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Charts: Teachers Use Technology (For What?)

Unnamed (5)Here's some more information from the Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers, focused on uses of technology. Looks like teachers still really love them some YouTube.


Quotes: Common Core Uproar Obscures Broader Concerns

Quotes2It’s hard to tell where the uproar over Common Core ends and the more general uproar over education in the United States begins. -- Jessica Leahy in the NYT Parenting Blog

Morning Video: High Intensity Tutoring (Plus Mentoring) Shows Impact

Tutoring plus mentoring (in Chicago the program is called Becoming A Man) can have profound results, according to recent research.  Via Chicago Public Television.

AM News: NYC Halts (Just) Six Charter Location Plans

City Halts Six School Changes Inherited from Bloomberg WNYC: Dozens of new or expanded schools got the all-clear to open this fall but a handful of others saw their plans dashed, as the city navigated its way through a thicket of proposals left by the Bloomberg administration. See also ChalkbeatNY, NYT, AP

Education secretary Duncan to governors: Join the early education parade KPCC: Education Secretary Arne Duncan told governors this week that expanding early education programs is underway — and they should join in.Governors peppered Duncan with questions regarding funding and access for early education for their states.

D.C. Sees Another Bump In Public School Enrollment WAMU: Enrollment in D.C. traditional and public charter schools increased by three percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the fifth consecutive year of growth in the city's school system.

Students With Disabilities Aim For A College Degree, But Often Get Stuck HuffPost: When he was a kid, Will Farrior was "just like your average child and student making A's and B's while participating in extracurricular activities," the 26-year-old told a Senate committee on Thursday. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: NYC Halts (Just) Six Charter Location Plans" »

Media: Update On LA School Report

image from laschoolreport.comNews got out this week that Hillel Aron was joining the LA Weekly as a full time staffer.  Though he stayed on for a time after my departure from the site at the end of last summer , the workhorse reporter (who did most of the daily writing for LA School Report during its first year of publication) had stopped writing for the education outlet earlier this winter.

So who's left? The masthead there currently includes Jamie Lynton (now listed as Executive Editor), Michael Janofsky (my replacement, as it turned out), and site manager Leigh Anne Abiouness. Vanessa Romo and Chase Neisner have appeared in recent weeks. Ellie Herman has been writing occasional commentaries.

There have been some notable improvements in the site.  Someone seems to have finally figured out how to livestream LAUSD board meetings. They've thankfully stopped capitalizing School Board (my fault, if I remember correctly). And they've added links to local news sites from around the sprawling district. 

And of course there's always lots of education news to cover in LA.  Current examples include the Vergara trial, the ever-contentious school board members, and the never-ending iPad debacle.

Pop Culture: Pretty Soon, Kanye West Is Going To Have A Charter, Too

image from www.washingtonpost.comThe Washington Post magazine notes that a small but growing number of celebrities start, support, and even send their kids to charter schools these days:

"The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy started in Las Vegas in 2001. Oprah Winfrey spent $40 million to open her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007, and has donated millions to other charters domestically. Former NBA star (and ESPN commentator) Jalen Rose founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit in 2011. Prime Prep Academy, co-founded by former NFL star (and current NFL Network analyst) Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, opened campuses in Dallas and Fort Worth in 2012. Pop star John Legend is vice chairman of the board for the Harlem Village Academies, and Hugh Jackman and Katie Couric are board members. Sandra Bullock (born in Arlington, living in New Orleans) was awarded the People’s Choice Favorite Humanitarian Award in 2013 for her contributions to the Warren Easton Charter High School in the Crescent City."

I think there a few more, including the charters celebrities support or send their kids to in LA (it's fairly common there), and of course the actor who portrays Mike Gomez in Breaking Bad. Magic Johnson?

Of course, as the article points out, the results are mixed (Pitbull’s school: star promotes a radical idea for at-risk kids). Via EdWeek's Mark Walsh.

Thompson: What's TFA's Role In Mass Dismissals of Teachers?

Header4Blogger Bob Braun’s Newark: 700 Teachers May Be Laid Off, Many Replaced by TFA fed the firestorm over Superintendent Cami Anderson’s and Gov. Chris Christie’s plans for the Newark schools. Braun cited union sources who said that TFA alumni Anderson will try to fire about 700 teachers and “replace about half with new hires, including the TFA members.”

TFA’s Fatimah Burnam Watkins replied that her organization sought to place “special education, science and math [that] are hard to fill.” She condemned Braun’s report as “full of toxic inaccuracies.” 

So, how can we sort out the truth? Do we just need to wait and see whether Newark follows the pattern of mass closings of schools as in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and other districts? Do we have no way of determining in advance whether TFA is no more than a supplier of teachers who are scarce, or whether it is a prime prerequisite for the mass dismissal of teachers?

Edushuyster’s Internal Documents Reveal Charter Expansion, TFA Go Hand in Hand can help answer that question. A former union communications staffer, Jennifer Berkshire looked into the Detroit corporate reform effort and their investigation of what it takes to attract charter management organizations (CMOs) to take over schools (now staffed by union members.) She linked to Broad Foundation emails explaining what is required for recruiting CMOs. In three emails, the presence of TFA was cited as an important factor in taking over schools.

