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Audio: Parent Trigger Ups & Downs

Curious about how the parent trigger is evolving in Los Angeles and nationwide?  Here's the audio from a Friday morning panel at Yale University on the parent trigger featuring Parent Trigger's Ben Austin and former state Senator Gloria Romero, who authored the controversial law, along with the Fordham Foundation's Adam Emerson and moderator Andy Rotherham.

The most interesting tidbits include Austin's description of how the 24th Street parents came up with the idea of having LAUSD and a charter school operator share control of the school -- and how the mere threat of a trigger has persuaded teachers at some schools to approach parents about making changes -- and Emerson's description of how civil rights groups in Florida have come out strongly against the trigger idea there -- a sharp contrast to their role in favor of the trigger legislation in California. [Cross-posted from LA School Report]

Update: What's *Really* Happening In LA

image from laschoolreport.comFor what may be the first time ever -- or perhaps just the most obvious example so far -- pro-charter, pro-accountability backers in Los Angeles are not just leveling the playing field with the teachers union in terms of funding candidates and campaigns but tilting it in their favor. 

Overall spending is already at $3.4 million (see here). There are some places where the spending is close to even -- such as in the race between former reform candidate Steve Zimmer, who's now being supported by the union, and newcomer Kate Anderson. But the majority of it going out from the reform side in the form of mailers and TV ads. 

Whether the money advantage turns into primary day wins is another question, however. There are two key issues to keep in mind, I argue in this new post over at LA School Report (Air War Vs. Boots On the Ground).

The first is that -- just like happens online -- the union and its allies have an enormous advantage when it comes to motivated campaign volunteers to help persuade neighbors and get out the vote.  

The second is that not all of the union's spending seems to be reported and accounted for. As good as the disclosure requirements are in LA, it's a self-reported system and there have been a handful of times where UTLA-PACE, the independent expenditure committee that funds the campaigns, hasn't reported things that seem like campaign activity, or has transferred funding between different IE accounts in ways that are hard to explain and may not match up as they should.


Quotes: "The Union May Not Like It, But They Should Get Used To It"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comMike Bloomberg is proud to help level the playing field on behalf of children and their families. The union may not like it, but they should get used to it because he is just getting started. -- Bloomberg spokesman in LA Times Steve Lopez column (that's critical of Bloomberg's involvement)

Los Angeles: Reformers Try To Match Union "Ground Game"

This is a story by LA School Report contributor Hillel Aron:

image from laschoolreport.com

The Coalition for School Reform has been running TV ads and hitting voters with a blizzard of glossy flyers.  

But — having closely lost 2011′s big-money campaign between Bennett Kayser and Luis Sanchez — the reform-oriented campaign committee is also taking its field organization very seriously.

Field organizing — also sometimes called a campaign “ground game” — is the mundane but essential process of finding, creating, and then motivating supporters to vote for a candidate on election day.

“These campaigns are, in many instances, won and lost in the field,” said Sean Clegg, the Coalition’s political consultant. “And the Coalition for School Reform has put together a state-of-the-art field program that is really zeroing in on our voters with pinpoint accuracy.”

To run its 2013 field campaign, the Coalition has hired a firm called 50+1 Strategies, headed by former Obama campaign operative Adissu Demissie, who’s bringing some high-tech tools and techniques to the familiar process of walking streets, knocking on doors, and making phone calls.

“We’re really running a very data-driven, metrics-based, technologically advanced field campaign,” said Demissie, who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 “get-out-the-vote” campaign in Ohio. ”We’re trying to talk to the right people in the right way.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Chicago: Mayor Emanuel, President Lewis Both Under Fire

image from b.vimeocdn.comTwo notable items from Chicago for you to ponder:

While as many as 8 current or recent CPS students may have been killed since the start of 2013, Chicago Public Radio is reporting that Mayor Emmanuel has reversed a longstanding practice of allowing Chicago Public Schools to tell reporters what school, if any, homicide victims come from. "For years, school officials deliberately collected and shared information about whether or not homicide victims also attended a public school in the city. But CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said they’re trying to protect parents and students privacy. She said the district’s legal team advises the district not to tell reporters whether shooting victims attend public schools in the city... It’s a practice they say they’ve followed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office."

Also: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and her leadership team are facing a challenge from a slate of teachers who believe that Lewis et al did not go far enough -- or get enough -- during the past two years: “'We did our part. We spent weeks on the street, rallied and gave Lewis all the power she needed,' said Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, potential candidate for union president. 'What did we get? Firings, closings, lower pay.'" (Karen Lewis to face opposition in May CTU election Sun Times, Chicago Teachers Union members to run against CTU President Karen Lewis' leadership team Tribune).  Though it may be hard to imagine a more hard-charging local union leader, remember that Lewis was lambasted for allowing SB7 to pass and has so far been unable to stop the school closing juggernaut that City Hall says is necessary because of dwindling enrollment.

