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Five Best Blogs: Will NCLB Waivers Mean Longer Days?

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Jeb Bush and Florida's Education SuccessWhitney Tilson: I'm not saying I'd support him (or any Republican) over Obama, but I think it's healthy for our country if the Republicans offer a strong, credible candidate.

Two bitter education rivals begin to bury the hatchet USAT:  Kopp said the nation's schools need both alternative and standard teacher-training programs. "We just need to move beyond the overly simplistic idea that it's one form vs. another," she said. 

Why Teachers in High-Minority Schools Are Paid Less GOOD: Districts should require that each school, whether it's in a minority or a white neighborhood, have about the same number of first or second-year teachers and veteran educators.

Still Waiting For Superman  Dana Golstein:  There is little doubt the quality of the teacher corps would improve if the job paid a six-figure salary. I love that idea!

Take Your Time CAP:  States applying for federal waivers ought to follow the example of Massachusetts, where the state carefully crafted a definition of expanded learning time to ensure the additional time was used wisely to make a difference in the experience of both teachers and students.

Saving Catholic Education Richard Riordan:  Charter schools are an amazing development, and I've chaired the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools and the Inner City Education Foundation, both charter advocacy organizations. But not everyone will be able to attend charter schools because the capacity isn't there.

Video Interlude: 3D Printers Can Scan, Send, Create Working Objects

I've been intrigued but confused by all this talk about 3D printing until I watched this demonstration of a metal hand wrench being scanned into a computer, sent to a printer, and recreated.  Basically these machines can recreate an object (and other things) in a fancy printing machine.  


It's very sci fi and yet at the same time very old school.  The composite powder is the paper medium, the binding material is the ink.  The print head makes repeated passes over the powder, creating the object layer by layer, based on the computer scan of the original object.  Is it easier or faster or cheaper than making a wrench the old fashioned way?  I have no idea.  Can you scan yourself?  Yes but it would probably take a long while.  Yes the replacement cartridges are expensive.  

Research: Who's To Blame For The Chicago Illusion?

Tumblr_lr1859lpKF1qj83p7o1_400A new study out of the University of Chicago finds that reported test score increases over 20 years of decentralization and mayoral control were largely illusory, produced by changes in testing, minimum requirements, and other statistical gimmicks rather than any real dramatic improvements that were being claimed at the time. Reading scores in particular have been stagnant, and the acheivement gap has gooten worse.  Who's to blame for the poor showing and deceptive reporting?  It wasn't Duncan's fault:  "By no means did we ever then or now declare mission accomplished.” It wasn't Paul Vallas's, either"  "I don't know what planet [the UofC researchers] are on." The state did it, says Duncan advisor Peter Cunningham: " If anything this is a challenge to the state of Illinois to come up with a better test." That leaves just two remaining culprits:  NCLB and teachers.  Yes, that's it.  It was the federal government and the fat cat teachers who did it.  Or maybe the testing companies, too. Click below to see the contrasting charts, etc.

Continue reading "Research: Who's To Blame For The Chicago Illusion?" »

AM News: House Cuts, Senate Markup, SAT Cheating

News2 House Republicans Unveil Cuts To Education AP:   House Republicans on Thursday unveiled plans to cut federal money for job training, heating subsidies and grants to better-performing schools. 

Key Senate Panel Schedules Markup on ESEA Renewal Bill EdWeek: It's the product of 10 months of negotiations between U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the committee chairman, and Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming, the top Republican.

After Arrest, a Wider Inquiry on SAT Cheating NYT: Testing officials said a Long Island case involving seven students was an isolated event, while others argued that the problem was widespread and emphasized the need for better security at the test.

Dave Eggers Says Teachers Should Make More NPR:  Writer Dave Eggers argues the best way to attract great teachers is to pay them more. Eggers and activist Ninive Calegari co-founded the Teacher Salary Project, to raise awareness about the low salaries that they say drive many teachers from the classroom.

School Official Called Educators 'Dirtbags' On Twitter AP:  TULSA, Okla. -- Oklahoma's schools superintendent said Thursday that her chief of staff calling school administrators "dirtbags" in a personal Twitter post was a "poor choice of words" – but called a lawsuit targeting parents of special-needs children that prompted the comment vindictive and "groundless."


Continue reading "AM News: House Cuts, Senate Markup, SAT Cheating" »

Five Best Blogs: Raising Risk While Lowering Rewards

ScreenHunter_43 Mar. 05 19.40

Of Oversimplification and Education Bruce Smith:This tendency to seize on a success in a limited span of the academic spectrum with a limited section of the total student population and to then apply the principles discovered to every subject and all students is typical of people from fields outside education.

What's the matter with teachers today? Seattle Times: Teaching is one of the most criticized jobs in America. What's up with that? 

Reform Means Higher Risk, Lower Rewards Shanker Blog: In some places, risk is going up while compensation is being cut, sometimes due to the same legislation.

Obama's speech to high school also a subtle jobs bill pitch LAT: Still, as he delivered his annual back-to-school address at a District of Columbia public highschool, Obama told students he was trying to upgrade school buildings and fortify the ranks of classroom teachers. 

