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Five Best Blogs: Teachers, Unions, Race To The Top

20121029-Union-Strength-Full-Report-1 (1)

Fordham/ERN union report generates heated oppo despite complicated mix of findings @TeacherBeatow.ly/eVhzw

The Hill names NEA's Dennis Van Roekel among its Top Lobbyists in Washington ow.ly/eUCKm @NEAMedia

In Ohio, Teachers Run For Statehouse — And Could Give Obama A Boost NPR @StateImpactOH ow.ly/eVhpp

HuffPostLA editorial slams UTLA and CTA for resistance to federal funds tied to performance evaluations ow.ly/eUX4t

Recently-resigned Chicago superintendent Jean Claude Brizard warns against too much focus on teacher effectiveness ow.ly/eUU98

It's the distribution of qualified STEM teachers that's the issue, not the number, says WPost's @ChuckLane1   ow.ly/eUEAe

Apprentice program to train new Seattle teachers | Education | The Seattle Times ow.ly/eUCCA via @AnnenbergInst

The Benefits of Practice WSJ ow.ly/eUCkZ Doug Lemov via @robertpondiscio @anniemurphypaul

Classrooms: Here Comes "Universal Design"

Principles_udMy latest article from the Harvard Education Letter, Bringing UDL into the Mainstream, is now up online (subscription required).

It describes how an approach called UDL (universal design for learning) has been spreading from individual classrooms, to schools, to districts, and now even to states (or at least a few of them) -- despite the lack of clear effectiveness research and the confusion between it and other popular reforms such as differentiated instruction and buying iPads.

Thanks to everybody who helped me get up to speed on this fascinating issue.  Any experiences or insights into UDL that you want to add, please do so in comments or on Twitter.

My Spring 2012 Harvard Ed Letter article (no subscription required) looked at the impact of NCLB waivers on special education programs and students (With the Rise of “Super Subgroups,” Concerns for Disabled Students Mount).

Bruno: Beware Of Researchers Brandishing Brain Scans

Based on Vaughan Bell's recommendation, I finally finished watching an excellent lecture by Dorothy Bishop on the dangers of using neuroimaging in educational research. It's long - almost an hour - but very accessible and speaks directly to a number of education research "findings" that have received attention in the press.


Bishop wants to make two big points: The first is that a lot of neuroscience - especially neuroimaging - doesn't tell us very much about human thinking and learning. For example, changes in the way different parts of the brain "light up" over the course of an experiment might have as much to do with the passage of time as they do with the experiment itself.

The second big point is that both scientists and laypeople are more likely to accept scientific claims if they are accompanied by neuroscience-y visuals - like images of brain scans - even if the claims themselves would be obviously bogus if presented alone. In other words, neuroimaging often provides little support for scientific claims about learning, but nevertheless makes us much more likely to believe such claims. That's a dangerous combination for anyone trying to interpret the latest educational research finding.

If you don't have the time to watch the whole thing, a summary of the lecture can be found here. And next time you read about an educational study with descriptions of "brain activity" ask yourself, "What would I think about these results if the researchers hadn't done any brain scanning?" - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Quotes: "An Obsession... Around Teacher Effectiveness"

Quotes2We currently have an obsession in America around teacher effectiveness. While teacher quality is critical, the current national drive toward great teacher evaluation tools will only be successful in the hands of a master carpenter. - Jean-Claude Brizard, recently-resigned superintendent of Chicago schools, in the Tribune

Media: Signs Of Life In Education Journalism?

image from www.heromusical.comLast weekend at an EWA conference in Minneapolis, I finally had the chance to meet Lauren FitzPatrick, the Sun-Times reporter who's been working on education along with Rosalind Rossi for the past few months.

According to her Linkedin, FitzPatrick was previously at the Daily Southtown and Gatehouse Media and went to Georgetown and Medill.  According to her Twitter profile (@bylaurenfitz) and in real life, she's got great glasses. Here are some of her bylines: Ex-U.S education official knocks school closings as ‘destabilizing’Can teachers strike over evaluations?.

The addition of FitzPatrick is notable because most commercial news outlets have been reducing their education coverage, whittling down once-massive (or at least healthy) education teams to just one or at most two reporters. The (Portland) Oregonian recently moved Nicole Dungca to the Portland beat, freeing up Betsy Hammond to focus on state K-12 issues (though they also dumped higher ed on her).  The only other examples of expanding coverage that I can think of are nonprofits: the local NPR station in Chicago, which added Becky Vevea to the beat along with Linda Lutton, and EdSource Today, a California outlet that currently is looking for a 3rd reporter to join John Fensterwald and Kathryn Baron.  

Any others out there?  Let us know.

Media: "Reform Scare" Stories Inflate Accomplishments

Having written several times before about LEE, the TFA spinoff dedicated to recruiting alumni to run for office, I was happy to see a new article from The American Prospect about the initiative last week.  


