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Five Best Blogs: *Every* Gladwell Articles Is About Education


Big congrats to teacher/blogger/author @DanBrownTeacher, just named as one of 12 Teacher Ambassador Fellows for 2012-2013

NY Times Enrollment Story Only Half the Picture | Intercepts ow.ly/cDKL7 

“Exit,” “Voice” & Schools via @Larryferlazzoow.ly/cDLdx [See, I told you the Gladwell article was about education]

Charity Group Offers Free Plastic Surgery to Bullied Teens | NewsFeed | TIME.com ow.ly/cDxcp

That's recent LaGuardia HS graduate Merone Tesfaye & Nassau Coliseum (Long Island) in this DFE ad ow.ly/cD6ns. Now you know.

Image via Romenesko.

Afternoon Video: Trailer From "Brooklyn King"

Premiered at SXSW (great review here) and screened at the AFT convention last week, this documentary following a chess-infused Brooklyn middle school (also featured in the NYT) opens October 19 in NY, LA, Chicago, and DC.


Campaign 2012: NEA's $3.5M Makes Top SuperPAC Donor List

image from www.usnews.comThere's no Bill Gates or Eli Broad on US News' top five SuperPAC donor list -- in fact there aren't many Democratic-leaning people or organizations at all.   But the NEA is there at #4:  "The association has given $3 million to its pro-Obama super PAC the NEA Advocacy Fund, and $500,000 to the progressive We Are Wisconsin Political Fund." Check out the story and link to the list of 196 donors who've given more than 80 percent of SuperPAC money.  

People: Here Comes Kombiz

Kombiz_imageThe world was abuzz last week about the news that @Kombiz (Lavasany) was back at the AFT (if by AFT you mean UFT).  Kombiz came to "fame" in 2008, as an online comms guru for the DNC. Before that, according to EdNotes, he helped set up the UFT blog, EdWize.  From 2009 until now he worked for New Partners.  I first came across him working on education issues last year when someone who worked for him, Asher Huey, was bashing Rhee on Twitter.  Or something along those lines.  Huey's New Partners email doesn't work anymore and his Huffington Post bio says he's now at the AFT.  So maybe they're reunited.  As of last Monday the 23rd, Kombiz's official title was Manager, AFT’s Research and Strategic Initiatives Department, replacing Gene Bruskin (who?). Bio here.

TV: "New Girl" Gets Pink Slipped [Teacherpocalypse 2012]

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comSee?  It's not just reform stories that get told in popular culture. TV sitcom elementary school teacher Zooy "Jess" Deschanel gets pink slipped on this season of the New Girl, says GOOD's Liz Dwyer.  Teacher layoffs, everywhere.  (No, not really).  

Sure, it's probably going to be presented as a seniority-based situation.  Then again, Jess  wasn't a very good teacher, far as we could tell, so maybe that's not such a bad thing. It takes more than liking glitter and talking in a whispery voice.  

Maybe she'll find a job working at a charter school.

Previous posts:  TV's "New Girl" Teacher Is She One Of You?"New Girl" Deals With Bullying 5th Grader


Bruno: Balanced Reform Includes School Breakfast

High_Satisfaction_03Schools in a number of states are set to start offering free breakfasts to students (in some cases regardless of income) as part of a new Department of Agriculture expansion of the school lunch program.

Coincidentally, a new study in Mind, Brain, and Education illustrates why this is probably a good idea. The researchers found that adolescents who eat breakfast do better in school than those who don't, even controlling for age, sex, parental education, and current academic level.

In some ways this is not a very interesting story because, really, who's going to get upset at the prospect of making sure kids don't show up to class hungry? At the same time, though, that's exactly what makes it a great story. Hopefully it can serve as a reminder that there are at least some school "reforms" that reformers of all stripes can enthusiastically support. The question is whether building consensus to move ahead with school reform has to be as difficult as we usually make it out to be. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Thompson: Welcoming The "New" Kevin Carey

Tumblr_m7tslnBzmB1qa0uujo1_500The 1990s was a time when the entire New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society approach to social justice was reappraised.  Digital breakthroughs seemed to promise data-driven solutions to economic and social problems. During the Clinton boom years, some speculated that computer systems could be more accurate than doctors in diagnosing illnesses. Others believed that they even made economic cycles a thing of the past. 

Since 2001, Kevin Carey has exemplified that era's commitment to accountability-driven school reform.  He argued that inequitable schools were the result of "a basic ethical failing." In 2004, he even  claimed that value-added evaluations were a "verifiable" way of improving teacher quality in low-performing schools. 