Is Title I About Poverty Anymore? Title I Derland:  Equity for poor children was the initial impulse behind the enactment of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. But that concept has faded. 


Continue reading "Five Best Blogs: Raising Risk While Lowering Rewards" »

Thompson: The False Allure Of Statistics

MoneyballData-driven school "reform" came of age as Bill James's Sabermetrics was creating "moneyball."  Follow Alexander's link to the discussion at the Atlantic Wire about the effect of James's statistics on baseball, and see how the same lessons apply to education reform.  Especially when it comes to actually playing the game, "stats only go so far"  because they "are much better at illustrating the past than predicting the future."  They cannot measure team chemistry, infectious optimism, or a player's (or a teacher's) sheer presence.  The lure of statistics has had a dramatic impact for the worse for fans (and education wonks) who have "never felt or contributed to the rhythm of the game" or the classroom.  When it comes to explaining human behavior, these stories can "give us control—or, more accurately, the illusion thereof." I would add another point about the biggest misunderstanding of data in education: the sophisticated use of stats in sports built upon generations of experience in coaching players to improve.  School reformers, however, first tried to reward and punish with numbers, without taking the obvious first step of  using numeric and verbal storytelling to improve the performance  of schools and educators. - JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Maps: USDE's "Threat Warning" Map Of States' Schools

State of the states map

Red, yellow, green -- the familiar color scheme long used to warn us of terrorist threats (and to tell us when to accelerate).  Only now it's applied to state education outcomes.  Color-Coded Maps Rank States' Education Performance via GOOD.

Coaching: Even Veterans & Star Teachers Could Benefit

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comRemember that New Yorker story about coaching I recommended a few days ago just because it was about coaching (What Makes Top Performers Better?)?  Well it turns out that the long feature article actually focuses in part on on school-based coaching of teachers in Albermarle County, Virginia, where veterans as well as novices can get help and you get to see oone math teacher who's class is observed and dissected.  

The description of the lesson and the debrief are yet another reminder of just how excruciatingly intricate classroom teaching is, how exceedingly sensitive coaches have to be in order to be effective at what is essentially teaching another adult, and a reminder about the issue of "deliberate practice' we keep hearing about for kids and adults wanting to improve their performance. 

Alas, there's a tremendous amount of resistance among veteran teachers, notes the article:  ""Many teachers see no need for coaching. Others hate the idea of being observed in the classroom, or fear that using a coach makes them look incompetent, or are convinced, despite assurances, that the coaches are reporting their evaluations to the principal. And some are skeptical that the school’s particular coaches would be of any use."  

This is no less true in other fields, notes author Gawande, a medical surgeon who decides he might benefit from coaching.  "We may not be ready to accept—or pay for—a cadre of people who identify the flaws in the professionals upon whom we rely, and yet hold in confidence what they see... The existence of a coach requires an acknowledgment that even expert practitioners have significant room for improvement." 

AM News: Obama's Late-September Schools Speech


Obama Delivers Back-To-School Speech NPR: President Obama delivered his annual back-to-school speech at Benjamin Banneker High School, one of Washington, D.C.'s top performing schools. 

Duncan Offers Short-Term NCLB Relief for Waiver Seekers EdWeek:  In a webinar for states on Tuesday, officials said that states can request to hold this school year's proficiency targets steady at last year's levels.  PLUS: Roadmap to Winning an NCLB Waiver

Rick Perry Apologizes For 'Over-Passionate' Comment: During the Fox News/Google GOP primary debate in Orlando, Fla. last week, Perry said, "If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart." 

Students Arrested In SAT Cheating Case In N.Y. NPR: At issue is whether one of them, a 19-year-old college student, took the exams for the others in exchange for payments of up to $2,500. 

Teachers and Students Mark Banned Websites Awareness Day NYT: Students, teachers and librarians across the United States are questioning whether schools should block Web sites. 

Some teachers make house calls MSNBC: Many teachers and principals are voluntarily making house calls, claiming it’s making a huge difference in their students’ grades.  


Continue reading "AM News: Obama's Late-September Schools Speech" »

Quotes: Outdated Education Debate Omits Early Development

Quotes2 The two conferences left me with a strong sense that our national conversation about education is irrelevant and quaint.  - Former NYC Chancellor Harold Levy

Five Best Blogs: Back To School For President Obama


Republicans for Smaller Class Size? DFER: By curbing collective bargaining for public school teachers, Walker told the crowd, public schools could... hire a boatload of more teachers in order to significantly reduce class sizes! 

Too much tight, too light on loose Mike Petrilli: Some additional vetting–via the Congressional process perhaps?–might make it ready for primetime. Too bad the Administration took that option off the table. 

The Waiver Wars Title I Derland: A bill overturning Duncan’s waiver action is not a sufficiently high priority to garner much support in Congress, and it would face strong Democratic opposition.

Film Review: American Teacher Mother Jones: With more than half of the nation's 3.2 million public pedagogues coming up for retirement in the next decade, American Teacher succeeds in reframing education's abstract ideological battles in terms of kitchen-table realities.

