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Five Best Blogs: Districts Experimenting With Longer Classroom Hours

Districts are experimenting with longer classroom hours—students and teachers seem to love it. @TheAtlanticEDU ht.ly/xrryj

What We Talk About When We Talk About Reparations : New Yorker ht.ly/xrrp0 Reformers & critics both seem to be avoiding this!

A High-School Diploma Is Pretty Much Useless These Days ht.ly/xmeea

Taking charter school practices to the public schools | Profit of Education ht.ly/xme1k

Buzzfeed Exclusive: Student Data Will Be Protected In ConnectEDU Bankruptcy ht.ly/xscIB @Molly_HC

A progressive challenger to Governor Cuomo emerges - Vox ht.ly/xsd5V -- Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout

DOD gives VA hospitals respite from unrealistic 14-day patient visit expectation = waiver! ht.ly/xl66n



Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers


I love Michelle Obama as much as I remain loyal to her husband, despite his awful test and punish education policy. When the First Lady is attacked, I am angered almost as much as when the Obama administration assaults public education.

The issues underlying both Michelle Obama's Let's Move healthy schools campaign, and President Obama's corporate school reform are equally complicated.

Time Magazine's Jay Newton-Small, in Michelle Obama Bites Back at Critics of Her Healthy School Lunch Standards, reports that a million fewer students ate school lunches in the first year of the program. The bigger problem is anecdotes and twitter photo campaigns featuring students who want their junk food back.

In light of the House Republicans' assault on anti-obesity efforts, Burkhard Bilger's 2006 New Yorker article, The Lunch Room Rebellion, should now be reread. As the First Lady explains, the "stakes couldn't be higher" in the battle to improve children's health, so the fight is worth it. But, given the difficulty Bilger described in providing nutritious meals in the affluent Berkeley, California schools, we must prepare for a long, frustrating struggle.  

Bilger told how a "haute cuisine chef," Ann Cooper, got schooled when she brought nutritious meals that were a hit in a progressive private school to a public system. Cooper's biggest problem was that children's food tastes (not unlike some of their learning habits) are established before they enter school. But, a seemingly absurd combination of political and institutional dynamics created unforeseen complications, even in a system where only 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Continue reading "Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers" »

Advocacy: 5 New Orgs Bring PIE To 49 Members

Puzzle_pieces1025 The PIE Network is adding 5 new members to its group of reform-oriented advocacy groups, I'm told, bringing them up to 49 education advocacy organizations working in 31 state capitols and Washington D.C.

The newbies include Children's Education Alliance of Missouri  BEST NC, StudentsFirstNYNevada Succeeds, and JerseyCAN.

Previous posts: PIE Annual Summit (Boston September 19-20)Quotes: Talk About "Love" (Not "Rights")Reform Celebration In SeattleState Advocacy Groups Talk Policy - Not Tactics.



Maps: Poor Minority Neighborhoods Have Worse Schools (Again)


In case it wasn't already abundantly clear, poor neighborhoods tend to have worse schools:

image from i.huffpost.com

Reformers generally think the responses to this obvious inequity should include choice (charters, ending attendance limits) and revamping the rules that encourage the clustering of effective teachers in better (richer) neighborhoods.  Reform critics generally think the responses should include more funding for neighborhood schools, reduced reliance on segregation-perpetuating charter schools, and poverty eradication efforts. via HuffPost's Rebecca Klein.

Quotes: Looking At The Common Core Glass As "40 States Full"

Quotes2I prefer to think of the glass as 35 to 40 states full rather than 3 to 4 empty.

- Gov. Wise Alliance for Excellent Education (@all4ed) via press release

Media: CQ Roll Call Reporter Joining EdWeek's Politics K-12 Team

image from spencerfellows.orgNews is out that CQ Roll Call reporter (and current Spencer Education Journalism Fellow) Lauren Smith Camera is going to join Alyson Klein at @PoliticsK12, EdWeek's blog covering the USDE and Congress.  

No longer will Camera's work be hidden behind CQ's paywall.  She'll be out front, doing daily battle with all the new upstarts that have appeared in basically the same space (RealClear, Politico, etc.).

Camera will be replacing Michele McNeil, the blog's co-founder, who left recently to join the College Board.

Camera's Spencer year has been spent looking into whether federal funding in the form of competitive grants is a good investment (compared to dedicated funding streams).

Previous posts: New Spencer Fellows, New Research TopicsRecollections, Controversy, & Advice From Departing PK-12 BloggerDo Journalists Make Good Program Officers?Two Journos Win Nieman Fellowships, Another Heads To College Board. Image via SpencerFellows.org

Morning Video: Most Over-Confident Spelling Bee Elimination Ever?

ScreenHunter_06 May. 30 09.14
I see in this clip an allegory for overconfident reformers and/or overconfident reform critics, each of which group (a) looks a little bit too old for its grade, (b) tends to think they know the answer, (c) and fails to consider other options, and (d) rushes into action. Event roundup and who won via MSNBC here.

AM News: Zuckerberg Donates $120M To SF Bay Area Schools


Zuckerberg, Wife Gift $120M to CA Schools AP: The first $5 million will go to school districts in San Francisco, Ravenswood and Redwood City and will focus on principal training, classroom technology and helping students transition from the 8th to the 9th grade. The couple and their foundation, called Startup: Education, determined the issues of most urgent need based on discussions with school administrators and local leaders.