But times have changed, and for that reason, Carey's Education Sector report, "Some Assembly Required: Building a Better Accountability System for California," is great news. It is a joy to welcome Carey to the old-fashioned data-informed approach to school improvement.  Even better, Carey explains his kinder, gentler approach to accountability with perceptive observations that have previously been made by Deborah Meier and Richard Rothstein. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Welcoming The "New" Kevin Carey" »

Campaign 2012: Video Urges Convention Attention On K-12

Will there be much attention given to education at the upcoming conventions? Probably not. So far, at least, the campaigns aren't touting education planks (same sex marriage?) or education-related speakers (Clinton?) The College Board is trying to do something about that with this web ad.

AM News: Mixed Reactions To "Irreplaceables" Report


'Irreplaceable' Teachers Retained Poorly, TNTP Education Report Finds HuffPostEdu: The study, called "The Irreplaceables," took several years for TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) to produce, and asserted that a high rate of teachers moving in and out of the profession isn't necessarily bad. Other coverage here.

Games to Sharpen the Brain WSJ:  If two start-ups have their way, videogames might cure more than just boredom. They could also be used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. via GothamSchools.

N.J. Mom Puts Kids To Bed With Math NPR:  An astrophysics graduate and mother of three kids, she started a ritual when each child was 2 years old: a little bedtime mathematical problem-solving that soon became a beloved routine... Bedtime Math is gaining fans among children and math-shy parents around the country.

Program Shapes the New Faces of Conservation Schoolbook: This is not the kind of program where a poor young adult from a city goes to a farm for a week to get a glimpse of something beyond a high-rise. 

Ever-Growing Past Confounds History Teachers NPR: Neal Conan talks with Rees, a Colorado State University history professor, about the difficult decisions he faces about when to stop teaching a piece of history, to make room for something new.

Nearly 250 Communities Apply for Promise Neighborhood Grants Politicks K12: The department is aiming to allocate $27 million for up to seven "implementation" grants—which help communities create actual Promise Neighborhoods, and $7 million for up to 14 "planning grants", which help communities figure out what services they need.  

School dress codes aren't just for students anymore USA Today: The Wichita School District is just one of a growing number in the nation cracking down on teacher apparel.

Five Best Blogs: An Algebra-Free Zone


From Jay Mathews: Large study says great teachers get little respect:  wapo.st/Q7ezwD

How education reform can fight crime ow.ly/cBwBr via Wonklblogs @ezraklein

Why Can’t We End Poverty in America? - NYT ow.ly/cB0iQ Peter Edelman

Malcolm Gladwell's new article ostensibly about Alberto Salazar but really about school reform ow.ly/cBweH [like they all are, at least as i read them]

Two reports find Las Vegas to be worst city in the nation for education - Las Vegas Sun ow.ly/cB2Br

Sherman Dorn coins an acronym to describe all the other acronyms: YASBA (yet another silver-bullet approach) ow.ly/cBQyB

Merrow prescribes Comer, Core Knowledge, preschool, & early college @LearningMatters ow.ly/cBQIG Objections?

The Treacherous(?) Road to E-Learning - National Journal ow.ly/cBQtH 

NCLB: No, It Didn't Really Happen That Way

A couple of things about NCLB, in order to avoid repeating mistakes or being misguided by slanted information:

Original (7)First and foremost, no matter how many times people say it, NCLB didn't label struggling schools "failing."  Do you really think they were idiots just because they didn't have iPhones yet?  

Second, while there's much to admire in Kevin Carey's "requiem" for NCLB, the relentless campaign against the law by the teachers unions -- remember the lawsuits? -- and shameless Democratic flip-flop against the law  -- ostensibly to help John Kerry get elected in 2004 -- must be emphasized in any assessment of the law's political and media misfortunes.  

Last but not least, the newer generation of reform groups and funders -- TFA, KIPP, Gates, and Broad -- are and have always been ambivalent at best about the law, even though it matched them rhetorically and generated the annual test scores and scrutiny for district schools upon which many reform ideas rely.  They didn't help write it, fight for it, or defend it, and remain generally focused on innovation rather than accountability. Freeloaders!

Video Interlude: "Kids These Days"

Special bonus if you know the education connection (without Googling).

Quotes: How To Get The Middle Identify With The Bottom?

Quotes2As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than with those on the bottom, we are doomed. -- Peter Edelman in the NYT (Why Can’t We End Poverty in America?)