I doubt many people are shocked, shocked that market-driven reformers see TFA as a resource for their market-driven campaigns. At minimum, Watkins and her organization owe Braun an apology. Edushuyster’s reporting adds to the evidence that TFA owes an apology to veteran teachers whose hard-earned salaries and benefits have made them targets.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.    

Quotes: Democrats Divided On Teachers Unions

Quotes2The de Blasio wing of the party sees teachers unions as important institutions standing up for the average guy; the reform wing sees them as just another special interest. - Rotherham and Whitmire in USA Today (De Blasio's school fight)

Charts: Your SAT Scores Are Back In Vogue Among Employers

image from si.wsj.net

Employers are asking for SAT scores -- and job applicants are putting them on resumes and LinkedIn profiles, according to this WSJ story. Meantime, the College Board says that it will be announcing changes to the SAT next week. 

AM News: Unions Mobilize Against Common Core, Newark Reformer


Teachers Unions Mobilize To Delay The Common Core NPR: The president of the largest U.S. teachers union is calling on school districts to delay adopting the Common Core education standards. 

Chris Christie faces new uproar in state’s largest city Politico: On Wednesday evening, teachers unions ratcheted up the pressure as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sent Christie a letter demanding that he relinquish control over the troubled school district, which the state has run since 1994.

Five Points from Secretary Arne Duncan on Latinos and Education NBC: On Thursday President Barack Obama will launch an initiative geared toward young men and boys of color to improve their chances for success.

At school closings meetings, school choice groups learn the lay of the land in Memphis Chalkbeat Memphis: A table set up at a screening of a documentary about the parent trigger act. The school district auditorium in midtown Memphis was crowded Tuesday.

From Ravitch to the Ritz: SXSWedu highlights Austin Chronicle: Reign of Error: The Danger of Privatizing Schools":Diane Ravitch, America's leading researcher on educational policy and the danger of the...

Fed Up With Zero Tolerance In Schools, Advocates Push For Change NPR: Studies show that harsh policies, including criminalization, don't help the students who are removed from the classroom — and that schools punish black, Latino and disabled students more harshly.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Unions Mobilize Against Common Core, Newark Reformer" »

Afternoon Audio: Community Organizing & School Reform

I figure since I missed this 2011 WNYC segment featuring Mark ("Match On Dry Grass") Warren and Desiree Pilgrim Hunter (BCCC), maybe you did, too. I found it and lots of other videotape, etc. from the 2012 conference. Were you there? Did you already know about all these efforts? Have they been successful and effective, locally and/or nationally, since then?

TV Shows: LA Vouchers May Be Root Of Evil On "True Detective"

image from i.kinja-img.comI thought TWIE contributor John Thompson was joking when he told me there was an education angle in HBO's gritty serial killer / murder mystery, True Detective.  But it's true: 

"Turns out that the root of all evil may be Christian voucher schools," notes one of several blog posts about the recent turn of events -- a plot twist that mirrors the current voucher debate going on in real life.  

The Onion's AV Club notes the show is "taking aim at Louisiana's very real, and very awful school voucher system."

I'll leave the details out since they'll be spoilers for many folks.  But folks are asking about it on Quora, and of course you can find out more on Wikipedia. There's a creepily administrative scene between Reverend Tuttle and one of the detectives you can watch here.

This isn't the first time that an HBO show has taken on a school reform issue.  David Simon's Treme included a rap about TFAers taking career educators' jobs in New Orleans.  The Wire described how violent and impersonal Baltimore schools could be.

Quotes: Anderson No-Shows At Raucous Newark Board Meetings

Quotes2The dysfunction displayed within this forum sets a bad example for our children, and it’s no longer a place where meaningful interaction and dialogue occurs between NPS and the public. -- Letter from office of appointed Newark superintendent to elected local school board via NJ Spotlight (Anderson Says She’ll No Longer Attend School Board Meetings)


Chicago: The Story Behind The Rahm-Karen Lewis Food Fight

image from educationnext.org
As if the protesting teachers and parents and the new CNN documentary weren't enough, here comes my look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's tumultous first three years at the helm of the city and its beleagured schools system.  

The piece (which was originally titled "Reforming Rahm") makes note of just how incremental change had come during the Daley era -- especially the last few years during which a new contract was signed with the union and leadership turnover was the theme -- and what kind of a massive budget and pension deficit Emanuel inherited. 

But it also makes clear how Emanuel's rush to take action on things like a longer school day have often backfired, and how he inadvertently helped make a star out of rookie Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and alienated reform-inclined educators and parents like Seth Lavin as well as "enclave" parents and traditional educators.

Colorful personality conflicts aside, the piece notes that there are still several wortwhile things going on in Chicago, including a move to school-based budgeting, streamlining of testing requirements, a teacher evaluation system to replace the checklist of yore, and a difficult but long-necessary downsizing in response to demographic shifts.

Read the piece -- maybe also Neil Steinberg's recent Esquire profile, too -- and tell me what you think.

Morning Video: "12 Years A Slave" Going To High School

"The distribution will be funded by TV host Montel Williams in partnership with New Regency, Penguin Books and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Williams was also largely responsible for the incorporation of the Civil War film "Glory" into school curriculum." ('12 Years A Slave' To Be Incorporated In High School Curriculum)

AM News: Teachers Anxious But Hopeful About Common Core


What do teachers think about the Common Core standards? Hechinger Report: The findings—both reports are published by staunch supporters of the Common Core—were largely positive. But the feedback from teachers and districts also uncovers anxiety about how classrooms and students will be affected by the tougher standards. And training teachers to be able to handle the Common Core remains a major concern. 

