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Afternoon Video: Minecraft Video Game Wins Over Teachers As Well As Kids

From the Chicago Tribune: Video game Minecraft finds a home in schools

Thompson: Ending Seniority Transfers Won't Fix Teacher Quality Gaps

8hoursday_banner_1856When I started teaching in a high-challenge school in the 1990s, I was stunned by the quality of the teachers - they were far better instructors than I had known in the 1960s suburbs. Many had begun their careers when our school was an elite, all-white institution, and endured the violence of desegregation in the 1970s and the crack and gangs of the 1980s.

After suburban flight reduced my district's graduation rate to 39%, magnet schools were created. They slowed the loss of families from the district. Most of the elite teachers finally broke down and transferred to schools where chronic disorder did not undermine teaching and learning.

In theory, the system could have addressed the real problem - the mayhem created when children from generational poverty act out the effects of trauma.

Just kidding! The money it would have cost to address the legacies of extreme poverty was beyond anyone's dreams. Systems had no choice but to continue to play the blame game, and seek cheap and easy fixes and claim that better instruction could provide the answer.

Stephen Sawchuk's Are Teacher Contracts to Blame for Teacher-Quality Gaps? reviews the latest iteration of seeking silver bullets to cure society's ills.  It gives little solace to reformers who believe that ending teachers' transfer rights would address complicated education equity issues.  

Continue reading "Thompson: Ending Seniority Transfers Won't Fix Teacher Quality Gaps" »

Media: Two Journos Win Nieman Fellowships, Another Heads To College Board

There are two education journalists among those announced for the 2015 Nieman Fellows at Harvard

"Melissa Bailey, managing editor of the New Haven Independent, a pioneering, not-for-profit online community news organization in New Haven, Conn., will study how online degrees are redefining higher education, with a particular interest in competency-based programs and the impact on the nation’s class divide. 

"Denise-Marie Ordway, a senior reporter focusing on higher education at the Orlando Sentinel, will study performance-based funding models for state universities to understand their effect on instructional quality, tuition rates and degree completion and how these models affect universities with large minority enrollments, including historically black institutions."

Politics K-12 co-founder Michele McNeil announced that she was heading over to the College Board, leaving Alyson Klein to continue the blog solo (for now, at least):

"Starting in mid-May, I'll be the director of assessment and accountability policy at the College Board. It's an exciting opportunity to work for an organization that's having a big impact at a time when the future of accountability and testing is very much in flux. Still, it's going to be tough to leave Politics K-12 behind. I started this blog more than six years ago as "Campaign K-12", and with Alyson Klein, have built it into a platform that brings EdWeek readers a great mix of breaking news, analysis, watchdog coverage, and the occasionaltelevision review." 

Events: Live Updates From #NSVFSummit 2014

Pincus is out. Schorr is gone. Google is reversing itself. But nothing stops the annual NSVF Summit:

You can also check out the livestream here.

Morning Video: Elite Schools Lose Racial Diversity Under Socio-Economic Plan

Elite high schools in Chicago have become substantially less diverse under a family income-based plan designed in part by Richard Kahlenberg to replace the district's longstanding deseg consent decree five years ago. Watch the local public television segment above, or read the Chicago Sun Times story here.

AM News: Congress Chides Duncan On Waivers, SPED Money

House GOP, Democrats Hit Arne Duncan on NCLB Waivers PK12: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education Committee, chastised Duncan, who testified before his panel today, for what he sees as a lack of consistency when it comes to the No Child Left Behind waivers.Rep. George Miller, D-Calif, who is slated to retire after this Congress, raised a red flag about whether the waivers are hindering student equity. 

Kline Takes Arne Duncan To Task Over Special Education Funding HuffPost: Educational funding for students with disabilities became the subject of yet another heated partisan argument with no resolution at a budget hearing Tuesday, after Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) attacked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the subject. See also PK12

Millennials Have Pretty Depressing Things To Say About Teachers HuffPost: According to the report, a majority of America’s future teachers now come from the bottom two-thirds of their college classes –- a problem the report partially attributes to an education

Enrollment At Nation's Largest For-Profit Charter Operator Still Growing Despite Lawsuits, Regulatory Problems BuzzFeed: In their quarterly earnings call today, K12 reported that enrollment has grown yet again, swelling to 125,000 students — an increase of more than 5% since March of last year. Their revenue, which topped $235 million, actually exceeded analysts' estimates, as did their operating margins. Net income was $15.9 million.

Computer-adaptive tests in Va. may be quicker Washington Post: The traditional seventh-grade math test took about 40 minutes longer to complete for the majority of test takers statewide last spring than a new version that was tried out by a small number of students this year, education officials reported.

See below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso) for more news.

Continue reading "AM News: Congress Chides Duncan On Waivers, SPED Money" »

Trailers: Linklater's "Boyhood" Charts One Boy's Life Ages 6-18

This new Richard Linklater film follows one boy through 12 years of growing up -- most of it in school -- and was filmed over the same period of time. Watch the trailer then read more about it here: Chronology, Memory & A Movie That Occurs Offscreen. via Kottke.



