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Campaign 2016: Donald Trump's 5 Imagined Education Positions

For months now, hapless education reporters have been struggling to determine what education policies and positions Republican candidate Donald Trump holds. In the absence of any discernible education positions, here are several semi-imagined ones:

Bringing back the Pledge of Allegiance. Schools are American. Kids are American. They -- and teachers, too -- should be reminded of this every day. And a US history test should be mandatory in 8th grade in every district and state. It's gonna be great. 

Kicking undocumented kids out of public schools. This won't be much of a problem once the wall is built and we make everyone leave, but any kids who don't have papers shouldn't get a free education paid for by real American taxpayers. Kick 'em out. Stop sending money to schools that educate them.

Private school vouchers. America is about choice. People should be able to send their kids where they want. Why should anyone have to pay twice -- through taxes and then tuition -- to send Johnny or Jane to Sidwell Friends (not that I would advise anyone to send their children to that place)?  Want to send them to a religious school? That's fine, too. 

Mayoral control. Things work better when one person is in charge, and in most cities that's the Mayor. City Hall should be in charge of schools just like it's in charge of everything else. Elected school boards are confusing, duplicative, and ineffective. Get rid of  'em.

Free college for everyone. Sure, yes, college should be free for anyone who can't afford it. As long as they're American. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether females should get degrees in engineering, math, and science. They're more likely to be successful in business, like my daughter. So we might have to think about that. 

Eliminating the USDE. Well, duh.

Campaign 2016: Discovery Of Donald Trump's First-Grade Report Card

"Donald is VERY disruptive, but his classmates love his sense of entitlement and incessant bragging about his accomplishments." via The New Yorker

Campaign 2016: 3 Sample Questions From Trump University Final Exam

The questions are simple: 1. Two plus two equals what?   2. Describe a major theme of “The Old Man and the Sea.” 3. H2O is the chemical symbol for what compound? It's the answers that are brilliant (The New Yorker).

Update: Boston Lab Tests Abuse-Resistant Robot Teacher Prototype

In the lab, Boston Dynamics subjects its robot teacher prototype to a typical day of abuse. (Pictured here is the Hallway Hockey Stick Confrontation test.) Read more about it here.

Morning Video: Back To School (According To John Oliver)

From Sunday night: "John Oliver gives students a crash course in everything they will learn — or not learn — in school this year." (Already seen it? Read a bunch of responses/hot takes from Slate, Jezebel, etc. here.)  #bts15 Or, watch a PBS NewsHour segment on the factors contributing to lower SAT scores.


Comedy: HBO's John Oliver Swings (& Misses) Against Standardized Testing

It's no easy job being smart and funny at the same time, and especially so when the topic is something as boring and controversial as standardized testing.  But last night's John Oliver segment didn't seem to succeed at either task, and came off somewhat blinkered with its focus on the concerns of (mostly) white teachers and (mostly) white parents and students. Watch for yourself and let me know what you think:

As you'll see, there are some funny bits and great snippets -- Obama bashing standardized tests in a pandering campaign speech before the NEA, a dirty remark regarding the Common Core logo, a funny quip about teachers' inspirational class posters in the new age, a bit about value-added formulas coming from livestock prediction models (is that true?), the instructions on what to do if a kid throws up on a test (is THAT true?), the comparison of Pearson to Time Warner Cable, the pop culture references (Fight Club, etc.).

There are tons of problems with standardized tests, and lots of things that could be done to improve them.
But Oliver seems to be trying way too hard and might not have the goods. Making fun of school testing pep rally videos seems like something you might see on America's Funniest Home Videos (if that's still on). The repeated focus on Florida seems problematic. The Talking Pineapple test question is old. The adult who did poorly on the test I don't care about him. The French kid with the cigarette? I have nothing to say. The girl crying because she tests poorly and can't take advanced art seems hard to believe (someone find her!). Going back to the dancing test mascot not twice but three times seems desperate (or maybe just not my cup of tea).
More importantly, going back to a world without standardized tests, and subgroups, and attempts to link teachers to student progress, is hard for me to imagine, and my sympathies lie much more with the kids who aren't being taught by teachers who think they can learn or school systems that don't give them the resources they deserve to succeed.  I don't think testing dramatically worsens those problems, even if it doesn't fix them.  The Common Core testing rollout has been glitchy but nothing like, say, the initial rollout of Obamacare.  And as I noted last week recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere have been a big reminder to us all that fixating for or against testing, charters, or technology increasingly seems like fiddling on the margins. 
None of this is to say that I hope Oliver and his crew don't continue to watch and mock things going on in education.  The Daily Show and the Colbert Report were generally great in terms of keeping an eye on hits and misses in schools and improvement efforts.  It seems unlikely that Colbert is going to be able to interview education researchers in his new gig.  So we need Oliver et al to keep the attention.  I'm just hoping that they'll be funnier and smarter about it next time around. Or maybe I just need to be in a better mood.