However, I have issues with the alarmist and exaggerated thrust of the piece, which is to suggest that TFA alumni are on the verge of becoming ever-present among the ranks of elected officials.  

Writer and activist James Cersonsky writes that "A selective crowd of high-achieving college graduates is primed to take over the leadership of America’s schools."   

Well, no, it's not.  Not anytime soon, at least.

Continue reading "Media: "Reform Scare" Stories Inflate Accomplishments" »

Morning Video: PBS "Frontline" Segment On Campaign Finance

Watch Big Sky, Big Money on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

AM News: LA Teachers Union Refuses to Sign Race to the Top Application

LA Loses $40 Million Of Race To The Top Funds Because Of Teachers' Union Resistance To Evaluations HuffingtonPostEducation: The Los Angeles Unifed School District (LAUSD) has just lost out on $40 million of free federal money because the teachers union has declined to sign the district's Race to the Top grant application.


Poll: Obama Favored by Likely Youth Voters, But by Less Than in 2008 PoliticsK12: That margin for Obama is down from 2008, when he claimed 66 percent of the youth vote, compared to Sen. John McCain's 32 percent. That was a margin of 34 percentage points, or twice what this week's CIRCLE poll shows for the Obama versus Romney matchup.

Attention Shifts to Blended Learning at Virtual Ed. Conference EdWeek: From beginning to end, blended learning—briefly defined as any of a variety of approaches that combine features of both face-to-face and online instruction—took headline status in keynote speeches, panel discussions, and report releases throughout the three-day conference hosted here by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL.

Texas Public School Districts Spent $227 Million On Disciplinary Problems, School Security: Study TexasTribune: At a joint hearing Tuesday of the Senate Committees on Criminal Justice and Education, lawmakers discussed ways to save money and improve the quality of school discipline practices, including giving more discretion to teachers, law enforcement and judges when it comes to dealing with disciplinary violations.

Five Best Blogs: Hurricane Recovery Begins

C69627f0a855ef5a0e98005b3ca8c8e9Roundup of Hurricane Sandy school closings @HuffPostEdu #5bbhuff.to/Rrdl15

Uh Oh, Ann Romney Wants to Champion Education | Education on GOOD ow.ly/eT3w2 @LizDwyer #5bb

When Reporters [like Richard Colvin] Preach the Party Line :: Frederick M. Hess http://ow.ly/eTGn0

It’s not just rich Republicans — unions also giving millions to SuperPACs SFGate ow.ly/eT4HV #5bb

11 TX school districts spent $140M on discipline |ajc.com ow.ly/eTih2 #5bb

The Unholy Alliance Against [Higher Ed] Online Learning - Bloomberg ow.ly/eThGN #5bb

Afternoon Video: Rapper Dedicates HS Diploma To Teacher Mom

His name is Drake, and he's 26 years old, and he just got his diploma. Here he talks about why it took him so long, and thanks his mom, a retired teacher.

Charts: Your Students/Kids Probably Can't Read This Chart

image from cdn.theatlantic.com
Just as charts (er, infographics) are getting more complicated (er, misleading), kids' abilities to interpret them is falling behind, notes this Atlantic blog post by John Tierney (Can Your Kid Read Graphs and Charts?)

Bruno: Do Teachers Exaggerate Hours (Like Everyone Else)?

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics put out amuch-blogged-about report last week finding that most employees overestimate how much they work, I started mentally preparing a post about whether we should think teachers are more or less likely to exaggerate their hours worked.


As it turns out, the BLS already put out a report in 2008 comparing teachers' work weeks to those of other workers using the methods they consider most accurate.

That 2008 report found that teachers work on average about 2 fewer hours per week than other professionals. Notably, this result was based on work weeks only during the school year and included time spent working at home.

This is an old result, but it's news to me and I find it extremely difficult to reconcile with my own experience. The BLS has the average teacher work week coming in at under 39 hours, but I'm not sure that even my easiest weeks during the school year - usually state testing days - come in under 40 hours. And my sense is that my coworkers are typically working at least as hard as I am. (It can't just be that most of my experience is with younger teachers; the BLS finds that older teachers tend to work a bit more.)

Of course, the point of the new BLS report is precisely that most of us tend to overestimate the time we spend working when we're not carefully documenting how we spend our time. And it's true that I only have a little over 23 hours of actual instructional time each week, well short of the 38-39 hours the BLS says is typical for a teacher work week.

And yet I can't help but feel that I - and most teachers - work more than that. I'd be curious to know what you all think. Is the BLS wrong about teachers? Or are teachers as likely as anybody to overestimate how much time they spend working? - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Media: Hurricane Duty For Education Reporters*

If you're not seeing as much education coverage as usual today and tomorrow, blame Hurricane Sandy for causing editors to pull their education reporters off the beat to do weather duty.

image from venturebeat.files.wordpress.com

USA Today's Greg Toppo is out there in Atlantic City.  The Stamford Advocate's Maggie Gordon reports that she and the rest of the reporting team are "all hands on deck" to cover the weather -- not necessarily such a bad thing given that so many local districts have closed school.  The Connecticut Post's Linda Lambeck has merged education and storm coverage, reporting on students at one college taking in students from another college.  Zachary Reid from the Richmond Times Dispatch spent time on Monday at the docks and is headed to the shelters on Tuesday.

