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Happy Holidays -- See You In 2013!

image from laschoolreport.com

Media: Why The Hoover Report On Media Fell Flat

image from media.hoover.orgIt's not hard to get education reporters to write about things -- just tell them that their competition is thinking about writing about it, offer them an exclusive of some kind, or catch them when they haven't written and are starting to feel guilty. Your report doesn't have to be solid.  Your proposal doesn't have to be viable.  You don't even have to be addressing an obvious need.  Say something funny or outrageous.

But sometimes it doesn't work, and the recent Hoover Institution report on Media Hits and Misses in 2012 Education Coverage is a good example of the occasional miss.  The Hoover report found that journalists working for 43 outlets were doing a good job covering things like charrters, unions, SPED, pre-K, and NCLB, but a bad job on teacher pensions, Common Core, international comparisons, online learning, and Louisiana.

I didn't see any pickups from the mainstream media, or the trades.  I didn't even see any blog posts, which is an even lower standard. Why not?  There were obvious holes in the outlets that Hoover included -- the PBS NewsHour, for example.  There were questions about just how deep the "content" analysis went beyond superficial headline counts.  Last but perhaps most important, there wasn't any real measure by which to agree or disagree about whether the issues covered were important or not to warrant more coverage.   The standard used -- " important enough to deserve more extensive coverage than they received" according to a group of experts -- was so obviously subjective it was hard to take seriously, even without the ideological bent of the group assembled.

Thompson: A Win-Win Approach to School Turnarounds

The vast majority of school turnarounds use the drastic methods encouraged by the Duncan Administration's School Improvement Grant experiment. 


The Hechinger Ed's "Giving Teachers More Power Helps in Turnaround of Boston Schools" links to ASCD's evidence why those punitive methods are unlikely to work.  For instance, Massachusetts turnarounds that used more generic professional development and teacher support, and struggled to create a safe school environments, produced few gains.

But, Hechinger reports that Boston, in collaboration with Teach Plus, recruited proven teachers to lead the turnaround of six schools.  Boston model provided intensive teacher professional development over the summer, and health and wellness services for students. By the second year, these schools were producing double digit gains in math and reading.  The Boston method thus follows the original turnaround vision of "the Readiness Triangle," In contrast to more typical turnarounds, it does not skip "Readiness to Teach" and "Readiness to Learn." 

 The Boston/Teach Plus model could thus rescue SIG from its tendency to take teacher-bashing shortcuts, as it helps descalate our educational civil war.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Media: High School Reality Show Returns

The second season of High School Confidential premiered on cable TV earlier this week, moving from Kansas City to the North Side of Chicago, IL -- Albany Park's Von Steuben High School, to be specific:

ScreenHunter_06 Dec. 20 09.41
There's been some controversy over how the show portrays the school and its students, notes DNA Info.  But was the concern necessary?  Video trailer inside includes tattoos, boyfriends, upset parents, and a brief fight.

Quotes: "No Reasonable Explanation" For Slow-Mo Teacher Firings

Quotes2There is no reasonable explanation for why firing a teacher is such a time-consuming, tortuous & expensive procedure. - LA Times editorial page 12/20/12

Journalism: New Category For Education Writers Contest

Tumblr_mf6x3wdzon1qa0uujo1_500The annual contest held by the Education Writers Association will this year include a new category for education-only news outlets in order to give attention and clarity to this small but devoted group of sites and publications focused on schools.  

Who's eligible?  "Print, online or broadcast journalism outlets that cover exclusively education, maintain editorial independence and are not published or produced by advocacy groups, professional organizations, higher education institutions, alumni periodicals or think tanks."  

The examples that are included are EdWeek, Learning Matters, and EdNews Colorado. For more details see: Contest Categories

People: NSVF's Schorr Joining Duncan Communications Team

image from www.eduwonk.comAccording to an unconfirmed but seemingly authentic email  passed along by a friend, longtime NewSchools Venture Fund external relations guru Jonathan (@jonathanschorr) Schorr is leaving California to join the Duncan communications team in Washington, "taking responsibility for the Department’s speechwriting and website, and working with an extraordinary team dedicated to communicating President Obama’s and Sec. Duncan’s education agenda and ideas to the country."

Schorr is, among other things, a TFA alum and the son of longtime NPR journalist Daniel Schorr.  The annual invitation-only NSVF Summit -- somewhat the creation of Schorr and the way many of us came to know about the organization and through which we have watched the evolution of the school reform movement -- is scheduled for the end of April in San Francisco.  Schorr isn't the first NSVF staffer to join the Obama administration, which includes Joanne Weiss and I'm guessing a few others. 

