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Afternoon Video: This Is What Might Happen If You Cut Class


I already posted this satirical (and very gory) mock anti-truancy PSA on Hot For Ed, but since then it's been all over Facebook, Digg, etc. so I guess the Internet has decided that your eyes will survive. Remember: NSFW (gore). 

Quotes: How To Pull The Levers Of Power

Quotes2Organizing is about more than having a good idea. It's about knowing how to pull the levers of power: by having strength in numbers at a board meeting, by having a clear, consistent "ask," and by being prepared to respond to any and all objections. – Paraphrase of LEE's Joy Silvern in EdWeek (Teach For America Spinoff Helps Alumni Gain Influence)

Charters: Which 3 States Differentiate Charters Most?

ReportSo I asked the folks at NACSA if any states were doing some or all of the things that they recommend in their new report, Replicating Quality, and they were kind enough to dig out some examples.

Overall, Texas, Delaware and Tennessee are the states that have "implemented the most in terms of treating high-quality charters differently," according to NACSA. 

Here's EdWeek's writeup.

Disclosure: I've done some research for NACSA in the past.

Read below for the details on the 3 states.

Continue reading "Charters: Which 3 States Differentiate Charters Most?" »

People: ProPublica's Education Reporter

image from www.propublica.orgMeet Marian Wang (@mariancw), ProPublica's education reporter.  I don't know how I missed her arrival, but better late than never.

As you can see from her story list, Wang has focused mostly on college debt, student loans, etc. (How College Pricing Is Like Holiday Retail Sales). But there's always hope she'll start shedding light on K-12 accountability issues.

You may recall that she included some K-12 stories in her excellent roundup (This Year’s Best Reporting on Education).

What would you want a ProPublica education reporter to focus on, knowing that they tend towards waste and accountability stories? Come up with something interesting and maybe it'll happen. 

Morning Video: "What'd You Learn In School, Today?"


Big thanks to the Beachwood Reporter (@beachwoodreporter)'s Steve Rhodes for sending me this link showing Pete Seeger singing his anti-war song.  I've been wanting to read or see  something about Seeger and schools all week (if there's more, please pass it along). Thanks!

AM News: Some States Re-Name "Common Core" Initiative


Some state rebrand controversial Common Core education standards Washington Post: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) used an executive order to strip the name “Common Core” from the state’s new math and reading standards for public schools. In the Hawkeye State, the same standards are now called “The Iowa Core.” And in Florida, lawmakers want to delete “Common Core” from official documents and replace it with the cheerier-sounding “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says gun control measures needed to curtail ... Minneapolis Tribune:  Education Secretary Arne Duncan says schools are doing "fantastic" work to improve safety but easy access to guns is contributing to school violence. Duncan tells reporters that schools are often the safest place in a community.

NCLB co-author says he never anticipated federal law would force testing obsession EdSource: “I don’t believe you can drive a car blindfolded,” Miller said. “So all we asked was, ‘How are the kids doing in your test?’ And it turned out to be a nuclear explosion, because it wasn’t in the interest of the school district to tell the community how each and every kid was doing on their test.”

Coming Soon: Education Department's 50-State Teacher-Equity Strategy PK12: Then, the department is examining whether it can use the enforcement powers of its office for civil rights to ensure that disadvantaged students have equitable access to highly effective teachers. And department staff are also thinking through how to tie NCLB waivers to how well a state does, or doesn't, ensure the equitable distribution of teachers.

L.A. Unified gets reduction on iPads price LA Times: Apple agrees to furnish the latest models, rather than a discontinued version for which it was charging full price, and cuts the cost to $504 per device by omitting curriculum. 

Utah School Draws Ire For Taking Kids' Lunches; Debt Cited NPR: Anger and frustration followed an incident Tuesday, in which up to 40 students had their lunches taken away from them at the cashier's station in an elementary school cafeteria. The food was thrown away; the students were told their accounts had no credit on them.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Some States Re-Name "Common Core" Initiative" »

Update: What Next For High-Intensity Tutoring?

Herve Boinay:Flickr A couple more things to know about high-intensity tutoring in the aftermath of the release of new findings about the Chicago pilot program (NYT, Al Jazeera): 

In Chicago, the push is on to get funding to expand the program even as the research is being continued.  The Mayor has pledged a small amount. For the pilot, the combo program cost about $4,400 per kids per year including both the tutoring and the social skills program (Becoming A Man). At scale, the tutoring would probably cost just $2,500 or so -- and wouldn't have to continue year after year for each participant.

Ironically, if IL gets a NCLB waiver it could either reduce funding available for tutoring (via SES) or in theory create a new avenue for CPS to fund the program at scale. So far, at least, the feisty teachers union hasn't come out against the program, which would be in its nature to do (since the Mayor has endorsed it). CPS still has a $65 million SES program (no waiver) but the Match program isn't eligible.

