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Thompson: SAT Scores Are Great, But Teaching Is An Act of Love

SatDan Goldhaber's and Joe Walch's Gains in Teacher Quality, in Education Next, reports the good news that incoming teachers' SAT scores are on the rise. Recruiting better educated teacher candidates is an input-driven approach that is smarter than the dubious output-driven accountability of the last two decades.

I hope we don't go overboard, however, in overrating the importance of "book smarts" in teaching. I was a critical thinking coach, who confounded some adults by playing basketball with the students.  My questioning strategies anticipated Common Core and they guided teenagers with elementary school skills towards mastery of college preparatory standards.

But, education is not an affair of "the Head," but of "the Heart." The real reason why I was an effective teacher was that I didn't have biological offspring, so the students became my children.

I worked hard to become one of my school's co-MVPs. Then, we hired James Booth as a parent liaison and he was universally acclaimed as our Most Valuable Person.  Mr. Booth was retired military and a basketball referee. Despite his lack of background in academics, Booth was a mentor who did far more good for far more students than any teacher, counselor, or principal.

James Booth was not an exception.  Many schools' MVPs are coaches, cafeteria ladies, bus drivers, or security guards. Children learn from adults who love them. But, don't worry. Students don't discriminate against smart teachers; inner city kids, especially, appreciate it when highly educated adults show them the respect of treating them like their affluent peers. So this new generation of teachers will do fine as long as they keep their priorities straight.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.     

Update: Best #EduCostumes 2013 Ideas (So Far)

Morning Video: Ravitch's Pre-Halloween "Daily Show" Appearance

In an appearance that will seem like more trick than treat to reform supporters, Diane Ravitch appeared on The Daily Show last night:

Some quick observations: She ducks the "what about the unions?" question entirely (not defending them, it's worth noting) -- and Stewart lets her.  She posits the notion that charter schools or choice reduce the sense of public obligation but ignores the reality that more affluent parents (including Ravitch herself) have "shopped" for better schools for their children for decades. She was holding the noisy green key-keeper in her hand to keep from blocking her face using that hand, right? See extended segments here.

AM News: Schools Monitoring Students' Social Media Activities


Yes, Your School is Watching You WNYC: The Glendale school district in California is paying a firm over $40,000 to monitor the social media posts of their middle and high school students this school year. The state of Florida recently enacted a cyberbullying law which gives schools the power to investigate the off-campus social media activities of their students. 

Mass School Closings a Nationwide Trend NBC: Craig Melvin talks with a Philadelphia family that is experiencing school closings first hand.

Calif. Could Lose At Least $15 Million in Federal Funds Over Testing Politics K12: Ever since California approved a bill to suspend much of its accountability testing for one year, everyone has been wondering if the feds would punish the Golden State for straying far from the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, which call for states to test students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school and use the results to make key school improvement decisions. 

Study: Dual credit benefits kids in richer schools Hechinger Report: A study by the Illinois Education Research Council at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville found that more students were enrolled in dual-credit college courses in high school students in suburban and rural areas with larger enrollments of whites and smaller numbers of low-income families, and that excelled in such things as grades, test scores, and attendance.

Education Department Seeks Feedback On Ratings System For American Universities HuffPost: The Education Department forums are scheduled Nov. 6 at California State University, Dominguez Hills; Nov. 13 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.; Nov. 15 at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls; and Nov. 21 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Continue reading "AM News: Schools Monitoring Students' Social Media Activities" »

Afternoon Video: RIP, Mrs. Krabappel (You Were The Worst)

Here are some funny bits from Homer Simpson's highly ineffective elementary school teacher, Edna Krabappel, who was voiced by actress  Marcia Wallace who passed away last week. Via Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune.

Maps: Texas Kids' Math Skills Resemble Finland's (Gasp!)

image from big.assets.huffingtonpost.comMassachusetts is Japan, Illinois is Israel, Nevada is Lithuania... you get the idea. TIMSS data from last week turned into a map by HuffPost. How does Texas come out compared to Finland?  I have no idea. Either it's a mistake or they just wanted to wak us up.

Media: Who Leaked Deasy's "Resignation" (& Why It Didn't Work)

image from farm8.staticflickr.comWait, what just happened?  First embattled LAUSD superintendent John Deasy was resigning, then he's being re-upped -- for another two years?

The two main theories behind the last few days of tumult and rumor in LA are (a) that Deasy authorized a leak to scare the board into keeping him (and it nearly got out of hand) or (b) that Deasy opponents (most likely Mike Trujillo in Richard Vladovic's office) leaked the story to try and create momentum around an early Deasy departure.

So which was it and why didn't the leak work?

Continue reading "Media: Who Leaked Deasy's "Resignation" (& Why It Didn't Work)" »

Morning Video: Ravitch Does MSNBC

From last week. You can see parts 2 and 3 here.

AM News: Deasy Stays, Colo. Reform Scares, Better Teachers?