*UPDATED:  Twitter friends Ken Libby, Amy Schultz, Sara Mead, Michael Zinshteyn, and others report that the Wall Street Journal's Lisa Fleisher has been doing storm duty, as has the Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits.  

AM News: Hurricane Sandy Extends Race to the Top Deadline

Hurricane Sandy: Race to Top District Contest Deadline Extended PoliticsK12: With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast and threatening a large swath of the nation's population—and schools—the U.S. Department of Education has announced an extension of the application deadline for the Race to the Top district competition.

Hurricane Sandy Shutters Thousands of Schools EdWeek: As Hurricane Sandy began unleashing its fury on the East Coast Monday, the storm shuttered thousands of schools across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, with millions of students to be out of school for at least two days, state education officials said.


Matching Funds Fail to Materialize for Some i3 Grantees EdWeek: Two years after the U.S. Department of Education awarded $650 million in Investing in Innovation grants and set off a mad dash for grantees to raise more than $100 million in matching private funds in five weeks, some of the i3 winners are still facing financial uncertainty stemming from initial fundraising struggles.

Federal Grant Application Sparks New Rural Tennessee Collaborative RuralEducation: Five rural Tennessee districts were part of a much larger group of 54 rural districts in the state to apply for a federal Investing in Innovation grant. They won't know whether they won until November, but five of those districts decided to form a new professional development collaborative, the Tennessee Valley Learning Network. The network is open to educators in Bradley, Marion, Monroe, Polk, and Rhea counties in southeast Tennessee.

How Will Education Groups' State-Level Endorsements Fare? StateWatch: There are big headlines today about how President Barack Obama has become the first presidential candidate to raise $1 billion in a campaign, but there's another big number in politics this year to keep in mind: 6,004. That's the number of state legislative seats that are up for election in 2012.

Five Best Blogs: Pay No Attention to State & Local Races

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State and local races and initiatives matter much more media and blogs realize, says Fordham's Checker Finn ow.ly/eRtIc

NEA sending $1.4M to ID, $900K to MI (take that, StudentsFirst!), $500K to FL, and $250K to WA via @mikeantonnuci ow.ly/eRvOA

Described as silly and laughable by unions, Fordham report on unions is useful says Mike Antonucci  Intercepts ow.ly/eRvF3

California teachers rank 8th among most powerful state teachers unions, according to Washington DC think tank ow.ly/eRtZh

LA Times look at power and peril of value added rating for teachers in LA ow.ly/eRzOb

From Jay Mathews: Admissions 101: Obama-Romney guide to great college essays... bit.ly/Y92ham

People: Mosle Returns to the New York Times

Edison phonograph sketch November 29 1877-thumb-615x615-103171Former New York Times Magazine and New Yorker writer Sara Mosle was the "it" education writer during the late 1990s before she headed off to write a book and raise a family.  

But the former TFA teacher is back with a new regular-but-not-weekly gig writing for the Sunday NYT Opinionator (including this example about something called Responsive Classroom).   It's not the old Freedman / Rothstein / Winerip "On Education" column, which remains un-filled, but it's certainly better than nothing.  

Mosle's book about a massive school explosion in Texas is coming out next year.

Campaign 2012: DFER's Tough Decision On MI Proposal 2

Campaign_2012State ballot initiatives in California and Michigan have created some complicated opportunities and decisions for newfangled education advocacy groups like DFER and StudentsFirst.  

In California, state DFER director Gloria Romera has enraged some union allies with her support for Proposition 32, which would limit fundraising options for organized labor. See HuffPost here.

In Michigan, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst has come out against a pro-labor amendment to the state constitution called Proposal 2, donating $500,000 to the effort. See Mlive here and Huffington Post here.

The Michigan chapter of DFER has not taken an official position on the measure, I'm told, but may soon have an decision. State DFER director Harrison Blackmond is quoted in the HuffPost article saying he's against it.

Read more inside for more on the background of these two state ballot initiatives and the advocacy group's different decisions.

Continue reading "Campaign 2012: DFER's Tough Decision On MI Proposal 2" »

Weekend Reading: Education Politics

Here are some of the articles from magazines and other websites that I tweeted out over the weekend that you might have missed:

Edison phonograph sketch November 29 1877-thumb-615x615-103171Outside money pouring into [selected] CA house races - LA Times ow.ly/eOyHN

Reform "grifter" M. Rhee's PAC gave $500K to limit collective bargaining in Mich., says Esquire blogger ow.ly/eOzVF

A close look at the ed group endorsements in one state (TN) from EdWeek's Andrew Ujifusa ow.ly/eOO2j

Rosen on Higher Education Market, Roundtable on Math (Audio) bit.ly/VuX3T7 BloombergEDU

TFAer turned writer turned teacher Sara Mosle column on Responsive Classroom in the NYT ow.ly/1PdoRA

AM News: New College Board Head's Social Justice Agenda

College Board President: Tear Down 'Wall' of Underachievement CurriculumMatters: Coleman—best known until now as a chief architect of the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts—has zeroed in on three key areas in his bid to turn up the volume on the College Board's social-justice mission.


