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Video Interlude: "Monsters University" Trailer

The prequel to Monsters, Inc, coming out next summer. Via Kottke.

Quotes: What We Really Mean When We Talk About "High Stakes"

Quotes2These tests are super-high-stakes for instructors and principals...but they are relatively low-stakes for individual students. - The Atlantic's Derek Thompson blogging about a new Freakonomics study 

Bruno: An Awkward Defense Of Charter Schools' SPED Services

Special Education - 1Mike Petrilli is annoyed with the GAO report finding that charter schools "have a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional public schools". His complaint is that the report (and those who commissioned it or have used it to criticize charters) are implicitly - and wrongly - assuming that "every single public school is expected to serve students with every single type of disability."

In the comments to his post Leonie Haimson points out that this runs somewhat contrary to the rhetoric of many charter supporters. More to the point, though, it's not even clear why he thinks the GAO is assuming that every individual school should be perfectly representative demographically, so the objection seems a little bit like a straw man.

As far as I can tell the report only assumes that the fact that students with disabilities are underrepresented in the whole charter sector suggests that there are some problems with inclusion at the individual school level in some places. And I think that's a plausible enough assumption, especially since it's not hard to imagine why charters might struggle to- or prefer not to - enroll students with disabilities.

Now, maybe Mike wants to argue that the charter sector as a whole shouldn't be expected to be representative or that the charter sector is in fact educating students with disabilities so well that the discrepancies in enrollment are completely explained by students shedding the "disabled" label. Those are very different arguments to make, however. They're also probably much more challenging arguments to make persuasively. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Pictures: Empty Desks At The Washington Monument

Thanks to whomever posted this photo of Arne Duncan on Facebook.  He's standing in front of a representation of each day's tally of high school dropouts set up by the College Board -- sort of an AIDS quilt for education failure.  (Those 857 Desks? A Message for the Candidates NYT)

Campaign 2012: Progressive Petition Site Bans Reform Groups

As you may know, Change.org, the progressive [but for-profit] petition site, has recently banned reformy nonprofits StudentsFirst and Stand For Children from posting petitions, apparently under pressure from teachers unions and others opposed to their positions and enraged at their presence on the site.


It's a massive victory for the organizations' critics, who also felt that the groups were misrepresenting their views and tricking parents and community members into signing onto petitions that they didn't really agree with.  

The last straw, according to this Huffington Post article, was a petition against the strike authorization vote in Chicago two weeks ago.  Roughly 5,000 people signed a petition urging Change to drop them -- using a competitor site called MoveOn.org which is nonprofit.

But not everyone thinks the ban is a good or fair idea.  Stand's Juan Jose Gonzelez describes Change's decision as a hypocritical overreaction to pressure that disrespects parents (Censorship of parent voice in Chicago).  Whether you agree with Stand or StudentsFirst or not, what do you think about them being denied access to Change.org?

AM News: Too Hot For A Headline

Judge: Thousands Of Employees Wrongfully Fired Post-Katrina AP:  In 45 pages of reasons that accompanied the ruling, Julien said the fired teachers and others were deprived of "the vested property interest held in their tenured or permanent employment positions." She also said the employees were denied due process that school boards by state law must go through if finances require a reduction in force.

Budget includes nearly 1,900 job cuts at Detroit Public Schools DetroitNews: Nearly 1,900 jobs are being eliminated at Detroit Public Schools in the upcoming school year as the district prepares to launch a new system of schools for a smaller set of students, according to a proposed $784 million budget released Wednesday.

Christie Tries For Tenure Compromise WSJ: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has dropped his insistence on ending seniority-based layoffs for public schoolteachers as he negotiates a compromise that would overhaul the state's century-old tenure system, said three people familiar with the talks.


States' School Funding a Picture of Stagnant Mediocrity, Report Says  StateWatch: For the second time, the Education Law Center has produced a report on school funding levels and fairness for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. How much has the relatively gloomy picture changed from the group's first report in 2010?

Philadelphia Officials Brainstorm How to Create Citywide Youth Courts Metro: Through non-punitive diversionary programs, young people who commit minor offenses are prosecuted, defended and tried by their peers, then sentenced to penalties like restitution, written apologies or community service. 


Five Best Blogs: What You Missed At The WH Ed Summit

ScreenHunter_33 Jun. 20 12.10

Was it a WH summit on online education, or an online WH summit on education? The latter, it appears.ow.ly/bIpEn

Biden, Rhee, and K. Johnson glad-handing at Tues Obama fundraiser ow.ly/bI3Uc #5bb via @mikephillips1

No longer able to outspend everyone else, Can Unions Survive Citizens United? - The Atlantic Wire ow.ly/bI1px

New Freakonomics study shows kids respond to immediate financial rewards when taking tests Yahoo! Finance ow.ly/bI2RK

Winning campaign issue? Charter schools –USATODAY.com ow.ly/bIedN

Campaign 2012: The Successful Failure Of ED In '08

On January 15, 2012, veteran education researcher Craig Jerald was feeling a little frustrated by the lack of discussion about education in the Republican primary debates. So he logged into his Twitter account to vent to his four hundred–plus followers:

“Presidential debate moderators have mostly ignored education. Anyone miss ED in ’08 now???”