Morning Video: Biden In Detroit

Here's the full video of Biden's speech, to play while you get other things done:

AM News: Nearly Half Of States Changing Certification

More Teaching and Less Testing NYT: New York and up to 25 other states are moving toward changing the way they grant licenses to teachers, de-emphasizing tests and written essays in favor of a more demanding approach that requires aspiring teachers to prove themselves through lesson plans, homework assignments and videotaped instruction sessions.


Biden: Romney Doesn't Think Education 'Is Worth The Investment' AP: Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech Sunday to the nation's second largest teachers unions, said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn't treat public education as a priority and distrusts the hardworking teachers who struggle to create opportunity for the nation's young people.

Ohio Probes Its Schools in Alleged Data Fudging WSJ: The Ohio Auditor of State has launched a statewide probe into allegations that several school districts fudged student data in an effort to improve the districts' academic standing.

Is a charter school chain called Rocketship ready to soar across America? WashingtonPost: Cities across the country, including in the District and New York, are clamoring for Rocketship to set up shop. The Obama administration has invested $2 million to speed its growth.

Tennessee Directs Nashville to Back Charter School WSJ: The Tennessee State Board of Education has cleared the way for a charter school backed by neighborhood parents to open in middle-class West Nashville.

Adelanto school parents seek charter operator Los Angeles Times: Adelanto parents' first choice was a partnership with the district that would retain most employees and services but give parents control to hire a principal with more power over curriculum, budgets and staffing decisions. 



Five Best Blogs: Detroit Rock City

196257_701322621845_5659639_nRandi Weingarten Heads To Detroit, Aims To Force Contract Negotiations For Teachers ow.ly/cyufA#5bb

From May: Former US News education editor @bwildavsky reflects on errors and missteps in his higher ed book ow.ly/cyn3Y #5bb

Five Reasons You Should (or Shouldn’t) Share [Education] Stories With Sources ow.ly/cyhBK@edwrriters #5bb

Last week's [mediocre] Breaking Bad featured an abandoned Albuquerque high school ow.ly/cygR3

What Effect Will $15M Penn Foundation Grant Have on Philadelphia’s Schools? – Nonprofit Quarterly http://ow.ly/cyb2q  #5bb From 07/06

In Chicago, longer school day for students, but not for teachers – Schools of Thought - http://CNN.com  Blogs http://ow.ly/cy8yr  #5bb

LAUSD social media survey is out http://ow.ly/cy7lp  but i can't seem to find the raw results just the presser

Movies: High School Coming Of Age From "Juno" Folks

Coming in September from the Juno folks (and directed by the author) is the movie version of the 1999 coming of age novel I never heard of called The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. 


Books: Get Ready For Garland

image from ecx.images-amazon.comThe bad news about Sarah Garland's Atlantic Magazine story on school and housing desegregation is -- spoiler alert! -- the baby lamb dies.  

The good news is that it includes some information about Garland's book, DIVIDED WE FAIL, slated to come out in January.  

There's cover art, an Amazon page, and all the rest.  You can probably already pre-order.  

Bruno: Constructivism & Special Education

Zds9teddy2_t607Via Catherine Johnson, teacher and administrator Niki Hayes has written an interesting piece speculating that "constructivist" teaching has contributed to growing enrollment in special education programs.

This is because, she thinks, many academically vulnerable students who could be successful in more traditional, guided educational settings flounder in the less-structured constructivist environments. (The percentage of students served under IDEA  increased from 8.4% in 1977 to 13.4% in 2008. Over the same period the prevalence of ADHD seems to have roughly tripled.)

There are a lot of theoretical reasons to think Hayes may be on to something here, as well as some practical caveats. Read inside for some of my thinking, and let me know what you think.

Continue reading "Bruno: Constructivism & Special Education" »

Charts: Where Did The Mid-Career Teachers Go?

image from i330.photobucket.com
Pretty blue and red chart shows fewer 10-20 year teachers in 2008 than in 1988, though granted it's just one year of data compared to another year and there's lots I don't agree with in this Salon post where I got it.  

Quotes: "Pejorative Rhetorical Categories"

Quotes2Nothing bothers me so much as attempts to reduce serious policy debates to a fight over pejorative rhetorical categories. - Conor P. Williams about the charters v. district schools debate

NCLB: Where All My Waivers At? [Updated]

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThere's a new report from CAP about the current waiver situation, and timeline, and maps, with a 9 am event featuring John King, Alex Johnston, Michael Yudin on the state of state reform coming up.  

