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Five Best Blogs: Las Vegas Self-Reports Happy News

Hey, this new "rate yourself" program is great, says Clark County Nevada school system  ow.ly/fIYMk

These state veto / lame duck sessions are full of ed reform bits -- IL earlier this week, MI here #5bbow.ly/fJ223

Krugman: Class Wars of 2012 - NYTimes.com #5bb via @atlanticwire ow.ly/fIWtB

Wild times in the Michigan veto session #5bb via Daily Kos :ow.ly/1PRyGz

Online schools spend millions to attract studentsow.ly/fGUQw @gtoppo #5bb OK, interesting, but how much do district schools spend?

LA Unified 'could do more' to improve its handling of child abuse reports, says state audit released today @latams #5bb ow.ly/fGIP5

Capitol Hill: Jeff Bingaman, Education Senator

image from d1k4es7bw1lvxt.cloudfront.netAfter 30 years on the Hill, New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is leaving DC.  Last night on the 9th floor of the Hart Senate Office Building there was a reception celebrating all his accomplishments.

For a bunch of his time in the Senate, Bingaman was on the Senate education committee, balancing out the more ahem, outspoken Democratic members from the Northeast.  And, for a few years during the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have been his education LA.  

Some of Bingaman's other education LAs, Fellows, and LCs include:  Carmel Martin.  Peter Zamora.  Michael Yudin.  Rena Subotnik.  Chris Harrington.  David Schindel. Sanjay Kane.

Afternoon Video: When Pediatricians Promote Literacy

Watch Pediatricians Add Reading to Essential Health Check-Up List on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

From last night's PBS NewsHour

Thompson: A Shoddy Study On Teacher Retention

RheebroomtThe Washington Post's Emma Brown, in Study Chides D.C. Teacher Turnover,  reports that the TNTP, which was founded by Michelle Rhee, asserts that the D.C. schools do not retain enough "irreplacable" teachers but they are doing a better job of removing ineffective ones.  

The TNTP report, titled Keeping the Irreplaceables in D.C Public Schools, acknowledges one problem - that Rhee's IMPACT evaluation system is the fourth most important reason why top teachers leave.   And, as Dana Goldstein notes, up to 40% of D.C. teachers turned down IMPACT bonuses in return for giving up their seniority protections -- indicating a lack of trust in the district.

How did the TNTP try to address the all-important question of whether D.C. is unfairly evaluating teachers in high-poverty schools?  That's where the real action is.

Continue reading "Thompson: A Shoddy Study On Teacher Retention" »

NCLB: The Reauthorization We Could Be Having [Now]

PredictingthefutureAs this lame duck Congress wraps up and energy builds towards a new Congress and a second Obama term in office, I can't help but wishing that reauthorizing NCLB was something that was on everyone's first order of business for January and February. Instead, the states are running off  into the woods with their NCLB waivers, Duncan chasing behind them with letters reminding them of their vague promises to uphold the spirit of NCLB.

Of course, the Obama folks didn't know if they'd get another term, and nobody knew whether the NCLB reauthorization that came out of the current (old) Congress would be any good. To be fair, the same thing got done to the DREAMers, who are now in the same kind of political and policy limbo as NCLB.

But still, it could have been different -- should have been, I'd argue.  

Continue reading "NCLB: The Reauthorization We Could Be Having [Now]" »

Pictures: Welcome, This Is Your New Classroom [Of The Future]

image from llnw.wbez.org
From WBEZ Chicago:  MOOCs and distance learning

Morning Video: VA Kids Attack Bus Driver

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

From last night's NBC Nightly News: "Six middle school students in Richmond, Va., were suspended after they allegedly attacked their school bus driver."  Hey, at least it wasn't teachers.

AM News: USDE Emphasizes Grad Rates Under NCLB Waivers

Ed. Dept. Emphasizes Graduation-Rate Accountability in Letter to States PoliticsK12: In the face of continued criticism that the federal Education Department is allowing states to weaken graduation-rate accountability, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to states reinforcing that high school completion must be a significant part of accountability systems under No Child Left Behind Act waivers.

AMNewsBill to delay CPS school closings announcement goes to governor ChicagoCatalyst: The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn for his approval, which surely has been arranged. CPS has promised a five-year moratorium on closings in exchange for the delay.