Geoffrey Canada and Diane Ravitch Stand for Children: We see two passionate advocates with lots of common ground, and many compelling reasons to make our schools better. 

Grit and Middle-Class Messaging Tom Hoffman: It isn't about the achievement gap, it is about character, just like a private school! If you ask me it is still a tough sell to suburban America. 

Reform: Reform Celebration In Seattle

image from www.pie-network.orgI kept hearing about something happening in Seattle that I wasn't invited to (like most things) and assumed it was some sort of secret Gates Foundation event.  Gates denied anything was going on, which only fueled my paranoia.  But after all that it was actually a meeting of the PIE (Policy Innovators in Education) Network, a group of state advocacy organizations that was conceived of by a group of DC think tanks of all things and was gathering to celebrate its accomplishments and address future challenges. Hear more about the event and see pictures here. Read some of Rick Hess's made-up tweets from the event here.  My favorite:  "@FordhamMike- Don't like reform realism or dynamism devotees? Got a million more. Critical collaboration? Gucci governance? C'mon people, work with me!" 

Ratings: What School Reform Can Learn From Sports

image from www.onlinemovieshut.comMore than a decade ago a computer whiz came along and revolutionized the way that baseball players were rated, developing a bunch of new measures that no one had ever heard of before that were supposed to get at what *really* made one player more productive than another.  Managers and owners had been valuing -- and paying for -- all the wrong things, according to this new way of doing things (called Sabermetrics or Moneyball).  Some of the traditional measures were overly simplistic.  Others seemed based on superstition more than anything else.  Statheads loved it, the teams that implemented these ideas early on seemed to prosper. Eventually a book and now a movie got out about the story of the development of this new way of doing things.  (Tag line:  "What are you really worth?") But it turned out that the new measurement system hasn't necessarily made the players or the way they play the game dramatically better, and not all of the initial effects on teams' success rates have lasted very long, either.  The teams that spend the most money are still generally the teams that have the best records. The players that are most efficient and consistent at hitting and fielding and pitching make the most money.  Moneyball hasn't even made owning a sports team more economicial, which was one of its main appeals at the beginning. Meantime, purists argued that these new stats could be helpful at the margins but that they only go so far, and noted that several of the best players and teams in terms of winning games actually don't look that good on paper.  At the Atlantic Wire, a group of sportswriters discuss Are Sabermetrics Good for Sports? The New York Times reviews the movie based on the real story here: Brad Pitt in ‘Moneyball,’

Video: Russo Shocks Conference With "Reform Bubble" Comment

Picture 46 Here's a screengrab from my cameo during #EducationNation's special Tuesday morning edition of "Meet The Press," which consisted of bearded, tie-less me weighing in from what they called the Oprah Seat in the front row of the audience to blather for a few seconds about my notion that there's been a school reform "bubble" and how it's in the process of being popped.  (It's at about the 55 minute mark, mom.) More on that later.  While most of the folks up there said pretty predictable things -- Diane Ravitch and Geoff Canada agreeing about the critical importance of wraparound services, for example -- Columbia J-School Dean Nick Lemann's "take a chill pill, everyone" remarks stood out for me.  

AM News: Chris Cristie's Presidential Prospects


How Would Chris Christie Stack Up? EdWeek: It's questionable whether the things they believe could make him viable in a general election—namely, his relatively moderate views—would help him in the Republican primaries.

Is Zuckerberg money put to good use in NJ? NBC: A year ago, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg went on "Oprah" and announced a gift of $100 million to the public schools of Newark, NJ. NBC’s Lisa Myers looks at what Newark's been doing with the money, and what they have to show for it, one year later.

Obama: Jobs bill will create '21st Century schools' USA Today: President Obama took his "pass the jobs bill" campaign to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado today, telling a crowd at a Denver high school that his plan will put people back to work by building roads, bridges, and other projects that include upgraded schools.

Obama encourages learning AP: President Barack Obama is encouraging students to work hard in their classes, saying the country is counting on them. Obama was scheduled to speak Wednesday afternoon at Washington's Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. His back-to-school address will be televised live and carried online.

Senate leader wants states to control schools Politco: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) struck a bipartisan tone Tuesday, arguing that the federal requirements for evaluating students and teachers set out in No Child Left Behind should be scuttled in favor of state-set standards.


Continue reading "AM News: Chris Cristie's Presidential Prospects" »

Thompson: More Class Time - Or More Recess?

