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Pictures: New Images Of President Bush At Elementary School Day Of 9/11 Attacks

There's something moving about these and other pictures of President Bush and his team, and the kids he's visiting.

Morning Video: Posse Foundation Tackles Veteran College Students

From PBS NewsHour: "The nonprofit Posse Foundation aims to alter this dynamic, sending veterans to elite schools that otherwise would have been off-limits." (When veterans enroll at elite schools, they’re not just students)

Thompson: Jack Jennings & the Insider's View of School Reform

One reason why I loved Jack Jennings's Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is that it helped me grasp something that always perplexed me. NCLB, unlike Arne Duncan's test and punish agenda, had very little in terms of real sanctions for individuals.  Why didn't the normative education culture of compliance respond in the obvious manner - pocket the extra money and pretend to comply with the law? Why did systems actually impose test-driven accountability and juke the stats, rather than just play the numbers games and claim that they had really taken a pound of flesh out of educators?
Similarly, Jennings helps explain a phrase that became ubiquitous in my world. Our poor district desperately needed federal money, but it didn't dare spend it in the ways that would most benefit poor students. During years before and shortly after NCLB, I'd often hear the statement about Title I money: "Oh, that's just federal money." In other words, individual administrators wouldn't take risks in order to spend those modest funds more effectively; they’d stick with programs that were completely safe.
To his credit, Duncan subsequently spoke about flexibility in spending Title I. I'd cite his promises and suggest approaches focusing on the socio-emotional aspect of learning and invariably hear words of agreement from administrators. After all, our district was 90% low-income, so there was little chance that those researched-based approaches would unfairly benefit affluent kids. Then would come a statement like this: "But, what if some 25-year-old accountant disallowed it?" Often, the other administrators would offer the same few anecdotes about other districts that were burned by federal bureaucrats.
Jennings account of Title I is especially incisive. The ultimate insider with a half century of experience in edu-politics explains how Congress thought it was passing a general aid program with few strings attached. Reports of abuses prompted federal administrators in the 1970s to turn it into a categorical aid program, which led to regulations that could be burdensome. State and local administrators pushed back and gained some relief from the micromanaging. In return, the program became more focused on student achievement, as opposed to investing in the broader welfare of poor children.  
As Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools unfolded, my big question was addressed. I had been unaware of the long complicated story of how Title I had become more focused on academic accountability.  On the ground in inner city schools, we would have had to have our heads firmly in the sand to miss the justified pressure from the civil rights community to produce concrete metrics of academic growth for poor children of color but I, at least, had missed the parts of the story that Jennings recounts. Systems had been fighting multi-faceted battles over accountability and I’d just been aware of the disputes over test scores. So, even though NCLB’s test score targets seemed so utopian that it appeared unlikely that systems would go to illogical extremes to meet them, an overall foundation had been laid for a serious commitment to test-driven accountability.

Continue reading "Thompson: Jack Jennings & the Insider's View of School Reform" »

AM News: Obama, Bush Tout New Orleans School Accomplishments

Presidents Obama, Bush Praise New Orleans' Schools Education Week: U.S. presidents past and present are visiting New Orleans this week, marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and discussing the radical reshaping of public education in the city. See also NYT: George W. Bush, Visiting New Orleans, Praises School Progress Since Katrina 

Nearly Half of States Opted to Hit Accountability Snooze Button PK12: For those states, results from tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards won't have an effect on school ratings, at least for the school year that just ended.

As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled AP: Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Scores in four other states that developed their own exams tied to the standards have been released.

Indianapolis Pact Couples New Teacher Roles and Big Pay Boosts Teacher Beat: Effective teachers signing onto a newly created initiative to mentor other teachers and reach more students could see thousands of dollars in additional pay.

A timeline of Texas' 30 years of school finance legal fights AP: A lawsuit challenging how Texas pays for its public schools will soon reach the state Supreme Court - the sixth time since 1984. Here's a look at major milestones in 30-plus years of legal battles:...

Tools for Tailored Learning May Expose Students’ Personal Details NYT: Many technological tools used by schools are designed to customize learning, but concern is developing over the collection and use of data on individual students.

Teacher Was Late To School 111 Times Because Of Breakfast AP: "I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time," 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson told The Associated Press.