After much speculation and rallying, LA school board retains superintendent KPCC: After nearly five hours behind closed doors, the L.A. Unified school board announced Tuesday that it’s keeping its superintendent. A planned meeting on the iPad’s budget and district-wide rollout was postponed in favor of the closed-door review of Deasy’s performance. A motion to censure Vladovic for allegedly harassing and mistreating employees was also put over.

John Deasy to stay on as L.A. Unified schools chief LA Times: L.A. schools chief John Deasy will continue to lead the nation's second-largest school district through June 2016, the district's legal counsel announced Tuesday, ending days of speculation about his future.

Can Bloomberg, Melinda Gates Cash Push Colo. Tax Hike to Victory? State EdWatch: Melinda Gates and a philanthropy associated with Gotham City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have contributed significantly to the Amendment 66 campaign in Colorado. ALSO: Halloween Ad Blasts CO Education Reform Bill As 'Hickenlooper's Monster' HuffPost.

Starting Teacher SAT Scores Rise As Educators Face Tougher Evaluations HuffPost:  Taken together, the articles show an evolving workforce that raises questions about the often extreme hand-wringing over teacher quality. "Although teachers in the U.S. are more likely to be drawn from the lower end of the academic achievement distribution than are teachers in selected high-performing countries, the picture is a bit more nuanced than the rhetoric suggests," Goldhaber and Walch wrote.

Study: New teachers more educated, of higher caliber Hechinger Report: First-year teachers during the 2008-09 school year had an average SAT score that was 8 percentile rank points higher than the average score among new teachers in 2001. And for the first time, new teachers in 2008 had slightly higher average SAT scores than their peers entering other fields.

Continue reading "AM News: Deasy Stays, Colo. Reform Scares, Better Teachers?" »

Afternoon Video: More On High Schooler's Dino Discovery


Via Slate

Thompson: Will a New Consensus Emerge for NYC Schools?

DeblasioNY-1's Lindsey Christ, in Obama: P-TECH Setting the Stage for Student Success, reports that when President Obama praised the gentrification of Brooklyn and its small P-TECH High School, he spoke after Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg said that P-TECH's success went hand in hand with the closing of Paul Robeson High School which co-locates with it. Obama and Arne Duncan supposedly believe his spin. On the other hand,  The President now supports mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and his more humane approach to school improvement.

It is unlikely that the President knows the full story of NYC small schools like P-TECH.  P-TECH's students scored higher than the city's average when they entered the school, while Robeson's incoming students were below the city's average. Neither was he likely to know that Robeson served 2-1/2 times as many English Language Learners, nearly three times as many special education students, and that 1/8th of its students were homeless. 

I wonder if Obama knows that his turnaround policies facilitated Bloomberg's sabotage of poorer schools.  As Clara Hemphill and Kim Nauer explained in Managing by the Numbers, Robeson was undermined by the dumping of hundreds of at-risk students on it. Robeson's fate was sealed when 70 to 80 "Over the Counter" students were added to its incoming freshman class of 140.

The Obama administration should come to grips with the Education Funders Research Initiative's "New York City Schools: Following the Learning Trajectories," by Douglas Ready, Thomas Hatch, Miya Warner, and Elizabeth Chu. It is consistent with de Blasio's early education policies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Will a New Consensus Emerge for NYC Schools?" »

Today's EdGIF: "Is Our Children Learning?"

Who could forget one of the the best Bushisms of all time?
 Send GIF suggestions to me at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

Quotes: Trick Or Treat On For-Profit Charters

Quotes2Only 12-13% of charter schools are run by “for-profit” companies. The vast majority – approximately 88% of public charters – are run by non-profits or a group of individuals (like principals, teachers, or concerned citizens). - StudentsFirst, citing NAPCS statistics

Morning Video: When The "Stranger Danger" Talk Goes Awry


A little humor to start the day: this SNL segment from this past weekend, lampooning the "stranger danger" talk. 

AM News: LAUSD Superintendent Might Stay - Or Not


Momentum builds for retaining Deasy as LAUSD chief LA Daily News: As civic groups mobilized in support of Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy, board member Steve Zimmer expressed optimism Monday that the embattled schools chief can be persuaded to stay on as head of the nation's second-largest district.

Los Angeles Schools Leadership Questioned WSJ: The Los Angeles Unified School District is slated to meet Tuesday to discuss whether to renew its superintendent’s contract—a decision that could change the leadership of the nation’s second-largest school system.

Zimmer: LA Unified Board Wants Deasy to Stay LA School Report: In anticipation of what’s sure to be a long and dramatic school board meeting tomorrow, LA Unified board member Steve Zimmer says he’s optimistic that the board can convince Superintendent John Deasy not to resign as head of the nation’s second largest school district.

L.A. schools improved, but Deasy fell short of ambitious goals LA Times: Supt. John Deasy, whose annual review will be conducted Tuesday, failed to meet many goals he set for himself. Even so, school board members and civic leaders cite long-term gains. 