California Targets School Borrowing WSJ: California Treasurer Bill Lockyer Thursday called for overhauls in school districts' sales of so-called capital-appreciation bonds, saying too many schools are locking themselves into what he described as "terrible deals" with onerous terms such as debt payments of more than 10 times the principal.

Jeb Bush, with cash and clout, pushes contentious school reforms CNBC: As he convenes a star-studded policy summit this week in Washington, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential education reformers in the U.S. Elements of his agenda have been adopted in 36 states, from Maine to Mississippi, North Carolina to New Mexico.

Elementary Pupils Immersed in Foreign Language EdWeek: This school year, a Delaware district introduced a more novel and potentially more effective foreign-language initiative to talk up: a new Chinese-immersion program for 101 kindergartners, which the district plans to offer those children and successive kindergartners through 8th grade.

Reform: War On Drugs = War On Schools?

Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 12.42.51 PMI'm not generally conspiracy-minded or even mildly persuaded by the folks who say that there's some sort of war on teachers going on in America today, or even a war on teachers. But I have to admit that there were some chilling moments for me watching last night's Charlie Rose segment on the war on drugs, including a clip of David Simon explaining the financial incentives that skew the attentions of street cops and police departments towards drug arrests and another segment in which one of Rose's guests describing how the Southern Strategy (get tough on crime, disparate enforcement and punishments for certain crimes) became so popular that Democratic lawmakers starting espousing it along with the Republicans and working-class Southern whites for which it was originally intended. 

Only now, 40 years later, are they realizing what a mess they created.  Click here.  It's the final segment. Andrew Solomon was also on, and addressed the Horace Mann sex scandal that came out last winter.

Update: Why Catalyst & The Notebook Aren't Joining ENN

image from www.infovark.comHere are some more details on the merger of GothamSchools and EdNewsColorado into the Education News Network, and the non-participation of Chicago's Catalyst and Philly's Notebook.  

Basically it boils down to new vs. old, it being complicated to pull off a four-way merger, and differences among the sites in terms of how they operate including particularly the longstanding commitment of the older publications (Catalyst and The Notebook) to print publication vs. online-only.  

Read below for what EdNews, Catalyst, and The Notebook have to say.  No response from GothamSchools.  Also, I should have noted in the original post that I've talked with many of these same outlets over the years about collaborating and joining forces in various ways, and was at one point sponsored by Catalyst for my Chicago schools blog.  

Continue reading "Update: Why Catalyst & The Notebook Aren't Joining ENN" »

Quotes: The Middle Class Obstacle To School Reform

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comMiddle-class communities don’t want to be told that the options they have are not good enough. There’s an unwillingness to accept the fact that their schools are just not excellent. -- Success Academy's Jenny Sedlis

AM News: All That Testing Comes To Less Than $2 Billion


Standardized Testing Costs States $1.7 Billion a Year, Study Says EdWeek: The report released Nov. 29 by the Washington-based Brown Center on Education Policy, at the Brookings Institution, calculates that the test spending by 44 states and the District of Columbia amounted to $65 per student on average in grades 3-9 based on the most recent test-cost data the researchers could gather.

Charter School Proponents To Announce Major Focus On Shutting Down Failing Schools HuffPostEdu: On Wednesday morning, Richmond will join New Jersey Schools Commissioner Chris Cerf and California charter schools advocate Jed Wallace at Washington D.C.'s National Press Club to announce a new campaign, "One Million Lives," that aims to crack the whip on the duds.

Duncan Sharpens Second-Term Agenda, Stresses Teacher QualityPoliticsK12: As for renewed areas of emphasis, he clearly wants to focus on teacher and principal quality. He said teacher education programs are "part of the problem."

CPS School Closing Deadline Extension Approved In Illinois House Vote  Reuters: The Illinois House voted by a wide margin on Wednesday to allow the Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third-largest district, to extend by four months a deadline to announce what could be dozens of school closings.School officials say they want the additional time to consult with the community over how best to close schools.

Online schools spend millions to attract students USATODAY: An analysis by USA TODAY finds that online charter schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years, a trend that shows few signs of abating.