Meanwhile, there's a related effort called MS ExTRA going on NYC, via TASC funded by Robin Hood and the DOE and Ford. In NYC, it's small-group vs. Chicago's 1:1, it's 20 middle school literacy not 9th grade algebra at 12 high schools, and it's Harvard's EdLab not UChicago's Crime Lab.  

See two of the schools in this Hechinger Report article. More here and here. Image via Flickr.

Quotes: Sherman's March To The Sea

Quotes2By likening Ravitch to Sherman, I meant to suggest that she was devastating, relentless, and, yes, occasionally excessive. Presumably she (like Sherman!) would think otherwise. -- Governing's Josh Buntin in a response to a John Merrow critique of Buntin's article on Rhee and Ravitch (Refereeing a Rigged Fight)

Charts: Venture Capital & Education Innovation

image from educationnext.orgProfiles of founders of Wireless Generation, SchoolNet, and K12 from Education Next (For Education Entrepreneurs, Innovation Yields High Returns)


Thompson: Henry Ford's School Reform Lesson [Stability]

FordNPR’s Sarah Cwiek, in The Middle Class Took Off 100 Years Ago ... Thanks to Henry Ford?, noted the centennial of Henry Ford’s policy of paying his workers $5 a day.

The policy of paying a living wage sparked a positive feedback loop which helped create middle class prosperity. Ford was not being charitable. He wanted a stable workforce. 

Education research confirms the value of stable teaching forces. This is especially true of high-poverty schools where students face extreme instability in their neighborhoods. 

Even so, some school reformers claim to believe that “churn” or high levels of turnover is a virtue. 

Two recent studies have added to the evidence that high-dollar efforts to turnaround challenging schools have disappointed because they do not recognize the value of stability.

And a recent post from Andy Rotherham notes that class issues play a role in how reformers view stability differently than others.

Continue reading "Thompson: Henry Ford's School Reform Lesson [Stability]" »

Magazines: Last Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt Out Story

image from www.newyorker.comI've got no objection to the New Yorker covering parents opting out of standardized testing for their kids.  

I and others have written about it a ton.  The more the merrier.

But last week's piece (The Defiant Parents) in the New Yorker didn't seem like the magazine's best effort.  

In fact, it seemed pretty lazy.  

Of course, reasonable people can disagree about the merits of opting out or the best way to cover the story,and it's only a blog post online rather than a full feature article.  

But I have to admit I was pretty disappointed -- their stuff is usually very good.

Take a look at the specifics below and let me know what you think.

Continue reading "Magazines: Last Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt Out Story " »

AM News: Change Could Help Promote Charter Diversity


Education Dept. allows public charter schools to hold weighted lottery Washington Post: The Education Department on Wednesday reversed a long-standing policy and will now allow public charter schools that receive federal grants to give admissions preference to low-income children, minorities and other disadvantaged students.

Under pressure, feds will fund charter schools with admissions preferences ChalkbeatNY: The regulatory change followed concerted lobbying by Moskowitz, other charter school advocates, and officials from New York and other states, who worked to ease federal authorities’ concerns that weighted lotteries could be used to create racially segregated schools in addition to diverse ones.

Early Education Spending By The Feds Has Not Really Risen Since Obama Took Office HuffPost: The 2009 spending hit a high of $32.6 billion, but the real tale lies in the comparison between the 2008 and 2013 figures: $20.7 billion then and only slightly higher at $21.5 billion last year.

Video: Lawmaker 'stunned' at gaps in school abuse reporting NBC: Rep. George Miller of California says a new GAO report points out important gaps in the nation's systems for reporting child abuse by school personnel.

More news below and via @alexanderrusso

Continue reading "AM News: Change Could Help Promote Charter Diversity" »

Afternoon Video: Chelsea Clinton Visits NM Community School

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

From Community Schools: "Watch [NBC News correspondent] Chelsea Clinton interview Principal Peggy Candelaria and Community School Coordinator Deanna Creighton Cook talk about the Homework Diner program and community school strategy."

Bruno: A Low Bar for Teacher Education

10712619536_ec8ded7f27_nI'm often highly critical of traditional teacher education, but Mike Rose's defense is worth reading.

Rose argues - rightly - that reports critical of education schools often lack nuance and fail to emphasize variation in quality across programs.

This is a fair complaint, as it's often hard to shake the feeling that the authors of these reports are trying more to "disrupt" education than to shed light on its problems.

But it's important to remember that while they may have numerous limitations in their attempts to describe the problems with education schools, these reports are not really at the core of the argument against traditional teacher prep.

Rather, the core of the argument against traditional teacher prep is that we do not have much - if any - rigorous evidence that its considerable costs are justified in terms of improved teacher effectiveness.

In fact, there is considerable evidence that alternative certification programs - including those that reduce or delay traditional curricular requirements - produce teachers that are roughly as effective as other programs.