Quotes: Bruno Rebuts Pesky Lemov, Channels Piketty

Quotes2Education is good and we should improve education when reasonably possible. Education may even have some utility when it comes to reducing poverty. Nevertheless, the claim that education is the best way to fight poverty seems both empirically false and politically destructive for other, more direct and effective poverty reduction measures. -- Paul Bruno (Why Education Reform is Probably Not The Best Way to Fight Poverty)

Milestones: Demographic Shift "Complicates" Civil Rights Anniversary

PeopleIt's not really the May 17 Brown vs. Board of Education anniversary that we should be paying attention to this spring, but rather the projected June completion of "the last school year ever in which a majority of America's K-12 public-school students are white," notes The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein. 

Brownstein decries as unnecessarily pessimistic takes on the Brown anniversy by Richard Rothstein and others. But his main point is that we're in a very new era now, demographically speaking -- and our minds may not have caught up with the shifts that have been taking place: 

"As recently as 1997, whites represented more than three-fifths of public-school students. This transformation isn't just limited to a few immigration hubs: Minorities now represent a majority in 310 of the 500 largest public-school districts, federal statistics show."

And so, the debate over integration should be recast to include not only fairness but also competitiveness, according to Brownstein. Even if the courts would allow a straightforward focus on racial integration, such a thing may no longer be entirely the point.  

Previous posts about Brownstein: Addressing NCLB's "Reverse Lake Wobegon Syndrome"National Journal Education Panel (2010).

#EdGif Of The Day: Which 3 States Show Higher Grad Rates For Poor Kids?

 Look carefully and you'll see that the pink color that predominates the map of US states' low-income grad rate image is broken up by just three orange states (NE, IO [should be IA, right?], and TN, according to this #edgif from PolicyMic (There's Some Really Good News About the State of Education). What those three states are doing differently, if anything, I have no idea.  

Thompson: School Reform in Its Death Throes, Says Merrow

Sisyphus-300x297PBS’s John Merrow, in The Common Core Brouhaha, explains how grassroots, bipartisan outrage is toppling Common Core State Standards and the national testing that it accompanies. He says, “at least two other issues are at play: bubble test fatigue and concern over top-down ‘technocratic’ control of what most Americans think of as a local enterprise, public education.”

Merrow also notes that “lurking in the wings are profiteers hoping to grab a bigger share of the trillion dollars we spend on education, and ideologues determined to break apart the public system (and teacher unions), whatever the cost.”

Reformers once won a series of political victories, even as their educational theories were repeatedly defeated by realities in schools that are far more complex than anything they imagined. Improving schools, as opposed to defeating political enemies, has been an exhausting process of pushing a boulder uphill.

The rock of reality overwhelmed their theories and it is rolling back down. Merrow writes, “We can push a boulder down the hill but are powerless to control what happens next. That’s what seems to be going on here, and at some point we are going to find out what and who will be crushed. As often happens when adults do battle in education, some children’s futures will be ‘collateral damage.’”

Continue reading "Thompson: School Reform in Its Death Throes, Says Merrow" »

Morning Video: What's Behind Those Higher Grad Rates?


From PBS NewsHour

AM News: Indiana's "New" State Standards Could Be Expensive


Indiana: Common Core Replaced With State Standards AP: One of the first states to adopt Common Core education standards became the first state to formally abandon the national benchmarks.

Separate Indiana education standards may be costly JC Online: Indiana schools are bracing to spend as much as $125 million to train teachers on proposed new education standards in the wake of the state’s rejection of national Common Core benchmarks. Via RCE.

Michigan Could Be Next State on Ed. Dept.'s NCLB Waiver Endangered List PK12: Michigan doesn't require that assessment data be used in teacher evaluations. And, like Washington, Michigan will need to seek a legislative change to include them. 

Steve Jobs' Death Inspired Goal To Get Kids Coding WAMU: Many public schools do not offer computer science classes, even though tech workers are in high demand. Now 30 public school districts have partnered with the nonprofit Code.org to get kids coding.

Arne Duncan: Donald Sterling should have no role in the NBA Politico: “I don’t think he has a place or a role in the NBA,” Duncan said without hesitation.

What Parents Need To Know About Big Data And Student Privacy WAMU: States are tracking students as early as preschool. Better data could boost the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning. But it can also be exposed to hackers and marketers.

The Public School Where The Duke Lives On WAMU: Nowhere is the legacy of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington — among the greatest composer/bandleaders in history — more profound than at the Washington, D.C., arts high school which bears his name.

School official: Texas student planned violence AP: A 17-year-old boy who hid a loaded AK-47 assault rifle in a school bathroom and two loaded handguns in his backpack intended to "commit a violent act," a school official said, but the plan was foiled when his parents discovered the weapons missing at home and alerted school administrators....

In Albany, officials wave pre-K warning flags for New York City ChalkbeatNY: Officials said they lack capacity to handle the extra work, mostly because the department received no new money for the job.

Brooklyn educators chronicle students' difficult matriculations NY Daily News: He’s guided more than a thousand Brooklyn students from low-income homes to college across the country — including ivy league Cornell — and he wants to help thousands more.