Contract With Merit Pay, Backed by Union Chiefs, Is Tough Sell for Newark Teachers NYT: On one side of the table was the union firebrand Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. On the other was the state education commissioner handpicked by Gov. Chris Christie, who became a star among fellow Republicans for aggressively taking on public employee unions.

Undocumented Students Take Education Underground NPR: Georgia is one of three states to bar undocumented students from attending schools. But a group of professors at the University of Georgia has created a fledgling school to provide a place for students to learn.

Should State Education Chiefs Be Elected? StateLine: If it were up to Walter Dalton and Pat McCrory, they’d have a little less company on the ballot in North Carolina this year. In particular, they wouldn’t be sharing space with candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dalton and McCrory are opposing gubernatorial nominees, but they agree on one thing: The governor ought to be able to appoint the state’s top education official.

Some states will soon call the roll on school reform Reuters: Traditionally allied with Democrats, union leaders these days are sounding Republican themes to woo voters in conservative states such as Idaho, Georgia and South Dakota. They're warning that the proposed reforms would mean higher taxes, bigger government and intrusive state meddling in local affairs.

Thompson: Questions For And About TFA

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comFollowing up on Alexander Russo’s American Enterprise Institute paper Left Out of No Child Left Behind,Valerie Strauss’s The Answer Sheet recently posted an extended passage from Jack Schneider’s Excellence for All.

Reading Schneider and Russo, I wonder about the patience of some of the most powerful economic and political movers and shakers on the planet.  How long will they continue to invest tens of billions of dollars in a reform movement that has achieved so little?  

And as for TFA itself, I question whether TFA should really ally itself more closely with reformers, given reform's weak results and TFA alumni's breadth of views and experiences? I would argue that the wonks need TFA more than TFA needs them. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Questions For And About TFA" »

Morning Video: Trade School Is The New College

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

AM News: "Ability" Tracking Mucks Up Teacher Evaluations

Research on 'Value Added' Highlights Tracking Problems TeacherBeat: Failing to account for how students are sorted into more- or less-rigorous classes—as well as the effect different tracks have on student learning—can lead to biased "value added" estimates of middle and high school teachers' ability to boost their students' standardized-test scores, the papers conclude.

AMNewsWith time running out, teachers push pro-Obama message in swing states HechingerReport: In the swing states of Ohio and Florida, it’s crunch time for teachers unions, which in the final days of the campaign are getting out the vote for President Obama in droves — even though they disapprove of some of his policies.

Obama Has Touted SIG Data, So Where Is it? PoliticsK12: In the last two debates, President Barack Obama has told the nation that one of his biggest accomplishments on K-12 is helping to spur turnarounds at hundreds of underperforming schools around the country."We've seen progress and gains in schools that were having a terrible time. And they're starting to finally make progress," Obama said during the third presidential debate in Florida, earlier this week.

Adaptive Testing Evolves to Assess Common-Core Skills EdWeek: When Delaware switched to computer-adaptive testing for its state assessments three years ago, officials found the results were available more quickly, the amount of time students spent taking tests decreased, and the tests provided more reliable information about what students knew—especially those at the very low and high ends of the spectrum.

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst Group Weighs In On Michigan's Proposal 2 HuffingtonPostEdu: Now, the political action committee of StudentsFirst is pumping $500,000 into a campaign against Michigan's Proposal 2, a ballot measure that would protect collective bargaining by enshrining it in the state's constitution.

TV: Your ESL Teacher Might Be A CIA Operative

Watch out -- your ESL teacher just might be a disgraced bipolar intelligence analyst, grading papers in between checking in on the latest Mideast problems and waiting for her old bosses to call her back into the field. image from i.huffpost.comThat is, if you lived in the world of the hit TV show called Homeland and your teacher looked like Claire Danes.

Five Best Blogs: Here Comes Hurricane Sandy


Michelle Rhee's Group Wades Into Michigan Union Fight @HuffPostEdu #5bb huff.to/P682UE

Hate Group Bullies School Board Into Rescinding Basic Rights for Transgender Students ow.ly/eKqZu

The tenacity of school segregation | Bleaderow.ly/eLPwr #5bb

From Jay Mathews: Readers’ cures for bad teaching of writing: The teaching of writing is one of the great weakne... bit.ly/QZmbzb

Bootleg portion of ESPN documentary about slain Chicago HS b-ball star Benji Wilson ow.ly/eLP7t

"Bunker schools" for Syrian kids Pictures following the bombing of six schools CBS News ow.ly/eL8cq

MT @MandyZatynski: “They’re like 5-year-olds fighting over a toy, except the toy is America.”