Ed Dept To Schools: Protect Student Data Online AP: In guidance issued Tuesday, the Education Department encouraged districts to look closely at what online services are already in use within their schools. The guidelines suggest that districts develop procedures to evaluate and approve educational services and, when possible, use a written contract or legal agreement. They also spell out applicable federal laws.

GOP Seeks Answers on Arne Duncan's Teacher Equity Plans PK12: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the top Republican on the subcommittee overseeing K-12 education, sent a letter to Duncan Tuesday expressing concerns over the department's plan—floated in the story—to task the office for civil rights with ensuring that states ensure that kids in poverty have access to as many highly effective teachers as their more advantaged peers. 

Test protest: Chicago teachers say they’ll refuse to give ISAT WBEZ: A Seattle high school gained national attention last year when teachers there refused to give a standardized test. In late 2002, teachers at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago said they would refuse to give a district-mandated exam that was unpopular with teachers, the Chicago Academic Standards Exam. In a statement, CPS said "district employees that fail to execute their job responsibilities face appropriate disciplinary actions.”

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Anxious But Hopeful About Common Core" »

Bruno: Actually, SAT Scores *Do* Matter

Are SAT scores useful for predicting who will be successful in college?

If you read the headlines last week, you could be excused for thinking that the answer is "no."

As it turns out, however, those headlines - and even the stories themselves - did not always accurately reflect the study they were discussing.

That study is very interesting. Among other things, it finds that at colleges that do not require SAT or ACT scores, students who choose not to submit their scores do about as well as students who do.

A casual reader could be forgiven for interpreting that to mean that SAT scores "don't" or "shouldn't" matter in college admissions.

But that is not what the study found.

Indeed, as Professors Mark Warschauer and Morgan Polikoff pointed out, at various points in the study itself it is clear that in at least some circumstances SAT scores seem to matter a great deal.

Continue reading "Bruno: Actually, SAT Scores *Do* Matter" »

People: Breaking Ground with Kavitha Cardoza

ScreenHunter_05 Feb. 25 16.46I had that chance to meet WAMU's education reporter Kavitha Cardoza the other day and wanted to make sure everyone had seen her most recent long-form piece on adult education, dubbed Breaking Ground.

As you probably already know, Cardoza (@kavithacardoza) covers the DC metro area.

She's also appeared on NPR and at The Atlantic (The GED Test Is About to Get Much Harder, and Much More Expensive).

Any other favorite Cardoza pieces? Let the rest of us us know. 

Thompson: The Way to Save Common Core (If It's Worth Saving)

CommoncoreMorgan Polikoff's guest post, To Save the Common Core, Don't Fear the Moratorium, at Rick Hess Straight Up is a must-read for supporters of standards based reforms seeking a way to rescue Common Core from its botched implementation.  

I sometimes hope that advocates for college readiness standards will recognize the mess they created and make common sense adjustments. Other times, I believe that it would be best for them to continue down their doomed path and hope that the debacle will bring down the entire data-driven movement. Then, the next generation of school improvement could heed Polikoff''s advice. 

Polikoff believes that standards based reform and "some modest accountability" can drive school improvement. He makes the strong case that before NCLB they contributed to a decade or two of incremental improvements. 

His narrative gets confusing when he gets to their antithesis - standardized test-driven NCLB-type reform.   In one post, Polikoff endorses "consequential accountability." In another piece, he writes about "the abject failure of standards implementation under No Child Left Behind." 

Polikoff argues that "the major unforced error" of the Obama administration's was pushing Common Core standards and value-added teacher evaluations contemporaneously. This has created "the increasingly real possibility that teacher evaluation will destroy the Common Core in some places."

Continue reading "Thompson: The Way to Save Common Core (If It's Worth Saving) " »

#EdGif Of The Day: 18 Things That Are Easier Than Paying Off Student Loans

18 Things That Are Easier Than Paying Off Student Loans

#4 Winning the Triple Crown: "It is literally easier to TURN INTO A HORSE, and then win the elusive Triple Crown than it is to pay off your student loans." (BuzzFeed: 18 Things That Are Easier Than Paying Off Student Loans)

Update: Testing Opt-Out Effort Falls Flat In Chicago

3109294361_11b4fa1747_oYou'd think that Chicago would be a prime place for a parent opt-out protect against standardized testing, given the amount of success that the teachers union has had convincing the media and parents that what teachers want and what parents want are the same thing.

But that didn't seem to be the case when the opt out press conference held on Monday revealed that only about 500 kids would be exempted from standardized testing that begins next week:

Hundreds of CPS students refuse to take annual test: parents’ group Sun Times; Parent groups push ISAT boycott in CPS CLTV; Parent groups push ISAT boycott in CPS Tribune

Testing requirements vary somewhat across Chicago because the district allows regions and schools to make some of their own decisions regarding assessments.  A recent report from TeachPlus found that Chicago has one of the lower testing burdens on paper and in teachers' experiences in the classroom. The union and several other groups pushed to recruit parents for the effort for several weeks ahead of the event.



