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Scheduling: Happy Holidays, 2013!

image from ocalla.comI'm off to Boston for the holidays so you'll have to make do without me for a few days -- I'm sure you'll be OK.  Check EdWeek or GothamSchools or Politico's Morning Education or the Annenberg Institute for a news roundup.  I'm sure one or several of them will help you out.  Meantime, all the best, safe travels, and thanks as always for checking this site out. [Image via Superb Wallpapers]

Afternoon Video: Computer Scientist Argues For "More Wizards & Witches"

This is a talk from a school-hosted TEDx event at Silicon Valley's Gunn High School about how computers and magic aren't all that far apart.

Media: VentureBeat's New EdTech Channel (& How It's Sponsored)

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 3.23.39 PMThe way thinsgs are these days, nearly the first thing that came up in response to the news that VentureBeat was starting a new education channel was the issue of sponsorship / editorial control.

Indeed, there's a Apollo Education Group icon on the page, though it's not mentioned in the announcement itself. They're the parent company for University of Phoenix.

The arrangement is described elsewhere, in a post that also claims that VentureBeat is "the first major technology news organization to dedicate a channel to how technology is transforming the global education market."

The VentureBeat announcement includes lots of enthusiasm for edtech activity.  No surprise -- there's lots of action in edtech (and lots of money in education, generally speaking). Recent stories from them include How data is driving the biggest revolution in education since the Middle AgesThe President’s ‘gaming guy’ tells us that educational games fascinate Obama.

Of course, there's very little media out there that's not paid in some form -- by advertising, subscriptions, philanthropy-- or free but ideologically driven.  So caveat lector and all that.  Always been that way, probably always will be.  The recently announced NPR expansion is being sponsored by Gates and Wallace foundations, for example. Politico's education page is funded through subscriptions, advertisers, and sponsors like Power Jobs!.  This site is sponsored by Scholastic Administrator. 


Charts: Urban NAEP Scores & District Poverty Rates Don't Match Up For Boston, DC, Atlanta

The Hechinger Report's Jill Barshay notes that some big cities did better than others despite student poverty -- and some did worse than might otherwise be expected:

Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 10.50.37 AMShe notes: "Jefferson County, KY, which has the 4th smallest percentage of poverty (65% low income students) ranked 11th in math... Atlanta and Washington DC post lower math scores than their poverty rankings would suggest. Conversely, Boston has higher poverty than most of the other cities. Yet its fourth graders posted the 5th highest score in math." (Some poor cities do surprisingly well)

Morning Video: Boston Brothers Overcome Long Odds

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

Here's the link in case the video of the feel-good NBC News/ Boston Globe story doesn't load properly: Nightly News: Brothers escape Dickensian childhood to earn American Dream.

AM News: Universal Preschool -- Can De Blasio Do What Obama Hasn't?


De Blasio Launches Formal Campaign for Pre-K WNYC: The mayor-elect unveiled its first video at the childcare center Friends of Crown Heights. He was surrounded by children's advocates from several organizations, as well as the economist Jeffrey Sachs—who is among several luminaries lending his name to the cause. 

Formal Beginning to de Blasio’s Plan to Expand, and Pay for, Prekindergarten NYT: Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has lined up celebrities and other notables in an effort to marshal public support for a tax on high-earners to improve New York City’s prekindergarten and after-school programs.

Texas Shuttering Campuses At Six Charter Schools Texas Tribune: Identified for closure under the law are American Youthworks in Austin; Azleway Charter School in Tyler; Honors Academy in Farmers Branch; and Jamie's House Charter School, Koinonia Community Learning Academy, and the Richard Milburn Academy in Houston. Several of the schools focus on serving troubled youth or high school dropouts.

School Leaders On What Determines Student Success NPR: Host Michel Martin continues her conversation with school leaders about students' math and reading skills.

D.C. adopts new K-12 science standards Washington Post: The D.C. State Board of Education voted Wednesday to adopt new K-12 science standards meant to strengthen science education by prioritizing critical thinking and problem solving over memorization of facts.

How to Share Space and Still Get Along WNYC: This week, the Department of Education and the New York City Charter School Center, via NYC Collaborates, brought a group of principals together to talk about how to share nicely, or nicer anyway. Here are their top four lessons.

Chicago Board of Ed: Downsized headquarters, supersized contract, and military school WBEZ: Chicago’s school board approved a number of measures at the monthly board meeting Wednesday:

How young newsmakers helped shape the world in 2013 PBS NewsHour:From drone strikes and cutting edge medical research, to Hollywood talent and European immigration, youth from around the world challenged us to view their issues more compassionately and unite across ideological lines. We look back at some of the year's top young newsmakers.

Afternoon Video: Misunderstood?

I'm not sure this has much to do with education or school reform, or even technology, but it's everywhere and it's pretty interesting for an ad. 