Continue reading "Bruno: A Low Bar for Teacher Education" »

Photos: Three Things To Do With This USDE SOTU Pic

Unnamed (3)Three things you can do to show off using this @EDPressSec photo taken during the SOTU last night:  

(1) Correctly ID at least three of the faceless bureaucrats who are depicted.

(2) Correctly ID exactly when during the speech the image was taken.

(3) Come up with a better caption than these two:

"See, we told you he was going to talk about schools"

"Hey, no pictures. My spouse thinks I'm out playing poker."

Update: Private Vs. Public, Ugly Gentrification, & Weighted Lotteries

image from gothamist.comPicking schools is one of the most intense debates in education. So it's no surprise that there are 350 comments and counting on this January 17 Gothamist blog post in which a NYC newcomer asks a NYC veteran (pictured, as a youth) whether to send their kids to the public school in a gentrifying neighborhood or do the private school thing?

What makes the post extra interesting is that the local public elementary under consideration -- PS 9 -- recently lost its Title I funding and is now hard to get into from out of zone and is precariously close to flipping (like Petrilli et el described in a recent Washington Post oped).They proposed various measures to help schools encourage and support diversity rather than flip entirely (that whole ugly gentrification thing).

Some good news is on the horizon, though.  Just this morning, the USDE put out some new charter school guidance that allows them to use a weighted lottery to prevent flipping, which they were formerly prohibited from doing if they wanted to get the $500K charter school startup money.  There are a handful of diverse charters in Brooklyn near PS 9, and a few more opening.  I wrote about diverse charters like DSST, Community Roots, and Brooklyn Prospect in Educatoion Next not too long ago.

Morning Video: Last Night's Raucous Newark Schools Meeting

Here's AFT president Randi Weingarten speaking at last night's Newark schools meeting (provided by AFT). After Weingarten left, speakers hurled insults at Newark superintendent Cami Anderson (NJ Spotlight). 


In the aftermath, there's been some debate on Twitter about whether Weingarten and others approve of this kind of attack, are in any way responsible for policing comments others make, and why there weren't (m)any pro-reform parents and community members in the packed meeting.

AM News: State Of The Union Vs. Stranded Students


Obama Sells Race to Top, Early-Childhood Education in State of the Union PK12: President Barack Obama placed education at the center of a broad strategy to bolster economic mobility and combat poverty—calling on Congress to approve previously-unveiled initiatives to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds, beef up job-training programs, and make post-secondary education more effective and accessible.

Obama Restates Old Education Commitments In 2014 State Of The Union Address Huffington Post: Instead of announcing new initiatives, Obama mostly expanded on proposals he announced during and since last year's State of the Union address, tying them to his theme of fighting poverty and pushing the country forward despite legislative inaction. Obama promoted a competition to redesign high school, boosting schools' Internet connectivity, and making college more affordable and accessible -- all ideas he has already proposed. See also EdSource.

Inside The State Of The Union: What The President Proposed NPR: After a long spell of partisan trench warfare and gridlock, President Obama called for "a year of action" Tuesday. The changes he pitched were relatively modest, but he promised to move forward with or without the help of Congress. 

7,000 Students Stranded Due to Southern Storm ABC News: More than 7,000 students across Georgia and Alabama camped out with teachers in school gyms or on buses and commuters abandoned cars along the highway to seek shelter in churches, fire stations — even grocery stores — after a rare snowstorm left thousands of unaccustomed Southerners frozen in their tracks.

See more fresh education news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: State Of The Union Vs. Stranded Students" »

Afternoon Video: A Cappella Group Sings "Sesame Street"

via Huffington Post

Maps: Creationism Being Taught Everywhere

image from knowmore.washingtonpost.comI have my doubts about this Slate infographic purporting to show where creationism is being taught (in some cases with the support of public dollars), but it's great linkbait and @knowmore picked it up so I guess I'd rather you saw it here than somewhere else.  Congrats, Chris Kirk!

Chicago: School Buildings Can't Stay Open Because Contract

Closed-signNews from Chiberia today is that school is closed yet again (4th day this year) because of the cold -- and CPS buildings can't stay open for safety or working parents' convenience because of the labor agreement.  

It wasn't local reporters who figured this out and started asking questions, however, but rather local elected officials:

"Several aldermen, pointing to the burden placed on parents, called for a change in policy that would leave school doors open for kids to use the gym or participate in art projects," noted the Sun Times (CPS plan to close schools Tuesday bothers aldermen).

What does the union have to say?  

"We're sensitive to the needs of parents who don’t have a lot of child-care options," said CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin in a DNA Info article. "However, when our students are in front of our members, they receive instructional services."

Continue reading "Chicago: School Buildings Can't Stay Open Because Contract" »

Update: USDE Doesn't Subscribe To POLITICO After All

Fist-of-Money-1Late last night I came across a CJR article noting that Politico's much-discussed Pro subscription model was likely to work because there were enough folks in DC with the need and the budget to buy it -- with a specific mention of the USDE's Office of Communications.