Audio: Smartest Kids' Author Missed Just One Question On PISA

Ripley also talks about why Finland is doing so much better than Norway and Sweden (teacher prep has something to do with it). On WNYC's Leonard Lopate show.

Media: Politico Takes More Hits, Promotes Education Editor

Media bias bias colin dunn flickrIt was a strange 24 hours for Politico's education team:

First, the Washington Post's media critic Erik Wemple joined me in slamming the outlet for appearing to crib content from PoliticsK-12 when sending out it's email alerts.

Wemple (aka "Pobresito") has been extremely critical of Politico's journalistic practices over all, though in this case he managed to delay crediting me for having been first to reveal Politico's apparent malfeasance until near the end of his post (a Politico-like move for which he was soundly upbraided).

Then, near the end of the day, Politico announced that education editor Nirvi Shah -- a former EdWeeker -- was being bumped up to managing the site's near dozen policy verticals (Nirvi Shah Named Deputy Managing Editor for Policy). 

In its typically understated manner, the Politico announcement described Shah as "homegrown" (she's been there less than a year) and claimed that the Politico education page has already become the "go-to news resource for education professionals."

AM News: Newark Supe. Wants To Waive Seniority Protections


Newark Schools Chief Wants Teacher Performance Included in Layoff Criteria WNYC: In an unprecedented move, Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson has asked Christie administration to waive seniority rules that dictate how planned teacher layoffs in the state-run district are to be conducted.

UFT wants city to reconsider Teaching Fellows program ChalkbeatNY: While 18 percent of education school graduates called their training “poor” or “fair,” that figure was nearly 50 percent for Teaching Fellows. The Department of Education pays TNTP, a nonprofit group that also lobbies on teacher quality issues including in favor of evaluations that consider student test scores, to operate the Teaching Fellows program. 

Kaya Henderson deserves support from D.C.’s elected leaders Washington Post (oped): This week the D.C. Council’s education committee plans to conduct a performance review of Chancellor Kaya Henderson. District residents might want to follow Henderson’s appearance before the council.

Maryland Schools Using Conflict Resolution To Curb Bullying, Suspensions WAMU: As part of an effort to keep Maryland students in the classroom and out of the juvenile justice system, schools are implementing conflict resolution strategies which are already showing results.

D.C. official faces questions about D.C. TAG audit WP: D.C. Council members on Monday quizzed State Superintendent of Education Jesús Aguirre about an unreleased auditshowing that city officials cannot account for nearly $10 million in federal taxpayer dollars meant for a tuition assistance program that helps D.C. students pay for college.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Newark Supe. Wants To Waive Seniority Protections" »

Weekend Reading: 10 Best Articles You Woulda Seen If The Weather Wasn't So Nice

Countdown10 - Flipped classrooms: A disruptive revolution in pedagogy, or yet another educational fad? SLATE @pankisseskafka http://ht.ly/tTknT 

9 - Does Stymied Educational Attainment Lead to Depression? - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society http://ht.ly/tTjXj  #LSY

8 - NEA Today: "Teachers, Parents Speak Out Against Vergara Lawsuit" http://feedly.com/e/Gp4ihZXY 

7 - Liberals Are Just as Morally Righteous as Conservatives | Mother Jones http://ht.ly/tTjML  #notsurprised

6-  Why Carl Sagan is Truly Irreplaceable | Smithsonian http://ht.ly/tUB82  @JoelAchenbach [Take that, Neil Degrasse Tyson!?]

5 - From Jay Mathews: Will Dartmouth figure out big applicant drop?: Applications to the Ivy League school have pl... http://wapo.st/1hnlL3U 

4 - Edtech you can relate to: electronic (& presumably mobile) flash cards for the bus ride via @EdSurge News http://ht.ly/tUefY  @cardwiki

3 - "Common Core Supporter Engages Imaginary Criticisms; Next Step: Real Opponents" http://feedly.com/e/b3T7vsjb 

2 - Researchers on Opportunity Gap, Student Inputs, Outputs @bloombergradio http://ht.ly/tTjCi 

1 - New Study: SAT Scores Have No Bearing On College Success | @mindshiftKQED http://ht.ly/tTjIw  Calling @mrpabruno @nacac [NB this is the one that Bruno and I have some questions about]

Update: Coleman To Unveil SAT Changes Next Week

TestsThe folks at the College Board say that the SAT is in the middle of being redesigned, as announced last year, and that President David Coleman is going to lay out the organization’s plans to "move beyond delivering assessments to delivering opportunity for students so they will be better prepared to succeed in college"  -- including changes to the SAT exam. 

Depending on what that actually means, this is relavant not only for those of us reading the New Yorker's new story about the test's current status (or pondering last week's NACAC study purporting to show that .... well, something).   It's also relevant for those of us wondering just what the College Board has been up to in recent months during which it has gone on a bit of a hiring binge.  

Predictions? Wishes?  Share them with the rest of us, one and all.  Perhaps we'll know more next week. 

Media: What A Politico "Whiteboard" Looks Like

For months I've been hearing about these Politico "whiteboards" that get sent out when there's "breaking" news in education -- fancy email alerts described here -- but had never seen one until someone sent me this recent example, about "Idaho’s new flexibility could prove positive for California." 