Afternoon Video: Howard Dean Touts TFA & Charter School Movement

Check out this 2014 clip in which liberal Democratic icon Howard Dean reveals that his son did TFA and that he credits the charter school movement for reinvigorating urban education.“The charter school movement is transforming inner-city education. It is getting kids through high school with diplomas that never would have had a chance even five years ago.” (Via StudentsFirst: Elizabeth Warren, Howard Dean, and the Progressive Case for Education Reform). 

TV: Silicon Valley's Rubber Room Includes A Rooftop Grill

ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 28 10.26New York City and LAUSD aren't the only places that have rubber rooms for unwanted or problematic or unfairly judged employees who can't easily be fired.  Last night's episode of the HBO show "Silicon Valley" included the revelation that unassigned computer programmers convene on the rooftop of their office building to play hacky sack, grill, or figure out how to while the time away until their contracts end and their stock options vest.  

Media: CNN "Documentary" Included Staged School Elements

EmanuelscholasticadmFriday afternoon news from the Chicago Tribune is that lots of parts of "Chicagoland" were staged  (or at least pre-arranged) rather than observed -- including Rahm Emanuel's appearances at Fenger High School, some of the coverage of the school closing decisions, meetings with Superintendent Byrd-Bennett, and even those heart-warming moments with intern Martell Cowan. Some aspects were clearly staged (like the MRE-Principal Dozier phone call) and the amount of access was way higher than anything City Hall would have given to the Tribune's reporters (or anyone else's). The Tribune found that The production team requested things from City Hall, and City Hall went along. CPS and CPD have thus far declined to respond to FOIA requests as City Hall has done.  More details below.

Continue reading "Media: CNN "Documentary" Included Staged School Elements" »

Bruno: What If Teacher Evaluation Isn't Actually Broken After All?

3180900835_80cc93f13e_nIndiana, like many other places, has recently attempted to "reform" its system of teacher evaluation on the assumption that under the status quo teachers are evaluated too generously.

And, like many other places, Indiana has discovered that even under aggressive reform the vast majority of teachers continue to be evaluated as "effective" or better, and few are deemed in need of improvement.

To understand why administrators might be reluctant to evaluate teachers more harshly it's helpful to look at the research on employee evaluation in other sectors, some of which economist Robin Hanson pointed to last week.

As those studies consistently demonstrate, "inflated" employee evaluations are the norm, even outside of education. And supervisors often have plausible reasons for evaluating so generously.

Even beyond the fact that they may consider their employees generally competent, supervisors may want evaluations to play many different roles. They can encourage or help reward employees, play roles in employee promotion and termination, and help insulate workers from factors outside of their control, all while having implications for social cohesion and overall morale.

Dismissing these considerations as "political" is potentially naive, as the effects of individual evaluations may have counterintuitive implications for the entire system's effectiveness. As one executive in one of the studies put it, "Accurately describing an employee’s performance is really not as important as generating ratings that keep things cooking."

Curiously, Hanson, like many education reformers, nevertheless leaps to the conclusion that highly-positive evaluations are, by themselves, proof of a "broken" system. Such an assumption, however, begs numerous questions about whether evaluations are truly inflated or whether generous evaluations can be optimal for the system as a whole.

The ubiquity of inflated employee evaluations is not, by itself, proof that such evaluations are desirable. It does, however, suggest a need for considerable humility when attempting evaluation reform in any sector, including education.

It takes a certain amount of hubris to assume that supervisors and administrators all across the country, in diverse sectors, are all so uniformly incompetent and ineffective when it comes to evaluating their employees.

So we should be cautious about proposing that school administrators evaluate their employees using standards that would be considered atypically-harsh in other sectors. - PB (@MrPABruno)(image source)

Media: WSJ's Banchero To Head Joyce Foundation Education Division

BancheroNews came out Monday morning that veteran education reporter Stephanie Banchero, the paper's lead national writer, was leaving her job to join the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation as a senior program officer.

The Chicago-based Banchero wrote a long, gripping series about the NCLB transfer option for the Chicago Tribune.  She also won a Knight Journalism Fellowship in 2008-2009 (which allowed me to become a Spencer Fellow), and helped the national Education Writers Association upgrade and expand its operations.

In departing the paper, Banchero joins Stephanie Simon, who left after four years at the Journal to join Politico. The Journal's New York City metro area reporter, Lisa Fleisher, left the beat earlier this year (for a spot in London) and was replaced by Leslie Brody.

In joining an education foundation as a policy person (rather than going into communications), Banchero follows the path that a few other journalists have followed.  For example, former EdWeek editor Lynne Olson has become a powerful part of the Gates Foundation's grantmaking option.

Previous posts: Banchero Becomes WSJ ReporterBiggest Education Stories Of The NCLB EraBiggest Education Stories ...How'd They Do Covering ...

See Banchero's full goodbye email to the EWA list posted below, and the official Joyce announcement.

Continue reading "Media: WSJ's Banchero To Head Joyce Foundation Education Division" »

AM News: What You Got To Say About US Grad Rate Reaching 80 Percent?


Report: 4 in 5 US high school students graduate AP: U.S. public high schools have reached a milestone, an 80 percent graduation rate. Yet that still means 1 of every 5 students walks away without a diploma. Citing the progress, researchers are projecting a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020.