Indeed, there was a link to an official-looking RFP from December in which the USDE does indicate an interest in getting in on the Politico coverage. Nobody else can provide the "timely breaking news & in-depth, targeted coverage POLITICO Pro provides," according to the RFP.

However, the USDE is not after all a Politico subscriber, says the USDE's Massie Ritsch: 

“Politico has assembled a team of talented reporters and editors who have quickly contributed news and insight to the ongoing dialogue about education. The Department explored subscribing to Politico Pro but we were unable to negotiate a reasonable price to justify signing up.”

One issue that may have come up is that it's not clear if you can subscribe just to one vertical (education, health, etc.) or whether you have to get them all.  CJR says that it's $8,000 for five users, but that  might not be accurate.  CJR also notes that at higher price points Politico doesn't actually need that many buyers.

Anyway, we're still looking for someone willing to tell us that they subscribe to the Pro version of the site.  Come on, it's OK to brag.  Screenshot or it didn't happen.  Image via wow that's an old clip art.

Bruno: Should Kids Spend More Time In School? Or Less?

2661425133_1328692483Proposals to increase the amount of time students spend in school are increasingly popular as educators and politicians look for ways to improve student achievement.

But are they good ideas?

Vicki Abeles thinks not, because she has "found no compelling research that supports the proposition that a longer school day improves educational outcomes". The problem, she thinks, is that test-based accountability has left students so unmotivated that they're not going to learn anything in class anyway.

This is a strange argument to make for at least two reasons.

Continue reading "Bruno: Should Kids Spend More Time In School? Or Less?" »

Thompson: What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California?

FederalistThe most striking thing about Vergara vs California, which would strike down laws protecting teachers' due process, is the lack of evidence that those laws, not the legacies of poverty, damage poor children of color. 

It claims that "separate and together" those laws violate the civil rights of children. One would think that the court would demand evidence for the existance of that alleged interplay of the laws.  

To prove that it is the laws, not management's response to the laws, that causes harm, Vergara apparently relies on nothing but assertions made by management. If their video of the greatest hits of administrators during Vergara's  depositions is any indication, the trial will showcase their sound bites, not evidence. In other words, it is argued that administrators, not lawmakers, who should say what administrative law should be.

Such judicial overreach is almost enough to make us long for the good old days when Vergara’s lead attorney, Theodore Olson, helped found the Federalist Society. It seems like only yesterday that Olson joined with Edwin Meese, Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Samuel Alioto, and Clarence Thomas to proclaim,   “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." 

When Olson et. al opposed judicial activism, corporations did not have the rights of people. Or, should I say they did not have the rights that people once had, but that they would now deny to teachers?

Continue reading "Thompson: What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California?" »

SOTU 2013: Four Great Education Ideas Obama Won't Mention Tonight

image from www.wired.comSo far, at least, I've come up with a measly handful of things that President Obama could propose and implement without Congressional approval -- neither of which is likely to get mentioned tonight or done anytime soon.  

But they're good ideas -- take a look, White House speechwriters! -- and others have lots of ideas. They're not going to happen, either -- and hey, it's possible that something could come out of tonight's speech.  Unlikely, but possible. 

Herewith, 4 Russo recommendations (none of them really my ideas) for actions Obama could take on the education front in his speech tonight, related to high-intensity tutoring, charter school diversity, an audit of testing, and a renewed call for equitable teacher distribution (Vergara!).

Image: The Dialectic, via Wired

Continue reading "SOTU 2013: Four Great Education Ideas Obama Won't Mention Tonight" »

AM News: Union Lawyers Challenge CA Job Protection Lawsuit


Contours of Calif. Teacher-Protection Suit Take Shape Teacher Beat: Attorneys for both the defendants and the intervenors (the state's two teachers' unions) argued that these nine students don't have standing to bring the suit because none of them can show they've been the victim of bad teaching. See also EdSource Today, LA School Report, LA Times.

Obama Expected To Propose Expanding Preschool Programs NPR: President Obama is expected to propose an expansion of preschool programs in his State of the Union Address. Most states have bought into the idea and restored funding for the programs. What's less clear is where the long-term funding is going to come from, and whether the quality of these programs are worth the investment. See also HuffPostMinnPostAtlanic Education.

Backlash Grows Against Common Core Education Standards NPR: Supporters of new education standards say Common Core will hold American students to much higher expectations, and move away from the bubble test culture that critics say too often pushes teachers to focus on test prep. But opposition to Common Core is spreading across the political spectrum. See also Stateline.

