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Bruno: Dallas Shows That Teacher Working Conditions Matter

2204059683_09eb09601b_mIt sounds like the Dallas Independent School District is having a hard time staffing its summer school program this year, and there's a lesson in that for education reformers.

You might think that when new leaders try to "shake up" a school or district, the biggest challenges they'll face will be related to protests from the existing staff. And that's possibly part of DISD's problem.

What's really striking, though, is the extent to which Dallas' teacher shortage seems not to be a deliberate "protest" at all. Rather, teachers just seem to be increasingly of the mind that taking the summer job isn't worth the effort due to rising stress during the regular school year.

This nicely illustrates why it's a mistake to think about teacher compensation and working conditions in starkly moralistic terms.

For many practical purposes, what teachers "deserve" in terms of salary and workload is neither here nor there. Instead, what often matters is whether you're going to be able to get an adequate supply of teachers for the jobs you're offering.

So next time you're inclined reduce teachers' pay or benefits or vacations or pensions, ask yourself two questions: To what extent will that deter prospective teachers from working in your schools? And are you willing to take that hit to your teacher supply? - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Update: Harassment Accusations Roil LA School Board

News broke earlier this week -- just a few days before the scheduled installment of new board members in LA --  that one of its current members was being investigated for harassment.  The board member in question, Dr. Richard Vladovic, had been accused of harassment and the district had hired an outside firm to investigate, according to LA Daily News reporter Barbara Jones, who broke the story.  Vladovic's also been a top contender to replace longtime reform champion Monica Garcia as board President.  But now all that's up in the air, as we report in LA School Report: Harassment Allegations Could Hurt Vladovic’s Chances.  While news of the accusations and investigation have been known to board members since earlier this month, the fact that the events became public so soon before the Board president elections strikes some observers as fishy.

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 1.57.22 PMFor me, the most chilling part of the story (besides that Vladovic is known to some as "Dr. Death") is that his colleagues were told about the accusations and investigation at the beginning of the most recent board meeting, while Vladovic waited in the board meeting room.  Here's what LA Schools Report contributor Hillel Aron tweeted at the time: "Dr. Vladovic now just sitting alone in the horseshoe. Wonder if everyone else is somewhere talking about him?"

Thompson: What's New in the Latest CREDO Charter School Study?

Coverstory1-1The new CREDO study, National Charter School Study, 2013, shows that charter schools perform about the same as traditional public schools. This prompts the question of why "reformers" use charters as the default in improving urban schools. 

As Diane Ravitch asks in New Charter Study Shows Improvement, Raises Questions, given all the advantages they've been granted, why are charters not doing better?

Charter advocates counter that charters are doing a relatively better job than 2009 when CREDO studied charters in 16 states. CREDO claims that its methodology of Virtual Control Record (VCR) allows the comparison of virtual demographic twins, so it is making an apples-to-apples comparison of effectiveness.  

In Charter Schools Offer Scant Edge Over Neighborhood Schools: Study, Reuters' Stephanie Simon explains that under the VCR a homeless student can be a "twin" of a child living in a household of four earning $43,000.

I would add that the same applies, for instance, in regard to special education. CREDO can't distinguish between students with learning disabilities, as opposed to serious emotional disturbance; charters do not need to accept large numbers of students who are often emotionally unable to control their behavior.

The percentage of special education students in the entire 27 state charter study was nearly 40% below the percentage of IEP students in the traditional public schools in their states.  Moreover, the percentage of special education students in new charters dropped since 2009.

How have charters done since 2009 in terms of VCRs? Performance for virtual twins in charters dropped in both reading and math. So, if we look at the part of CREDO research that they brag about the most, charters still underperform.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.  

Views: Malcolm Gladwell On Failure, Voice, & Exit

image from upload.wikimedia.orgWill it work, that thing you're putting so much time and hope and energy into?  

You have no idea.  

It might work -- but it probably won't.  

And in the long run, it -- that class, or program, or app, or reform -- might work out better if you fail miserably in the short run.  

These are some of the many thought-provoking ideas in Malcolm Gladwell's recent New Yorker article about economist Albert Hirschman (The Power of Failure).

The piece tells about how Hirschman became fascinated by large-scale mishaps that worked out really well in the end -- entirely unexpectedly.  

Longtime readers of this site know that I'm fascinated and horrified by failure (my own and others').  

The idea that failure can turn into success is lovely -- as is the idea that many failures stem from the belief that the task "looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be."  

Sound familiar, reformers current and old-school?  

But that's not all.  The Gladwell article ends with a discussion of Hirschman's views on private school vouchers, about which he differed starkly with Milton Friedman.  

Continue reading "Views: Malcolm Gladwell On Failure, Voice, & Exit" »

Morning Video: USDA Upgrades School Snack Rules

Watch USDA Releases New Rules for Snacks Sold at Schools on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

From PBS NewsHour: Ray Suarez gets details on the new rules from Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

AM News: Home Visits Tucked Inside Obama Preschool Plan

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

How to stop the achievement gap from starting? Hechinger Report: The federal government has already provided $1.5 billion for home visitation under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and states are funding the service for hundreds of thousands of families nationwide. But still only a small fraction of babies born into poverty receive this earliest intervention.