You can read more about this -- and teachers' reactions -- at my Chicago blog.


Morning Video: Celebrity Endorsement & $250K From Rhee

Yep, that's Hollywood actress and longtime Obama supporter Eva Longoria stumping for LAUSD school board challenger Kate Anderson -- something the actress is said in the report to have decided to do with the encouragement of EdSec Arne Duncan.  (No word on whether Duncan told Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst to contribute $250,000 to the reform slate of candidates.)

Afternoon Video: "High Quality Charter Schools Are Great"

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

First off:  Who let pro-charter, pro-voucher Derrell Bradford on MSNBC's Up With Chris?  Plus: Amusing comment from host Chris at the 3:15 mark ("I feel like the deal with charter schools is, 'Yeah, high-quality charter schools are great.' You know what I mean?  Yeah, awesome!  When they're high quality!") Via DFER

Quotes: "The Most Important Voice In Education Reform Today"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comMayor Bloomberg is the most important voice in education reform today... [His $1 million] gift will help us support candidates who stand for greater accountability and more choices for parents and students.  -- LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Numbers: Let's Make 16 States Lower School Starting Age

image from farm5.staticflickr.comMaybe the President should propose a dramatic change in when kids are required to start school, setting a mandatory age of, I don't know, six.  That'd be exciting, wouldn't it? And perhaps even sensible, policy-wise, if not politically viable.

Currently, there are 16 states that don't require kids to go to school until 7 or even 8 years of age.  Fourteen states require school at age 7; 26 states already require it at age 6; 6 set it at 5; and 2 set it at 8, according to this Chicago Tribune story on the proposal to lower the age from 7 to 5 in Illinois.  

There are obviously some costs as well as benefits to having kids start earlier, though not as much additional cost as I would have thought.  Have states been raising the age to save money, I wonder?  That would be just about what states do when times are tight.   Then there are quality issues regarding the instruction and curriculum, space issues in some districts, and a major distinction between half-day and full-day kindergarten (which is still somewhat unusual). Image via CCFlickr

Campaign 2013: All Eyes On LAUSD

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 11 12.00Reform advocates in LA and from around the country have already contributed $1.5M to an independent expenditure committee in support of three LAUSD School Board candidates (two challengers, one incumbent).  

The so-called Coalition for School Reform has also launched the first TV ad campaign that's been aired for school board candidates in LA since 2007.  

But UTLA, the teachers union, is far from giving up.  UTLA-PACE has already raised roughly $667,000, and begun sending out flyers and communicating with members about the imporatance of the election.  The union has also put out requests for additional resources from state and national teachers unions, which are forthcoming (amounts TBD).  

On Friday, AFT President Randi Weingarten appeared at a school in LA with one of the union-backed canddiates, Steve Zimmer.  Weingarten announced a $150,000 grant to UTLA to help teachers develop better school improvement plans -- an alternative to radical means like the "parent trigger." The grant comes from AFT's Innovation Fund, which is -- yes! -- backed by the Gates Foundation.

Thompson: Russo's Wrong On "Reform Critics"

image from farm5.staticflickr.comAlexander Russo acknowledges that contemporary school “reformers’” hubris, their misuse of data, and their distance from the classroom are “pretty familiar now.”   

But his Friday blog post (Sure, The Reform Brand Is Tarnished. But So Is The Other Side's) concludes that “The reform ‘brand’ has become tarnished, sure, but so has the reputation and credibility of all too many reform opponents.  And right now, those of us in the vast middle sort of hate you all -- both sides --  in roughly equal measure.”  

Russo's entitled to his opinion, but he's not being entirely fair or accurate.

Continue reading "Thompson: Russo's Wrong On "Reform Critics"" »

Quotes: "Not Every [Closing] Will Be A Civil Rights Violation"

Quotes2We know closings can destabilize [communities]. But it doesn’t mean every one will be a civil rights violation.

-- USDE's Civil Rights guy Seth Galanter

Los Angeles: School Board Candidates Debate Deasy

Last night was the first of three candidate forums being hosted by the United Way of Los Angeles (among others), this one featuring the Westside's current Board member, Steve Zimmer (center), and his challenger, parent and advocate Kate Anderson (left).  

ScreenHunter_06 Jan. 25 00.13
According to this account from LA School Report (which I edit), the discussion focused on core issues such as teacher evaluations (Anderson called the new agreement "too mush"), charter school oversight (Zimmer is pro-charter but has proposed a moratorium), and whether LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is receiving the support he deserves.  Both Anderson and Zimmer claim to support him.

Unlike many other big city school systems, LAUSD is still governed by an independent elected school board.  Zimmer has been endorsed by the teachers union.  Anderson is being supported by the Coalition for School Reform, which includes charter school supporters and allies of Mayor Villaraigosa.