Thompson: Rick Hess & The Education Food Chain

image from upload.wikimedia.orgRick Hess, the H.L. Mencken of modern education writers, didn't expect the Common Core debate to get so passionate.  Hess's Common Core and the Food Pyramid reminds us that standards are just words on paper.  They don't matter much.

I made the same mistake for the same reason. How could anyone believe that improved standards could drive transformational improvements? But, I never thought of Hess's wonderful metaphor. 

Believing that Common Core standards could be a game-changer is like hoping the food pyramid would end obesity. According to Hess, the only way the food chart could significantly improve health would be to hold parents accountable for feeding their children in a nutritious way.

Hess indicts Common Core boosters for pretending that they're just proposing a food pyramid chart. What Common Core-ites "are really after is to reorder schooling, soup to nuts."

The battle, Hess notes, is not about "committee-generated verbiage," but about the test-based accountability that is attached to Common Core. The only way that the new standards could live up to their hype is by using Common Core test results for sanctioning schools, firing teachers, and compelling them to change what students read and do.  Despite the reformers' rhetoric, Hess correctly observes, "they have made clear that this is exactly what they have in mind."

In other words, teachers aren't resisting the food pyramid. We oppose our our placement at the bottom of the food chain.

Continue reading "Thompson: Rick Hess & The Education Food Chain" »

Quotes: The Levine Method For Revamping Teacher Prep

Quotes2We give [teachers with STEM backgrounds who agree to take a one year master's degree] a fellowship of $30,000, and they agree to teach in-state for a minimum of three years. Then we tell the universities that we want them to replace their existing STEM teacher education program with one that is highly selective and focused on learning in the classroom where their graduates are going to teach. -- Former Teachers College president Arthur Levine in the NYT 

Media: NPR Expands Education Coverage (A Little Goodly Amount)*

Cardboard-RadioThe latest media outlet to join the small but notable surge in education coverage during 2013 is NPR, which announced a $17 million coverage expansion thanks to grants from Gates and Wallace, among others.  
Expanded education coverage should have been in my roundup of top 2013 education stories but got left on the cutting room floor. Other additions or expansions this year include the expanded Chalkbeat network, Politico's education page, the Atlantic education page, and SCPR (Southern California Public Radio).
Not all of the new money will go to education coverage, notes EdWeek (NPR to Expand Education Coverage). In fact, the education grant may be just over $3 million -- for a blogger, a producer, and that's about it.*
Current education reporters Claudio Sanchez and Eric Westervelt will remain, without any additional hires. (Marketplace's education reporting is funded separately - by Kresge, among others).
Check out Mark Walsh's blog post for more details.  My only qualm is his assertion that NPR's education coverage "is probably already the deepest of any broadcast news organization in the country."
I'd argue that there are several other broadcast outlets -- WNYC, SCPR, maybe even WBEZ -- with deeper coverage.  But that could change soon.
*Correction:  The expanded education team will eventually consist of 6 journalists, including 3 existing folks and 3 new hires (I left out two additional editors who are to be hired along with the producer and blogger).

Media: National TUDA13 Roundup (Who Covered It Best?)

image from educationbythenumbers.orgDecade-Long Study Of Big City Schools Finds Better Math, Reading NPR: Ten years after education researchers began focusing on big city school systems and monitoring their math and reading scores, there's good news to report. Today, fourth and eighth graders in many of the nation's largest cities have made impressive gains. Surprisingly, school systems with large numbers of low income children have exceeded the national average in both subjects.

Urban Students' Progress Quickens WSJ: America's large urban school districts are making faster progress on federal elementary math and reading tests than the nation as a whole, but they are still underperforming national averages, according to data released Wednesday.

Test scores of urban school districts improve faster than nation over past 10 years Hechinger Report: Wide achievement gaps between large cities, often with huge concentrations of low-income minorities, and the average U.S. student have closed by as much as 43 percent. Washington DC, which lags the nation in both math and reading, showed huge gains among fourth and eighth graders in both subjects since 2003 and 2011. 

City Students Improve Test Scores, But Still Lag Significantly HuffPost: In Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; and Hillsborough County, Fla., math and reading scores were higher than average for big cities. Students in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Washington, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Fresno, Calif., were below average in both subjects. Washington, D.C. -- a standard bearer for what's known as the education reform movement since former school chancellor Michelle Rhee's tumultuous tenure at D.C. Public Schools -- was the only city to show score increases in both grades in both subjects since 2011. 

Several more stories below.  Image via Hechinger report.

Continue reading "Media: National TUDA13 Roundup (Who Covered It Best?)" »

AM News: Union & Other Group Leaders Announce Common Core Support

News2Leaders of teachers union, business group join forces to support Common Core Washington Post: "This came from the bottom up, this didn't come out of Washington,” said Engler, who called the standards an “economic and moral imperative.”