Afternoon Video: Scientists Pop & Lock

People: College-Skipping Nuclear Scientist

image from cdn.theatlantic.comMeet Taylor Wilson, 18, one of Atlantic Magazine's latest "Brave Thinkers," who at 14 built a nuclear fusion reactor and is taking one of those $100K Thiel Fellowships instead of going to college.

"I was about 10 when I got into nuclear science. That was when that spark hit me. It took a few years of research, but when I was 14, I produced my first nuclear-fusion reaction...

"When people have dedicated their lives to something—and spent eight years in college—they just expect that a kid wouldn’t be up to doing it. But kids have a certain predisposition to do things differently and see the world differently—and that’s helpful.

"I don’t mean to offend anybody, but I think that we get a lot of scientists now who are bent into a system, and we lose some of their boldness by that. Obviously, you have to learn the ropes, but I think it’s important to do that without hammering out the radicalness that makes innovation happen."

Media: TIME Names Two Ed-Related Blogs

Original (16)Blogs are still dead but that doesn't stop TIME from naming 25 of the best ones.

One that's school-related is by a young Scottish girl who blogs about lunch food (NeverSeconds).  Another is a GWU professor's site about bad social science (The Monkey Cage).  

Congrats, condolences, as usual.

See the whole list here: 25 Best Blogs 2012

Morning Video: Kids React To The Election


‘This Is Like Middle School’: Kids Analyze the Election

AM News: Audit Says Feds Failed to Monitor Charter Funds

Audit: U.S. Oversight of Charter School Funds Lax AP: An audit of the U.S. Department of Education's division overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in charter school funding has criticized the office for failing to properly monitor how states spend the money.


L.A. schools chief urges union cooperation on federal funds LATimes: Faced with a looming deadline, Los Angeles schools chief John Deasy on Wednesday urged the teachers union to lay aside its concerns and back federal Race to the Top  grant application that could bring $40 million to the cash-strapped district.

Apple Unveils Smaller, Cheaper iPad, Touts School Use EdWeek: When word leaked this week that the company would be unveiling a smaller, cheaper version of its iPad—in typical Apple fashion, at an invite-only presentation in a San Jose auditorium, live-streaming online around the world— the education world took notice.

Survey: Today’s teaching force is less experienced, more open to change HechingerReport: More inexperienced teachers are in today’s classrooms than ever before and they are more open than their veteran colleagues to performance-driven options for how they’re evaluated and paid, according to the results of a new survey conducted by the Boston-based nonprofit Teach Plus.

Education In The Election: Why It Matters AP: The federal government contributed just a small fraction of the more than $1.15 trillion spent nationally on education during the last school year, but it still yields great influence over such issues as accessibility, accountability and teacher quality.

Five Best Blogs: The NEA's Big Pro-Obama Campaign Bus

Tumblr_mccs9qktvZ1qa0uujo1_500N.J. education advocates to Duncan: State's waiver plan is a disaster. — NewsWorks ow.ly/eJo7S

Lessons From Los Angeles - Rick Hess Straight Up - Education Week ow.ly/eJWlz 

For President Obama, a Complex Calculus of Race and Politics - NYTimes.com ow.ly/eJnJn 

With time running out, teachers push pro-Obama message in swing states Ohio, Florida - U.S. News ow.ly/eKgZ1 

The five most important issues left out of the debates http://wapo.st/WJIIai For once, education was not one of them

A film about a Chicago basketball prodigy shot to death in 1984 may play a role in helping heal the city in 2012. ow.ly/eKi87 


Events: Fashion Notes From The Broad Event

By now you know that Miami-Dade won the Broad prize this year, but you may not have heard or read what it was like at the event itself. I guess the first word that comes to mind is fancy -- fancy part of town (53rd Street), fancy location (Museum of Modern Art), and lots of fancy people (Bloomberg, Pelosi, Duncan, etc.) wearing dark suits with a smattering of Christmas red for the women.  

ScreenHunter_15 Oct. 24 15.20
There were lots of familiar faces (Tom Payzant, Joel Derrick Walcott, Jon Schnur, etc.) plus a handful of hungry velociraptors. Justin Hamilton was Duncan's body man, hustling him out of the room once the event was over.  Pelosi was wearing a really nice brown wool jacket, and there were a few dapper gents with pocket squares, but the fashion highlight for me was the outfit worn by Bart Anderson, from Ohio -- pictured above with a fashionably short jacket, open collared shirt, and lovely two-tone loafers.  

Photos: Little Kid Photobombs Obama Campaign Appearance*

image from img.gawkerassets.com
Check out the little kid in the striped shirt to the left chewing his zipper and scowling. Photo of the day from the Obama campaign. Not sure what school or program this is at -- anybody know?  I can't tell charter kids from "real" kids anymore, what with everyone going for uniforms these days. *UPDATE: It's apparently the cute boy kissing the little girl at the top of the image that you're supposed to be looking at.

