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Cartoons: Uncle Sam, Lunchroom Worker

image from media.theweek.com
Via The Week

Thompson: Reformers Brought This On Themselves

LogcabinRichard Rothstein’s recent piece, Joel Klein’s Misleading Biography, shows that the former New York City chancellor has not only played fast and loose with social science evidence regarding the challenge of overcoming extreme poverty, but that he also misrepresented the facts of his own childhood.  Rothstein calls it “obscene” that Klein’s claims have been used to attack teachers.

Attempting to respond to this and other posts, Sarah Mead adds insult to injury in Why Our Current Education Debate Is Toxic, complaining that "our national education debates have come to focus on the character, motivation, experience, and relationships of those who hold different views."  

The problem is that the implementation of solutions depends on trust. Given the cavalier relationships of so many accountability hawks with the truth, how are educators supposed to anticipate the real world effects of "reforms" without considering the agendas and the track records of the ideologues who will be implementing them?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Morning Video: Brooklyn Middle School Featured In "Brooklyn Chess"

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


The new documentary "Brooklyn Castle" gets a segment on TODAY.

AM News: Gates Teacher Advocacy Effort To Be Shuttered


Gates Foundation-funded education-reform group to close LA Times: Communities for Teaching Excellence, the national organization based in L.A., plans to close next month after its board voted to shutter it and the Gates philanthropy ended financial support.

Debate fact check: Revisiting claims on jobs, education USA Today: Romney's white paper on education, "A Chance for Every Child," suggests that a Romney administration would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding. Indeed, he sharply criticizes Obama for doubling funding for Pell Grants. 
Study shows 33 percent spending increase in federal poverty programs The Hill: The study, commissioned by Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), included traditional welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, Pell grants and 80 other federal programs but excluded veterans assistance programs. 
Desert Trails parents choose charter operator, next step in 'parent trigger' EdSource Today: With a low voter turnout Thursday, parents exercising a “parent trigger” option at the Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto selected a charter operator in nearby Hesperia to run their school starting next August.

Obama's daughters' school evacuated; all clear AP: The D.C. private school attended by the daughters of President Barack Obama says it briefly evacuated after it received a phone call that it considered suspicious....

Court Says Texas Cheerleaders Can Use Bible Verses NYT: In his decision, the judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting a school district from enforcing a ban on religious-themed banners at football games.


Five Best Blogs: Newark Contract Includes Performance Bonuses

ScreenHunter_19 Mar. 05 23.55Newark teachers strike historic deal including bonuses for top educators | NJ.com ow.ly/eAsUh #5bb

Gates drops in to keep tabs on Colorado education investment - The Denver Post ow.ly/ezFCv #5BB

Non-fiction vs. fiction smackdown: Among the most disturbing facts about U.S. schools is that... bit.ly/U8Rhul

They're back! LA Times suing LAUSD for teachers' value added scores Courthouse News #5bbow.ly/eAcsC

Sasha and Malia's School Evacuated After an Anonymous Threat - The Atlantic Wire ow.ly/eAbSB#5bb

Park Slope parents freak out over proposed school boundary changes FIPS ow.ly/ezFJR

We're going to Stanford for next spring's @edwrriters conference ow.ly/ezEzh Thanks, @sbanchero!

Here's @Larryferlazzo's first 10 morning reads -- what're yours? ow.ly/ezOOW

Afternoon Video: Revisiting Camika Royal's Summer Speech

This is the eight-minute video you may have heard about over the summer but may not have seen, in which TFA '99 alumna Camika Royal urged incoming TFA teachers to be "swift to hear, and slow to speak. It was picked up by Gary Rubinstein and then Diane Ravitch, briefly taken down, then quickly restored: 


While some (including those most likely to comment below) have wanted to hear only Royal's admonishment to TFA and its alumni, her remarks also include a call for dramatic improvements to American public education.  Reformers may not have (yet) improved public education at scale, Royal and many others have noted, but they're not responsible for many its long-standing failings, either. Read the transcript here.

Quotes: Justifying Ravitch's Oversimplifications

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com"Reform" is on the ropes. We still need to nail down the intellectual victory. We still need vivid prose to wrap up the case explaining why "reform" failed to improve schools. We need to persuade President Obama to shift gears in the second term. - Contributor John Thompson, in response to my blog post from yesterday, in comments. 