Philanthropy: Leave No Privilege Behind (DonorsChoose Meets AirBnB?)

WellDeserved is a a new app that allows folks to offer surplus privileges -- free food at work, extra dental appointments, a soon-to-expire SoulCycle coupon -- to fellow citizens who might want to purchase them.

Their motto: "Privilege goes unused every single day.Why would we waste any of it?"  

Great idea, no?

But they need people to post more education-related privileges that are going unused, and maybe you can help them out.

For starters, there are all the extra laptops, tablets, and smart phones laying around many homes -- not to speak of all that unused broadband access and data.  But that's not all. A student who doesn't need all of the Kumon hours his parents signed him up for could offer them to a fellow classmate.  A private school family living in a desirable neighborhood could offer its spots at the local elementary school. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

Charles Best better watch out.

Quotes: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker On Eliminating ISIS Teachers

Quotes2We must identify the people who are teaching ISIS their tactics – in other words, their teachers – and eliminate them. I did that in Wisconsin and I can do it in Iraq and Syria... Behind every problem, there are teachers you need to get rid of.

- Scott Walker (Walker Vows To Detroy ISIS Teachers via Andy Borowitz

#TBT: A Look At This Mythical 2010 Seating Chart Shows Big Turnover In Ed Media

Take a look at this 2010 chart -- a made-up seating chart for a nonexistent USDE briefing room setup and you'll get a pretty vivid idea of how much has changed in national education coverage over the past five years (A Map To Coverage Of National Education News): 

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

So much has changed, I know! USA Today's Toppo is splitting duties on other issues (like demographics). The WSJ's Banchero is gone (to Joyce), replaced by Brody. PK12's McNeil is gone (to the College Board), replaced by Klein and Camera. The NYT's Dillon is gone (to retirement, I think), replaced by Rich. Winerip is gone (to other beats), and the column has sat empty since he left. At the Washington Post, Mathews is gone (to LA, at least), though he's still columnizing from there. AP has changed over. Colbert is gone (as we know him), replaced by... nothing so far as I can tell.  Sanchez has been joined by Kamenetz and Turner. Politico's education page didn't exist back then. Huffington Post's education page wasn't launched yet, either, I guess (come back soon, Joy!).

ICYMI: Illinois School Bans Devices Teens Use To Chronicle Lives

Bo0NeUZIEAEmkUeIn what may be the first such instance in the nation, LaVerne Middle School in Evanston, IL has banned students from bringing so-called "selfie sticks" to school with them.

The devices are usually three to five feet long, with a handle at one end and a clip or other attachment to hold a cameraphone or GoPro (video camera).

"They're like half-size fishing rods," said Laverne AP Joe Schmesterhaus.

Their basic function is to help users take better "sellfies," extending the length between the camera lens and the person taking the picture. Some telescope for greater ease and portability. 

The issue began as a mere distraction this fall when some students started using the sticks to take pictures or video of themselves going to and from school, walking to class, and having lunch, then uploading the images to Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media platforms.  

It got much worse following the Winter Break, when many more students received or purchased the selfie sticks as gifts, and began jostling and rough-housing with them in the halls and in class. Some of the younger teachers also began bringing them to class.

The last straw, according to school board member Mary Lee Smiley, was a lunchtime melee the Tuesday after MLK Day Weekend when several students fought using the sticks as weapons, while others documented the event on their own devices.

"Schools always look bad when they ban things," said Smiley. "With any luck this is just a short-term solution until we figure out something more constructive." 