At a Glance: Biggest Tech Donors in 2013 AP: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, topped the list of the most generous American philanthropists in 2013 with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock that are now worth more than $1 billion. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it was the largest charitable gift on the public record in 2013. On Friday, they announced a $120 million gift to the San Francisco Bay Area public school system.

Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition NYT: The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to replace the Common Core standards with locally written versions, and Missouri is considering a related measure.

California's CORE Districts Faltering On Key Tenets of Waiver, Ed. Dept. Says District Dossier: Education Department officials flagged problem areas for the seven districts participating in the No Child Left Behind Act waiver, including delays and changes to strategies aimed at the lowest-achieving schools.

ACLU Sues California For 'Equal Learning Time' WNYC: The lawsuit names students including Briana Lamb as members of the class. In the fall of 2012, when Lamb showed up for her junior year at Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles, she says her schedule was full of holes. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Zuckerberg Donates $120M To SF Bay Area Schools" »

Quotes: Common Core By Any Other Name

Quotes2Even states that are publicly distancing themselves from the Common Core and its assessments are often patterning their new standards closely on it, rather than invest the time and money required to start from scratch.  -- NPR's Common Core FAQ

Maps: Just 9 States Provide Full Accountability Info, Says ECS

ScreenHunter_03 May. 29 11.09"Just nine states are using and reporting all five essential components of a strong accountability system identified by experts, according to a new report released by the Education Commission of the States. Those states are California, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin." via Politico.

Many others are "difficult to locate and often lack meaningful information for parents."


Morning Video: Columbine Principal Reflects On Retirement

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

A little bit corny -- and not the first outlet to cover the story -- but Principal DeAngelis' last day (and what some of the students say to him on camera) is still worth watching.

AM News: Iconic Author, Poet Maya Angelou Dead At 86


Legendary author Maya Angelou dies at age 86 CNN: A literary voice revered globally for her poetic command and her commitment to civil rights has fallen silent.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the passing of Maya Angelou Imperial Valley News: "Maya Angelou was not just a phenomenal writer and artist - she was a teacher and mentor whose words will live on for generations."

The Politics of School Meal Standards WAMU: First Lady Michelle Obama engaged Congress this week in a debate over nationwide standards for school lunches.We explore the issues in play and why the the first lady felt compelled to make a rare foray into a direct political debate.

In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good Washington Post: The second-graders paraded to the Dumpster in the rear parking lot, where they chucked boxes of old work sheets, notebooks and other detritus into the trash, emptying their school for good.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Iconic Author, Poet Maya Angelou Dead At 86" »

Books: In The Future, All Student Data Will Be Shared, Everywhere


Worried about data privacy and social media?  Then don't read Dave Eggers' ‘The Circle, in which a post-Facebook company decides that sharing is not just optional and that knowing where kids are and what they're up to at all times is a good thing.

Eggers couldn't have known when he was writing the book that 2013-2014 would be such a big year for student data privacy (and the larger issue of surveillance), but then again Gary Shtyngart made some pretty good guesses about the near future in his dystopian novel, Super Sad True Love Story. Nearly everything but Staten Island becoming cool has come true. 

But I digress. It's not a great book - pretty obvious stuff -- and it's not really focused on education, writ small.  But there are obvious education implications and a bit of direct address, and that's all it takes, apparently. 

Previous posts about novels, dystopias, etc: (Where Are) The Best Novels About Education?A Dystopian Education Thriller!;A Perfect Test, A Secret List... A Murder; A TFA Refugee's Interesting-Sounding NovelThe Rise Of The "Cell Phone Novel"How NCLB Is Like A Russian Novel;

Thompson: Marc Prensky, Digital Wisdom, & Zuckerberg's Newark Folly

ZuckerbergI never want to bet against our digital future, and I’m predisposed to agree with most of Marc Prensky’s hopefulness, as proclaimed in Brain Gain. But, Prensky seems too dismissive of the reports by teachers and others about the shortterm damage being caused by our rapid adoption of digital technology.

I don’t think that we have gotten to the point where all of the reports about unintended negative effects of this technology could be due to a mass hallucination, perhaps recorded in some secret space in the Cloud.

So, while I will enjoy and gain energy from the predictions of futurologists, I’ll stick to my knitting and just pontificate on the field I know – inner city schools.

I got a kick out of Prensky’s overly rational anticipation of a key issue related to Mark Zuckerberg’s donation of $100 million to Newark schools. He wrote that “potentially, it is a very good thing … if it is used in a digitally wise way.” Prensky thus seemed to anticipate that Zuckerberg would contribute in ways that he was qualified to contribute. He also hoped that Zuckerberg would “imagine and plan for at least a year (and maybe more) before any technology gets ordered.”

In other words, Prensky didn’t seem to consider the possibility that someone as smart as Zuckerberg would jump into a field he knew nothing about, and finance a transformational reform of it, without even looking into the basic evidence about what works in school improvement. Zuckerberg, the technology expert, illogically invested in a mayor, Cory Booker, who made a virtually evidence-free bet on incentives and disincentives that had a long history of failure!?!?  

What would have happened, however, if Zuckerberg had stuck to his knitting and invested his money in something he knew about?