Graduation rate could hit 90 percent Politico: The high school graduation rate has already topped 80 percent for the first time in U.S. history.

New York Finds Space for 3 Charter Schools NYT: The schools had been at the heart of a battle between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Eva S. Moskowitz, the leader of a high-performing charter network. See also Chalkbeat

A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools NYT: In effect, Walton has subsidized an entire charter school system in the nation’s capital, helping to fuel enrollment growth so that close to half of all public school students in the city now attend charters, which receive taxpayer dollars but are privately operated.

What Now For School Districts After Federal Waiver Loss? Seattle Public Radio: School districts across Washington are examining how they’ll be affected by the state’s loss of its No Child Left Behind waiver and resulting loss of flexibility over how they spend $38 million in federal funding. That amount represents 20 percent of the federal Title 1 funding for the state's highest-poverty schools.

Law Limits Standardized Tests, but Not Prep Work Texas Tribune: “The change in law was well intentioned, but there is still constant test prep going on,” said Stacey Amick, a parent of two children in the Lewisville Independent School District near Dallas. “But I can’t fault the teachers or the schools for doing it. I don’t know a way around it for them.”

El Camino Real Charter High wins national 2014 Academic Decathlon LA Times: El Camino Real Charter High School claimed the national 2014 Academic Decathlon title Saturday, marking the seventh time the Woodland Hills school has won the honor. See also LA Daily News.

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

Continue reading "AM News: What You Got To Say About US Grad Rate Reaching 80 Percent?" »

Afternoon Video: Petrilli Schools C-SPAN On Common Core


Via Fordham: "The best moment? Where Mike says our secretary of education has “some sort of Tourette Syndrome" when he mentions Common Core." Click here if the video doesn't work properly.

Maps: How's ND Rate With Other High Flyers Like MA?

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

ND and other states like Minnesota "have strong high school graduation rates, high confidence in public schools in the state, and high college-going rates for high school graduates," writes Libby Nelson in Vox.  "North Dakota is pouring money from the natural gas boom into its state higher education system. All three states [incl Iowa] also have strong economies and relatively low unemployment rates, factors that lure educated young workers from elsewhere."


Media: Twitter Guru Gives Me A Big, Totally Unexpected Shout Out

Russ laraway twitterI started getting lots of Tweets and follows on Wednesday and had no idea why until a few helpful folks told me that I'd gotten an unanticipated shout out from a Twitter social media guru during a big webinar about social media.

Dubbed the World's Largest Webinar (#WLW14), the event focused on “The Secrets Behind Social Media” and featured luminaries from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. 

Twitter Senior SMB Russ Laraway told the audience that I (and Michelle Rhee) would be good people to build online relationships with for anyone who wanted to build a quality following on Twitter : "Identify and build relationships with thought leaders and influencers in your industry.  For example, if your target audience is educators, you could reach out to Michelle Rhee or Alexander Russo and build relationships with them."

He and I don't know each other.  Laraway and his team found me based on Twitter and Google searches and a 2012 TakePart blog post that names me one of the top education Tweeters out there.

Anyway, thanks to Schoolkeep's Ben Wagner (@benwagner23) for filling me in and Laraway for mentioning my name. Little things like this help make up for little indignities like being dumped off the Muckrack top education journalists listing because I don't write frequently enough for mainstream publications.

You can see the slideshow here, or read a liveblog post here.

Trends: Have We Reached Peak Privatization Yet?

Privatization_folliesThere's an interesting new article by The Atlantic's Molly Ball out just recently (The Privatization Backlash) that makes for good reading even though it doesn't address education issues directly.

In it, Ball traces the trend towards contracting out public services that's been taking place since at least the 1980s and has grown substantially. "An estimated $1 trillion of America's $6 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies."

But privatization isn't always cheap or effective, and Ball, observes that the appeal seems to be wearing thin with some recent experiences (like the parking meter fiasco in Chicago). "From Halliburton to Healthcare.gov to private prisons and welfare systems, contracting has often proved problematic."

According to Ball, the move against privatization is nationwide.  "Laws to rein in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year, and three—Maryland, Oregon, and Nebraska—have passed legislation, according to In the Public Interest, a group that advocates what it calls "responsible contracting.""

Ball doesn't address various forms of subcontracting out of education, which some would call privatization. And she notes that anti-privatization views skew Democratic and labor only late in the article.  

One last tidbit: there's an Annual Privatization Report put out by Reason. I wonder how much if any education-related subcontracting is included?


Politics: They're Naming (Another) School After Obama (In Chicago)

Screen shot 2014-04-24 at 7.10.30 PMChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to build a new $60 million school named after the current President, using TIF funding.  But not everyone thinks it's a good idea. 

For starters, there are already lots of schools named after Obama, and some of them aren't particularly high-performing ones.  

It's going to be the 11th selective enrollment school -- not a neighborhood one. The use of TIF funding is controversial, of course.Naming a school after a living individual is always risky business.

Then again, there's a shortage of seats in existing SE schools, and a dearth of college-educated families who keep their kids in CPS through high school.  Obama is closely identified with Chicago. He'll be done with his second term about the same time as the new school opens.