Related posts:  Offspring Of The Famous, Dynasties In The MakingPreview Of NewSchools Summit 2012.

Full text below

Continue reading "People: NSVF's Schorr Joining Duncan Communications Team" »

AM News: Guns, Waivers, & The Mayan Doomsday


Schools Look to Armed Police After Connecticut Massacre Bloomberg: For now, Boone is considering shifting more officers' time to elementary schools. “It's a new day,” Poe said. “You have to think differently here.” 

Teachers unions reject arming educators in schools Washington Post: The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the nation's dominant teachers unions with a total of some 4.5 million members, have issued a joint statement on school safety.
Unions Leave Sidelines In Gun Control Debate Huffington Post:  On Thursday, the head of a leading teachers' union called for a renewal of the assault weapons ban and limitations on high-capacity magazines, saying the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week called for commonsense gun control reforms.
Seattle Public Schools to pay fired drama teacher $750,000 Seattle Times:  A longtime drama and language teacher who was fired in 2005 will receive a $750,000 settlement from Seattle Public Schools.

ND files No Child Left Behind waiver tomorrow Grand Forks Herald: The state-defined accountability system will focus on college/career readiness, school improvement methods and overall teacher and principal evaluation. 

Maryland's new school metric Baltimore Sun: Maryland developed the School Progress Index in order to receive a federal waiver from the requirements of the Bush-era federal No Child Left Behind Act. 

Doomsday Prophecy Prompts Rumors of Violence in Schools NYT: The Mayan prediction that the world will end on Friday has caused rumors of violence in schools, including shootings or bomb threats, and a few districts have canceled classes.

Afternoon Video: Pretty Soon We'll Have "Gangam Style" Resignations

Used to be, teachers just resigned, or at most posted their resignation letters online. Here's the video going around in which a RI teacher announces his resignation:


Pretty soon, teachers are going to resign via elaborate choreographed group  videos, ideally set to the soundtrack of "Gangam Style."

Bruno: What If The Achievement Gap Can't Be Closed?

4683685_2941e9ce00Go read this post from Kathleen Porter-Magee on the reading gap between affluent and lower-income students, then come back here. Her point is a straightforward one that is nevertheless often neglected in discussions about reading achievement: we cannot close reading comprehension gaps without closing background knowledge and vocabulary gaps.

Crucially, Porter-Magee acknowledges a more subtle point that education reformers too often ignore or do not realize. As she says, "we may  never completely close the gap" in reading ability between richer and poorer students because the former have out-of-school lives that are much more vocabulary-rich.

I think it's worth being just a bit more explicit about this, so here goes: unless we want or expect to make schools for less-fortunate students  substantially and systematically more effective than schools for more-affluent students, we should not expect achievement gaps to ever close completely.

Continue reading "Bruno: What If The Achievement Gap Can't Be Closed?" »

Quotes: NYC "Far And Away" More Improved Than Other Cities

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe’ve done a better job than any other big city, far and away... But we’re still, I think, falling behind the needs of industry and the improvement in education elsewhere in the world... - NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg

Charts: Funding (And Reforming) Head Start

Here's a chart showing federal funding for Head Start via New America's info page: New Resources on Head Start:

image from earlyed.newamerica.netHHS is obviously pushing to fix and change the program, which is all well and good, and everybody loves the pre-K kids, but as I keep asking this week: what about regular old Kindergarten? How can it be that Kindergarten's not already universal and full-day?

Newtown: The Importance Of Single-Issue Advocacy

The real lesson of the Newtown tragedy for educators, foundations, and reform groups is how clearly it highlights the importance of single-issue advocacy efforts conducted at the national level:

image from cdn-media.nationaljournal.com

As many have noted, the NRA has for decades blocked gun control measures, becoming one of the most effective single issue advocacy operations in the country (along with the anti-tax folks, perhaps, and AARP).

NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "Demand A Plan" initiative, including 34 shooting victims sending videos to the Obama White House over this past weekend, has already arguably had an impact on the Administration's decision to move forward (however tentatively).

In this National Journal article, Adam Cohen discusses the possibility of a "parent lobby" that would, like the NRA or AARP or anyone else, focus on child safety and welfare issues. (The chart shows just how cheap it is to have an impact.)

And what about in education?  The teachers unions and education associations are well-established. The Children's Defense Fund and NAACP used to perform some of these functions on behalf of poor children and families.  Short-run efforts such as Ed in '08 and that College Board thing this summer revealed the power and challenges.  While powerul at the policy level, state-level advocacy networks are limited politically when things get big and struggle with command and coordination issues among different states. 