Five Best Blogs: Some Days There Aren't Really "Five Best Blogs"

ScreenHunter_08 Nov. 27 09.43Duncan weighs in on DREAM Act passage - Univision#5bb ow.ly/fEvEg

Suit Targets 'Locator' Chips in Texas Student IDs @APow.ly/fEvtz ACLU and Christian conservatives join forces against #5bb

Can NACSA, NJ, and CA initiate shutdown of failing charter schools?  They're giving it another try ow.ly/fEiox

A Strategic Plan for [Angry Progressive School Reform Critics] - The American Prospect #5bb ow.ly/fEeP6

Sillytime! NYT columnist proposes Duncan for SofState ow.ly/fEeAo 

Susan Rice's National Cathedral School 9th Grade Teacher, John Wood, Defends Her Against Attackow.ly/fDllT

Update: The Extension/Moratorium [Bloodbath] Moves Forward

Have you ever noticed that many education wonks and advocates don't like to pay much attention to issues like school budgets, closings, attendance zones, and other gritty operational issues?  Me, too. Sometimes, the silence is pretty deafening, especially in contrast to the usual "look at me!" clamor on other topics.  Then again, I should talk, hiding here behind my computer.


Anyway, the latest news from the school closing controversy in Chicago is that a statehouse committee in Springfield approved the city's request to extend the school closing deadline from December 1 (Saturday) for an additional four months, despite an all-out effort by the teachers union to change lawmakers' minds (and critical editorials from both Chicago dailies, and me describing it as a "bloodbath"). Just a few minutes ago Chicago announced that the extension had been approved by the legislature.

Did Monday's surprise offer of a moratorium help CPS's case for a deadline extension, or just muddy the waters and look desperate?  Are CTU and its allies building a strong case against closings, or are they sounding extreme and out of touch?  It's not really clear.  The one possibly good thing that might come out of the messy process is a school closing commission, sort of like the old DoD one used for closing bases in the 1990s.  It's been suggested for years, by me and others, and only has 4 months to work, but ... crossed fingers.

See a roundup of news coverage and commentary below.

Continue reading "Update: The Extension/Moratorium [Bloodbath] Moves Forward" »

Quotes: "Is This When Things Start To Really Change?"

Is this when things start to really change? When upper-middle-class charter parents start bragging to their friends? - Brooklyn mother of three on the spread of mixed-income charter schools

Reform: Can The Charter Quality Movement Gain Traction?

One_Million_Lives_Logo_WebAn announcement is just that -- a statement of intentions about things that haven't happened yet.  And this isn't the first time that charter quality proponents like NACSA's Greg Richmond have tried to rein in the charter school movement.  (Disclosure: I've done some freelance writing and research for them.) 

But NACSA's new "One Million Lives" might be the largest and have the greatest chances of success -- if it can find ways to pick up additional powerful allies and do what so few inside the reform movement are willing to do: name states, authorizers, networks, and specific schools. And if the reform movement can get over its collective denial.

Continue reading "Reform: Can The Charter Quality Movement Gain Traction?" »

Cartoons: Public School Job Preparadness


Bruno: High Standards Or The Right Standards?

3022651569_10f38da5a6_n"High standards" is one of those educational phrases that gets thrown around a lot without actually meaning much; if higher standards are always better then there's no reason not to start teaching calculus in preschool.

Nobody favors "low standards" in education, they just disagree about what standards are appropriate in different situations. Framing the debate as about "high standards" vs "low standards" only serves to gloss over reasonable differences of opinion.

And so it is with the Education Sector's new report finding that "High Standards Help Struggling Students."

Even if we assume that the authors have successfully identified more than correlation, what the report mostly illustrates is that talking about "high standards" in general terms is not very useful.

Continue reading "Bruno: High Standards Or The Right Standards?" »

Drones: If Gossip Site TMZ Gets One, Can LAUSD Be Far Behind?

image from ww4.hdnux.comThe SF Gate is reporting that the FAA has been inundated with domestic drone approval requests from public agencies, private companies and LA gossip site TMZ (Push to step up domestic use of drones)

I haven't looked at the full list of requests but can't help but believe that big school districts like LAUSD or Clark County or Miami-Dade are already on the list or will be there soon.

How long before school districts are using drones, much less schools, teachers, and parents?  Not long.