Related posts:  School Drones"Trigger Lock" Legislation Gaining PopularityObama's SuperSecret Special Ed Diversion Program"Classroom Intervention" Premiers This Fall Indiana School District Agrees To House Gitmo Detainees.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Update: Not Quitting Blogging, Not Doing TFA

Thanks for all the responses to my early April Fool's joke, which seemed to have been enjoyed widely.

Flickr daniel blume

Longtime readers will recognize that fake news is nothing new from me (usually tagged "Made-Up News" and presented tongue in cheek). In 2006, I claimed to have found a copy of the reorganization plan being developed for the Chicago Board of Education. In 2o1o, I had Stephen Colbert starting a for-profit chain of K-12 schools to go along with his just-announced Stephen Colbert University. I also announced the creation of a spinoff version of A&E's cable reality show, Intervention, called "Classroom Intervention." In 2011, I made up/predicted the left/right joining of forces against"Obamaschool" (including a joint appearance between Diane Ravitch and Sarah Palin that has yet to happen). I've also had Duncan contracting swine flu, and Spitzer call girl Ashley Dupre as a homeschooled TFA alum.

As always, the motivation is to amuse and provoke insight and skepticism, not to embarrass anyone.  Image via Flickr.

Events: So Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA

image from 30daystox.comIt is with *extremely* mixed emotions that I'm announcing that, as of midnight tonight I'm shutting down this site, the related Facebook and Twitter pages, and also my Chicago blog and Tumblr. [Some auto-scheduled tweets from over the weekend may appear in your feed or on your Facebook page, but I officially sent my last tweet last night.]

Wow, that's hard to write. But I'm done.  You don't need me doing this every day.  I don't need to be doing this every day. It's been a long, amazing ride. I'm really proud of what I've done, and incredibly grateful to have been allowed to do it. Thanks to everyone who's helped make it happen.

What am I going to do instead of blogging?  Good question. You see, on a lark this past fall I applied to Teach For America. I told myself it was just for the book I was writing. Nobody was more surprised than I was when I actually made it through and got picked. I had to think long and hard whether or not to quit blogging and accept the spot.  But finally I said yes and so I'm going to Houston this summer and starting teaching -- here in Brooklyn, I hope -- in the fall.   Wish me luck - I'm going to need it!

Media: HuffPost Editor Joins New (Right-Leaning?) Education Site

image from www.realclearpolitics.comEdWeek's Mark Walsh reports that former HuffPostEDU editor Emmeline Zhao is going to help run the RealClear Education site that's launching sometime soon (Editor Picked for Real Clear Education) in a partnership with Bellwether Education Partners.

Bellwether honcho Andy Rotherham has written Eduwonk for nearly a decade now, and also for TIME.com (though I'm not sure if that arrangement remains in effect).

Walsh notes that"In an era of blurring lines between traditional news organizations and other content providers, having a firm such as Bellwether be a key partner in an education news site doesn't seem unusual, though one could imagine pitfalls."

Forbes bought a controlling share of RealClear Politics a few years ago.  The site has been described as right-leaning ideologically. Here's what's tagged under education on the site right now.

Jobs: Six Easy Steps For Getting Into TFA

TFA alum Matt Brown (@mattGLH) was kind enough to share these six amusing and possibly helpful steps to getting into TFA, for those of you who might be curious or interested (or whom have offspring who are making noises about applying) but aren't sure you want to shell out $20 for a book or $250 for one of those fancy TFA application consultants.*

ScreenHunter_18 Jan. 09 11.53
ScreenHunter_17 Jan. 09 11.51

ScreenHunter_15 Jan. 09 11.47

ScreenHunter_16 Jan. 09 11.50
ScreenHunter_13 Jan. 09 11.46ScreenHunter_12 Jan. 09 11.46

ScreenHunter_11 Jan. 09 11.46

*Made that up, though I'm sure it will soon be reality.

Update: Colorado Districts Allow Teachers To Carry Firearms

image from media.philly.comFollowing up on the success of so-called "Gun Dorms" at the University of Colorado -- residential units where students could carry their (legal, licensed) weapons on campus -- Colorado Springs and Fort Collins school districts are now creating similar policies for school buildings and administrative offices where teachers, administrators, and even parents will be allowed to carry their weapons as well.