Art Show Captures the Wrenching Effects of Closing a School NYT: “reForm” is set in a model classroom from a Philadelphia school, with a blackboard, cubbies, books — and oral testimony about the school’s closure.

Maryland schools superintendent announces resignation Washington Post: Lillian Lowery, hired in 2012, will become president and CEO of an Ohio education nonprofit.

Little Saigon school to provide instruction in English and Vietnamese LA Times: A public school in Little Saigon is set to become the first in California to provide instruction in both English and Vietnamese.

Reform: It All Began 25 Years Ago In Charlottesville -- Right?

Conventional wisdom has it that the current reform movement started in 1983 with the release of the Nation At Risk report, but EdWeek makes a pretty good case with this piece (Historic Summit Fueled Push for K-12 Standards - Education Week) that a better starting point would be 25 years ago (1989) in Charlottesville, Va.

Penned by Alyson Klein, the EdWeek piece reaches back to some of the folks involved in the 1989 summit and some of those who're working on national standards today. In a few cases - Achieve's Mike Cohen, for example -- they are still working at it.

My old boss, Jeff Bingaman, was a committed member of the National Education Goals Panel, which was one of the entities that came out of the standards movement of that time, and was a strong advocate for the voluntary national assessment that President Clinton proposed funding in his second administration in order to provide cross-state comparisons beyond NAEP and give the national standards that were being developed some extra emphasis in schools and districts.

Check it out.  It seems so long ago, it's almost a dream.  But it wasn't that long ago -- and many of the same issues are part of Common Core and whatever happens next. Image used with permission. Image used with permission from the Bush Presidential Library.

Quotes: No Obama Administration Over-Reach.... On Standards, At Least

Quotes2You can argue that some of the OTHER things the Obama administration has done constitute something of an over-reach, but not on standards. -- Achieve's Mike Cohen speaking at #EWA154 (at roughly the 8:33 mark)

Media: Three Edu-Mysteries The Clinton Papers Might Answer

Screen shot 2014-03-17 at 12.25.00 PMLast week a big batch of "formerly withheld" papers from the Clinton administration were published online, and political types are poring through them for answers to various mysteries from nearly 20 years ago (and to help make predictions for 2016).

Here are 3 education-mysteries that might be answered by the new releases (or by previously released materials that haven't been examined yet):

3 --What was the real motivation behind the Class Size Reduction initiative from Clinton's second term, and did Riley, Reed, et al know how thin the research was and what havoc it would cause in places like California?

From a 1999 memo about means-testing Social Security and using the money for education: 

"I just want you to think about where you could be in America if you means-tested Social Security and did some of these more radical things, and pour all this surplus for 20 years and spend it on children," Clinton said. "You could hire a million teachers and increase their salaries by 50 percent and really do something."

2 -- Where did the idea of funding a voluntary national test in the Clinton budget proposal (1997 0r 1998, as I recall) come from, and how confident or concerned were the folks at the DPC about getting something through Congress?  See a 1997 letter from my old boss and others in support of the idea here.

1 -- Who was the most active/influential Clinton staffer on education policy over all-- Bruce Reed (1640 entries), Mike Cohen (259 entries), Dick Riley (485 results), or even Hillary Clinton?  
Anything else you'd like to find in those dusty files?  Anyone taken a look yet? Here's a link to the latest pile.
Image via Flickr.

Thompson: Rep. Miller Had To Have Known How NCLB Would Be Implemented

NclbEdSource’s Kathryn Baron, in NCLB Co-author Says He Never Anticipated Federal Law Would Force Testing Obsession, reports that Rep. George Miller, an  architect of No Child Left Behind, says that he did not intend to create “what some have charged is a simplistic ‘drill and kill’ approach that subverts real instruction.”

Miller claims that the most important part of the law was reporting data on the outcomes of each demographic group. This “turned out to be a firestorm.”

No! The reporting of disaggregated test score data was a win-win policy welcomed by all types of stakeholders.  It was the high-stakes testing that educators oppose.

Miller undercuts his professions of innocence to dumbing down teaching and learning. He says that “there were people who believed that drill and kill could lead to learning. And there were people who were drilling and killing and saying ‘This is absolutely wrong. But that was the policy’.”

Miller still seems oblivious to the damage done by creating the utopian goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. And, again, he blames school systems for responding in ways that he should have known were predictable.