Teach For America: We Support the Common Core TeacherBeat: TFA goes on record to support the common-core standards.

Only 3 students scored college-ready in Camden, NJ AP: The new school superintendent in Camden, N.J., says it was a "kick-in-the-stomach moment" when he learned that only three district high school students who took the SAT this year scored as college-ready....

Flipping the traditional definition of 'homework' WBEZ: Instead of asking students to do high level thinking for homework, teachers assign video lectures and then work on problems and projects at school. WBEZ producer Becky Vevea visited a school downstate—Havana High School—that is flipping instruction. Her report aired on the Morning Shift on December 18, 2013.

U.S. Department of Education Still Not an Awesome Place to Work PoliticsK12: Compared to 2003, Education Department employees are giving the agency—and their boss, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—higher marks for providing effective leadership and fostering teamwork. Generally, among all mid-size agencies, Education Department officials seem to be fairly satisfied with their pay. However, it's important to note the survey was done before the October government shutdown.

Cartoons: Best (NEA) Cartoons Of 2013

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 6.20.07 PM#yearined13    Here's just one of the cartoons that the NEA says was most popular on its Facebook page this year.  Check the others out here. Got any better ones to suggest?  Send them to me @alexanderrusso.

Events: Ed Writers & Communications Pros Going To Nashville

MaryKateMcDevitt_Nashville_864Speaking of journalism, the news is out that EWA is going to Nashville for its annual conference in May (EWA Announces Theme and Venue of 2014 National Seminar).

As usual, the event will be a fun and strange group of journalists, bloggers, academics, and advocates.  AERA is co-hosting.

Where else are you going to see things like me and Anthony Cody hanging out like we did (albeit somewhat uncomfortably) last year at Stanford?

Check out the announcement, and get yourselves psyched up to be there.  

Image via Mary Kate McDevitt

Quotes: Former Teacher Surprised At Central Office Motives

Quotes2One of the things that was most surprising to me after becoming a board member was how much the people at the central office care about education and want our students to do well – and want our teachers to have what they need in order to teach.  -- Newly-elected LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff in the Hechinger Report (Los Angeles district’s improbable member)

Charts: Teacher Salaries Compared To Degree-Holders (By State)

image from www.paul-bruno.com
Not all that much changes in California teacher Paul Bruno's updated chart showing teacher salaries compared to degree-holders by state (above). VA remains the lowest and NY remains the highest.  Some other states - LA -- change dramatically, as do many other top ten and bottom ten states. Read Bruno's post for discussion of further considerations.

Morning Video: Predictions For The Future Of Education

"4. Every student will have a customized learning experience, with no grades or syllabus." (Five surprising things that will happen in the next five years Sploid)

AM News: Who Will Be The Next NYC Chancellor?


Wanted: Schools Chief Who Has Never Crossed de Blasio on Education NYT: Two weeks before he takes office, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has yet to pick a schools chancellor to carry out his education agenda in New York City.

New Mexico Teachers Resist a State Official’s Plan for Evaluating Them NYT: Many rank-and-file teachers view Ms. Skandera skeptically. She has never been a full-time teacher, and educators here echo what is a common criticism of such administrators: that she cannot fully comprehend the challenges they face, especially in a state troubled by deep poverty and other social problems.

Walton foundation pumps cash into vouchers Washington Post: The Walton Family Foundation is pumping $6 million into a Washington-based group that promotes private school vouchers in D.C. and around the country — a donation that it hopes will double the number of students using tax dollars to pay private school tuition.

Chancellor at University of California to Become Chief at Gates Foundation NYT: Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, will take the foundation’s helm in May.

School systems in S.C., Miss., Tex., Ky. and Ark. win $120 million in federal grants Washington Post: Five school districts won grants ranging from $4 million to $20 million as part of Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s signature competition for K-12 education, the Education Department announced Tuesday.

Study: 4 in 10 finish college where they start AP: The dire numbers underscore the challenges that colleges confront as they look to bring in more students and send them out into the world as graduates. The numbers also could complicate matters for students at schools with low graduation rates; the U.S. Department of Education's still-emerging college rating system is considering linking colleges' performances with federal financial aid.

Continue reading "AM News: Who Will Be The Next NYC Chancellor?" »

Afternoon Video: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (RIP, Peter O'Toole)


It was a remake, did you know, and begins with Mr. Chips having reached a very tired, unlikeable stage in his career? The first movie version (from a novella) was in 1939 -- and it wasn't a musical, either. 

Thompson: Mixed Messages For Teachers From Fordham

Flickr hey rocker angry starPolicy theorists should understand the destructive force of mixed messages.  Often, the only contact that wonks have with schools is conferences with top administrators, who are on their best behavior and claiming to embrace standards-based instruction, not mandating bubble-in malpractice.

Perhaps these top-level bureaucrats really believe that teach-to-the-test isn't being imposed, or perhaps they have learned to stay on message when they are with polite company.  In reality, however, teachers have been coerced into primitive basic skills instruction.