Screen shot 2012-06-20 at 1.20.22 PMED in ’08 (Education in 2008) was an effort to make education a big part of the 2008 presidential campaign—to make the candidates take education seriously and talk about it during debates and on the campaign stump. Four years later, most others remembered it as a costly failure, if they remembered it at all.  It didn’t take long for longtime thinktanker Andy (“Eduwonk”) Rotherham to respond to Jerald’s tweet:

“OK, but what’s a good price per question? Those were expensive.”

The largest single-issue advocacy campaign in the history of education reform, ED in '08 was shuttered after just sixteen months and written off by outside observers and the funders themselves. Rotherham was referring to the mere twenty education-related questions that moderators had asked the candidates in 2007 and 2008. 

Heading into the 2012 campaign season, no one gave any serious thought to repeating the experiment. And yet, education advocacy organizations very much like ED in ’08 have proliferated in the years following the 2008 elections, as has philanthropic support for political advocacy. The Obama administration’s education priorities have resembled those pushed by ED in ’08 in several key regards. And, as Jerald noted, the 2012 campaign has been thus far devoid of much substantive discussion about education reform. 

“At the time, it seemed irrelevant. Though in retrospect it may have set the groundwork. Little did we know.”

That's the opening to my new report on ED in '08, just out from AEI (here).

Quotes: "Expertise Is So 20th Century"

Quotes2At some point in recent American history, we started assuming that if people are rich enough, they must be experts in all things... Expertise is so 20th century. - Siva Vaidhyanathan in Slate (What happens when universities are run by robber barons)

Video Interlude: Conan Jams With Elementary Kids

Can't get enough of education-related pop culture, gossip, and fashion?  You're not alone.  My @hotfored Twitter feed and HFE 2012 Pinterest will take care of that.   

Media: Exquisitely Timed GAO Report Slams Charters

ScreenHunter_18 Jun. 13 17.52A new GAO report requested by Democratic House member George Miller was unveiled to several media outlets (presumably under embargo) and reported all over the place today (Charter schools enroll fewer disabled children than public schools, GAO report says) which just happens to be halfway through the national charter school conference in Minneapolis.  

What makes the report noteworthy isn't so much its main finding (that charters serve 8 percent SPED kids compared to 11 percent in the general population) but its timing.  GAO reports usually come out at random times.  The occasional exception is when a new report is released around a Committee hearing.   In this case, Miller's office handled the press and seems to have orchestrated the timing.

From Miller this morning: "This report rightly calls on Congress and the Department of Education to focus our efforts on providing students with disabilities the full opportunity to achieve a complete mainstream education whether in a traditional public school or a charter school.”  (see full press release below)

Even before the report came out, CER's Jeanne Allen was raising warning flags about media coverage this week, describing a Minnesota Public Radio story as "a taste of what is to come" this week.  "we will see many more stories citing “studies” that show “mixed results” on charter school performance," said Allen in an email Tuesday. NAPCS and NACSA are working on statements, I'm told.  

Continue reading "Media: Exquisitely Timed GAO Report Slams Charters" »

Bruno: It's OK When Online Courses Are Traditional

DeborahplayVia Andy Rotherham, Dan Butin has a piece in eLearn Magazine that is rightly critical of the idea that "massive open online courses" (MOOCs) represent a real paradigm shift in higher education.

As he points out, MOOCs mostly just offer the potential for a more efficient and egalitarian distribution of the same higher education resources currently offered at elite universities. That's potentially very important, but it distinctly does not involve reconceptualizing teaching in higher education. Butin thinks this fundamental traditionalism is a problem, arguing that MOOC projects like MITx "have replicated all of the problems of the traditional industrial-age model of lecture-based teaching and testing that has minimal linkage to student outcomes."

This fundamental traditionalism in MOOCs doesn't really worry me, however.

Continue reading "Bruno: It's OK When Online Courses Are Traditional" »

Research: Let's Not Make Policy Based On Einstein Examples

image from www.chicagonow.comFollowing a New York Times story on the proliferation of certification requirements in the US over the past few decades, PBS among others has been running this column from a University of Chicago professor about the struggles his wife -- a Dartmouth graduate with a science degree -- had in becoming certified to teach the topics and grade levels she wanted to teach (in Chicago): Why Einstein Was Not Qualified To Teach High-School Physics:  

"The real losers are often the customers — in this case the poor kids in Chicago's public schools who could really have used a smart, dedicated math teacher."

Whether you're a fan of traditional training and certification programs or think they're a racist waste of time, we might still be able to agree that there's an issue embedded in the professor's lament that's all too common for the discussion of education issues: conflating an individual experience with a broad based policy issue.

The vast majority of alternative route teaching candidates aren't Dartmouth grads, or even TFA recruits, much less Einsteins.  Let's not make policy decisions as if they were.

AM News: Charters Still Short On Serving Disabled

Charter Schools Fall Short on Disabled WSJ: The report, published Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is the first comprehensive study focused on charter schools' enrollment of special-needs students, which has been a central issue in debates over those schools' rapid growth in the U.S. HUFFED: Charter Schools Discourage Students With Disabilities, U.S. Study Says, NYT:  In Charter Schools, Fewer With Disabilities.

Michelle Rhee Dealt Stinging Blow Huffington Post: In a surprising reversal, Change.org, the progressive online powerhouse that channels grassroots energy into petition-based activism, has dropped two anti-union clients, including Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst, according to multiple sources familiar with the decision.