Continue reading "Thompson: Rep. Miller Had To Have Known How NCLB Would Be Implemented" »

Thompson: Karl Rove's Descendents

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Thompson: Karl Rove's Descendents" »

Thompson: Countdown to Universal NCLB Proficiency

NclbAs we begin another spring testing season, educators will further highlight the educational malpractice being imposed on our students by bubble-in accountability. This year, we will also showcase the countdown to the failure of NCLB to meet its accountability targets. 

Surprisingly, true believers in high-stakes testing aren't ignoring the law's anniversary and its target of 100% proficiency. The Democrats for Education Reform Statement Marks the Twelfth Anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act press release brags that "NCLB’s policies are now a permanent part of the education policy landscape."

DFER's Charlie Barone was an architect of NCLB and yet he proclaims the truth that reformers usually prefer to duck. He compares "current reform efforts on issues like standards, assessments, choice, teacher evaluation, and tenure" to NCLB.

If you liked NCLB, you will love DFER's, Arne Duncan's, and the Billionaires Boys Club's versions of NCLB-type testing on steroids. I'm curious, however, about the data that DFER cites to celebrate the output-driven mandates of the last twelve years. It links to data produced by "its inexorable march forward" to top-down micromanaging of our diverse nation's schools. It shows the $1000 per low-income student, per year increase in Title I, input-driven spending.  DFER remains silent about any supposed increases in student performance.  

The noneducators who gave us NCLB and the even worse policies of the Duncan administration remain preoccupied with their political fights.  Their lesson from NCLB is focused on "those pushing back," i.e. their adult nemeses. Once again, reformers show themselves oblivious to real-world outputs, the effects of their handiwork on poor students of color.-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via. 

Quotes: Civil Rights Groups "Disappointed" On Teacher Equity

Quotes2The 50-state strategy [to ensure equitable distribution of effective teachers] should have been started 12 years ago. [The new waiver renewal guidance is] disappointing, and it sends a message that it's not at the top of their agenda. -- EdTrust's Kate Tromble in EdWeek (Civil Rights Groups Wary on Waiver-Renewal Guidelines

Today's EdGIF: "Is Our Children Learning?"

Who could forget one of the the best Bushisms of all time?
 Send GIF suggestions to me at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

Update: 9/11's Education-Related Moments, Remembered

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 2.41.48 PMOn the 12th anniversary of 9/11, here are some education-related items that are worth mentioning again -- most of them from a 2011 post called  The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up:

In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked. [video] 
Some of the kids who were there in the room told TIME in 2011 that they thought Bush had done the right thing staying there with them rather than rushing out.
The New Yorker then told us about the story (The Pet Goat) that students were reading.  
A SF blogger named Peter Smith had discovered the story was actually a reading exercise in a Direct Instruction textbook (text here).  
Now there's a pretty fascinating AP story about what happened that day in that school and what's happened to the educators and students -- now high school seniors --since then.
The Pet Goat now has a Wikipedia page, as does the school.  Image via Daily Beast.

Quotes: NAEP Progress Slower In Obama/Waiver Era

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comFor the first nine years [of NCLB], the average gains were six points annually for African-Americans, five points for Hispanics and three points for whites... Annual gains [in the Obama/waiver era] have been limited to one-and-a-half points for blacks and to three points for Hispanic students.  - Paul Peterson in the WSJ (The Obama Setback for Minority Education)

Morning Video: A Different View On NCLB's Flaws & the House Version

Parents got left out of NCLB in terms of engagement, transfers, and tutoring, says NACS's Nina Rees in this recent WSJ Opinion Video -- but the House rewrite of NCLB over-corrects the law's problems.


Photos: Diane Ravitch & George W. Bush

image from julianvasquezheilig.files.wordpress.comIn honor of her recent birthday, Cloaking Inquality has posted this picture of one of Diane Ravitch's class pictures and invited folks to guess which is her.  

For me, the more interesting picture is further down the post, depicting Ravitch and George W. Bush.

It may be hard to remember, and often goes without mention these days, (though it's not secret), but for a loooong time, Ravitch was pro-reform and even held a spot in the (previous) Bush administration.

Happy birthday, Diane!

Charts: The Rise & Fall of NCLB Funding

ScreenHunter_01 May. 06 12.01
Inflation-Adjusted Title I Budget Back to Pre-George W. Bush Level via Thompson (Andy Brownstein plus special appearance by Wayne (CRS) Riddle).