UPDATED: Coverage here: Spellings, Alexander Debate Future of No Child Left Behind Act PoliticsK12, Varied Plans for States With Waivers ‘No Child’ Law NYT, Second-Round Waivers Draw Mixed Review PoliticsK12

Streaming video link here.

AM News: Head Start Next for Cuts?

Head Start Fears Impact of Potential Budget Cuts NYT: Tens of thousands of young children from low-income families could be dropped from Head Start programs if Congress cannot find a way to prevent automatic cuts to the federal budget in 2013.


A Different Road To Work, Bypassing College Dreams NPR: With college costs rising and student debt mounting, some high school graduates in Charlotte, N.C., are opting for an alternative route: European-style apprenticeships.

NYC Plans to Address Distribution of Students With Special Needs NYT: New York City public school officials have told state education officials that they will work to balance the enrollment of pupils in city schools to ensure that children with high needs are not overly concentrated in a handful of institutions.

A Teacher Remembers the Accused Colorado Gunman EdWeek: Paul Karrer is a 5th grade teacher at Castroville Elementary School in north Monterey County, Calif. He is a union negotiator and was the League of United Latin American Citizens’ 2009 teacher of the year for north Monterey County.

LAUSD tries to move away from 'one-size-fits-all' approach to teaching SCPR: Bonkovsky says the model called “Expanded School Based Management” allows the most freedom from district policies. That means schools will be able to design their own assessment systems and choose their own curricula.


Five Best Blogs: The (Mild) Wrath Of Khan

ApproachingsignificanceSal Khan responds to critic - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post ow.ly/cwkFT

My ideas to make accountability better: http://t.co/iIfQaYyI  @kevincarey1

A Rare Case For Active Investing - In Public Education Reforms - Forbes Rex Sinquefield, Contributorow.ly/cwdrY

Georgia students return to school and to new Common Core Standards  http://t.co/8jmh58pQ @theuseducation 

Pittsburgh about to undergo largest teacher layoff in district's history http://t.co/7x7nyUMS @nctq 

Education headline to look forward to:  "Rahm v. Kahn"

Thompson: Fruchter & Robinson Detail NYC Turnaround Controversy

BloombergEdVox's Norm Fruchter recalls the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) report by the New York City Working Group on School Transformation which concluded that the city had increased concentrations of high-risk, high needs students at schools that were targeted for closure.

In April, the NYC DOE dismissed the report. Fruchter, an analyst for the AISR, now reports that the DOE acknowledges that the way it has conducted its school turnarounds "intensified the burdens of struggling schools.”  In a letter published in the Gotham Gazette, NYC now says, “over the past 18 months, NYC has been working with the New York State Education Department to address its concerns about situations where our choice-based system may be leading to an over-concentration of students with disabilities, English language learners, and/or students that are performing below proficiency in certain schools.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Fruchter & Robinson Detail NYC Turnaround Controversy" »

Bruno: Everyone's Confused About "21st Century" Skills

Creativity posterI appreciate what Out In Left Field's Katharine Beals was trying to do in this June post, but I think some of her argument is overly optimistic. Follow the links and you'll see that her thesis is that the "21st century skills" movement is basically a con publishers like Pearson are pulling on everybody, contrary to the preferences of real-world employers.

The problem, though, is that it's just not the case that employers don't support the 21st century skills movement. It's actually quite common for business leaders to complain that applicants lack "creativity", "problem-solving skills", and "teamwork/collaboration" skills.  In fact, the Strategic Council of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills includes such "21st century employers" as Adobe, Apple, and Intel.

Now, none of this matters much to me because I don't think that the opinions of business leaders should have outsized weight in our policy considerations in the first place. The real issue is not that advocates of the 21st century skills movement aren't aligned with the business community, it's that they're wrong on the merits: for the most part the skills they want schools to teach aren't really context-independent abilities at all, because they depend largely on students' domain-specific background knowledge.

Given how widespread confusion about "21st century skills" is among educators, we probably shouldn't be surprised that it's also widespread among employers, who don' t have any special educational insight just by virtue of working in business. This means, unfortunately, that we can't count on the business world to prevent our educational system from being blown off-course by this particular fad. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Charts: Digging Education Info Out Of The Kid's Count Report

ScreenHunter_08 Jul. 26 10.40Don't be scared.  You can do it.  Let me boil down the latest Kid's Count report for you:

Your state's education data is the purple ring on the interactive datawheel to the right. Click and spin -- it's fun!

NH, VT, and MA are best, NV, MI, NM are the worst over all, according to Wonkblog  (Child well-being in four charts).

It's pretty much the same story when it comes to states' education rankings (Education rankings here).