Morning Video: Texas Districts Sue State For Equitable Funding

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

"Texas school districts and parents are asking the courts for help to get more equitable funding for public schools. KXAN's Erin Cargile reports." NBC News

AM News: Romney's "I Love Teachers" Remark Spurs Fake Valentine from Union

Mitt Romney's 'I Love Teachers' Remark Spurs Fake Valentine From Union HuffPostEdu: Now, the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, has created a "love letter" for Romney. The graphic, which the NEA is distributing widely to reporters and on its blog, is titled "My Funny Valentine" and features pictures of the former Massachusetts governor framed in hearts.

Miami-Dade school district wins Broad Prize, top national urban education award MiamiHerald: One of the nation’s top education prizes was won by the Miami-Dade County Public Schools for its dramatic gains in achievements by black and Hispanic students and for raising academic standards across the board.

Community Colleges Rethink Placement Tests EdWeek: Now, some community colleges are looking for alternatives. Some are switching to high school grades or revamping assessments, while others are working with high schools to figure out students' college readiness early so they have time to catch up if necessary.

Eagle Academy For Young Men Of Newark, New Jersey's Only All-Boys Public School, Elicits Praise, Criticism HuffPostEdu: Last month marked the grand opening of the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark, the city’s first and only public, single-sex school. The academy is one of Newark’s newest public schools and is part of an effort to transform the district by closing underperforming schools, replacing principals and opening new schools boasting innovative programs.

Report Says College Prices, Once Stable, Are Up Again NYTEducation: The prices that most people actually pay for college, which had remained stable for several years, are on the rise again, as tuition and other cost increases outpace financial aid awards, the College Board reported on Wednesday.

Five Best Blogs: Even Broad Thinks Rhee's Too Aggro Sometimes

MontessorienglewoodcpsTeachers' participation in the Obama re-election campaign is up, according to @PoliticsK12 ow.ly/eHjq6

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama Campaigns Fall Short On Specifics For Early Education ow.ly/eHqnd 

Why Preschool Can Save The World : Planet Money : NPR ow.ly/eHMbR via @LASchoolReport

15 NEA State Affiliates Ran Budget Deficits, 25 Saw Decline in Dues Income « The Greenroomow.ly/eHMhC

RT @Joy_Resmovits: Today, Eli Broad told me he plans to continue to support @m_rhee, but sometimes they disagree. 

Beyond Tokenism: Toward the Next Stage of Teacher Leadership - Ariel Sacks #5bb ow.ly/eI2iS

What is it like being bullied in school? ow.ly/eI63lBest Quora question / response Ive seen in a long time.

People: WSJ Magazine Recognizes Eric Eisner

EisnervanityfairpicThe Wall Street Journal Magazine gave out its innovator awards the other day, and among them was Eric Eisner (pictured).

Eisner was recognized for "his work recruiting, tutoring and mentoring the brightest kids from L.A.'s roughest schools and helping them feel a positive drive toward their futures."

Eisner, son of the former Disney head Michael Eisner, has a program called Young Eisner Scholars and has been written up before on the Huffington Post & Vanity Fair.

Malcolm Gladwell presented the award. Press release below.

Continue reading "People: WSJ Magazine Recognizes Eric Eisner" »

Bruno: Teaching Students Guided Note-Taking

If you haven't already, you should check out Jay Mathews' discussion of note-taking skills and the AVID program. It's easy to underestimate how many skills kids may lack when they enter school and how important explicit instruction in those skills can be. 


When it comes to helping students make sense of a lecture, though, there's another option that deserves more attention: guided notes. Guided notes are notes that are pre-formatted and partially completed by the teacher, with blank spaces for students to fill in as the lecture proceeds. Guided notes can serve dual purposes, both helping students learn what good notes should look like and helping students process challenging new information without the distraction of having to format notes themselves.

My experience is that educator views on guided notes are mixed, with many teachers deriding "fill-in-the-blank" notes as merely "spoon-feeding" kids. Certainly, it would be ideal for students to be able to generate their own notes, but research does indicate that guided notes can improve students' academic performance and may be especially helpful for students who may struggle to process complex new content (like English learners or those with learning disabilities).

Lecture has been a huge part of education for thousands of years. Even most modern educational trends - like "flipped" classrooms - don't really do away with lecture-type learning. It makes sense, then, to think a little harder about what we can do to make lectures as helpful as possible for students. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Thompson: Why Must All Data Become a Grade?

GradeteachersIt is easy to see why the Gates Foundation seeks to add teeth to student survey data by making it a part of teachers' evaluations. The Atlantic's Amanda Ripley, in Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, began with the awful story of a student who never had a chance to express her judgments about school until she filled out a survey during her senior year. Ripley also cited the disappointing experience of Ronald Ferguson in persuading teachers to pay attention to survey results.  Over a decade, "only a third of teachers even clicked on the link sent to their e-mail inboxes to see the results."