Morning Video: Bush Education Accomplishments, Revisited

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

The newly-opened Bush Library includes a section on education, and NBC's Chuck Todd interviewed former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings about the Bush education legacy.  

TV: EdWeek's Take On "House Of Cards"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comLast week I told you about my failed attempt to slog through "House of Cards" and how much the show reminded me of a clunky retelling of the 2000 authorization of NCLB.  

This week, Politics K-12 has a review / recap of the series (Congress Won't Reauthorize ESEA, So Netflix Will Do It For Them) penned by someone named Ross Brenneman.  

While disappointingly unaware of my take on the show ( Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization), Brenneman provides a couple of helpful tidbits, including a reminder that The West Wing also focused heavily on education and some reassurance that teachers aren't portrayed negatively (at least not in comparison with the anti-hero Democratic Congressman played by Kevin Spacey). This is no "Won't Back Down" in regards to its portrayal of union leaders, though I understand that there's a bigger role for them in the second half of the show which I didn't see.


House Of Cards: Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization

If, like me and a few others, you spent all or part of the weekend watching episodes of Netflix's new dramatic series, House of Cards, you emergef from your cave this chilly Monday morning tired and edgy.  Perhaps you went back and tried again once the week started. According to Atlantic.com, a Netflix marathon often leads to a Netflix hangover.

image from prospect.org

Why a hangover?  Well, like many shows these days -- Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, etc. -- the central characters here (Kevin Spacey as a Southern Congressman, Kate Mara as an ambitious journalist) aren't particularly admirable or moral human beings.   

What makes the show watchable -- in addition to the never-ending concerns about whether the characters will do more awful things (they will!) or get caught (mostly not!) -- is that it's got negotiations over an education bill as a backdrop.

Yes, like Season 4 of The Wire and Won't Back Down and a raft of recent shows, education reform is the high-stakes backdrop for this Washington DC thriller.

But is it realistic, or any good?  To tell you a little more about this -- which I must (otherwise I watched four and a half episodes in vain) -- involves revealing a fair number of plot points (ie, spoilers).  So read below without any expectation of my keeping secrets.  

Continue reading "House Of Cards: Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization" »

Morning Reading: New Yorker Profiles Ravitch

Screen shot 2012-11-12 at 8.42.59 AMThe long-awaited (and -dreaded) Ravitch profile is out in the new New Yorker.

Called Public Defender, features this somber picture of Ravitch.

One interesting line from the article jumps out:

Ravitch says that she still receives letters from teachers who can’t forgive her for her past reform advocacy:

“I feel I have to make up for the damage I’ve done.”

Ravitch's role in creating the reform movement, and her subsequent reversal, has long been an issue and a concern for me (see Ravitch's Stunning Certainty).

This is the first time I've seen or heard her say something this simple and apologetic.

Pictures: Four Secretaries Of Education

I know this makes me a sentimental geek, and I have issues with at least some of the policies they all pursued, but I thought it was great to see the last four education secretaries together onstage earlier this week at Education Nation. (Riley's chair should have been a little higher than the others' given he served two terms, no?)  Courtesy NBC News.

TV: Happy Anniversary To NCLB & "The Wire"

image from emilyfrlekin.files.wordpress.comHard to believe it, but NCLB and "The Wire" are about the same age.  NCLB was enacted in January 2002, and The Wire's first season began a decade ago this past Saturday.

Beyond that, the similarities end.  NCLB was briefly popular, and then increasingly less so.  The Wire was obscure and unpopular for most of its five seasons. Most people who came to know and love it never saw it "live" on HBO.   

For a long history of the series (not much education in there) go here.

Thinking back on the show and my countless blog posts about it, I feel like "The Wire" wasn't particularly helpful on education issues but it captured the mind-blowing dysfunction the can happen in large bureaucracies, the chronic mistreatment of poor urban minorities, and the difficult interplay between idealism and political pragmatism.  

Update: The Pet Goat, The 7 Minutes, The Kids Grown Up

Three education-related 9/11 moments, and an update:  In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed us the video of the event during which the Commander In Chief seemed stunned and uncertain as the Twin Towers were being attacked.  The New Yorker then told us about the story (The Pet Goat) that students were reading.  A SF blogger named Peter Smith had discovered the story was actually a reading exercise in a Direct Instruction textbook (text here).  Now there's a pretty fascinating AP story about what happened that day in that school and what's happened to the educators and students -- now high school seniors --since then.