Lots of coverage -- and surely more to come -- plus an informal list of schools already in existence below.

Continue reading "Politics: They're Naming (Another) School After Obama (In Chicago)" »

Video: New America Panel Debates Charters, Neighborhoods, Gentrification

Video streaming by Ustream

Feat. Abigail Smith (Deputy Mayor), Laura Moser (see Washingtonian Magazine article about choice in DC) Conor Williams (New America), Sam Chaltain, Emma Brown (WashPost) and others. The event also sparked a lively conversation on Twitter at the hashtag #DCSchoolChoice. Read Conor's writeup: School Choice and Neighborhood Community.

AM News: Duncan Revokes WA Waiver & Revives Teacher Prep


Arne Duncan Revokes Washington State's NCLB Waiver PK12: But, in an important twist, the state will not be returning to an accountability system that's exactly like the one it had under NCLB, particularly when it comes to intervening in low-performing schools. 

Washington: State Loses Control of Some School Funds NYT: Washington has become the first state to lose its federal waiver for some requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind education law as well as control over how $40 million is spent to improve student performance in its public schools. See also HuffPost

Loss of No Child Left Behind waiver means schools will be labeled ‘failing’ Seattle Times: Washington’s loss of a waiver to the No Child Left Behind law means many schools will be labeled as failing and districts will lose control of how they spend a portion of federal funding aimed at helping disadvantaged children with math and reading. See also PBS NewsHour

Obama Revives Long-Delayed Teacher-Prep Rules PK12: The plan is being billed as an executive action by President Obama to staff all classrooms with effective teachers. In reality, it's a revival of a long-delayed 2012 effort. See also USA TodayPolitico.

Unions to protest Cuomo-headlined pro-charter education conference Capital New York: Teachers' unions and public-education advocacy groups plan to protest a Lake Placid education conference next month run by pro-charter school hedge funders that will feature Governor Andrew Cuomo as “honorary chairman.”

North Carolina Judge Puts Teachers' Tenure Law In Question Wall Street Journal: A North Carolina judge has given two school districts temporary reprieve from part of a new law that ends teacher tenure, potentially upending the controversial policy a year after it was adopted by state lawmakers.

Chicago to add new Barack Obama College Prep High School WBEZ: This will be the city’s eleventh selective enrollment school and one of four elite public high schools clustered in a roughly a one-and-a-half mile radius. Walter Payton College Prep, ranked one of the best schools in Illinois, is less than a mile away. See also AP and previous post (roundup of initial coverage).

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan Revokes WA Waiver & Revives Teacher Prep" »

Afternoon Video: Minneapolis Schools Confront Racial Inequality


Beth Hawkins of the MinnPost shares with us a video about Minneapolis's equity impact assessment and the nonprofit Race Forward (which publishes Colorlines).

Quotes: When the Circus Descends

Quotes2Common Core resistance "has less to do with substance and more to do with talk-radio bombast and interest group resistance to change." - David Brooks' NYT column last week (When the Circus Descends)

Events: They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This Year

image from www.newschools.org

The NSVF Summit in San Francisco is next week, and if you're not invited tough luck.  

But you can observe and participate virtually.  The public agenda is here. Lots of pre-reading here. Blog here. Twitter and hashtag (@NSVF  #NSVFSummit), too.  

And apparently they're going to be livestreaming at least parts of it as well (like they did last year). 

Some of the headliners include John King, New York State Commissioner of Education, and Joanne Weiss, former Chief of Staff, US Department of Education, and Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton. Other highlights include speakers like Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, a TEACH video booth, 20 NSVFseed grantees.

The big new wrinkle this year is that they're trying out a satellite event sort of like TEDx.  The New England SummitX invite is here

Previous summits (see below) have included tense words between Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, proposed COPPA changes from Mark Zuckerberg, and spacey interview questions and robotic sound bite responses from Laurene Powell Jobs and Rahm Emanuel. Reed Hastings famously declared that charters weren't cutting it, and Rocketship said it would open schools in DC if Kaya Henderson would give them space. Waiting for Superman was screened in Spring 2010. Sometimes, people wear fun outfits. 

Previous posts:  Google Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013Thoughts On NSVF 2012Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon ValleyFashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF SummitAnother Spring, Another Summit (2009)NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit.

Morning Video: Rand Paul Promotes Choice In Chicago

 See additional clips and key quotes from Institute of Politics panel via Progress IL here. More video and partial transcript from Real Clear Education here.


AM News: Strong Common Core Support In Liberal California


Survey finds Californians back both Common Core and new funding formula EdSource Daily: A survey of 1,702 adult Californians found that 69 percent of Californians overall said they favored Common Core after being read a brief description. 

Chiefs at CCSSO Event Say Implementation Focus Put Politics on Backburner State EdWatch: "The extent to which the political conversation rose up on the right and on the left was surprising, because we've been talking about this for four years," Tennessee Commissioner Huffman said.

Kansas Residents To First Lady: Stay Out NPR: Guest restrictions and increased security measures are looming as Michelle Obama plans to appear at a Kansas high school graduation next month. Thousands have petitioned to revoke her invitation.