Rahm-Emanuel-Twitter News coverage of Rahm Emanuel's push to lengthen the Chicago school day tends to assume that Emanuel is right on the substance, while questioning his methods.  But education veteran Deborah Meier explains in Bridging Differences  how Emanuel misunderstands educational reality.  She is especially correct in emphasizing that his "reform" is doubly wrong.  It is rushed, and it will further push PE, art, and music out of children's lives.  Meantime few policy wonks seem to have noted that the teachers union has the better plan for adding minutes to improve academic performance, which the Chicago Sun Times reports is patterned on the high-dollar private school where Emanuel sends his own kids. Students at the nationally-admired Chicago Lab School get 30 to 90 minutes of art per week and 60 to 90 minutes of music, and they get 300 minutes of lunch and recess, as well as foreign language instruction.  Meantime, as noted by the Chicago News Consortium's Rebecca Vevea, there have been unnoticed votes by a dozen schools to add a half hour to the day by bringing back recess. Yes, recess. Teachers who support this effort get nothing in return except for the improved health of students.  So, if "reformers" really believe that the issue is the welfare of kids, and not teacher-bashing, why not have a debate on the substance?- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Waivers: The Coming Federal Windfall For Districts

ScreenHunter_15 Apr. 21 08.14#nclbwaiver One of the things that hasn't been discussed much about the NCLB waiver scheme is just how much districts are chomping at the bit to find ways to spend some of that SES money that they've long complained about having to give away to tutoring companies and other outside providers oh these long years under NCLB. That's because, under NCLB, schools and districts that don't make AYP for consecutive years have to offer outside tutoring to kids at those schools -- and "give away" up to 20 percent of their NCLB funding in order to pay for the extra services.  But of course even the worst schools and districts in America think that they can do better than anyone else -- even when they've tried and failed to do so in the past.  And now when their states get a waiver -- up to 25 of them in the next year or so, according to one CCSSO estimate in the NYT -- the districts get a raise. It's brilliant politics, I have to say.  Whether districts will do any better with the money than the tutoring companies is anyone's guess, though history suggests that the money will be frittered away on this and that and student achievement at those schools doing the worst won't get much better.  (The SES tutoring wasn't all that great, either, to be fair.) Whether Congress will have any future interest in increasing federal funding under a system in which it has very little to say about how the money is spent is another question whose answer history suggests is "not very much." But in the meantime, a short-term windfall of SES money.  Woo hoo!

Quote: The Problem Of Intuition-Based Policymaking

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com The k-12 world tries the same things over and over. Even without success. Because they are so intuitively appealing-- Mike Goldstein

Update: Twitter Tuesday

I'm at #educationnation right now so here's my Twitter feed (hit refresh to get the latest updates):

Update: Two Boston Reform Nonprofits Merge

  image from www.amiright.com

Non-baseball news from Beantown is that two semi-independent ed reform organizations, Boston Plan for Excellence and Boston Teacher Residency, have merged forces (New year, new direction at BPE-BTR).

BPE was a prominent part of reform efforts during and after the Payzant era in Boston, during which the organization piloted various initiatives.

BTR came along later, a residency-based teacher training program.

BTR's founder and ED Jesse Solomon is going to run the new organization.

AM News: 3 Takes on NCLB Changes


NCLB option meets praise and caution USA Today: Obama is offering to free public schools from some requirements of No Child Left Behind law, but the offer comes with some costs.

Obama unveils education plan WSJ: President Barack Obama is replacing key planks of former President George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind education law, allowing many schools to escape looming punishment if their states adopt a new set of standards.

For states, more flexibility in education policies NPR: Many public school systems chafed under No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era law requiring states to closely monitor student achievement and conduct more regular testing. President Obama announced Friday that states can now qualify for exemptions from some of the law's key requirements. 

Ed. Dept. Gives States More Time for Stimulus Reporting EdWeek:  On the same day President Obama announced the long-awaited details of the administration's No Child Left Behind Act waiver package, his Education Department quietly extended the deadline for collecting and reporting data on the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a central part of the federal economic-stimulus program. 


Continue reading "AM News: 3 Takes on NCLB Changes" »

Five Best Blogs: Waiver Reactions & Then Some

Illustration-Children-at-Play Randi is right NCTQ: It's entirely possible that the federal government is writing a blank check that education departments and district offices won't be able to cash.

 Waivers 101 CAP:  The waiver process puts positive pressure on states to enhance their approach to accountability, teachers, and improving the education of students in struggling schools. 

The Waivers Are Here Sandy Kress: I'm pessimistic about the prospects for success on any of these three challenges, much less all three. But, we can hope. 

Idaho Says No to Next Round of Race to Top EdWeek:Tom Luna, the state's superintendent of public instruction, is recommending that the state not apply for the competition. 

Indiana is the new Florida, but who will be the next Indiana? Jay Greene's Blog:   The 2011 legislative sessions set a new standard for K-12 reform, can 2012 hope to compare? The logical response would be something along the lines of “not bloody likely.”

50CAN: We commit to adding all contributions to 50CAN and its state branches above $1,000 to this page within 30 days of their receipt, to updating the operating budget within 30 days of its approval by the 50CAN board of directors and to adding audited financials documents within 30 days of their approval by our auditors.


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Celebrity: Will Scientology-Based Charters Be Next?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comHere's five year-old Suri Cruise in a matching pink hat and shawl with lavender wrist purse and unknown yellow doll (please tell me that's not lipstick), who started school this year at a school with Scientology ties founded three years ago by actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

It's called New Leadership Academy in Calabasas, Calif, and it's private.  It uses some controversial techniques including "study technology," developed by L. Ron Hubbard. There's also a lot of sculpting.  Apparently there are schools like this all across the country, most notably the Delphi Schools chain.  What next?  You know the drill:  Scientology charter schools!  