Duncan: Administration's Position Hasn't Changed on Vouchers PoliticsK-12: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement Tuesday reiterating that there is been "absolutely no change in policy" from the Obama administation on the District of Columbia's private-school voucher program—meaning the president does not favor expanding the program.

NAEP Reveals Shallow Grasp of Science EdWeek: Elementary, middle, and high school students failed to demonstrate a deep understanding of science concepts when they performed activity-based science tasks and investigations, concludes a study released today from the first national assessment of both hands-on and interactive computer-based science activities.

A New Union Battle as Chicago Teachers, Mayor Clash NPR: There hasn't been a school strike in Chicago for 25 years. But the current contract between Chicago teachers and the Chicago Public Schools expires at the end of next week, and tensions between the teachers union, the school district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are ratcheting higher.

Suspended charter teacher cites student test scores in his defense Los Angeles Times: A teacher at the center of a dispute at a well-known charter school has launched a novel defense to save his job and that of a fired colleague: They're too good to be dismissed based on their students' standardized test scores.

Five Best Blogs: Axelrod Disavows Chicago Anti-Union Campaign

551817_460759447286525_1954938558_nObama adviser David Axelrod under fire for role AKPD media played in fighting Chicago Teachers Union - Sun Times #5bb ow.ly/bGq23

Charter school advocates to gather in Minneapolis for conference - TwinCities.com ow.ly/1NYccz 

 Parent trigger makes NBC's Today Show - Kathie Lee and Hoda weigh in - YouTube via @studentsfirstow.ly/bGyLI 

Focusing on inaccurate short term data isn't always smart: Monthly Jobs Report Frenzy Hurting Country - Atlantic Wire ow.ly/bGtbt

The school system discreetly conducted qualitative evaluations of schools last year:bsun.md/LuaIKv via @EricaLG

Graduated driving laws reduce teen drunk driving | Newsroom | Washington University in St. Louis http://ow.ly/bG7sD 

Oh no! A Dartmouth science major career changer had to get certified to teach K12 math http://ow.ly/1NVjqh 


Quotes: Let's Grade Kids (And Adults?) On Their Failures

Quotes2I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. - Inventor James Dyson on the importance of creative failure (via Kottke)

Video Update: More Parents "Stealing" Education In Connecticut

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

Thompson: Parents, Class, And Protest

PaaTeachers and parents tend to have complex relationships, and that helps explain why I haven't blogged about California's parent group, Our Schools, Our Voice.  Being a middle-aged, middle class white man, it is always good to listen long and hard to black and Hispanic parents who may have different views about schools.  I believe that Our Schools, Our Voices, and/or "Doe,"  the unnamed litigants who demand that Los Angeles teachers' evaluations include test scores, are wrong on the substance of their position.  I am more curious about the agenda of the group that initiated their lawsuit, EdVoice, and the "leading philantropists" who fund it, than the motives of the parents. 

Similarly, if I disagreed with Parents Across America (PAA), I would focus on the substance of their positions rather than their backgrounds.  Alexander Russo, in his critique of PAA did not disagree with their policy positions as much as their analysis of the motives of corporate reformers.  Regarding the substance of school reforms, I side with Leonie Haimson who has a long record of accurate use of evidence to support her positions. If the issue is the motives of corporate "reformers," who I see as good people with profoundly bad ideas about schooling, I am closer to Alexander.  

One last thing:  If Alexander is correct and Parents Across America is disproportinately middle class, that adds evidence against test-driven "reforms."  My experience, and common sense, says that bubble-in accountability has done more harm to under-the-gun high-poverty neighborhood schools than their more affluent  counterparts.  My sense is that the accountability agenda has disproportionately destroyed the education of many of the poorest students, while merely damaging other schools.  If the harm done in lower poverty schools is bad enough to motivate more affluent parents so much, then standardized tesing is even more destructive than I would have estimated.- JT (@drjohnthompson) image via

Previous posts: A Partial Defense Of Parents Across America (Bruno), The Problem With "Parents Across America" (Russo)

Media: Top 10 Education Experts to Follow on Twitter

Eames1TakePart's new "Top 10 Education Experts to Follow on Twitter" includes @DianeRavitch (#1 with 31,000+ followers) as "honest, has an open mind and knows her stuff," @Larryferlazzo (#5 with 17,000 followers) as ""particularly good, and little old me @alexanderrusso (#8 with 6,600 followers). 

There's also Michelle Rhee, Melinda Gates, Debbie Meier, Arne Duncan, Stephen Sawchuk, Randi Weingarten, and a few others.   

Anyone else who should have beeen on the list?    Anyone on there who shouldn't have been?  Strange to be talking about this on a blog, but I know that not everyone lives on Twitter (yet).  


AM News: Politicians Back Parent Trigger Laws, DC Vouchers

Mayors Back Parent Trigger Seizing Control of Schools Reuters: The U.S. Conference of Mayors, meeting in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday unanimously endorsed "parent trigger" laws aimed at bypassing elected school boards and giving parents at the worst public schools the opportunity to band together and force immediate change.