Now, teachers are told to turn on a dime and teach the opposite - Common Core college readiness standards. Students are told, never mind, forget all the drill and kill that has been imposed during your school career, and instantly read, think, and take tests in brand new ways.

A successful transition to Common Core is inconceivable without a moratorium on stakes being imposed on schools, teachers, and students, based on primitive bubble-in test scores. But, Fordham's Victoria Sears, in The Accountability Moratorium Is Here, says that an explicit moratorium is unnecessary because "Punitive consequences associated with accountability are largely being put on hold during the transition to Common Core." (emphasis is Sears's) This statement is based on conversations with administrators in five states - so it must be true!

Continue reading "Thompson: Mixed Messages For Teachers From Fordham" »

Advocacy: Group Launches AFT / Randi Weingarten Watchdog Effort

image from cdn.laborpains.orgA nonprofit advocacy group called the Center for Union Facts published a full-page ad in the New York Times last week (pictured), blaming AFT president Randi Weingarten and teachers unions for low PISA 2013 scores by American students.  

Reform gadfly Diane Ravitch didn't think much of the ad or the Times' decision to run it, based on this recent post (Rightwing Group Attacks Unions in “New York Times”).  

Since the shadowy new progressive reform group dubbed "Integrity In Education" isn't launching today as promised last week, let's talk about the Center for Union Facts, the NYT ad, and the Ravitch critique.

According to Ravtich, our PISA scores aren't declining, don't connect to larger economic successes, and -- this is sort of interesting - the AFT has approved some forms of merit pay (even though merit pay absolutely doesn't work).  

As usual, test scores don't mean much, except when they can be cited to show that reform ideas don't work. It's the Ravitch Contradiction (or some better turn of phrase).

Ravitch also slams the center that funded the ad, based on an anecdote from some time in the past in which she questioned Richard Berman over his critique of teachers union in New Jersey and he didn't know the answers. Case closed, as Ravitch says.

The ad didn't get much attention other than from Ravitch, though there's a small writeup in LaborPains.org  -- a publication of the Center for Union Facts (AFT Refuses to Reward Excellent Teachers, Protects Incompetence Instead).  

I'll save you reading it to say that it includes just one juicy quote -- yes, from Berman: "Randi Weingarten doesn’t care about reforming schools in the name of quality education; she cares about exploding government budgets in the name of filling her union’s bank account.”

According to a quick talk with someone at the Center, last week's ad is part of a newly-relaunched effort to call attention the gaps between AFT / Weingart rhetoric and actions (dubbed AFT Facts), isn't specifically funded or earmarked by a particular donor, and is slated to last for the next few months. I'l let someone else comb through the organization's 990 tax forms, but a quick search comes up with this donor warning from Charity Navigator.

Yesterday's Labor Pains headline:  Teachers Union Fights for Convicted Child Molester.

Charts: Teacher Salaries Range From 75-160 Percent Of Average State Income


click to enlarge

"At one extreme in Virginia, the average teacher makes about three-quarters of a typical household. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, in New York the “average” teacher makes nearly 60% more than the average household." (via Paul Bruno)

Quotes: Brooklyn Parent "Sickened" By Common Core Critics

Quotes2Just because we reside in a lower-income community doesn’t mean my child should have lower potential. People in better-off communities like Park Slope or the Upper East Side want to lower standards for my child. -- Ayana Bowen in NY Mag (Bill de Blasio’s Most Difficult Challenge)

AM News: Waivers Give Reprieve To Struggling Schools


Are NCLB Waiver States Intervening in the Right Schools? Politics K12:  After Nevada got an NCLB waiver, by the 2012-13 school year, 75 of those 86 schools got relief from the toughest interventions. These are schools that hadn't made adequate yearly progress for six years in a row.

When Taxpayer Money and Private Firms Intersect in Schools Texas Tribune: On a recently approved Texas charter school application, blacked-out paragraphs appear on almost 100 of its 393 pages. A spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency said redactions appeared on the application because the information was copyrighted.

Offensive student tweets target Montgomery schools chief Starr Washington Post: A number of messages to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr did more to offend than persuade. Some used racial epithets. Some used curse words. One threatened to slash Starr’s tires. A few messages mentioned Starr’s family in inappropriate ways, he said.

How to stop the revolving door of teachers, principals at charter schools Hechinger Report:  Nationally, many charter school networks have higher rates of teacher and administrator turnover than their traditional school counterparts. In New Orleans, where nearly 90 percent of the public school children attend charters, the problem is particularly acute as young schools struggle to keep their teachers and leaders for the long-haul.

Parents Sue City Over Students Sent to Emergency Rooms WNYC: The woman, Ms. H, does not want to be identified except by her initials in court papers. She is one of six New York City parents of children with disabilities who are suing the city for unspecified damages. The suit claims the children were wrongly sent to emergency rooms and that the schools could have resorted to other methods for solving behavioral problems - methods that should have been included in their special education plans. 