Media: Muckrack's Top 15 Edu-Journalists, According To Twitter

Here's the current lineup from Muckrack:

ScreenHunter_08 Oct. 18 08.47ScreenHunter_09 Oct. 18 08.47ScreenHunter_10 Oct. 18 08.47Some notes:  I've never heard of (or seen) Craig Melvin do any education, but OK.  Still lots of Brits -- they do Twitter better, apparently.  Love Selingo's off-center headshot plus crisp collar.  Your turn.


Campaign 2012: Eighty Candidates Endorsed By StudentsFirst

Last week, you learned that the NEA and AFT were funding a handful of Republican candidates in and among all the Democratic races that they were supporting. Kinky? I know. 

Yesterday, you learned about DFER's candidate endorsements.  They were pretty boring.  Maybe not your favorite in the primaries, but at least they're all Democrats.  (DFER Candidate Slate Looks Pretty Mainstream)


Today's installment comes from Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst, which on its website lists roughly 80 endorsements for six states (Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Tenn).   

Click the "elections" tab to see each state's list. This being StudentsFirst, I'm guessing but too lazy to check that there are a few -- gasp! -- Republicans among those endorsed.  

This being the wacky world of Citizens United, StudentsFirst also has independent expenditure (IE) groups active in roughly a dozen races (such as the CT race with Brandon McGee). No details on where the IEs are active, but let's assume that they're in a state where SF already operates and has endorsed candidates.  

A couple more states are in the works, I'm told. The selections are made through a survey and screening process (everybody does it this way).  An endorsement doesn't necessarily mean that there's a campaign contribution.

I've also asked Stand For Children and 50Can for their candidate endorsement / contribution lists, and will report back to you when they report back to me.

Morning Video: Obama Education Guy Talks Portability

AM News: IL Is Last State Left Unable To Set Disparate Goals By Race

Idaho Wins NCLB Waiver EdWeek: This leaves Illinois' request as the one that's languished in NCLB waiver purgatory the longest. (I'm not counting Iowa, whose request was basically rejected, or California, which is going the not-likely-to-succeed, do-it-yourself route.) Seven other states applied more recently, and still await word.

Florida Officials Defend Racial and Ethnic Learning Goals NYT: Setting different goals for student achievement in reading and math by race and ethnicity is just an interim step, calculated as part of a waiver granted by the federal government, officials say.

News2Contraception, Pell Grants 'In Context' After Debate WBEZ: We're taking a closer look at two issues that came up during Tuesday's presidential debate — contraceptive coverage and funding for higher education. Robert Siegel talks with Julie Rovner and Claudio Sanchez to put the candidates' comments in context.

Closure Of Six Charter Schools In St. Louis Costs $250,000 HuffPost: The schools boasted 3,333 students — about 89 percent of whom transferred to St. Louis Public Schools after the state voted last spring to close the Imagine network of St. Louis charter schools following years of academic and financial management issues.

Online auction to liquidate surplus school items AP: Tennis rackets, at least two pianos, science lab microscopes and a battery-powered scooter are among dozens of surplus items that will be auctioned off from Detroit's closed Southwestern High School....

Campaign 2012: Pay Equity Questioner Was A Teacher

The questioner who prompted Mitt Romney's instantly-viral "binders full of women" response to a question about pay equity was a Long Island kindergarten teacher named Katherine Fenton.

image from img.gawkerassets.comI haven't confirmed it yet but I'm guessing she's not TFA since she didn't lock down her Twitter feed until too late (and Floral Park Queens isn't Harlem). 

Five Best Blogs: Charter Head Opposes State-Run Teacher Evaluations


Charter network founder comes out against outside / state run ratings of teachers NYT #5bb from Sundayow.ly/ey1OK

"Cheap personal attacks" mar Rothstein critique of Klein, says @saramead ow.ly/eyBqT #5bbRavitchers disagree.

Obama Administration approves Idaho’s NCLB waiver request -- now 34 plus DC ow.ly/eyYaj #5bb

HuffPost fact-checks education/gun violence links from last night's debate #5bb http://ow.ly/eyYXY

What's Behind the Mass Student Takeover of Argentina's High Schools? - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/eyZcu #5bb

Omaha schoolgirl dresses as a different historical figure each day - Omaha.com ow.ly/eyGnJ #5bb

Thompson: Using Technology to Empower Great Teachers

Education-Raform-for-Digital-Era-e1335551150701If I had a magic wand, I would gladly implement the vision presented by Bryan and Emily Hassel in Teaching in the Age of Digital Instruction. I would not work that magic until after granting other requests for more important educational miracles, such as creating high-quality early education and restoring the power of unions.  After all, Hassel and Hassel virtually ignore poverty and their theories will have no chance in urban districts until we institute an even more complicated set of aligned socio-emotional supports.  And, the Hassels seem to realize that their grand agenda will be stillborn unless teachers unions are empowered along the lines of the motion picture industry's unions. 