Screen shot 2014-02-23 at 3.13.03 PMI know, sort of anti-climactic.  It's just an email alert, really.  And the news isn't all that newsy.  The most interesting aspect may be that the Politico story posted at 11:56 -- about a half hour after Politics K12's story on the same topic.

Bruno: CCSS "Alignment" Requires CCSS Tests (Not Textbooks)

1180227014_7d71a8eb02_nWith the Common Core being widely implemented across the country, it's common these days for every resource offered to educators to claim to be "aligned" with the new standards.

Unsurprisingly, according to researchers many of these claims are misleading at best.

Even textbooks, often at the core of classroom curriculum, frequently purport to be aligned with the CCSS despite being essentially unchanged from previous editions or omitting much of the content of the new standards.

Part the issue is undoubtedly that revising textbooks is a costly hassle for publishers. In their defense, however, there are very good reasons for publishers to wait to begin serious revisions.

 One major reason to wait is that even the best standards are inevitably vague or ambiguous on crucial points. As a result, there is often no fact of the matter about what the standards "mean."

Many of those ambiguities will not be resolved until official Common Core tests are designed and administered. Most states have yet to even field test CCSS-aligned assessments, so what students will be expected to be able to do has yet to be precisely defined.

And even in those cases where they are mostly clear, the standards themselves may not necessarily fully determine test content. Some knowledge or skills may prove difficult to meaningfully assess or tests may simply prove to be poorly designed.

These sorts of "misalignments" between the standards and the tests are both likely and significant. Teachers, after all, care as much about the requirements of the tests as they do about the standards per se, since it is the tests by which they and their students are directly evaluated.

In other words, teachers, schools, and districts probably do not want materials aligned to the Common Core standards so much as they want materials aligned to the Common Core assessments. And for practical purposes, those assessments do not yet exist.

 So we should definitely be wary about spending time or money on curricular materials that are poorly-aligned to the new Common Core standards. But the most important tests for publishers won't come until we're further along with the assessments. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Parenting: What Happens When Mom Takes The SAT

image from www.newyorker.comBe sure to check out Big Score, Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker article about what happens when Mom takes the SAT.

It's based in part on Debbie Stier's book The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT, in which the 46 year old mom decides "to devote herself full time to the test, with the goal of achieving the maximum possible score of 2400."

TLDR?  Here's the last graf: "Whatever is at the center of the SAT—call it aptitude or assessment or assiduousness or ambition—the exam at this point represents an accident. It was conceived for one purpose, adapted for another, and somewhere along the line it acquired a hold on American life that nobody ever intended. It’s not just high-school seniors who are in its thrall; colleges are, too. How do you know how good a school is? Well, by the SAT scores of the students it accepts... As befits an exam named for itself, the SAT measures those skills—and really only those skills—necessary for the SATs." 

I've asked the College Board if they feel there's anything wrong or missing in the piece - will let you know if I get any interesting response.  

AM News: Will Oregon Be Able To Keep Its NCLB Waiver?


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seeks to keep waiver from No Child Left Behind law The Oregonian: Jay Inslee says he had a productive meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sunday to discuss options to preserve the state's waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

When Grownups Take the SAT The New Yorker: Since Kaplan set up shop, test-prep tutoring has come out of the basement. It’s now a billion-dollar industry whose primary product is heartache: college admission is, after all, a zero-sum game.

As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply WAMU: Thousands of high school seniors across our region are waiting to hear if they've gotten into the colleges of their choice, but in the District, D.C. public schools are making a big push to get students — especially those from low-income backgrounds — ready for higher education.

Charters' desire for closed schools will be a difficult sell for CPS and city Chicago Tribune: The growing charter movement is one logical use for the 43 recently vacated CPS school buildings, but the district promised during the painful process of closing schools last year that it would not allow privately run charters into the buildings. CPS said it had nothing to do with Legacy's proposal.

After years of talk, MPS takes decisive action on the achievement gap MinnPost: When the announcement was made at the Minneapolis School Board’s February meeting that an office was being created to focus specifically on the welfare of black boys there was polite applause and a palpable wave of Minnesota Nice discomfort. 

Public schools recruiting international high schoolers USA Today: Newcomb is one of a number of school districts -- both public and private -- quietly taking advantage of a growing interest in an American education by cash-ready international students. Federal statistics show that the number of international high schoolers arriving in the USA on F-1 visas has jumped from about 6,500 in 2007 to 65,000 in 2012. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Will Oregon Be Able To Keep Its NCLB Waiver?" »

Afternoon Video: President Won't Give Up Student's iPad

Taken at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland on February 4, 2014

Books: New Book Chronicles Chicago Union Successes

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 20 09.47The folks at Jacobin (and Kickstarter supporters) have helped put out a new book called Class Action that will be of great interest to many who've followed the Chicago Public Schools saga over the past two or three years.

"Our project with the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus and other allies ran long — the final supplement is 118 pages, more than the 50 we had budgeted for. But it was so fantastically designed by Remeike Forbes, and the photography by Katrina Ohstrom and written contributions by CTU President Karen Lewis, economist Dean Baker, Jacobin editors Megan Erickson and Shawn Gude, Joanne Barkan, Lois Weiner, and many others were so strong, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut it down more or reduce our planned run.