Continue reading "Thompson: Marc Prensky, Digital Wisdom, & Zuckerberg's Newark Folly" »

Media: Marketplace Ed Tech Site Debuts Today

ScreenHunter_02 May. 28 11.55Another week, another education site launches.  

You already knew this one was coming -- and that Adriene Hill was going to be the lead reporter along with editory Betsy Streisand.  

But you probably didn't know that the effort was going to be dubbed Learning Curve.

"The most ambitious and expansive education project in Marketplace’s 25-year history, LearningCurve will engage a national audience in an ongoing conversation on multiple platforms. Coverage will include on air segments across the Marketplace portfolio of public radio programs, a dedicated website, infographics and interactive quizzes, videos, dedicated Twitter and Tumblr accounts and, starting later in June, a regular podcast hosted by Adriene Hill and Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson."

Read the full press release below. Crossed fingers.

Continue reading "Media: Marketplace Ed Tech Site Debuts Today" »

Charts: Test Prep & Instructional Materials $37B Of $789B K12 Spending

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Here's a chart of education spending from GSV via NPR showing that test prep and instructional materials make up just $37 billion out of a $789 billion K-12 education expenditure.

Quotes: Test Score Teacher Evals Don't Stand Up To Scrutiny

Quotes2Using test scores to evaluate teachers seems like a great idea on the face of it, but it does not stand up to scrutiny... relatively few teachers will have any test data at all and that there aren’t enough students in most classes to yield reliable growth estimates. - Former Chicago schools testing director Carole Perlman (Using test scores to evaluate teachers creates problems)

AM News: Obama Geeks Out, First Lady Freaks Out


Obama Meets Scientists, One Age 6 NYT: More than a hundred students displayed their projects and inventions at what President Obama, who has been promoting the STEM subjects, called one of his favorite events.

Obama Unleashes His Inner Geek (Again) at White House Science Fair NBC News:  Science education went to the head of the class at the White House on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama announcing a $35 million competition for teacher training programs — and checking out an all-star lineup of science fair projects.

Obama Promotes Science, Math Education as Economic Need Bloomberg: In conjunction with the event, Obama announced a $35 million Department of Education competition program to help reach his goal of training 100,000 new teachers. The administration also plans to expand the Americorps volunteer program to provide...

First Lady Responds To School Meal Critics AP: First lady Michelle Obama is striking back at House Republicans who are trying to weaken healthier school meal standards, saying any effort to roll back the guidelines is "unacceptable."

First Lady Rebuts Effort to Weaken School-Lunch Rules NYT: Pushing back against a measure pending in the Republican-controlled House, Michelle Obama met with school officials who attested to the success of the new standards.

5 Things to Know About the National Spelling Bee ABC: Vocab and Taylor Swift: 5 things to know about this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee.

What it’s like to win the National Spelling Bee Vox: The National Spelling Bee is a bizarre ritual. Every spring, hundreds of middle-school students cram into a hotel ballroom and attempt to spell obscure words that few human beings have ever uttered — or will ever utter — in the course of their lifetimes.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Obama Geeks Out, First Lady Freaks Out" »

Audio: Education Reporting Frequently Lacks Balance, Context, Multiple Sources

This latest segment from NPR's "On The Media" (Whipped Into A Frenzy) is ostensibly about health care reporting, which is described as "plagued by incredulity [sic?], false correlation, and general public confusion" -- but it applies equally well to education coverage:


Quality journalism is still out there -- yowza, some of you work really hard and are so careful and smart!-- but all too often writers and editors seem to be trying to scare or soothe readers rather than engage and inform them.  The scaring mode takes two primary forms:  your schools suck, or someone is trying to ruin your good schools.  The soothing mode -- aka "gee, whiz!" -- touts a small or momentary success, or preliminary (lucky?) bit of effectiveness, and treats new ideas as newer than they really are.  

Sadly, most folks -- including journalists -- don't want to hear about any of this.  "Not I," they say.  Or "I can only tell part of the story each time out." Ditto for those who fund journalism, who often have pet approaches and ideas that they deem especially promising.  (Note that the health care journalism critic in the piece is going out of business.) However, advocates and communications professionals love having such an easily manipulated set of folks to sell their stories to and through.  

My unwanted "new rules" for education journalism include a disclosure on every story showing where or how it was suggested (a press release, phone call, editor's anecdote), what if any professional affiliations quoted parents and teachers might have (are they union stewards or part-time advocates), and a round of beers for any reporter or editor who approves a story that doesn't include a fair representation of the other side's arguments or the historical context. What do you think?

Bruno: Pay Attention To Big Differences Between High School & Elementary Teachers

6317025278_026fab3ddb_nWhen discussing education reform, it's common to talk about "teachers" - e.g., "teacher quality" or "teacher training" - as if "teachers" are one big, homogeneous group.

In reality, teachers working in different contexts are often systematically different, and this has implications for education policy.

For instance, via Libby Nelson, this nifty interactive chart from Ben Schmidt helps to illustrate that primary and secondary school teachers tend to have significantly different academic backgrounds.

Below the fold, I'll discuss teacher differences in more detail and explain why they might matter for education reform.