I also suspect that America's best districts, serving our most privileged students, will adopt many of their ideals and that progress will occur fairly rapidly.  After all, I suspect that affluent districts will soon free themselves from the retrograde test-driven accountability movement that the Hassels acknowledge is undermining the quest for better instructional systems. In districts that do not feel impelled to defeat teachers, technology will allow charismatic teachers to have greater influence.  Others should be allowed to teach to their strengths, whether it means they are tutoring, lecturing, modeling, mentoring or teaching basic skills.  Technology will also create more lower-paid positions, and eventually savings will accrue. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Using Technology to Empower Great Teachers" »

Quotes: The Fundamental Inequitibility Of Homework

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com[Schoolwork] must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and re-establish equality. - French president Francois Hollande in the WSJ

Books: A Junior High Version Of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"

image from cache.io9.comIt's fiction, it's two years old, I'm not even a third of the way through it -- and it's not even really about education -- but I can't wait to tell you about a delicous book called The Instructions that you might want to check out -- if you dare.  

In essence, it's the story of Gurion, a preteen Orthodox Jewish boy from the North Shore of Chicago who's been unfairly kicked out of several local religious schools, forced to go to a far off public school called Aptakisic Junior High, and quickly assigned to the dehumanizing program for defiant kids that everyone calls "The Cage" -- the school version of a prison isolation unit.  Almost immediately, Gurion begins to figure out how the Cage works, how it can be fooled, and what it will take to overthrow it.  

What happens next is a little bit "Infinite Jest," a little bit "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."  Or at least, as far as I have read.  

Reviews from NPRNYT, Gawker.

Update: The Narrow Absolutism Of Diane Ravitch

580751_10151853261200110_1866890809_nI was surprised to see that Diane Ravitch commented on my recent paper about TFA, HQT, and the use of political power - but then I realized that she hadn't actually read it, or if so only for narrow ideological purposes.  (She did the same with my book about Locke High School, for what it's worth -- boiling the story down into a single "turnarounds don't work" sound bite.)

In her very brief post, Ravitch describes my TFA paper as a piece about "how TFA has managed to have unusual influence inside the Beltway," but that's actually not what the piece is about.  Exactly the opposite, really.The piece is about how TFA for a long time lacked any real Capitol Hill chops, and still exercises its power mostly in the narrow pursuit of programmatic interests (appropriations, authorizations related to TFA). 

I pointed this out in the comments on her site last night, and the comment has been removed.  What's it like, I wonder, for Ravitch followers when she does things like this?  They must cringe a little bit, then justify it as only what reformers have done to Ravitch.  Some might argue that I've done her wrong as well for my heartfelt but skeptical post about her evangelical change of heart.   

Campaign 2012: DFER Candidate Slate Looks Pretty Mainstream

IL-10_congressional_districtReform critics like to make a big deal out of how scary and right-wing reform advocates' work is, but this slate of candidates from DFER seems pretty uncontroversial and mainstream to me, based on a cursory review. There are some candidates for Congress, for state legislature, and local school board. All Democrats, obv.  Perhaps they ran again other Dems in a primary -- it happens.  Perhaps they're pro-charter, or pro-Race To The Top.  Then again, so is the the pro-government occupant of the White House.  In any case, if there's anyone controversial on the DFER list, let us know.  I'll ask Stand and 50CAN and StudentsFirst and others for their candidate lists and see what they have to say as well -- we can compare them to the DNC lists, and the Green Party's too, if there is such a thing any more. 

AM News: "We Don't Have To Settle" For Debates Like This (Do We?)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Obama Makes Education A Presidential Debate Subject HuffPost: In perhaps the biggest pivot of the presidential debate Tuesday night, President Barack Obama turned a question about gun violence into an answer about education.\

At Debate, Obama, Romney Link Education to Economy EdWeek: During their second duel of this campaign, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday night framed the issue of education as an economic one.

Charter School Flap Escalates Wall Street Journal: Tennessee education officials withheld $3.4 million from Nashville's school district after the city barred a charter school from opening in an affluent neighborhood, in a fight that highlights the growing tension...

Progress report on Colorado SIG schools EdNews Colorado: More than $40 million in federal grants awarded to some of Colorado’s lowest-performing schools as part of a massive national turnaround effort is producing mixed results, with state officials suspending funding for five schools because of declining test scores.