"The booklet will be distributed to educators and school support staff in Chicago, New York, Portland, Newark, Washington DC, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and elsewhere in March to help support rank-and-file activity."

It's been an interesting week in Chicago, what with Neil Steinberg's "pull no punches" profile of Mayor Rahm and Tribune columnist Eric Zorn's turnabout call for CTU head Karen Lewis to run for mayor (rather than resign). 

Take a look and let us know what you think of the book -- a quick scan reveals that it's beautifully designed and photo illustrated.  Might be a good read whether you're inclined to sympathize or criticize.

Chart: Big Variations In Teacher Evaluations (Denver- NYC)

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 3.57.07 PMNew Yorkers are supposed to be tough, but this chart makes it seem like they've got it easier than Denver when it comes to being evaluated.  Observation counts 30 pct in Denver, and 60 pct in New York. Student performance counts 30 percent in Denver, 20 percent in NY.  Both give 20 pct for local assessments. (Scholastic Administrator pp 52 - 53).

Thompson: Pro-Reform Pundit Embraces Education Reality

YglesiasSlate's Matthew Yglesias supports education reform and yet his Education Reform, Not "Populism" Divides Democrats speaks the wisdom that must be heeded.*

Yglesias observes that the party is not that terribly conflicted over the arcane economic issue of whether "leverage ratio" should be 10 or 8%. But, "if you want to look at a really significant ideological divide among Democrats, you should look at education." Reformers made their case and Congress didn't buy it.

So, it is time to drop the theory that test-driven teacher evaluations can advance a progressive agenda and move on.

I hope Yglesias will listen to educators' explanation of why market-driven reform failed, so that he can advance conversations about the best ways for not making the same types of mistakes in other sectors of the economy. I also would like to hear from the reformers who Yglesias mentions, especially Sen. Cory Booker and President Obama, and understand why they embraced school reform. Did they do so because corporate reformers gave them an offer they couldn't refuse, or did we teachers make mistakes that encouraged them to attack our profession so stridently? 

Politicos may find this wierd, but the teacher in me keeps coming back to the question of whether we share the blame for the teacher-bashing known as "reform." Back in the 1990s, were we too slow to address the concerns of Chicago and Newark community organizers? Or, were we just in the wrong place at the wrong time and were bulldozed by the Billionaires' Boys Club? 

After the break is the case that I would like to make to Ygleisas.

Continue reading "Thompson: Pro-Reform Pundit Embraces Education Reality" »

Quotes: "Enclave" Parents Vs. Other Parents

Spy-vs-Spy-without-bombs-775529[1]The most influential and well-educated people either have their kids in private schools, or they have their kids in an enclave inside the high school that are called honors courses... and so, if we go to a school and say, let’s change things here, they say, no way, you’re going to mess our little enclave up. - Bill Gates quote (from several years ago) about the challenges of changing schools (Education Week).

AM News: Concerns About Common Core Growing - Or Overblown?

Teacher support for Common Core at ‘critical juncture’ Politico: Supporters of Common Core said they’re eager to work with teachers and are confident most educators are still on board. Proponents of Common Core also dismiss public anger — including moves to scrap the standards in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere — as insignificant and blown out of proportion.

Will Louisiana’s students be ready for online testing? Hechinger Report: The state recommends schools have a ratio of seven students to every one computer (including desktops, laptops, and tablets) and meet specified bandwidth requirements. A few school districts, such as St. James Parish, have a 1:1 ratio, while several others remain far from the 7:1 target. 

USDA Tells Schools: Don't Refuse Food To Students Who Owe NPR: The agency responds to a January incident in which a Utah elementary school served students food – and threw it away when their accounts were found to have a negative balance. 

Wisconsin lawmakers push for control over K-12 standards WP: As in several other states, lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering legislation that would pause, change or eliminate the new Common Core academic standards in math and reading now being implemented in public school classrooms across the country.

To curb conflict, a Colorado high school replaces punishment with conversation PBS NewsHour: In Aurora, Colorado, principal Matthew Willis welcomes the recent changes at Hinkley High School, where 75 percent of the 2,000-plus students qualify for free and reduced meals. Willis says student fights are down and respect among classmates is up.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Concerns About Common Core Growing - Or Overblown?" »

Books: A Dystopian Education Thriller!

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 19 12.57"It’s the near future and education has become big business," according to the promo copy for @Charles_Swift's dystopian education thriller, The Newman Resident.

"Dr. Newman is at the leading edge of creating the perfect educational environment for children, and all he requires is a hefty tuition—and your child at the age of six months."

Could be good -- could be way over the top.  What do you think?  Anyone plopped down the $2.99 it costs to download and read the thing, or know who Charles Swift is?

People: Soledad O'Brien's Ed School Teaching Gig

image from isites.harvard.eduThe longtime news host  left CNN last spring and is now producing education-related segments on Al Jazeera America and also teaching a class at the Harvard ed school (Boston Globe). The HGSE course is called "Advancing the Public Understanding of Education” (co-taught with Joe Blatt). She's taught on Dream School (Los Angeles Times), in which celebrities taught kids (sort of). She's also a mother of four and a regular guest on HBO and will be moderating the National Geographic Bee (replacing Alex Trebek). Image via HGSE.

