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Magazines: More Disclosure Problems For "The Nation"

image from www.wikicu.com

Remember up-and-coming young reporter George [@georgejoseph94] Joseph wrote that big piece in The Nation about TFA a week or so ago?Yeah, you remember.

We already know that he didn't bother reporting that the group behind the anti-TFA campus protests, ASUS, is union-funded.  And -- thanks to New America's Conor Williams -- we also know that his main concern that TFA was tipped off about a FOIA request turns out to be standard operating procedure for federal grantees.  

But now there's more -- not a lot more, but still. I'm procrastinating here and this is helping.  Joseph's bio blurb at The Nation says he's a Columbia undergrad and who he's written for.  All good there.  But his bio at In These Times is a little different, noting that he organizes with a student activist group called Student Worker Solidarity (that's their logo - nice!).

Why wasn't that disclosed in his TFA story, and why is The Nation taking stories from people with what seems like obvious conflicts of interest. Identifying as a member of a student activist group is something that I, at least, want to know when I'm reading a story about student activism -- and something that the editors at The Nation should have considered before taking or assigning the story and in its bio blurb of the writer. 

Video: While Away The Afternoon WIth Khan, Hastings, & Williams, Vanity Fair-Style

Here's a half-hour talk with Sal Khan, Reed Hastings, and Jane Williams - plus a link to the Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair portrait of Khan and a profile by EdSec Arne Duncan.

Update: NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing Clarification

Kudos to NYT Miami bureau chief Lizette Alvarez, who tweeted out last night that the eye-popping 60-80 days per year figure she cited for testing days in Florida in her Monday story wasn't an "every kid, all day situation."

It's not quite a formal correction, but to be fair you could read the original line different ways.  Here's the post that generated at least some of the questions about the original NYT story:  Are There *Really* 60-80 Days "Dedicated" To Testing In FLA?

Thanks also to everyone at FairTest, the FLDOE, EWA, and ExcelinED for helping try and dig out the facts behind the figure, which turned out to be the total number of days during which testing could be conducted -- the "window" of time rather than the actual number of days kids spend testing. Obiously, we still need a simple, comprable way to talk about testing burdens from district to district and school to school.  Where's the NCEE when you need them?

Related posts: Please Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

 

 

Research: New Orleans Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study

Here's something you don't see every day - in fact I can't think of it happening ever before (though surely it must have): The ED of the Cowen Institute at Tulane, John Ayers, has resigned after a report came out and had to be withdrawn, according to Higher Education via Politico  (Education Think Tank Head Quits After Flawed Study). The study came out and was withdrawn 9 days later, and now Ayers is gone at the end of this month.  It's not clear why the study was withdrawn, or whether there were issues with its review as well as its methodology, or whether Ayers left because of the report or because of its withdrawal. Know more about the report or the circumstances? Let us know in comments or ping me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ

Teacher Training Is A Ridiculously Easy Way To Ace College, Report Says Huffington Post: At 58 percent of 509 schools, "teacher preparation programs are much more likely to confer high grades than are other majors on the same campus," the report says. While an average of 30 percent of all students graduated "cum laude," 44 percent of teacher preparation students received the honor. The report calls the results "a wake-up call for higher education."

What Obama’s Inequity Nudge Means for San Diego Schools Voices of SD: The new union president, Lindsay Burningham, made clear when we talked with her in August that she didn’t see much need to change the evaluation process, putting any room for error on the administrator carrying out each review.

Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts WSJ: As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

Seeking Big K-12 Plans From Governors for 2015? Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Delivers State EdWatch: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has presented a wide-ranging package of education initiatives that include a focus on early education, reading, and English-language learners.

Portland Schools Urged To Scrap Transfers To Boost Racial Diversity Huffington Post: These allow students to switch to schools in different neighborhoods, but they must enter a lottery if spots are limited. There is also a separate lottery system for students hoping to transfer to selective "magnet" schools which offer advanced curriculums.