Movie Trailers: "Central Park Five" Features Ed Journalism Professor

Yes, that's LynNell Hancock who shows up in the trailer for Ken Burns' new documentary about the "wilding" case and the Central Park jogger:

Hancock teachers education journalism at Columbia, and helps head the Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship that I and several other of your favorite writers have done / are hoping to do. 

AM News: 61 Race to Top Finalists Include Charters, Consortiums & Boards of Education

Charter schools named Race to Top finalists as ‘districts’ TheAnswerSheet: The U.S. Education Department just named 61 finalists in its Race to the Top-District competition that will divide nearly $400 million among those deemed to have the “best” school reform plans. The finalists in the contest — which, to be clear, is intended for school districts, as the name of the competition suggests — include charter schools, charter school networks, district consortiums, and boards of education.

AMNewsJeb Bush, With Cash And Clout, Pushes Contentious School Reforms  Reuters: And some of the policies Bush now pushes, such as vouchers and mandatory online classes, have no clear links to the test-score bump in Florida. Bush has been particularly vigorous about promoting online education, urging states to adopt policies written with input from companies that stand to profit from expanded cyber-schooling.

Fewer U.S. high school students say they've cheated in class: report DailyNews: That's according to a new study by the Los Angeles based Josephson Institute of Ethics, which found 51% of the 23,000 students sampled admitting to cheating on a test, down from 59% in 2010. It's the first time in a decade the number has gone down from previous years.

Teachers' Contract Includes Peer Review EdWeek: Some teachers will have the opportunity to earn up to $12,500 extra for getting a superior performance rating on evaluations, teaching in a low-performing school, or teaching a high-need subject. Also for the first time, peer reviews will become a formal part of the evaluation process.

Philadelphia Principal Describes Fallout of Test-Score Inflation NewsWorks: Despite her skepticism, Cruz says the 2010 PSSA results still led her to believe that only a small proportion of Comm Tech’s students needed remedial help. Rather than overhaul staffing patterns and course schedules to allow for a schoolwide intervention, she expanded use of Study Island.

That’s according to a new study by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, which found 51% of the 23,000 students sampled admitted to cheating on a test, down from 59% in 2010. It's the first time in a decade the number has gone down from previous years.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/high-school-students-cheat-report-article-1.1208732#ixzz2DWezS1d7
Fewer U.S. high school students say they've cheated in class: report

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/high-school-students-cheat-report-article-1.1208732#ixzz2DWeXvVVo

Five Best Blogs: Free The 61 RTTT-D Finalist Applications!

Down from 1200 RTTD applications to 61 RTTD finalistsow.ly/fBdC8 Anyone know what they proposed, or what the reviews/scores were? [USDE won't say]

Valerie Strauss disapproves of KIPP's efforts to get colleges to recruit & support graduates ow.ly/fCZa9 #5bb Calling Joanne Barkan

NYT columnist Nocera proposes @rweingarten for EdSec, much like Steve Brill proposed her for Chancellor in NYC ow.ly/fC1k8 

Twilight of the EdReformers - Katie's Ramblings @katieO #5bb ow.ly/fCchK

Schools Head Finds a Formula WSJ ow.ly/1PLvf4

NJ editor wins school board seat with 24-hour FB campaign then realizes - doh! -- he can't serve @romenesko #5bb ow.ly/fCouz

Thompson: A Lifetime Educator's Advice On Engagement

Deborah-MeierThe best approach for “bridging differences” and improving schools may be found in Deborah Meier's Education Week post, “We’re Ready for Battle.” Meier believes that purpose of school reform must be “a respectful and open-minded culture” where the various stakeholders are “accustomed to looking each other in the eye.” But, she reminds us that "’You can only win at the negotiating table what you have won on the battlefield.’"  Meier agrees with Pedro Noguera (who is now her discussion partner at Bridging Differences) that  equity must be the center of reform, and that requires us to be part of the process.  Even if we are invited, which she adds is no sure thing, educators should not try to join "their" table until we establish our credibility in fighting for our beliefs.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.  


Afternoon Video: Student Pretends To Be ELL All Semester

I've got mixed feelings about this video because it focuses on trying to be funny rather than highlighting the ways that students (and teachers) treat kids who are just learning English as dumb or slow.  [Speaking of trying to be funny -- that post yesterday about schools letting teachers carry guns was meant to be satirical.] 