LAUSD needs Deasy LA Times (editorial page): We don't always agree with him, but the superintendent has excelled in a difficult position.There are so many dramas and mini-disasters at the Los Angeles Unified School District, they have to take a number and line up for attention.

Texas No Child Left Behind waiver means concessions to feds Politico: Critics often tie No Child Left Behind waivers to the Common Core and equate them with operating in the pocket of the federal government. Some say Texas crushed that theory. Others say the state's recently won waiver reinforced it.

New Jersey School District Cancels Testing After Exams Are Leaked on the Internet NYT: The breach of test security in the Montclair, N.J., school district was discovered by a parent on Friday, leading to a “full legal investigation.”

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Superintendent Might Stay - Or Not" »

Maher: The Fallacy of Generalized Mediocrity

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

image from farm1.staticflickr.comEvery day when we come to work, we have the privilege of interacting with amazing young people.  Many of them were among the top students in their high schools.  Their average score on the SAT was above 1100 and they had an average weighted GPA of 4.4. Further, they have college GPAs above 3.0 and many graduate magna cum laude (GPA above 3.5). These young individuals perform a large amount of service work in the community and they engage in international activities to learn more about the world around them.  We are sure many of you would like to work with such outstanding people and learn about the amazing things they are doing. And, you are wondering who they are…

If we tell you that we work at North Carolina State University, you would wonder in what technical field we teach. But actually, we work in the College of Education. And the wonderful people we are talking about, all intend to be teachers.  In fact, they are all future Elementary Teachers who will serve schools across the nation.  Let us say this again:  these amazing, smart, and hard working students all want to be Elementary Teachers.  NC State is a selective university and these high achieving college students, who have the option of choosing from a variety of majors, choose to become Elementary Teachers.

The current public discourse often paints teachers as ineffective, sub-professionals, who likely had no other choice than to teach.  These substandard professionals, the current discourse goes on, need more and more accountability through testing, performance regulations, and report cards to make sure they are performing their craft in an “effective” manner.  After all, those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach—or so the current discourse is trying to prove. This image of a less than qualified student who goes on to become a low performing professional does not match the reality we experience everyday.

The current attack on public school teachers is now taking the next step and attacking Colleges of Education. Or, as a recent (October 20th) Op-Ed in the New York Times put it: “those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach teaching.” 

Continue reading "Maher: The Fallacy of Generalized Mediocrity" »

Weekend Reading: Stuff You Might Have Missed

Over the weekend I try and check out magazines and other long-form sites for education-related coverage that I don't get to during the week and share them via Twitter.  Here are some of the best from this past weekend:

NYT: Creating a TV show to persuade young women to become hackers http://ht.ly/qdsdq 

PolitiFact rates "mostly false" Ravitch's claim that test scores have gone down since NCLB http://ht.ly/qdjSk 

Longform podcast interview with Malcolm "Anti-Small Class" Gladwell http://ht.ly/qdrW7 

Steubenville HS Staffers Outraged at Treatment of Indicted IT Director - The Atlantic Wire http://ht.ly/qcqHm 

Leonarda and the School Bus: France's Roma Fight : The New Yorker ht.ly/qdVA5

CSNY, Arcade Fire Unplug At 27th Annual Bridge School Benefit | Rolling Stone ht.ly/qdVLb

Report: American Education Isn't Mediocre—It's Deeply Unequal - Julia Ryan - The Atlantic ht.ly/qdOo4

Is Facebook Safe for Kids? In 2004, the online...ht.ly/qdN5W

The Macroeconomics 101 of Cheating http://ht.ly/qcvEA 

Rolling Out an iPad Pilot Program, With Eyes Wide Open | MindShift ht.ly/qdMLO

Barnard’s Spar, Ann Tisch on Schools for Women, Girls (Audio) ht.ly/qdMDU

Is Ethical Parenting Possible? -- New York Magazineht.ly/qdJHo Just ask your children.

Game Changer Chicago (GCC) Design Lab at UofC creates alt reality game for at risk youth http://ht.ly/qdhVv  #edtech @gtoppo

Quotes: Charter Advocates Overstate/Mislead In Chicago

Quotes2If I wanted to be like the charter activists, I'd write, "Charter schools account for all ten of the ten worst-performing selective-enrollment high schools in the city." -- Ben Joravsky in the Chicago Reader (Mayor Rahm has successfully pitted charters against public schools)

Bruno: Not Everybody Is An Education Expert

397080364_0b8225f5b6_nCritics of test-based education reform were pretty excited last week when a group of literary legends released an open letter - organized by FairTest - encouraging the Obama administration to scale back current standardized testing regimes.

It's natural enough to enjoy celebrity endorsements of one's favorite causes, but it's always a little surprising to see educators implicitly diminish the value of actual educational expertise by celebrating the input of non-experts.

Maya Angelou and Judy Blume write terrific books, but what, exactly, makes them authorities on matters of education or education policy?

In other contexts, reform critics will happily admonish reformers for their lack of relevant education knowledge or experience. Most reformers, however, are demonstrably more expert on educational issues than the signatories of this letter.