Five Best Blogs: San Diego Could Go As Low As 161 Days

San Diego might get down to 161 days of school if Prop 30 doesn't pass -- the shortest year in the world says VOSD ow.ly/ewKG5


Tennessee Withholds Funds Over Charter-School Fight ow.ly/1OZMEL

DFER slate of candidates for state, local, and federal spots -- don't see any surprises what about you?ow.ly/ew7Xx 

Hawaii Teachers Halt Labor Negotiations, Escalating Conflict ow.ly/ewKb0 @stateline

Why didn't @MichaelPetrilli *try* a DCPS kindergarten before moving to the burbs, asks TuttleSVC's Tom Hoffman? ow.ly/ewL1W 

What about addressing adult bullying at work and elsewhere? New PSA via @CNNSchools  ow.ly/ewLm6

Why merit aid backfired in Massachusetts. - Slate Magazine ow.ly/ewGbR

Afternoon Video: LEGO Version Of Stratos Freefall


Usually these LEGO re-enactments don't show up so quickly after the actual event, but I guess like everything else the pace is picking up.

Bruno: Sleep, Don't Study

1111418685_477480f1c9_nHere's some educational news you can use.  According to a recent study in the journal Child Development, a student who stays up late to study is probably not doing herself any favors. Instead, "if that student sacrifices sleep time to study more than usual, he or she will have more trouble understanding material taught in class and be more likely to struggle on an assignment or test the following day." (Try here for an ungated version of the article.)

The authors point out that sacrificing sleep to study is typically a bigger problem in the later grades. Another wrinkle is that students are not very good at studying in the first place. If students are giving up time spent on something academically important (e.g., sleep) and then wasting it by "studying" ineffectively, it's not surprising that their school performance suffers. How would the results be different if students were using that study time more effectively?

In any case, if you or your student are trying to decide between doing that last homework assignment and getting a full night's sleep, you should probably go with the latter. And my experience is that most teachers don't mind granting the occasional extension for a legitimate reason. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

People: School Matchmaker Wins Nobel In Economics

image from media.nola.comAs you may have heard, one of this year's Nobel laureates in economics is Al Roth, currently at Stanford, who among many other things has helped several school districts figure out how best to match parent preferences and school spots in places like Boston and New York City -- formally called "market design." (Getting to know Al Roth).  I know, I know, economists are the bane of education policy.  But hey, at least it wasn't Fryer (joke!).

Roth works on markets for kidneys, tailors, and med school applications, but he's got a fascinating blog that touches on school district choice issues pretty regularly. Like Lucy Bernholz's blog on philanthropy, it's visually ugly (Blogspot!) but full of much more insight and expertise than a 100 of the education blogs you probably read. Some recent posts:  School choice in the news again in BostonNew zones in Boston Public School choiceNew Orleans School Choice: bringing one application process to all schoolsForecasting school enrollment in Los Angeles.

I emailed a bit with him last year, and he was kind enough to share some papers that you might find interesting (see below).

Continue reading "People: School Matchmaker Wins Nobel In Economics" »

Thompson: Beware The Writing Panacea

Hot-DeskDan Willingham's recent Atlantic Magazine post, What Does Science Tell Us About Teaching Kids to Think?, explains that better writing and reading "will probably not accrue if most writing assignments consist of answering short questions, writing in journals, and completing worksheets -- exactly the writing tasks on which elementary school kids spend most of their time." 

Willingham further explains, "A writing assignment may guide student thinking toward substantive issues in, say, history, or it may guide students down a mental primrose path."  

He then explains why potentially valuable assignments such as, "Consider how World War II might have ended differently if the plot to assassinate Hitler had succeeded," often degenerate into fluff. "Unless my students already have some solid background knowledge about the War, about German history and culture," Willingham explains, "I shouldn't be surprised if the essays I get in response aren't much good."

Within the first weeks of my teaching career, I recognized how a neglect of background information, as well as the impulse to deride teacher-directed instruction, was undermining efforts to educate students from extreme poverty.  After a decade of learning from Dan Willingham's research, I still have no easy answers for helping students who often are five to six years behind grade level.  Perhaps we can now get back to common sense and science, and heed the "good evidence that explicit teaching of writing makes kids better writers" and, perhaps, better thinkers. (emphasis is Willingham's)-JT(@drjohnthompson) 

Morning Video: A Pointless Shame

This is the video that Canadian high school student Amanda Todd made shortly before committing suicide last week, in large part over the consequences of a middle school webcam mistake that followed her on Facebook for the next several years and at different schools. (Pointless Shame)

AM News: Romney Might Roll Back "Prescriptive" NCLB Waivers

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Romney Ed. Adviser Casts Doubt on Future of NCLB Waivers Politics K12: The waivers are "not about flexibility. They're very prescriptive. We think they have led to a very unfortunate result: ... many of these states are setting different accountability standards for different constituencies of children," said Handy, a former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education.  ALSO: Impact of NCLB waiver on poor schools challenged The Answer Sheet

Romney Adviser Calls Head Start 'A Social Experience' Huffington Post:  He chided Head Start, the federal pre-school program, saying it has "been allowed to go on for decades ... much more as a social experience, not preparing children for school."