Update: Goings-On At Green Dot

ScreenHunter_07 Nov. 26 22.37So there was a handful of Green Dot-related news that came out yesterday, including (a) word from USDE that its Race to the Top application had made it to the final 61 after the initial round of reviews, (b) news from Green Dot founder Steve Barr that Green Dot NYC (or whatever it's officially called now) received a "fat" A grade from the NYC DOE (phat?), and (c) word via a Green Dot press release and LA Daily News story that Barr had resigned from the Green Dot board on which he's remained all these years since he and Green Dot split.  (LA Daily News, KPCC).

I'm not really sure of the significance, if any, to the resignation, given that Barr has moved on to a new venture, Future Is Now, which is focused on NOLA.  The Green Dot NYC school has been transferred over to FIN.  Perhaps there was some sort of flare-up, though Barr says that he just has too many other monthly board obligations. Perhaps the press release was an indication of the remaining ill will Green Dot CEO Marco Petruzzi feels towards Barr, though Petruzzi says it was just SOP.  Perhaps I'm just making a mountain out of a molehill.

Previous posts:  Green Dot & Steve Barr Finalize Their "Divorce"The Book I *Should* Have WrittenBack To Locke HighUnsolved Mysteries Of Locke High & Green Dot

Photos: Not Much Margin For Error

image from 25.media.tumblr.com
Indonesian boy on his way to school navigates a narrow plank bridge going over an aqueduct. via Photojournalismus

Quotes: What's Next For Charter Schools Movement?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWhat is the [charter] movement going to do for the 98 percent of American kids who aren’t going to our schools? What’s next? -- DSST's Bill Kurtz

Technology: Khan Goes Mobile

image from 25.media.tumblr.com
First there was Khan Academy, the web-based lessons that everyone says are going to save/fix education, and now there's Mobile Khan, with 3600 videos and perhaps one day a Droid version. 

Morning Video: Chicago Union Leader Still On The Attack

Too much Chicago, I know, but here's the video of Karen Lewis's fiery speech last week at the Chicago City Club, which I found via Chicago blogger Tim Furman:

Chicago: A "Moratorium" That's Really A Bloodbath

Yet again, I fear, comes a somewhat cockamamie (sp?) proposal out of Chicago's executive suites and the CPS central offices.


Fearing that it would be denied an extension on the timeline for annual school closings it recently asked state lawmakers to consider -- or, even worse, a shutdown of annual school closings that it says it needs to get rid of 100,000 empty seats and 140 half-empty buildings -- Mayor Emanuel and the district announced a pro-active "moratorium" on closings -- starting next year.  

But the proposal raised as many fears as it quelled, presented in the usual governmentspeak and suggesting that the city would try and do all of the closings it needed to do before the end of this school year -- a massive single-year endeavor.  Previously, 5-10 schools a year have been closed (in addition to turnarounds, restructuring, and all of that).  

See below for links galore.  See District299.com or @district299 for minute by minute updates.

Continue reading "Chicago: A "Moratorium" That's Really A Bloodbath" »

AM News: Feds Release Standardized Graduation Rates By State

High School Graduation Rates By State HuffPostEdu: The data reflects figures from the 2010-2011 academic year, the first year for which all states used a common, more rigorous measure. States last year dumped flawed measurement formulas that often undercounted dropouts and produced inflated results, making cross-state comparisons inaccurate and volatile.

AMNewsNew Graduation Rate Data Show Large Achievement Gaps PoliticsK12: Today's data show glaring achievement gaps. In Minnesota, for instance, the graduation rate for black students was 49 percent; for white students, it was 84 percent. In Ohio, the graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students was 65 percent; for all students it was 80 percent.

Data-Driven Approach Helps St. Louis Become Latest System to Improve Grades WSJ: The turnaround is grounded in using data to drive every decision and getting the best leaders and teachers in schools. Students now take standardized math and reading exams three times a year, and Mr. Adams insists principals craft proposals—delivered to him—that detail plans to boost scores in each classroom. 