Student Loan Rates Set To Double On July 1 NPR: The interest rate on government-backed student loans is going to double on Monday. Policymakers in Washington could not agree on a plan to keep it from happening. If they don't agree on a plan soon, 7 million students expected to take out new Stafford loans could be stuck with a much bigger bill.

Newark Union Head Barely Wins Re-Election The Nation: A challenger slate that’s drawn inspiration from the Chicago Teachers Union captured seventeen of the twenty-nine seats on the NTU’s executive board while barely falling short in its bid to oust Del Grosso.

Who Bill Gates is giving money to now in education Washington Post: Here are some of the largest education grants awarded by the foundation this month, obtained from the foundation’s Web site.

US School Gap Closes, Slowly  Washington Post: The nation's 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds are posting better scores in math and reading tests than their counterparts did 40 years ago, and the achievement gap between white students and those of color still persists but is narrowing.

Hawaii homeless preschool graduates 35 children AP: Homeless and living on a Hawaii beach, Sarah Kanuha never imagined being able to provide preschool for her youngest daughter..  

Antonio Villaraigosa leaves his mark on L.A. schools LA Times:  The mayor vowed to turn the district into an incubator of education reform. In his two terms, during which his nonprofit took over more than a dozen campuses, he's had mixed results.

Video: Grammy-Award winning cellist looks to expand musical education MSNBC: Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss his inspiration for establishing the Silk Road Project and his goals for the program going forward. (Mitchell Reports)




Afternoon Video: Students Protest Chicago Cuts, Closings


There've been no Philly-style hunger strikers yet (though it's been done in Chicago before), but a handful of Chicago students called the Chicago Student Union protested (and were quickly removed from) the monthly Board of education meeting. The protests stem from both the closing of 50 schools and also more recently the $80 million in school-level budget cuts embedded in the district's new weighted student funding system. Via Valerie Strauss.

Events: Aspen Ideas Festival 2013

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 4.34.33 PMAre you at the Aspen Ideas Festival this year?  Me, neither.  

But apparently you don't really have to be there any more to benefit.  Here's the link to the education track, with several sub-themes like innovation, learning, policy teachers, etc.

Some featured segments:  Can Character Be Taught?Lessons in EducationHow to Land Your Kid in Therapy, Can Teacher Unions Be Partners in Reforming Schools?.

Image via AIF.

Media: Education Reporters Win Lotsa Public Radio Awards

Commercial journalism may be in trouble, and nonprofit startups may still be too small and new to know what's going to happen to them in the long haul, but in the meantime it seems like public radio stations are filling in at least some of the void.   No surprise then that there were scads of education stories and reporters among the winners at the recent Public Radio News Directors Inc. awards ceremony in Cleveland:

Chicago Public Radio's Linda Lutton won the Best Writing award, and she was part of the team that won the Breaking News category for the WBEZ stories covering the teachers strike last year (and also part of the team that did the This American Life you remember from earlier this spring).

Other examples: Georgia Public Radio won 2nd place for News Features for its story on Georgia schools making Mandarin mandatory, and WLRN Miami won for its story on spanking in rural Florida schools. WSHU won 2nd place for Breaking News coverage of the Sandy Hook elementary shooting, which WBEZ won for its strike coverage.

Click the link above to see the full list, which unfortunately doesn't include links to the pieces.  Or, click the Soundcloud above and listen to one of Luttons' other pieces, about the impact of violence on a Chicago principal.

Update: Charter Schools Claim Million-Name Nat'l Wait-List

image from www.publiccharters.orgWe're just digesting the big CREDO study and then here comes the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools with an eye-catching claim that nearly a million kids'names are on charter waitlists:

"The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) today released the results of a new survey estimating that public charter school waitlists across the nation approached one million names during the 2012-13 school year, up from 610,000 in 2011-12."

The Alliance also says 275,000 more kids enrolled in charter schools this year, and 2/3 of charters report having a waitlist.

Charter school waitlist claims have long been part of the charter school advocacy toolkit -- sort of like the 100 percent graduation/college attendance claims -- and indeed there is tremendous demand for some charter schools (and the awful lotteries that result from them have become well-known).  

But there's been incrasing pushback against the claims, noting that they are self-reported &  often include double-counts.  (The Alliance tries to address these concerns with a more conservative 520,000-student estimate of individual kids wanting to get into a charter.)

And there are also at least some charter schools where enrollment is shrinking, or uncertain -- as networks expand madly to meet growth goals and create economies of scale even as funding cuts hit hard.  One recent example is the announced closing of Talent Development High School in Chicago -- a unionized charter -- which has struggled to attract enough kids in a glutted market (and to find a permanent home).

Read all about that situation here: Charter cites budget cuts in shut-down decision Catalyst. 

The Alliance is also featuring Miami rapper Pitbull (pictured) at their conference next week (no more wimpy John Legend, I guess). Image via

Morning Video: USDA Revamps School Food (Again)

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

Via Morning Joe -- less fat, more grains in snack foods (and less caffeine, too).