Goodbye, Snow Days: Students Study From Home ABC: Goodbye, snow days: Students across the nation increasingly hit the books from home.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Common Core Politics Not As Complicated As You May Think

This @cpre look at the midterms/CommonCore overlap seems notably clear, no? http://ow.ly/E8hDo 

3 reasons Common Core is especially controversial in New York - Vox http://ow.ly/E7lXk 

EdWeek bill tracker shows 2 Common Core rollback proposals have made it into law (so far) http://ow.ly/E7yIU  They're MO & NC

Obama's Fragile Education Legacy http://ow.ly/E7tMf  by @conorpwilliams

New report from Urban Teacher Residency United features Aspire & Denver Teacher Residency http://ow.ly/E8vjK  @utrunited

Head of Tulane-affiliated think tank (& former Chicago charter guru) John Ayers quits after release of flawed study http://ow.ly/E7EWc 

Salman Khan is changing the way kids learn - Portrait by Annie Leibovitz http://vnty.fr/11e1mfV 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

Reform: Education Post Marks Up Your Work At "Red Pen Page"

Red Pen Archives   Education PostEducation Post, everybody's favorite new education nonprofit, recently debuted its Red Pen Page, where it rebuts ridiculous claims made by advocates and fact-checks horrible stories reported by journalists.  

In the first few entries, which debuted last week, EP takes on Change the Stakes in NY and the Poughkeepsie Journal for various perceived errors and unsubstantiated claims.

 It's an interesting and potentially useful strategy that mirrors a lot of the writing I've done here in recent weeks and months.  

There are lots of claims being made by advocates (on both sides) and mistakes being made by journalists (of all kinds). And the format -- red pen marks in faux handwriting in the right margin (look where the green arrow leads you) is visually appealing.

However, the approach still relies on people to find the posts on EP's site (rather than sending them out via email or clogging up everybody's Twitter feed), and I'm not sure whether EP has enough reach or credibility (yet?) to make folks stand up and pay attention to what they say.

Related posts: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism;  Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

 

Video: TIME Editor Defends Controversial Vergara Story & Cover

Here's an MSNBC segment from a couple of weeks ago that you (like me) may have missed at the time, in which the TIME editor Nancy Gibbs explains the story -- including the notable use of the courts to bypass a broken legislative process - and reflects on the response to the story:

 

Gibbs rejects the notion that the story is anti-teacher -- a frequent claim made against reformers and journalists who write about reform -- but fumbles a bit I thought when she's asked why there weren't more apples on the cover, or a question mark along with the headline. For this and more of a view from the conservative side of things, check out the Media Matters roundup (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story). Meantime: pageviews!

Media: Oops!? Results From The Equity Project Same As Other NYC Charters

Part-time media critic Neerav "Relinquishment" Kingsland notes that several media outlets that covered the recent results showing strong outcomes for The Equity Project failed to realize that the school "Gets Same Results as Most Other Charter Schools in NYC."  It wasn't a liberal or conservative bias, however -- the WSJ, Vox, NPR, Shanker Blog, and National Review all missed it, according to Kingsland.  This suggests that journalists and bloggers need to be careful about the context into which they report their results, and also that NYC charters are somewhat higher performing that charters nationally.  

AM News: US Teacher Distribution Disgrace, PA Funding Lawsuit

U.S. to Focus on Equity in Assigning of Teachers NYT: Federal officials want states to ensure that poor and minority students will not be disproportionately taught by inexperienced educators.

Trying to get better teachers into nation's poor classrooms Washington Post: The Obama administration on Monday ordered states to devise plans to get stronger teachers into high-poverty classrooms, correcting a national imbalance in which students who need the most help are often taught by the weakest educators.

What The White House Is Doing To Make Sure Low-Income Students Get Good Teachers HuffPost: Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education shows that teachers in wealthy districts are more likely to have received a master’s degree or higher than in districts where a majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. 

Ed. Dept.: States Must Address Teaching Gaps TeacherBeat: The Education Department's latest push to ensure disadvantaged students get their fair share of high quality teaching ducks the controversial topic of "teacher effectiveness."

Pa. Districts, Parents Sue Over 'Irrational and Inequitable' School Funding District Dossier: The lawsuit filed Monday by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania on behalf of six school districts, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Small and Rural Schools, and state's NAACP, argues that the state has failed to devise a funding mechanism to provide its public school students with a thorough and efficient education. See also here, here.