More info from Slate here.

Quote: "The Planning Fallacy"

Quotes2 Most people overrate their own abilities and exaggerate their capacity to shape the future.-- NYT columnist David Brooks (The Planning Fallacy) from 9/15

Thompson: Gates Scholar's Study Casts Questions On Broad Winner*

Your-silence-is-deafening-men-s-tee_designThe  Hechinger Report notes some seriously bad news about the Charlotte Mecklenburg schools, which won the Broad Prize for excellence last week.  The CMS "failed dismally in meeting academic targets for 2011."  And the number of Charlotte schools ranked by Newsweek as among the nation's top dropped from 13 to two. The biggest blow, however, is CMS's rating on the "School Choice, School Quality and Postsecondary Attainment" by Gates scholar Tom Kane and other economists, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  The report finds that Charlotte Mecklenburg's massive experiment in school choice has failed to increase performance in students from the lowest-quality schools who won the lottery to attend high-quality high schools.  Instead, the study found evidence in support of the old-fashioned input-driven reforms (such as college preparatory counseling) that the Broad folks and others condemn as the "status quo."  In other words, the central finding of this NBER study calls into question the Broadies' fundamental approach to "reform." - JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

*CORRECTION:  The original headline made it seem like the Gates Foundation had funded the study itself, which is not the case.  

Teaching: The New Yorker Takes Another Look At Coaching

Picture 45 New Yorker writer Atul Gawande -- he's the guy who wrote the book about checklists -- has a new article out about the use of coaches in nontraditional areas like surgery.   This isn't a new idea in education, of course, though coaching / master teacher programs are expensive and not always effective.  Great teachers don't always make great coaches, and in many cases programs haven't been able to pick their own coaches because of work rules or other reasons. For what it's worth, I couldn't have written my Green Dot book without my developmental editor, David Lobenstine, and have benefitted greatly from working with an organizational coach named Susan Wallace. (A blogging coach would be great, too, but I haven't found anyone willing to take me on.)  Press release below.  Link may require subscription.

Continue reading "Teaching: The New Yorker Takes Another Look At Coaching" »

Events: "Education Nation" Livestream

Here's the video from NBC's Education Nation extravaganza which started yesterday and continues today and tomorrow:

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

I'm being told it's a lot more balanced than last year -- what do you think?

AM News: What Next For NCLB - And RTTT?


Several states quick to opt for No Child waivers Stateline: Connecticut, Oregon, New Mexico and Wisconsin immediately said they would seek waivers from key requirements of the No Child Left Behind law. 

Will Arne Duncan's Education Reforms Get Left Behind? HuffED:  As with other programs for which Duncan is known, funding for [RTTT] won't automatically be replenished. 

Obama Turns Some Education Powers Back to States NYT:  With his declaration that he would waive the most contentious provisions of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, President Obama rerouted a decade of federal influence.

Idaho Says No to Next Round of Race to Top EdWeek:Tom Luna, the state's superintendent of public instruction, is recommending that the state not apply for the competition. 

Thousands entering Calif. schools witout vaccines AP: Last year's class of California kindergartners had a record high percentage of parents who used a personal belief exemption to avoid immunization requirements, a development that concerns state health officials.

Mexican teachers push back against gangs' extortion attempts NYT: Extortion is a booming industry in Mexico, and teachers in Acapulco, who are receiving anonymous threats to either pay up or be killed, are protesting in large numbers.


Continue reading "AM News: What Next For NCLB - And RTTT?" »

Weekend Reading: #NCLBWaiver Time

Here are some links to magazines and sites I don't check during the week, in Twitter form, plus whatever else I come across along the way or missed during the week.  Links and retweets aren't necessarily endorsements, just an effort to give you a range of interesting news and opinion:

Roundup: What Folks Are Saying About NCLB Waivers

ScreenHunter_19 Aug. 04 22.33Some of the most interesting takes I've seen so far on today's announcements -- let me know what I'm missing:

The unilateral repeal of NCLB and the 2012 election Checker Finn:This is not the first example, and surely won’t be the last, of appealing to key constituencies by undoing, suspending, or waiving government practices that they find onerous and unpleasant.

The Real Deal With NCLB Waivers Matthew Yglesias:The press coverage I’m seeing this morning of the White House’s announced new No Child Left Behind waiver process is, in my view, pretty far off base. The reality is that this is the administration pushing the reform agenda forward.
On President Obama's Announcement DFER:  We profoundly hope states are better prepared for this responsibility than they were in the past. But looking across the landscape and at the available data, in the case of the majority of states, we'd be lying if we said we weren't worried.

A Few Surprises Ed Sector: To not require states to at least report the inequities in the distribution of effective teachers seems like an oversight... the information should, at a minimum, be transparent to the public.
No Child Left Behind’s lasting legacy Wonkblogs: If history is any lesson, a standardized testing backlash won’t translate into less testing.

