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Reform: Hey, Let's Use Klout Scores

image from www.newyorker.com

There's a UNC professor who's grading kids in part (20 percent!) on their Klout scores, a flawed but popular measure of social media popularity.  

It's not the first time this has been tried -- and not necessarily worked (No One Is Getting an A in This Klout College Class, Atlantic).  

I think that elementary and secondary teachers should do this -- maybe with Twitter followers or Facebook friends.  But only with a portion of students' grades.  And then maybe administrators should use Klout or other social measures as part of a teacher's evaluation or for merit pay.  What do you think?

All this is just an excuse to run this October 1 New Yorker cartoon: "I'm sorry, Paige, but grades are based on the quality of the writing, not on your Klout score."

Bruno: Education Trust's Narrow Focus On Ineffective Teachers

4175299981_614e7d9dc5The Education Trust has a report out criticizing school districts in Michigan for rating 99% of their teachers "effective." Their complaint is that by failing to label more teachers as ineffective, districts are lowering expectations for its teachers and therefore lowering teacher quality.

The truth is that there's probably less to this story than meets the eye. There's no correct percentage for ineffective teachers.  And the problems of teaching have as much or more to do with supply than with demand.

Continue reading "Bruno: Education Trust's Narrow Focus On Ineffective Teachers" »

Quotes: "A Magical Drawer Of Effective Teachers"

Quotes2There’s a lot of rhetoric in ed-reform now that says if you just cut the teachers you can open up a magical drawer of effective teachers, pull them out and stick them in. I have not been able to find that magic drawer. –Roland Fryer, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, at a recent Hamilton Project conference.

Morning Video: Pro-Education Teen Shot In Pakistan


"An attempted murder of a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan, who has been speaking out against militants for the past three years, has sparked worldwide outrage. Alan Pizzey reports." (CBS)

AM News: Possible Implications From Supreme Court Diversity Case

Race and College Admissions, Facing a New Test by Justices NYT: Three-quarters of applicants from Texas are admitted under a program that guarantees admission to the top students in every high school in the state. The remaining Texas students and those from elsewhere are considered under standards that take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity.


Union Defends Charter School WSJ: New York City teachers union officials on Tuesday defended a charter school founded by the labor union as the school undergoes a crucial review period that will determine whether the struggling institution stays open. 

Tell Me More: Education Special and Twitter Forum NPR: We'll talk to Alberto Carvalho (@MiamiSup), superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools.We'll hear from current and former U.S. Secretaries of Education, national education advocate Michelle Rhee (@m_rhee) and Sal Khan (@khanacademy), the founder of online education powerhouse Khan Academy. We'll also hear from students, parents, teachers — and you.

Public Schools: Glass Half Full or Half Empty? EdWeek: This year, Gallup's Confidence in Institutions survey revealed a disheartening lack of faith in U.S. public schools. The percentage of participants indicating "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public K-12 education fell to an all-time low of around 29 percent—a drop of 29 percentage points from 1973, when Gallup first began including public schools in its survey.

Romney Threat to Public Broadcasting is Target of New Obama Ad PoliticsK12: The Sesame Street Workshop has asked the Obama campaign to pull an ad featuring Big Bird and mocking GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, after he said in a debate that he planned to balance the federal budget in part by cutting the federal subsidy that helps pay for "Sesame Street" and other Public Broadcasting Service programs.

Afternoon Video: Documentary About Arne's Mom


Some Northwestern alums are making the documentary about the tutoring Arne's mom has been involved with for 50 years, and using Kickstarter to try and fund it.  Thanks to JP for the tip.

Thompson: Busywork & Toxic Society Are Exhausting Teachers

Stressed-teacher-460x276-150x150In "The Exhaustion of the American Teacher," at The Educator's Room, Texas superintendent John Kuhn writes:  

Truth is, the problem with the American student is the American adult. Deadbeat dads, pushover moms, vulgar celebrities, self-interested politicians, depraved ministers, tax-sheltering CEOs, steroid-injecting athletes, benefit-collecting retirees who vote down school taxes, and yes, incompetent teachers—all take their turns conspiring to neglect the needs of the young in favor of the wants of the old.

Kuhn is right and, above all, teachers are tired.  I would only add one point.  The place where "reform" meets the classroom is the mounds of consultant-driven, meaningless paperwork dumped on us in the name of "teacher quality."  Hat tip to Diane Ravitch.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Quotes: America Is Great -- We Must Save It!

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comOur greatest days are ahead of us, and we have the greatest history in the history of history, but this instant right now is completely screwed up, and we've got to save America from disaster. - Stephen Colbert, 

Bruno: Teacher Pay, Part 2: How High Should It Be?