To Make Science Real, Kids Want More Fun And Fewer Facts NPR: In a new poll, many parents said they're worried that schools aren't adequately preparing students for a changing workforce. And too much emphasis on memorizing facts in the classroom, both parents and kids say, is keeping young people from getting excited about science and technology careers.

School Named For Klu Klux Klan Leader Nathan Bedford Forrest To Be Rebranded Reuters: A Florida high school whose name commemorates a leader of a white supremacist group known for lynchings and other violent acts against blacks is to be renamed, officials said on Monday.

‘What Is Good Teaching?’ NYT (Joe Nocera) As the country continues to struggle with education reform, it seems obvious that education schools need to change, so that prospective teachers walk into their first classroom knowing how to teach. Maybe “The New Public” can help bring about that change.

Afternoon Video: Can Venture Philanthropy Replace Direct Donations?


See another MSNBC segment about philanthropy vs. public programs here.

Students: "Best Selfies Of 2013" Includes Controversial Student Pic

image from assets.nydailynews.com

“Selfie with my teacher while she having contractions,” tweeted a Coral Spring (FLA) charter school junior after taking the picture above which went viral, made the New York Daily News, and showed up late last week in Buzzfeed's year-end list

Roundups: Best 5 Of Education Next's Top 20 Stories Of The Year

Flickr-sashalaEducation Next -- which I occasionally write for -- is sometimes predictable in its topics and the conclusions its articles come to.

But it just as often addresses topics that have been ignored and is unafraid to print conclusions that don't point clearly in one driection or the other.  

Would that other outlets and organizations were as open-minded, even occasionally.  (Actually, there are a couple of others, but not many.)

As the year winds up, the magazine has put out its "top 20" of the year but I thought I'd give you the five best to check out.  Taking Back Teaching (Colvin),  The Softer Side of ‘No Excuses’ (Boyd, Rose, and Maranto), Still Teaching for America (Kronholz), Gains in Teacher Quality (Goldhaber and Walch), and Toddlers and Tablets (Hernanez). Or take a look at the whole list: The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2013

Image via Flickr.

Thompson: Here's Hoping School Reform 2014 Will Focus On Students' Needs

HealthPerhaps the National Public Radio series on schools and students' health is a sign that the pendulum has swung.  Maybe the next generation of reform will focus holistically on children's welfare.

Eric Westervelt's These Days School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes explains that school administrators are under such intense pressure to increase minutes of instruction and boost test scores that many students get less than 15 minutes for eating lunch.  Also, eating healthier foods can take more time because it takes longer to enjoy a salad than gobble down french fries. But, as an educator explained, "you've got two important and competing priorities."

Parents are now pushing back but, until recently, accountability data ruled.

Maanvi Singh's To Get Kids Exercising, Schools Are Getting Creative  explains that the Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes per week of exercise for K-5th grade students. But NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health polled parents and found that the majority say their elementary school children get less than two Physical Exercise classes a week. Consequently, "parents and educators are starting to 'think beyond the gym walls,'" and devise creative ways to encourage physical activity.

School Stress Takes a Toll on Health, Teens and Parents Say, by Patti Neighmond, reports that nearly 40% of parents say their high-schooler is under a lot of stress from school, and it is from academics, not social issues or bullying. The NPR poll reported on all types of parents' perceptions.  Were the poll focused on the inner city, where imposing a stressful competitive culture  was supposed to cure the stress of poverty, I wonder if a higher percentage would have been found.

Continue reading "Thompson: Here's Hoping School Reform 2014 Will Focus On Students' Needs" »

Morning Video: The Year Of The School Resource Officer

AM News: Colorado Shooting Shatters Newtown Anniversary


Colorado student dead after opening fire at school; kids were screaming LA Times: Armed with a shotgun, a student entered Arapahoe High School and opened fire, hitting at least one other student before turning the weapon on himself, officials said Friday.

Klein says curriculum is his legacy’s lone dark spot GothamSchools: The further away Joel Klein gets from the New York City school system, the firmer he is about the changes he brought during his tenure.

Parents Protest Emergency Calls WSJ: More than 22% of the 15,130 calls for ambulances placed by schools in the 2011-12 school year were related to disciplinary infractions, according to Legal Services NYC, which sued the Department of Education and Fire Department of New York for the data.

Arlington Schools tap big data to reduce dropout rate Washington Post: The Arlington County public school district is inviting number crunchers from Sterling, Silicon Valley and even Singapore to help solve one of the most vexing problems in public education: how to keep children from dropping out of school.

Police respond to shooting report at Colo. school: State division of emergency management spokeswoman Micki Trost says police are responding to a report of a shooting at a high school in suburban Denver....

