April 2008 Archives

Guest Blogger Sol Stern Weighs In on Social Justice Teaching

Sol Stern, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, responds both to my post and Bill Ayers's post on social justice teaching.Thanks for posting my articles on social justice teaching and for being willing to open up this space for more discussion of what I regard as a retrograde education movement.Unfortunately you [eduwonkette] avoid dealing with the harm done by this movement when you suggest that there’s really no “coherent and distinctive pedagogy that’s taught at schools of education across the country.” If you believe that, you’re somewhat out of touch with some of the ...


Guest Blogger Bill Ayers on Social Justice Teaching

I asked Bill Ayers, Professor of Education at the University of Illinois - Chicago, to weigh in on teaching for social justice. You can read his blog here.It’s hard to know what Sol Stern is worked up about. He quotes me exactly once, urging new teachers to work to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and…be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.”In spite of the ellipses, and in spite of the fact that this is a tiny excerpt from a ...


What is Social Justice Teaching, Anyway?

The blogosphere never passes up an opportunity to swing at an education professor (see Still a Public Menace and Bill Ayers is Worse Than a Terrorist. He’s an Ed School Professor for representative headlines.) After reading Sol Stern’s article about Bill Ayers, I was still unclear about what “social justice teaching” actually means, and he kindly pointed me to his previous work that provides concrete examples (see here, here, and here).As I understand it, Stern’s argument about “social justice teaching” has four parts:1) Education school professors have indoctrinated their students to “teach for social justice.” ...


skoolboy says: Some of My Best Friends are Psychometricians, But...

Deborah Meier added a comment to the end of the value-added thread from last week. (Thanks for stopping by eduwonkette's blog, Deb!) Her point is too important to overlook. She writes that standardized tests of reading proficiency are only loosely correlated with good reading habits—i.e., that a student can score well on a test of reading proficiency without demonstrating the habits of mind that could enable him or her to engage in a critical discussion of a text. Meier also writes that we do not have tests that measure "the more significant intellectually sound habits of heart and ...


Name Fordham's Boy Band!

Watch these videos, and tell me these guys won't give Justin Timberlake a run for his money. But they need a catchy moniker. My picks: Checker and the Finns, The Alarmists, or Milli Petrilli.Update: The name to beat is "Rage Against the Rothstein."(From left to right, Liam Julian, Mike Petrilli, and Checker Finn. No pics available for Coby Loup.)...


New Facebook Friends Waiting for the Madame

Rumor has it that Madame Secretary is cooking up a Facebook page. Facebook addict skoolboy tipped me off to the "Get Rid of Margaret Spellings" Facebook group. Their mission:They're 10 members strong - 6 hail from a high school in Durango, Colorado....


A Closer Look at Violence in Chicago

Last weekend, 36 people were shot in Chicago, and 13 of the victims were Chicago Public Schools students. This school year alone, more than 20 CPS students have been fatally shot. Looking towards the future, Mayor Daley dispensed this soothing advice to parents: "What we're asking parents to do is know where your children are. It's going to be a long summer, and parents better capture this responsibility."What do trends in weapon-carrying and fighting among teenagers in Chicago look like? I pulled data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which surveys American high school students every 2 years and ...


On Graduate Student Unions

I broke a few hearts with my take on graduate student unions. Mike Antonucci, who desperately wanted to out me as Randi Weingarten or Reg Weaver, probably won't be able to crawl out of bed tomorrow. (But Leo, this is what the Walmart-sponsored anti-union flag really looks like.) So let me say a few words on this issue, and since my heels aren't deeply dug in about it, invite you to convince me that I'm wrong.I don't have new angles to offer on the worker versus student question. Nonetheless, it strikes me that just as aspiring teachers must student ...


Yin and Yang! A New Blog to Cheer About

There is balance and order in the world. Following Fordham and Jay Greene, Sara Goldrick-Rab (University of Wisconsin - Madison higher ed extraordinaire) and Liam Goldrick-Rab (New Teacher Center) have started a new blog.Update: Wow! See Sara's terrific post on the problems with the policy recs in Ed Sector's college graduation rate report....