Charts: Doubling AP Participation Without Big Performance Losses

image from educationbythenumbers.orgFrom the Hechinger Report: "It’s quite remarkable that the rate of attaining at 3 or higher went down by only 6 percentage points even though participation more than doubled." (More students don’t always mean lower test scores)

Media: Why's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?

Here's just the latest (and perhaps smallest) example of the pattern over at Politico's education desk of not crediting other outlets/writers (me, in this case, but I'm not the only one) -- even when it's super obvious and easy:

That's Politico's Libby Nelson giving a shout out to a newly-hired education reporter yesterday morning, right about the time that many others were doing the same thing.  The most likely reason: I had just posted the news about Holly's hire a few minutes beforehand (thanks to a tip from BuzzFeed). 

News outlets are notoriously bad at crediting others for material from others, though they risk losing credibility with readers know where stories first appeared. I've experienced and had related to me several instances where Politico's education team made it appear that they were breaking news that they'd obviously gotten elsewhere and re-reported. (I've also pitched blog posts and story ideas to them, and of course they link out to other outlets when they're not also working on the story for themselves.)

Even the notorious Valerie Strauss over at the Washington Post will link out to the outlet or person she got a story from (especially if she's reminded of the error), or add a credit. Politico's response to my reminder? Some angry emails from an editor and notification that Nelson was (re?)following me on Twitter. 

Quotes: Using Children "Like Human Shields" In Chicago

ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 20 10.14Many politicians clutch at the concept of “the children,” but Rahm grabs them like human shields.

- Neil Steinberg's Esquire Magazine profile of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Click here for more favorite sentences from the piece.

AM News: Union Critiques -- But Still Supports -- Common Core


NEA Criticizes 'Botched' Common Core Implementation PK12: NEA still supports Common Core, but thinks teachers must be given more time to learn to work with the standards and more professional development. Tests not aligned to the standards should no longer be given, and stakes should not be attached to new, common-core-aligned tests until 2015-16 at the earliest, Steve wrote. See also WPost, Politico.

Majority Of Americans Would Probably Support The Common Core, If They Knew What It Was HuffPost: Based on interviews with approximately 6,400 registered voters across the country, 66 percent of Americans said in the survey that they support the Standards' goal of creating uniform education standards throughout the country. (In addition to making sure students are being held to the same benchmarks.)

What do Americans want for their schools? Choice, yes. Charters, not so much Hechinger Report: Forty-four percent of those surveyed thought charters are private schools, which they aren’t. While two thirds of those surveyed said they supported “holding all students across the country to a uniform set of high standards,” less than a third supported the Common Core.

Ed. Dept. Rejects, For Now, Utah and Arkansas Teacher-Evaluation Waivers PK12: The reason: Both states asked federal officials for more than just a delay. According to letters sent to Arkansas and Utah in December, both states' requests went outside the parameters of that streamlined process. So now the department will consider the requests as part of its more rigorous, lengthier amendment process.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Union Critiques -- But Still Supports -- Common Core " »

Site News: What Do You Think? Scholastic Wants To Know!

The good folks at @ScholasticAdms (who sponsor and host this site!) have rolled out a new feature called Top Five, in which they ask you to weigh in on Twitter with your thoughts about about recent news events.

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 3.42.31 PM
Use the hashtags to tell us what you think about  Duncan's controversial involvement in the recent NYC chancellor selection process (#DODinfluence), schools revamping discipline policies to try and lessen disparities and suspensions(#zerotolerance), the impossibly young innovators who created Edmodo and are scaling up Khan Academy ((#genYleaders), the next Boston superintendent (#urbanleader), and recent science lab explosions (#sciencesafety).

Thompson: Shouldn't We Have Choice in Testing?

SatPerhaps a new form of educational choice will drive the next era of school improvement. One would think that advocates for school choice would be consistent and support the rights of parents and students to choose whether to be subjected to standardized tests - or not. 

We should seriously contemplate William Hiss's Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions. Hiss studied 123,000 students at 33 institutions over eight years and he found there was virtually no difference in college grades and graduation rates between students who submitted SATs and ACTs or not.  He also explains, "Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it."

NPR's Eric Westervelt, in College Applicants Sweat the SATs: Perhaps They Shouldn't, reports that "Some are calling this study a potential game-changer that may prompt schools to evaluate whether there is value in requiring standardized tests." Of course, he is reporting on colleges, not the bubble-in tests that are used to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, and there is a difference between the two types of assessments. The difference is that the ACT and SAT tests are more reliable and defensible, and the younger the test taker, the greater the potential damage of the test.

So, if parents and students should be allowed to opt out of college admissions tests, shouldn't that choice be extended to all students? Of course, a study of college outcomes, alone, is not definitive proof that public school testing has failed. It just adds to the evidence that the data-driven reform movement was a historical dead end. Once we offer students headed to college the choice of whether they want to endure more of the testing rat race, the next logical step is to ask parents whether they want high-stakes testing dumped on their children. It leads to a common sense approach to school improvement; Let students and adults opt in or opt out of standardized testing.  And, if they give a test and nobody comes ..., reformers should honor that choice.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.    

Research: Media Getting SAT Story Wrong (& Who Funded It, Anyway?)