5902557577_0cceab6259_nI previously discussed Chad Adelman's complaint that teacher pay often rises with experience, but I'm also doubtful about another point that he raises: that teacher pay may be too high. (Alderman is definitely not the only person to be making these arguments; it just so happens he combined them into a single post very recently.) Adelman writes about Chicago teachers:

The other thing that’s worth pointing out here is that every step of the Chicago teacher salary schedule did better than inflation. Inflation increased a cumulative 18 percent from 2005 to 2012. Beginning teachers in Chicago saw their pay increase 26.5 percent. Because of those late-career raises, teachers with 14 years of experience were paid 28.3 percent more, and teachers with 25 years of experience were paid 31.6 percent more.

Continue reading "Bruno: Teacher Pay, Part 2: How High Should It Be?" »

Charts: Teacher Jobs Lag, Says Liberal Think Tank

Screen shot 2012-10-06 at 4.23.11 PMI'm not sure I buy it, but here it is:  

Job gain remains steady in September, but job gap in local public education remains high 

EPI via Twitter

Reform: Chicago Delays Unified Charter-District Application

School mapsThis year's application process in Chicago was supposed to feature a unified application process, timeline, and unified website.   That's what NYC, New Orleans, Boston, and Denver have for all or part of their systems, many of them using the same outfit to make the process work.

But that isn't happening for another year at least -- due in large part to concerns from charter schools about the district's ability to handle the system.  

That leaves Chicago parents who are willing to endure the process to pore through roughly 15 different kinds of schools, and seven different applications (not including charters).  It's only recently that parents can apply to some kinds of schools online rather than by mail or in person.

The process in Chicago is almost comically complicated, and the supply of high-performing schools -- district and charter -- remains woefully low.  One result is that roughly two out of three white, college-educated parents send their kids to private or parochial schools.

Coverage: Chicago parents: Get your [multiple] school applications ready WBEZ, Ready, Set, Apply…. for the 2013/2014 school year! cpsobsessed, CPS opens application process for selective, magnet schools Catalyst.

Morning Video: Watch The Obama Education Ad Against Romney

Via EdWeek

AM News: New Pro-Obama PAC Ad Slams Romney on Education

New Pro-Obama PAC Ad Slams Romney on Education Funding PoliticsK12: A Romney administration would mean cuts to early-childhood education, K-12, and higher ed., at least according to a new ad running in swing states by Priorities USA, a pro-Obama political action committee that's running in six swing states.

Romney Out-Performed Obama On Education-Focused Comments During First Presidential Debate: Insider Survey HuffPostEdu: Nearly 30 percent of respondents -- who include current and former senior staff from the U.S. Department of Education, White House, Congress and think tanks -- felt that parents and students were the ones who really lost in the week-and-a-half-long Chicago teachers strike, while 62 percent believe the teachers union emerged victorious.


Supreme Court Looking At Affirmative Action In College Admissions AP: WASHINGTON — Nine years after the Supreme Court said colleges and universities can use race in their quest for diverse student bodies, the justices have put this divisive social issue back on their agenda in the middle of a presidential election campaign.

Calif. Program Takes Aim at 'Teacher-Diversity Gap EdWeek: As the country's K-12 student population grows more ethnically diverse, students of color face the troubling possibility of never having a teacher who looks like them. According to federal data, more than 40 percent of students are nonwhite, compared to just 17 percent of teachers, and that mismatch appears to be on the rise.

College Not For All: Does Apprenticeship Model In Switzerland Provide More Economic Mobility Than The American System? HechingerReport: Most young Americans won’t earn a college degree, says Nancy Hoffman of Jobs for the Future in a Nation interview with Dana Goldstein. A Swiss-style apprenticeship system would motivate young people and qualify them for good jobs, she argues.


Afternoon Video: Kahn Describes Response To His Approach


A three-part interview via Slate.

NCLB: NYT Covers Waiver Questions & Concerns

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

A couple of weeks ago at Education Nation (see video above), EdSec Duncan claimed that states "dummied down" state standards in response to NCLB, and I went predictably ballistic (Duncan Cherry-Picks NCLB History). Over the weekend, in an NYT article about questions surrounding NCLB waivers, Duncan made essentially the same claim and again it went unchallenged. But the moment seems closer when concerns and questions about the rationale for the waivers become better-known.

Thompson: Take A Breather, School "Reformers"

Python_1The Fordham Flypaper's Mike Petrilli says that reformers are ready to take "a breather." In "What's Next on the School Reform Agenda?" Petrilli writes, "Like a snake that's just swallowed a deer, most reformers (and the education system itself) simply can't take anything else on right now."