Video: The *Real* Race To The Bottom

Here's a recent MSNBC segment about budget cuts, Race To The Top, and the Repubican push to lower taxes and regulations (aka the *real* race to the bottom):

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

It's not super substantive (not really substantive at all) but it's a reasonable illustration of how the mainstream media cover education issues -- focused on the politics and the controversy, by and large. There might be more on Sunday's meet the press, which will feature NYC Mayor Bloomberg talking about reform.  

Thompson: Why Teachers Should Support School Staff

LunhladyWhen a teacher's job is saved, her paycheck is brought home to whatever neighborhood hor she lives in and his or her children who probably attend a higher-performing school.  When an inner-city security guard or cafeteria lady's job is saved, his or her income (and children) probably remain in the neighborhood. That's part of why classroom teachers should remember Dafney Tales' post in the Philadelphia Inquirer and protest when our co-workers in schools do not get equal respect as classroom teachers.  Supporting non-classroom staff is an indirect but important way of helping students. In fact, rather than proposing $30 billion to avert teacher layoffs, President Obama should promise the money to save school jobs.  Teachers should remind taxpayers of a key reason why all school workers should be valued equally. - JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via

Elections: Reformers Run For Office

ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 23 11.55There are lots of mayors who claim to be interested in education, but few if any who come from schools or even education reform.  That's almost certain to change, and one such person is running in San Francisco.  From Whitney:  "Joanna [Rees] is running for Mayor of San Francisco first and foremost because of the state of public education in her city... As a board member of the New Schools Venture Fund, Joanna led cutting-edge efforts to transform public schools in underserved communities – from supporting teachers to opening public charter schools to providing support and leadership training for teachers and principals. She also served on the board of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and on the Advisory Board of the San Francisco School Alliance."  This is obviously not an endorsement.  

AM News: More Details About NCLB Waiver Plan


Obama rolling back Bush-era education law AP: The Obama administration is offering states a way around provisions of the once-heralded No Child Left Behind law.

Romney, Perry clash over Race to the Top Politics K-12: Thursday night's GOP presidential debate offered the clearest sign yet that the Republican field is united on K-12 policy: Basically, they all want the feds out.

Teachers in Wash. vote to end strike AP: Striking teachers in Washington state's third-largest school district voted Thursday afternoon to accept a contract, ending a walkout that has kept students out of class for eight days.

Single-sex education is ineffective, report says NYT: The authors of a new study say there is no scientific evidence to support single-sex education, and that it may actually increase gender stereotyping.


Continue reading "AM News: More Details About NCLB Waiver Plan" »

Power Couples: JC Brizard & K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard

Picture 44 He's the head of the Chicago Public Schools.She's the TFA alum with the PhD from Columbia. Read all about them here in Chicago Magazine.

It seems secretive and overly PC that none of the many profiles about the couple have mentioned they're an interracial couple. Then again, Stephen Colbert and many others claim they don't see race

Anyway, I'm always on the prowl for power education couples. Any new ones out there I might not have heard of?  Come on, I know you reformy types are always getting hitched to each other. 

Thompson: Teaching To The Standards, Not The Tests

Taksprep-300x209 The Houston Chronicle's Erika Mellon reports that Texas's "new mantra" is "teaching to the standards."  A consultant told Houston trustees that teachers need to "stop drilling students with easy multiple-choice test questions." Instead, teachers need to make sure "they deeply understand the state’s curriculum standards." One trustee agreed, saying that her daughter’s fifth-grade math homework last year was all multiple choice. Mellon also notes that putting students to sleep with all of this test prep is not a formula for increased student performance.  The new mantra, however, was once the old mantra.  We will have to wait and see whether the long-understood distinction between standards and standardization is grasped by school administrators with their necks on the line.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Quote: Blame The Crew, Not Just The Captain

Quotes2 It’s very easy to blame the sinking of the Titanic on the captain, but I would think the crew had something to do with it, too. -- Joseph Del Grosso, president of the Newark Teachers Union (via Whitney Tilson)

Five Best Blogs: Apple's TFA Giveaway Not All That Generous

Picture 43Alignment Of Interests In Education Policy Matthew Yglesias:  President Obama’s support for charter schools hasn’t stopped him from increasing SNAP benefits and presiding over a gigantic Medicaid expansion.

Imagine What 100 Million iPads in Classrooms Would Do Atlantic Wire:   Giving away 9,000 iPads is a drop in the bucket. There's also a tinge of nepotism in the fact that Steve Jobs's wife Laurene sits on Teach for America's board.

What Do Test Scores Tell Us? Gary Gutting (NYT): Educators and critics often react to poor test results with calls for school reform. Should they?

Squeezing It Dry Title I Derland:  The Obama administration is squeezing the 2009 stimulus to get every possible job out of it.

The problem with Obama’s plan to issue NCLB waivers  Valerie Strauss:  President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan would do well to listen to Daniel Domenech on the subject of issuing states waivers from key provisions of No Child Left Behind.

The Testing BubbleDana Goldstein: Today both Scantron and Pearson are owned by M & F Holding Company, the conglomerate of buyout king Ronald Perelman.