Chromebooks Have Officially Taken Over The Education Market BuzzFeed: For the first time, Google Chromebooks were the best-selling device in the education market this quarter, beating out Apple's iPad in the K-12 sphere, according to data from market research firm IDC.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: US Teacher Distribution Disgrace, PA Funding Lawsuit" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Enough With Pooling Best Teachers In Wealthier Areas, Says Duncan

Ed. Dept. Directs States to Improve Teacher Distribution - Politics K-12 - Education Week http://ow.ly/E4SVt 

State-mandated testing takes 1 pct of FL class says @excelined - but district practices vary http://ow.ly/E513i  @ewaemily @LizetteNYT

Nice post from @MikeStryer on union rhetoric http://ow.ly/E4WzN  but hold on - @CivilRightsOrg opposes Vergara http://ow.ly/E4WIB 

Atlanta-area judge lifts order banning outlets from publishing cheating story | Poynter. http://ow.ly/E4T9O  @AJCGetSchooled

Dana Goldstein's The Teacher Wars is now in its 5th hardcover printing and the author will be in DC on 11/17 http://ow.ly/E4r56 

Hey, Vox, NPR, & WSJ: The Equity Project results aren't that different from other NYC charters, says @neeravkingsland http://ow.ly/E1JVc 

Quotes: Presumption Of Misery In Writing About The Poor

Quotes2There often is a tone in writing about the poor. There is a presumption that people of a certain class are mired in misery.

--  Writer Sarah Smarsh (‘Poor Teeth’ Writer on Class and Journalism) via Longform

 

Afternoon Video: How Moskowitz "Outmuscled" The Teachers Union

Here's a pro-charter segment on Success Academy via ReasonTV.  Can't bear the thought?  Watch the NEA president talk about the union's hopes for teachers and tireless commitment to kids following last week's drubbing of teachers unions Democrats. Play them backwards or mash them up into a single video if you dare.

Magazines: The Long Afterlife Of School-Age Torment

image from www.newyorker.comCheck out this week's New Yorker story (Whipping Boy), recounting the 44-year long hunt for the author's schoolboy tormenter:

"I was ten and he was twelve when for a few indelible months we roomed together in a British-style boarding school perched on an alpine meadow high above Geneva.”

His name—Cesar Augusto—“his size, his command of the school’s pseudo-military regulations, the accuracy he demonstrated when strafing enemies with ink from his Montblanc fountain pen, enabled him to transform our dorm into a theatre of baroque humiliation.”

Image used with permission.

Photo credit James Pomerantz

Media: Are There *Really* 60-80 Days "Dedicated" To Testing In FLA?

This sentence in a new NYT story about states' responses to concerns about overtesting makes it sound (to me, at least) that Florida schools are testing all kids, all day during almost one out of three days per year: 

In Florida, which tests students more frequently than most other states, many schools this year will dedicate on average 60 to 80 days out of the 180-day school year to standardized testing. In a few districts, tests were scheduled to be given every day to at least some students.  

There's no doubt that testing concerns are on the rise, and testing and test prep practices have gotten out of control in some places where new tests have been added but none have been removed, but still I worry about exaggerations and misunderstandings about the actual amount of testing that's going on.

I'm asking around to see if anyone can verify the number or explain how it was calculated.  Meantime, check out the NYT story States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F and let us know what you think.
 

AM News: Showdown Looming Over LA School Board Control

Four L.A. school board members likely to face reelection challenges LA Times: A majority of the Los Angeles Board of Education is up for reelection this spring, and all four are likely to face challengers based on the election filing period that closed Saturday. See also LA School Report.

Hispanic students are making steady math progress Washington Post: Hispanic students have made significant gains on federal math tests during the past decade, and Hispanic public school students in major cities including Boston, Charlotte, Houston and the District have made some of the most consistent progress, according to a report released Monday.

States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F NYT: Parents, students and school officials have joined a national protest of consequences of Common Core testing.

Common Core unscathed in California elections EdSource Today: The Common Core State Standards, the principal reform now underway in California schools, emerged unscathed from the state's fall electoral battles, including one of the most combative races for state superintendent of public instruction in decades.

City Deal to Fix Two Struggling High Schools Includes Replacing Staff WNYC: Two Brooklyn high schools will begin reviewing all of their staff members to determine which ones will stay, while developing a longer school day for students, under a long-awaited intervention plan that was originally due in the summer.

After a Dip More NYC Teachers Get Tenure WNYC:  Roughly 60 percent of 4,662 eligible city teachers were approved for tenure this year. That's a little higher than last year's approval rate of 53 percent, but enough of a change to prompt debate about whether Mayor Bill de Blasio was tough enough on teachers.

Five Great Teachers On What Makes A Great Teacher NPR: For our 50 Great Teachers series, a panel of experts shares thoughts on great teaching: past, present, and future.