He then lists pension reform, digital learning, teacher preparation, and principal licensure as areas that some members of the PIE Network see as the next waves of reform.  I am not qualified to say much about pensions or digital learning proposals, so, in contrast to reformers who love to micromanage areas where they have little practical knowledge, I will remain silent on them.  But, I agree with Petrilli that teacher preparation is "a natural outgrowth of reformers’ obsession with teacher evaluations," and the second area raises the question, “are principals the new teachers?” It sounds like an effort to do to principals what they have been forced to do to teachers. 

Petrilli then makes the sensible suggestion that the next wave of reform should be finance reform.  I have doubts about much of Petrilli's proposal, but that is not the point.  School reformers should shift their attention to issues that they are qualified to analyse.  Let them bone up on state governance issues and get involved with macro finance debates, while avoiding micro issues in the types of schools that they never attended, and classrooms where they have little or no experience.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Bruno: Teacher Pay, Part 1: Should It Rise With Experience?

145582915_ff0099d650The strike and new teacher contract in Chicago has given rise to another round of debate over how much teachers should be paid and how that pay should be distributed across their careers. I'm all for having these conversations and think that the standard models of teacher compensation could use some reform, but many of the objections to the status quo seem to me to be incompletely thought out.

Over at The Quick and the Ed Chad Alderman raises two objections to the CPS salary schedule, both of which would need to be laid out more thoroughly to really be compelling. I'll address his two points in separate posts.

Continue reading "Bruno: Teacher Pay, Part 1: Should It Rise With Experience?" »

Campaign 2012: "I Want To Hire Teachers"

image from media.salon.com

The best line from SNL's debate spoof was from the Obama impersonator, who at one point proclaims how he would solve the nation's economic problems: "I want to hire teachers, millions and millions of teachers."  

AM News: Two Suitors Bid to Transform Parent Trigger School in CA

Two Suitors Bid to Transform 'Parent-Trigger' School EdWeek: At the end of a process that drew just four applicants, two relatively small California organizations are each making a case that they be allowed to help lead one of the most publicized school turnaround efforts in the nation's history: the proposed transformation of Desert Trails Elementary School.


Common Core Catches On With Private Schools EdWeek: With all but four states having adopted them since 2010, districts have little choice but to implement the Common Core State Standards. But many private schools are also making the transition.

Fact-checking the presidential debate: Education ChicagoTribune: Obama also said that his education reforms were "starting to show gains." Such gains would be difficult to demonstrate. There are rising test scores in many states, but it's difficult to link these to federal programs. The president has indeed favored aggressive reforms in education, but most of them are still in process as far as results.

Romney Says Mass. Tops Nation in Education, But Is He Right? StateEdWatch: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, during the Oct. 3 presidential debate, proudly declared that Massachusetts has the number one education system of any state. Was the former Bay State governor correct?

Loopholes Seen at Schools in Obama Get-Tough Policy NYT: With an agenda that Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has described as a “quiet revolution,” the Obama administration has pushed rigorous new standards for a majority of the nation’s public schools as well as requirements that states and districts evaluate not just schools but individual teachers, in part by assessing their ability to improve student scores on standardized tests.

Campaign 2012: Obama Broke 2 Of 31 Education Promises

ScreenHunter_08 Oct. 08 08.54 ScreenHunter_12 Oct. 08 08.58
PolitiFact has a long, interesting look at Obama's education record (Grading Obama on education reform) that includes some curious findings -- just two of 31 campaign promises broken (funding for charter schools and IDEA), and just five promises stalled.  Take a look -- for what did they give too much (or too little) credit?

Video Interlude: "Life Of Pi" Trailer

Here's the First Trailer for Ang Lee's Life of Pi (Gawker)

Five Best Blogs: Don't Forget Implementation, Reformers!

Tumblr_lt50v1OBql1qinh1vo1_500 Fordham's @MichaelPetrilli reports out from Minneapolis on implementation and next effortsow.ly/efJe1 #5bb @PIEnetwork

It  happens to everybody: AEI critiques @Joy_Resmovits @HuffPostEdu funding story & gets correction #5bb ow.ly/egaEx

Reassigned teacher live-streams his tedium in a “rubber room” NYPOST.com ow.ly/efYpy

Report showing Harlem district schools transfers comparable to charter prompts intense finger-pointingow.ly/efDv4 #5bb

Education a top tweet topic in first debate ow.ly/egawj #5bb USAT via @sbanchero

CAP reviews Fordham book on elite schools, raises excellence and equity questions ow.ly/efJye #5bb@EdProgress

Unions still playing a big, if different, role in elections -latimes.com ow.ly/efvGQ #5bb

Thompson: Value-Added vs Objective Evaluations

FridaynightlightsRichard Rothstein's "What Research Really Says on Teacher Evaluation," in the Washington Post, reviewed the large body of social science that explains why value-added estimates are not valid for individual evaluations.  Rothstein then made the common sense point that value-added will poison the well and undermine more appropriate metrics.  He concluded, "one thing of which we can be certain: Armed with knowledge of teacher value-added scores, it will be much harder for principals to observe and evaluate teachers objectively." 