"We've followed the U of C process carefully and it seems to have worked out really well," said Fort Collins spokesperson David Grisholm.  

"Teachers want to be able to carry their licensed, legal firearms with them wherever they go," said Colorado Springs superintent Mark Reversol.  "This is just an attempt to comply with the spirit of the Concealed Carry law in an educational setting."

Somewhat ironically, the idea of letting teachers carry weapons on campus was proposed in 2007 by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert in a satirical commentary called No Guns Left Behind.

No word yet from the teachers union, or from parents.  

Afternoon Video: Bow To The Idea Men


"I"ll be your visionary.  You do the things I come up with." (via The Atlantic

Technology: Back To School Drones

image from media.npr.orgOne of the new things you may see during the upcoming school year are drones -- the unmanned aerial vehicles that have long been used overseas and by the military.

 Some of the uses that are being tried in schools around the nation: *Dropoff and pickup supervision *Lunch / recess supervision *Menu announcements *Truancy sweeps *Test proctoring *Patrolling the senior parking lot *Finding lost kids and schoolbuses off school grounds *Field trip supervision

For more on domestic uses of drones, check out this NPR story from Larry Abramson.

Audio: Turnaround Czar Talks Transformation, MOUs

At this past weekend's SIG conference in Chicago, Jason Snyder talked about where the SIG program is and where it heads next, mentioned that MOUs between districts and unions seem to be a interesting way to get dramatic improvements done, and generally made the whole program seem like an earnest and generally well-run endeavor.  Then again, I was barely awake since it was 9 am.  Here's some audio for you to pore over, courtesy of the good folks at EWA: 

Snyder Knowles MP3

There's also a PowerPoint presentation that I'll try and get and post here, too. Note that my audio edit is very rough -- that's EWA head Caroline Hendrie speaking at the start, and the second voice is UofC's Tim Knowles (wearing a black turtleneck, bien sur).  Snyder doesn't always talk into the microphone so you'll have to deal with that.  


Reform: "Trigger Lock" Legislation Gaining Popularity


In a handful of statehouses around the country, lawmakers have been introducing a new, controversial kind of legislation that is raising concerns among district and state administrators as well as in Washington. Commonly called PTL ("parent trigger lock") legislation, these proposals would allow parents whose children attend schools slated for turnaround, closure, or charter conversion to block that process with a simple majority vote, and to return their school to its previous state, however low-performing that might be.  "It's our school, and they're our kids," said Jeremy James, the Oxnard, California parent credited with popularizing the idea.  "If we want to keep things the way they are we should be able to do that." A statement provided by the U.S. Department of Education said that the "intriguing" approach was currently being reviewed for compliance with NCLB and SIG grant requirements.

Bruno: The Kids Are Probably Still Alright

Motivation2jh1EdWeek teacher blogger Kelly Flynn thinks educators and reformers should be talking more about student behavior and motivation, based in part on a "quick scan" of this report from the National Center for Education Statistics, which she says shows that: "school personnel spend an inordinate amount of time struggling with every single day: insubordination, student and teacher victimization, fighting, weapons, theft, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, gang activity, drugs, alcohol, tardiness, and an astonishing rate of absenteeism."

These are undoubtedly important issues, but I tend to be skeptical about "kids-these-days" sorts of arguments.So is it really the case that there are, as she says, a  "growing number of students who don't learn because they don't want to"?  I think a deeper look at the very same report suggests the answer is "no".  

Continue reading "Bruno: The Kids Are Probably Still Alright" »

Thompson: The "Return" Of Building Blocks (Tetherball's Next)

EdtweakFirst, Kyle Spencer of the New York Times reports on the backlash against children having too much time in front of computer screens and "overly academic preschools."  Even some of the most prescriptive of school leaders are embracing the return of old-fashioned building blocks to elementary classrooms.  Then ""Anonymous" at Edtweak  describes Education Secretary Arne Duncan's announcement on the "clear and compelling evidence that physical activity plays a crucial role in learning."  So, Secretary Duncan has added a new requirement for states seeking waivers from NCLB. All primary and secondary schools must now have four tetherball poles.  Duncan is said to also be considering a mandate that schools must serve "that chocolate milk with the adorable cow on the container."  Ignoring charges that he has become "power mad," Duncan is also considering a mandate that schools return to film strip projectors that allowed children to see films forwards and backwards.-JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