However, Ripley described a principal who benefited from surveys in a pilot program where he was unable to see the teachers names,"but he said he still found the information more useful than what standardized tests provided."  “'It’s very, very precious data for me,' he said." Ripley then closed with the student's complaint about "some crappy teacher [who] is still sitting at that crappy desk." 

To replace those teachers, however, we must do something about crappy school cultures. To create respectful cultures, a genuine conversation between teachers and students is required.  We must not undermine the great potential of student surveys in guiding those discussions by attaching stakes to them.  And once we engage in such a dialogue, I would have a modest proposal for a teacher who refused to read such data.  Fire him.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via

Morning Video: Teacher Wins Cafeteria Dance-Off


By popular demand, here's a Chicago teacher's response to being challenged by a student dancing at him.

Campaign 2012: Stand For Children Endorsement Lists

Last week I told you about the candidate endorsements and contributions coming from DFER and StudentsFirst, which some of you found fascinating and/or disturbing. This week, it's Stand For Children. 


Six state Stands have made House and Senate endorsements, including 38 in Oregon, according to information they provided plus a slew of others: 26 IL, 9 MA, 11 CO, 24 WA, IN

Stand also reports that state affiliates have made endorsements "in school board races, the gubernatorial race in WA, the superintendent position in Indiana, etc." Here are the links that they provided: AZ governing boardTN school board (summer 2012), IN state superintendentWA gubernatorialCO board of educationLA school board.

Let me know if this is useful or what more you want to see (like contributions and IE activity).  Previous posts: Eighty Candidates Endorsed By StudentsFirstDFER Candidate Slate Looks Pretty Mainstream.  Next up is the rascals at 50CAN.  

AM News: Romney, Obama Spar Over Education

Romney, Obama Spar Over Education In Foreign Policy Debate HuffPostEdu: Much to the chagrin of moderator Bob Schieffer, Monday night's presidential debate on foreign policy took a decidedly domestic turn. During a conversation about what America needs to do to remain internationally competitive, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to lace into Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney on teacher hiring.


Testimony on Texas’ booming Hispanic population taking center stage at school finance trial WashingtonPostNational: Demographer Steve Murdock, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau and ex-state demographer of Texas, is expected to testify about the explosion in the state’s Hispanic population, which has caused public school enrollment statewide to grow by an average of 80,000 students per year.

State Ballot Initiatives Aim to Raise Taxes to Fund Schools WSJ: Arizona, Missouri and South Dakota have tax-increase measures on ballots, while California is offering voters dueling proposals. Oregon has an initiative to redirect to schools some money that corporations receive as tax rebates.That is the largest number of education-tax initiatives to appear on state election ballots in two decades, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama Campaigns Fall Short On Specifics For Early Education HuffPostEdu: But unlike in 2008, neither campaign has released a formal position paper on early childhood education. Romney's 34-page education white paper does not mention pre-school. 

Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, If Tepid EdWeek: Educators remain a crucial part of the Obama campaign's efforts on the ground. Earlier this year, the campaign organized a national group called Educators for Obama. It's being led by Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. She is a former high school teacher who now teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College.

Five Best Blogs: Education As A Foreign Policy Debate Issue


Obama should be talking about his 2 Race To The Top programs -for education & for gas mileage - says NYT Friedman ow.ly/eF6Mb

Why Education Should Be in the Foreign Policy Debate via TFA @wendykopp ow.ly/eFmDl

Newark Teachers Union Embraces Performance Pay, Wins Peer Review - Working In These Times ow.ly/eFSZf

600 Texas School Districts Sue State For 'Unconstitutional' Funding huff.to/T7642A 

Another pitch for that New Yorker story about the honors student turned hitman, this time from @tanehisi ow.ly/eG3px

Why pointy headed moderates don't get politics -- and so often lose at them - Salon ow.ly/eFTgu


Afternoon Video: Bow To The Idea Men


"I"ll be your visionary.  You do the things I come up with." (via The Atlantic

Bruno: Let's Improve the Supply of Good Schools

71575328_808dddd4e7I've already argued that our teacher quality problems are probably not caused by inadequate demand for excellent teachers, but is there inadequate demand for high quality schools?  

Bill Jackson thinks so and argues that if given better information and different incentives, parents will demand - and therefore obtain - better schools for their kids.

Maybe, maybe not.

Continue reading "Bruno: Let's Improve the Supply of Good Schools" »

Quotes: Respect And Rigor

Quotes2Teachers want respect, but they also want rigor — and in healthy schools, the two go hand in hand. - TNTP's Tim Daly

Foundations: What To Think About C4TE's Collapse?