On the other hand, there will be principals with the integrity to resist abuses due to flawed value-added estimates. Award-winning principal, Carol Burris, another guest blogger at Valerie Strauss' The Answer Sheet,  reported that 500 principals returned surveys regarding the first year of New York's value-added ratings of their teachers. Burris explained, "Seventy three percent of respondents said that the 'ineffective' label assigned to some of their teachers was either not a very accurate or an inaccurate reflection of that teacher."  

 Burris cited one principal who wrote: “Two excellent teachers who volunteer to take on my toughest students got an ineffective. Their hearts were broken. So was mine.” Some principals "stated that they would change their teacher’s assignment next year and assign them less needy students so that they could protect these excellent teachers from the ineffective rating."

Continue reading "Thompson: Value-Added vs Objective Evaluations" »

Pictures: New Picture Of Rhee Surfaces

image from www.ctcapitolreport.com
This picture of Rhee waving a ruler in your (teachers') face(s) was on the CT Capital Report, which I've never seen before but looks like it comes from the old broom shoot.

Morning Video: Pink Romney Shirt Generates Discipline

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According to the student, the teacher likened the shirt to a KKK garment. NBC News.

AM News: School-Closing Discussions Fuel Chicago Fears

Aldermen want hearings on Chicago school closings ChicagoTribune: Although Chicago teachers have signed off on their new contract, the lingering anxiety about the future of the city's public education system surfaced Thursday as Aldermen stepped up a call for hearings on potential school closings.

4 Decades After Clashes, Boston Again Debates School Busing NYTEducation: Nearly four decades after this city was convulsed by violence over court-ordered busing to desegregate its public schools, Boston is working to reduce its reliance on busing in a school system that is now made up largely of minority students. AMNews

Obama, Romney Spar Over Education In First Presidential Debate  HechingerReport: In the past, Romney has discussed making the U.S. Department of Education a "heck of a lot smaller," although he has not specified what programs would be eliminated. During the debate, Romney called for getting rid of inefficient federal programs in all areas.

Schools Falter at Keeping ELL Families in the Loop EdWeek: One of the biggest challenges, educators and advocates said, is communicating effectively with parents who don't speak English—an issue that, in part, has brought recent complaints of discrimination against Latino students and their families to two large districts in North Carolina and one in Louisiana.

Exit Exams Face Pinch in Common-Core Push EdWeek: Twenty-five states, enrolling a total of 34.1 million students, make exit exams a graduation requirement, according to a study released last month by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based think tank.

Quotes: "I'm Not Going To Cut Education"

Quotes2I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. - Mitt Romney at last night's debate. 

Trailers: New HBO Documentary On Dyslexia


New ideas and approaches to treating dyselxia.  Premiers on HBO 10/29

Teachers: The "New Girl" Gets Laid Off

ScreenHunter_03 Oct. 04 07.43
In the season premier of Fox sitcom "New Girl," Jess (Zooey Deschanel) gets laid off from her job as a teacher and tries her hand as perhaps the worst shot girl there ever was.

Charts: Updated Look At Teacher Salaries, School Day Length

image from www.chicagomag.comThis chart from Chicago Magazine says that Chicago's just-approved new contract puts the city more in line with the school hours in other big city districts.  

People: An Ambivalent TFA Reformer In Los Angeles

image from laschoolreport.comOne of the most interesting characters in the LA education scene is Steve Zimmer (pictured), a TFA alum and career teacher who left his classroom to try and be a "bridge" member on the LAUSD board of education, which is still elected.  

One of the reasons you hardly ever hear about Zimmer from TFA and others is that, once elected to the board, Zimmer found himself siding with reform critics (and UTLA) as much or more than with the reform community led by Monica Garcia and the voting bloc that brought in John Deasy but could lose its slim majority in March.  (He recently proposed an increase in charter school oversight, for example, and a moratorium on new charters.)