AM News: NH Waiver Leaves Handful Of States Under NCLB

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

New Hampshire Gets NCLB Waiver Politics K12: That leaves Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming with outstanding requests for flexibility under the NCLB law.

After years of cuts, states investing in early education again Hechinger Report:  A recent study by the Education Commission of the States found that after years of stagnant or declining funding, states added $181 million dollars to pre-school programs in the 2012-2013 school year.

Junk food getting canned in schools USA TODAY: The nutritional quality of food served at schools has been a hot-button issue for years because a third of U.S. kids are overweight or obese. 

Va. superintendents worry grading scale will only measure poverty Washington Post: As Virginia’s Board of Education begins to develop a formula for calculating letter grades for each of its public schools by fall 2014, superintendents across the state are getting nervous.

Fireworks at Chicago school board meeting Washington Post: Here's a short video showing what happened when some Chicago public school students went to Wednesday's Board of Education meeting to protest budget cuts and the largest mass school closing in American history.

Afternoon Video: Engadget Does Education Technology

ScreenHunter_09 Jun. 26 18.22
Yes, there's an Engadget show, and the June episode focuses on teaching kids about and through technology. I can't get it to embed properly but you can watch and read all about it here: Education with Google, OLPC, Code.org, LeapFrog, SparkFun, Adafruit and more.


School Life: Viral Class Picture To Be Retaken

image from www.takepart.comThe hullabaloo surrounding this class picture (showing a 2nd grade kid with spinal muscular atrophy isolated from his classmates) has led to online awareness about integrating kids with special needs into mainstream classrooms -- and an offer to have the class picture retaken, according to this article in Take Part: Schools Should Mix Students With and Without Special Needs. Too bad it took online outrage to generate awareness, but crossed fingers that the experience wasn't so traumatizing to the student that it eclipses the benefit to the rest of us. 

Update: Fenger Fights Back

76390232Treat yourself to this recent Chicago Tribune story about the four years since Fenger High School student Derrion Albert was killed, which includes a massive turnaround effort (featuring counselors) and the school's biggest graduating class in recent memory.  

Obviously, there are still lots of problems -- the SIG "cliff" being an obvious example -- and Chicago isn't doing so well these days over all, but all the more reason to take a moment to enjoy some measure of success.

(Image courtesy Chicago Tribune)

Morning Video: Please Tell Me KIPP Is Already Doing This

These students from New Zealand's Postgate School are facing off against the class ahead of them, which makes me think that there will be (already is?) some charter school (mis)using Haka to help teach middle school students.... something. Right?

AM News: Duncan Attacks Common Core Misinformation

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Arne Duncan Mounts Strongest Defense Yet of Common Core Standards EdWeek:  Duncan used the speech to take on his critics, basically accusing them of taking the easy way out as they sought to derail other education-improvement efforts.

Common Core foes spreading misinformation, Duncan says Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan planned a robust defense on Tuesday of the Common Core standards, new academic standards in reading and math that have been adopted by 45 states and D.C

Arne Duncan Decries 'Imaginary' Attacks on Common Core State Ed Watch: The fact that Duncan directly addressed these strains of opposition could indicate that the U.S. Department of Education considers them threatening enough to warrant a response, even though in the address Duncan says he doesn't think the standards will get derailed by these attacks. Also implicit in his message is the idea that journalists haven't been posing the questions that would debunk, once and for all, the "misinformation" about common core.

Does Arne Duncan's NCLB Waiver Decision Open the Door for Illinois? EdWeek: The problem that remains for Illinois is year 2015-16. Under its law, that's still a transitional year for schools and not all schools will be using the new teacher-evaluation system. But under the federal waiver requirements, all schools need to be using the new system that year—just not for personnel decisions under Duncan's timeline shift

Duncan Signals Support for LAUSD Waiver Proposal LA School Report: “I think we have some really courageous superintendents who are trying to do the right thing, so we’ll continue to work through the details and go back and forth,” Duncan said of the CORE district application.

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan Attacks Common Core Misinformation" »

Update: Suburban/County Districts, Hear Them Roar!?

Remember from a few weeks ago about that consortium of generally successful (but still somewhat diverse) suburban and county school districts that had banded together to share ideas and weigh in on public policy?  

Of course you do -- and of course you know that these are the folks who tend to get left out of s policymaking process that focuses on big, lower-performing urban districts (ie, Great City Schools) and smaller nonurban districts (ie, AASA), and state-level stakeholders (NGA, NCSL, Chiefs, Chiefs for Change).

That's how we got NCLB, for example.

Well, it turns out that there are now 14 districts involved in the Consortium-- led by Jack Dale (Fairfax) and Alvin Wilbanks (Gwinnett County) and they're not sitting on their hands waiting around for things to happen the way they want.

They've already begun meeting with Congressional leaders and sending letters to the Hill about what the next ESEA (or whatever) should look like.   Here's their first letter, which I think may not have been published anywhere else: Consortium Letter 5-2013.

Previous post:   Big Suburban District Coalition Has Yet To Make Big Splash

Afternoon Video: Duncan Talks About District NCLB Waiver


Here's Duncan's appearance in SF on Friday, during which he apparently said nice things about Governor Jerry Brown (with whom he's battled regularly for the last four years) and about the district NCLB waiver application. Via EdSource Daily.