Continue reading "Bruno: Pay Attention To Big Differences Between High School & Elementary Teachers " »

Common Core: Remembering What *Current* Test Questions Look Like

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 12.16.05 PM

In discussing the merits of Common Core and their assessments, t's important (a) to be sure you're discussing a real Common Core field test item and (b) remember what the old/current test questions look like.  Above is an example from PARCC (What Do They Look Like?) that seems pretty basic for today's 4th graders.  What do you think?

Morning Video: TFA Founder: There Are No Silver Bullets (Incl. TFA)

This is from SXSW earlier this spring -- what do you think? The other option was Phil Collins singing "In The Air Tonight" at his sons' middle school talent show.

AM News: Teachers Unions & Tea Party Fight School Changes -- Together


Unlikely Allies Uniting to Fight School Changes NYT: Unlikely coalitions of teachers, lawmakers and parents from the left and right are increasingly banding together to push back against what they see as onerous changes in education policy. Some have Tea Party Republicans and teachers unions on the same side.

Meadow Homes 4th Graders Embrace Common Core Standards NPR: The Common Core State Standards have roiled state legislatures across the country and frustrated some parents. But what do kids think of them? We visit a school in California's Bay Area to find out.

Girls in STEM to take center stage at White House Science Fair  PBS: In an effort to address gender gaps in scientific research and careers, this year’s fair will focus on girls and women who are excelling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics–known widely in the education community as STEM.

D.C. Tops Charts For Pre-K Enrollment WAMU: The rate of pre-Kindergarten enrollment is higher in D.C. than all 50 states, according to a new report released by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Colorado Law Helps Remedial College Students Be Successful NPR: Each year, 1.7 million students are told they're not ready for college. States are mobilizing to fix the remedial system. Colorado's efforts to help students are showing promising results.

All Montgomery high schools to have police on campus for new school year Washington Post: Police will be posted in all 25 Montgomery County high schools next fall as county leaders bolstered the schools’ security force in a final budget approved last week.

At a South LA school, change without a battle over ‘parent trigger’ law Hechinger Report: A group of parents threatening to invoke California’s controversial “parent trigger” law has spurred Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials to sign a partnership agreement addressing the parents’ top concerns at an elementary school in South Los Angeles.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Unions & Tea Party Fight School Changes -- Together" »

Quotes: Don't Blame Cheating On The Tests

Quotes2Is a person who cheats in response to an incentive program the kind of person who's going to do amazing work in the absence of an incentive program, or the kind of person who's going to respond to the objective incentive to be lazy? If a data-based framework is imperfect, is going to a data-free one any better? -- Vox's Matt Yglesias in response to MSNBC's Chris Hayes (Don't blame measurements for cheating)


Media: 5 Great Magazine Articles You Might Not Have Read

The EWA Education Writing Awards are great but include only folks who submit themselves to the process and so often miss out on non-education publications or articles that are about education but not not directly so.  As a result, it's helpful to take a look at lists like this one from The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf (Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism), which includes some pieces I'd never seen before as well as a bunch of articles I've shared already:

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES / South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal by Kurt Streeter

"He was named the prom king, the most likely to succeed, the senior class salutatorian. He was accepted to UC Berkeley, one of the nation's most renowned public universities. A semester later, Kashawn Campbell sat inside a cramped room on a dorm floor that Cal reserves for black students. It was early January, and he stared nervously at his first college transcript. There wasn't much good to see."

THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR / Survival Skills at a School in L.A. by Anne P. Beatty

"On days like this, even aloof kids displayed uncharacteristic kindness and affection. Boys lingered over handshakes and looked into my eyes solemnly. Girls threw their arms around me and wordlessly moved away. No one said enough."

WASHINGTON POST / After Newtown Shooting, Mourning Parents Enter Into the Lonely Quiet by Eli Saslow

"The room went quiet as she began reading the names. Daniel Barden. Seven. Dylan Hockley. Six. Ana Marquez-Greene. Six. Six. Six. Six. Seven. Six. How long could one minute last?"

NEW YORK / Them and Them by Benjamin Wallace-Wells

"The immigrant community and the growing population of Hasidim had eyed each other with increasing wariness. Then the Orthodox took over the public schools and proceeded to gut them."

TEXAS MONTHLY / The Other Side of the Story by Jenny Kutner

"When I was fourteen, I had a relationship with my eighth grade history teacher. People called me a victim. They called him a villain. But it's more complicated than that."
Still not enough? Click below for a few more (including This American Life and RadioLab).

Continue reading "Media: 5 Great Magazine Articles You Might Not Have Read" »

Thompson: OK Rejects the "Test and Punish 3rd Graders" Fiasco

Henke-Katiex175Oklahoma’s Republican Legislature overrode the veto of Republican Governor Mary Fallin, and overwhelmingly rejected another cornerstone of Jeb Bush’s corporate reform agenda. The overall vote was 124 to 21.

As emphasized by the Tulsa World’s Legislature Overrides Fallin Veto on Reading Bill; Baressi Calls Decision a *Pathetic* Step Back, by Randy Krembiel and Barbara Hoberick, besieged Chief for Change Janet Baressi (who is still angry over Common Core defeats and pushback against Bush’s and her's A-F Report Card) condemned legislators as “pathetic.”