Technology: Predicting Results Isn't That Far Off

image from 4.bp.blogspot.comThey're already apparently working on predicting criminal behavior -- just like in Minority Report -- and using online assessments like TeacherFit to figure out who's going to make a good teacher, so it probably won't be long before they're predicting who'll be a good teacher.  Fill out a survey or send in your demo video and they'll give you tenure and a bonus on the spot.  Or they'll fire you.  For rural and hard-to-staff schools, the predictive software -- anyone got a new name? -- will probably be available on the next iPhone through an app that can also be used to control the unarmed mini-drone you're using to monitor the playground and the perimeter of campus.  Via The Atlantic.

NCLB: Obama's SuperSecret Special Ed Diversion Program

image from www.cardsmart.co.uk Wow.  A little-noticed provision in the Obama education "blueprint" for NCLB -- inserted at the behest of the Gates Foundation and/or Pearson and Comcast (no one's quite sure) -- allows schools to identify children as special needs and divert them into a resource room for up to a full school year -- without parents' knowledge or approval or the consent of the teacher of record.  According to section 45.321, a district can "identify, at its discretion, up to 5 (five) percent of student enrollment not already identified as having special needs, for alternative special services outside the normal course offerings, which may include (a) computer-assisted instruction, (b) group activities supervision by classified or certified staff, or (c) any such services as the district may deem appropriate...as long as the parent or guardian is notified within 180 days of such changes." The stated rationale is that early intervention could help reduce later needs for full-on special education services, but advocates are concerned about parents and classroom teachers being left out of the loop on educational decisions and the potential misuse of the provision for cost-cutting purposes or to advance a particular technology or vendor.  For more see here.

Media: More Skepticism Needed -- But Not More Paranoia

image from www.voiceseducation.org Journalists and others will be gathered at Columbia's Journalism School this weekend to discuss the role of foundations both in shaping school reform and in shaping media coverage of education issues.  Stories about philanthropic influence are turning into something of a cottage industry what with the Dissent story (Got Dough?), the Newsweek/Center on Public Integrity takedown (Back to School for the Billionaires ) and the Charlotte Observer story (Who's the power behind CMS?). Having written about these topics frequently over the years, I've found them all interesting -- it's important for reporters and others to understand how the media and the reform movement are being shaped -- but not entirely convincing, in that they generally seem to ascribe a certain all-powerfulness to private foundations at the same time they're gleefully reporting that privately funded efforts haven't worked.   There's also a certain whiff of witch hunt that can easily get into stories like these: the notion that anyone who's taken foundation money or done anything reformy has lost all capacity for independent thought or credibility.  And yet, I agree with the basic notions that funders and reformers are trying to influence public opinion through the media, and education reporters should be much more skeptical and critical than they have been. Image via.

Thompson: "Student Trigger" Raises Grades

EdtweakUnder California's new student trigger law, any student in a failing classroom will be able to remove her or his teacher by collecting signatures from 50% of the class's students.  Edtweak explains that this law was sponsored by "Student Revolution," a group of millionaires.  In two pilot studies, student grades increased dramatically. - JT (@drjohnthompson) 

Events: The Coming Left/Right Protest Against "ObamaSchool"

image from blog.nj.comThe head of the Central Falls teachers' union is skipping the upcoming national conference on labor-management cooperation because she says the district is "not willing to establish real collaboration," according to the Boston Globe (Teachers union chief in RI sees little progress), and at this point I'm not sure I blame her.  It won't be long before disgruntled teachers (who want dignity and autonomy and to see some research before they accept their marching orders) partner with right wing Ron Paul types who want Obama and Duncan to back off from meddling in personnel decisions, local practices, and all the rest.  Then they'll organize a big protest on the Mall, a crazy anti-government, anti-reformy cry of anger against ObamaSchool.  Sara Palin and Diane Ravitch will keynote.    