Hillel Aron, the reporter for LA School Report, has been doing a series of interviews with board members (and flagging potential candidates for the March elections).  I thought this one, with Zimmer, was particularly interesting in the way it captures just how difficult it is to be an educator who wants change.  As it plays out in LA, basically, everyone ends up hating you and running candidates against you.

Here's the interview:  Alienating Both Sides.  Here's a preview of candidates who may run against Zimmer, including Children Now's Kate Anderson: Possible Board Candidates: District 4.Here's a look at the $5 million in independent expenditures that unions and reformers have spent on the last two LAUSD races: Dark Money Dominates.

Are there other career educators, TFA or otherwise, who've tried to be for reform but then struggled with the methods and priorities?  The only other two I can think of are Gary Rubinstine and Seth Lavin.

Maher: A Low-Cost, High-Retention Program

This is a guest post from Michael Maher [@mj_maher], who works at the NC State College of Education:

Tumblr_mb7zsuOCHs1qa0uujo1_500Last week, Congressional leaders agreed to extend the regulation that makes alternative certification teachers "highly qualified" under NCLB, with the condition that there should be a report on where these teachers are and how they're distributed.

 But who wants to wait for that?  We already know where they are located: high need areas (math, science, special education) and high need schools (poor, urban, rural). And who needs to wait to know more about teacher preparation, when President Obama is already calling for a 100,000-teacher STEM initiative whose teachers would likely come mostly from alternative programs?

The thing is, alternative certification isn't a miracle cure for teacher preparation, and it would be unfortunate if the White House and others looked past traditional programs that have shown that they can attract top candidates, prepare them, and keep them in the profession -- at a far lower cost.

Continue reading "Maher: A Low-Cost, High-Retention Program" »

AM News: Romney Denies Planned Education Cuts

In Debate, Obama Says Romney Would Cut School Funding AP:  President Barack Obama says Republican rival Mitt Romney favors cutting a fifth of the Education Department's budget while Romney is countering that Obama directed $90 billion to so-called "green jobs" – a sum, he says, that would hire 2 million teachers.

Romney: 'I'm Not Going to Cut Education Funding' PoliticsK12: "I'm not going to cut education funding. I don't have any plan to cut education funding and—and grants that go to people going to college...I'm not planning on making changes there," said Romney, who for the first time specifically addressed education spending—something he's been continually attacked on by the Obama campaign.


Karen Lewis, Street Fighter Chicago Magazine: A Halloween mask of Rahm Emanuel’s face was tacked onto a shelf in front of Lewis’s desk, staring straight at her and leaving little doubt that she considers the mayor her chief opponent. 

Education Economy" Continues to Suffer in Pennsylvania Statewatch: In a new survey about the financial health of Keystone State school districts, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators report that while the labor market for Keystone State public school workers isn't as disastrous as it used to be, the numbers will still cause some school funding advocates to gulp.

Some Schools Actually Want Students To Play With Their Smartphones In Class NPR: For three years, Oyster River Middle School in Durham, N.H., has been letting students use their touch-screen devices in class. The kids learn how to make presentations on iPads, how to keep track of their homework on a smartphone, and what they should and shouldn't post on social media sites.

Five Best Blogs: Online Charters Dinged For Quality & Cost


Up 30 pct since last year, online charters face quality & cost backlash ME NJ NC PA TN FL http://ow.ly/ebDyU  @SSimonReuters

US Chamber and National PTA coalition urge Duncan to me more careful with NCLB waivers, notes SI&A Cabinet Report ow.ly/ec0o8

Reform-backed CT candidate wins recount primary thanks to late $$ from reform group http://Courant.com  http://ow.ly/ebWhB  

Wilingham & Ferlazzo debate whether online nastiness is a function of psychology or strategy (or, probably, both) http://ow.ly/ebEHA 

When Curious Parents See Math Grades in Real Time - WSJ.com ow.ly/eco90 

Teach Plus: Charter or District? Whatever Works ow.ly/ecb9h

How Teachers Can Avoid "SHOCKTOBER" NPR http://ow.ly/ebKWO @roxannaelden 

Afternoon Video: Duncan Talks Textbooks, Teachers, Election

Bruno: Reframing The Debate About Standards-Based Grading

2150874047_aa6ae998fdMy post last week on standards-based grading generated a lot of feedback that helped me see a shortcoming in what I wrote. There are really two distinct camps of standards-based-grading advocates that I shouldn't have blurred together because I'm much more sympathetic to one than I am to the other.

One camp takes the position that content mastery is really the only thing that matters when formally reporting student outcomes. On this account other factors like how hard students worked or how well they behaved in class don't matter much (if at all) to the rest of the world and should matter to teachers only insofar as they contributed to mastery of the content.