Report: Va., Md., D.C. have some of the nation’s highest gaps by income level in reading proficiency Washington Post: Fourth-grade students in Virginia, Maryland and the District have among the largest gaps in reading proficiency in the country when broken down by income level, according to a report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

More news below and throughout the day via @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Union Lawyers Challenge CA Job Protection Lawsuit" »

Lawsuits: Vergara V. California? I'm So Confused

SveWhat did California ever do to *her*? Oh, right - not the same Vergara. 

Afternoon Video: Intensive Math Tutoring Generates Impressive Gains

Last week, you may have seen or heard about Al Jazeera America's segment on the intensive math tutoring pilot that's being studied in Chicago. You may have read more about it in today's New York Times. Here's the video, just posted. Watch part 2 here.

Update: It All Began Ten Years Ago

Jacob riss dana goldstein Hard to believe that I started the weekly email roundup that became "This Week In Education" in November '03, starting with AOL, then moving to GMail (remember when it was so), then Blogger/Blogspot (your eyes still hurt).  

What I'd forgotten along the way is the blog moved over to EdWeek in January '07 -- about six months after I moved to New York City and much later than I had remembered.   The Chicago blog moved over to Catalyst and ChicagoNow a little earlier. 

Way back then, blogs were still strange and new -- now they're strange and old.  Being able to comment immediately rather than write a letter to the editor was new -- now most folks simple Tweet or Facebook what they've got to say.

There was no Politics K-12 or Teacher Beat, no Huffington Post, no Answer Sheet, no GothamSchools/Chalkbeat. Rotherham didn't allow comments. Hess didn't even know what a blog was, much less have his own.

One thing hasn't changed, which is the basic aim of what I'm doing, which I summarized in the 2007 welcome message at EdWeek: "Too often, educators don't understand politics, politicians don't understand education, and education journalists don't understand -- or find ways to capture -- the interactions of these two different worlds. Everyone suffers as a result."

Jacob Riis image via Dana Goldstein's blog.

Update: Duncan-Starr "Liar" Beef Heats Up

Via Valerie Strauss, who notes that Duncan weighed in against Starr for NYC but doesn't mention that (a) she wrote the story (and some considered it to be journalistically problematic) and (b) that Duncan also used to tout test score increases when he was a superindent in Chicago so he's calling himself out as well as everyone else. 

Magazines: Affluent Chinese Parents Discover Waldorf Model

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 27 12.38"Less than a decade ago, there were no Waldorf institutions in China; now there are two hundred Waldorf kindergartens and thirty elementary schools,” writes Ian Johnson in the latest New Yorker.  

But are they moving too quickly?

Waldorf schools remain fairly popular in the US, and there have even been attempts to spread the model into public settings (via charters, usually).

One day, there may have to be a final Waldorf-Montessori showdown.  For better or worse, I'm Team Montessori. 

Weekend Reading: Houston Goes Laptop, DC Streamlines Testing

There's always good reading that comes in over the weekend (or that I miss during the week), but I know that some of you have lives and/or don't take your jobs seriously enough to check the Internet 24/7, so here are some of the best things you might want to check out or at least know about:

Houston Launches Ambitious 1-to-1 Computing Initiative - @BenjaminBHerold @EdWeekEdTech http://ht.ly/sW6EI 

DC Public schools are exploring ways to streamline, make best use of standardized tests http://ht.ly/sVFkf  via @Morning_Edu [also via @washingtonpost! http://wapo.st/1c8J0Pm]

For Kids With Low Self-Esteem, Praise Has Unintended Consequences - @PacificStand http://ht.ly/sXzLj 

How Tumblr and GitHub could be the future of education | Reuters @felixsalmon #edtech http://ht.ly/sXzjs 

Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next [Teaching] Job? : Planet Money : NPR http://ht.ly/sXDrS 

Against the Rage Machine http://ht.ly/sXxCi  Why so many of us are outraged so often, and feel the need to say so via n+1

From Jay Mathews: Students won’t learn? Go visit their parents: D.C. is trying to see if visiting parents at h... http://tinyurl.com/krcektz 

Young Catholics at Eastside High Revolt, Ctd: http://wp.me/p33JF9-Ue7  via @DishFeed

A week later, I'm still not much national coverage of unlawful teacher dismissal lawsuit in NOLA. Also, no one's biting on my prediction that if the new Ezra Klein / Matt Yglesias endeavor has an education component, Dana Goldstein is most likely to head it.   

Quotes: "South Carolina Children On South Carolina Standards"

Quotes2We don't ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children.  -- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Anderson Independent Mail via Politico 

Video: "Take Dead Aim On The Rich Boys" (Rushmore)


In anticipation of tomorrow night's class-based State Of The Union speech, enjoy this scene from 1998's prep school classic, Rushmore. "They can buy anything, but they can't buy backbone." via Gothamist

AM News Roundup: CA Lawsuit Targets Teacher Job Protections


Lawsuit challenging teacher tenure, seniority protections goes to court EdSource via Hechinger Report: California is one of a handful of states that still grant tenure in two years or less. Over the past two years, the Democratically controlled Legislature has struggled without success to reach a compromise between the teachers unions and school boards and administrators on how to pare down the dismissal law.