Books: What's Bush Got To Say About NCLB?

image from www.borders.com I'm counting on one of you hard-working types to pick up a copy of GWB's new book, Decision Points, and find out what if anything he has to say about NCLB.  

His eventual Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings worked on the legislation her spot at the White House DPC and recently argued against the idea it should be gutted -- advocating not only for the retention of AYP but (did I hear that correctly?) also for the 2014 goals.

Check out the video here and don't forget to find me a copy of the table of contents for the Bush book and any other snippets. 

Thompson: Summertime and the Opinions are Hazy

Makingthemost Responding to the question of why Michelle Rhee disregarded the instructions of the D.C. Council to cut $9 million from summer school, Jay Mathews wrote "Anyone who has looked at the data on summer learning loss would have to say Rhee was right, and the council was wrong." What?!?! Because high-quality, engaging summer programs are valuable, Mathews did not need to question the effectiveness of D.C.’s summer schools before proclaiming Rhee is right? When commenters complained that D.C.’s summer schools were still the same old test prep, fig leaf for social promotion, Mathews responded "I know it (summer school) has been bad in the past, but I was told that the plan was to do better in 2010. ... If it turns out to be a zoo, then you are right, I'm an idiot."

Sounds like low expectations for Op Ed writers to me. If I believe that Rhee has plans to improve summer learning, then I can believe that Rhee believes the incredible testimony that she provided to the Council. (Follow the link and see what it really takes to stem summer loss.)

Worst, Mathews explained away alleged age discrimination based on

Continue reading "Thompson: Summertime and the Opinions are Hazy" »

EQUITY: Keegan Invites EEP Supporters To Call Male Stripper

A friend kindly passed along this amusing email from Lisa Graham Keegan:

Picture 3

Got a funny or mistaken email from an edu-celebrity?  Send it along to thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

TRANSITION: Bushies Derail Obama Girls' Chances For A Good Education

Aiga_shaw_helvetica_1_6 Still catching up from last week:

If the Obama girls can't move into the Blair Residence January 5, how are they supposed to start school on time? 

And if they can't start school on time, how are they supposed to fit in and get a good education? 

NYT: Sorry, We’re Booked, White House Tells Obamas (via Wonkette).

SPELLINGS: Secretary Celebrates Birthday In Las Vegas "CatHouse"

Cathouse The establishment is owned in part by the brother of Spelling's Press Secretary, Samara Yudof (Hospitable treatment).

Thanks to Texas education blogger Kimberly Reeves for digging this one up.

HOTSEAT: Former USDE Official Dishes On Spellings, Popular Reforms

51qd4aep1il_ss500_ Former USDE official and current University of Michigan education researcher Susan Neuman has a book out this week that identifies a handful of programs that she says are proven to be effective.

But they're not the ones that you might think.  There's no KIPP, no Harlem Children's Zone.  Instead there are things like the Nurse Family Partnership program (which you may recall from Kate Boo's Swamp Nurse article in the New Yorker a few years back.)

It's a pretty controversial view of things, especially for those coming from the reformy / accountability hawk side of things.  (Earlier this week, David Whitman called her view "defeatist.")

On the HotSeat, Neuman dishes about Margaret Spellings (they're apparently not Facebook friends),  describes how poverty "trumps everything," talks about Minessota's experience using her research as part of a program review, and says she wants to be on Oprah.

Click below for all her answers.  Or go check out the book: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs that Break the Cycle of Poverty.

Continue reading "HOTSEAT: Former USDE Official Dishes On Spellings, Popular Reforms" »

REGS: Any "Midnight Regulations" For Education? [updated 2x]

Scancfr45 Lots of news outlets are telling us about the Bush administration's push to get out "midnight regulations" that would take effect even after Obama takes office (Google News), but no one has told us yet whether there are any regs getting pushed out the door that affect education. 

Any last-minute rule changes or definitions they're trying to sneak by us?  I'm counting on you OMB watchers and lobbyists to tell us what's going on.