25 Top-Rated Investing in Innovation Applicants Secure Private Matches PoliticsK12: This year the U.S. Department of Education awarded some $134 million in i3 money, including seven "validation" grants (which can total up to $12 million each for projects with some evidence to back them up) and 18 "development" grants (which can reach $3 million each for promising ideas with less of a track record). 

 Ohio: School Officials Plead Not Guilty After Rape NYT: The superintendent and three current or former city school officials in Steubenville, Ohio, pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges related to the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl.

Adelanto parent trigger fight subject of new movie San Bernardino Sun: In 2011, parents in the Desert Trails Parent Union — aided by Parent Revolution, the nonprofit that helped pass the 2010 Parent Trigger Law three years ago.

More news below.

Continue reading "AM News: Colorado Shooting Shatters Newtown Anniversary" »

Media: Newtown Anniversary Coverage Coverage

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 12 18.50
The School Shootings You Didn’t Hear About—One Every Two Weeks Since Newtown
 Daily Beast: In the year since Newtown, at least 24 school shootings have claimed at least 17 lives, according to a Daily Beast investigation. Has anything really changed?

Newtown images tell a story of grieving AP: A line of frightened young children hang onto one another's shoulders as they're shepherded from their school building. A young woman wails and clutches her chest as she holds a phone to her ear, fearing the worst about her sister. A dusting of snow coats a pile of teddy bears placed on the ground....

LAPD teaches educators that 'Seconds Count' in school shooting scenario LA Daily News: During the daylong "Seconds Count" drill at New Community Jewish High in West Hills, about 50 private-school principals and leaders from Los Angeles' Jewish community learned methods for anticipating and preventing a crisis and training their staffs to respond should one occur.

Hidden Cameras Test School Security NBC News: On the first anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, NBC's Jeff Rossen investigates just how secure some schools are.

School in Chicago Suburb Leads the Way in Keeping Kids Safe NBC News: Jeff Rossen reports on an elementary school in Niles, Ill. that is using technology in a number of innovative ways to safeguard itself.

Update: Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy

image from d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net
Quick update on Steve Barr's Future Is Now nonprofit, given his scheduled appearance in New York City next week at the AFT/Atlantic event:
The organization has rebooted in the past few months -- new name (Future Is Now vs. the old Future Is Now Schools name adopted when Barr had to stop using Green Dot America) -- new staff -- three of them based in Chicago -- and a new focus on teacher advocacy than charter school development and operations.  Plus twitter @teacheraction.
According to FIN's communications director Gordon Wright: "We're organizing teachers with the goal of empowering them to take actions that will improve their schools and unions. Acknowledging the wisdom and professionalism of teachers has always been a hallmark of Steve's approach, and this new effort also taps into his deep roots as an organizer."
This makes sense in a lot of ways. Barr has always been more an organizer and mobilizer than a school operator (read my book for more about this), he's always been squarely in the middle between reformers and reform critics, and he's got more experience and track record working with districts and unions (in LA, NY, and NOLA) than some of the other groups. (Funding comes from Ford, Moriah, Gates, and high-value individuals, I'm told.)
Of course, there's no shortage of groups trying to help teachers gain voice and advocate effectively (in addition to the voice and advocacy that comes from the unions), so that's going to be a challenge. FIN claims it's going to help teachers better/differently than everyone else.
The website tells stories about teachers organizing their own contracts at the school level in NYC, starting their own schools in LA, and pushing for online union voting (for UTLA). 

Video: "Nightline" Returns To Challenged Philly High School

"The embedded video above is only the first half of the report. The full report is available on "Nightline"'s Web site for the next month or so." (via Edweek 'Nightline' Finds Hope in Return Visit to Dangerous Philadelphia High School)

AM News: De Blasio Advisor Praises, Disagrees With Ravitch


Chancellor candidate Farina praises Ravitch, but keeps distance Chalkbeat NY: Farina subtly changed the tone—and put some distance between herself and Ravitch’s anti-charter rhetoric. “I think we have to stop worrying about what the other people are doing, and really concentrate on what we have to do better,” she began. “Because part of it is that we let ourselves kind of fall into complacency when we were the only game in town. And by we I’m talking about public education.” 

Common Core critics and backers compete at Manhattan forum Chalkbeat NY:  As at many of the upstate forums devoted to the tougher standards, the one in Lower Manhattan featured emotional testimonies on the toll of testing, harsh criticism of the state and some heated heckling — including by a woman who said King should be arrested for child abuse. But, like in Brooklyn, there was also a sizable contingent of parents and teachers — many of them affiliated with advocacy groups that backed the Bloomberg administration’s education policies — who argued that the new standards push students to higher planes of thought and eventually college.

Educational Publisher’s Charity, Accused of Seeking Profits, Will Pay Millions NYT: The Pearson Foundation will pay $7.7 million after the New York State attorney general found that it had broken state law by helping develop products for its corporate parent.