Teacher tenure goes on trial in California courtroom Washington Post: The national debate about teacher tenure is the focus of a trial set to begin Monday in a fifth-floor Los Angeles courtroom, pitting a Silicon Valley mogul with a star-studded legal team against some of the most powerful labor unions in the country.

See also: Teacher Job Protections Vs. Students' Education In Calif. NPR; Lawsuit takes on California teachers' job protections LA Times; Protect good teachers, fire bad ones LA Times (editorial page).

State Chiefs Pledge to Not Share Student Data With Arne Duncan, Ed. Dept. PK12: Schools chiefs from 34 states have banded together to make a public declaration that they will not share personally identifiable student data with the federal government.

Lessons for de Blasio in New Jersey’s Free Pre-K NYT: The programs in 31 low-income districts in New Jersey are widely acknowledged for strong results. But they are also more expensive and intensive than what many officials — including Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York — have proposed.

New York teachers turn on Common Core Politico: The board of the New York state teachers union this weekend unanimously withdrew its support for the Common Core standards as they have been implemented. See also Teacher Beat.

More news below and via @alexanderrusso

Continue reading "AM News Roundup: CA Lawsuit Targets Teacher Job Protections" »

Afternoon Video: Decline In Extreme Poverty Shows Things Can Change


Bill Nye explains changes in extreme poverty, and makes the case that "intractable" social problems can be ameliorated. Crossed fingers. Via @knowmore. Or catch Eyes On The Prize on YouTube.

EdTech: Tablets, MOOCs -- Now Rocketship

Flickr hey rocker angry starWhat's going on in edtech and innovation these days?  Growing pains?  Overly ambitious timelines?  Credulous media suddenly turned skeptical?  Or are there lots of people who've simply taken the wrong path?  

A few weeks ago MOOC enthusiast Sebastiaun Thrun admitted that the model wasn't working (largely due to high attrition rates).  A handful of iPad deployments have blown up or seem unlikely to result in student learning increases.

Now, Rocketship -- the highly blended charter school model -- is having to revamp its programs for a second time (see Edweek here) and apparently rolled back its expansion plans, too (via Caroline Grannan). Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: New Jersey High School Gets Christie Repair Promise

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

NBC News shows us videotape of the dilapidated Trenton (NJ) school -- and describes new pledges to repair the building or build a new high school from Gov. Chris Christie.

AM News: Lawsuit Challenges CA's Tenure, Seniority, Dismissal Rules


Lawsuit challenging teacher tenure, seniority protections goes to court next week EdSource Today: The trinity of teachers’ rights in California – tenure, seniority and due process in dismissals – will be under attack next week in a trial in Los Angeles with statewide impact and national interest.  

Surprising Test Results For Some Of The World's Richest Students HuffPost:  "At the top of the distribution, our performance is surprisingly bad given our top decile is among the wealthiest in the world," said Morgan Polikoff, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Education who reviewed the data. See also.

NEA's $60 Million 'Great Public Schools' Fund Rolls Out TeacherBeat: NEA announces the first winners of its new fund for supporting local education projects.

Legalizing Marijuana: Will the Education Department Change its Anti-Drug Policy? PK12: Given all of this, a loyal Politics K-12 reader (also known as Michael Petrilli of Fordham fame) posed a very good question: What affect is all of this national discussion having on the messaging or actual policy from the anti-drug offices within the U.S. Department of Education?

What's the future of privacy in a big data world? PBS NewsHour: How do we weigh the appeal of these devices against their potential to intrude into our lives? We're joined by Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank that promotes responsible data practices, and Adam Thierer, senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

More news below (and throughout the day via @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Lawsuit Challenges CA's Tenure, Seniority, Dismissal Rules" »

Afternoon Video: Students' Co-Location Experience In NYC


New York Public Radio sent some students out with cameras to put together a segment on co-location, which the student narrator compares to the MTV reality show "Real World."  Read more here. As you'll see, there's student violence between kids from different schools, but this could just as easily happen with one large school.

Thompson: Remembering "The Promised Land," Then & Now

LemannI've already shattered my New Year's resolution, which was to pay less attention to education topics of the day and reflect more on big picture issues, such as what does the failure of data-driven school reform mean, and what are its lessons for the inevitable next cycle of school improvement.  But every day brings fascinating new research and political stories, such as  Michelle McNeil's Success for All Again Wins Big, and Loses, in I3 Competition. And now I find myself replying to Alexander Russo's posts from last week.

Russo cites two great journalists, LynNell Hancock and Nicholas Lemann, and he calls on education writers  "to remind yourself about what it takes to examine education issues fairly and dispassionately, with nuance and complexity and prepared to have your mind changed." He then says that "there's far too little of that going on right now," implying both sides of the education wars betray the conventions of scholarly research.