A Guide to the Many Phases and Faces of Race to the Top PK12: Want to follow the history of Race to the Top, from the very first "Classic" edition to Race to the Top Goes to Preschool to the administration's current proposal for a Race to the Top for Equity (Plus Teacher Distribution, School Climate, and Everything But the Kitchen Sink?)

Waiver could mean windfall for some schools The State Journal-Register: Illinois' waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law could free up $1.2 million for the Springfield School District to spend at 21 schools, according to the district's Title I coordinator.

Using Texas model, more states mull religious viewpoints in schools law AJAM: Tennessee becomes second to enact legislation treating religious expression same as nonreligious.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Strong Common Core Support In Liberal California" »

Afternoon Video: Goldstein & Carey Debate Test Proliferation

"In the video above, education-policy experts Dana Goldstein and Kevin Carey debate whether the standardized testing regime has gotten out of control." Guess who takes which position.  Tell us if you wade through the hourlong version and hear anything notable. 

Update: More Questions About Warren's Pro-Choice Views

LowerBGIt's no big surprise to find out that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) doesn't actually support private school vouchers, an issue that came up last week in a blog post I wrote.

Here's an MTA voter education form stating that “Warren opposes private school voucher proposals and similar proposals that take money away from public schools.” and a MassTeacher update indicating that "This was confirmed with the candidate and her campaign back during the nomination process.” 

Both of these are courtesy Senator Warren's press office, which also notes that the proposal comes from Warren's 2003 book not her new memoir.  

But that still leaves the underlying (and quite revolutionary in some circles) notion of universal public school choice.  Does Warren's support include choice for schools within local districts, or inter-district transfers (as proposed, however weakly, in the NCLB law that Ted Kennedy and George Miller co-sponsored)?  

Vox's Libby Nelson wrote that "Warren's views aren't entirely out of step with the education reform wing of the Democratic party." But of course, Warren isn't generally considered a reformer. 

Charts: Record Numbers Of High School Grads Skipping College

image from espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com

"Just under 66 percent of the class of 2013 was enrolled in college last fall, the lowest share of new graduates since 2006 and the third decline in the past four years, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics," observes Five Thirty Eight (More High School Grads Decide College Isn’t Worth It).

Nonprofits: InBloom Joins Long List Of Failed Efforts

InBloom isn't the first foundation-funded nonprofit to fall flat or get swallowed up in larger social issues, it won't be the last, and its demise probably doesn't mean what you think it means.

Failstemp ccommon flickr

There are several recent reformy examples of failure or premature suspension of operations including the Gates small schools initiative, Yolie Flores' teacher advocacy organization (Communities 4 Teaching Excellence), Reading First, the Education Sector (now being revived at AIR), and EDIN'08.

But there have also been numerous failures of various types and descriptions from those who would generally be considered reform critics, including the mid-1990s Annenberg Challenge, the barely-alive Broader Bolder Alliance, and Parents Across America (remember them)? Other nominees from Twitter I'm not familiar with include Strategic Management of Human Capital and the Council for Basic Education. The whole reform movement is built on the failures of the era that preceded it (feat. Head Start, desegregation, etc.). 

You get the idea.  This is hard work, saving the world, and a certain amount of failure is to be expected. 

Even more important to remember is that short-term setbacks often lead to breakthroughs rather than collapses.  What lessons will reformers and reform critics learn from inBloom's demise?  What opportunities will arise from its implosion? Whomever learns inBloom's lessons fastest and puts them to good use stands the best chance of future success.

Previous posts: Key Members Depart "Parents Across America"The Successful Failure Of ED In '08Gates-Funded Group Hands Baton To SharptonMalcolm Gladwell On Failure, Voice, & ExitWaivers, Failures, And Redefining AYP. Image via Flickr.

Charts: Impacts Of Different College Promise Programs

image from www.washingtonpost.com"Across 22 programs, including Kalamazoo's, LeGower and Walsh find an increase in total public school enrollment of about 4 percent in the years immediately after the announcement," according to this WashPost story (What happens when public-school students are promised a college education).  "Not surprisingly, programs offering scholarships to all students regardless of merit, and to the widest range of colleges and universities, saw the biggest gains in enrollment, of about 8 percent.

Media: Stuyvesant Exposé Included In NYC Journo Award Finalists

image from www.voicesofny.orgThere are some interesting education stories in and among the Deadline Club's 2014 Annual Awards Finalists announced last week, including not only the "Dasani" story from the NYT but also Sarah Carr and Mallory Falk ("Three Models for Charter Schools in New Orleans"), Paige Cowett and Sarah Koenig (“What Are You Doing for the Test of Your Life?”), and also a fascinating (and very long) story about mental health issues among students at Stuyvesant that was originally written in Chinese and published by the Sing Tao Daily (“The Dark Corner in An Elite High School –Mental Health of Successful Students Needs More Attention”) and then translated and published in English by Voice of New York (click here).  Photo by Orin Hassan, Creative Commons License.

AM News: Massive Gaps In Who Gets A College Degree, Says Report


Study: 2 In 5 Americans Earning Degrees After High School NPR: The Lumina Foundation says nearly 40 percent of adults held college degrees in 2012 — the biggest one-year jump since 2008. And it says that 60 percent college attainment is "within reach" by 2025.