Image courtesy LA School Report

Update: More Lessons From The 2012 Gay Equality Campaign

For a long time, gay marriage was nearly unthinkable.  Then it went down in defeat 31 times in a row -- including 2008's massive failure in California (Proposition 8).  Advocates couldn't agree on what to focus on, or who should lead.

image from farm7.staticflickr.com

Four years later, however, gay marriage laws are being passed in bunches (Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota), the Democratic candidate for President of the United States felt it was politically advantageous to announce his support, Congress might reverse DOMA, and tthe Supreme Court might overturn the California law.  

What can education advocates learn from recent successes of the gay rights campaign?  Here are some of the preliminary answers  I got out of this Atlantic Magazine article (Inside This Year's Epic Campaign for Gay Equality).  Maybe you'll find more or different.

You need a single, dedicated national organization able to operate across multiple states and multiple election cycles (in the case of gay marriage, it was a small outfit called Freedom to Marry).  You need a tireless but not ego-driven leader  who's willing to herd the cats and let the issue be the star (in this case, someone you've never heard of named Evan Wolfson).  And -- this may be the hardest part for reform proponents and opponents to grasp -- you need to pick an issue that unites the diverse coalition of interested parties who are prone to disagreement, research the most compelling emotional rather than intellectual appeals, and then force everyone to keep working together even when they want to spin off in different directions.   

Previous posts:   Learning From The Gay Rights Movement How Vouchers Are Like Same-Sex Marriage, Image via FlickerCC.

Pictures: The Arne Duncan Inauguration Mystery

You may have seen this already but it wasn't until today when I was looking around for images of EdSec Arne Duncan at the Inauguration that I come across his twitpic from the Inauguration in which Beyonce and Jay-Z are seen trying to avoid Al Sharpton's questions about lip-synching.  Anyone seen a picture of Duncan at the event?  I'm still looking.  

Events: "Education Mayors" Headline West Coast Summit

Just over a month from now -- and just a week before a key election day -- United Way Los Angeles is hosting its Education Summit 2013, which will feature three "education mayors" (Emanuel, Villaraigosa, and Booker) as well as many of those who want to replace Villaraigosa and become the next Mayor of LA.  

United Way LA has been active on education issues and is hosting candidate forums for the three LAUSD board member spots that are also up for grabs on March 5. The first one is tomorrow night, featuring incumbent (and TFA alum) Steve Zimmer, who's been endorsed by the teachers union, and parent / advocate challenger Kate Anderson, who's been endorsed by the pro-charter, pro-accountability Coalition for School Reform.

School Safety: Why Armed Teachers Gets So Much Attention

image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com

"The only unpopular policy idea to help stop gun violence is the only one that's really been enacted since the Newtown school shooting," reports the Atlantic Wire.  

"A majority opposes the one gun-related proposal that seems to have the most momentum — 57 percent of Americans oppose giving teachers and school officials guns in in schools."

Why, then, are politicians (and the press) pushing an unpopular idea?  

"While only 23 percent of Democrats want to arm teachers, 56 percent of Republicans do."

Obama II: What He's Going To Focus On (Vs. What He Should)

Inauguration is fast approaching, and so folks are starting to get around to thinking about what Team Obama should and will do on education during a second term (as well as how to get Inauguration tickets and whether it's worth flying in).   There's no shortage of ideas in addition to hot-button topics like school safety and immigration: 

Rates-of-travel-in-1800-625x824One contingent of folks think that the focus should be on promoting universal preschool, which is one of the most noncontroversial ideas out there (for now at least).  I have no real objection to that priority, though I'd also love to see something on universal full-day kindergarten, which is surprisingly unusual and has the added convenience of being part of the K-12 system.  Preschools aren't fully linked to the K12 system in most districts, and are funded through HHS and USDE in Washington.  Seriously:  universal full-day Kindergarten, NOW.  

Another contingent -- among them Michelle Rhee -- think that the big push should be to refocus NCLB and its funding streams on innovation and effectiveness rather than accountability and student demographics, which are its current guiding lights.  Think a one-time infusion of $3.4 billion brought on a lot of changes nationally? Imagine what $15-20 billion PER YEAR could do.  Or at least so the thinking goes.  (Personally I think they should just sign schools schools into a Hunger Games-like video game and fund them according to how many points/kills they rack up.)

The best idea, really -- mine -- is for Team Obama to focus some serious attention and funding on mixed-income, mixed ability schools and neighborhoods.  Name Petrilli and Kahlenberg and -- I don't know -- Linda Darling-Hammond to co-head a Transitional/Diversity/Gentrification Initiative, provide some funding and support for communities going through gentrification so that the new and old communities don't tear each other apart, and do something that folks outside the ghetto (education and real-world) will care about.  Incentivize charters to serve mixed-income, mixed-ability groups of students while you're at it.  