I followed Russo's links and found no evidence for such equivalency. Hancock's Uncommon Ground recalls Anthony Lukas' masterpiece, Common Ground, on racial violence in Boston. Both Hancock and Lukas challenge the simplistic assumptions of a "naive time," and wrestle with the great horror that can be released by racial conflict.  Hancock describes the cavalier attitude of school reformers toward this history, "National school-reform notions from our last decade still wrap themselves in the rhetoric of civil rights. ... The preferred means to the end are now top-down management tools: rating teachers, adding layers of tests, closing failing schools, creating a scattershot collection of privately-run public charters in their stead."

Similarly, Lemann's Schoolwork  criticizes reformers who portray "the reliable villain, in the form of the teachers’ unions, and a familiar set of heroes," including Geoffrey Canada, Wendy Kopp, and Michelle Rhee. Lemann criticizes the way that reformers (who. I believe, borrow from Karl Rove, whose methods he had previously explored) take details out of context to fit their neat story lines. He challenges their "unproven assumptions" that tenure hurts students and he cites the potential of more conventional approaches, such as Success for All, that show it is not necessary to blow up the system.

Thinking about Lemann reminds me of The Promised Land, and seeing Lemann in action twenty-something years ago. 

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Quotes: "Before Their Weaned-On-Twitter Minds Begin To Wander"

Quotes2They look at you with a mix of wonderment and bemused fascination as you ponder your problem. Faintly you hear those little timers tick, tick, ticking away before their weaned-on-twitter-and-Instagram minds begin to wander. - Doug "Teach Like A Champion" Lemov (via Facebook)

Media: Can Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please?

Conspirator-FlickrMaybe it's just the weather, but a lot of the news coverage of education recently has been bothering me lately.  

You, too?  Glad to hear it. However, our aggravations may not all be the same.

My main complaint is that coverage that was for a long time perhaps overly credulous about reformers' ideas and efforts has now gotten stuck for a long time over on the other side of the spectrum, where it's overly critical about reformers' ideas and efforts and generally portraying teacher and parent (and union) complaints and concerns out of context.

For example, the Chicago Board of Education yesterday considered several charter proposals.  Eleven went unapproved, and seven got the green light.  But if you read the headlines coming out today -- and let's be honest that's what most of us do (and that headline writers work off of the stories reporters give them) -- you'd have no idea that any of the proposals had been rejected.

Here are the headlines: Board of Ed. approves 7 new Chicago charter schools Sun Times, Chicago Public Schools approves seven new charter schools WBEZ, 7 charters get OK, daily PE approved Catalyst.  (Only newcomer DNA Info got it right, IMO: CPS Recommends Board OK Seven New Charter Schools, Deny 11 Others.)

While we're on the topic of Chicago education coverage, this recent Chicago Tribune article about field testing the Common Core tests in Illinois (More tests on the way: Illinois launches massive field test of new exam in more than 2,000 schools) is long and complicated and generally makes it seem like kids are going to be tested to death this year.  

The language gives it all away: "Tens of thousands of students" are involved in a new "testing blitz." Testing is going to be "piled on" to existing tests, and has created "a labyrinth of testing scenarios."  

What gets minimized or left out is context -- that the field testing only involves about half of the schools in the state -- and not all kids in these schools -- and that the field test will add between two and six hours of testing this spring. 

There are more examples -- even better ones, to be sure -- but you get the drift.  I'm not saying that things didn't go the other way for a long time. I'm just saying that things have swung pretty far and that readers aren't getting the context and evenly-distributed skepticism that they deserve. 

Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: WorkKeys [Yes, They Still Use It]

From PBS NewsHour: "WorkKeys, developed by ACT,uses actual workplace scenarios to measure how well individuals can decipher charts, graphs and other visual information, convert ratios, measurements, and make calculations across a variety of situations, and effectively comprehend memos, instructions and other authentic workplace documents." Click here to read the transcript.

AM News: Cheating In Philly [Blame It On Common Core!]

News2Philadelphia Principals Fired Over Cheating NYT: Three principals were fired last week after an investigation into test cheating that has implicated about 140 teachers and administrators, a spokesman for the Philadelphia school district said.

Cheating Probe Roils Philadelphia School System WSJ: Nearly 140 teachers and administrators in Philadelphia public schools have been implicated in one of the nation's largest cheating scandals.

Chicago Public Schools approves seven new charter schools WBEZ: Despite protests and less than a year after closing 50 traditional public schools due to declining enrollment, Chicago’s Board of Education voted Wednesday afternoon to approve seven new charter schools.

Obama's State of the Union Speeches and Education: A Scorecard PK12: President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union speech next week, on Jan. 28. So that means a week from now, we'll all be mulling over the education portion. Is Obama usually able to get what he wants from Congress? Short answer: Not so much. For the longer answer, check out these past State of the Union speeches.