Percentage of Americans with college degrees rises, paying for degrees tops financial challenges PBS: Who gets a college degree is still starkly divided by race – 27.6 percent of blacks, 23.4 percent of Native Americans and 19.8 percent of Latinos hold at least a two-year degree, compared to 43.9 percent of whites and 59.4 percent of Asians. 

Latest Investing in Innovation Contest to Start in Full Force This Week PK12: The Investing in Innovation grant competition is one of the Obama administration's signature education-improvement levers, born out of the economic-stimulus package in 2009. 

Income Inequality Is A Major Barrier To Attending College NPR: Morning Edition co-host David Greene talks to Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University, author of the new book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.

AFT's Lesson-Sharing Site Clocks a Half-Million Registrants TeacherBeat: AFT's lesson-sharing partnership has grown to half a million members, the teachers' union says.

Teachers Say Many Ed-Tech Products Are Ineffective And Aren't Being Used BuzzFeed: There are thousands of ed-tech products on the market, but barely half of teachers think they are effective, according to a study released today by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Paul Takes His School-Choice Message to Chicago NYT: Senator Rand Paul spoke of the importance of giving parents more flexibility to decide where their tax dollars go, and labeled those who stand in the way of greater choice “dead-enders.”

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

Continue reading "AM News: Massive Gaps In Who Gets A College Degree, Says Report" »

Media: ProPublica Hires Another Reporter To Cover Education

With apologies for having missed this when it came out earlier this year, news from ProPublica is that they've hired a veteran AJC reporter Heather Vogell to cover education (ProPublica Hires Reporters).

image from www.propublica.org

From the announcement: "Vogell will join ProPublica from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she has been a reporter since 2005. Her work there on test cheating in the public school system resulted in the indictments of the superintendent and 34 others. A series she co-authored, “Cheating Our Children,” examined suspicious test scores in public schools across the nation, becoming a 2013 finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. Before the Journal-Constitution, she worked at The Charlotte Observer, The Chicago Tribune, and The Day, in New London, Conn."

The nonprofit site hasn't been particularly strong on education coverage, though it's got a big section on segregation and just published a long story about re-segregation last week. There's also a section for college loans, if that's your kind of thing. The section on for-profit schools hasn't been updated since 2011. The Opportunity Gap tool was big for a while last year but I haven't heard much about it since.

I haven't seen any stories from Vogell yet on the ProPublica site, so perhaps she's en route from Atlanta.  You can find her at @hvogell but she doesn't seem to be particularly active there. Vogell joins Marian (@mariancw) Wang, who was hired earlier this year.  

Previous posts:  Not Enough Education Goodies On ProPublicaProPublica's Education ReporterObama Staffers' Disclosure Forms Online. Image courtesy ProPublica.

Bruno: Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway?

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 2.51.06 PMWhen charged with "ignoring poverty", many education reformers will respond that in fact improving education is the best way to fight poverty. 

Arne Duncan once went so far as to say that "the only way to end poverty is through education."

Is that correct?

I'm skeptical. As Matt Bruenig has pointed out, educational outcomes have been improving for decades in the United States, and yet poverty rates haven't really budged.

And what about internationally? Certainly, many developed countries have much lower poverty rates than the United States. Is that a result of superior educational performance?

One preliminary way to look at the evidence would be to see if countries with better academic performance also have lower poverty rates.

Out of curiosity I decided to take a first crack at that using results from the 2012 PISA, which tested 15-year-olds in reading, math, and science.

Click below to see what I found. 

Continue reading "Bruno: Who Told Us The Education Fights Poverty, Anyway?" »

Morning Video: What's "Quality" Pre-K, Anyway?


This nice little 5-minute video goes along with NPR's story from earlier today.

AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down


InBloom Student Data Repository to Close NYT: The student data warehousing venture that became a lightning rod for some parents’ data privacy and security concerns, announced it would close. See also WNYC: Sun Sets on Controversial Student Data Project inBloom. [EdWeek broke the story, far as I know.]

Vision, Reality Collide in Common-Core Tests EdWeek: A glass-half-full reading focuses on the exams' technological advances and embrace of performance-based assessment. On the flip side, a confluence of political, technical, and financial constraints have led to some scaling back of the ambitious plans the consortia first laid out.

U.S. News Releases 2014 Best High Schools Rankings HuffPost/ US News: Some familiar names joined Dallas-based School for the Talented and Gifted and the two BASIS schools in the top 10 this year, including the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools retained their third and fourth place rankings, respectively, while Pine View School in Florida also held onto its No. 6 position.

Teachers are losing their jobs, but Teach for America’s expanding Hechinger Report: Of the first 13 Seattle recruits whose two-year commitment is now over, Maldonado and 10 others remain in their classrooms. While he thinks TFA should have done a better job before bringing his cohort to the city, Maldonado says he still believes strongly in the organization and worked at its summer institute in New York City last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Talks To ABC News’ David Muir ABC News: "How did I go to a commuter college that cost $50 a semester? Because a lot of other people put a little something in that kept the costs low at a public school so I had a chance and a lotta kids like me had a chance to get an education, and go out, and do something with it."