According to Paul Bruno, the NPR and PBS coverage of the Bates College SAT study has gotten it wrong:  

"You wouldn't know from reading this headline - or even from the story, really - that the study actually finds that SAT scores have predictive power (over and above high school GPA alone) when it comes to success in college. Even the study authors seem to be trying too hard to avoid this conclusion, but it's right there in their data tables."

I've asked Bill Hiss if this is accurate or not and will let you know his response.  

Meantime, as I noted yesterday, the study was peer reviewed, according to Hiss, but its funding source has not been revealed.  It's a private foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.  

Quotes: Pre-Eminent Astrophysicist Still Angry At Local Elementary School

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 18 11.49

I am where I am not because of what happened in school but in spite of it, and that is probably not what you want me to say.  Call me back, and I will address your teachers and give them a piece of my mind. -- Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on why he declined a speaking invitation from his former elementary school (P.S. 81) in a recent New Yorker profile.

Media: Meet BuzzFeed's New Business-Focused Education Reporter

image from m.c.lnkd.licdn.comAs you may recall, BuzzFeed is among the many new and existing outlets with a recent and growing interest in education. And, having first announced the job a few weeks ago, the site has now picked a new person to take it on.  She's Molly Hensley-Clancy (pictured). Her Twitter is @Molly_HC. You're welcome.

From the press release: "Prior to joining BuzzFeed, Molly worked as a research assistant at Reuters. Molly has covered business news for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and residential and commercial real estate business for the Wall Street Journal. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Molly worked as a teaching assistant in several city public schools and is deeply interested in educational inequality and access in education. Molly graduated from Yale University and currently lives in Park Slope."

"Molly is an ambitious, aggressive, talented young journalist who is equally comfortable covering a board of education meeting or an earnings report," says BuzzFeed Business Editor Peter Lauria in an emailed statement.  "How money affects education is what this beat is all about, and Molly's ability to be understand and put into context how the two are intertwined is a perfect match.

Known for viral lists and gifs (see for example Which Of Buzzfeed's 23 "Favorite Teacher" Moments Is Best?, or 33 Signs You're A New Teacher), BuzzFeed also produces its own traditional journalism.

For the new education spot, editor Lauria says "We are going to be looking at how big corporations like News Corp and Amazon and Apple are newly altering the environment for education, how entrenched players like Pearson are fighting back, and how upstarts like Chegg are trying to carve out a niche. We see an avenue to cover that from a business perspective that is currently lacking from a lot of mainstream education coverage, and Molly will be at the forefront of bringing this type of news to a large consumer audience."

Previous posts: BuzzFeed Hiring "Business Of Education" ReporterUnion Blog Post Fails To Meet BuzzFeed Standards

AM News: Union Lawyers Attack Case Against CA Job Protections


Vergara witness says schools can deal with teacher ineffectiveness LA School Report: Under an intense cross examination by Marcellus McRae, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, Johnson became clearly uncomfortable as McRae attempted to show the limitations of her expertise and research as they relate to the very laws she was testifying against.

Adjustments to Common Core in Florida Approved by State School Board State EdWatch: The changes to the common core in Florida include the addition of new standards related to calculus, and a new basic requirement for cursive writing.

A Common Core math class where students “complain with smiles” ChalkbeatNY: Chalkbeat spent a morning last week in Laks’ class observing a lesson she created where her students — mostly juniors, with a few sophomores and seniors — use a computer program to “sketch” quadrilaterals. 

'Transitional' Courses Catch On as College-Prep Strategy EdWeek: Eight states now offer transitional curricula statewide to high school students, and another 21 states have locally run initiatives, according to a recent review by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. The report, issued last May, also found that 25 states, and districts in another 13 states, measure the ability of all high school students by the junior year to succeed in entry-level courses at the postsecondary level.

South Carolina Considers Version of Parent Trigger Budget & Tax News: A Parent Empowerment Act in South Carolina would give parents the ability to petition the state to overhaul their school, but calls for clarity may push it...

Study finds high SAT and ACT scores might not spell success at college PBS NewsHour: Researchers looked at 33 public and private colleges and universities where it’s optional for applicants to submit their test scores. In all, the study examined the records of 123,000 students from more than 20 states. It found that test scores didn’t correlate with how well a student did in college based on grades and graduation rates. The paper has raised a variety of questions from several corners.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Union Lawyers Attack Case Against CA Job Protections" »

TV: Breaking Bad's Pro-Charter School Board Member

image from c.o0bc.comSorry, all of you charter critics who love "Breaking Bad." Your enjoyment of the show -- like your use of Apple devices and Amazon Prime -- is more complicated than you might like it to be.

On the right, that's real-life charter school parent and Albuquerque school board member Steven Michael Quezada, who plays DEA agent Steven Gomez on "Breaking Bad."

Yep.  It's true. According to his official Albuquerque Public Schools bio, the longtime actor was on the board for the Public Academy for the Performing Arts charter school (where his children attend school).

He's going to appear at an upcoming charter school conference (here).  

Quotes: Democratic Divide On Education Hurts Reformers

Quotes2The next Democratic president [may] stop pushing for tougher teacher evaluations and more charter schools and blah blah and will instead push in the other direction. -- Slate's Matt Yglesias (Divided Democrats).




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.