Publishing Giant Pearson's Nonprofit Arm Settles Investigation WSJ: The London-based company didn’t admit wrongdoing in the settlement with the New York state Attorney General’s office. The bulk of the settlement, $7.5 million, will go toward 100Kin10, an organization that is trying to place 100,000 highly-qualified math and science teachers in classrooms across America by 2021.

More news below

Continue reading "AM News: De Blasio Advisor Praises, Disagrees With Ravitch" »

Afternoon Video: Can Apps Help Ease ADD, Too?

From Fast Company: Can Your Brain Really Be Retrained? 


Charts: Lemov, Lexile Scores, and Lord Of The Flies

image from blogs.kqed.org

KQED's MindShift checks in with Doug Lemov about his new book, lexile scores, and Lord of the Rings.

Thompson: Reasons To Support Ravitch & AFT

Common core protests steve rhodes flickrDuring my two decades as an American Federation of Teachers member, I often worried that we were too moderate. Truth be told, I bet most teachers union members and leaders have shared such concerns. Each time I took a dispassionate look at the political facts we faced, however, I supported our leaders' willingness to remain team players and to compromise. Compromises, even painful ones that were likely to hurt our schools in the short run, were our only way to survive and protect our colleagues and students. As my AFT local president explains, "school improvement is a marathon, not a sprint."

Now the AFT, along with our NEA brethren and civil rights and community groups are launching a $1.2 million dollar counter-attack on corporate reform. The timing is perfect. The test-driven reform movement has spent its millions of dollars on scorched earth politics. The federal government has wasted billions of dollars on blame-the-teacher, market-driven reforms and coerced states into squandering tens of billions of dollars on the educational equivalent of Intelligent Design. Educators chafed, tried to contribute some realism to the accountability hawks' top-down micromanaging and tried to perform the adult role of tempering the true believers in "disruptive innovation."

The task of documenting their folly, however, often fell to Diane Ravitch and her followers.

I was slow in recognizing the truth that Ravitch uncovered: A naïve crusade claiming that classroom instruction, alone, could overcome generations of poverty had morphed into "corporate reform."

Continue reading "Thompson: Reasons To Support Ravitch & AFT" »

Charts: Which Groups Have More Influence -- & How?

image from www.brookings.edu"Tactics in the personal channel of influence (political support and personal communication) were more influential than tactics that addressed legislators indirectly, such as grassroots campaigns, media outreach and informational seminars" (Measuring the Influence of Education Advocacy Brown/Brookings)

Morning Video: "Flipped" Classrooms - Do They Really Work?

AM News: USDE Withdraws SIG Report Due To Errors


U.S. Department of Education to Redo SIG Analysis Due to Contractor Error PoliticsK12: The analysis, which was released just a couple of weeks ago, excluded about half of the schools that entered the newly revamped SIG program in its first year (the 2010-11 school year) and about a third of the schools that started in the second year (the 2011-12 school year.) It's unclear if the do-over will significantly change those conclusions. 

Head Start funding partially restored in federal budget deal EdSource Today: Head Start lost about 57,000 slots for children, including more than 5,600 in California, because of cuts under federal sequestration, a program of automatically triggered, across-the-board spending cuts. These cuts have continued to ripple through Head Start operations month by month as they cycle through their federal grant processes.

Arrest Leads to Shake-Up of Alexander's Leadership Team PoliticsK12: Longtime Capitol Hill staffer and edu-nerd extraordinaire David Cleary, the GOP staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has become the chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education, currently serves as the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate education committee. 

Mike Huckabee's "Common Core is Dead" Line Not What He Told State Chiefs State EdWatch:The former Arkansas governor said he is dissatisfied with the implementation of the common core and how it has become "hijacked" by other interests.

Charter Leader Denies Insider's Advantage WNYC: “I’m not suggesting that I don’t know anyone at Tweed, I do,” she said, referring to the D.O.E.'s headquarters. “So if you’re saying can I pick up the phone and call folks, yes, I can. But does that mean from a policy perspective I’ve gotten any advantages? Absolutely not.”

Lots more news below.

Continue reading "AM News: USDE Withdraws SIG Report Due To Errors" »

Afternoon Video: "Kids For Cash" Documentary Trailer


"In the wake of the shootings at Columbine, a small town celebrates a charismatic judge who is hell-bent on keeping kids in line...until one parent dares to question the motives behind his brand of justice."

Quotes: "Public Investment Hasn't Withered" [Like Obama Says]

Quotes2There’s no clear trend for public spending on education as a percentage of the U.S. economy, but public investment hasn’t withered. -- FackCheck.org 

Charts: Sports Too Costly For Low-Income Families

image from d1435t697bgi2o.cloudfront.netAre Kids Sports Pricing Themselves Out of the Market? (Pacific Standard)

Events: AFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event*

Moving-the-Needle-heroThe AFT is sponsoring a NYC event on education next week called Moving the Needle Summit: A Collaborative Approach to Education Reform.