Field Trips: A Peek Into The Future Project

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comBefore too much more time passes, I wanted to tell you about something new (to me) called  The Future Project, which I learned about a couple of weeks ago at a brainstorming session called Impactor.  

According to the email I had received: "The Future Project is on a mission to transform America's high schools into the most inspired places on earth. Magical places that ignite passion, not apathy. That empower students to define success on their own terms, not ours. That leave behind innovators, not conformists. That inspire happiness, not only success." 

As you can see from the above group picture, the room was full of social entrepreneurs, digital marketing gurus, media folks, nonprofit types, students -- and me.  The kids especially -- high school students from Green and Democracy Prep -- and the folks who work in the schools with them -- were particularly fun to talk to and hear from. Once in a while, it's good to get out and interact with real people, I guess. 


Morning Video: Middle School Principal Retirement Flashmob

Flashmobs are so 2010 but still it's fun watching 36-year retiring Principal Roger Boddie reach for his walkie-talkie as Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" begins. (Middle School Performs Flash Mob To Wish Retiring Principal Goodbye

AM News: Roundup Of CREDO 2013 Coverage

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Charter Schools Are Improving, a Study Says NYT: An update of a four-year-old Stanford University study that found many charter school students were not performing as well as those in public schools now shows better results in a few states.

Charter performance improving, but still varied Hechinger Report: In the past four years, national charter school enrollment has increased by 80 percent to 2.3 million students. CREDO’s latest comprehensive report checks back in with the charter movement and concludes that charter performance has improved since 2009 – but finds charter schools that outperform traditional school districts are still the exception rather than the rule..”

Charter schools offer scant edge over neighborhood schools: study Reuters: Charter schools across the United States have improved in recent years, but on average, they still offer little advantage over traditional public education, according to a new study.

Charters not outperforming nation’s traditional public schools, report says Washington Post: But 56 percent of the charters produced no significant difference in reading and 19 percent had worse results than traditional public schools.

Study: Minority, poor students gain from charters AP: Charter schools benefit students from poor families, black students and Hispanic English-language learners more than their peers in other groups, a study shows....

Charter Schools Receive a Passing Grade WSJ: Students attending publicly funded, privately run charter schools posted slightly higher learning gains overall in reading than their peers in traditional public schools and about the same gains in math, but the results varied ...

Charter School Performance Study Finds Small Gains Huffington Post: Charter students on the whole end the school year with reading skills eight instructional days ahead of public school kids, and perform at about the same rate as public school students in math, according to the study released Tuesday by Stanford University's Center for for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO.

Continue reading "AM News: Roundup Of CREDO 2013 Coverage" »

Update: "Let's Hire Everyone Back," Says LA School Board

Bus-LAUSDWhile laid-off teachers and ardent reform critics may be all aglow over LAUSD school board member Steve Zimmer's "Pacino-esque speech on behalf a proposed teacher hiring/ class size reduction proposal last week, perhaps it's not quite yet time to declare success.  

Quick recap: last Tuesday, the LAUSD board debated and ultimately passed a resolution calling for a return to 2007 staffing levels -- despite the fact that LAUSD has a budget deficit and has lost enrollment in the years since then.

According to folks like Diane Ravitch, the proposal is brilliant and its most impassioned defender -- Zimmer -- is to be greatly admired for his lengthy remarks on its behalf.  (According to one observer, Zimmer's performance was Pacino-esque.)

Alas, not everyone would agree with such a kind view of the proposal, including the LA Times editorial page, which noted that the proposal Zimmer was advocating "made no sense," and LA Superintendent John Deasy, who mocked the teacher rehiring proposal as a “directive to hire every human being on the West Coast."

Perhaps Deasy was a bit too candid, considering that the board was already shooting itself in the foot on this one (and he's already facing a board that isn't going to be as amenable to his ideas as it was during his first two years).  Ever-impatient, Deasy has pulled rhetorical and procedural gambits like this before.  Sometimes, they work, sometimes not.

But the facts remain: across the board re-staffing, which is what Zimmer et al have proposed, would bring back scads of positions and staff that the schools don't want or need any more; the district doesn't need (and can't afford) to hire all the laid-off teachers back. 

Cross-posted from LA School Report.

Thompson: Common Core's Greatest Weakness

Common_core_revisedI had been agnostic about Common Core.  I would enthusiastically support rigorous new standards were it not for the assessments which accompanied them.  Once systems adopt Common Core tests, however, it is likely to become the new curriculum. 

Claire Needell Hollander's No Learning Without Feeling, in the New York Times, provides the best explanation I've read about the flaws inherent in using assessments as the lever for mastering Common Core's standards.  Hollander, a middle school teacher, explains that for teachers "emotion is our lever. The teen mind is our stone."

Once high stakes standardized tests are involved, however, Common Core's architects must focus on the "bloodless task" of avoiding political risks.  They must create "neutral" texts that are "created to be 'agnostic' with regard to student interest ... They are texts no child would choose to read on her own."