Oklahoma’s victory over the test and punish approach to 3rd grade reading is a win-win team effort of national importance. The override was due to an unexpected, grassroots uprising started by parents, joined by superintendents and teachers, organized on social media, and assisted by anti- corporate reform educators and our opposite, Stand for Children, as well as Tea Party supporters, and social service providers who are increasingly coming to the rescue of the state’s grossly underfunded schools.

Nearly 8,000 children, including nearly 30% of Oklahoma City and 1/3rd of Tulsan 3rd graders, failed their high-stakes tests. Now, they can be provided remediation as they are promoted to the 4th grade.

And, that is just the beginning of the good news. Retired librarian/reading expert Claudia Swisher finally gained traction in her effort to fact check reformers, and raise the consciousnesses of lawmakers about the dangers of the misuse of inappropriate tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: OK Rejects the "Test and Punish 3rd Graders" Fiasco" »

Twitter Friday: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

It's Memorial Day Weekend and so I'll be updating the site via Twitter to the extent that I can. Have a great weekend!

Five Best Blogs: 10 States Now Limit Role Of Tenure In Layoff Decisions

Flickr-Sean WintersNumber of states reducing tenure factor in layoff decisions up to 10 - @ecs via @Morning_Edu ht.ly/x9AI5 #maybelibbywasright?

Don't blame measurements for cheating - Voxht.ly/x7pGs @mattyglesias slams @chrislhayes on VA and other "juking" instances

Yesterday, EdWeek reported the #parentrigger dead. Today Politico reports its effects in LAUSD ht.ly/x9Als@AndrewUjifusa

Newark mayor Ras Baraka tries to wrest back control of the city’s schools - Slate ht.ly/x9sDa

In Florida, Common Core transforms science, social studies and even gym | Hechinger Report ht.ly/x92mZ

How will the AFT and NEA deal with SEIU's involvement in edreform, asks @dropoutnationht.ly/x91Wb

Rahm Is an Ass-Kicker—But Don’t Confuse His Personality With His Politics @whet ht.ly/x8MIl

Wait, Why Are 'Urban' Kids Excluded from This School Meals Program in the GOP Budget? - The Wire ht.ly/x7qmt

Image via Flickr.

Charts: Which 13 States Still Looking For A Test Provider?

ScreenHunter_01 May. 22 13.25
There are lots of Common Core maps and charts out there these days, but RealClear Education's Emmeline Z. has one that's particularly useful because it breaks down "what each state is planning in the coming years for its Common Core-aligned assessments for grades 3-8 and high school" -- and in particular which testing comany (Pearson, AIR, or someone else) they're going with ((Mapping Common Core in the States). Click on the link for lots of interactive goodies -- maps, charts, and circles.

Quotes: So Why Is It That Poor Kids Fare Much Worse Here, Again?

Quotes2According to calculations by the O.E.C.D., socioeconomic background explains 15 percent of the variation in the performance of American students, far more than in high-performing countries like Finland, Japan and Norway.

- Eduardo Porter in the NYT (For Schools, Long Road to a Level Playing Field)

AM News: Newark Students Protest Appointed Superintendent

Newark Students Camp Out Overnight at School to Protest Superintendent WSJ: Tuesday’s protest heated up when about a dozen students sat down on the floor in the front of  an evening session of the elected school advisory board. They shouted “hey ho, hey ho, Cami Anderson has got to go” and used the hashtag #OccupyNPS on Twitter to spread news of their sit-in at the district’s headquarters.

Math books claim to cover Common Core but don't, says prof Seattle Times: Greetings from Nashville, where I've been attending the 67th annual conference of the Education Writers Association.

More Hispanics Declaring Themselves White NYT: An estimated net 1.2 million Americans of the 35 million Americans identified in 2000 as of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin,” as the census form puts it, changed their race from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, according to research presented at an annual meeting of the Population Association of America and reported by Pew Research.

No Child Left Behind faceoff is high drama – but of little consequence Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: A battle over the Common Core State Standards has spawned the latest skirmish between the GOP-controlled Indiana State Board of Education and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat. 

Using dancers’ discipline as leaping off point for academics PBS NewsHour: It’s the culmination of a year’s work at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, a program that aims to engage and motivate children to strive for excellence using the arts; 74 percent of the dancers come from low-income families; 85 percent are either Hispanic or Native American.

Need Scholarship? Join Scrum NYT: A growing number of high school students have discovered an alternative route to college through fringe sports like rugby.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Newark Students Protest Appointed Superintendent" »

Five Best Blogs: All The Best Posts And Links Of The Day

It's back! For today, at least. #5BB Forever:

Now there are 24 states planning on using neither PARCC nor SBAC, ccording to this new EdWeek mapht.ly/x6Xyu

Are Common-Core Conspiracy Theories Drowning Out Real Issues? - Education Week Teacher ht.ly/x6EsP

Here’s how much your high school grades predict your future salary - WashPost ht.ly/x6KRy

Democratic think tank official calls Chicago union @CTULocal1 "foolish" to fight #CommonCore - Chicago Sun-Times ht.ly/x3pnj

Both sides say New Jersey's new tenure hearings working - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Education ht.ly/x3p4ivia Chalkbeat?