Quotes: "It's Like A Quentin Tarantino Film"

Quotes2This [education debate] is not an old western with white hats and black hats, it is much more like a Cormac McCarthy novel or a Quentin Tarantino film.  - Colo. State Senator Michael Johnston 

Afternoon Video: John Podesta Talks Parent Trigger (Among Other Things)


Here's John Podesta, chair of CAP, talking with Fordham's Checker Finn at the recent Foundation for Excellence in Education conference. Via Parent Revolution.

People: StudentsFirst Comms Guru Has Left The Building

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Former DNC spokesman and District of Columbia man about town Hari Sevugan has parted ways with StudentsFirst -- at his own behest, I'm being told but have not been able to confirm on the record one way or the other.  

Sevugan was brought on board to help beef up Rhee's communications operation and to bolster its Democratic bona fides.  The DREAM Act endorsement and the antibullying thing were likely Sevugan pushes. Maybe even the neutral earth tones Rhee sometimes used instead of all black outfits.  Needless to say, Sevugan was loathed by his counterparts at the AFT and NEA for attempting to humanize Rhee.  

Anyway, Sevugan isn't the first senior level person to leave StudentsFirst in recent months -- and the departures aren't necessarily a bad thing -- but I'll leave that to another day or to someone else who's more energetic than I am.  It's job-changing time in Washington and elsewhere around the country. Cue the Mariachi music.

Previous posts:  Rhee Group Begins To Address Experience Gap"The Best Bomb Thrower In Politics"

People: Meet Bradley Tusk, Reform Strategist

He's not the head of a reform organization, or an elected figure, or a foundation officer. He's not even really an education guy, and actually sort of looks like one of my favorite MMA fighters. But folks in and around the education world often mention Bradley Tusk (top left) for the work he does helping reform groups get their message out. Somehow, I've never done a post about him.

image from www.washingtoncitypaper.com

A former campaign manager for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tusk has been mentioned in several past education news pieces, including this one from the NYT in 2010, this one from New York Magazine in 2011, this Washington DC City Paper sidebar [from which this image is taken] and a slew of mentions at GothamSchools. Before founding Tusk Strategies, he also did stints working for Chuck Schumer and Rod Blagojevich.  

According to his website (Education Reform), Tusk has had enormous successes working on "some of the most innovative and successful education reform initiatives across the country," including ERN (aka DFER), NBC News (aka Education Nation), StudentsFirst (aka Michelle Rhee), the Partnership for Education in Newark (aka Zuckerland), and Success Charter Network (aka Eva Moskowitz).

Whether he does a good job or not is up for debate, as with most things.  I get the sense that he's expensive, and not truly an education specialist.  No problem with that -- there are lots of non-education conultants and strategists opererating in EducationLand™ -- including on the left, where folks like Kombiz Lavasany work for AFT.  That can be a good thing, given the quality dropoff or lack of quality alternatives.  There isn't really any political shop that specializes in education exclusively that I can think of -- at least not yet.

Newtown: The Importance Of Single-Issue Advocacy

The real lesson of the Newtown tragedy for educators, foundations, and reform groups is how clearly it highlights the importance of single-issue advocacy efforts conducted at the national level:

image from cdn-media.nationaljournal.com

As many have noted, the NRA has for decades blocked gun control measures, becoming one of the most effective single issue advocacy operations in the country (along with the anti-tax folks, perhaps, and AARP).

NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "Demand A Plan" initiative, including 34 shooting victims sending videos to the Obama White House over this past weekend, has already arguably had an impact on the Administration's decision to move forward (however tentatively).

In this National Journal article, Adam Cohen discusses the possibility of a "parent lobby" that would, like the NRA or AARP or anyone else, focus on child safety and welfare issues. (The chart shows just how cheap it is to have an impact.)

And what about in education?  The teachers unions and education associations are well-established. The Children's Defense Fund and NAACP used to perform some of these functions on behalf of poor children and families.  Short-run efforts such as Ed in '08 and that College Board thing this summer revealed the power and challenges.  While powerul at the policy level, state-level advocacy networks are limited politically when things get big and struggle with command and coordination issues among different states. 

Twenty-odd years into school reform (and at least five into my blathering about the need for such a thing) there's still no national education reform advocacy group or PAC.  

Morning Video: Why Stop At Arming Teachers?

Over the weekend, former EdSec Bill Bennett and others suggested arming teachers.  Way back in 2006, however, Stephen Colbert proclaimed that not only should teachers be armed, but also students.

Labor: What Do Reform Groups Think About Michigan?**

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comAsked if they have a position on "right to work" laws like the one that just passed in Michigan, natioanl school reform organizations like DFER, 50CAN, and Stand For Children all said they had no position one way or the other.