Common Core is neutral as to whether "students should read Shakespeare, Salinger or a Ford owner’s manual, so long as the text remains 'complex.'” As long as students' curiosity, sadness, confusion and knowledge deficits are ignored, they will be on "receiving end of lessons planned for a language-skills learning abstraction."

We have always had some educators who believe that learning is an primarily an affair of "the Head," not "the Heart," and that the cure for bubble-in test-driven malpractice is designing a test worth teaching to. But Common Core imposed that minority view upon almost all of this diverse nation's schools.  Soon, we will be reading a wave of postmortems on the resulting debacle. When that happens, I hope we will remember how Ms. Hollander predicted, chapter and verse, why it failed.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via. 


Advocacy: Rabble Rousers, Revisited

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 3.11.21 PM Six years after it was first published and four years since it was updated, Rabble Rousers is still in circulation -- though not necessarily easy to find. 
That's pretty good for an online publication, most of which disappear as soon as they're published.
There's no section on evaluating advocacy efforts, which is my current obsession.   But it's still full of interesting ideas for anyone involved in ed advocacy -- on the reform side or not.
Here you go.
Read it?  Liked it?  Let us know what you learned (or thought was wrong).

Weekend Reading: Is EdTech Worth It?

You should really be working all weekend (and following me on Twitter @alexanderrusso) but just in case you've got better things to do here are some stories from Friday-Sunday you might find useful to know about:

Is It Worthy? How to Judge the Value of a Tech Product | MindShift ow.ly/mij2e

The gay rights movement’s key advantage over the abortion rights movement Salon.com ow.ly/miiWp

Standardized admission testing reshaped elite | The Tennessean | tennessean.com ow.ly/miiU5

@RelayGSE Dean Mayme Hostetter talks #TeacherPrep @AmRadioWorksow.ly/mibyI

America's Elite Toddlers Face New Obstacles to Preschool Admission ow.ly/1XUzOX

"We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat." ow.ly/mj9LP

Monsters University reviewed. - Slate Magazineow.ly/mii5a ["Not a safety school, but not a reach either."]

Audio: Experts on Medical Education, Teacher Training Programs (Audio) @bloomburgEDU ow.ly/mi4JL


Morning Video: Project Exploration Gets Nightly News Segment

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

AM News: Data Security Questions Spread To Schools

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Data Security Is a Classroom Worry, Too NYT: As school districts rush to adopt learning-management systems, some privacy advocates warn that educators may be embracing the bells and whistles before mastering fundamentals like data security and privacy.

States Reined In by 1965 Voting Act Await a Decision NYT: A Supreme Court ruling on a key provision of the Voting Rights Act could have a dramatic effect on the low-profile world of county commissions and school boards.

Maryland teachers prepare for tougher math curriculum under Common Core Washington Post:  A team of teachers and the principal of Piney Branch Elementary School hovered over two math questions designed to test fourth-grade students on their understanding of perimeter.

NY district recruits students from other schools AP: Tucked into the leafy suburbs north of New York City, the Blind Brook-Rye public school district seems to have it all: state-of-the-art classrooms, high test scores and an enviable record of sending graduates to college.

School Hopes Talking It Out Keeps Kids From Dropping Out NPR: The "conflict-resolution room" at Ypsilanti High School in Michigan is where students go when they're on the verge of being suspended. It's an alternative approach to discipline that could keep kids in school and out of trouble.

Continue reading "AM News: Data Security Questions Spread To Schools" »

Weekend Video: Wu-Tang Clan Rapper At NYC School


GZA likes science, and isn't afraid to talk about it.  Slate calls it the "least lame classroom rap ever" via @joannejacobs

Media: Education Writers Appear in Journolist Archive

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comEver wonder what the education journalists and pundits who were on Journolist had to say during the 2007-2009 period when the listserve was operating?  Maybe.  

The list came to public attention in 2010 and some education writers/pundits like Linda Perlstein, Dana Goldstein, Kevin Carey, and Elizabeth Green confirmed at the time that they participated (see my 2010 table of participants here or at left).

Now, the archive is available online, and you can spend time seeing what they and others had to say.  

According to The Atlantic.com, Linda Perlstein (then EWA public editor) is mentioned 11 times!!

Politics: Booker Hires Education-Hardened Campaign Manager

image from www.50p1.comPolitico reports that Senate hopeful Cory Booker has hired Obama campaign veteran Addisu Demissie (pictured) as his campaign manager and lists many of Demissie's campaign experiences -- but not his recent stints as a consultant and then spokesperson for LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Coalition for School Reform.

Demissie's Sacramento-based firm 50+1 was hired to field work during the LAUSD school board election primaries, in which the Coalition outspent the union-endorsed candidates but only won one of three races outright.  

For the runoff, Demissie was brought on as spokesperson for the Coalition, whose candidate (a former Villaraigosa aide) lost to a 5th grade classroom teacher.  