UPDATE:  I'm being reminded that the USDE issued a big batch of Title I regs last month (New federal regulations on graduation rates have school officials ...) that might, depending on your definition (90 vs 60 days), be described as midnight regulations. 

UPDATE 2:  ProPublica is tracking midnight regs but doesn't seem to have included any education ones (here).  Maybe the October education regs are only considered to be "twilight" regs?  But that hasn't stopped folks from complaining about them -- see the NEA's press release from a few weeks back.

USDE Exodus Continues -- Schneider, Whitehurst

539wEdWeek has the story that NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider is headed to AIR (Head of Ed. Dept. Statistics Agency Stepping Down). 

But I'm told that Russ Whitehurst (pictured) is headed to Brookings even sooner than that. 

Watch Out, Boston

Hrc_symbol_sm Secretary Spellings is headed your way on Thursday. 

During her visit she will "tour classrooms, visit with students and teachers, deliver remarks and participate in a question and answer session about higher education and the Department’s newly launched website, College.gov, at a school assembly at Charlestown High School."

Is it too early to call it a farewell tour?

What Are They Thinking?


Spellings Open-Minded About Federally-Mandated Spanking

Kudos to Spellings for showing off her TedStrong wrist bracelet and talking about her admiration for Ted Kennedy.  Colbert suggested the idea federally mandated spanking.  "Maybe we oughta try that," remarked Spellings.  Colbert came back at her with the idea that school sanctions don't work -- we should go straight to bombing them.  Spellings said that she didn't like the word "sanctions" but remained suspiciously silent on the whole bombing idea.  It was light, as expected, but I guess she did OK.  What did you think?   

UPDATE:  Now there's video.  Hooray.

What Spellings Will Do On Colbert Tonight

Spellings_lips_lips Spellings_smitesSpellings_hams Secretary Spellings' pop culture thing wore off on me a long time ago -- though apparently I'm alone. She's slated to be on Colbert tonight.  Here's a link to her Daily Show appearance, based on which we can predict that on tonight's show she will ham it up to show that she's in on the joke and flirt with the host to distract him from the hard question he's trying to ask-- including salacious lip-licking at key moments.

Useless Pre-Holiday Conference Week -- Spellings Attends Everything

2008_12_fat_kid Not only does ECS still exist for some reason, it's even having a conference.  Held in Austin this year, it features EdSec Spellings (natch!), plus Kansas Gov Sebelius.  Details here.  Not to be outdone, the Aspen Institute is having its annual ideas festival.  Spellings will be there, too, conversing with Eli Broad about the state of American education.  Details here

Spellings Speaks!

Ed_gl_nclb_logo "The federal role in education for the last 40-plus years has been on behalf of the nation's neediest kids. As such, No Child Left Behind is written primarily around their needs. I would say those are the kids who are being grossly underserved in our schools."

Q&A: Education secretary: Challenge assumptions about time, teachers
Des Moines Register

She's Going To Disney World!

Disney2004 After a couple of weeks of not doing much by way of public events, EdSec Spellings is headed to San Diego early in the week and then to a "national summit on education reform" at...Disney World.

Click below for details.

Continue reading "She's Going To Disney World!" »

"This Information Subject To Change"

The Secretary's public schedule has been pretty slow these past few weeks:


But at least there have been fewer "recalls" this way. 

RTI -- The Next "Reading First"?

Rk1m69 Is RTI ("Response To Intervention") the best thing since sliced bread, or just a new name for something old, or -- worst case scenario -- a fancy-sounding way to overburden mainstream classroom teachers and save districts some cash by delaying SPED referrals?  I don't really know. 

I just started hearing about RTI last year -- you probably heard about it much earlier.  But it had been a while since I'd heard about anything "new" and of course that made me curious.  Here's an article by the Washington Post's Michael Allison Chandler from this past winter (Waiting Too Late to Test) that raises some of these questions. 

I like the notion of putting in a systematic screening system that makes sure kids don't just fall through the cracks -- rather than relying entirely on teachers' instincts.  And I'm curious about the potential for small interventions  that might make a difference.  But I'm skeptical about teachers' willingness to do all the formative assessments and ability to make a series of subtle adjustments.  Maybe that's why it's mostly being implemented in better-off districts.

Previous Posts:  Could "Checklists" Improve Academic Outcomes?