Twenty-odd years into school reform (and at least five into my blathering about the need for such a thing) there's still no national education reform advocacy group or PAC.  

Morning Video: "The Education Of Michelle Rhee"

Here's the new teaser trailer for the upcoming PBS Frontline on Michelle Rhee, complete with the "you're fired" scene that's pretty much standard at this point and the trademark voiceover that makes everything seem so ominous:

Watch The Education of Michelle Rhee Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Will the segment cover much that we haven't already seen on the PBS NewsHour segments John Merrow and his team produced while Rhee was at DCPS?  It's not clear, but crossed fingers.

AM News: Duncan Named To School Shooting Task Force


Duncan Named to White House Task Force After School Shootings EdWeek:  Duncan, who was named the most anti-gun member of the cabinet in 2009 by the National Rifle Association, will be working on the task force with Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Duncan thanks Sandy Hook educators Washington Post: Here is a newly released video and transcript of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's statement to the educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., scene of last week's shootings that killed 20 children and six teachers.

Proposals Abound as Obama Creates Gun Task Force in Wake of School Shooting Roll Call: President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for quick action on proposals to prevent gun violence, but congressional Democrats have already offered numerous ideas since the Connecticut school shooting last week.

News Of Sandy Hook's New Principal Brightens Parents' Day AP: When the students of Sandy Hook Elementary return to class after the holiday break, they'll be attending a different school. They'll also have a principal who will be a familiar face to some: Donna Page, who retired from Sandy Hook two years ago

At Funeral, Sandy Hook Teacher Victoria Soto Is Remembered NYT:  At her funeral, mourners recalled Victoria Soto, 27, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as a “quick-thinking, beautiful and selfless woman.”

Slain Conn. teacher remembered as selfless hero AP: A Connecticut schoolteacher gunned down during last week's elementary school massacre is being remembered as a selfless hero who died trying to shield her students....

Thompson: Private Emails & School Privatization

Andrea Eger's State Emails Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Discussions of School Report Cards in the Tulsa World, is painful reading for anyone seeking compromise solutions for troubled schools. 

image from economic-globalization.wikispaces.comBy all accounts, Oklahoma’s attempt to implement Jeb Bush’s A –F School Report Card has been riddled with errors.  Keith Ballard, Tulsa’s highly respected superintendent who has taken a lead in working with the Gates Foundation and implementing tough accountability systems, and 300 superintendents challenged the first report card.  A compromise fell through.

At the same time, Damon Gardenhire, the State Superintendent’s communications officer, left his position for the Walton Family Foundation, which pushes for school vouchers.  On his last day on the job, Gardenhire told the Tulsa superintendent that he hoped to work with him in his new role.  In an email released through the Freedom of Information Act, however, Gardenhire wrote: "A big part of why I took the Walton gig was because I see real promise for bringing positive pressure to bear that will help cause a tipping point with enough (superintendents) that the ugly voices like Keith Ballard will begin to be small and puny."

You can imagine my embarrassment when secret discussions by advocates of the report card were revealed.  I had just been challenged by Diane Ravitch, in her “A Brief Conversation with John Thompson” to explain why I believe it is too early to conclude that the real goal of “reform” is privatization.  Commenters argued that my reluctance to use the p-word amounts to appeasement.  At any rate, Ballard no longer has any qualms in saying that the private discussion “reveals an agenda to divert dollars intended for public education to vouchers and for-profit vendors that should be very frightening to all Oklahomans."-JT(@drjohnthompson) 

People: Amy Wilkins Leaves The EdTrust (Again)

Longtime EdTruster Amy Wilkins is leaving for the College Board in January, announced EdTrust honcho Kati Haycock in an email earlier today:

image from www.blacknews.com

"In her many years with us, Amy has made extraordinary contributions to the organization and to the movement for educational justice," writes Haycock in what may be one of the nicest sendoff letters I've seen in years.  "Nobody has cared about low-income kids and kids of color more than she has.  And nobody played a greater role in building The Education Trust into the respected force it is today." 

I've known Wilkins since 1996, when she stalked/befriended me in Senator Bingaman's office  [and many other Hill staffers], and have written about her and the EdTrust's enormous and disproportionate influence over education policy many times on this blog.

In a recent AEI paper I wrote about her arrival on the scene in 1993 when the Trust was just getting off the ground and little if any education advoacy was being done outside of associations and unions. In this February 2012 blog post I named her as one of the best education lobbyists out there and got little if any disagreement.