For more about Demissie, see LA School Report: Reformers Try to Match Union "Ground Game"Reform Coalition Hires New SpokespersonCampaign Consultants Win — Either WayA Good – But Not Great – Campaign

Quotes: What Waivers Would Do To Obamacare

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThe waiver policy is sort of like if Obamacare had mandated that everyone in America had live to be at least 90, or face severe consequences. Then when the severe consequences rolled around, the administration would offer waivers only if states implemented plans to make everyone run 15 miles a day. - Washington Monthly's Daniel Luzer (The Obama Administration's Crafty Education Policy)

Morning Audio: Field Trips & Quitting Teachers

Two education-related segments from this week's This American Life:


Third and fourth graders from Polaris Charter Academy in Chicago get ready for an overnight camping trip. Before they set off, they review the rules: What to do if you see a bug; what to do if you have to go to the bathroom; and most important — what to do if you’re confronted with a crying friend. 

Science teacher Jason Pittman, who teaches pre-school through sixth grade at a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, won a big teaching award this week. In fact, during his ten years teaching, he’s won many, many awards. He loves his job. But this week, he explains to Ira why he’s quitting, even though he doesn’t want to.

AM News: What Happens When Waivers Expire?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Is NCLB Waiver Renewal the Next Big Issue? EdWeek: The waivers are only set to be in place for two years, and it's unclear if Brokedown Congress will get its act together to pass a rewrite. 

Arne Duncan Expected To Tap Emma Vadehra As New Chief Of Staff Huffington Post: She is expected to be replaced by Emma Vadehra, who works as the chief of staff for a charter school management organization known as Uncommon Schools, the sources said. 

Education with a LIFT NBC: Schools adopt program to LIFT low income students to higher learning.

In Dallas, 3-Year High School Diploma Would Expand Preschool NYT: Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest, is developing a voluntary three-year high school diploma plan that is likely to start in the 2014-15 school year and would funnel cost savings to finance prekindergarten.

Defiant LAUSD Superintendent Says He’ll Push Targeted Spending Plan Anyway LA School Report: “The Board voted down the directive to have me come and do it,” said Deasy, referring to Galatzan’s local spending resolution. “[But] they can’t stop me from doing it; we’re doing it anyway. If they had voted to prevent me from doing it… well they didn’t think of that.”

A Lifeline for Minorities, Catholic Schools Retrench NYT: Many blacks and Latinos say they can trace the success they have achieved in their careers to the guidance they received in Catholic schools.

Texas school district apologizes to valedictorian AP: A North Texas school district has apologized to a high-school valedictorian whose microphone was switched off during a graduation ceremony when he deviated from prepared remarks.

Thompson: Common Core "Pause" Opponents Have It Backwards

CommoncoretransitionThe Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits, in Common Core Transition Will Give Time to Make Evaluations Count, explains that Secretary of Education Duncan announced a voluntary pause in using test scores in teacher evaluations during the transition to Common Core.  She explains that the new policy is seen by some as a "tacit recognition of the Obama administration's overreach into nitty-gritty management of America's schools."

Some "reformers" are upset that states can wait until metrics are somewhat more accurate (or less inaccurate) before firing teachers using high stakes tests. The TNTP complains that some states will retain bad teachers who are rated as ineffective.  It doesn't mention the states that will also fire good teachers who are wrongly identified as ineffective by not-ready-for-prime-time tests and statistical models.

The Education Trust makes the same point, but then it contradicts itself. It complains that Duncan’s new policy will result in the “unreasonable” definition of growth where old and new measures of growth are combined.  It is silent about teachers who will be fired using such definitions.  

According to the USDOE Fact Sheet, ten states want to fire teachers this year or next year using test score growth.  By definition, they are combining a jumble of old tests for something they were not designed for.  Then, then can either take the invalid approach of firing teachers using one or two years of data, or they can engage in the practice that the Trust condemns and dump primitive bubble-in tests into an algorithm along with rigorous new assessments. In fact, by definition, only two states (who have received waivers) have the schedule that allows for reasonable testing of the new assessments and the growth models.

Daria Hall, EdTrust's K-12 director, protests, "You could have a teacher teaching the Common Core in the morning but old standards in the afternoon.” She doesn’t seem upset by the inevitable result where some inner city teachers will thus be determined to be effective (or better) in the afternoon, but fired because their low-skilled students couldn’t make the overnight transition to the much more rigorous Common Core curriculum.

By the way, Duncan and his critics both ignore the obvious.  If they didn't insist on using test scores, districts could already be firing bad teachers based on their performance, as opposed to experimental models that may never become valid for evaluations.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.   

People: Behind The Scenes Players In Los Angeles

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 4.15.48 PMEducation is full of behind-the-scenes players whose influence is much greater than their notoriety.  Two such examples in Los Angeles are David Tokofsky, a former teacher and school board member who has the ear of pretty much everyone in town but keeps his fingerprints off of nearly everything, and Joan Sullivan, a former NYC principal and nonprofit head who's just now finishing up a three-year stint as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's education deputy.  Check out profiles of each in LA School Report: Behind the Scenes with David Tokofsky, and Villaraigosa Deputy Transitions to New Challenges.

Morning Video: Reactions To Teacher Training Report


Here's a segment from Chicago Public Television about the NCTQ/USNews teacher training report -- and the closings and layoffs that have come from dwindling enrollment -- and low teacher ratings.