Quotes: "This Hole Was Not Dug Overnight"

Quotes2We've had terrible superintendents we allowed to stay on for several years. We've had poor management and nepotism. This hole was not dug overnight. -- Barbara Coscarello, a member of the district's advisory board (For Camden students, give charter schools a shot) via RP

Bruno: Measuring a School's 'Kool-Aid Factor' Can Be Hard to Do

3915876764_41642f63daAs the teacher job search season begins to warm up, Roxanna Elden suggests teachers consider a school's "Kool-Aid Factor": "the degree to which everyone in the building must share the same beliefs and behaviors".

This is sound advice, particularly for elementary and middle school teachers who already have some experience teaching and have settled into a style that they're comfortable with.

Something that makes measuring a Kool-Aid Factor (KAF) difficult is that many schools claim or aspire to a level of consistency that they do not possess in practice.

My sense is that schools with very high KAFs are rare, and concentrated in the larger chains of the charter sector (e.g., KIPP).

If teachers were to try to assess schools using interactions with administrators, however, they might come away with the perception that most schools have relatively high KAFs.

This is because administrators often want to increase their school's KAF - in part by selecting for new teachers who are prepared to "drink the Kool-Aid", so to speak  - and because principals may wish to contribute to the perception that their school's KAF is high, as this can make a school seem more "together" and "effective".

 The reality at most schools, though, is that attaining high levels of consistency across an entire staff is extremely difficult to accomplish. Teachers generally like to do things their own way and administrators usually do not have enough time - or enough freedom - to make sure school-wide expectations are enforced.

This means that, for better or worse, individual teachers will tend to have more autonomy than they may think when a rule or expectation is first introduced to them.

By all means, teachers should try to assess a school's Kool-Aid Factor before deciding to work there. And the "flavor" of the Kool-Aid matters, too! A school that strictly enforces rules you don't like is going to be a miserable place for you to work.

At the same time, though, teachers - and new teachers in particular - should adjust their perceptions of a school's KAF for the reality that running a school is a complicated business. What your supervisors and coworkers want to achieve is not always what happens. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Media: Four Observations About Education Journalism From #EWA14*

There was no big news made at #EWA14.  No loud arguments, or big deals (other than the announcement that the next conference will be at the UofC). That's why we were all Tweeting about cakepops and other diversions. But there were still a bunch of tidbits to be noted about the state of education media and the people who provide it:

4. The rise of the nonprofit news outlets.  Chalkbeat rolled deep with a rumored 21 staffers in attendance, but there were also lots of other nonprofiteers in attendance (EdWeek, EdSource Today, SCPR/KPCC, Hechinger, etc.) In comparison, there was just a single NYT and LA Times reporter there,* and but a handful of AP reporters. (There are other reasons they don't feel the need to attend, but still...)

3. Changing of the guard (from journalism to other pursuits).  Banchero is out.  McNeil is out.  Turner is out (a year ago). Others are but a memory. They say they're sad but also look a little relieved.  It feels like there may be more moves out of journalism (as well as between outlets) to come. 

2. Notable outsiders/new faces in attendance included Nikole Hannah-Jones from ProPublica (who had some things to say about attendance zone "gerrymandering" that might make progressives reconsider their defense of neighborhood schools), the new communications team from College Board (fresh off their big SAT rollout success), Xian Barrett and Anthony Cody (teacher advocate/activists who've attended on and off for the past couple of years) but no Ray Salazar, alas.

1. Soft interviews with Weingarten and Duncan.  All due respect to the Washington Post's Layton and NPR's Drummond, but their interviews lacked the friendly but tough questions and followups that I recall John Merrow and others (Jay Mathews?) providing at past events when public officials rambled through their usual talking points. It wasn't just me who thought so -- lots of grumbling from the back rows (though not on Twitter - cowards!).

What'd I miss or get wrong?  When do we get to see or hear the panels we missed?  Did everyone get home safely and easily?

*EWA's Caroline Hendrie tells me that there were two other LAT reporters there -- Stephen Cesar and Larry Gordon. 

Charts: A Master's Degree Is The New Undergrad Degree

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"More than 16 million people in the US — about 8 percent of the population — now have a master's, a 43 percent increase since 2002," notes Vox's Libby Nelson (Master's degrees are as common now as bachelor's degrees were in the '60s.) Education degrees used to be the most common but have recently been eclipsed by business degrees. 

AM News: Duncan Highlights Inequalities Among Schools


Sec. Duncan amplifies [State Superintendent] King’s comments on segregation in city schools Chalkbeat: Duncan focused his remarks on the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and tied the continued push to implement tougher standards and increase accountability for teachers and schools to the need to address continued school segregation.

For Schools, Long Road to a Level Playing Field NYT: The United States, which lags most other industrial nations in educational performance, also has a persistent gulf in the test results between the rich and the poor.

Arne Duncan: Closing education gaps 'moral imperative' Knoxville News Sentinel: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, looks on as fifth grade students work at the board during a visit to Brick Church College Prep on Tuesday in Nashville. 

Delays Allowed on Healthier Lunches AP: The Agriculture Department will allow some schools to delay adding more whole-grain foods to meals this year, responding to criticism from school officials and Congress that the standards were too difficult to meet.

Bailout for teachers' pensions to cost California school districts LA Times: California's public school districts could face difficult cutbacks if state officials move forward with a plan to bail out the retirement fund for teachers, officials and educators say, but even those painful steps may fall short of curing the pension deficit if investments don't meet...