I found this interesting but not surprising (except perhaps in the case of DFER, which is nominally Democratic).  Education reform groups like to keep focused on a narrow set of education policy issues, and from their perspective asking them about labor issues is like asking them about health care reform or what to do with Syria.  

There's also a precedent.  As you may recall, the reform groups generally followed the Obama administration's lead and stayed in the background when lawmakers stripped collective bargaining rights from some public employees in Wisconsin two years ago.

The lone exception -- perhaps you won't be surprised -- was the Sacramento-based StudentsFirst, which responded with the following comment via email.

*See SF email and follow-up clarification below.

**SF clarification #2: "We've been clear that we support the right of workers to collectively bargain"

Continue reading "Labor: What Do Reform Groups Think About Michigan?**" »

Reform: Rhee Calls For State Law To Bolster LA Agreement

Slider-20thAniversarySummit51-472x256Following up on yesterday's LA Times article describing the recent LAUSD-UTLA agreement on teacher evaluation as a "major victory" for the union, former Washington DC schools superintendent Michelle Rhee is describing the tentative deal as"falling short in many ways" and citing it as an example of the need for a "strong statewide policy governing teachers' performance evaluations."

Read below for Rhee's statement, provided via email.

This isn't the first time that Rhee has urged districts and states to enact tougher teacher evaluation laws.

Continue reading "Reform: Rhee Calls For State Law To Bolster LA Agreement" »

Morning Video: Checking In On Michigan Labor Showdown

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

Here's some of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to get you going this Tuesday morning, covering the Obama remarks and the next steps on the Wisconsin Michigan veto session right to work debate.

Campaign 2013: $10M Race For 3 Spots On LA Board

LAUSDlogoIn an excess of caution -- or perhaps it's overkill? -- UTLA has endorsed nine candidates for the three open spots on the LAUSD School Board, whose elections are in March.

One reason for the multiple endorsements is that the candidates just turned in their paperwork and haven't been vetted. Last time out, the union had to withdraw endorsements when candidates' legal records were revealed. 

Another reason may be that the union's 350-member House of Representatives switches over to a new group next month, and its views may be somewhat different than the current group.

Read all about it here: UTLA Endorsements,  UTLA Board Keeps Options Open, and here Union Endorses Multiple Candidates.

All told, 15 candidates have filed paperwork and the three races are anticipated to cost $10 million, between direct contributions and independent expenditures from labor and reform allies.

Congress: "Technical Amendments" In The Fiscal Cliff Deal?

image from img.docstoccdn.comOfficially, there's not much going on in Washington DC right now other than departing lawmakers, arriving ones, and the fiscal cliff debate.  But it was two years ago in December, during contentious negotiations about the debt limit or something along those lines that Congress passed the (in)famous "codification" of the Bush-era highly qualified teacher regulations that I wrote about in my paper on NCLB, HQT, and alternative certification.


At that time, since it was a continuing resolution, the amendments were called variances discordances or or something like that. But the language was just a couple of sentences long -- that's all it takes: 

(a) A ‘highly qualified teacher’ includes a teacher who meets the requirements in 34 CFR 200.56(a)(2)(ii), as published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2002. (b) This provision is effective on the date of enactment of this provision through the end of the 2012–2013 academic year.

This makes me wonder if there must be at least a handful of education-related bits of business that the Administration, Hill leaders, or others are pushing to get included along with the fiscal cliff deal that if history is our guide will be passed late at night the Friday before Christmas or something ridiculous like that.

Do I know what these items to get slipped in might be? No idea. That's your job. They could be in the category of language needed to smooth NCLB waiver oversight or implementation, or some small but key business related to Common Core. What unfinished business out there needs getting done and has enough friends to get it on a short list of "technical amendments"? Figure it out now, or read about it when it's already been signed into law.  

Quotes: Governor Accuses Teachers Of Emailing On Public Dime

ScreenHunter_16 Dec. 04 10.12
That's Mitch Daniels at last week's Jeb Bush event, talking about the campaign to oust his state superintendent. Via Esquire via Klonsky

Budget: A Funding Cliff -- For NCLB

Money_1I'm not particularly worried about the fiscal cliff, which makes for great post-election theater but seems unlikely to happen in any form that would be disastrous. But I *am* worried about the overall federal education budget in the next cycle, and one big reason is the NCLB waiver scheme.  

Federal funding for K-12 education went up a bunch during the NCLB era, a fact that many seem not to know or conveniently forget.  And a new reauthorization of any law, including education, usually generates funding increases since lawmakers want to see their votes and efforts succeed.  

But we don't have an NCLB reauthorization to spring off of, thanks to the whiners at the Chiefs and the lazybones at the USDE (and CAP?) who got us into this waiver mess.  And it seems unlikely to me that lawmakers are going to manage much enthusiasm for a program that (a) isn't new and (b) essentially operates outside their control. 

So don't worry about the fiscal cliff that everyone's talking about now.  Worry about the fiscal cliff that NCLB could be about to fall off of in February and March.  