"The program’s conversations will examine the current policy debates and the underlying social issues that put the nation’s future generations at risk, while seeking to move towards real solutions."

The interesting lineup includes Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot Public Schools and Future is Now Schools, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor, The Atlantic, Nicholas Lemann, Dean Emeritus, Columbia Journalism School, Irwin Redlener, President and Co-Founder, Children’s Health Fund, and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.

*Corrected link thanks to @jgordonwright

Morning Chart: Ed Schools Miss "Big Five" Classroom Issues

image from cdn.theatlantic.com"The [NCTQ] report identifies "The Big Five" of classroom management: Make rules; establish structure and routines; praise students for positive behavior; address bad behavior; and maintain student behavior." (Teachers Aren't Trained to Praise Their Students The Atlantic).

Morning Video: A Day In The Life Of MoCo Supe Josh Starr

Learning Matters and Sam Chaltain follow the much-discussed superintendent and ask him some tough questions.

AM News: Parents Defend Common Core At NY Hearing


Supporters of the Common Core Speak Out WNYC: State education commissioner John King faced a highly supportive audience Tuesday night at his first forum on the Common Core learning standards in New York City. Parents at the Brooklyn forum spoke emotionally about the need for improved instruction and at times recalled their own stories of performing well in high school, only to get to college to need remedial classes or tutoring.

As testing anxiety peaks, student media campaign urges calm Chalkbeat NY: While student aversion to tests is nothing new, the Hudson students’ campaign comes at a moment of high anxiety about testing in New York: grade 3-8 state exams tied to tougher standards caused scores to plummet this year, a new evaluation system for city teachers factors in test scores, and a rule change requiring higher Regents scores to graduate is now fully in effect. Last week, a group of teachers in Brooklyn held a public forum to vent their frustrations. 

D.C. teachers event turns raucous, with mayoral candidates drowned out Washington Post: The main point of the whole raucous evening was spelled out on the blue-and-white sign given center stage at Eastern High School on Monday night: ‘Our voices matter,’ it said. Teachers’ voices, it meant.

Budget Deal Could Offer School Districts Relief from Sequestration PoliticsK12: It's unclear at this point what the agreement, if approved by Congress, will mean for individual programs. Congress has until Jan. 15 to craft a final spending bill for fiscal year 2014, which will help school districts set spending levels next fall.

After Setbacks, Online Courses Are Rethought NYT: Large-scale online courses, hailed as a way to democratize higher education, have so far been plagued by very high attrition rates.

Charter Schools Continue Dramatic Growth Despite Controversies HuffPost:The growth is large, percentage-wise, but since some of the numbers started low, the statistics may be overstating the reality. For example, the report found that the number of districts with more than one-fifth of students in a charter school has increased by 350 percent over the last eight years -- but only seven districts had that level of enrollment eight years ago.

New Orleans leads nation in percentage of public charter school enrollment Washington Post: New Orleans led the nation last year as the city with the greatest percentage of students enrolled in public charter schools, followed by Detroit and the District of Columbia, according to a new survey.

More of today's education news below.

Continue reading "AM News: Parents Defend Common Core At NY Hearing" »

Afternoon Video: Oscar-Worthy Anti-Bullying Video?


"A day at work doesn't look like this. What about a day at school?" [Also from Upworthy -- they're so good at the headlines! -- and possibly not new (but I don't remember).]  PS -- It's in French. 

Charts: US Education Spending Not As Dire As Obama Claimed

image from cdn.factcheck.orgFactCheck.org took a look at President Obama's claim last week that education spending was withering over time and came to the conclusion that he was wrong (Obama on Education Investments). "It has increased from 4.7 percent [of GDP]in 1985 to 5.1 percent in 2010 with ups and downs along the way."

Scholastic: What Happened To NCLB... Is Happening Again Now

image from www.scholastic.com

My latest Scholastic Administrator column is out, focusing on how the NCLB implementation and pushback history compares to the Common Core process we're going through now (Whither CCSS?).

"At the time, a number of states considered opting out. Several states (including Connecticut, Arizona, Utah, and Nebraska) and districts filed lawsuits against NCLB. So did the NEA and 11 districts scattered around the nation. Others sought accommodations, proposed legislation, or reported on the costs of complying with the new law. Three wealthy Connecticut districts opted out of the program entirely in 2003, followed by two districts near Chicago."

Back to the present: A few more states have slowed down their CCSS participation since the piece was written -- I think we're up to seven now, right? -- but the basic argument remains the same.

"If the history of NCLB is any guide, the vast majority of the current efforts to reconsider or roll back the Common Core will lose steam or result in some relatively minor accommodation well short of opting out. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on where you stand."



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.