The second camp of standards-based-grading advocates takes the position that report cards should contain more, and more useful, information. On this account it might make sense to include "behavior" or "citizenship" grades or marks on a report card, but they should be distinct from marks for academic mastery.  

Continue reading "Bruno: Reframing The Debate About Standards-Based Grading" »

Thompson: J.K. Rowling Explains Defiant Kids & School Improvement

In a recent interviewNPR’s Steve Inskeep starts the interview with novelist J.K. Rowling with a passage from her new book  A Casual Vacancy that caught my attention right away: 


“Misbehaving kids are sent to a guidance counselor who wearily reflects, quote, ‘many of them were devoid of work-a-day morals. They lied, misbehaved and cheated routinely. And yet their fury when wrongly accused was limitless and genuine.’"

The former school teacher who gave us “Harry Potter” explained how “damaged” people “often meet the world with a kind of defiance.” As American teachers can also attest, students in the toughest schools can exhibit a “very routinely cavalier relationship with the truth.”  And, when at-risk kids are “actually unjustly accused they'll dig in.”  The already complicated challenge of creating orderly learning environments then becomes even more challenging.  But, we can’t forget Rowling’s reminder that even the most frustrating of students’ responses to even the most reasonable rules are legacies of fear, of being treated like a statistic, of being voiceless, and of being seen as a ”problem.” Teenagers are “truth seekers,” and “they crave the big picture. ... They often go to the heart of things.”

That is why the first rule of education reform, I believe, should be to listen to the kids and they will teach you how to teach them.  Stop treating human beings as numbers, and we can build on students' (often maddening) moral consciousness to create school cultures worthy of a democracy.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Morning Video: Tampa Student Spotlights School Violence

Eighth-grader De'Qonton Davis and his classmates set out to investigate how violence affect students' ability to learn. From the PBS NewsHour last week - to tide you over until I can get a full embed copy of the Duncan speech.

AM News: Duncan Tries To Reassure Teachers, Slam Romney

Duncan tries to smooth relations with teachers Washington Post: “I know some educators feel overwhelmed by all of this change,” Duncan said during a wide-ranging speech at the National Press Club in Washington. “Teachers always, always support accountability and a fair system of evaluation. They want the feedback so they can get better. But some of them say it’s happening too quickly and not always in a way that is respectful and fair.”


Arne Duncan: 'Everybody won' in Chicago teacher strike The Daily Caller: "I honestly think everybody won. No one wanted the strike, teachers didn’t want that, the administration didn’t want that,” said Duncan. “At the end of the day,” Duncan said, ”they got to a contract that, I think, was very fair and respected teachers and valued them as professionals.”

Duncan in Campaign Mode' PoliticsK12: During the Q-and-A period, Duncan was asked to predict the biggest difference in education policy between an Obama administration and a Mitt Romney administration. He said the difference was "clear" and "stark," that the Obama administration sees education as an "investment," while Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan see it as an "expense."

N.H. Charter Freeze Triggers Fierce Backlash EdWeek: A recent decision by the New Hampshire board of education to place a moratorium on new charter schools drew an angry response from elected officials and parents—and underscored recurrent tensions among state and local officials across the country about how to fund those schools and manage their growth.

Oakland Schools To Allow Federal Monitoring Of Black Student Discipline HuffPostEdu: The Oakland Unified School District and the U.S. Department of Education agreed last week to allow for at least five years of federal monitoring as the district attempts to reduce the disproportionately high black student suspension rate, the Los Angeles Times reports.

What To Know About Florida's Amendment 8 StateImpact: Florida voters will decide this fall whether to strip language from the state constitution which prohibits public funding for churches or other religious-affiliated groups. The ballot question is likely to be one of the most contested of the 2012 election.


Afternoon Video: "PTA Shakedown"

 "Our budget's been cut, school's hitting the skids, We're coming for you, and we're bringing our kids." 


Click here to watch it again or read the lyrics.

Quotes: Correlation, Meet Causation

Quotes2No, correlation does not imply causation, but it sure as hell provides a hint. - Slate via @kevincarey 

Thompson: The Story Behind Sharpstown High (& "Apollo 20")

PBS Frontline's Dropout Nation reported that Houston Superintendent Terry Grier had just been on the job for a few monthswhen he heard that four of the district's high schools were failing.  He heard about Roland Fryer’s ideas on school improvement and got in touch with him. Frontline reported that, "After a long phone conversation, Grier gathered a team and headed to Boston to hammer out a plan." It did not report on any effort by Grier to look into evidence for Fryer's hypothesis. 