Deal Discussed on DC Voucher Program  PoliticsK-12: Congressional lawmakers have released a document saying they have reached an agreement with the Obama administration to "fully implement" the District of Columbia's controversial school voucher program—but the president's team is describing the accord in much more limited terms. HuffPost: White House Softens Position On D.C. Voucher Program

Senate Panel Would Allow Use of After-School Funds for Extended Day  PoliticsK-12: Under the proposal, which has not yet been put forward in the U.S. House of Representatives, states could allow schools to use money from the $1.15 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to add "significant" time to the school schedule.

Teachers' Union to Open Lesson-Sharing Web-site NYT: Now the AFT is forming a partnership with TSL Education, the British publisher of the weekly Times Educational Supplement, to create a Web site where teachers can share curriculum materials with one another.

Districts Experiment with 'Weighted' Funding EdWeek: In moving to a "weighted student-funding formula," Boston joins other districts, such as Baltimore, Denver, Rochester, N.Y., and New York City, that believe this method better serves student needs and creates more transparency and fairness in district finances. 

Los Angeles Schools Struggle with Curriculum Overhaul EdWeek: That disappointing track record—and the looming deadline to fully implement the more demanding graduation requirements—has prompted leaders in the nation's second-largest school district to partly scale back the plan that was adopted in 2005.

Pictures: Rooftop Party At GothamSchools

It was a beautiful day for an end-of-year party up on the roof at GothamSchools HQ. Everybody who's anybody was there (though the rumored pool and cabana boys were nowhere to be seen):

ScreenHunter_28 Jun. 18 11.08

Things I learned:  Geoff Decker is  very nice and very tall (that's probably him in the background left). Female velociraptors are as friendly and frightening as their male counterparts. We need a union/ reformer romance -- forbidden love, right? Someone should create a nonprofit kickball league and/or tumblr. 

Five Best Blogs: Senate Changes SIG; Mayors Endorse Trigger


Dem mayors surge ahead of most reformers on the parent trigger issue ow.ly/bEndB @SSimonReuters

Senate appropriators add "whole school" option to SIG program @PoliticsK12 ow.ly/bECMk

WPost's @ezraklein disagrees that public mistrust is why [a relative handful of] teachers are being firedow.ly/bEHyR

Chaparral High School one year later: Did the 'turnaround' work? - Las Vegas Sun ow.ly/bEx3T via @AISR

Raising a kid up 23pct / $235K over last 50 years, says USDA via @wonkbooks @SuzyKhimm ow.ly/bEHYH

Based on this post about cuts at public universities, pretty soon they'll be as stripped down as K12ow.ly/bEIi7 @KevinDrum

Magnet Schools See Hurdles to Integration, Even in Kindergarten - NYTimes.com ow.ly/bEwBT Picture via NYT

Morning Video: "Nothing Stops A Bullet Like A Job"

There's no official trailer out yet but here's 2:30 about the new G-DOG movie coming out (about Homeboy Industries) at this month's LA Film Festival. "G-Dog" is the name Father Greg is called by South Central kids he deals with:

You may remember reading about his work in a previous post on my other blog, riffing off of Douglas McGray's Fast Company article, House Of Second Chances. My favorite line from Father Greg talking to the teenage gangbangers:   “You are so much more than the worst thing that you have done”

Quotes: Why Don't Reformers Fight For School Funding?

Quotes2Isn’t it strange that you never see a group like “Education Reform Now”... advocating for smaller classes or more librarians or a reversal of budget cuts-- Diane Ravitch via Mike Klonsky (it's a good point, esp. given the looming sequestration of funding for FY2013)

Update: A Young Reformer Loses Faith, Returns To Teaching

Sethlavin2012It's been a tough secret to keep but the news is finally out -- Seth (Chicago School Wonks) Lavin -- the guy who figured out who the real @mayoremanuel was last spring during his 2nd year as a TFA teacher -- is going back into the classroom in the fall, and shutting down his year-old weekly email newsletter as of this past Friday.

As Lavin explains in his "so long" email (below), it's been an eye-opening year for the former consultant during his year of writing (during which he was out of education). The experience hasn't wrung all optimism out of him, but it's certainly been confusing and disappointing: "Now, after a disastrous year of clumsiness, spin and buffoonery, it frightens me how intractably I’ve come to mistrust Brizard and this entire first attempt at Rahm-style Chicago school reform."

Speaking for myself, it's been a pleasure to get to know Lavin a little bit and to read his work and follow his thinking as it has evolved. I haven't agreed with all of his views but the energy and enthusiasm he's brought has been great.  Like too few others, he's remarkably candid about both the need for change and the challenges of believing in reform.  It's too bad the Wonks couldn't go on any longer -- I said the same about Eduwonkette and the old AFT blog -- but I'm sure we haven't heard the last of him.  

Some previous posts that mention Lavin include  Lost In ChicagoIn Praise Of Moderately Successful Schools.  Check them out, or read Lavin's goodbye email below.

Continue reading "Update: A Young Reformer Loses Faith, Returns To Teaching" »

Bruno: A Partial Defense Of Parents Across America

XCartoons-Shouting-MatchAbout Alexander's post on Parents Across America, I find myself liking it more than agreeing with it.  

On the one hand, while my experience with PAA is pretty limited, at least some of its members seem perfectly willing to question the legitimacy of their opponents based on the interests they appear (or are assumed) to represent.

The tendency of at least some PAA members to operate that way is annoying exactly because it's so fallacious. I take some pleasure, then, in watching Alexander turn that same hypercritical, guilt-by-affiliation lens back on them.  