Thompson: "Teachers Unions, Spawn of Satan"

image from benblogged.com "Davis Gugenheim has earned an Emmy for the movie screenplay, based on the book “Teacher Unions: Spawn of Satan," reports the online journal Education Tweak (PDF).  "It tells the story of five children as they try to escape from unionized teachers who are, in fact, zombies and vampires." - JT (@drjohnthompson) 




Funders: Educator Wins MacArthur "Genius" Grant

Amir Abo-Shaeeer, director of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy in California, is one of the MaCarthur Foundation "genius" grantees for this year - the first educator that I can recall since the founder of Posse won a few years ago.

Amir Abo-Shaeer, director of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, says he had no idea he was being considered for a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. 'I still can’t believe it,' he says. 'I feel so fortunate and very humbled.'

The foundation also recognized David Simon, creator of "The Wire" (also known as the best show in the history of television).  Link

Video: Stephen Colbert Unveils For-Profit University

Crossed fingers that there's a Stephen Colbert venture into K12 education to follow his new (made up) university:

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Colbert University - Andrew Hacker
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

Stephen Colbert University (Comedy Central)

Blogs: Fake News Does Not Amuse Education Blogger

ScreenHunter_10 Aug. 02 18.35 Click here to read Matthew Tabor's roundup of the blogosphere's response to news that A & E was going to start showing a classroom version of Intervention -- a story I made up and posted last week. I've been posting the occasional fake news on the site since almost the beginning -- there's even a category called "Made Up News" in my sidebar (Duncan Appoints Death Panel Discoverer As School Lunch Czar, Top Obama Officials Contract H1N1 "Swine Flu", Illinois Governor Seeks Payments For Spots At Local Elementary School, Ashley Dupre Was Homeschooled TFA Alum).  Though occasionally a few people are fooled, my purpose isn't to embarrass anyone.  My thinking is  that readers will do a double-take, wonder for a second if the world's gone mad, and then move on.  But not everyone agrees.  Tabor's take is much more critical -- that bloggers can't read or research.  Or at least that's the gist of it, based on a quick skim :-)

Television: "Classroom Intervention" Premiers This Fall

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Move over, "Waiting For Superman."  The cable channel A&E has just announced a new reality show called "Classroom Intervention" that will premier in September.  A spinoff of its hit intervention show (which recent reports suggest has had real-world impact on its subjects), the new show will profile the performance of a struggling teacher in each episode.  Some of the teachers will be rookies.  Others will be veterans.  Each will be observed, then counseled in an intense evaluation and support program.  Some will improve.  Others will fail.  If it becomes popular, it could shed enormous light on the plight of classroom teachers and the challenges of helping them improve. The channel is asking teachers to send in recommendations for who could be on the show.  Self nominations are allowed. If only there was such a show for bloggers -- I'm sure I need the help.

Quote: DonorsChoose Defends "Superman" Collaboration

"We think "Waiting for 'Superman'" has the potential to make public education top-of-mind for even more people throughout the country, and we look forward to channeling this expanded interest into direct support for teachers and students." - DonorsChoose resopnse to concerns about its co-promotion with pro-charter documentary.

EdSec: Duncan To S. Africa To Bolster U.S. Team Defense

Jabulani_cropBreaking news;  President Obama is sending Education Secretary Arne Duncan to South Africa in an effort to bolster United States chances in the World Cup. 

No, not really.  But here's the schedule for next week.  Nothing nearly as interesting on tap, at least as far as public media events that they want us to know about and hope will be covered by the press.

Continue reading "EdSec: Duncan To S. Africa To Bolster U.S. Team Defense" »

Thompson: Value-Added Street Musicians

Astoria Since the 1980s, "Music Under New York," or MUNY has adopted market-driven competition to enhance the quality of performers in the subways. NPR reported on the 63 musicians who auditioned for prime performing spots in the mass transit system.  Twenty seven were selected, replacing musicians who did not bring enough value added to their location.  Each year, performers who did not contribute enough to the location's fare increase target, must re-apply for their spots.  "It's a constant re-tuning," said Bob Holman, the MUNY master of ceremonies. 

Ideas: The "Race To The Top Of Maryland Avenue" Act

Rahmcos-thumb-454x302The "Race To The Top Of Maryland Avenue" (RTTTOMA) Act is a $50 billion competitive grant program designed to incent the US Department of Education to make itself dramatically better over the next two years. 