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

Continue reading "AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down" »

Afternoon Video: Without Comic Colbert, How Will We Learn Science?

All this may change when he moves over to broadcast TV, but comedian Colbert may have been our best science teacher in recent years, according to this Slate blog post (Stephen Colbert’s best science segments) which discusses among other things how some classroom teachers have used his clips and adopted his techniques.

Quotes: K12 Education Fended Off Venture Capital Until 2011?

Quotes2No self-respecting venture capitalist would touch the K-12 education segment from 2000 to 2010-2011. -- QSV Advisors' managing partner (and CPS Board of Ed member) Deborah Quazzo in EdWeek

Thompson: The Next Generation of Value-Added Is Unbelievably Cool

EdtweakIn a major advance over the inherently flawed effort to use test score growth estimates to measure teaching and learning, Big Data is pioneering the next step in identifying the characteristics of effective teaching.

EdTweak’s Harvard Teacher Team Links Teacher Traits to Value-Added describes a groundbreaking research design using a data set including three years of Google searches.

It reports that “Harvard Professor Sage Petty and his colleagues were able to determine that teachers with higher value-added scores were 0.0408% more likely to prefer Mary Ann to Ginger, 0.0783% more likely to purchase their firearms at discounted prices, and 0.0281% more likely to be able to distinguish a Mallard from a Fulvous Whistling-Duck.” 

Petty documents other “really amazing the sorts of associations one can tease out with a large enough data set.” He documents correlations between value-added scores and “purchases of laundry detergent (powered-detergent teachers have higher scores) and searches combining ROTFL and IMHO (lower scores)." 

Petty is surprised by the finding, “teachers at all value-added levels had an equal likelihood of wanting to slap me and my colleagues upside the head with a trout.”-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.


Maps: 16 States With Fully-Implemented Teacher Evaluation Systems

image from www.nctq.org

"To date just 16 states have fully implemented these new evaluation systems with ratings for teachers that count, and most of those are just in the first year of full implementation," notes Sandi Jacobs of NCTQ (Teacher evaluation timelines)

Weekend Reading: Best Education-Related Articles You Probably Missed

Twitter is "scheduling" my weekend updates so they're not all yet published, but here are some good things for you to make sure you've seen:

15 Years After Columbine, Are Schools Any Safer? - WNYC http://ht.ly/vXfag 

Every week, I wish/pretend that @onthemedia focused on education: ROBOTS! (and artificial intelligence) http://ht.ly/vXmj6  

Including the Young and the Rich - NYTimes.com http://ht.ly/vZKpj via @sreckhow

Occupational licensing is replacing labor unions and exacerbating inequality - Vox http://ht.ly/vXf9w 

How Educators Can Protect Students’ Data from Security Breaches | MindShift http://ht.ly/vXmDI  #heartbleed!

Republicans See Political Wedge in Common Core - http://NYTimes.com  http://ht.ly/vYxny 

From Jay Mathews: Stuck on a college wait list? Here’s what you should do.: Wait lists are getting longer, but... http://wapo.st/1joyhiY 

Morning Video: The "Dropout Hunter" Of St. Louis

PBS NewsHour: Lessons from a successful ‘dropout recruiter’ [Charlie Bean of St. Louis Public Schools]

AM News: Growing Republican Infighting Over Common Core


Republicans See Political Wedge in Common Core NYT: The Common Core, a set of national educational standards, is seen by some conservatives as federal overreach. But in contrast to the Affordable Care Act, it has Republican defenders.

Jindal, teachers agree over firing appeals process NOLA.com: Gov. Jindal has agreed to adjust a 2012 state law surrounding teachers' job security and firings that he helped craft, after losing a legal battle with an educator facing dismissal earlier this year.

15 Years After Columbine, Are Schools Any Safer? NPR: The mass shooting at Columbine High School spurred schools to adopt "zero tolerance" policies. Do they work? NPR Education Correspondent Claudio Sanchez and former principal Bill Bond discuss.

A Scientific Experiment: Field Trips Just For Teachers NPR: Educators say the middle grades are a key time time to get kids jazzed about science, but many teachers say they lack the tools they need. In Chicago, a science museum is helping to fill the the gap.

Kansas: First Lady’s Visit Draws Criticism NYT: Some Topeka high school students and their parents said they would rather keep their graduation day just a family affair, and not include Michelle Obama.

National Service Advocates Say Washington Has Abandoned Its Bipartisan Promise To Them BuzzFeed: In 2009, national service advocates celebrated as President Obama and a large bipartisan coalition in Congress pledged to expand prized AmeriCorps slots from the current 80,000 to 250,000, fulfilling a promise to expand national service supported by Presidents Clinton and Bush.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Growing Republican Infighting Over Common Core " »

Afternoon Video: Did CNN Treat Chicago Schools Fairly?


It's not quite at the level of "Scandal," but discussion surrounding CNN's "Chicagoland"reality series about Chicago schools, long-troubled Fenger High School (yes, that Fenger), and principal Elizabeth Dozier has been pretty intense in recent days and weeks. Get up to speed with this Institute of Politics panel from last night.



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.