Seeking Aid, More Districts Change Teacher Evaluations NYT: Fueled in part by efforts to qualify for grant programs or No Child Left Behind waivers, 36 states and the District of Columbia have introduced new policies.

More States Earn As and Bs on Charter School "Scorecard" for 2012 State Watch: From 2011 to 2012, the number of states earning As and Bs from from the center actually increased. In the top category, Arizona, Indiana, and Michigan improved to A grades, joining Minnesota (the state with the nation's oldest charter school law) and D.C., while California fell from an A to a B grade in that time. D.C. comes in first, while Minnesota is second, Indiana is third (improving from eighth last year), Arizona is fourth, and Michigan is fifth.

Frustrated by 'Roadblocks,' Group Reviewing Teacher Ed. Appeals to Students TeacherBeat: Using graphics that could have been pulled right out of "Mad Men," the campaign shows a silhouette of an individual wielding a flashlight. "You have the right to know," one advertisement reads. "Help us do what your university would not."

Books: "Some Of My Best Friends Are Black"

ScreenHunter_07 Oct. 14 10.23
Thursday night I got to see the new documentary, "Prep School Negro," which raises important questions about the unintendend effects of scholarship programs, and had the chance to learn a bit about  new book called Some of My Best Friends Are Black, Tanner Colby's look at integration efforts and the conversation white Americans aren't having.

Five Best Blogs: States Race To The Bottom Via Duncan Waivers

0800-brain-age-dudeStates struggling to lower standards without getting accused of well, lowering standards ow.ly/eu3QA @PoliticsK12

The economic value of effective supervisors & the surprising ways they make workers more effective - Slate ow.ly/etYh4 

Proposition 32 Divides California's Education Reformers ow.ly/euLG6

Moving beyond our vacuous education reform discussions | Reihan Salam ow.ly/eu2fb 

A Premortem for Professional Development (Part 2)ow.ly/euKPu @breakthecurve

Want to Ruin Teaching? Give Ratings nyti.ms/PxsCym via @Larryferlazzo

From Jay Mathews: Reforming a nation of bad note-takers: I have never learned how to take lecture notes. bit.ly/W99Fnq

Leadership: Reform Zombies Or Untrained Rookies?

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 15 13.58It seems to me that reform critics want to have it both ways when it comes to the Broad Superintendents program -- claiming at various times that (a) everyone who's participated in the program has been brainwashed into some sort of reform zombie and -- more recently -- (b) the program is skimpy and weak in terms of preparing candidates to run or help run big city school systems.  ("It takes a Chia Pet longer to grow than the 6 weekends a person spends at the Broad Academy training to be a superintendent," quipped Chicago teacher Michelle Gunderson @MSGunderson via Mike Klonsky.)  

Well, which is it -- reform zombie or untrained rookie?  Can't be both, though I'm sure some will make the claim.    

Continue reading "Leadership: Reform Zombies Or Untrained Rookies?" »

Bruno: The Limits of Game-Based Learning

2336496555_180d61cec7As a player and fan I've always wanted to believe that video games are poised to revolutionize education. Contrary to years (decades?) of breathless commentary, though, that revolution has conspicuously failed to materialize.

Kris Wheaton at Mercyhurst College has been working on a great series of posts that explain exactly why game-based learning hasn't lived up to the hype. He identifies a large number of challenges, including the massive costs of developing most video games and the virtual impossibility of making a learning game that will appeal to a broad-enough audience. He also points out that educational games have actually been with us for a very long time, so video games per se don't have the revolutionary potential we might assume.