Education subcategories?  You got it: Children ages 3 to 4 not enrolled in preschool4th grade reading achievement levels8th grade math achievement levelsHigh school students not graduating on time

Quotes: Obama Challenges Kids To Keep Up With Other Nations

Quotes2They're not hangin' out. They're not gettin' over. They're not playin' video games. They're not watching 'Real Housewives.' --  President Obama at the Urban League, via Politico

Morning Video: Can Nina Rees Save The Charter Movement?

AM News: The Cuts Are Coming! The Cuts Are Coming!


Lawmakers Explore Impact of Automatic Cuts on Education PoliticsK-12: A set of sweeping, across-the-board trigger cuts set to go into effect in January would be "devastating" to education programs, particularly if Congress decides to spare only defense programs while allowing K-12 cuts to go through, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Democratic lawmakers said at a hearing today.

Obama Announces White House Initiative On Educational Excellence AP: President Barack Obama is creating a new office to bolster education of African-American students.The White House says the office will coordinate the work of communities and federal agencies to ensure that African-American youngsters are better prepared for high school, college and career.

Students Answer to Peers in L.A.'s Teen Courts EdWeek: In the teen courts that have operated for two decades in Los Angeles, trained high school students question their peers, determine guilt, and recommend sentences.

Child Poverty On The Rise: New Report Huffington Post:  Drawing mostly on U.S. Census data, the report noted that the percentage of children living in poverty increased by nearly a third between 2000 and 2010, and that it rose 16 percent between 2005 and 2010. The rate of children whose parents lack secure employment rose by 22 percent in the period roughly coinciding with the first two years of the global recession, beginning in 2008, the report said.

Five Best Blogs: Cut K12 To Finance Early Childhood Funding


The Value of Pre-K Education, Take 2 | Mother Jonesow.ly/cuz4g @KevinDrum

Should we cut K-12 schools to finance pre-K?ow.ly/cuz0k @mattyglesias

Obama’s Education Hits and Misses ow.ly/1OmXLj@TakePart

Arne Duncan, Tennessee, and y1 of the new teacher evaluation -- ow.ly/cuUg4 

How Mixed Neighborhoods Could Save America's Schools- TheAtlantic theatlantic.com/national/archi… via @MichaelPetrilli 


Hot For Education: Ed Finance Council Makes Hill Beauty List

image from thehill.com
It's not K12, and apologies to all who may be offended by such superficialities, but the Ed Finance Council's Samantha DeZur has made The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People.  Congrats, condelences.  h/t MP

Reform: The Book I *Should* Have Written

A little more than a year since the publication of my book about the conversion and attempted turnaround at Locke High School, I remain proud of the work -- and heartened about the good news that continues to come out of the school and Barr's new endeavors -- but also clear about some mistakes I made:

image from ecx.images-amazon.com1 -- The book title should have been shortened, or at least reversed -- Saints, Saviors, and Stray Dogs.  The stray dogs represented the poverty and neglect experienced by the school over the years, and did indeed wander onto campus now and then, but the book wasn't really about poverty and neglect (and the title choice was confusing and troubling to some of the school community).

2 - The book should have included at least a chapter or two more about Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot and mastermind behind the Locke conversion.  I was overly determined not to focus on him.  But limiting his presence in the book to three chapters was a substantive mistake (considering his role at Locke and nationally), a narrative one (given readers' need to have a main character), and a commercial mistake, too (given Barr's prominence). That blue inset image of the kid graduating should have been him.

3 -- It was already clear by the time I wrapped up my reporting that Locke was a lot better than it had been in the past, and the book should have made a stronger, clearer argument that broken schools like Locke can be substantially improved (if not miraculously fixed) rather than attempting to be a neutral or uncertain description of events.  Ironic that I, a blogger who trades in commentary and understands readers' needs to be challenged by strong views, held back from making a strong and clear argument in the book.  


Morning Video: Rhee Ad Mocks Rhythmic Gymnastics

Here's the web ad StudentsFirst rolled out over the weekend:  

See what I mean?  Sign the petition to get StudentsFirst to recall the ad and support pretty ribbons here.