Capitol Hill: Jeff Bingaman, Education Senator

image from d1k4es7bw1lvxt.cloudfront.netAfter 30 years on the Hill, New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is leaving DC.  Last night on the 9th floor of the Hart Senate Office Building there was a reception celebrating all his accomplishments.

For a bunch of his time in the Senate, Bingaman was on the Senate education committee, balancing out the more ahem, outspoken Democratic members from the Northeast.  And, for a few years during the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have been his education LA.  

Some of Bingaman's other education LAs, Fellows, and LCs include:  Carmel Martin.  Peter Zamora.  Michael Yudin.  Rena Subotnik.  Chris Harrington.  David Schindel. Sanjay Kane.

NCLB: The Reauthorization We Could Be Having [Now]

PredictingthefutureAs this lame duck Congress wraps up and energy builds towards a new Congress and a second Obama term in office, I can't help but wishing that reauthorizing NCLB was something that was on everyone's first order of business for January and February. Instead, the states are running off  into the woods with their NCLB waivers, Duncan chasing behind them with letters reminding them of their vague promises to uphold the spirit of NCLB.

Of course, the Obama folks didn't know if they'd get another term, and nobody knew whether the NCLB reauthorization that came out of the current (old) Congress would be any good. To be fair, the same thing got done to the DREAMers, who are now in the same kind of political and policy limbo as NCLB.

But still, it could have been different -- should have been, I'd argue.  

Continue reading "NCLB: The Reauthorization We Could Be Having [Now]" »

Weekend Reading: Praxis Cheating, More Cuts Coming

Sometimes the news that comes out over the weekend is just as important as anything that comes out during the week:

Teachers in several states hired stand-in to take ETS Praxis certification tests - U.S. Newsow.ly/fySG2 

U.S. School Districts, Eyeing Fiscal Crisis, Brace for More Cutbacks - NYTimes.com ow.ly/fyrRb

Civil Rights Investigation Triggers LAUSD Overhaul @ladnews ow.ly/1PKfTh

 Bonus time | The Economistow.ly/fyWIq A new contract for teachers is shaking up New Jersey’s largest city

 The digital divide isn't access it's "the way they're using the Internet" that's different @AmRadioWorks       ow.ly/fytGj

At Least 37 States Will Be Under Single-Party Control In 2013 - Mediaite ow.ly/fyrPY

Sunlight Foundation rates/ranks PAC spending and impactow.ly/fyt8z I don't see unions or reformers here, FWIW

Educate All Kids Like Sasha and Malia - In These Times ow.ly/fytOb @leoniehaimson

Afternoon Video: Climate Change Science Project


A science fair version of climate change, featuring drowning Barbies and burning Kens, via the Climate Reality Project. 

Five Best Blogs: Progressives & Conservatives Join Forces

Cn_image.size.foreign-legionAnti-Testing: Unlikely Common Ground? The American Prospect ow.ly/fpUwx @RaRapoport 

Yet another ed reform campaign story without context / comparable numbers on the union  side ow.ly/fpVva   @BrandtStrib 

Even when reform passes, teachers unions engage in massive resistance. WSJ.com ow.ly/fppES 

The disappointing but completely predictable results from SIG ow.ly/fq0YO 

The two schools are located about two miles away from each other on Chicago’s affluent near-north side. WTimes \ow.ly/fpuHC

Is this the first principal do do an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit? via @HuffPostEdu ow.ly/fpUUa 995 comments

Bruno: Less Ideology, Please

39817884_6989d161a2_nWhat do education policy and marijuana policy have in common? They both have a way of making for strange political bedfellows. Regarding marijuana legalization, Stanford psychiatry professor Keith Humphreys puts his finger on a phenomenon he calls "political schizophrenia" whereby both liberals and conservatives often play against type in advocating - or opposing - the liberalization of drug laws.

You definitely see similar schizophrenic tendencies in education debates. Progressives, for example, frequently bemoan the loss of "local control" in education when faced with state or federal mandates. This is in spite of the fact that local control has historically been neither a cornerstone of liberal ideology nor consistently associated with progressive outcomes in education.

On the conservative side, it is similarly striking that federally-mandated test-based school accountability was ushered in by a Republican president and was supported by the most recent GOP presidential nominee. 

Prof. Humphreys finds such apparent ideological inconsistencies puzzling, but they don't surprise me. The reality is that most people do not, ultimately, have or care about consistent philosophical principles. Having such principles is considered admirable (and they make our positions seem less arbitrary) so people often claim to have them, but in fact our policy preferences are mostly held for other, non-ideological reasons. We're therefore mostly happy to jettison our principles if that's required to avoid taking positions we find objectionable.