Image (there are several others along these lines) via GOOD 

Media: More Misleading Descriptions Of NCLB

image from heartburn.immanuelnaz.com There are lots of things to like about the Washington Post's preview of the Obama waiver announcement tomorrow (Obama prepares to revamp ‘No Child Left Behind’), but the basic description of NCLB is misleading and inaccurate, creating the impression that the law has had much more (negative) impact on schools than the facts can support and omitting the benefits of the law that have civil rights groups and others extremely concerned about any changes.  Of course, this isn't the first time anyone's mischaracterized the requirements and the impact of the law but it's sad to see yet another example of a newspaper passing along unfounded criticisms of the law without stopping to ask whether they check out. Read below for all the details.

Continue reading "Media: More Misleading Descriptions Of NCLB" »

AM News: USDE Let State Divert Nearly $900M In Stimulus Funding

News2School of Hard Financial Knocks Florida Center for Investigative Reporting:  School districts throughout Florida are laying off teachers, closing programs and scrambling to identify other significant cost-saving measures — all problems made worse by the fact that Florida’s school districts used [$890 million in] stimulus money in large measure to delay needed cuts.

Obama prepares to revamp NCLB Washington Post: President Obama is poised to broaden federal influence in local schools by scrapping key elements of No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration’s signature education law, and substituting his own brand of school reform.

Senate votes to freeze funding for key K-12 programs Politics K-12: K-12 education - including money for disadvantaged children and special education - would see stagnant funding under a measure approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday

Oprah-Backed Charter School Denying Disabled Collides With Law Blomberg News:  Along with the academy supported by Oprah's Angel Network -- which the entertainer used to raise money from the public --New Orleans charter schools accused of discrimination include those that are favored charities of Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Walton family and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Via GS

Denzel Washington on dropouts: 'Most dangerous time' for kids right after school PBS: In the first installment of an 18-month series on the nation's high school dropout rate, Gwen Ifill sits down with actor Denzel Washington to discuss his work for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth.


Continue reading "AM News: USDE Let State Divert Nearly $900M In Stimulus Funding" »

Awards: First MacArthur, Now McGraw

Old-booksMitch Resnick of the MIT Media Lab, Robert Beichner of NCSU and Julie Young of Florida Virtual School are recipients of the McGraw Prize in Education for 2011. Each of the three winners receives $50,000 this year.  They've collaborated on a paper about ed tech and human relations that's available on the site.

Five Best Blogs: What's There To Critique?

Child-by-mail The Truth About Testing Columbia J-School:  The two-day intensive workshop will tackle these questions and more. Educators, testing experts and veteran journalists will gather to discuss how to report on test design, innovation in testing, cheating, and whether widespread use of standardized tests can trigger reforms that will eventually narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor. 

Education Is Priceless Andrew Sullivan:  ""Andreas Schleicher, head of analysis at PISA, thinks that only about 10% of the variation in pupil performance has anything to do with money."

Turnaround Eduwonk: In too few places have local school leaders stepped-up and acknowledged that there is a serious problem. 

Something for Nothing on Teachers? EdSector: It seems silly to maintain the ineffective highly qualified teacher provisions when so many states are already designing evaluation systems based on teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. But it doesn’t have to be something for nothing. 

Film chronicles the cost of poor pay, particularly over time, for teachers. SFC: A new documentary opening in New York City on Friday is a rebuttal of sorts to the pundits and politicians who are eager to battle unions and write teachers off as the over-protected recipients of Cadillac benefits, extended summer vacations and low expectations.

In Defense of Head Start FFYF: Proven success rates in school healthier behaviors and positive actions are what programs like Head Start deliver What is there to critique? 

Stossel on charter schools Doug Hering: He picks apart a department of education study that said that charter schools did not perform as well as their traditional public school counterparts. 

LA school's cheating prompts new policy for charter group CA Watch: "That's the unfortunate thing. One employee wiped it out for everyone." 

Urban School Reform as Housing Policy Matt Yglesias: The link between schooling and place isn’t vanishing any time soon, and it’s important not just to improve the schools where poor kids happen to live, but to ponder the larger dynamic of how improved conditions in urban neighborhoods all-too-often simply prices housing out of the reach of current residents.

Money: New Center To Focus On Children's Issues

Picture 42 The NYT's Stephanie Strom tells us in a recent article that there's a new outfit called the Center for the Next Generation working on education-related issues (and energy, among other things).  Yes, a billionaire hedge fund guy from California.  Yes, he took Warren Buffet's Giving Pledge.  Yes, focused on advocacy. But it sounds like the Center's focus is children's well-being rather than school reform, and its model is the Kaiser Family Foundation (in fact it's being run by a former KFF executive). As you may know, Kaiser has long been a major force behind the push for health care reform. The Ford Foundation -- they're back!? -- is also involved. (Hedge Fund Chief Takes Major Role in Philanthropy).