At the same time, while Alexander was criticizing PAA in roughly the same way they can criticize others, the fact is that PAA shouldn't be making those attacks in the first place and I don't think anything is gained by sinking to that level. 

Continue reading "Bruno: A Partial Defense Of Parents Across America" »

AM News: Obama Moves On Immigration, Lags On Dropouts


Obama's Immigration Decision Has Impact at College Level HuffPostEdu: Obama’s historic announcement on Friday has far-reaching implications for upwards of 800,000 undocumented immigrants, but what does it mean for college students specifically?

Obama Proposal To Raise School Dropout Age Fall Flat AP: At least 13 states considered legislation this year to raise the age, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although the bills weren't necessarily introduced in response to Obama.

Senate Appropriations Committee Adds School Improvement Option  Politics K-12: The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill June 14 that would make some big changes to the $533 School Improvement Grant program. 

Ohio Lawmakers Appear to Reach Deal Related to NCLB Waiver StateEdWatch: Ohio was told by the department that if it did not implement a new school accountability system as part of its waiver agreement, that waiver would be revoked for the 2013-14 school year.

Integrating a School, One Student at a Time NYT: Brooklyn--Magnet schools were once the federal government’s favored mechanism to increase diversity and prevent “white flight.” The idea was to create a themed curriculum that attracted children from outside a school’s immediate neighborhood to reduce the isolation of one minority group.

Anti-Bullying Case: Students Ordered To Hit 6-Year-Old, Police Say NPR:  A kindergarten teacher who allegedly forced students to strike a boy accused of being a bully will lose her job, according to the suburban San Antonio school district where officials say the actions took place. According to reports, as many as 24 students were ordered to strike the boy.

Michelle Obama Shares Personal Struggles During Commencement Speech AP: Obama also advised graduates to keep in close touch with the family and friends who are important to them, saying she never missed a chance to tell her father she loved him before he died from complications of multiple sclerosis.  US News: Bill Clinton speaks at nephew's Calif. graduation

See updates from over the weekend in the previous post.

Five Best Blogs: Did Stand Do Better In MA Than In IL?


On balance, compromise bill on teachers gets the job done - Editorials - The Boston Globe ow.ly/bBA87 via @AISR

Obama To Stop Deporting DREAM-Eligible Youth, Protecting 1 Million Undocumented Students | ThinkProgress ow.ly/bBvGM 

Tips and tricks for the district version of RTTT from @ersstrategies ow.ly/bBwQr 

Teacher Talk: The Good, the Bad and the Charter (Episode 1) ow.ly/bBJrk The VIVA Project  @vivatechers

Stark differences between Obama and Romney on safety nets and infrastructure - TNR's Jonathan Cohnow.ly/bBAAV #5bb via @wonkbooks

Kurgman: Public sector job cuts Romney supports would be bad for the economy NYT via @wonkbooksow.ly/bBAqT #5bb

HotSeat Interview: Parthenon Education Co.'s Rob Lytle

You might have heard the name Parthenon here and there over the past few years, but unless you're actually in the education business you might not really know who they are (a Boston-based consulting firm) or what they do (help beleagured foundation and education staff research and make decisions). 
image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

They've been mentioned on this blog a few times before.  Previous posts include The "New" Think Tanks (2008), NYC Clones The Chicago Consortium (2008), Did Wireless Generation Ever Give NJ's Money Back?.  There's also an Elizabeth Green feature in Scholastic Administrator from a few years back (here).  Vault ranks them 17th in terms of prestige and 10th in terms of strategy consulting.  What's it like to work there? A 2011 report on consulting firms here might help.

What's up with Parthenon these days?  Well, the company has 25 senior level staffers who focus on education, including some like Seth Reynolds you may have seen speak at education conferences (on turnarounds, in Reynolds' case).  New hire Michael Sandler was involved in the Chelsea (Mass) takeover, worked for New American Schools, and founded Eduventures (a research company whose reports I used to get and love).  They're newly on Twitter. 

During this new and exclusive HotSeat (below), Rob Lytle, co-head of The Parthenon Group’s Education Practice, talks about what the company is up to these days, why consultants don't actually do any real work, and how Parthenon compares to Bain, McKinsey, BCG, and the other consulting firms.

Continue reading "HotSeat Interview: Parthenon Education Co.'s Rob Lytle" »

Power Couples: Huffman Vs. Huffman

ScreenHunter_21 Jun. 13 18.15There are two Huffmans in education reform - Rebeca and Kevin.

And, as you know there are lots of non-work relationships inside the reform world -- marriages, classmates, childhood BFFs, grad school hookups, fraternity brothers. 

But, alas, Kevin Huffman, the commissioner in Tennessee, is not married to Rebeca Nieves-Huffman, the head of DFER Illinois.   Huffman was previously married to Michelle Rhee and is since remarried to someone else. Nieves-Huffman is married to Craig Huffman (no relation).   

I'm not the first person to want to make sure, however.  "I get that a lot," says Nieves-Huffman.

Technology: Facebook's Second Try At Legal Access To Kids

Can we talk for a minute about the big education story that nobody seems to be paying much attention to:  Facebook's long-anticipated effort to expand its (and other online companies') limited access to kids younger than 13?  

image from static5.businessinsider.comAs you may recall, Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg floated the idea of being able to "reach" younger kids last year at NSVF -- an idea with obvious appeal to the company, online learning endeavors, and entertainment outfits like Disney.