Eventually, Grier gambled $61 million on his "Apollo 20" reforms. The first year he spent $6 million replacing 310  teachers and the principals of nine schools.  The school featured by PBS, Sharpstown, was not one of the worst of the Apollo 20 high schools, but 39 of the school's 78 teachers were replaced.  Based on Frontline and other coverage, however, it appears that the school benefitted from some of the best of the administrative hires. None of my complaints with Grier's quick-triggered judgment should be taken as a criticism of Sharpstowns' dedicated educators.

Grier still maintains his facile claim about the toughest schools - that we "know what to do with them."  But, his administrators at Sharpstown openly acknowledged their inability to overcome the worst legacies of trauma and generational poverty.  While Grier's spin was consistent with the cherry-picking of Roland Fryer in featuring the experiment's successes, the school administrators' candor was consistent with the data buried in the tables of Fryer's evaluation of Apollo 20. And, as PBS reported, the second year academic results were even more modest.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Story Behind Sharpstown High (& "Apollo 20")" »

Bruno: Don't Be Misled By Toxic Online Education Exchanges

It was nearly a month ago that John Thompson linked to John Merrow's piece about hyperpolarization in education reform debates, but I only just got around to reading it. It's just as well, because Merrow's points about "rants and negativity" were nicely illustrated by the recent Chicago teachers' strike.


Over the course of the CTU work stoppage I was struck by the nastiness of the online discourse. Supporters of the strike casually claimed that Rahm Emanuel & Co. were dishonest "privatizers", and CTU's critics routinely claimed to have demonstrated that Chicago's striking teachers - and Karen Lewis in particular - did not care about the district's children. And, of course, while each side was horrified and offended by the groundless personal attacks made against them, neither side seemed to appreciate the irony of their hypocrisy. Sadly, it was only a somewhat exaggerated version of the sort of polarized discourse Merrow criticized pre-strike.

And yet what strikes me every time I step away from the computer is that the discourse around education in my offline life is not nearly so polarized. I read the phrase "war on teachers" online nearly every day, but have never heard it in person from a teacher. My coworkers use standardized test results some times and complain about their limitations other times, but they rarely use terms like "mania" or "meaningless" that you commonly see online. I don't think I've ever heard a teacher either deny that poverty "matters" or use poverty as an "excuse."

In other words, while much of the education conversation in this country is overly polarized, it is not uniformly polarized and focusing on the most-polarized contexts -e.g., social media or the districts with the most adversarial labor/management relationships - can give a misleading impression of the temperature of the debate nationwide. The case for optimism may therefore be slightly stronger than John Merrow allows. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Morning Video: "The United States Of ALEC"


The education segment of this Bill Moyers report starts at the 14 minute mark, according to Tim Furhman who shared this on his blog.

AM News: Chicago Teachers Vote On Contract

Teachers poised to vote on new contract Chicago Tribune: Chicago teachers Tuesday will vote on whether to accept a contract agreement and end a contentious labor battle that culminated in a seven-day strike last month.

CTU members set to vote on contract deal that ended teachers strike Sun Times:  Some 30,000 Chicago Teachers Union members vote Tuesday on whether to ratify the contract deal that resolved the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years.

PLUS editorials: Why the teachers' labor contract stings Tribune, Vote for a truce, CTU Sun Times: 

New Fla. Pre-K Test Draws Concerns From Educators EdWeek: But under a new standardized assessment required by the state to measure how the nearly 184,000 4-year-olds in Florida's voluntary prekindergarten program are doing in early literacy, numeracy, and language development, some early-education providers say those key social skills will be discounted as evidence of how well they are preparing pupils for kindergarten.


Schools’ Failure to Improve May Lead to More Closings NYT: New York City’s Education Department may step up its efforts to close schools after more than 150 of them posted a third straight year of mediocre results on their annual progress reports.

Orangeburg School District Leaders In South Carolina Go Door-To-Door To Encourage Students To Return To School EdWeek: Saturday, 40 volunteers divided into teams in pursuit of 35 absent students — two of whom are in middle school.

Ole Miss Students Look Back At Integration NPR: Fifty years ago, James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi, had to be escorted by federal marshals to his mostly empty classes. His enrollment came after a standoff between state segregationists and the federal government that led to a deadly riot on the Oxford campus.

Five Best Blogs: This Blog Post Has No Title


The Movie Teachers' Unions Hate, but Everyone Else Should Appreciate - Chris Feliciano Arnold - The Atlantic ow.ly/e8eGY 

Principal to student: "I hope you're not going to let this IPO affect your grades." ow.ly/e8cre

"Evidence of widespread cheating is now emerging in Philadelphia, Columbus, Ohio, El Paso..." ow.ly/e8jPw is that correct?