AM News: Another Day, Another NCLB Rewrite

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comRepublican-led House committee passes new federal education bill Washington Post: A Republican-controlled House committee Wednesday approved a new version of the country’s main education law that would sharply shrink the federal role in K-12 public schools. 

Did Obama Diss Catholic Education In Northern Ireland? BuzzFeed: Education remains deeply divided in the region, with the children of Catholics mainly attending Catholic schools and the children of Protestant families mainly attending government-run schools.

Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate NYT: A heated discussion has emerged over whether free online college classes will lead to better learning and lower costs — or to a second-class education for most students.

Condoms Approved for Schools in Massachusetts NYT: The new policy allows students to obtain condoms, unless parents opt them out, and makes sexual education a required part of school health curricula.

Lax Education In Humanities, Social Sciences Spark Outcry NPR: A new report argues that humanities and social sciences are as essential to the country's economic and civic future as science and technology. The study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was commissioned in 2010 by a bipartisan group of members of Congress.

Marathon Board Meeting Signals Changes to Come LA School Report: Among several key decisions the Board arrived at during the lengthy session were votes to award a $30 million contract to Apple, close a charter school that had dodged a district audit, and add some local regulations to the controversial parent trigger process (but not call for the law’s repeal).

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Looks Into Teacher Ed Report

Watch Are Teachers Being Adequately Trained for the Classroom? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Are Teachers Being Adequately Trained for the Classroom? Study Says No

AM News: "Take Another Year," Duncan Tells Waiver States

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comEducation Chief Lets States Delay Use of Tests in Decisions About Teachers’ Jobs NYT: Responding to complaints, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said states could postpone for a year using more rigorous tests to make career decisions about teachers.

Arne Duncan: Common Core Transition Will Give States More Time To Make ... Huffington Post: In what some see as a tacit recognition of the Obama administration's overreach into nitty-gritty management of America's schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will give states a reprieve from certain aspects of teacher evaluations

Consequences for teachers from school testing can wait a year Washington Post: States that are implementing the Common Core academic standards and new standardized tests in public schools can have an additional year before they have to use those student test scores to decide pay and job..

Education Dept. offers more time to reach goals AP: The Education Department is offering states more time to enact promised reforms in exchange for permission to ignore unworkable parts of No Child Left Behind. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ...

No Child Left Behind Act At Center Of House Hearing, Sparring Philosophies Huffington Post: Under the [Kline] legislation, schools would not have to meet federally prescribed performance goals -- a proposal markedly different from current law, the Obama administration's waiver system and a competing bill offered up by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). 

Labor Seeks Influence in New York’s Mayoral Race NYT: After years of low morale, unions across the city are roaring back to life this election season, excited by the prospect of installing a friend in City Hall.

Board to Vote on Condoms in Boston Schools NYT: A new health policy that would make condoms available in the district’s high schools is up for a vote on Wednesday night.

Home-Schooled Students Fight To Play On Public School Teams NPR: Roughly half of U.S. states have passed laws making home-schooled students eligible to play for their local school teams. But in Indiana, an attempt to find a middle ground hasn't calmed the debate.

Panorama City school to be named after Michelle Obama Los Angeles Daily News: West Valley board member Tamar Galatzan said she, too, admired Michelle Obama, but she questioned whether the board was following district policy for naming the school after the first lady.


Afternoon Video: Classrooms Of The Future (Again!)

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

The TODAY show scans the "future" of education, featuring Knewtown, Kahn Academy, and others -- without any apparent skepticism about the costs or limitations. 

Media: Nonprofit Journalism Study Omits Several Education Sites

Wait, what? ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 17 15.41A new Pew report on nonprofit journalism points out that 172 nonprofit news-gathering operations are growing but still small compared to commercial journalism.  But at least in education the list of outlets is incomplete -- listing Catalyst Chicago, gothamschools, Hechinger, and Education News Colorado but omitting the Philadelphia Notebook, Inside Schools, EdSource Today, Great Schools, LA School Report, and others.

The study methodology says that sites included must be primarily digital -- that might disqualify The Notebook -- and started after 1987 -- when was Inside Schools started?

Thompson: The Batavia School Board's Contempt for Students' and Teachers' Rights

MaoAlexa Aguilar, in the Tri-Cities Tribune (Batavia Teacher in 5th Amendment Debate Ordered to Curb Remarks) writes that John Dryden, a twenty-year veteran teacher, served a one-day suspension without pay as punishment for words that the district considers "inappropriate and unprofessional."

Specifically, Dryden was punished for telling students that they had the right to not answer a survey about their illegal drug use. 

The School Board issued a "notice to remedy" letter to Dryden, ordering him to refrain from making "flippant" remarks or providing "legal advice."   The teacher must not "mischaracterize" or "discredit" any district initiative.

How should we characterize a survey with the student’s name printed at the top that asks about the student’s illegal drug use? Should anyone believe that such a survey meets professional standards for targeting students in need of social or emotional help?

Speaking of initiatives that are inappropriate in a constitutional democracy, the Board demanded that Dryden must now repeat any district directive back to his boss and agree to comply. Dryden replied that the new requirements are "demeaning, vague, overly broad and constructed to entrap me in a future infraction for the purpose of termination." I’d say that they sound like the Communist Chinese war against “verbal struggles.”