It may very well be that using Obama supporter Angelou to set up a "gotcha" for the President will give reformers a short-term public relations win. The subtler signal being sent - that educational expertise is neither rare or difficult to acquire - nevertheless undermines the long-term viability of any education movement that aspires to authority.

There are plenty of reputable individuals and groups that possess actual expertise in the relevant areas who are capable of making persuasive critiques of various education reforms. There's no need to dilute the value of that expertise with celebrity razzle-dazzle.  - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Morning Video: Obama's Brooklyn High School Visit

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

Via MSNBC: "In a speech at a specialized high school in Brooklyn President Obama talks about the importance of education and takes aim at those in congress who he says started the government shutdown."

AM News: Rumors Swirl Around LA Superintendent's Fate

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Deasy, LAUSD at a critical juncture LA Times: When John Deasy took the helm of Los Angeles Unified in 2011, he was backed by the school board, mayor and civic leaders in a bid to transform the nation's second-largest school district with bold measures to improve student performance.

Rumors reach fever pitch but LA Schools superintendent Deasy denies he's resigned KPCC: Within a few hours, the L.A. Times published an updated article, including Deasy's denials. Still, the reports quickly rippled through education circles. Warren Fletcher, head of United Teachers Los Angeles and one of Deasy's biggest critics, gave numerous interviews and put out a statement celebrating the news.

Obama, at Brooklyn School, Pushes Education Agenda NYT: The president went to the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, which he mentioned in his State of the Union address this year, to talk about education.

Obama Education Speech Stresses Investments Ahead Of Budget Conference HuffPost: Before the event started, New York politicians squeezed into small plastic chairs, vying for a good spot.

From Brooklyn, Obama Touts Six-Year High School Model WNYC: A young school in Brooklyn that has yet to graduate its first class hosted President Barack Obama on Friday. Obama used the setting to reiterate his educational priorities and chide Congress on not passing a budget.

In Brooklyn, Obama credits N.Y. for pushing school reforms GothamSchools: President Barack Obama returned to Brooklyn to visit a school that until now he’s admired from afar, delivering a speech that touched on everything from Congressional dysfunction to Brooklyn Nets basketball to a tacit endorsement of New York State’s rollout of controversial reforms.

Continue reading "AM News: Rumors Swirl Around LA Superintendent's Fate" »

Afternoon Video: Common Core Meets "Hot For Education" '05

Screen shot 2013-10-25 at 10.20.49 AM

There was an amusing exchange at about the 40 minute mark of the Hess / Knowles / Duncan Common Core confab yesterday in Chicago (pictured above left).

Coming onstage to join Knowles and Duncan, Hess expressed feigned unease at appearing with Knowles, who was named one of education's hottest advocates in 2005 (pictured above right).

Knowles' response? "You can see what happens in eight or ten years, right?"  

For the record, Hess was also suggested for Hot For Ed '05, but blogger Joanne Jacobs rejected the idea: "I've seen Rick Hess, and he's no Tim Knowles."

Click here for some local coverage or watch the video below.  I promised you a video, after all.

Continue reading "Afternoon Video: Common Core Meets "Hot For Education" '05" »

Thompson: Politico Nails a Fundamental Flaw with TFA


I should not have to start with a disclaimer about my position on TFA (I'm undecided about it), but in these polarized times, I must.  TFA teachers are teachers.  

I don't judge colleagues. It is not their fault that high-profile TFA alumni who entered the classroom when they were in elementary school launched a war on teachers.  Excoriating today's TFAers because Kevin Huffman and Michelle Rhee turned corporate would be like castigating a colleague because he supports the Tea Party.

However, Politico’s Stephanie Simon, in Teach for America Rises as Political Powerhouse, nails the problem with TFA's new effort for “embedding select alumni in congressional offices and in high-ranking jobs in major school districts,” in which a charter school and voucher supporter pays the $500,000 a year price tag for providing seven TFA alumni fellows for congressmen. Ethics experts call the effort “highly unusual – though not illegal,” according to Simon. 

Too many reformers in general -- and high-profile TFA alumni in particular -- have have taken advantage of the lack of knowledge of many policymakers about the distant world of the inner city, and promoted quick and simplistic panaceas for complex problems.

In Simon's article, Elisa Villanueva Beard, co-CEO of Teach for America, seems to be sincerely oblivious about the dangers of quietly embedding alumni as staffers. She says “We don’t have a choice.” If TFA isn't aggressive “in 20 years, we’ll just wake up and find… we have made only incremental progress.”

And, that get's us back to the destructive essence of the contemporary reform movement. Corporate powers have immense knowledge about ways of secretly manipulating the levers of power to enrich themselves.  We know how to use political trickery to increase the billionaires' share of our economic pie.  Here, it seems, corporate reformers are using some of the same tactics and knowledge to manipulate government rather than improve learning. There is no reason to believe that transformationally better schools can be created this way.