I had been waiting to post a link until Wheaton's series was completed, but it's been over a month since the last update. Here's hoping we can nudge him to lay out the rest of his thoughts. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Weekend Reading: "Advanced Placement Is A Scam"

Here are some of the best stories I tweeted out from over the weekend, plus the picture of Matt Damon wearing a Chicago Teachers Union hat:


Think education isn't getting attention in the debates? The Atlantic looks at other topics with even less ow.ly/esyt4

Advanced Placement is a scam -- John Tierney in The Atlantic http://ow.ly/erNJu

The power - and peril - of outcome-based penalties (for Congress or teachers) -New Yorker nyr.kr/Tomxjc

The Irrational Allure of the Next Big [Education] Thing - Slate bit.ly/UU1rQW 

Why education reform may be doomed  Salon.comow.ly/erPaJ Richard Rothstein's takedown of Joel Klein

Marshmallow-ology: Delaying gratification only makes sense in an orderly environment, notes TIME ow.ly/erTeN

Juking the stats: Nearly half of SPED kids in CA taking easier form of state test, says EdSource ow.ly/erRva

Teen Bullied During Anti-Bullying Interview - TIME - ti.me/QwbipG

Now parents are "greyshirting" their middle school children to improve chances to become a D1 athletenyr.kr/X51mHk

He wasn't her first honors student to end up being a hit man - New Yorker's Nadya Labi nyr.kr/TomOmr

French President outdoes Obama with plan to hire more teachers AND eliminate homework ow.ly/1OX09x

Media: Associated Press "Clarifies" Its Chicago Story

On Friday, AP "clarified" its October 11 story about Brizard's departure as head of Chicago schools, noting that it should have attributed quotes to the Chicago Sun Times:

ScreenHunter_11 Apr. 07 17.49

Clarification: Chicago Public Schools-Brizard story Associated Press, Published: October 13:  In a story Oct. 11 about the Chicago Public Schools chief stepping down, The Associated Press should have attributed statements by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Chicago Sun-Times, which first reported the resignation. The newspaper quoted Emanuel saying that Jean-Claude Brizard’s resignation was by “mutual agreement” and that the two had spoken about it in “two to three separate conversations.”

As I've told you before, news outlets hate crediting each other or even acknowledging the existence of each other to readers. Though the circumstances are a bit different here since the Sun Times is an AP member.  The AP story is below.

Morning Video: Tracking Chips Added To Student ID Cards

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

They're a little thicker than the plastic ID badges that have become standard, and they have an RFID tag inside them.  NBC News covers the San Antonio controversy. Wired covered this earlier in the fall.

AM News: They're Juking The Stats In El Paso (Allegedly)

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El Paso Rattled by Scandal of ‘Disappeared’ Students NYT: Administrators are accused of keeping low-performing students out of classrooms at test time to bolster schools’ scores.

Dear Teacher, Johnny Isn’t Sick. He’s Just Boycotting the Test. NYT: Some parents have banded together to show their displeasure with the emphasis on standardized exams in New York City schools by having their children boycott field tests.

Schools dilemma for gentrifiers: Keep their kids urban, or move to suburbia? Washington Post: In the end, Petrilli moved from his Takoma Park neighborhood school — diverse Piney Branch Elementary, which is 33 percent low-income — to Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda, where 1 percent of the children are low-income, 2 percent are black and 5 percent are Hispanic.

Alonso calls report done by school consultant 'objective' Baltimore Sun: Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso sent an email to the community this week promoting an "objective, third-party analysis" of his student funding model. But The Baltimore Sun found that the company that did the report helped him implement that program.

See also #thisweekined.

Cartoons: Lisa Simpson's Serious Reading Problem

ScreenHunter_04 Oct. 11 09.56
The Lisa Simpson Book Club 

Afternoon Video: "Meducation"

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Meducation
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive
"Since America can't afford all the teachers it would take to give children personal attention, doctors recommend psychostimulants to improve kids' grades." (Colbert Report)

Thompson: Reflections Of A Recovering Reformer

AlamoBattleRecovering state schools administrator Andy Smarick explains in a new blog post that his political experience has provided a new appreciation for "Reform Realism," which was advocated in 2008 by Mike Petrilli and Checker Finn. 

Government service has taught Smarick more about "the terminal dysfunction of urban districts than the efficacy of competition," he writes in Crime, Punishment, and the Edu-Alamo. "We’ve had tests and reporting requirements in too many states for too long concomitant with little to no student improvement for me to believe any longer that transparency and accountability are the levers we need."  

Ironically, Smarick's conclusion could have been predicted by his intellectual hero, Nobel laureate Tom Schelling. Smarick links to Jonathan Rauch's brilliant "Seeing Around Corners," in the Atlantic Magazine (2005).  Although the reading is even tougher going than Smarick's prose, it is worth wrestling with Rauch's explanation why the social engineering known as school "reform" never had a chance. JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.   