Seattle Residents Choose To Raise Their Own Taxes To Subsidize Preschool, Increase Teacher Pay HuffPost: Seattle Proposition No. 1B will authorize a $58 million property-tax levy to fund a four-year pilot program of city-subsidized preschool on a sliding scale while raising academic standards and the pay of preschool teachers.

Death Toll Rises to 5 in School Shooting AP: Andrew Fryberg, 15, died of wounds sustained when his cousin, a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, opened fire in the cafeteria two weeks ago.

'Pioneer Schools' give a peek at what CPS's longer school day will look like Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools principal Nancy Hanks prepares three binders that will be given to each teacher outlining Rahm Emanuel's signature...

See more news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: StudentsFirst Claims 86 Pct Win Rate For Bipartisan Mix Of Candidates

Here's @StudentsFirst's self-rep 104-race $2.2M '14 tally http://ow.ly/DYSdi  [You're next, @FiftyCAN @DFER @Stand4Children @LEE_National!]

Teachers spent $100M says WSJ's @allysiafinley http://ow.ly/DZ02z  [but most of it wasn't on education races, right?]

Outside Money, Mixed Results in Austin school board race - The Austin Chronicle http://ow.ly/DVA17 

Cunningham's take on midterms2014 includes praise & concern for reformers http://ow.ly/DZbOk 

New Jersey Gets No Child Left Behind Waiver Extension - Politics K-12 - Education Week http://ow.ly/DZcPN 

High School Graduation Rates at an All-Time High - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/DZbFt 

NYT editorial board slams de Blasio school improvement plan for being weak, slow, complicated http://ow.ly/DYbKx 

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

Quotes: Old Playbook Not Working Anymore, Says Defeated CA Candidate

The old Quotes2playbook of...'Things are fine in our schools, we just need more money' — that’s not going to work for long... People want to be inspired, motivated and excited.

-- Marshall Tuck on his close loss for California state superintendent of education (Politico)

Charts: Younger People Want To Spend On Jobs & Schools More Than Older

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.comICYMI from Vox: Young people [blue bars] want to spend money on jobs and schools. Of course, the young are likely to be in school and/or contemplating having kids in school.

Crosswords: NYT Puzzle Lists "NEA" As Answer To "Common Core Org."

Martin West on Twitter    alexanderrusso You mean I have to document claims in tweets  Here s the evidence. http   t.co exCCK3yn5Q
Thanks to Martin West and Morgan Polikoff (among others) for noting that the correct answer to the NYT's 40D question "Common Core org." appears to be "NEA."  No word yet on whether the union is demanding a correction. Image courtesy MW.

Philanthropy: Have Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?

Flickr gates robreich https-::www.flickr.com:photos:gatesfoundation:6172147665:The Washington Post's latest big piece on the influence of philanthropic funding focuses on think tanks.  Titled Who funds the new Brookings?, the piece suggests that the new funding has likey had an impact on think tanks' research agendas if not their conclusions.

Corporate donations, more than large foundation grants, are newer and especially concerning. But foundations also have played a role:

"Foundations began to place more restrictions on their grants, part of a challenging new trend facing Brookings and other academic institutions in which donors increasingly specify their expectations as part of what they call 'impact philanthropy.'"

Among those funding Brookings are the Walton Family Foundation, who have given "millions of dollars to support Brookings’s education policy center — whose scholars regularly adopt market-oriented stances­ on key issues."

That being said, not everything that comes out of Brookings is pro-reform, notes the piece. Tom Loveless critiques the Common Core, which Gates and others support. But that doesn't satisfy folks like AFT president Randi Weingarten, who's quoted questioning the credibility of the institution and lamenting the dropoff in invitations to Brookings events.

The Post's previous effort on the philanthropy front was a look at the Gates Foundation's involvement behind the scenes on behalf of the Common Core that I found overheated (What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core) because I am of the view that funders can't really get the public or policymakers to do things that they don't already want to do (The Myth Of The All-Powerful Billionaires).

Not mentioned in this piece is the 2012 kerfluffle when Brookings and Diane Ravitch parted ways (she was a nonresident senior fellow), or a 2009-2010 attempt to determine the quality of education journalism that struck me as superficial and retro and a bit of of Brookings' areas of expertise.

Related posts: Brookings "Fires" Ravitch For Being "Inactive"Brookings Responds Re Ravitch, RomneyOlde Timey Panel, Olde Timey ReportSecond Brookings Education Report As Bad As First OneGoogle Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences.