That doesn't mean TFA teacher and alumni should be excluded. They should participate in the open exchange of ideas that school improvement needs.  They should do so with honesty and modesty, and not with their high-profile alumni's assumption that their brief excursion into schools has given them all of the answers.   

Meantime, TFA leaders should reveal the whole story to TFA teachers (and the rest of us?) and then have a heart-to-heart conversation about the paths to power that the organization should pursue, and those tactics that it should not consider. -JT(drjohnthompson) Image via. 

People: Gotta Love The Socks

Love the Common Core #CCSS or hate them (or somewhere in between), you gotta love David Coleman's colorful socks in the image accompanying the digital edition of my recent interview with him in Administrator Magazine (which sponsors this site):

Screen shot 2013-10-25 at 10.09.15 AM

There are also lots of other great images from the magazine, which I'm taking the liberty of posting here just for the fun of it, along with the full image of Coleman.

Continue reading "People: Gotta Love The Socks" »

Charts: We're Doomed ... But It's Not Too Late

image from www.newyorker.com
"At this stage, we don’t really need more evidence that there is a problem. We need a concerted national effort to address [the performance gaps]," writes the New Yorker's John Cassidy (Measuring America's Decline, in Three Charts : The New Yorker.)

Morning Video: Classes *Can* Be Too Small, Says Malcolm Gladwell


From last night's show, the social science/ entertainment author explains how smaller classes can isolate struggling learners and make it less likely for them to thrive.

AM News: Obama Visit Highlights Dual Enrollment, Co-Location

News2Obama's P-Tech Visit Highlights New York School Closure Fights HuffPost: P-Tech's history isn't stopping closure critics, like de Blasio and United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, from planning Friday appearances at the school for Obama's visit.

Six-Year High School Answer for Tomorrow's Workers? WNYC: Students at the school earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree over six years. The Obama administration says efforts like P-Tech will prepare the next generation of tech workers for jobs at companies like IBM, which sponsors the school. 

Education Secretary Duncan, Gov. Quinn get nanotechnology lesson from ...
Skokie Review: Secretary Arne Duncan visited District 214's Wheeling High School for more than two hours, touring the school's cutting-edge nanotechnology laboratory with Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, R-10th, and several other local leaders.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy may leave in coming months LA Times: Deasy declined to discuss his intentions Thursday evening, saying that he has not submitted a letter of resignation and that he would have more to say after his job evaluation Tuesday.

Study: Eighth-graders in more than half of US states better than average in ... Washington Post: Eighth-graders in more than half the U.S. states did better than average on an international test in math and science, but the top students lagged behind South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, according to a study released by the federal government Thursday.

Location matters for math and science scores AP: Massachusetts was the top performing state, but it still lagged behind some Asian countries in terms of its students’ overall score on exams and the number of high achievers. Mississippi, Alabama and the District of Columbia students scored below the international average on both exams,

Minnesota takes hands off approach to test cheating MPRN via Hechinger: School district officials must discover test security problems, such as cheating by students or teachers, and report them to the state. Districts typically ask that compromised tests be invalidated. When that occurs,  in most cases, the state’s only requirement is that district officials prove they trained teachers to properly give tests.

Continue reading "AM News: Obama Visit Highlights Dual Enrollment, Co-Location" »

Afternoon Video: Teacher Taped Student's Hands, Mouth


Michelle Rhee critics may want to use this new teacher taping incident as a reminder of her infamous anecdote about taping students' mouths shut. Florida haters will use it as an excuse to hate on Florida.  But the story is really more illustrative of the difficulty many schools have removing repeat offenders from the classroom. The teacher here has a long disciplinary record.  

Events: Obama Visiting Brooklyn High School

image from upload.wikimedia.orgSo President Obama is scheduled to visit Brooklyn's P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) high school in Crown Heights on Friday, and already the locals are complaining.  

First there were all the helicopters flying around overhead on Wednesday.  We're trying to enjoy the leaves down here!

Then came news that beloved Prospect Park -- Brooklyn's Central Park -- would be closed for six hours Friday afternoon.  Six hours!

But it's only about six minutes by bike from my Prospect Heights lair and so I've put in for credentials and will let you know if it all works out.

Image via Wikipedia

Morning Video: CAP 10th Anniversary Policy Conference


Live via MSNBC. Lineup here.

AM News: Union Prez Compares Common Core to ObamaCare

News2For Weingarten, New York’s Common Core fight hits home GothamSchools: She even drew a parallel to President Barack Obama’s handling of the technical glitches plaguing a government web site designed to help rollout his controversial universal health care law. 

How Americans Stack Up Against Students In Other Countries HuffPost: The results are mixed. . Massachusetts and Vermont topped the U.S. results in both subjects. 

Study: Eighth-graders in more than half of US states better than average in ... Washington Post: Eighth-graders in more than half the U.S. states did better than average on an international test in math and science, but the top U.S. students still lagged behind Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, according to a study ...

Better News in New Study That Assesses U.S. Students NYT: A report comparing math and science test scores of eighth graders has found that a majority outperformed the international average.