Haycock leaves out that Wilkins has tried to leave the EdTrust before -- once to run an early childhood initiative that I think was called TEE, and most recently to be the founding ED at DFER (see here). She returned to the Trust in 2007. "This time it's for good," Wilkins promises, via email.

Haycock's email is below.

Continue reading "People: Amy Wilkins Leaves The EdTrust (Again)" »

Media: New Cable Channel To Feature Do-Gooder Content

image from 25.media.tumblr.comThe New York Times is reporting that Participant Media, the production company behind “Waiting For Superman” as well as several other features and documentaries like "An Inconvenient Truth," is creating a new cable channel of its own to create more do-gooder fare from the likes of Davis Guggenheim, Morgan Spurlock, and others.

Maybe they’ll make something out ofStray Dogs, Saints, and Saviors, my book about Green Dot Public Schools, Steve Barr, and the rescue attempt at Locke High School. Or (more likely) a feature about mass teacher layoff at a failing Rhode Island high school or the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Cross-posted from LA School Report

Quotes: Half-Day Kindergarten, The Forgotten Problem

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comChildren enrolled in half-day kindergarten receive less instructional time, likely experience a narrowed curriculum, have less time for experimentation and exploration, and enjoy fewer opportunities for play. - New America's Laura Bornfreund

Reform: Ravitch & AFT Use MassacreTo Attack Political Enemies

While reactions and responses to the Newtown massacre continue to pour in (see roundup of news coverage below), the AFT and reform critics like Diane Ravitch have been unable to resist the chance to connect the violence to teacher unionization (Ravitch) or to Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization (via Huffington Post). 

image from blu.stb.s-msn.com Ravitch's attempt to connect the tragedy to criticism of charter schools and nonunion teachers has generated a flurry of online denunciations -- along with stubborn responses from Ravitch and predictable support from her followers.  

Filtered through a willing Huffington Post, the AFT attempt to link Rhee to gun violence has generated less pushback -- Rhee's organization issued a statement yesterday -- even though it is no less objectionable. (Some of the muted reaction may be the result of StudentsFirst's previous and ongoing messaging woes, as well as tensions among Rhee and other reform leaders.)

It's a good reminder just how far afield (some would say low) some reform critics are willing to go in order to discredit their enemies and blunt their enemies' momentum-- as well as an example of grim but effective negative advocacy of the kind that reformers should expect and be prepared to deal with if they expect to operate in the advocacy space.  

Roundup of the latest Newtown news coverage is below.

Continue reading "Reform: Ravitch & AFT Use MassacreTo Attack Political Enemies" »

Morning Video: Fordham Panel On Turnarounds

Carmel Ninety-minute video of Monday's panel featuring Carmel Martin, Checker Finn, Andy Smarick, Jean-Claude Brizard (here)

AM News: Districts Begin Implementing Race To The Top

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

In Race to the Top District Competition, Implementation Begins EdWeek: A department program officer will work with each district to come up these scopes of work, which were also required of the dozen winning states in the original Race to the Top. The scopes of work are critically important, as they are how the department will hold districts accountable for grant implementation. 

Jury awards $6.9 million to boy molested by L.A. Unified teacher LAT: Now 14, the boy was a fifth-grader at Queen Anne Place Elementary School when then-teacher Forrest Stobbe molested him for several months.

Document shows Emanuel administration had detailed school closing plans Tribune: While schools are not listed by name, one section of the document contains a breakdown for closing or consolidating 95 schools, most on the West and South sides, as well as targeting other schools to be phased out gradually or to share their facilities with privately run charter schools.

‘A blessing in disguise,’ as two schools forge unlikely friendship Hechinger: The Ironbound neighborhood where Wilson is located could hardly be considered affluent by suburban standards, but that was the perception among students at Quitman. And while Quitman is a safe place despite its community’s challenges, Wilson families thought the school and its occupants dangerous.


Pictures: Bulletproof Backpacks Flying Off the Shelves

image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com
Bulletproof Backpack Sales Are Up, Sadly Mother Jones via Atlantic Wire 

Thompson: An Attempt to End Our School Wars

SchoolwarsFormer Chief Accountability Officer of New York City SchoolsJames Liebman's Education Week Commentary, "Ending the Great School Wars," takes a step towards a framework for understanding our educational civil war.  

He argues that "the real fight" is between three methods of rejecting central mandates and promoting school-level autonomy. 

But which of the three is the right one?

Alas, it's not the one Liebman endorses. 