Jeb Bush, with cash and clout, pushes contentious school reforms Reuters: A close examination raises questions about the depth and durability of the gains in Florida. After the dramatic jump of the Bush years, Florida test scores edged up in 2009 and then dropped, with low-income students falling further behind. State data shows huge numbers of high school graduates still needing remedial help in math and reading.

Educator Aided Others at Cheating, U.S. Charges NYT: Federal prosecutors in Memphis are investigating an educator who they say ran a test cheating ring in three Southern states for teachers and prospective teachers who wanted to pass standardized certification exams.

Five Best Blogs: Chicago Proposes Moratorium On Closings


Chicago proposes 5 year moratorium on school closings after 2013 - Yahoo! News ow.ly/fABdF [for more see district299.com]

Stakes likely go up on teacher evaluations in Obama’s second ter - SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resources ow.ly/fAIl6

NJ's new teacher tenure law didn't get rid of LIFO - but John Mooney says reformers are still trying ow.ly/fA5Dr

Why are liberals so angry when they won, asks Morning Joe Scarborough? Mediaite ow.ly/fAbyQ

Testing Should Inform, Not Impede, Teaching and Learning ow.ly/fA6u6 @AFTunion new petition

Chicago teachers are loving their hard-won freedom from lesson plan templates Chicago Sun-Timesow.ly/fzEJ0 #5bb

It's not for profit vs. nonprofit that matters, says new @AEIeducation report -- it's new vs. old institutions ow.ly/fA5Qb

Neuroscience Applied to Education: Mostly Unimpressive - Daniel Willingham ow.ly/fzEVT #5bb via @anniemurphypaul

RTT-D: Finalists List Released (You're Probably Not On It)

Here's the list of RTTT-District finalists, which USDE somehow came up with just a couple of weeks after receiving nearly 400 district applications (via @joy_resmovits at HuffPost).  Did your district make it?

Thompson: "Insiders" Voice Disregard for Educators

HateteachersThe Whiteboard Advisor’s latest Education Insider survey provides the best news for public schools since the 2012 election, which was the best news for teachers and students since the Chicago strike. A survey of policymakers, thought leaders, and association heads  found that only 12% on these insiders believe that the teacher evaluation laws that were passed in the last three years will be implemented intact

Rather than asking themselves why they ever thought test-driven evaluations was a good idea, however, many of these “reformers” blame teachers for successfully opposing policies that we (and most scholars) believe are wrong.  Some of the insiders made Mitt Romney’s response to his defeat seem gracious. They blamed their defeats on the "NEA and the rest of the blob,” unions that “speak out of both sides of their mouth,” “educrats and knownothings,” and unions that “get the uninformed out.” Another commented, “Sad to see all the defeats for reform… Reform is show politics for candidates. It’s not serious, even for Obama and Duncan. For the folks with special interests, it’s all serious business. This is why unions and educrats are beginning to run the show.”

Continue reading "Thompson: "Insiders" Voice Disregard for Educators" »

Quotes: Charters More Principled, Says Progressive Educator

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI think that this [charter] model is the only model that can be principled and serve the needs of kids. You have to have the autonomy. -- Progressive educator Tony Monfiletto 

Update: Colorado Districts Allow Teachers To Carry Firearms

image from media.philly.comFollowing up on the success of so-called "Gun Dorms" at the University of Colorado -- residential units where students could carry their (legal, licensed) weapons on campus -- Colorado Springs and Fort Collins school districts are now creating similar policies for school buildings and administrative offices where teachers, administrators, and even parents will be allowed to carry their weapons as well.

"We've followed the U of C process carefully and it seems to have worked out really well," said Fort Collins spokesperson David Grisholm.  

"Teachers want to be able to carry their licensed, legal firearms with them wherever they go," said Colorado Springs superintent Mark Reversol.  "This is just an attempt to comply with the spirit of the Concealed Carry law in an educational setting."

Somewhat ironically, the idea of letting teachers carry weapons on campus was proposed in 2007 by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert in a satirical commentary called No Guns Left Behind.

No word yet from the teachers union, or from parents.  

Bruno: The Case Against A Bar Exam For Teachers

CoyotecliffThe idea of a  nationwide "bar exam" for would-be teachers is garnering support from everybody from Randi Weingarten to Joel Klein. The idea seems to be that only the "best and brightest" should go into teaching, and a rigorous exam would be a way of weeding out weaker applicants and raising the status of those that pass it.