 

AM News: Dissecting California's $30 Million Showdown (Torlakson v. Tuck)

Torlakson talks Democratic divisions, teacher tenure, Inglewood Unified KPCC: “I think this election was more about getting someone who could continue the momentum forward, doing some exciting and historic changes to education in California,” he said. “I believe the voters wanted someone with experience and I have that.”

Opinions differ on impact of Tuck’s campaign EdSource Today: In the hours since Marshall Tuck’s daunting but failed effort to unseat incumbent State strong Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, education and political observers have reached different conclusions about the election and its significance.

See also Politico's Morning Edu.

School Choice a Top Priority for Republican Leaders in House, Senate PK12: Be on the lookout for charter school or school voucher proposals to pop up early during the 114th Congress, as school choice legislation was named a top priority by the assumed Republican leaders in the House and in the Senate, which will flip to GOP control in January.

Arne Duncan on Minnesota's achievement gap Minnesota Public Radio News: Pre-school teacher Jody Bohrer and her students in Bloomington, Minn. gave U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a poster during a classroom visit on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. At Duncan's left is Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.

Average Urban School Superintendent Tenure Decreases, Survey Shows District Dossier: Significant turnover in the top job for big-city districts reversed what had been an uptick in length of service for urban superintendents, according to a new survey by the Council of the Great City Schools.

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

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Quotes: How Can Democrats' Midterm Defeat = Reform Victory?*

Quotes2It’s hard to believe a huge outpouring to defeat Obama – arguably the most powerful force ever to push for “education reform” – is somehow a resounding call for more education reform.

- Jeff Bryant (The Coalition For An Education Agenda Just Isn’t There, Yet)

*Originally headlined "Democratic" but that's not right -- thanks for catching the error.

Thompson: Klein Book Exposes Klein's Flaws & Failures In NYC

Anyone seeking to understand the failure of Joel Klein to improve New York City schools should carefully read Alexander Nazaryan's latest article in Newsweek, Joel Klein's Book on American Schools Tries to Find a Way Forward. Even though the Newsweek reporter’s review of Klein’s new book, Lessons of Hope, obviously aspires to hagiography, read between the lines and he inadvertently captures the essence of the tragedy of school reform.

Nazaryan notes that a Google search may not find “a single kind word about Joel I. Klein.” His revisionist review tries to explain why Klein should not be dismissed as “a tone-deaf autocrat, too comfortable in the parlors of the Upper East Side, not comfortable enough in the school auditoria of East New York and the South Bronx, where jeers often announced his arrival.”

To borrow from Nazaryan’s rhetoric, Klein was a reformer who didn’t successfully “reform much,” but he sure spent a lot of money. In 2003, for instance, the city’s average NAEP 8th grade reading score was 252. In 2009, it was 252. According to Nazaryan’s former employer, The Daily News, Klein took over a system that spent below $11,000 per student. By 2010-2011, that number rose by about 75% to $19,000. Who knows how much additional foundation money was lavished on schools that Klein used as gladiators to defeat neighborhood schools in the race to the test score top?  Moreover, during most of Klein's years, NYC schools benefited from an incredible economic boom. 

Nazaryan makes it seem like Klein had no other option than risk-taking and unleashing the full “brunt of his reforms” on teachers and students. Klein was opposed by UFT President Randi Weingarten, who was supposedly the “pedagogical version of Bull Connor.” Showing that he is oblivious to social science research, cognitive science and education history, as well as the position of Weingarten’s union, Nazaryan indicates that Klein had no choice but to turn students into lab rats because he had to shred “the noxious these-kids-can’t-learn belief deep at the heart of all union recalcitrance.” While doing so, Nazaryan seems to indicate that his knowledge of school improvement comes from the notorious, fact-challenged “The Lottery” and “Waiting for Superman.”

Like Klein, Nazaryan was a newbie when he helped establish a new small high school.  His only preparation was a “harrowing year of teaching middle school English.” After four years, mostly at a “mini-Princeton” selective school, Nazaryan turned to journalism as “a path out, or up, or whatever” from public schools.

Continue reading "Thompson: Klein Book Exposes Klein's Flaws & Failures In NYC " »

Events: Yale 2015 Conference Going "Back To Why"

Yaelsomeed2015Here's the promo card for the spring 2015 version of the annual Yale event, which is notable mostly for the headline:  "Back To Why: Education At Its Core," and its subhead, which is about the need to "refocus on the purpose and outcomes of education reform." Interesting, right? Or am I making too much of it?