Zuckerberg even admitted that his $100M Newark commitment had come from his desire to get outside the bounds of the current COPPA law.

The company quickly walked the idea back during the ensuing uproar over privacy, bullying, and Internet predators. But it didn't go away entirely, bubbling along all fall and winter (see an update here), and it's re-emerged now -- cheered on by ed tech types and uber-pragmatists who note that 5.6M younger kids already join sites like Facebook. An early June WSJ story described it as "a step that could help the company tap a new pool of users for revenue but also inflame privacy concerns." Competitors like Apple might not excited, either, given their current dominance in the learning game space. 

Some advocates oppose the move -- a Facebook-affiliated application I've never heard of called Skout has been associated with recent child sexual assaults (Atlantic Wire).  Others just want younger kids' access to be much safer and more private than the teen and adult Facebook experience has been thus far.  USA Today's Greg Toppo had a cover story this week about states' efforts to criminalize online bullying.  But this is not just a technology, parent, or privacy issue, it's an education issue.  One of the main justifications for opening access to younger kids will be educational.  Meantime, Facebook has spent an unknown portion of its $650K in lobbying to get COPPA "reviewed" favorably.

Quotes: What If Technology Makes Things Worse?

Quotes2While many argue that technology will help close the Achievement Gap, I think the opposite — it may well widen the Achievement Gap, as top kids rise farther, faster. - Michael Goldstein

Media: Another Twist And Turn For The AP Education Team

Tumblr_lyzx3pQbdG1qz4cuyo1_500It's been a strange few years for the education team at AP and has just gotten a little stranger: 

A brief recap:  Four years ago, Libby Quaid was named replacement for Nancy Zuckerbrod (here) as national education reporter in DC.

Two years ago, Quaid left on maternity leave and AP unveiled the "team" education coverage without a single  national education reporter based in DC (see details here).  

Team coverage didn't work perfectly, and then there was the announcement that Kimberly Hefling was the new national education reporter based in DC (she made a brief appearance on the blog here) followed shortly thereafter by the announcement she was going on maternity leave.  (Miami-based Christine Armario is apparently filling in.)

On Thursday, Atlanta-based writer Dorie Turner, part of AP's team coverage of education, announced she's leaving AP for a job at the state department of education.  A six year veteran, the energetic Turner is wrapping up her AP career next week and starting her new job in July.  As always: congrats, condolences to Turner and her AP workmates.

AM News: The Return Of Private School Choice

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Tax Credit Strategie Fuels Private School Choice Push EdWeek: The political climate in many states has become ripe for private-school choice, and few choice models are proving as popular as tax-credit scholarships. 

L.A. Teachers Face New Evaluations WSJ: In the past three years, at least 30 states have begun to use student achievement to evaluate teachers, spurred in part by President Barack Obama's Race to the Top education initiative as well as by some Republican governors. California isn't one of them.

Reading, Pennsylvania: Poorest U.S. City Loses Pre-Kindergarten, 170 Teachers HuffPostEdu: School funding problems are particularly bad in Pennsylvania, where the state cut $860 million in education spending last year.

Duncan Calls on Parties to Work Together on Student Loans EducationNews: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has made an appeal to lawmakers around the country to leave the politics out of the education debate if they hope to make any strides in fixing the problems afflicting American’s academic system. 

Reacting to Criticism, Cuomo Adds to His Education Commission SchoolBook:  Seeking to address complaints about the makeup of his new education reform commission, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has added five additional members to the panel in advance of its first meeting later this month.

Reform: The Problem With "Parents Across America"

There's a small but very active group called Parents Across America that's been around the last year and change, usually criticizing reform measures like turnarounds, value-added, and the parent trigger.

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Their criticisms are all fine and good -- I have my own issues with many reform priorities.  But I do have at least one big issues with them.  (Or really two, but they're closely related.)

No, it's not the issue of whether they've received any money from the teachers unions. [They have, apparently, but I don't care.]  No, it's not that PAA is a private subsidiary of Leonie Haimsen's Class Size Matters.  [Nonprofit doesn't mean corporate or capitalist in my book.]  No, it's not even increasingly ridiculous claims that PAA makes about reformers and those like me who raise questions about their allegations. [Though I have to admit the paranoia and name-calling are really annoying.]

It's actually a problem that PAA shares with its sworn opponents, the school reform community.  Like many reform group leaders, PAA is mostly not from the low-income minority communities or the dysfunctional schools that are the the focus of so much reform attention, and it's not at all clear that have a legitimate claim to represent those communities and schools in any great numbers.  

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Five Best Blogs: Romney Loses Third Ed Advisor

Data-visualization-references-network-625x350First Spellings, then Chubb, now Rees. Third Romney ed advisor says she's leaving campaign. @NapCS@heathbrown

Our politicians need an education: Why both parties miss the big picture - Lean Forward ow.ly/bzV33 Ted Rall

Newark reinvents itself... again via @hechingerreportow.ly/1NJ235

Chicago pushes longer school days as key to achievement: 'We had to do something' - U.S. Newsow.ly/1NIDTD

Venture For America: Skip the Bank Job, Join a Startup-ow.ly/1NIz1h @ezraklein 

Kaya Henderson belittles cheating scandal, describes plans for doing blended without rocketship ow.ly/1NIxvL

Thompson: Wendy Kopp Vs. Michael Lewis

KoppMichael-lewisIn his address to 2012 Princeton graduates, Michael Lewis recalls the check for hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from Salomon Brothers after 18 months of Wall Street experience. 