This makes at least some sense. If nothing else, standardizing the credentialing process between states is a good idea, since transferring a credential to a new state is currently often a pain. Beyond that, though, there are at least two reasons to be skeptical that a "bar exam" for teachers is a good idea.

Continue reading "Bruno: The Case Against A Bar Exam For Teachers" »

Weekend Reading: Praxis Cheating, More Cuts Coming

Sometimes the news that comes out over the weekend is just as important as anything that comes out during the week:

Teachers in several states hired stand-in to take ETS Praxis certification tests - U.S. Newsow.ly/fySG2 

U.S. School Districts, Eyeing Fiscal Crisis, Brace for More Cutbacks - NYTimes.com ow.ly/fyrRb

Civil Rights Investigation Triggers LAUSD Overhaul @ladnews ow.ly/1PKfTh

 Bonus time | The Economistow.ly/fyWIq A new contract for teachers is shaking up New Jersey’s largest city

 The digital divide isn't access it's "the way they're using the Internet" that's different @AmRadioWorks       ow.ly/fytGj

At Least 37 States Will Be Under Single-Party Control In 2013 - Mediaite ow.ly/fyrPY

Sunlight Foundation rates/ranks PAC spending and impactow.ly/fyt8z I don't see unions or reformers here, FWIW

Educate All Kids Like Sasha and Malia - In These Times ow.ly/fytOb @leoniehaimson

Morning Video: Student Won't Wear School Tracking Device

A Texas high school student who was being expelled from her magnet program for refusing to wear a location-identifying RFID card has been granted a temporary reprieve.  Via 

AM News: State Laws Keep Schools from Cashing In On Oil Boom

State Laws Keep Some Districts in Oil-Boom Areas From Reaping Full Benefits WSJ: New drilling techniques have triggered an economic bonanza, but state laws meant to spread around revenue and protect homeowners from soaring tax bills are prohibiting local school officials from reaping the full financial benefits.


CPS fine-tunes demographics, puts more census tracts into top tier ChicagoTribune: The changes aren't as sweeping as last year, but nearly 100 city census tracts, more than 12 percent of the total, moved up in Chicago Public Schools' four-tier system for ranking tracts based on socioeconomic factors that include median income.

Better Teacher-Candidate Mentoring Targeted EdWeek: With state and national policymakers eyeing ways to improve teacher preparation, a handful of education programs are becoming more intentional about how such “cooperating” teachers—as they’re known in the lingo of teacher preparation­—are selected and trained.

Teen Pregnancy Study: Students Need Better School Support AP: Three years ago in Wisconsin, cost-cutting lawmakers dropped a requirement for school districts to give pregnant students who live within two miles of a school building free rides to school. The requirement had been part of an effort to improve access to education and reduce infant mortality rates.

Media: Two Local Ed News Sites Join Forces

After long-running discussions and an elaborate planning process, two education news nonprofits -- Denver-based EdNewsColorado and NYC-based GothamSchools -- are joining forces to create the Education News Network and are looking to staff up and (eventually) expand to other school districts around the country.  "Over time, ENN will grow to include more local news bureaus like EdNews Colorado and GothamSchools," states the job announcement email below, "which will work together to sustain their operations and keep the quality of their journalism high."

Screen shot 2012-11-21 at 3.19.17 PM
The idea behind the merger is to lower costs and make themselves more attractive to funders and advertisers.  Both sites feature paid journalists doing highly-focused original reporting, and GothamSchools has a jobs board that seems lively.  I think I recall being told that cities like Memphis, Houston, and Omaha are among those being considered, though don't hold me to that.  At one point earlier in the process, Chicago-based Catalyst and Philadelphia-based The Notebook were involved in the merger discussions.  

I like the sites and know some of the folks involved in producing them, though -- no big surprise -- it's my belief that commentary and analysis are key ingredients to keeping readers informed and engaged. 

Morning Video: In Thanks For Arts In School

A Moving Story That Will Make You Give Thanks for Arts in Public School (via The Atlantic)


Afternoon Video: Teacher-Student Confrontation Goes Viral

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Five Best Blogs: Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone


Is ed reform headed for its own Bay of Pigs? ow.ly/fu16h #5bb @kportermagee

A self-described SIG success story from Commerce City, Colorado @ednews #5bb ow.ly/ftRXj Or aren't those allowed?