Morning Video: Midterm's Big Winner? $6.5 Billion In Spending

From The Daily Show. Money wins! Warning NSFW language from Jason "Money" Jones. 

AM News: Democrats -- Not Unions -- Lost In Midterms, Say Teachers Unions

Teachers Unions Say Midterm Losses Don't Reflect On Them HuffPost: Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Huffington Post that she sees the election results differently -- and does not understand how Democratic reformers could possibly claim they were a success. “It’s hard for me to understand … what the business types and the testing types of this education debate think they won here.” 

Teachers unions defend their ground by getting Torlakson reelected LA Times: In races where education was the main issue, such as the Torlakson-Tuck contest, union-backed candidates and measures fared better, Weingarten said. Voters, she said, still side with teachers on issues such as the need to lower classes sizes, limit standardized testing and provide more funding for schools.

Torlakson victory ensures continuity in reforms EdSource Today: One immediate consequence of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s rebuff of challenger Marshall Tuck is to ensure the continuance of the cohesion in state education policy that has been forged since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to Sacramento four years ago.

Unions' Sliver Of Hope In Devastating Midterm Elections BuzzFeed: The success of progressive initiatives in typically red states is being treated by labor as a signal that what they are doing is working, even if those votes didn’t carry over into the governor and senate races.

Teachers unions spent $60 million for the midterms but still lost many elections Washington Post: The nation's major teachers unions suffered losses across the country Tuesday, despite pouring about $60 million into federal, state and local races in the midterm elections. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Democrats -- Not Unions -- Lost In Midterms, Say Teachers Unions" »

Journalism: Sometimes Education Writer Steven Brill Launching A New Endeavor

Steve Brill, the cigar-chomping, Tab-drinking journalism enterpreneur who sometimes writes about education issues, is starting a new longform investigative journalism endeavor that isn't necessarily focused on education issues but could imaginably be a place for school stories to find a home.  

The effort, detailed in Capital New York and other places (Steven Brill-Jill Abramson startup comes into focus), is a partership with former NYT exec Jill Abramson that will generate one big story a month, published via subscription model, and will be part of an existing site or publication (not named).

Via email, Brill told me that the site isn't education-focused by any means, and they aren't taking pitches yet so hold your horses, but I can't imagine that the right kind of pitch wouldn't find interested eyes given Brill's track record writing about teachers, unions, politics, and schools.  The only real danger is that Brill himself will want to write the education stories rather than assigning them out.

Like many others, I've had a love-hate relationship with Brill, generally loving the attention he brings to the issue and his sharp eye -- he also thanked me in his book about school reform for all the insights this blog provided, which I appreciated -- but lamenting his Ravitchian self-certainty, his pro-reform credulity, and his somewhat limited grasp of education research.

Related posts: Time's Up For "Race ...Steve Brill's School Reform Sustainability ProblemBrill's Big Sloppy Wet Kiss ...Brill (Over)Praises DuncanBrill's Last Stand12 New Yorker Ed Articles Vox Missed/Got Wrong.

 

 

 

Politics: Rounding Up The 2014 Midterm Roundups

Media outlets and think tanks and advocacy groups all have roundups of last night's elections out -- most of them saying much the same things. But who's is the best?

image from edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com

Teachers Unions Take Huge Beating in IL & elsewhere, notes Politico Pro - But Common Core oppo looms in AZ, GA.

It was a really bad night for teachers unions besides CA and PA races, echoes RiShawn Biddle

Fordham's Mike Petrilli takes a somewhat historical look at the elections, comparing them to previous rounds (with a chart!).

NC was the most expensive race in the country, notes PK12 -- if not the reform/union showdown that CA was. Union spending didn't pay off.

It's a mixed bag, says Patrick Riccards aka EduFlack - but Cuomo win without teachers in NY is key.

Winning the Senate doesn't mean that much, notes Rick Hess - and Mike Johnston needs a higher office to seek, soon.

Big wins in RI, notes 50CAN's MPM

Don't forget that Sacto's strong mayor measure failed, notes SacBee via CG

Image used with permission.  There are other roundups -- Whitney Tilson's email, a few insider briefings that I'm not sure are meant for public consumption. I still haven't heard who won in Minneapolis.  I still haven't seen a union-side analysis (the AFT press call was cancelled).  I have the sense that perhaps reformers are celebrating outcomes that didn't largely have to do with education issues (most of the union spending was to help Democrats against Republicans, right?).