The idea of "paying recent Princeton graduates who knew nothing about money to pretend to be experts in money" was proof that Wall street had become "unhinged.' 

Around that same time, Teach for America graduates, who knew little about teaching or poverty, started committing to 18 months in the classroom. Only now, in her address to Dartmouth graduates, Wendy Kopp explains why her organization should do the same for schools across the globe.  

Kopp dismisses skeptics who question the wisdom of such world class presumption as "haters."

Continue reading "Thompson: Wendy Kopp Vs. Michael Lewis" »

Cartoons: Teaching The Three Branches Of Government (2012)

It's not executive, judicial, and legislative anymore.  Via Sara Goldrick-Rab

Quotes: Luck Had Nothing To Do With It

Quotes2People really don't like to hear success explained away as luck, especially successful people...The world doesn't want to acknowledge it either.  - Michael Lewis, speaking at Princeton (via PBS NewsHour)

Media: MuckRack Ranks Education Journos

Despite repeatedly vowing to Tweet and blog less, freelancer @danagoldstein has recently slid past longtime Twitter King @gtoppo (of USA Today) on Muck Rack's list of top education journalists on Twitter:  

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She's unstoppable!  There may well be other education writers out there with even larger followings who simply aren't on MuckRack.  

AM News: Obama Criticizes Jindal Voucher Plan


Jindal and Obama administration at odds over vouchers WWL News:
"We have to have strong public schools, and anything that goes in the opposite direction is not something that I can support," Duncan told WWL First News.

Pa. teachers rally amid budget talks, layoffs  Associated Press: With state aid for public schools being discussed behind the Capitol's closed doors and a second straight year of large-scale layoffs looming, hundreds of educators, let-go teachers and parents packed the rotunda Wednesday at a raucous union rally to protest Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts.

Los Angeles Ordered to Bring Student Scores into Teacher Evals  EducationNews: The preliminary ruling says that failure by the district to use student academic achievement information in teacher performance reviews violates the Stull Act.

Idaho Ballot Another Litmus Test for Teachers' Unions?  EdWeek: With everyone discussing what the Wisconsin recall election results "mean" for teachers' unions across the country, it's worth taking the temperature of a state where the teachers' union may not have the same clout as in some states, but is still fighting a significant electoral battle.

''Kids Have to Stumble, They Should Fall'' NBC News:  Veteran teacher David McCullough Jr., whose graduation speech at Wellesley High School went viral, said it's important for kids to embrace failure.

Should bullies be treated as criminals? USA Today:  After Kenneth Weishuhn told classmates at his Iowa high school last winter that he was gay, his family says anonymous voicemail threats began popping up on his ...

Five Best Blogs: Villaraigosa Supports LAUSD Lawsuit


Romney claims federal money doesn't pay for teachers (and firefighters, etc.) http://ow.ly/bymwl @huffpost

Gov. Jerry Brown's misguided plan to lower the science bar - latimes.com ow.ly/byopP

LAUSD ordered to use student achievement in judging teachers -http://latimes.com http://ow.ly/byoDG Villaraigosa endorses

Standardized tests for the arts: Is that a good idea? - Slate Magazine ow.ly/byJsX

In Defense Of Teach For America : NPR ow.ly/byEH0 @HeatherHJ

Children of Immigrants Lag Behind, Posing Risk for Economy - WSJ.com ow.ly/byBRr via @wonkbooks

Professional certification has gone too far (in ed and in general) says NPR's Jacob Goldstein in the NYTSM ow.ly/byBsm

Politico's @jeneps recaps Obama education record, with quotes for everybody! ow.ly/byBkf (not new)

New report on the cool-sounding unified application and enrollment process from @APlusDenverow.ly/byzFO 

The Teacher You've Never Met: Inside an Online High School Class - TIME ow.ly/byoJl 

That's way more than #5bb

Video Interlude: The Roots Play Acoustic Version Of "Call Me, Maybe"

Biggest song of the summer, with tons of imitations and covers including one from President Obama. See others here.

Charters: What's Your Message (& Can You Back It Up)?

20427There was a very small kerfluffle on Twitter yesterday about how best to read a press release sent out on behalf of an Aspire charter school in Stockton, CA, where a handful of kids who'd gone to the school for all 13 years (K-12) were graduating, along with a bunch of other kids.  

They were all going to college.  A local paper told the heart-warming story (here), but I took note of the fact that just 8 of the 60 kids who'd started out in kindergarten made it all the way through, and wondered what the four-year grad rate was (not the "100 percent of graduates" number that the school was touting (really, enough with that).  Others -- the school, the CA charter association, and NSVF's Benjamin Riley, thought I was off my rocker, or misguided, or perhaps drunk (all reasonable possibilities).  

Take a look at the release and give it a thought.  I don't have anything against Aspire, or against charters.  But I don't think the school is telling its story in an effective, credible way, especially when it comes to explaining attrition and retention issues.  