'Parent-Trigger' Progress in CA- WSJ David Feith #5bb ow.ly/1PFWZ3

Checker finn: Hurrah for ALEC #5bb ow.ly/1PEJrF

Enrollment In Indiana Voucher Program Skyrockets In 2nd Year @HuffPostEdu #5bb ow.ly/1PEJeJ

 From Jay Mathews: Why private school vouchers aren’t enough: bit.ly/WtSMVb

Pictures: Down In Tampa, They Call Him "Velvet"

image from o.onionstatic.com
“I’m not planning on doing this forever," said Secretary Duncan.  "Just until all 49.8 million kids in our public elementary and secondary schools can graduate." Secretary Of Education Forced To Take Up Stripping To Put Nation Through School via The Onion

Media: Meet AP Education Reporter Josh Lederman


Meet Josh (@joshledermanAP) Lederman, the national AP reporter who's recently been assigned to cover education issues and already has a bylined piece you may have seen.

He's totally new to education and he's only been with AP since June (previously The Hill). He'll continue doing political and energy stories, he tells me -- just like NatJournal's Fawn Johnson covers immigration and transportation as well as education.  Christine Armario is going to continue writing national education stories.  It's also unclear what happens when Kimberly (@khefling) Hefling comes back from maternity leave.

But all that's way off in the future.  Quick! Hurry! Follow him on Twitter and barrage him with your story pitches and self-importance. Drop names and fish for shared interests.  You're politically savvy and youth-knowledgeable. Lederman can't really be expected do education journalism if he doesn't know you.  You knew him first. You can tell him who to trust, and quote, and all of that. 

Bruno: Reform, Don't Eliminate, Education Majors

My DiplomaHistorian David McCullough made edu-waves last week by claiming that Americans are "historically illiterate" in large part because too many teachers major in education rather than in a specific subject area. Robert Pondiscio seconds the argument and adds that because pedagogy is such a "pseudoscience" at this point, it probably doesn't make sense to have teachers organize their own education around it.

I'm happy to concede that a lot of college-level education coursework is neither helpful nor relevant to teachers-in-training. My own experience as a teacher is that I use what I learned from my cell biology BA far more frequently than what I learned from my education MA. (In fact, I probably also more often use what I learned from my philosophy BA.)

But while I think the status quo of teacher training could use real reform, it's not obvious to me that education degrees per se are the problem.

Continue reading "Bruno: Reform, Don't Eliminate, Education Majors" »

Morning Video: "Frontline" Explores Child Poverty

Watch Poor Kids on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Last night on Frontline, PBS explored the spread of child poverty.

AM News: Cunningham Leaves - Weiss & Whalen To Follow?

Cunningham To Leave U.S. Dept. of Ed. PoliticsK12: Already, Karen Cator, the department's education technology director, has announced she's leaving. In August, federal special education chief Alexa Posny departed. I'm curious to see how long Joanne Weiss, Duncan's chief of staff, and Ann Whalen, the department's director of implementation, stick around.


Today's Tests Seen as Bar to Better Assessment EdWeek:The use of testing in school accountability systems may hamstring the development of tests that can actually transform teaching and learning, experts from a national assessment commission warn.

The Downside Of A High-Tech Classroom StateImpact: As Florida works its way toward the digital transition in classrooms by 2015, a publication is questioning whether the potential health hazards are worth it.

NCLB Reauthorization Debate Likely To Continue In Obama Second Term HuffPostEdu: In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on the promise that his administration would oversee the rewriting of the expired No Child Left Behind Act. But four years later, education experts and legislators don't see any end to the negotiations with and within Congress.

Michigan Board Of Education Discusses Legislative Proposals For School Choice HuffPostEdu: Among them is the Michigan Public Education Finance Act, which would allow per-pupil funding to follow students to any district willing to accept them, according to to the Associated Press. Currently the state’s students can only attend schools of choice in adjacent districts.

Afternoon Video: Climate Change Science Project


A science fair version of climate change, featuring drowning Barbies and burning Kens, via the Climate Reality Project. 



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.