Pictures: Nobel Prize Winner's Report Card Describes Ambitions As "Ridiculous"

"On Monday, John Gurdon won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine. This is an excerpt from his 1949 high school report card." (via Wonkblog, via BoingBoing)

Quotes: Outside Money Turns Candidates Into Chess Pieces

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThese are battles between gigantic groups, and candidates are just chess pieces. Candidates are becoming afterthoughts. - Los Angeles political consultant Parke Skelton, in LA School Report. 

Morning Video: Charter School Approach To District Success

If you're like me you probably missed the Hamilton Project's back to school confab late last month, including this panel about charter school ideas in a district context, featuring Roland Fryer, Seth Andrew (RIP), and Terry Grier.  You can also read a paper from Fryer here. Plus some coverage of the event below.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Charter School Approach To District Success" »

Chicago: Emanuel's Scapegoat

IL_CST (1)News got out last night during the VP Debate that Mayor Emanuel's top education guy, Jean Claude Brizard, was leaving and that Barbara Byrd-Bennett was replacing him.  See scads of coverage below.

City Hall went to great pains to describe the decision as mutual, and unfortunate, and the Chicago Teachers Union and others could barely restrain their glee at having bloodied Rahm Emmanuel's nose a second time in such a short period. 

However, as I and others have observed, this isn't a great result for Emanuel or for the school system, or even perhaps for the teachers union and others who oppose the Mayor.  Brizard was not really to blame for the many ill-considered decisions and actions that were taken during the first few months of the Emanuel administration, which led to the strike and resulted in a contract that nearly everyone agrees was a big win for the teachers. Brizard shouldn't have agreed to take the job without being able to name his own senior team, and was perhaps too affable and not strong enough on implementation.  But education was being run out of City Hall. There's little of what's been happening in Chicago lately that can reasonably be laid at Brizard's feet.  

Continue reading "Chicago: Emanuel's Scapegoat" »

AM News: Biden Attacks Ryan in VP Debate on 4.5 Billion in Proposed Ed Cuts

Biden Hits Ryan for Education Cuts in VP Debate PoliticsK12: Vice President Joe Biden attacked GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan at Thursday night's debate for cuts in Ryan's proposed budget that Biden said would that kick 200,000 children out of the Head Start early childhood program.


Brizard out as CPS chief: 'We agreed it is best' ChicagoTribune: Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard  is out, to be replaced permanently by the school system's chief education officer, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel  said Thursday. Brizard, who has been the CEO for about 17 months, made a mutual  decision with the mayor that it was best he leave the top school post, mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said.

Obama, Romney On Higher Ed Help: Dueling Visions NPR: Many Americans today feel like they've lost or are losing their shot at a college education because paying for it often seems out of reach. So how big of an issue is this in the presidential campaign?

Guide: Tying Common Core and English-Proficiency EdWeek: As school districts forge ahead in putting the common academic standards into practice, many states are still revising or creating new English-language-proficiency standards to spell out for teachers the sophisticated language skills that their English-learner students will need to succeed with the rigorous new academic expectations.

Alabama Immigration Law: SPLC Files Lawsuit After Education Department Refuses To Release Public Records On Latino Students HuffPostEdu: The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Education after the agency refused to release public records detailing the impact of the state’s temporary anti-immigrant law on Latino student attendance.

Five Best Blogs: Better Late Than Never, Right?

Hey, reform critics -- your sworn enemy has proposed $30B in teacher hiring http://ow.ly/epshc  What do you think about that?

NYT opinion piece takes issue with Arne Duncan's declaration of war on paper books http://ow.ly/eoAGU 

Sherman Dorn spies some notable absences and weak spots in the @pienetwork policy agenda  @shermandorn  http://ow.ly/eps64 

"It’s become increasingly obvious that charters have hit a wall," says Fordham's  @kportermagee  http://ow.ly/eprfx 

Unions spend $$ on lobbying/campaign funding but @aftunion didn't offer strike pay to  @ctulocal1 http://ow.ly/eoMAD  @modschool

Teachers' small role explaining achievement is immaterial given better teachers' large marginal impact http://ow.ly/epwZL , sez @nctq

"Why are we educators having so much trouble mobilizing our voice in ways that are effective?" Dangerously Irrelevant http://ow.ly/eptzt 

The case for busing doesn't stand much chance in the current political / economic climate - Atlantic Cities http://ow.ly/eoFWN 

JHU's @robertslavin on the need for better programs to go along with better teachers - in  @educationnation  http://ow.ly/eozIF  