School Was Open, But No One Went WNYC: The city's daily attendance data show that only 47 percent of students attended school Wednesday, the lowest attendance rate by far this school year. The year's previous low was 73 percent on Jan. 7. Typically, citywide attendance in January hovers around 90 percent.

Some Parents Bemoan Icy Treks as de Blasio Stands by Choice to Keep Schools Open NYT: Across New York City on Wednesday, schools grappled with anemic attendance and complaints that Mayor Bill de Blasio had erred by holding class on a day of subzero winds and frozen streets.

More news below (and throughout the day via @alexanderrusso).

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Media: EdSource Today's California-Sized Growth Spurt

image from edsource.orgWhile you might have been looking the other way, distracted by East Coast media outlets and the like. EdSource Today has quietly been emerging as one of the biggest nonprofit edmedia outlets out there.  

They describe themselves as "the leader in California education journalism." They're partnering with other nonprofit outlets like KQED and Hechinger.

Over the past year or two they've staffed up in Northern California (Fensterwald, Baron, Mongeau are the bylines you've been seeing most frequently.)  See the staf list here.

Now they're looking to expand in SoCal as well. 

Of course, there are other nonprofit education outlets covering California, like the KPCC education shop I've written about before. And a handful of commercial outlets like SI&A Cabinet Report and the LA Times that are still out there.  LA School Report has been plugging away, though seems like Hillel Aron isn't writing for them any longer.  

Click below for the job announcement. Here's their look ahead at 2014 (Top 12 education issues in the new year).


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Books: An Inside Look At The 2012 Chicago Teachers' Strike

Unnamed (2)Micah Uetricht's forthcoming book, Strike for America, is coming out in March, promoted as "Inside reporting from the most important domestic labor struggle in decades."

"Written by Micah Uetricht, a progressive journalist [Jacobin, In These Times] and former labor organizer who was on the scene for the entire strike, Strike for America is a blow-by-blow account of how CORE, a rank-and-file caucus of the CTU, lead this movement, elected Karen Lewis as the union’s president, and launched a successful strike against neoliberal reform. Working closely with parents and community members, CORE developed an agenda that went beyond the usual compensation negotiations in order to establish a broad coalition opposed to the market-driven education policies backed by the previous union leadership."

I haven't seen or read it yet, but I'm guessing some of you have and perhaps are even included in the book.  Cross-posted from D299.

Lunchtime Video: Education Issues Reformers & Critics Want To Ignore

Here's the segment I told you about yesterday, which depicts some districts' Homeland-style surveillance efforts and some parents' desperate and angry experiences trying to get a decent education for their children:


Lack of sufficient quality schools within districts and inequities between them are problems that debates about charters and the "war" on teachers distract us from and won't address.  (Sometimes I think that the distractions are purposeful.) More about the series here.

Bruno: You Should Probably Become A Teacher If That's What You Want To Do

76738710_0b864eeca3_nOver the last couple of years there have been a number teachers quitting their jobs in high-profile protest over aspects of education reform that they do not like. This has led to some debate, particularly among critics of reform, about whether now is a good time to go into teaching.

Most recently, Stephanie Rivera argued that quitting in protest - and discouraging others from entering the profession - amounts to giving up the fight against reform. This, in turn, prompted fellow reform critic Gary Rubinstein to respond that he doesn't think most prospective teachers "can endure" the current era of reform and that it's probably better to give up the fight in the short term because "education needs to hit rock bottom" anyway.

 Implicit in this discussion are at least two peculiar assumptions: that recent changes in our educational institutions will substantially diminish new teachers' job satisfaction and that new teachers enter the profession to fight a battle for large-scale institutional change.

Those assumptions may very well hold for Rivera, Rubinstein, and many of their readers, but it's not clear how well - if at all - they hold up for prospective teachers as a whole.

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Thompson: Karl Rove's Descendents

Karl_Rove_140x190We have just begun the 2014 countdown to NCLB's universal proficiency target for all students.  I wonder if we'll get there by June.

Seriously, after 12 years, it is time to address some issues in addition to the law's failed, top-down approach to schooling. Was it a good idea to forsake "incrementalism" and demand rapid "transformative" change across the entire nation? It is also time to reflect upon the political strategy of blowing up the educational "status quo" to pave the way for "disruptive innovation."  

We should inventory the ways that NCLB-type reform weakened progressive coalitions, undermining state efforts to promote justice, or at least slow the increase of economic inequities.

It also has been a decade since New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann, in The Controller,  persuaded Karl Rove to reveal that NCLB was a component of his three-part plan for destroying the Democratic Party.  Now that the U.S. Supreme Court declared corporations to be people, the "Billionaires Boys Club" is the new Rove. 

Not all of the new elites seek complete domination of the party that once represented working people, but corporate reformers are rarely reluctant to bulldoze institutions that used to provide some balance of power. 

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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.