Continue reading "Thompson: An Attempt to End Our School Wars" »

Charts: Just 12 States Provide Universal Kindergarten

All the focus on universal preschool these past few years might lead you to believe that, well, Kindergarten was already taken care of, but I recently learned that's not the case at all.  

Screen shot 2012-12-14 at 1.55.52 PM

The bare dozen green states on this January 2012 map from CDF (!?) shows how unusual it is for full-day kindergarten to be provided at no charge to all children per state statute and funding. 

Bruno: Teachers' Confused Critique Of Multiple Choice

2230010178_40c2741290Among critics of high-stakes standardized testing it has become popular to imply that the multiple-choice testing format is inherently inadequate and inferior.

This has always been a little puzzling because in practice teachers frequently create and administer multiple-choice tests on their own so it's not as if there's a broad professional consensus in education that such assessments are meaningless or shouldn't be given to students.

Previous studies, plus new research in Psychological Science, defend the use of multiple choice tests in class and for accountability purposes.

Continue reading "Bruno: Teachers' Confused Critique Of Multiple Choice" »

Quotes: Anonymous Criticism Against Newark Mayor's Efforts

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comHow come you can’t persuade the people who elected you twice? When’s the last time you did a town hall? Why do we have to go to Twitter to find out what you’re talking about? - Anonymous school reform ally complaining about Newark Mayor Cory Booker in recent NYT article

People: Meet Jeremiah Kittredge, Forbes' Under-30 Honoree

image from specials-images.forbes.comMost of the folks who make the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30: Education section are doing familiar things you already hear about a lot -- apps and devices and charters and all of that -- most of them doing things that are appealing but haven't really made much of an impact yet -- and obviously showed up so that they could take a professional portrait.  

Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but the name and image that jumped out at me was Jeremiah Kittredge, 26, Executive Director, Families for Excellent Schools.  

According to Forbes, FES "works with parents in 65 charter schools in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to encourage them to become educational advocates for their schools. He previously served as a public school teacher and a labor organizer at SEIU, a 2 million strong union of service workers."

Obviously Kittridge hasn't saved the world yet, either, but I like that he's doing doing something political and grassrootsish.  Other honorable mentions?  Greg Rosenbaum, 24, Coordinator, SXSWedu; Zakiya Smith, 27, Director of Post-Secondary Innovation, Center for American Progress.

Morning Video: LA Board Members Demand Grant Approval


Here's a dramatic three-minute clip of LAUSD school board members debating last week whether or not they should be allowed to approve competitive grant applications such as TIF or RTTTD before they are submitted. Via LA School Report. See also: Grant Approval Varies In Other Districts.

AM News: A Very Strange First Day Back At School

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Schools across nation react to shooting USA Today: As schools nationwide welcomed students back on the first day after Friday's deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn., teachers and parents began walking the fine line between grief and normalcy, openness and vigilance.

Schools Reexamine Security After Newtown Shooting NPR: The Connecticut shootings were on the minds of many at schools around the country on Monday. Some school officials reexamined their security procedures over the weekend, while parents dropped off their kids with a new sense of unease.

Gun Companies' Unlikely Investors: Teacher Retirement Funds Huffington Post: According to a Huffington Post survey of public databases, several of the nation's largest teachers' retirement systems -- including those in California, New York and Texas -- hold tens of millions of dollars worth of stock in two publicly traded gun manufacturers, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp.

Rhee Group Mum On Concealed Carry In Schools Huffington Post: Asked about its stance, StudentsFirst spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel said, "StudentsFirst believes that schools have to be a safe haven for kids. It is incumbent upon our elected officials to ensure that every single child is protected, particularly those under the care and direction of our public schools."

On Education: 25 Lessons About First Graders NYT (Winerip): In the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the author, with help from a first-grade teacher, compiled a list of things he has learned about first graders.

Quotes: Bloomberg Critiques Obama On Education

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThe president could’ve done a lot more [on education]. But he did stand up to a typical Democratic constituency, the teachers union—somewhat—and certainly has a secretary that the unions don’t like. - NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg


Five Best Blogs: Another Report On Teacher Prep

Network-analysis-LA-lakers-625x50125 state chiefs get behind a new report, calling for more rigor in teacher prep via @Edsector ow.ly/gaUzL ALSO: Chiefs for Change Statement on CCSSO’s Teacher Preparation Report @excelined http://ow.ly/gaWm7

“Teach for America” aimed at San Diego  ow.ly/gaOz5 

RI 2nd grade Teacher Reads Resignation Letter Over School’s Obsession With Tests Taking ow.ly/ga8fr 

Right to work: A union battle whose time has passed - The Washington Post Steve Pearlstein ow.ly/ga89D