On the other hand, wouldn’t advocates of new college ready standards support a classroom assignment such as an analysis that compares and contrasts the practice of “criticism and self-criticism” during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and American schools in the 21st century. Mao said, “So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure, so long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade.” Perhaps students could compare Mao's position with American school systems’ policies on free speech. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Media: Parent Trigger Group Launches "Truth" Site

image from distilleryimage4.s3.amazonaws.comDoing what it seems like someone on the reform side of the debate has needed to do for many months now, the earnest folks at Parent Revolution have just launched a site they hope will help debunk some of the abundant reform criticism that's out there (especially surrounding the parent trigger).  

The site is called Truth in Education Reform and its stated aim is “ferreting out and debunking the conspiracy theories and provable lies… that collectively threaten to overcome sensible debate on education policy and ed reform.”

The site’s initial focus will be on attempting to debunk claims made by Diane Ravitch, who earlier this month quasi-apologized for calling Parent Revolution head Ben Austin “loathsome” and on Friday penned another critique of the parent trigger (which as of Monday afternoon had already attracted 60+ comments).

For a taste of the challenge TIER faces, check out the comments following a brief post about the new site at LA School Report.  Whether or not Parent Revolution is up to the task of doing daily battle with Ravitch, Valerie Strauss and their allies is not yet clear. My guess is that if StudentsFirst, DFER, and others aren't up to the task of making sure that reform isn't being Swift Boated -- so far, none of them has really stepped up on the "rapid response" front -- then Parent Revolution won't be able to pull this off either. 

Previous posts: Rapid Response in ConnecticutReform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now). Image via Alex Hiam

Morning Video: Hillary Clinton's Preschool Launch

Watch the kickoff video for "Too Small to Fail," featuring Hillary Clinton, and read about the effort and the former Secretary of State's involvement via New America's Lisa Guernsey (Hillary Clinton, the 'Accelerator' and More)

AM News: Advocacy Group Rates Teacher Prep Programs

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

University programs that train US teachers get mediocre marks in first-ever ... Washington Post: Released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based advocacy group, the rankings are part of a $5 million project funded by major U.S. foundations.

Teacher Preparation Program Rankings Make U.S. News Debut Huffington Post: States are getting in on the action, too: Earlier this month, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed legislation that would make it harder to become a teacher... The rankings garnered early, if tepid, support from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. 

Teacher Training's Low Grade WSJ: Fewer than 10% of the programs earned three or more stars. Only four, all for future high-school teachers, received four stars. About 14% got zero stars, and graduate-level programs fared particularly poorly.

Rookie teachers woefully unprepared, report says Reuters: The US teacher training system is badly broken, turning out rookie educators who have little hands-on experience running ...

Report: Too many teachers, too little quality AP: The nation's teacher-training programs do not adequately prepare would-be educators for the classroom, even as they produce almost triple the 

Study: Teacher Prep Programs Get Failing Marks NPR:  The first-ever study of more than 1,100 schools of education released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality shows that teacher preparation is in disarray. The study warns that 163 programs provide only "minimal, substandard training."

New teacher training study decries California universities LA Times: A controversial policy group singles out teacher training programs at UCLA and Loyola Marymount as hardly worth attending. But the schools say the report is flawed.

LA Board Member Clarifies Views On Test-Score Teacher Payments

image from laschoolreport.comWhen Gates-funded teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) announced they were releasing a new report about how to revamp teacher recruitment and retention in LA -- including pay bonuses based on student test scores -- they might have been pleasantly surprised at the appearance of School Board member-elect Monica Ratliff (pictured) along with reform champions Superintendent John Deasy and Villaraigosa ally Monica Garcia.  

Ratliff won election to the Board as an underdog, beating Villaraigosa favorite Antonio Sanchez, and is being championed by many as one of a growing number of reform skeptics on the LAUSD School Board. 

But of course Ratliff's presence at the event seemed to suggest that she was supportive of the E4E report recommendations, which the teachers union and others either refrained from supporting or came out against.  And so she took to Diane Ravitch's blog over the weekend to clarify that she supports revamping teacher recruitment, retention, and evaluation but is opposed to linking things to student test scores.

Quotes: Challenging Students' Dreams - Not Denigrating Them

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI would not urge you simply to get off the PlayStation. I would urge you to understand who made the game. I would not urge you to take down your King James poster. I would urge you to think about the business that makes him possible. - Ta-Nehisi Coats

Media: NatJournal's "New" Education Site

image from www.nationaljournal.com
Here's National Journal's updated education experts site, now dubbed Education Insiders, which features a weekly blog post by reporter Fawn Johnson and responses from various luminaries (well, sort of -- I'm on the list).  It's been around sicne June 2009 years now -- here's the old version -- and it's always been a little sleepy for me because of the restrictive format, predictable viewpoints, and the lack of real interactivity among respondendents.  But there's always hope, and I'm glad it's there.  

Quotes: Entrepreneurs, Risk, and Failure

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThe entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky. Then, trapped in mid-mountain, people discover the truth -- and, because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job. - Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker



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.