Obama to Name NewSchools' Ted Mitchell to Top Higher Ed Post PoliticsK12:  Along with Schorr, the two wrote: "...the long-troubled relationship between the federal government and educational innovation teaches us that the president who takes office in January will need to make some savvy moves to avoid the mistakes of the past."

Former Occidental chief reportedly named U.S. education official LA Times: Ted Mitchell, the former president of Occidental College, is reportedly in line for an important education post in the Obama administration.

Continue reading "AM News: Union Prez Compares Common Core to ObamaCare" »

Afternoon: SNL's "Poetry Class"

This recent SNL skit makes the case for #CCSS better than most anything else, right?

Today's EdGIF: Jack Black Teaching Kids In "School Of Rock"


Update: It'll Take More Than White Parents To Save Urban Schools

Lahey_schoolboys_postAll those DC, Philadelphia, and Chicago families considering staying in the city and sending their kids to neighborhood schools (or progressive charters) probably won't make a real dent, according to this recent Atlantic piece from last week (It Won't Work).

Why not?  These changes might be good for the families being recruited into desirable schools on a small scale but "cannot substitute for reforms that address the root causes of concentrated poverty, budget shortfalls, and failing schools."

The piece focuses in on Philly's "Center City Schools Initiative," which raised enrollment at three desirable schools but displaced low-income minority families and reduced nonwhite enrollment -- and didn't have much impact on the rest of the system's enrollment, peformance or budget.  

Author Maia Bloombfield Cucchiara recommends breaking down urban-metro barriers (as in Wake County), refocusing on fiscal equity, and -- hey, why not? -- attempting to overturn the 1974 Supreme Court decision that blocks urban-suburban cooperation. She doesn't have much advice about how to make these things happen, but I'm guessing there will likely be a return to some of the methods of the past in future years (as current approaches becom eless fashionable), and it's good to be reminded that "the vastly different fates of urban and suburban schools... are not inevitable."

Previous posts: Philadelphia Advocates Seek 1 Citywide School ApplicationWhat About Schools Gentrification Passes By?Cartoon: The Secret Gentrification Plan"When The Melting Pot Boils Over"Middle-Income Schools Left BehindNobody Wins Until (White) Parents Trust Schools.

Image via Library of Congress (via The Atlantic)

Morning Video: Colbert On Common Core Robo-Grading


"Finally we have the computing power to grade homework at the same blinding speed that it was plagiarized from Wikipedia." Via The Answer Sheet

AM News: NEA Opposes House-Passed Background Check Bill


U.S. House Approves Bipartisan Background Check Bill Politics K12: Mary Kusler, the NEA's director of government relations, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the measure is "well intentioned" but could "run counter to existing state laws requiring background checks."

Senator Raises Questions About Protecting Student Data NYT: Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is investigating whether federal rules governing the sharing of student data provide adequate security and privacy protections.

Local Education Hiring is Up, Even With Sequestration Cuts PoliticsK12: Local government education employment posted a monthly increase of 9,500 jobs, according to the September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That brought the overall gain to 56,400 jobs since June.

Common Core Reading Survey Shows Slow Start To Teaching Shift HuffPost: Based on an extensive survey of a small but nationally representative sample of teachers last year, the group suggests that teachers mostly have not yet overhauled reading instruction in a way that will herald change. "In summary, these results reveal that many teachers have not yet confronted the new text complexity demands of the Common Core," the report concludes.  [ALSO: Teachers Are Supposed to Assign Harder Books, but They Aren't Doing It Yet AtlanticEDU]

Teacher Who Died Trying To End Shooting Remembered As A Hero NPR: Michael Landsberry was a 45-year-old former U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan with the Nevada Air National Guard.

Nevada School Shooting Draws Fresh Focus on Bullying, Harassment State EdWatch: A new law in Nevada requiring school districts to track and report incidents of bullying could be put to use after a school shooting on Oct. 21.

Continue reading "AM News: NEA Opposes House-Passed Background Check Bill" »

Afternoon Video: Math Teacher Dies Trying To Disarm Student Shooter


MSNBC: Michael Landsberry, a 45–year-old mathematics teacher, dies protecting students in Nevada.

T-Shirts: "Have You Yelled At A School Board Member Yet Today?"

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Given the raucous school board meetings we've been reading about lately, my first thought seeing Larry Feinberg's t-shirt (above) was that he must be a #CCSS critic or some other type who was encouraging others to make things loud.  But @lfeinberg says it's not that at all - that he's actually an elected school board member himself and that it "encourages taxpayers/voters not to be bashful." See the full image below.

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Update: Chalkbeat, USA!

image from gothamschools.org
Last week I told you about Scott Elliott's move to open a new Chalkbeat Indiana outpost of what was formerly called the Education News Network. Last night, another announcement was made that the network of niche education news sites will henceforth be called Chalkbeat, with GothamSchools and EdNews CO renaming themselves and joining Chalkbeat IN and TN. In addition to the recent USA Today story, the network has also received a mention in the NY Observer. Me, I like the new name (and generally admire those involved).  About the new logo, I'm not so sure yet.  What do you think?