This bold proposal hidden deep in the fine print accompanying the FY2011 budget request is just coming to light, apparently inserted there by White House staffers concerned about self-satisfaction and stagnant performance at the US Department of Education. 

Read below for program details and a preliminary response from the Education Secretary.

Continue reading "Ideas: The "Race To The Top Of Maryland Avenue" Act" »

Society: Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian

Gay Teen

Lucas Faber has tried focusing on Godspell to keep the thought of tithing out of his mind.
(Via The Onion)

Economy: IN School District Agrees To House Gitmo Detainees

Images Forced to look for every possible way to raise revenues, the cash-strapped Merrilville (IN) public school system has decide to convert one of its largest high schools into a maximum security prison where detainees from Guantanamo Bay will be housed under contract with the federal government. 

"We really had no other choice," said superintendent Marvin Braxton about the decision, made at a board meeting last night after a hotly debated 6-3 vote.  "The building was empty and the Homeland Security money will help us make it to the end of the year."

The school district is the first in the nation to take such drastic steps.  Other districts have reduced the length of the school day, raised class sizes, put cell phone transponders in kids' backpacks, and raffled off principals as domestic servants. 

Public Responds To News That Math Skills Show Little Growth

Young Woman

Ann Gaddis, Fan-Blade Aligner

"Oh, no. All of our high-paying jobs differentiating between parallelograms and rhombuses are sure to go to the Chinese."

The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Breaking: Duncan Appoints Death Panel Discoverer As School Lunch Czar

Responding to mounting concerns about districts micromanaging students' diets and pushing a "liberal" vegetarian agenda with so-called "meatless Monday" lunch menus (see Lou Dobbs segment below), Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today that he had named Betsy McCaughey, among the first to warn about the death panels contained in various health care proposals, as "school lunch czar" in charge of making sure that there is no ideological meddling in local school lunch decisions.  Richard Heene, father of the balloon boy, will be handling media. 

TV: Colbert Report Needs Questions For Duncan Interview Tonight

Writers from the staff of The Colbert Report have contacted me asking for help with tonight's interview with Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.  They need questions and jokes for Colbert to ask.  I've only got a couple.  Can you help out? 

Main -What does it say that Kevin Jennings is being bullied by those mean Republicans, and no one seems to be able to stop them?  Your safe schools czar isn't safe. 

-You and Attorney General -- both extremely tall gentlemen -- are going to Chicago this week to talk about youth violence.  What're you going to do, play two on two against the gang leaders to see who gets to control the streets?

-Speaking of which:  If I play you in a game of "horse" and I win, does that mean that I'll be in charge of the schools? 

-You've called No Child Left Behind "toxic" and said it needs changing -- can I take that to mean that some children should be left behind?  If so, I have some kids I'd like to nominate.

Breaking: Two Top Obama Officials Contract H1N1 "Swine Flu" [edited]

White+House+Officials+Announce+Guidance+Schools+wG5YFsCYbIFl Late Monday night, Obama administration officials were forced to admit what many already knew:  education secretary Arne Duncan and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius have both contracted the H1N1 virus (otherwise known as "swine flu").  

Ironically, the disease was likely transmitted at the pictured press event, held to highlight swine flu prevention efforts for the upcoming school year. (CDC prevention head Thomas Friedan was not infected.)

Though the situation is considered extremely embarrassing to the administration, Duncan and Sebelius are not the first public figures to be affected by the highly contagious virus.  Presidents of Costa Rica and Columbia, among others, have already picked up the disease.  No word yet on how this will affect the week's scheduled events.

WED EDIT:  This is obviously fake, as most of you understood immediately or soon thereafter.  It is filed under the category "Made Up News."  There are no wire reports of this.  Sorry for any momentary alarm that may have been caused. 

SCANDAL: Critics Claim TFA Candidates Not U.S. Citizens

A4s_birthcert073109_78455c Scandal erupted over the weekend when a group of anonymous bloggers sent evidence purporting to show that some TFA teachers may not in fact be American citizens to the US Department of Education, five of the nation's largest school districts, and a number of different media outlets.  