Media: "Draft Sharing" Spreads At Washington Post Education Team

3ea42727712b194c87202fedc7a5b38a_LJournalists have a long time practice of not showing drafts of stories to sources.  But some -- the Washington Post's Jay Mathews may be the best known in education circles -- believe that sharing stories leads to better, more accurate results.  Here, media watcher Jim Romenesko shares this Texas Observer story about how Washington Post education reporter Daniel de Vise shared a draft higher education story with UT Austin officials and what journalism experts have to say about the process.  The Post's Nick Anderson defends the process and the result, which included changes made at UT's request.  h/t SB


AM News: "Alt Cert" Debate Returns To Capitol Hill

House Subcommittee Examines Alternative Certification PoliticsK12:  Last week, two different coalitions sent letters up to Capitol Hill expressing totally different sentiments on whether Congress should continue to allow teachers in alternative certification to be considered "highly qualified."

Adelanto school board to hold emergency meeting Wednesday Redlands Daily Facts: The group promotes the use of the "parent trigger" law that allows parents to take control of a school if they gather signatures from at least 50 percent of the parents. The judge agreed with 25 of the signatures the district sought to reject, but ... 

Deal to Extend School Day in Chicago AP: Chicago’s public schools and the union representing teachers have reached an agreement that will give students a longer school day but will not force the teachers to work longer hours.

LAUSD must include student test scores in teacher evals by Dec.4  PassFail: L.A. Unified must comply with a judge's ruling to include student test scores in teacher evaluations by Dec. 4, a bevy of attorneys representing the district, its unions, and parents agreed in court today.

Philadelphia Charter Founder Charged With Fraud EdWeek: Dorothy June Brown was accused Tuesday by federal authorities of using her private management companies, Cynwyd and AcademicQuest, to defraud the Agora Cyber Charter School and the Planet Abacus Charter School.


Fairfax County faces two complaints about racial bias at TJ high school Washington Post: Five years ago, white students composed 52 percent of the rising freshmen admitted to TJ, while Asian students accounted for 38 percent. By this year, those numbers had flipped: Of the ninth-graders entering TJ next year, 26 percent are white and 64 percent are Asian.

Smaller U.S. budget for smallest citizens - report Reuters: Another 4 percent decline in overall spending on children is expected in 2012 as the temporary boost from stimulus funds falls by $30 billion. Without legislative action, the amount spent on children will remain unchanged over the next decade, but will shrink to 8 percent of the overall budget.

Thompson: Gates Is Right On Common Core & Student Engagement

Bill Gates' speech to the Education Commission of the States includes an ebullient endorsement of Common Core that I read as "not wrong," and an endorsement of peer review that I see as a step in the right direction. Some of Gates' vision for technology, I believe, merits full-throated praise: 

image from news.cs.washington.edu"Imagine if kids poured their time and passion into a video game that taught them math concepts while they barely noticed because it was so enjoyable... The goal of the game is to rescue animals whose ships are stuck in outer space. The ships require different amounts of fuel, powered by lasers. So the players have to manipulate fractions to split the lasers into the right amount of fuel." (see full text here).

Of course, there are a couple of things missing from the Gates vision.  I would remind Gates that teachers have a lot of other ways of assessing student mastery.  The best way is conversing with the student. And I would remind him that the optimal way to make his vision a reality is to recruit adults, with all types of skills (including, but not limited to computers), to pioneer "win win" innovations, as opposed to using technology for command and control. Rather that focusing on our schools' and our governance systems' weaknesses, why not build on the creativity that invented those digital miracles?- JT(@drjohnthompson) via.  

Five Best Blogs: Building Another House Of Cards

3cdbf838b33175fc4848d7456fcced7f036a81fb_mObama ed team building pretty much the same house of cards as Bush team did, says former Bush official ow.ly/csNYg #5bb

Why Social Science is so hard but still worth paying to do @KevinDrum Mother Jones #5bb ow.ly/csYZ5

Human genome sequencer Criag Venter and 16 other famous people who attended community college @HuffPostEdu #5bb ow.ly/csYnD

Don't miss out on checking out this interesting ed reform course, Yale and Columbia grad studentsow.ly/csPo0 @YaleELC

 Parent Power Watershed - WSJ.com ow.ly/csKb9

Maps: "UChicago" Goes National*

The University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute -- now being branded as "UChicago" -- includes school improvement, teacher preparation, and research arms, as well as charter operations, and is according to this new map is already working with schools and districts around the country.  Perhaps they've snuck into your neck of the woods. 

*Correction: UChicago Impact is the new (to me) LLC division of UEI, not the fancy new name for UEI. 

Quotes: Politics Not As Easy As It May Look

Quotes2Politics is one of those industries, like writing and coaching professional sports teams, where everyone thinks they could do it better than the pros, without any practice, any training, or any real-world experience.... Just because you're really good at one thing doesn't mean you'll be good at a different thing. - Elspeth Reeve in The Atlantic Wire 

Bruno: Twenty Days Out Of School Limits Instructional Time, Obv.