Diane Ravitch and the Long View of School Reform - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher http://ow.ly/gaU2i 

Having grown readership by 1/3 to 70K/month & hosted events in '12, @gothamschools aims to add reporters & more in '13 ow.ly/gaey7

"The days when NEA stood far apart from the broader labor movement are gone." ow.ly/gaR75

Charts: Fiscal Cliff Impacts On IDEA, Title I

image from newshour.s3.amazonaws.comThe shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary seems to have prompted some sort of break in the fiscal cliff logjam, but just in case:  Via PBS

Photo: Duncan Tour Of Staten Island Schools

image from gothamschools.orgEdSec Arne Duncan spent last Thursday morning touring  the school-related damage on Staten Island with UFT head Mike Mulgrew -- and Gothamschools was there: Staten Island schools affected by Sandy get high-profile visitors.

Duncan doesn't look too worse for wear after a long night partying with the Rolling Stones at the 21212 Sandy Relief concert the night before (Duncan Attended Sandy Relief Concert). 

Image via Gothamschools.

Weekend Reading: Great Stuff You Might Have Missed

The #thisweekined Twitter feed was dominated by the Sandy Hook shooting but there were a few notable stories from magazines, longform sites, and other outlets that you might find interesting:


Suckers for Superheroes ow.ly/g8dsf NYMag [A profile aboutt General Petreus & Lance Armstrong might as well be about Canada, Kahn, Klein, Ravitch]

The Liberal Case *Against* Right-to-Work Laws - Michael Kinsley ow.ly/g884m

How to Keep All of Huck Finn in the Classroom - Mark Berlein ow.ly/g87Zg

A Day at an Elementary School with a Cognitive Psychologist | Cedar's Digest ow.ly/g8drn

The Coming Education Policy Cliff of 2014 | Whiteboard Advisors @ddeschryver ow.ly/g887k

Why Nate Silver Can Save Math Education in America | MindShift ow.ly/g8d1i [Probably not but it's a fun headline]

Apps Alone Won’t Teach Your Kid To Read |NewAmerica.net ow.ly/g857c @NewAmerica

Morning Video: Why Stop At Arming Teachers?

Over the weekend, former EdSec Bill Bennett and others suggested arming teachers.  Way back in 2006, however, Stephen Colbert proclaimed that not only should teachers be armed, but also students.

AM News: Returning To School, Plus Other News


In U.S. Schools Monday, 'We Are All Going To Be Hypervigilant' AP:  Jessica Kornfeld drove her children to their elementary school this past weekend. She wanted them to feel reassured that it was still a safe place, despite a horrific shooting in New England that killed 20 students very close to their own age.

Parents, Schools Are On Edge WSJ: Parents across the country wrestled with fears for their children's safety as they prepared to return to school this week, while some districts planned to increase security in the aftermath of the massacre.

In Wake of Newtown Shooting, Grappling With What to Tell the Children NYT: Officials and parents spent the weekend anxious about how to talk to students about Friday’s shooting and how best to discourage something like it from happening again.

More coverage of Sandy Hook inside

Virginia faces a test as math scores plummet Washington Post (Jay Mathews): Steve Shapiro, a math teacher at Falls Church High School in Fairfax County, had a sick feeling when he saw the results of last spring’s state math tests. At his school, where more than half the students are low-income, the passing rate on Algebra I dropped from 92 percent to 75 percent. The statewide decline was even bigger, from 94 percent to 75 percent.

Fiscal Cliff May Force Some High Schools to Close USNews:  Rural schools and those serving low-income students would be hardest hit by automatic spending cuts.

Continue reading "AM News: Returning To School, Plus Other News" »

Media: Why Are They Interviewing Kids?

image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com
Why Are CNN and NBC Interviewing the Students of Sandy Hook Elementary? via The Atlantic. [And why are parents allowing reporters to question their kids, too.] #newtown

Thompson: The Meaning Of The NAACP Education Plan

FindingNothing in our educational civil war is more painful to educators than the divisions it has caused within the civil rights community. We seemed to hit rock bottom when Jonah Edelman, the son of civil rights heroes, was videotaped bragging about his assault on Chicago teachers. 

So it was reinvigorating to hear his father Peter Edelman and other civil rights leaders, declare that it is time to stop attacking educators and tackle the real issue—poverty. Even better, the NAACP recently issued Finding Our Way Back to First,  a four-part education policy proposal that would extend school hours and years in school, improve preschool programs, better target spending for the neediest of students, and improve teacher training and evaluations, while recognizing the inherent flaws with value-added evaluations. 