Why aren’t high school students graduating? New report sheds light PBS NewsHour: According to the report, 30 percent of participants said abuse was a major factor in their decision to leave high school–22 percent cited homelessness and 18 percent cited spending time in juvenile detention.

Video: Yearbook Devoted to Students With Children Sparks Outrage NBC News: Parents in Mesa, Ariz., upset over high school yearbook pages dedicated to students who have children, or who are expectant parents. KPNX reporter Krystle Henderson has the story. (NBC News)

Task Force Recommends Pushing Maryland Schools Start Date To After Labor Day WAMU: Comptroller Peter Franchot is praising a vote by a state task force to recommend a longer summer break for Maryland students.

D.C. approves three new charter schools Washington Post: The D.C. Public Charter School Board has approved three new charter schools: a residential school meant for children in foster care, a K-8 school targeted at students with special needs, and a middle school that emphasizes international education and foreign language.

University Of Phoenix Owner Buys Stake In South African For-Profit College BuzzFeed:  Laureate Education, an under-the-radar-private company in the United States, is the biggest player in the international market, with more than 800,000 students in 30 different countries. And earlier this year, massively open online course provider Coursera hired a new CEO, Richard Levin, in hopes of raising their profile in China and elsewhere.

LA school board ousts iPad critic from oversight commitee KPCC: Stuart Magruder, an architect, had unsuccessfully attempted to halt the iPad program's growth last fall after the district purchased 31,000 tablets for its pilot. 

Race for California school chief a referendum on change AP va LA School Report: The two agree the state spends too little on education, favor giving local districts more discretion about how to use their funding and share support for the Common Core State Standards, the national learning benchmarks that have generated a backlash over whether they undermine states’ rights.

More education news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Thompson: Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers

BookerDale Russakoff’s New Yorker article, Schooled, recounts the failure of the “One Newark” plan to transform Newark schools. One of the key contributions of Russakoff’s excellent narrative is her portrait of the personalized nature of the edu-philanthropy process. As one wealthy donor said, “Investors bet on people, not on business plans, because they know successful people will find a way to be successful.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million in seed money after being blown away by then-mayor Cory Booker. Zuckerberg explained, “This is the guy I want to invest in. This is a person who can create change.”

Booker created a confidential draft plan to “make Newark the charter school capital of the nation.” Because it would be driven by philanthropic donors, no openness would be required.  “Real change requires casualties,” Booker argued, and stealth was required to defeat “the pre-existing order,” which will “fight loudly and viciously.”

Had they bothered to study social science research, cognitive science, and education history, hopefully the edu-philanthropists would have realized that Booker’s approach to “One Newark” could be great for his political ambitions but it was doomed as method of improving schools.

The corporate reformers’ lack of curiosity in an evidence-driven plan for improvement is doubly frustrating because, as David Kirp documented, a successful experiment in systemic improvement was conducted in the nearby Union City schools.

Continue reading "Thompson: Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers" »

Maps: Missouri and South Carolina Might Join Indiana In

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"Missouri is on the verge of revoking its common-standards adoption...The newest addition to the "considering-unadoption" states is South Carolina." (EdWeek: Revoking the Common Standards: An Idea Under Consideration in Several States)

Quotes: Former Kennedy, Obama Official Calls Chicago Teachers Union "Foolish" Over Common Core

Quotes2Teachers are understandably asking for appropriate training and other resources needed to implement the standards and expressing concerns with high stakes decision-making attached to new tests. But the CTU has gone further and called for abandoning these new standards and better tests, with no alternative but to fall back on outdated standards that consistently failed students. It is irresponsible to turn back the clock on raising standards. -- Carmel Martin in the Chicago Sun Times (CTU foolish to fight Common Core)

Events: Live Tweets From Nashville [#EWA14]

The annual education writers conference is still going strong in Nashville today -- watch along (and interact with folks) here:

AM News: There Is No Education News Today


Julian Castro, Noted for Early Ed. Push, Reportedly Picked for Obama Cabinet Post PK12: San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who has made education policy a hallmark of his tenure, has been tapped by President Barack Obama to be the new US Secretary of Housing, according to the San Antonio Express News

Teen Asks Joe Biden To The Prom; VP Sends Her A Corsage Hartford Courant: When Talia Maselli envisioned her perfect prom date, one man immediately sprang to mind: Vice President Joe Biden. "Joe Biden makes me laugh," Maselli said. "He just cracks me up."

Tablets proliferate in nation’s classrooms, and take a swipe at the status quo WPost: Social studies students in a District middle school use a touch screen to swipe through the articles of the Constitution. A fifth-grade teacher in Arlington County sends video lessons to students as homework so she can spend more time helping them in class.

What to Watch for During the District’s Teacher Contract Negotiations VOSD: Let’s face it: Contract negotiations between school districts and the teachers union are a drag. There are theatrics, muscle-flexing, flag-waving and shows of solidarity. And that’s just the first 10 minutes of a San Diego Unified school board meeting.

Newark's New Mayor Demands Return of Schools to Local Control District Dossier: Mayor-elect Ras Baraka also called for the immediate halt to Superintendent Cami Anderson's plan to close and restructure several low-performing schools.

Schools Work to Help Transgender Students Fit In ABC News: Law or no law, schools across US work to help transgender students fit in without a fuss.