Paige Vs. Spellings: A Different Black Man, A Different White Woman

P1168625 The most interesting part of Patrick Riccards' post on who should be the next EdSec is his description of the previous EdSec, Rod Paige.  In essence, Riccards says Paige has gotten a raw deal.  Indeed, it may be true, especially given that by many accounts Paige was operating under such close orders from the White House DPC, where then-unknown Margaret Spellings was housed.  It's something that I wrote about a while back in an NRO piece about Spellings' about-face on NCLB once she became EdSec.
Unlike with Obama-Clinton, it's Spellings who's the charismatic light-footed one, what with her waivers and pilot programs and TV appearances, while Paige comes off as the plodding, humorless careerist who was overly strict about implementing NCLB.  As with Obama-Clinton, the public narrative may be substantially different from the underlying truth.

PS -- I have never seen a picture of them together, and can't find one on Google Images. 

Return Of The Reading First Ruckus

First, everyone said that Reading First was the best thing since sliced bread -- early intervention on literacy to reach kids that Title I sometimes missed.  Then came lots of accusations about conflicts of interest, and the departure of that Doherty guy from the USDE.  But still, there were reports that the program was popular and considered effective by states and districts that had implemented it.  Now, USA Today's Greg Toppo is reporting that a new study from IES, the research arm of the USDE, shows that Reading First is... ineffective. Doh! Read all about it. 



Continue reading "SECRETARY LOLCAT IZ VRY TRD" »

Graduation Gap, Dropout Dance

U.S. to Require States to Use a Single School Dropout Formula NYT
The adoption of a federal graduation formula would correct one of the most glaring weaknesses of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

'Crisis' graduation gap found between cities, suburbs USA Today
The likelihood that a ninth-grader in one of the nation's biggest cities will clutch a diploma four years later amounts to a coin toss — not much better than a 50-50 chance, new research finds.Cross into the suburbs, and the odds improve dramatically.

Report: Urban students face rough road to graduation CNN
Seventeen of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio, according to a report released Tuesday.

Graduation Gala

Bushcardinals Tomorrow's news, today:  "Secretary Spellings will make an announcement during remarks on the need for a more comprehensive and precise definition of “graduation rate” at a press conference hosted by America's Promise Alliance and State Farm in the Columbus Club at Union Station. Other speakers at the press conference on the America’s Promise Alliance’s Dropout Prevention Campaign will include General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret), founding chair, America’s Promise Alliance; Alma Powell, chair, America’s Promise Alliance; and Edward J. Rust, Jr., chief executive officer, State Farm."

"Big" Announcement From Spellings This Week

The EdSec is slated to make a "national policy announcement" tomorrow in Minnesota with the Gov. and the state chief. I wonder what it's going to be.

Spellings Still Rejecting Rove 30 Years Later

EdSec Spellings finally won on NPR's Wait, Wait--Don't Tell Me -- perhaps the easiest game show out there -- but she can't stop talking about rejecting Karl Rove back in the day (Let's Just Be Friends). 

USDE Wants To Know: Can I Have That Email Back?

We've all sent out an email that we didn't mean to send.  But for most of us it doesn't happen all the time.  However, one out of two email announcements from the USDE's Office of Public Affairs these days seems to be followed within a few minutes with a "recall" message.  Here's today's example:


With the occasional exception, I don't bother trying to figure out what was wrong with the first message -- wrong city?  wrong time?  But these email recalls have gotten so frequent that it's hard not to notice them and wonder whether this is an example of ineptitude or how little anyone cares about emails sent to the press.  My friends on the EWA listserve -- knowing how easily persuaded I am to do their dirty work -- have been hectoring me to point this out. 

USDE Names New, Earring-Wearing Title I Director Named Zollie

Zolliestevenson Back in the day when federal education funding was much less of a big public deal, being Director of the Title I program was sort of a big deal.  (Remember Mary Jean LeTendre?)  These days, the prominence is gone -- in part because higher-ups (Assistant Secretaries and up) have taken over the issue. 

But someone's still gotta make sure the $14B train runs on time.  The new man for the job is NC native Zollie Stevenson Jr. [Nice earring!] Stevenson was deputy director -- doing state audits among other things -- and before that he worked in Baltimore, DC, and Charlotte-Mecklenberg. 

Congrats, condolences.  Read below for the rest of the details.

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