Previous posts:  Education News Network Expands To IndianaTwo Local Ed News Sites Join Forces;  Where EdNews Network Is Heading

Thompson: How The NYT Got The IMPACT Evaluation Wrong

CatThe New York Times' David Leonhardt may lack background information regarding education, but he is capable of understanding the recent  National Bureau of Economic Research paper, James Wyckoff’s and Thomas Dee's Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance.

However, given the inaccuracies in his A New Look at Teacher Evaluations and Learning, I wonder if Leonhardt read the study or if he just skimmed it.  

Leonhardt's sources for his misrepresentations are the commentator Nick Kristof and himself,with both basing their assertions on their misreadings of The Longterm Impacts of Teachers, by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff. Perhaps the Times should hold editorialists more accountable for carefully studying research even in the backwater field of education.   

Wyckoff's and Dee's NBER paper reports the effect of the Washington D.C. teacher evaluation system, IMPACT, on some aspects of teacher performance. It ignores the question of whether student performance was increased. It shows that IMPACT had an impact on some adult behaviors. It offers no evidence, however, that it was positive. 

The only valid conclusions that can be produced by the study’s methodology were reported by the Washington Post’s Emma Brown and Politico's Stephanie Simon.  Brown's Study: D.C.'s Teacher Evaluation System Affects Workforce explains, “Rewards and punishments embedded in the District’s controversial teacher evaluation program have shaped the school system’s workforce, affecting both retention and performance,” But the report is “silent about whether the incentives have translated into improved student achievement.”

Simon's Radical Washington D.C. Teacher-Evaluation Plan Worked, Study Says also recounted D.C.'s disappointing results in terms of student performance.  She quoted Dee as saying “This is a proof of concept.” (The concept is that carrots and sticks can have an effect.)  

Such a conclusion may mean something to theorists and commentators, but it says nothing about IMPACT's real-world impact. To paraphrase Mark Twain, a cat who sits on a hot stove won't do it again, but that does not mean that he has learned to cook.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Morning Video: The Only Black Kids At Dalton (Documentary)

You may remember hearing about The Dalton Experiment (aka American Promise) before, but EdWeek's Mark Walsh reminds us that it's finally out (in NYC, at least): 


It's especially timely given this recent Atlantic article about how much easier it apparently is for black boys to fit into nonwhite suburban schools than black girls.  Maybe not so much at urban private schools? It's also an interesting contrast with last year's "Prep School Negro" documentary.

Previous posts: Poor & Black - At Prep SchoolDeath At Dalton"Prep School Negro"

AM News: Toughen Up NCLB Waiver Renewals, Say Reform Groups


Advocacy Groups Urge Arne Duncan to Get Tough on NCLB Waivers PoliticsK12: In a letter sent to the Education Department today, these groups express deep concerns about waiver implementation, from how graduation rates are factored into state accountability systems to how subgroups of at-risk students are being helped.

School iPads to cost nearly $100 more each, revised budget shows LA Times: The L.A. Unified School District will spend $770 per iPad, a 14% increase over earlier cost estimates, the revised budget shows.

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K NYT: A Stanford psychologist found that affluent children had learned 30 percent more words from 18 months to 2 years of age than children from low-income homes. Video: Middle schooler: Shooter was aiming 'at my chest' NBC: Sparks Middle School shooting survivor Jose Cazares describes the scene inside the school Monday when teacher Michael Landsberry got between him and the 12-year old shooter. 

Sequestration Cuts Lead To Bigger Classes, Shuttered Arts Programs In Schools HuffPost: For the current school year, the group heard back from 298 school districts in 42 states. Eighty-six percent factored sequestration cuts into budgets -- up from 36 last year -- and 144 reported they deferred building maintenance or purchases. Eight closed or consolidated schools.

West Point Women: A Natural Pattern Or A Camouflage Ceiling? NPR: Since 1980, the percentage of women at the U.S. Military Academy has stayed the same, leading some to conclude that the school has set an artificial cap on the number of female cadets that it accepts. Now, West Point has been told it must raise those numbers to meet the demand for more female leaders.

Crash Course on Speaking in Tongues, All 22 of Them NYT: A workshop in Brooklyn was held over three hours, in seven classrooms, featuring classes on nearly two dozen languages taught mostly by native speakers.

For many young D.C. parents, city schools remain a sticking point Washington Post: Public school enrollment in the District has risen nearly 18 percent over the past five years, mostly in the early grades and charter schools, as an increasing number of parents have been persuaded to give D.C. schools a try. 

Study: 15 percent of US youth out of school, work Associated Press: Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday. That's almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visiting Wheeling Thursday Chicago Daily Herald
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit with students at Wheeling High School on Thursday to discuss the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and tour the school's new nano technology laboratory, ...