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

Continue reading "AM News: There Is No Education News Today" »

Afternoon Video: Reform Leader Connects Common Core To Racial Integration

John King gave a speech yesterday linking Common Core to the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, which is having a big anniversary.  Transcript here. He was on WNYC local public radio this morning, making liberal listeners crazy I'm sure. 



Charts: De-Segregating Schools "Might Be The Easy Part"

image from www.newrepublic.comThis was probably the last year when white students were the majority (they're 52 percent now) but classroom teachers are still overwhelmingly white (at 82 percent), according to this chart from TNR via CAP (Racial Divide for Students, Teachers) that focuses on how minority students are treated even in schools that are integrated. 

Quotes: Initial Wins Are Nice, But Only The Beginning

Quotes2When advocates of a particular education policy are victorious in the legislative arena, they have only won a battle, not a war. Opponents will show up again and again during implementation—in schools, or before school boards, or in other local forums—to continue the battle. - Brookings' Tom Loveless via Robert Pondiscio

Morning Video: Rand Paul Nobody In DC "Knows A Damn Thing" About Education


This video from last month shows Rand Paul talking education reform in Milwaukee. Rebel Pundit via RCe. Link here.

AM News: Looking Back At Brown & Ahead Towards Zip Code Inequality

image from t.co

A Decision That Helped Shape Michelle Obama NYT: For the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Michelle Obama will head to Topeka to talk about a Supreme Court ruling that affected her life. [pictured, via Instagram]

Segregation Is Back Politico: Sixty years after Brown v. Board, educational advantages are still unequally divided—not by race, but by zip code. 

Who Gets to Graduate? NYT Sunday Magazine: Rich students complete their college degrees; working-class students like Vanessa Brewer usually don’t. Can the University of Texas change her chances of success?

Before 'Brown V. Board,' Mendez Fought California's Segregated Schools NPR: Latino families sued four Orange County school districts over school segregation. The case, Mendez v. Westminster, ended school segregation in California seven years before Brown v. Board.

Commissioner John King on Common Core and Equality WNYC: New York State education commissioner and president of the University of the State of New York argues that Common Core opponents are standing in the way of achieving racial equality in our schools.

At A New Orleans High School, Marching Band Is A Lifeline For Kids NPR: Reporter Keith O'Brien spent a year following the Edna Karr High School marching band. Being a member is more than just a way to be popular; the band offers students a pathway to college.

Educating Girls: Big Payoff For $45 A Year NPR: Girls without an education are six times more likely to marry young than those who've finished high school, according to a new report from the World Bank Group. Guest host Celeste Headlee learns more.

New book traces city's revitalization through schools USA Today: What makes Syracuse and its schools appropriate for an intervention like this? Maeroff: Syracuse and Say Yes were a good fit for two reasons.

Afternoon Audio: New Yorker Reporter Talks Newark

Check out this podcast in which Dale Russakoff talks about her Newark story, and also be sure to read her post about the mayoral election that just happenedL Ras Baraka's Newark Victory

In her post about the election, Russakoff notes that Jeffries was rising quickly in the polls, thanks to reform money (no figure is given for union money behind Baraka - has anyone seen how much they spent?) and notes that the mayor-elect's position on charters has recently evolved. NB: I think she was also on WBUR's On Point earlier today. 

Charts: The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools Over Time

image from i.huffpost.com"At the very least, things are not as bad as they were before the court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools," notes HuffPost entry on UCLA study released today. Over all, at least.  Segregation in the NE is higher than it was in 1968, and the segregation rates are up across the board since 1989 for all regions. 

Thompson: The "Third Way" Promotes Evidence-Free Way to Improve Teaching

Stop-NeoliberalismThe Third Way promotes moderate efforts to promote “principled compromise.” It is “built around policy teams that create high-impact written products.” Two previous posts (here and here) described solid Third Way studies based on social science. But, both of those studies remained agnostic about education reform policies. 

A third paper, Tamara Hiler’s and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky’s Teaching: The Next Generation, is two papers in one. The first half summarizes the findings of a poll of 400 high-performing college students. The data is interesting and potentially useful. The second half is an infomercial for the TNTP and other teacher-bashers. It distorts that evidence and uses the poll as a prop to promote corporate reform.

I have concerns about the language that the Third Way used in introducing the other two studies but neither began with a statement such as “Only 35% (of top-performing college students) described teachers as ‘smart,’" and “Education was seen as the top profession that ‘average’ people choose.”

In fact, the survey found that 200 students see people who are nice, caring, patient, and smart as almost as likely to choose teaching as nursing. Smart people are as likely to choose teaching as as philosophy, and more likely to choose teaching over English, art, and communication. Educators may be more “mediocre” than political scientists, but more socially conscious.

Above all, Hiler and Hatalsky assume that the key to education is the intellect - “the Head,” not “the Heart.” They prejudge the potential benefits of teachers who are ambitious, competitive, and rootless, as opposed to being caring and grounded in the community.

Yes, from 3/4ths to 9/10ths of students said that reputation and opportunities for advancement are important. But, greater percentages said that stability and the opportunity to help others are important.

Continue reading "Thompson: The "Third Way" Promotes Evidence-Free Way to Improve Teaching" »



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