The delight of students, and the scourge of teachers and parents: Flamin' Hot Cheetos  http://ow.ly/epsQl  via @lindalutton

Thompson: Chicago Contract Highlights Balanced Response To Seniority

SenioritySeniority would have been the easiest of issues to resolve if "reformers" had been willing to mend, not end it.  The obvious solution would have been the agreement signed by the Chicago Teachers Union after the recent strike."When a school must cut positions, teachers rated 'unsatisfactory' will be dismissed first, followed by probationary teachers."  In a rational world, such an obvious compromise could have been a stepping stone to a collaborative agreement on the tougher challenge of designing fair evaluations.   The problem is that the management will always be tempted to use teacher evaluations, along with school closings, to rid themselves of veteran teachers, with higher salaries, as well as educators who do not agree with their "reform" theories.  The only solution is eternal vigilance.  Like unions across the nation, Chicago teachers will need to work with the district on implementing evaluations and closing schools. An open process is the best way to deter future attacks on teachers. But, it is equally important that unions and elected officals establish their credibility in terms of fighting back when necessary.-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.  

Movies: "Prep School Negro" Trailer & Screening Schedule

After a lengthy postproduction period, this documentary about what is gained and lost when kids are pulled out of their home environments is finally being screened around the country, including tonight in Brooklyn.

People: Race To The Top Guru Leaves USDE

Earlier this week, image from m4.licdn.comMike Dannenberg has left the USDE for a job at the Education Trust. 

Matt Gandal (right) has left the USDE for a job at Education Strategy Group.

Gandal was at Achieve for a long time, and before that the AFT.   More recently, he was heading the USDE's Race To The Top implementation group.  

No word yet on how the Department is going to handle that key activity going forward.  Amanda Whalen?  Maybe it's already happened, or they're waiting until after the election.


Quotes: This Isn't A Policy Problem -- It's A Political One

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThis is not rocket science. But it is hard political work. The political will to meet the needs of children whose needs have never been met, is tremendously hard. –Terry Grier, Superintendent, Houston Independent School District

Update: Teach For America & The Alternative Certification Loophole

My latest article/book chapter  -- a look back at the history of the alternative certification exemption in NCLB and TFA's development into a Capitol Hill powerhouse -- has just been published by AEI. 
image from www.wingcomltd.com
"Little did anyone know at the time that TFA’s belated arrival to the DC policymaking scene would result in an awkward loophole in No Child Left Behind, an explosion in alternative certification programs (including online and for-profit ones), and prolonged tensions between TFA’s desires to expand its program and its broader reform role."  

Morning Video: Distinguishing Reformers And Republicans

One of reformers' biggest problems right now is distinguishing themselves from more conservative types with whom they share some -- but not all -- agenda elements.


The latest of these is Bruce Rauner, a wealthy Rahm Emanuel advisor who blasted the teachers' union in a recent Bush Foundation event covered in the Tribune and followed up with an opinion piece about the contract that resulted from the strike there.  His rant gets going at the 30 minute mark. 

AM News: Romney Attacks Obama For $30B Teacher Hiring Proposal

Romney Criticizes Obama For Proposing Money To Hire Teachers HuffPostEdu: Romney's belief that state and local governments should decide whether or not to hire teachers has remained consistent. During both the debate and his interview with the Register, he voiced his opposition toward the Obama administration's proposal to send $30 billion in federal dollars to states for the explicit purpose of teacher retention and hiring. 


On Education, U.S. Doesn't Match Rhetoric With Action, Report Says EdWeek: The report, by the organizations Save the Children and First Focus, is the first in what may be an annual series of evaluations. The U.S. Senate commissioned a report card series in 2010 after a subcommittee chaired by former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) launched an investigation into the recession's impact on youth and academic performance.

Justices Weigh Race as Factor at Universities NYT: “What is the critical mass of African-Americans and Hispanics at the university that you are working toward?” Chief Justice Roberts asked a lawyer for the University of Texas at Austin. The chief justice never received a specific answer from the university’s lawyer or from one representing the federal government.

What Do Third-Party Candidates Think About K-12? PoliticsK12: Not a fan of either President Barack Obama or GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney? There are more than a dozen other options, according to Politics1, a very smart political website. Of course, third-party candidates are nothing new. But do any of them have anything interesting to say on education?

The UFT proves a point NYPost: The charter saw a mere eight of its 82 eighth-graders pass the state reading test this year, one of the worst rates of any city charter. Just 28 percent passed math. Last week, the city Department of Education gave the school an “F” in “progress” and a “D” in “performance.” 



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.