Frankly, most progressives probably do not really think that the problem with NCLB or Race to the Top is a loss of local control in education so much as they think those policies are bad on the merits. And NCLB is one of many federal programs illustrating that most conservatives care more about whether they approve of a policy's substance than they do about whether it's administered at the local, state, or federal level.

Nobody's being dishonest, here, but by maintaining their ideological pretenses people are being awfully confusing. So consider this my call for a more practical, less ideological discourse around education. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Weekend Reading: What You Might Have Missed

Over the weekend I tweet out stories from mazazines and longform sites that are of interest, using the hashtag #thisweekined.  It's sort of like Five Best Blogs, except for the weekend: 

Kruger_project5_9051In Andrew Solomon's new book, parents - like teachers - try to understand children much unlike themselves ow.ly/fo2x8

90 of the 105 candidates backed by StudentsFirst were Republicans, says Salon's @DanielDenvir ow.ly/fnqRF

Residency Program Tops UT and TFA on TN Teacher-Prep Report Card - Teacher Beat - Education Weekow.ly/fmf6w

Jonathan Chait on the Democrats' Class-War Triumph -- New York Magazine ow.ly/fo2mR

The Fifteen “Twitterers” Whose Tweets I Read First @Larryferlazzo ow.ly/fnLNH 

Latest BloombergEDU has Joe Williams, Joy Resmovits, Scott Elliott, and Alyson Klein ow.ly/fo4kO 

MA supe Paul Reville sheds light on the future of education policy ow.ly/foeGg @HarvardGSE

Unlike DC, Baltimore takes test tampering seriously: What would happen if the D.C. school syst... bit.ly/SGEl9S

Train plows into school bus in Egypt, 50 killed | Reuters ow.ly/fogrH

Quotes: Suburban Voters NIMBY On Reform

Quotes2They’re okay with giving more choice to the urban centers, like vouchers and other things. But when their teachers are saying to them at back-to-school night, ‘Hey, this stuff is not good for our community,’ they listen. - Rick Hess on reformers' problems with suburban voters

Morning Video: San Antonio Gets Full-Day Pre-K

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

One of the many small but potentially important items among last week's local initiatives.

Thompson: What Obama Will Do, Vs. What He *Should* Do

Obama2In her recent piece, Obama Education Policy: Second Term Still Not Clear, the Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits cites Alexander's past pattern of retaining the “reluctant allegiance of teachers” while balancing our interest with those of reformers.

Indeed, many teachers were appalled by the President's education policy.  But we had no reluctance in supporting his reelection, and, as the election unfolded, we were pleased when he stopped promoting anti-teacher policies.  

Hechinger's Sarah Butrymowicz Obama Re-Elected: What Four More Years Means for Education cites Jeff Henig's analysis that Race to the Top will remain “not just an education program but a philosophy about how you wield influence from Washington, D.C."

Before continuing the philosophy of using competitive grants to drive school improvement, however, we should ask whether RttT worked.  President Obama should appoint John Q. Easton, or an equally proven scholar, to lead a comprehensive cost benefit analysis of whether his experiment improved schools.  In the meantime, rather than perpetually pitting one Democratic constituency against another, the president should listen to NEA's Dennis Van Roekel and focus on early education and higher education affordability, which do not divide the Administration's base.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Bruno: Why Do African-American Voters Support Charter Schools?

3075157040_6b6ac4af3e_mThese days it's popular to attribute electoral outcomes to influential "special interests", and certainly powerful individuals and groups can affect election results. Still, "special interests" can only get you so far in explaining democratic fortunes; voters aren't just blank slates upon which the rich and powerful can project their own preferences.

So consider me skeptical that strong African American support for a pro-charter school initiative in Georgia is best explained by "out-of-state money" (Valerie Strauss) or opponents being "drowned out" by President Obama (Jim Galloway). I'm totally prepared to believe that big money and popular leaders can change the way people vote, but by all accounts the move to make charter authorization easier was favored by a large majority of African American voters. 

Had the results been closer it might make sense to attribute the results to the persuadability - or gullibility - of a few marginal voters. If accounts of 2-1 support among black voters are accurate, however, there is probably more than enough informed and "authentic" support for charter schools in African American communities to deserve to be taken seriously.

The charter school movement has definitely made for some awkward political alliances (and enemies), but that makes it all the more necessary for opponents of charter schools to engage with the very real concerns charter proponents hope to address. Yes, many black leaders are justifiably worried about school resegregation, but many black parents conspicuously are not (at least to the same degree).  