I still can't understand why value-added evaluations were taken seriously as a tool for helping poor children of color. For the life of me, however, I cannot understand why liberals could not agree to reject that failed experiment, as we commit to the NAACP's proposal.-JT(@drjohnthompson) image via.

Quotes: School Choice Agony For Parents - And Schools

Quotes2Deprived of access to an organized process, many families despair over the complexity and difficulty of accessing schools. The situation is also hard on schools and school administrators. In the absence of a centrally organized process, they often experience a great degree of registration instability. -- Neil Dorosin is the executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice.

Charts: 7 States With Trigger Laws - Federal Proposal To Come

Think the trigger has come and gone?  Think again.  Maybe you heard Claudio Sanchez's NPR segment this morning on the parent trigger law (here), talking about how powerful if untested an idea it is, and here's the map that goes along with the seven states Sanchez mentioned, courtesy of KC MO News (here):

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 14 10.09
"As of June, the National Conference of State Legislatures said about 13 other states had considered but did not approve trigger laws." Click the link to get to a clickable link. I'm starting a pool over how long into the new Congress we get before a member introduces a federal trigger proposal.

Morning Video: Big Changes At "Stand And Deliver" HS

ScreenHunter_04 Dec. 17 08.58
Southern California public television station KCET has this update on Garfield High, the setting for "Stand and Deliver."

AM News: Philadelphia Closes 37 Schools, Targets Dozens More for Relocation

Philadelphia School Closures: 37 Targeted, Dozens More To Relocate Or Reconfigure Notebook: Saying the struggling Philadelphia School District is “out of time and out of options,” new Superintendent William Hite has unveiled a sweeping plan to close 37 school buildings by next fall. All told, the District will call for 44 schools to be closed or relocated and nearly two dozen more to undergo grade changes.


Controversial Grant Approval Measure Passes, 4-3 LASchoolReport: A controversial proposal written by Richard Vladovic to give the school board the authority to approve most grants over $1 million was approved 4-3 by the board today, following tense discussion and over the strenuous objections of Superintendent John Deasy.

New Student-Poverty Measures Proposed for National Tests EdWeek: Aiming to get a clearer picture of how students' home and community resources affect their academic achievement, America's best-known K-12 education barometer, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is building a comprehensive new way to gauge socioeconomic statusRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Arts Education Seen as Common-Core Partner EdWeek: As educators nationwide seek to help students meet the demands of the common core in English/language arts and mathematics, many arts education advocates are making the case that the arts can be a valuable partner. And in some cases, they're identifying ways to make the links explicit.

Weighing Options for Expanding School Choice TexasTribune: In debates over school choice, like the one brewing as the 83rd legislative session draws closer, traditional public school districts are often cast as stubborn defenders of the status quo.

Is the U.S. Department of Education a Good Place to Work? PoliticsK12: Based on the latest Best Places to Work survey, the U.S. Department of Education is perhaps not the best place to work in the federal government. Among 22 mid-size federal agencies, the Education Department ranked 18th in job satisfaction in 2012—ahead of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Board of Broadcasting Governors, for example.

Response: Rhee Org. Claims Support For Collective Bargaining

image from 4.bp.blogspot.comStudentsFirst has sent along this collection of quotes and newspaper articles for you to chew through, each of the purporting to show that Rhee and StudentsFirst support collective barginging and have done so several times in the past. 

It's worth noting that SF's first comment on the this topic this week got at the substance of some of the Rhee comments below -- that focusing on collective bargaining and union issues is a distraction, not a central part of the Rhee agenda for making schools better. Actions speak louder than words, I can imagine the labor side of this argument saying.  Most of the items collected below are rhetorical, rather than campaign donations or introduction of legislation.  Most of those listed in the previous post focus on actions.

Read on, make of it what you will. Compare this list to the previous one. I'm just passing notes between AFT and SF at this point.

Continue reading "Response: Rhee Org. Claims Support For Collective Bargaining" »

Update: Reviewing StudentsFirst's Union Positions

image from 2.bp.blogspot.comHaving watched the official comments, updates, and Twitter back and forth on where Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization stands on the "right-to-work" law that just passed in Michigan, a friendly tipster from the AFT gathered up some clips from the past couple of years that  includes "every collective bargaining fight over the last couple of years and the role StudentsFirst played in each one as reference." 

Yesterday, StudentsFirst gave a long statement that confused many readers as to its bottom-line position, then provided a couple of clarifications that it doesn't have a position on RTW but supports the right of workers to collectively bargain

As you'll see, the (unverified) collected items below suggest that StudentsFirst has been active on restricting collective bargaining in Michigan as well as in Ohio, Indiana, Idaho, and Wisconsin. 