Screen shot 2012-10-22 at 12.50.26 PMReform critics reacted gleefully last week to the news that Communities for Teaching Excellence, the Gates-funded advocacy effort in support of its teacher quality initiative, was being de-funded (LAT, LA Daily News), a reaction that was  predictable but sort of sad and short-sighted.  

Why so?  First and foremost, the outcome explodes notion that reform foundations like Gates are all-powerful, which is obviously untrue but is a myth that seems convenient to repeat. Can't be all-powerful and occasionally ineffective at the same time. It's also a reflection of the reality that advocacy groups have proliferated as much as C4TE has failed.  So if reform critics want to call the creation of tons of advocacy groups a success, then fine go ahead.  

Last but not least, trashing the efforts of folks like Yolie Flores, the former LAUSD board member (pictured) who took on the task and has dedicated her career to making schools better for poor kids, seems inappropriate coming from mostly white liberals sitting in front of computers or giving speeches.  You can read more about Flores in the LA Weekly and Scholastic Administrator (who sponsors this site), and a blog post of mine about her disagreement with LAUSD and Deasy over the changes to PSC ( John Deasy's Mystifying Labor Deal).

One last thing: a couple of people have written me suggesting that the downfall of this latest effort was comparable to the failure of EDIN'08, a comparison I get but would quibble with.  Yes, advocacy is a dicey business and folks bigger and better funded than Gates have spent scads of money in other arenas and walked away without much to show for it. The highs and lows are higher in advocacy than they are in policy and program worlds.  But I don't believe that EDIN'08 was such a big failure as conventional wisdom would have it.  And, an important difference to me is that EDIN'08 was organized around a national campaign, the presidential elections, whereas the Gates teacher quality advocacy effort was focused on the individual Gates districts without any substantial national component. 

Morning Audio: How Oklahoma Got Universal Preschool

image from www.thisamericanlife.orgListen to this segment from This American Life about the strange and fascinating way that Oklahoma ended up with a universal preschool program (or at least a much-expanded program compared to other states).  The tale's got education, research, politics, and all the usual twists and turns. Audio here.


AM News: FL's Race-Based Achievement Goals Spark Debate

Florida's Race-based Goals For Students Spark Debate HuffPostEdu: Ever since, Florida has been embroiled in a debate about the message sent by its new race-based academic targets, which are lower for black and Hispanic students than for other children.The state, for example, wants 90 percent of its Asian students, 88 percent of its white students, 81 percent of its Hispanic students and 74 percent of its black students reading well by 2018.


Debates Push Fate of Education Policies to Fore EdWeek: As the two presidential campaigns continue to sharpen how they would approach the federal role in education if victorious, advisers to President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have made it clear that the fate of waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act may be decided by the November election.

Admitted, but Left Out in NYC Elite Schools NYTimes: Schools’ efforts to attract minority students haven’t always been matched by efforts to truly make their experience one of inclusion, students and school administrators say. Pervading their experience, the students say, is the gulf between those with seemingly endless wealth and resources and those whose families are struggling, a divide often reflected by race.

Competency-Based Schools Embrace Digital Learning EdWeek: The move to competency-based education—also known as proficency-, standards-, and performance-based education—by Lindsay Unified and other districts will likely give them a head start in preparing for the new demands of the Common Core State Standards, experts point out, and in their ability to use technology more effectively to personalize learning.

At Technology High School, Goal Isn’t to Finish in 4 Years NYTimes: Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn is a six-year program tailored to give students interested in the technology industry an advantage, including an associate degree.

Weekend Reading: Scary Stories From Weekly Mags & Sites

ScreenHunter_09 Oct. 24 10.02Will GA voters create a $430 million charter-school commission? ow.ly/eDdzg TAP @RaRapoport

Governor Patrick on Massachusetts Top Spot in Education (Audio) @BloombergEDU bit.ly/RMYoTT

How the national media "maligned" the Chicago teachers strike In These Times ow.ly/eDcGq

A sad attack on Advanced Placement: Nearly all of us are experts about something...  bit.ly/ScJQhb

Can an Online [Teaching] Degree Really Help You Get a [Teaching] Job? TIME ow.ly/eDYpM

Creating a "Democracy Index" and other ideas for promoting local decisionmaking - Boston Glob eow.ly/eDd61

Critique of Katherine Boo & others who write abt poverty w/o economic/political analysis TimesLitSupp ow.ly/eDcm2

Feature about Best Busy includes useful lessons about adaptation in large organizations ow.ly/eDdNF

Direct democracy - once a progressive reform - has been hijacked by wealthy conservatives ow.ly/eDdCO

Boys hitting puberty sooner according to new studyow.ly/eDYZH #thisweekined Researchers blame high-stakes testing.

You can follow my weekend reading recommendations via the #thisweekined hashtag on Twitter if you want to catch them all / in real time.

Afternoon Video: SNL's High School Halloween Literacy Dance


This is from last week's SNL, but I couldn't bear to post it until a few days had passed. The depiction of the school principal is horrible -- and sort of hilarious.



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.