What are black parents worried about? I'm not really sure and neither, apparently, are many charter school opponents. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Five Best Blogs: What're You Looking At?

image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com

Progressives: The Biggest Winners of State Ballot Measures ow.ly/fegrE  [Just keep telling yourselves that] 

Labor taken for granted: It's not so hard to get union support. ow.ly/fegfc 

How Much Time Do Teachers and Students Spend on Standardized Tests? | Education on GOOD ow.ly/feghi 

Amanda Ripley : Blog : The Case for (Serious) Testing http://ow.ly/feuMH #5bb

Some e-Readers allow teachers to monitor student time spent reading, er, viewing, er with the thing turned onow.ly/fegG1 

50CAN's only endorsed RI challenger was someone who lost her seat in 2010, notes @shankerblog http://ow.ly/feuDp

Reform: Learning From The Gay Rights Movement

You probably won't learn much you don't already know reading David Denby's profile of Diane Ravitch but this article from the most recent New Yorker (Love on the March) about the evolution of the gay rights movement and gay culture includes some useful reminders and insights in there for anyone interested in education:   

image from www.newyorker.com1) Things can change a LOT in 20 years.  Twenty years ago, gay marriage and gays in the military were discussed but somewhat hard to imagine, and now they're here.  This can be true for education, too -- for better or worse.

2) Gay advocates disagreed vehemently over whether to focus on gays in the military and gay marriage -- and some still do. The education movement writ large is full of similar divisions -- as have been the environmental, labor, civil rights, and repro rights movements.

3) There are generational and stylistic differences in the gay rights movement, with the views and priorities and strategies preferred by one group seeming to be anachronistic or ineffective to the next group. Ditto education. 
4) Setbacks, pushback, regression -- whatever you want to call them  -- have marked the long history of the gay rights movement, and will likely (already has?) marked the school reform effort.

Quotes: Nowhere Else For Reform Critics To Go

Quotes2Data-driven, standardized testing-centered school reform is most politically palatable when it is pursued by Democrats... The education left--teachers' unions, class size activists, charter school foes--have few recourses on Election Day. - Dana Goldstein on last week's elections.

Campaign 2012: Teacher In Hot Water For "Food Stamp" Comment

image from img.gawkerassets.com
Yikes.  A South Carolina math teacher is in trouble for tweeting to complain about her students celebrating the Obama win because it would allow them to keep their food stamps.  Via Jezebel

Morning Video: Election 2012 Postmortem At AEI

Panelists: Kristen Soltis, Rick Hess, Andy Rotherham, Andrew Kelly, Zakiya Smith, Alyson Klein.

Five Best Blogs: Not Charters, Not Poverty -- Not "Obamacore"

Not Charters, Not Poverty- @UchicagoUEI's Charles Payne on magic bullets and excuses in Chicago and elsewhere ow.ly/f7Wy0

From Jay Mathews: Moving the best teachers to the worst schools: Here are two tough questions for D.C. Schools... bit.ly/T6Zg7E

Indy Star's @Scottelliot rebukes notion that conservative opposition caused the Bennett defeat in IN ow.ly/f84wF @AEIeducation

Roundup of views on CA Prop 32 and MI collective bargaining initiative from Union Watch #5bb ow.ly/f8jmh

Please Stop Using the Phrase 'Achievement Gap' ow.ly/f8CPV @DrCamikaRoyal #5bb

Former NYT education columnist mike @winerip embroiled in Springsteen/Springstein kerfluffle ow.ly/f8Cpd @edwrriters

Campagin 2012: Showdown In Santa Monica

Perhaps the most interesting education-related race you haven't already read about is the one between California Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom over the right to represent a ritzy West Side district. The race has centered on Butler's refusal to vote for a bill that would make it easier (too easy?) to dismiss teachers accused of sexual molestation, which has been a big issue recently in Los Angeles.

Screen shot 2012-11-08 at 2.01.50 PM

Butler and three other state legislators on the House education committee refused to vote, killing a bill that had already passed the Senate. CNN's Anderson Cooper covered the situation by sending a reporter to hunt down the nonvoters and ask them why they'd blocked the legislation (Lawmakers Won’t Comment On Sex Abuse Vote), a story that Butler said was planted by critics at the school district who wanted to embarrass her. According to the LA Weekly, Bloom raised roughly half a million dollars compared to Butler's $1.3 million. According to LA School Report, Opportunity PAC, a group affiliated with labor spent  $360,000 in late October and early November to help get Butler elected.  As of this morning, the vote is too close to call.

Media: How'd They Do Covering The Election?

Blog_media_circusIt wasn't easy reporting on Tuesday night's education results, what with the contrasting mix of outcomes in races and referenda around the country, the clamor of pundits and advocates, and the slow release of information from new advocacy groups.

There's lots more to cover now than there used to be, in terms of education-focused races, ballot inititiatives, and advocacy.  Readers' expectations have been raised by the tidal wave of coverage and detail we get from political reporters.  To be fair, several education reporters were pulled off the beat to cover the storm and its aftermath.

But some news outlets and education reporters handled the challenge better than others, in terms of capturing the results fairly and accurately, and providing context and nuance, in a timely manner.

Continue reading "Media: How'd They Do Covering The Election?" »



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.