I'm sure StudentsFirst will have some thoughts on this, and will be sure to share their response as soon as I get it.

Continue reading "Update: Reviewing StudentsFirst's Union Positions" »

Events: Duncan Attended Sandy Relief Concert

image from www.blogcdn.comColleagues looking a little ragged this morning?

Everybody who was anybody was there at NYC's Madison Square Garden last night for the Sandy Relief benefit concert, watching Kanye West strut around in a leather skirt and The Who's Roger Daltry take off his shirt -- including I'm told several educationistas.

One reason for the education connection was that the event was being coordinated by the Robin Hood Foundation, a cabal of NYC do-gooders who  also apparently do storm relief work.

Another reason for the presence of at least one tall thin Obama cabinet member in the VIP section was that there's an education event out at PS38 on Staten Island this morning, so it probably just made sense to come in early and take in the show.  

Morning Video: Brookings Choice Event Feat. Bobby Jindal


Here's the 90-minute video from Tuesday's Brookings event, and a link to highights.

AM News: US Dept. of Ed Focus on English-Learners Waning

Ed. Department Focus on English-Learners Seen Waning EdWeek: As the number of English learners continues to grow faster than that of any other group in the nation's public schools, concerns are mounting that the distinctive needs of those students and the educators who work with them are receiving diminishing attention from the U.S. Department of Education.

AMNewsK-12 Education May Not Benefit From Brighter Fiscal Outlook HuffPostEdu: Despite some positive signs that could help school budgets, states are still facing a shaky financial environment as they head into the new year--a circumstance that could disappoint advocates hoping that even sluggish economic progress could give K-12 funding a boost.

States Faulted Over Teacher Pension Shortfall Wall Street Journal: U.S. states carry a total of about $325 billion in unfunded teacher pension liabilities, according to a report that says efforts by lawmakers to tinker with vesting periods or shave benefits are falling far short of the overhaul ...

Tony Bennett selected as new Florida education commissioner OrlandoSentinel: Tony Bennett, who lost his job running Indiana schools in an election last month, will become Florida's new education commissioner. The State Board of Education unanimously voted today to hire Bennett to oversee Florida's public schools and colleges.

Rural After-School Efforts Must Stretch to Serve EdWeek: Despite increasing national attention to the potential for out-of-school programs to enhance school offerings and provide academic enrichment, leaders in rural areas mostly agree that their troubles, exacerbated by the economic crisis of recent years, aren't getting easier.

School Absences Translate to Lower Test Scores, Study Says EdWeek: Missing even a few days of school seems to make a difference in whether 8th graders perform at the top of their game, according to a new analysis of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Labor: What Do Reform Groups Think About Michigan?**

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comAsked if they have a position on "right to work" laws like the one that just passed in Michigan, natioanl school reform organizations like DFER, 50CAN, and Stand For Children all said they had no position one way or the other.

I found this interesting but not surprising (except perhaps in the case of DFER, which is nominally Democratic).  Education reform groups like to keep focused on a narrow set of education policy issues, and from their perspective asking them about labor issues is like asking them about health care reform or what to do with Syria.  

There's also a precedent.  As you may recall, the reform groups generally followed the Obama administration's lead and stayed in the background when lawmakers stripped collective bargaining rights from some public employees in Wisconsin two years ago.

The lone exception -- perhaps you won't be surprised -- was the Sacramento-based StudentsFirst, which responded with the following comment via email.

*See SF email and follow-up clarification below.

**SF clarification #2: "We've been clear that we support the right of workers to collectively bargain"

Continue reading "Labor: What Do Reform Groups Think About Michigan?**" »

Media: Close Race Between Goldstein, Toppo, & Rich

Some people like to come up with complicated algorithms to measure journalists' social media influence, like Klout.  Me, I like my numbers raw, as in Twitter followers.  And luckily Muckrack ranks folks that way (Education journalists on Twitter).  As you can see, with nearly 11,200 followers, USA Today's Greg Toppo is catching up to freelancer Dana Goldstein's 11,600 followers.  But the NYT's Motoko Rich has 11,100 and could fly by her two colleague/competitors anytime now

ScreenHunter_09 Dec. 10 20.26

Over on page 2, Inside Higher Ed's Doug Lederman is gaining steadily on me, as is the Washington Post's Nick Anderson: 
ScreenHunter_10 Dec. 10 20.30
 *British journalists and TV personalities don't count. 



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.