Crenshaw Digital Team Brings its ‘Game’ to the White House LA School Report: The team, which is sponsored by the grassroots education nonprofit Mother of Many, raised nearly $10,000 for the trip by selling more than 50 gaming apps to Microsoft as part of the company’s “Keep the Cash” app-a-thon. One of the games, “Going Bananas for Health,” is now available on the Windows 8 App Store.

Media: 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)

image from images.politico.comWriting about TFA is fun.  I do it all the time.  They're the most iconic school reform organization out there.  People love them or hate them (or like me, it depends on the day).  There's always something new to talk about!

However, fulltime paid journalists writing for for-real mainstream media outlets ostensibly writing straight news coverage  shouldn't be throwing around half-hidden opinions and only getting two thirds of the full story.  That's what bloggers, part-time freelancers, and columnists are for!

Plus which, writing about pro-reform endeavors all the time is predictable and boring, especially when there's lots of other big education action going on out there that might warrant some careful examination, too (ie, the watered-down teacher dismissal bill in CA, or the funding equity fight in IL, or the  new LAUSD board president who apparently has a temper and appropriate behavior problem).

Which brings us to today's Politico education story bylined by Stephanie Simon -- and yet another set of problems and issues with the journalism being provided. Plus one obvious issue related to TFA's new Congressional fellows program.

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Bruno: More Thoughts On (Not) Paying Teachers For Master's Degrees

5299199423_f8de99f3ee_nI got a lot of feedback on my post arguing that we should do away with bonuses for teachers with master's degrees and use the money for across-the-board raises.

Much of the response was supportive, but many people also objected to some or all of my argument.

Those objections tended to fall into three categories: that I am underestimating the value of MAs, that across-the-board raises are not a good use of money, or that the real problem isn't teacher pay per se but schools of education.

They're serious objections, and they made me think about some of the issues in new ways, but I don't think they are enough to avoid the bottom line I put forward in my original piece.

Read on to see the objections (and why I'm not totally convinced by them).

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Quotes: What *Really* Divides Us From Higher-Performing Nations

Quotes2Every country that bests us in the education rankings either has a constitutional guarantee to education, or does not have a constitution but has ensured the right through an independent statute.  - The Atlantic's Stephen Lurie (Why Doesn't the Constitution Guarantee the Right to Education?)

Morning Video: Documentary Details '63 Chicago Schools Boycott

Roughly 200,000 kids boycotted Chicago public schools on October 22, 1963, and there's a new documentary coming out about it. Here's more info.

AM News: USDOJ To Examine Louisiana Voucher Program

News2Louisiana cooperating with Justice over school voucher program Washington Post: Under the supervision of a federal court, Louisiana has agreed to supply the Justice Department with data about its controversial school voucher program and to analyze whether the vouchers are re-segregating ...

Fairfax schools chief to propose deep cuts Washington Post: Fairfax County schools Superintendent Karen Garza says she will propose significant cuts to address a projected $140 million budget deficit.

Big City: The Charter School Fight NYT: The political battle for New York City mayor includes debate of how charter schools will be affected by the election, though one candidate’s vision for education is still opaque.

The Texas Tribune: After Misuse, a Push for Tutoring NYT: As No Child Left Behind awaits Congressional reauthorization, the tutoring industry is lobbying to include a version of the tutoring mandate in the updated law.

With Major Debt, Philadelphia Schools Cut Back On Nurses NPR: Philadelphia Public Schools have been facing a funding crisis. There have been a series of layoffs, including assistant principals, school nurses and counselors. Some funding has come through to rehire hundreds of staffers, but not any new nurses.

The Whitest Historically Black College In America NPR: Bluefield State College in Bluefield, WV, is 90 percent white. Its alumni association is all black, and it still gets federal money as a historically black institution.

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Afternoon Video: New Show Has Celebrities Teaching Dropouts

"The faculty is famous. The kids are dropouts. Will they succeed and change the course of these kids’ lives?" (DREAM SCHOOL Sundance via @EdWize via @gothamschools)

Maps: Nearly Half Of All Public Students Are Poor

image from 25.media.tumblr.comIt's no secret that child poverty has been on the rise in recent years, spreading beyond rural and urban districts, but you may be startled to see that nearly half of all public school students were considered poor in 2011, and 17 states' students are well above that.

EdTech: Chicago's Slow But Steady Tablet Rollout

S-IPAD-large300While some districts are having big problems with their tablet rollouts, Chicago seems to be having a much easier (if also slower-moving) experience.  

For a time, CPS claimed to be "the largest centralized deployment of iPads in the United States."  However, it started with a pilot program -- just 750 devices a 23 schools in the first year (2010-2011), then 3,500 the second year as 13 original schools plus 35 new schools were added. The model is designed to be 1:1 but it's not a take-home system like LAUSD.  

Now there are 55,000 at schools throughout the district. Here is some background from CPS. They lost edtech guru John Connelly along the way, and are about to lose John Mellios, too.  But it's an interesting contrast to the LAUSD experience, among others. 



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.