how they teach." (The number of teachers agreeing with that statement increased from 72% in 2005 to 78% in 2009.) The NCEI also reported "nearly all (96-98 percent) teachers surveyed in 1990, 1996, 2005 and 2011 agree that greater participation in decision-making at all levels would make teaching more a profession." Last but not least, the profile also noted, "almost all the comments written in by numerous survey respondents were expressions of strong opposition to the current emphasis on student testing and dissatisfaction with school administrators."  The NCEI included some representative comments.  Click here to read them. 

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Quote: "Your Horrific Blame Machine"

Quotes2 #sosmarch I will march headlong into the teeth of your horrific blame machine and I will teach these kids.  - Texas superintendent John Kuhn


Irony: Debt Reduction Deal Tied To Regional Education Labs

image from www.drugtestingusa.com As if the debt deal wasn't already lamentably, unnecessarily bad, EdWeek's Politics K12 notes that the legislative vehicle being used to get the thing enacted is a proposal to extend the life of the regional education labs. The labs have been the subject of much criticism and reorganization over the years.  (Neither pure research organizations nor direct service providers, no one's exactly sure what they do or what kind of value they add.)  But a bill to restore and extend funding for the labs was in the queue and for scheduling reasons the Rules Committee needed to make the debt deal an amendment not a standalone bill.  

AM News: How Debt Deal Might Affect K-12 Budgets

News2 For states, debt deal is short on details Stateline: Spending reductions will eventually scale back some federal aid to states, but almost all of the specifics remain to be decided.

Highlights of budget and debt limit pact AP:  President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a plan to pair an increase in the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit with spending cuts and to create a special committee to recommend bigger savings for a vote later this year. 

Debt Ceiling Deal: Big Questions for K-12 EdWeek: The CEF, a coalition of 85 education groups, estimated such cuts would amount to 6.7 percent in most agencies, which for the U.S. Department of Education would translate into about $3 billion.

More States Line up for Relief EdWeek:  Most states are asking for relief from the 2014 deadline for all students to be proficient in math and reading. 

School voucher bills flood GOP-led statehouses AP:  More states than ever before have considered school vouchers this year, driven by resurgent Republicans who see the lagging economy as an opportunity for a fresh push on one of their most contentious education policies.

Alabama Immigration Law Won't Keep Kids Out Of School AP: State officials are sending information to local schools about how to deal with enrolling students. It requires only that public schools determine students' immigration status for record-keeping. 

Review Aims to Avert Cheating on State Tests NYT:  The effort is a response to reports of cheating on standardized tests in Atlanta, Philadelphia and other cities. 

Recognizing voices harder for people with dyslexia AP:  Pick up the phone and hear, "Hey, what's up?" Chances are, those few words are enough to recognize who's speaking -- perhaps unless you have dyslexia.   

Five Best Blogs: Doing The "SIG Shuffle"

8de87cc018c11334e59628c8b9a3939826fe64f6_m Teacher turnover and the stress of reform LAT (editorial page): It's unlikely that we can build large-scale school reform on a platform of continual new demands on teachers-- even if schools find ways to pay them better. 

Pa. Joins States Facing a School Cheating Scandal NYT (Winerip): A large data file contains evidence that suggests cheating on state exams at 89 Pennsylvania schools.

Inexcusable Inequalities! SF101: I’m sick of those who would so absurdly argue that districts serving low-income and minority children really have more than enough money to deliver good programs. 

SIGnificant Concerns Title I-Derland: In my opinion, the biggest problem with SIG is not capacity, but buy-in. 

Shuffle has no love from us Quick & Ed: Central High, the school that received the "lemons", saw its achievement nearly double.

Cartoon: Raising The Debt Ceiling

ScreenHunter_07 Aug. 01 10.44Dad to his scruffy postcollegiate son:  "You call it grad school; I call it raising the debt ceiling."  This week's New Yorker.


Events: "No Child" Back On Stage In NYC

NoChild (2) If you missed it the first time around don't miss it again.  Nilaja Sun's one-woman play about teaching in a New York City school is back in town until mid-August and you can get tickets to see it for just $25 using the supersecret code Susan Sawyers told me about.  Others will disagree but my favorite part of the show is the tense encounter between the Caribbean-born security guard and one of the students going through the metal detectors. Security guards play such a little-noted but important role in setting the tone at urban high schools, and there are so many cultural differences among different minority groups. I thought Sun captured and performed it brilliantly (and tried to work it into my book).  Get tickets here. Read Susan's interesting and intense take on seeing the show earlier this week here (plus a video from the play).  The supersecret discount code is NCBST.  

Thompson: SOS March Not About Saving Jobs

Expereince#sosmarch The Education Sector's Richard Colvin is half-right about the Save Our Schools March.  Teachers have suffered less than most workers as jobs, wages, and benefits have been cut over the last four decades.  In fact, that may be the biggest reason why we have been targeted as scapegoats.  The politics of resentment demands that teachers also get their comeupance.  Colvin is also correct in reminding us of the 300,000 teaching jobs that the Obama Administration saved. But the purpose of the rally is not saving our jobs.  If teachers just wanted a paycheck, we could take jobs in the test-prep factories (formerly known as schools) that the administration is encouraging.  We are fighting for the right to teach and for our students to learn an engaging curriculum.  If teachers were just "slugs," as our old Oklahoma governor called us, we would have no problem reciting scripts in leiu of teaching.  S.O.S. is the fight by teachers for the right to do the hard work of overcoming poverty and broken families.  We want to help transform our failing schools, not collect a paycheck for monitoring a soul-killing testing regime.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Quote: Newark Forced To End Teacher "Swapping"

Quotes2 If these teachers truly were not good enough for one struggling school, we have to ask whether it is a good idea to put them in another one.  --TNTP's Tim Daly in response to a WSJ story about Newark schools swapping teachers to meet SIG restaffing requirements

Video: Jon Stewart Addresses SOS Marchers

#sosmarch "Teachers in the summer are just lazy and doing nothing anyway. They're just living off the huge salaries and pensions that they suck out of the taxpayers, leaving Wall Street fatcats with very little bonus money." Also Matt Damon here.

AM News: Education Takes A Beating


Education Cuts Squeeze N.C. Teachers NPR: In North Carolina, the cuts are so severe that Gov. Beverly Perdue warns "they will do generational damage" to public education. 

Education takes a beating nationwide LAT: States and school districts across the country have fired thousands of teachers, raised college tuition, relaxed standards, slashed days off the academic calendar and gutted pre-kindergarten and summer school programs. 

Public schools pass costs onto parents Marketplace: A Texas school will charge students for riding the bus. It's another result of the budget crises most states find themselves in. 

Children’s Publisher Backing Off Its Corporate Ties NYT: Some of the publisher’s most controversial programs have been withdrawn, but a review board will now monitor the content.  

New York Teams Up With IBM to Reboot a High School WSJ: This fall, New York City will open P-Tech, a unique six-year high school where students can earn a diploma and an associate's degree in a computer-science-related field and then first crack at a job with IBM. ... 

 'Save Our Schools' Leaders Craft Next Steps EdWeek: The organization will probably be restructured, at least a little, but it's likely that at least some of the 13-member organizing committee, which includes teacher educators, and current and former teachers, will continue to lead the group. 

Missouri Outlaws Teacher-Student Facebook Friendship Atlantic Wire: According to Missouri Senate Bill 54 just signed by state Governor Jay Nixon, any social networking is prohibited between teachers and students. 




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.