Absent-class-in-class-mentally-present-Favim.com-275054John's recent post on chronic absenteeism reminded me of a study out recently on elementary schools engaging in "comprehensive school reform" initiatives. This wasn't their main focus, but the authors determined that in these relatively low-income, urban schools students missed 20 days worth of instruction on average every year. That's more than 10% of a typical 180-day school year.

Notably, the 20-day figure includes both student and teacher absences, and it's probably not right to assume that students get no instruction at all when their teacher is absent. Still, a substitute is a highly imperfect replacement for a regular classroom teacher and it's not like everything works at 100% efficiency even when everybody's present. So we're talking about a lot of lost instructional time in any case.

I don't really have a deeper point here except to remind everybody that however little time kids are spending in school, the amount of time they're being meaningfully taught is smaller still. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Research: Poverty Increases Cut Both Ways In Reform Debate

The way I see it, discussions of poverty like this interactive Demos site showing nearly 25 percent of the population or 76 million people (via kottke) being affected cut two different ways:

Screen shot 2012-07-20 at 1.23.42 PM

They're of course a reminder that there are massive problems going on in society outside of classrooms and schools, that waraparound support services -- whatever happend to Promise School Zones? -- and other broad policy changes like childcare subsidies and early childhood education and the minimum wage need to be a part of the school reform discussion. I've written about this several times, generally urging reformers to open their eyes and broaden their agenda.

But they're also a reminder that there is a large and growing section of our society that's been faring much worse than teachers in recent years (and indeed for many decades before), that much as they may feel warred upon rhetorically in economic terms teachers have generally been insulated from the Great Recession (and in some cases have received substantial raises) while millions of others have lost jobs, taken pay cuts, and slid into poverty.  In a perfect world, teacher advocates and reform critics could acknowledge this, too.  


Morning Video: House Hearing On Alt. Cert. (at 10)

ScreenHunter_04 Jul. 24 09.12Here's the streaming video from the House education committee hearing on alternative certification (once it starts), and the press release touting the event.

Is this in response to the alt cert debate during last week's appropriations markup, or just a booster shot of some kind?  You may already know.  I'll try and find out. 

Continue reading "Morning Video: House Hearing On Alt. Cert. (at 10)" »

AM News: Districts Drop - Face Federal Funding Losses


Largest School Districts See Steady Drop in Enrollment NYT:  Public schools have struggled with the poor economy, home foreclosures and changes in immigration, and with competition from charter schools.

Job Roles Shifting for Districts' Central Offices EdWeek: As "chief talent officer" for the Hartford, Conn., school district, Jennifer Allen finds herself in a different role from many central-office personnel who work in human resources.

Ed.Dept: Most Automatic Cuts Wouldn't Affect Coming School Year PoliticsK-12: Districts and state officials who have lost sleep worrying that key federal education progams might be cut smack in the middle of the coming school year can calm down, at least according to a letter the U.S. Department of Education sent out to chief state school officers late Friday.

California Judge Pushes Back for Charter School WSJ: A judge has ruled in favor of a group of California parents trying to take control of a low-performing public school, setting the stage for what could be the first such takeover under so-called parent-trigger legislation.

News Corp. Unveils New Unit Reuters: News Corp said on Monday the education unit will be called Amplify and will focus on kindergarten through high school, creating digital products and services for students, teachers and parents.  Amplify is teaming up with AT&T Inc, using its 4G mobile tablet technology. They will begin to introduce new curriculum products through tests in U.S. schools during the 2012-2013 school year. ALSO:  GothamSchools:  After 18 months, Klein outlines plan for NewsCorp’s ed division

Five Best Blogs: Big Day For "Parent Trigger"

Download (7)

CA parents set to take over failing school Reuters ow.ly/crhx2 

Parent Trigger' Scores First-Ever Victory at Desert Trails Elementary - LA Weekly ow.ly/crh45 

New study says merit pays works ow.ly/crfb9 & that potential loss is more motivating than gain ow.ly/crfA8 

Scholastic shutters recent acquisition, 110 year old 'Weekly Reader' - Atlantic Wire ow.ly/crepT 

Jason Alexander's rant against gun control opponentsow.ly/cr762 made me wish for an ed reform version of the same

MD does best on new HEPG study, followed by FL, DE, and MA according to UPI.com ow.ly/cr6n2

America's infatuation with decline -NYMag - Reminds me of Diane Ravitch ow.ly/cr0XR  Things used to be so much better!