"Until they show us a birth certificate or some other proof of US citizenship, they shouldn't be teaching in American classrooms," wrote one bloggers in an email titled "Classrooms For America." 
TFA has been under increasing scrutiny this summer as districts cut budgets and teaching positions. Some have accused districts and principals of replacing veteran teachers with TFA and other "alternative" candidates who are generally younger, better looking, and -- we now hear -- may or may not be real Americans.   

Those writing in claim that they are not connected to the so-called "birther" movement, which has claimed that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is thus not rightly the President.    "We have nothing to do with those guy," wrote one commenter.  "We just want our kids to be taught by Americans."

RttT: Secret Provision Promotes Military-Themed Schools

The military's not just recruiting in regular high schools anymore, a la NCLB. They're now increasingly helping start and run schools with military themes (Military-backed public schools on the rise despite protests USA Today). What no one knows, however, is that it's a secret provision in the Race to the Top fund.
From Slate's Daily Cartoons.

EDSEC: Duncan Stakes Out Broad Role On State & Local Issues

In response to a FOIA request by ProPublica.org, the US Department Of Education has now released a list of state and local issues that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has weighed in on during the past six months (in addition to state charter caps and mayoral control).

43899385They include:
- Raising the driving age in Ohio (against)
- Block scheduling at Harper High School (for)
- Adding five days to the CT minimum school year (for)
- Proposition P in Oregon (against)
- Split lunch at Patterson Elementary next year (for)
- Changing boys' soccer from fall to spring in Missouri's Imperial League (against)
- Changing monthly board meeting locations for Chattanooga public schools to the Denny's on Dalton Boulevard (against)

ONION: Headlines And Opinion From America's Finest News Source

Education Is Our Passport To The Something Or Other
"Education is the single most important issue of today. More important than... you know, all the other issues combined."

Obama Revises Campaign Promise Of 'Change'
"Today, Americans face a great many challenges, and I hear your desperate calls for barely measurable and largely symbolic improvements in the status quo," said Obama.

Parents Legally Change 9-Year-Old's Name To Better Reflect Current Pop Culture
"Britney just seems a little bit old-fashioned is all," mother Heather Patterson said. "We want our little girl to have all the advantages a name like Miley, or maybe Hannah, would give her."

EDUPRENEURS: Splinter Group Seeks Unionization In Miami

107377927_8ce35e9464 Word is trickling out from Miami that a handful of rebellious edupreneurs at this year's Gathering Of Leaders have approached SEIU about possible unionization. 

High turnover, uncertainty over performance evaluation, and unnecessary scheduling of meetings are among the reasons cited for considering the move.

New Profit's annual invite-only retreat (NSVF meets Six Sigma) has operated up until this point outside of any collective bargaining agreement.

Here's the report (PDF) from last year's conference.

Illinois Governor Seeks Payment For Spots At Local Elementary School

Pictured:  Illinois Governor Blagojevich seen in an undated picture asking elementary school students how much they (or their families) can pay to keep their spots at the extremely popular Nettlehorst Elementary School in Chicago. 

“I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden," Blagojevich was overheard telling the children about their spots in the next grade.  "I’m just not giving it up for bleeping noth­ing."

MEDIA: EdWeek Site Access Customer Clearinghouse

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_0107 In light of EdWeek's prolonged problems providing site access for print subscribers (aka, "Premium Access"), Editorial Projects in Education, which owns EdWeek, has asked me to use allow them to use this space to provide readers with a place to describe whatever problems they are having accessing the site.

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_0107Please detail whatever issues or concerns you've been having in the comments section below.  This might include passwords that don't work, claim codes that are "already" claimed, customer support that hangs up on you or tells you that you are not in the system or that they are going through a "transition" of vendors and to call back in a few days.  A representative from EPE will get back to you as soon as possible.

Screenhunter_02_dec_03_0107On behalf of EPE, and EdWeek, I'd like to express my empathy for any of you who have had problems over recent weeks and months. 

TRANSITION: New Recommendations Memo Turns Up

Change_memo_rd_final_p_1Hah!  The first page of the long-rumored recommendations memo from the Reformy Democrats* has finally surfaced.

You read it here first.

I'm still looking for the rest of the memo.  In the meantime, click to enlarge.

*Not to be confused with Democrats For Education Reform.




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