PIE conference bubbles with ideas to improve schools | MinnPost ow.ly/e8eN0

Cartoon: New excuses "The cloud ate my homework" The New Yorker ow.ly/e8cbV 

Why Do America’s [Classroom Teachers] Feel Victimized by Obama? : The New Yorker ow.ly/e8bZO 

 Paul Tough Is Way Off-Base. And Stop Saying "Grit". wp.me/pJX8i-1us 


Bruno: Sometimes It Makes Sense To Back Down

BombIt looks like the controversial edu-movie Won't Back Down was an epic flop at the box office, barely even squeaking in to the weekend box office top-ten list. By most accounts it also isn't very good, although I haven't seen it.

Given that all signs point to the movie being completely forgettable on its own terms, it's probably safe to say that all of the hand-wringing and protesting by parent trigger opponents was much ado about nothing. In fact, I'd go so far to say that the movie's opponents probably shot themselves in the foot by turning a movie nobody was going to care about into a "nationwide conversation" in which parent trigger advocates could make their case.

If you'd asked teachers' unions a year ago whether they'd like to be having a nationwide conversation about parent trigger laws I think the answer would have been "no", but that's exactly where we're at today. If we're having that conversation despite the fact that Won't Back Down was a commercial dud, it's hard to see that as a tactical victory for parent trigger opponents.  (My local NPR affiliate teased a related segment as being about "the new movie the teachers' unions hate", which is the kind of framing that indicates that this isn't a debate the unions are likely to cleanly "win.")

I thought it was pretty clear from the first trailer that Won't Back Down wasn't going to be very good or very popular, but it still would have made sense for the movie's opponents to take a sober informative public stand against the dubious logic of parent triggers. By refusing to let the movie die its own quiet death, however, its opponents may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Weekend Reading: Three Don't-Miss Things To Read

ScreenHunter_40 Oct. 22 14.26
Three of the dozen or so stories I pointed folks to over the weekend:

We've already seen some pushback against the Tough book from the right, and here's some from the left: Paul Tough Is Way Off-Base. And Stop Saying “Grit”. « Katie Osgood @ the chalk face ow.ly/e6JZb

The Chicago Reader takes a look at a charter school teachers' firing:  Fighting for the right to fire bad teachers—and good ones too - Chicago Reader ow.ly/e6IgA

Ed tech enthusiasts were hoping that access to kids would be eased, but apparently that's not going to happen just yet:  F.T.C. Moves to Tighten Online Privacy Protections for Children -http://ow.ly/e4TRf  

Looking for things to read over the weekend?  Follow me on Twitter -- I post articles and commentary you might not otherwise see, from magazines and blogs outside the usual education list.

Campaign 2012: Debate Question Predictions

What (if anything) do you think the moderators will ask Romney and Obama about education on Wednesday -- or will the candidates bring up themselves?  

image from images.politico.comMy guesses are here -- yours in comments or Twitter.

1 -- Parent Trigger

2 -- Chicago strike

3 -- Common Core / too much central control over standards and assessment

Given the moderators don't know education or have it at the top of their priority lists, it's usually something very general, very newsy -- very easily answered in vague terms.  

AM News: A New Approach To STEM


Microsoft Sends Engineers to Schools to Encourage the Next Generation NYT: Microsoft is taking an unusual approach to tackling a shortage of computer science graduates — one of the most serious issues facing the technology industry, and a broader challenge for the nation’s economy.

Superintendent Fired in Wake County, N.C. EdWeek: School integration efforts and student diversity are perpetually in the spotlight in Wake County, which drew national attention in 2000 for creating a school-assignment plan based on socioeconomics rather than race. 

Romney's Comments About Parents, Early Ed Raise Eyebrows PoliticskK12: Earlier this week, NBC's Brian Williams asked Mitt Romney about his plans for early childhood education. Romney didn't spell out any new initiatives; instead, he focused on the role of parents, saying that it can be "extraordinarily important" for one parent to stay home with their child during the early years. 

Affirmative Action Case Up for Airing at High Court EdWeek: “This is predominantly a higher ed. case, but our interests in K-12 diversity are not dissimilar to the interests of higher education,” he said. The Fisher case is one of the biggest of the court’s new term, and for now is the only education case on the docket. It involves Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 under the university’s “holistic review” program. 

Newspaper: Test Security Inconsistent Among States ABC News: Newspaper: Many states don't use basic test security steps designed to prevent cheating




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