Quotes: New Yorker Slips Anti-Reform Straw Man Into Teacher Training Column

Quotes2Some educational reformers in the United States insist that we don’t need to worry about training: firing all the bad teachers would be enough.

- James Surowiecki (Getting Better at Getting Better)

AM News: Unions Win CA, PA But Lose Elsewhere (IL, MI, RI, WI)

Torlakson wins superintendent race EdSource Today: Tom Torlakson has won a second term as state superintendent of public instruction. The 65-year-old incumbent defeated Marshall Tuck 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

See also: Torlakson declares victory over Tuck for California schools chief SacBee; Tom Torlakson takes early lead in race to be California's school superintendent AP; Incumbent Torlakson takes the lead in race for state schools chief LA Times.

NB AFT has cancelled its s scheduled press call this AM.

NEA’s and AFT’s Awful Election Day Dropout Nation: In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker won a second term over Mary Burke ... In Michigan, Rick Snyder beat the NEA- and AFT-backed Mark Schauer by a four-point margin. Then there is Rhode Island, where State Treasurer Gina Raimondo won a first term as governor in spite of opposition from the NEA earlier this year... And let’s not forget Bruce Rauner, the private-equity fund boss who defeated incumbent Illinois Gov.

Fiorettio snub prompts growing outrage in CTU Substance News: Even those union members who might have considered a honest plea on behalf of the Garcia campaign [endorsed by Karen Lewis] were angered by the way in which the night was handled.

Rocketship wins green light for its first charter school in D.C. WashPost: The D.C. Public Charter School Board gave full approval Monday night for Rocketship Education, a California-based charter operator, to open its first school in the District in 2016.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Unions Win CA, PA But Lose Elsewhere (IL, MI, RI, WI)" »

Maps: Poor Minneapolis Neighborhoods Get Least Effective Teachers

Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 4.40.23 PM

The largest concentration of underperforming teachers in Minneapolis tend to be in high poverty neighborhoods - and the district claims not to have known the extent of the problem, reports the Star-Tribune (Teacher performance in Minneapolis). Read more about it here. Read about the responses in the MinnPost (Unpacking the Strib's teacher-eval story). Image used with permission.

Thompson: Gates Scholar, Tom Kane, Continues the Fight to Prove He Is Right

Tom Kane’s Climate Change and Value-Added: New Evidence Requires New Thinking, in Education Next, continues his recent, obsessive meme. Kane keeps arguing that he was right and those who oppose value-added evaluations are wrong.

Kane starts by criticizing the polarization of the debate over value added. Even as he does so, Kane must understand that the evaluation model he favors can only function if it is trusted. But, both sides have long ago staked out their positions. The opportunity to persuade educators that VAMs are trustworthy is ancient history.

Kane continues to fight in the same old way over arcane statistical controls and theories that have no relevance in regard to real world policy. He acknowledges that value-added estimates for teachers are volatile and then replies, “for many purposes, such as tenure or retention decisions, it is not the ‘year to year’ correlation that matters, but the ‘year-to-career.’”

No! What matters for individuals is the “year to year” correlation of their value-added score to their actual effectiveness in their annual evaluations.

Why would top teachers remain in the inner city when VAMs give them an unknown but signficant chance PER YEAR of having their careers damaged or destroyed due to circumstances beyond their control? Why would we risk the humiliation of being placed on a Plan for Improvement, being on the chopping block, and facing constant indignities for a second year under a VAM which misfired in its “year to year” correlation with actual effectiveness? After one of those inexplicable drops in the annual estimates of their effectiveness, accomplished teachers will likely look at that first “Below Satisfactory” evaluation, tell their principal to take this job and shove it, and transfer to a lower-poverty school.

Continue reading "Thompson: Gates Scholar, Tom Kane, Continues the Fight to Prove He Is Right" »

Quotes: Cincinnati Record Suggests Conversion To "Community Schools" May Not Be Enough In NYC

Quotes2What has gone largely unsaid is that many of Cincinnati’s community schools are still in dire academic straits, according to an analysis by The New York Times, despite millions of dollars in investment and years of reform efforts. - Javier Hernandez in a 2013 NYT article Pondiscio posted on Facebook in response to De Blasio school turnaround announcement.