Concrete signs of education progress amidst all the conflict and disappointment, says Richard Whitmire in HuffPost ow.ly/cqCFy

Bruno: Standards, Instructional Programs, & Field Testing

On July 12 Diane Ravitch expressed concern that the Common Core standards "are being rolled out in 45 states without a field trial anywhere." That sounded like a reasonable enough objection to me, but Kathleen Porter-Magee thinks the idea "betrays a fundamental misunderstanding" because standards "aren’t an instructional program or curriculum...They are nothing more or less than a simple list of knowledge and skills that students should learn at particular grade levels. You can’t 'field test' what a state should expect its students should learn."

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Even putting aside the implausible suggestion that Ravitch doesn't understand it, the distinction between standards and instructional programs doesn't really tell us much about whether new standards should be field tested. Maybe standards shouldn't be field tested in the same way as instructional programs, but I can think of two reasons why we might want to field test them in some way.  

Continue reading "Bruno: Standards, Instructional Programs, & Field Testing" »

Thompson: Opening Files On Whistleblowers

ChalkboardThe New York Times' Michael Powell, in "On Special Education, Spurned Teacher is Vindicated," recounts the story of a NYC teacher, Harris Lirtman, who reported serious violations of special education law. The worst was the school's policy of shuttling one unqualified teacher after another into special education classes. Powell writes that the school's practice "treads perilously close to educational malpractice."  

These are the type of violations, we in Oklahoma City were always warned, that could end your career. And indeed, when the principal did not respond, Lirtman followed procedures and brought the charges to the Department of Education's investigative unit. But, the DOE "opened a file on him instead." The teacher's principal gave him a satisfactory evaluation, overall, marking him down for professional attitude and good relations with the administration.  Lirtman lost his job. At this point, the DOE should start a rigorous accountablity process. But, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents principals, argues that "higher-ups" approved  the principal's decisions, "including placing substitute teachers in special education classrooms on a rotating basis." Its president predicted that the DOE's mistakes will be "landing on the heads of my members.” I bet he's right.- JT(@drjohnthompson) via.

Morning Video: Rhee Succeeds On "Meet The Press"

Here's Michelle Rhee's Sunday morning appearance on Meet The Press, NBC News' flagship Sunday morning politics show -- an impressive media "get" for StudentsFirst -- during which Rhee cautions against quick answers and silver bullets (in the context of the Aurora shooting and education reform):

Rhee also notes that education is being ignored by the campaigns, and that there's an absence of big goals. When asked about possible Republican VP picks, Rhee self-identifies as a Democrat.  Some different views:  DCist:  Rhee Keeps It Diplomatic in Meet the Press Appearance, Crooks and Liars: Meet the Press Gives Free Ad Time to Michelle Rhee

Photos: Sign At Former Duncan School Raises Eyebrows

image from www.chicagonow.com
This is a picture taken of the marquee at Chicago's Ray Elementary School, where Arne Duncan sent his children for many years, sent to my by one of many Hyde Park smartypants.  It features an informal version of the Aeschylus quote about fear, "I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship." The correct version is on the other side.  

AM News: Colorado Shooter's Science Camp Video

First Video Of James Holmes Speaking At A Science Camp HuffPost:  A 6-year-old video shows Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes as a thin teenager wearing an oversized shirt and occasionally breaking into a slight, shy smile. Reuters:  Colorado shooter: a high achiever's abrupt descent  


Common Core Writers Issue Math Publishers' Criteria EdWeek: The lead writers of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics have finalized a set of guidelines for curricular materials that seek to promote "faithful" implementation of the new standards at grades K-8. 

Texas Public School Dropout Rate on the Decline Texas Tribune/ NYT: Many school districts, including the state’s three largest, are reporting their third or fourth straight year of rising graduation rates, and the statewide average has climbed steadily since 2007.

Sponsor Company For High School Exchange Students, Suspended By State Department AssociatedPress: Hundreds of high school exchange students could be affected by a State Department decision to suspend the sponsor-company that was to bring them to the United States.

Philadelphia Students Push for Changes in District's Discipline Policy  PhiladelphiaNotebook: Student leaders and community allies working with the Campaign for Nonviolent Schoolsvoiced their opposition Thursday to the most recent draft of the School District’s discipline policy at a press conference on the steps of District headquarters.

To boost test scores, schools clamor for a horseman's advice LAT:  Dennis Parker, who is also a former teacher and state education administrator, says he's helped improve student test scores in about 90% of the schools that have consulted with him.



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.