Continue reading "Charters: What's Your Message (& Can You Back It Up)?" »

Media: Pros & Cons Of TFA Debated On NPR

image from media.npr.orgThe question of TFA's effectiveness is back in the mainstream media, this time with a pair of NPR interviews pro and conL  First, Michel Martin interviews TFA's Heather Harding (In Defense Of Teach For America).  Next, she interviews TFA alumni Gary Rubinstein (Is Teach For America Failing?).  Listen, or read the transcript. Let us know if you learned anything new or changed your mind about anything. 

Thompson: Mike Petrilli's Strangely Combative Truce Proposal

Tlsn2a@drjohnthompson It is no surprise that Mike Petrilli's otherwise excellent post, How to Push for Reform without Alienating Teachers,included a paragraph with a boilerplate attack on teachers.  His short, combative paragraph ends with the misstatement that teachers and our champions want to, "stop measuring teachers’ contributions to student achievement gains."   That is the way that political battles are fought. 

But Petrilli knows that union leaders, Diane Ravitch, and others who have made a career in pressing for reform do not want to "stop" reforms.  We just disagree with him on the merits of many policies.  Petrilli knows that one problem with the data-driven accountability movement is that it equates "student achievement gains" with real learning increases. 

So I am  more worried that Petrilli does not consider the threat of Gov. Scott Walker's "reforms" to the entire nation's prosperity than I am to his obligatory criticism of teachers.  

Continue reading "Thompson: Mike Petrilli's Strangely Combative Truce Proposal" »

Quotes: A Media Blitz & Busload Of Teachers

Quotes2In previous years, a media blitz and the cost to bus hundreds of teachers to the state Capitol to protest may have been all that was needed to defeat an ambitious governor's bill. - CT Mirror story on the Malloy reforms

AM News: Funding Frustration In Philly (And LA)

Philadelphia Schools Enveloped in Anger, Frustration Amid Austere Budget AP: More than 200 protesters had packed the Philadelphia school board meeting and were drowning out the official presentation; they also waved signs expressing "No confidence" in next year's austere budget. It was the second major demonstration at district headquarters in just over a week.

Critics decry latest shrinkage of L.A. Unified's school year LA Times: A tentative agreement to shorten the school year for Los Angeles students — for the fourth consecutive year — is almost certain to weaken academic gains, and was driven, critics said, by expediency more than the best interests of students.


Senate Panel OK's Slight Funding Hike for Education Department EdWeekPoliticsK-12: Two key K-12 formula programs—Title I grants for districts and state grants for special education—would see slight boosts in a bill approved on a party line vote Tuesday by the Senate subcommittee that oversees education spending.

Job Interviews and Protests Continue in 'Turnaround' Schools GothamSchools: With the 24 turnaround schools deep into the hiring process, a small handful of teachers gathered in front of Tweed this afternoon to show their opposition despite the rain.

Fairfax asleep on high school start time WashingtonPostLocal: Eight times in the last 24 years, the Fairfax County School Board has studied whether to let high school students start school later than 7:20 a.m. because teens are biologically programmed for a late-to-bed and late-to-rise schedule.

TN Senate Speaker Predicts Voucher Program in 2013 EducationNext: Ron Ramsey, the Speaker of the Tennessee State Senate, has predicted that the next legislative session will see the Senate consider the proposal for a limited voucher program. 


Five Best Blogs: Help Stamp Out Charter Attrition Blindness


Chicago union president on reform ads, robocalls: “There are billionaires funding them. We can’t compete...” ow.ly/bx49Y 

Promise of ‘flipped classroom’ may elude poorer school districts | McClatchy ow.ly/bxgwW 

Horace Mann Sexual Abuse History Coming Under Alumni, Prosecutor Scrutiny - The Atlantic Wire http://ow.ly/bx0Zw

Eight out of 60 kids who started together in K graduated from a Stockton Aspire school last weekend, acc to a press release sent to me. http://ow.ly/bxhN2

Are these Gates-funded "galvanic" bracelets like those magnetized necklaces pro baseball players all seem to wear? http://ow.ly/bx1aY

Fordham's @michaelpetrilli gets a shout out from our fave news source, the Atlantic Wire, re gentrification http://ow.ly/bx129 

Will Congress compound its error on ‘highly qualified’ teachers? ow.ly/bwZv4

Read "Five Best Blogs [Of The Day]" here every afternoon (M-F), or on Twitter in real time here.

Bruno: Both Sides Mis-Calculate On "Out-Of School" Factors

1452730-calvin_hobbes@mrpabruno  Last weekend Ken Libby took to Twitter to ask the masses, "what would it take to draw up a 'peace deal' among 'reformers' and 'anti-reformers'?" Many of the immediate responses were unintentionally ironic in a discouraging way and demonstrated the considerable distrust between the two sides.  And much of the subsequent discussion has focused on the often hostile "tone" of the debate.

But my sense is that the tone is as likely to be a symptom of the distrust as a cause. As I detail below, I think that reformers need to worry less about whether a problem is "in-school" or "out-of-school" and just try to figure out what's really best for kids generally.  Anti-reformers need to avoid making too much of the in-school/out-of-school distinction to excessively minimize the importance of in-school factors. 

Continue reading "Bruno: Both Sides Mis-Calculate On "Out-Of School" Factors" »



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