AM News: All Eyes On California (Plus Pennsylvania & NYC, Too)

California’s biggest race will surprise you: It’s for state school superintendent WashPost: Perhaps the most important — and definitely the most expensive — election in California on Tuesday is the down-ballot battle for state school superintendent. The $30 million race has generated three times as much spending as the contest for governor, with money pouring in from across the country.

AFT's Political Blitz to the Midterm-Election Finish Line PK12: The blitz began last week, with several ads paid for by AFT's Solidarity Fund, one of its political financing arms. It will continue through Tuesday, when Weingarten is slated to be on hand in Philadelphia, where Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tom Wolfe is expected to trounce Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.

De Blasio Unveils New Plans for Troubled Schools in New York NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio said his tactics of offering more help to failing schools, and providing social services to students and families there, differed sharply from his predecessor’s. See also WNYC, WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.

Marysville students return amid grief, outpouring of support Seattle Times: Hundreds of parents, relatives, alumni and other community members turned out to support students at Marysville-Pilchuck High on the first day of school since the shooting 10 days ago. Also offering support were visitors representing other U.S. communities that have endured school shootings.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On California (Plus Pennsylvania & NYC, Too)" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: All Eyes On California (Until Tuck Loses)

Teachers' Union Bosses Barnstorm Across U.S., AFT Makes Final TV Ad Push - State EdWatch - Education Week http://ow.ly/DKPXt

Your Edu-Watching Guide to the 2014 Mid-Term Elections - Politics K-12 - Education Week http://ow.ly/DKOB5 

John Oliver takes on state legislators, the most important politicians you're ignoring - Vox http://ow.ly/DKSEl  @dylanmatt

Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don't Think They're Smart - The Atlantic http://ow.ly/DKJ3J 

Trying to make it in a Richmond neighborhood with a 70 percent poverty rate - The Washington Post http://ow.ly/DKRWm  @tinagriego

Palo Alto #teacher @EstherWojcicki on " #tenure as a problem, but also as a necessity." @haleybureau http://ow.ly/DKNj9  via @susansawyers

For all this and more, see @alexanderrusso.

Monday Video: Pay Less Attention To The Senate Or Governors - Statehouse Elections Matter More

"The state legislatures [are] much more up for grabs (as are many governorships), and they have real power. [They] have more influence than Congress over K-12 and higher education, criminal justice, housing, and transportation, among many other issues." (John Oliver takes on state legislators, the most important politicians you're ignoring - Vox)

Quotes: How Unions "Lost" The Media (Or At Least A Few Editorial Pages)

Quotes2This [digging in] strategy might work in the short run. But in the long run [the unions are] dooming the schools they claim to care about to mediocrity and abandonment by the middle class, and putting the union they profess to love on a path to irrelevance.

-- Whitmire and Rotherham (The Teachers Unions First Lost The Media; Have They Now Lost Everyone Else, Too?)

AM News: In California & Elsewhere, Unions Employ Conservative Arguments To Block Reform Efforts

California Race Brings Democrats’ Differences on Education Into Focus NYT: Traditional alliances have been scrambled as some teachers’ unions have found more common cause with conservatives than with members of their own party. Mr. Torlakson, the union-backed candidate, has expressed views that at times echo conservative mantras.

Superintendent race turns on future of reform EdSource Today: Donors to incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck are spending record sums to influence what they consider is at stake in this election: the direction of education reform.

Close state schools superintendent race coming down to the wire KPCC: "His [Tuck's] backers were able to recruit a very strong and effective candidate," said David Plank, the executive director of the research center Policy Analysis for California Education. "It is something of a surprise that he has mounted as strong a challenge as he has done."

Education issues often contentious in Maryland governor’s race Washington Post: As the Maryland governor’s race has heated up in recent weeks, education issues have flared up, too, with clashes over pre-kindergarten, college tuition increases and school construction funding.

Once Sleepy Campaign Issue, Education Gains Clout AP: Once a sleepy campaign topic, education policies gains political heft in races against GOP. Walker is the chief target, but Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett face similar, educator-led campaigns against them. Those first-term Republicans all took steps to stabilize state budgets with dramatic shifts in how many tax dollars go to schools and teachers.

States Slashing Education Spending HuffPost: State-level K-12 education spending has fallen dramatically in many states since 2008. In that time, 29 states cut per pupil spending, shifting the burden of financing education to local school districts and, in many instances, forcing schools to cut costs and even teachers.

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

Continue reading "AM News: In California & Elsewhere, Unions Employ Conservative Arguments To Block Reform Efforts" »

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.