Visual: Student Records From The Past

 image from img.slate.comCheck out these amazing student records from nearly a century ago, and the story of where they came from, how they were found 15 years ago, and how some of them were returned to their descendants.  Via Slate (Report cards from the 1920s and the stories they tell)

AM News: Newark Teachers To Get Some Of Facebook $100M


Kansas City, Mo., school district loses its accredidation NYT: For a school district that has been facing longstanding problems — including the closing of nearly half the schools — the move was painful, though not entirely unexpected.

Facebook fund goes directly to teachers WSJ: Some of Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to the Newark school system will be given directly to public schoolteachers, one year after the Facebook founder announced the donation, said three people familiar with the plans.

Cheating by teachers invalidates schools' test scores L.A. Times: Twenty-two California schools had their test scores thrown out this year for reasons ranging from outright cheating to comparatively minor mistakes, such as failing to cover up bulletin boards or stumbling over instructions.

Chicago schools gearing up for longer days Chicago Tribune: As they prepare for longer school days starting Monday, teachers and administrators at six Chicago schools are busy settling the final details of teaching schedules, pickup procedures and extra enrichment activities.

City, charter schools reach new accord Boston Globe: The Boston School Committee approved a historic agreement last night to establish greater cooperation between the city and independent charter schools, in an effort to provide more students across the city with a stronger education. via GS


Continue reading "AM News: Newark Teachers To Get Some Of Facebook $100M" »

Five Best Blogs: Rick Perry Needs A Paddlin'


In Rick Perry's World, ADD Is a 'Paddleable Offense' Atlantic Wire:  The Texas governor confesses to having ADD as a child and recommends a good spanking to modify a child's behavior.

Charter School Benefits In The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District Matthew Yglesias: If kids with low-quality neighborhood schools are able to attend charter schools that are about as good on average as average public schools, then those kids are going to see huge benefits.

America’s Most Outrageous Teacher Cheating Scandals ProPublica: Here's an overview of some of the most shocking instances of teacher cheating, plus a few episodes that may have been overblown.

5 Reasons the Yuppies On the Brown Line Look So Depressed Chicago Mag:  People in all walks of life are being pushed to do more work without comparable salary hikes. The world has changed dramatically. There probably isn’t a worker in America that isn’t being asked to do more for the same salary or less.

An odd way to honor teachers The Answer Sheet: It seems fair to ask whether a fancy event at the city’s leading arts venue — complete with big-time supporters (including The Washington Post Company) — is really the best or even appropriate way to celebrate teachers and their profession. 

It's Much Easier to Tweet Mean Stuff Than Say It Atlantic Wire: What group gets picked on the most? Those who are overweight. And slurs against the overweight are more likely to be considered intentionally hurtful than slights against others; 47 percent say these comments are meant to sting.

5 Reasons the Yuppies On the Brown Line Look So DepressedChicago Mag:  People in all walks of life are being pushed to do more work without comparable salary hikes. The world has changed dramatically. There probably isn’t a worker in America that isn’t being asked to do more for the same salary or less.

Video: PBS / POV Premiers "The Learning" Tonight

image from www.pov.org In addition to the Dan Rather Reports show on the testing industry tonight there's also going to be a PBS POV premier of a documentary called "The Learning" about four Philipino teachers who come to teach in Baltimore and what happens when their expectations of education clash with those in the schools they're assigned.

Quotes: Maybe It's Reformers Who Need Resilience Most

Quotes2 Something] I’ve realized about recruiting really smart people [is] they've never truly struggled with anything... They’re used to working hard, and getting fairly immediate results and teaching doesn’t work like that. So it’s breaking them down mentally. - Max Bean

Thompson: Using Federal Education Funds To Bash Teachers

WhistleArne Duncan has remained silent as states like Tennessee, Florida, and Rhode Island promised collaboration with teachers and then launched assaults on the rights of teachers.  Then Duncan supported Rahm Emanuel's use of taxpayers' money for the ultimate divide and conquer tactic of bribing "inviting" individual schools to break with the union there.  Now, the Charlotte Observer reports that the Charlotte Mecklenburg schools have used Race to the Top funds to hire public relations coordinators to promote House Bill 546, which is “controversial legislation that allows the school board to adopt performance pay without teachers' approval.” Reform advocates have the right to attack teachers in the political arena, but not with federal funds.  If Duncan  will not put a stop to these outrages against the Democrats' most loyal constituencies, perhaps the General Accounting Office will.  -- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Awards: Roland Fryer Wins MacArthur "Genius" Award

image from www.macfound.org image from www.macfound.org Controversial Harvard economist Roland Fryer (far right) was one of those named one of the 2011 Fellows for the MacArthur Foundation, commonly known as the genius grant.  Fryer is best known for his learning rewards program in NYC under Klein and for his current effort to help revamp the Houston public schools.  You can read the citation here.  He's not the only education-related figure to win this year.  Francisco Nunez, founder of the Young People's Chorus of NYC, also won (near right).  Read about it here. The only previous education figure to be recognized that I can remember is the founder of Posse, though I know that others have been considered.  I wrote a post four years ago about why TFA founder Wendy Kopp hadn't yet won the award, and what it would take for her to win.



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.