Matrix Algebra Miscellany

1) Really Good Discussion About Policymaking & Value-Added: Down there in the comments. Come and put in your two cents, and also check out the AFT's take and Nancy Flanagan's post on assessing teachers. If you're tired of this thread, head over to one commenter's unrelated op-ed in USA Today about A Nation At Risk.2) Matrix Algebra: After the keg runs dry, they play all kinds of party games at the Education Next editorial board meetings. Apparently, the boys lacking the vim and vigor to win a round of duck-duck-goose get pinched into starting blogs. Between Flypaper and Jay Greene, ...


skoolboy on: The Status of the Status Quo in Education Policy

Over at The Quick and the Ed, one of the many house organs of Education Sector, Kevin Carey is conducting a serial monologue belittling eduwonkette as an “alleged social scientist.” “Alleged”? Yeah, I’ll allege it – eduwonkette is a social scientist. It’s not an epithet, as much as Carey might believe; to some of us, it’s a way of life.What’s the latest bee in Carey’s bonnet? It’s eduwonkette’s contention that particular value-added assessment systems for evaluating teacher performance are not ready for prime time. Carey views the claim that a particular policy alternative ...


The Upper West Side Relief Act of 2008 (Or: More on Gifted Admissions in NYC)

Upper West Side kids face obstacles, folks - sometimes there are two Bugaboo strollers blocking their path to the Elephant Playground at 76rd and Riverside. Joel Klein recognized their struggle against adversity, and gently tweaked the gifted and talented admissions rules to open the door of opportunity for all (Manhattan) kids.Make no mistake - NYC's poorer community school districts lost out under the new gifted and talented admissions process. On Monday, I discussed the change in gifted seats by district, but some readers asked for the overall percentage of kids in each district that are classified as gifted.Let's ...


Did School Integration Really Do Much Good?

Alexander Russo asks the title question (which makes PREA Prez mad), and here's one answer:There have always been multiple justifications for desegregation - among the most cited are 1) separate schools will always have resource inequalities, and 2) social interaction in the early years can spur social integration later on.What were the effects of desegregation on its intended beneficiaries - black students - and if these effects were positive, what mechanisms explain these effects? Sarah Reber, a UCLA economist, wanted to know, too. In this important paper, she found the following:In Louisiana, substantial reductions in segregation between ...


Guest Blogger Mike Klonsky Part II: Deb Meier’s Innovation Became Bloomberg’s Bulldozer

Mike Klonsky is back with the second half of his guest post. His first post can be found here. Public school reform could not help but be affected by power and influence of the Ownership Society Anschluss that went full-tilt at all public space, including public schooling, eight years ago.Deb Meier, reflecting on her early notions of small schools, posted this on her blog:I thought small schools was one reform no one could do harm with… I saw them as representing new ideas and new relationships between the constituents to schooling. I thought of Ted Sizer's little Parker ...


What Can Other Professions Teach Us about Evaluation and Accountability in Education?

In a very productive exchange, Dean Millot and Corey Bower have been contemplating the professional status of education. Dean's most recent post, "Why Legally Recognized Professionalism is Necessary to Reasonable Teacher Accountability," is one of the best think pieces I've read in some time. Read the whole thing, but here's the central theme of the post:Lawyers and doctors are not punished for undesired outcomes; they are accountable for doing what professionals should do given their client’s circumstances....As a legally recognized profession, teacher conduct would be judged by teachers, according to standards of educational care devised by teachers, ...


Guest Blogger Mike Klonsky: The Small Schools Movement Meets the Ownership Society

We're well into Small Schools 2.0, which makes it an opportune time to reflect on the similarities and differences between the two small school reform waves. Joining us to discuss this issue is Mike Klonsky, author of a new book on small school reform and the blog Small Talk.Thanks to Eduwonkette for inviting me in as a guest blogger to talk about our new book, Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society. She hasn’t told me yet how much $$$ I have to kick back her way. Just put it on my tab, 'Kette.Susan Klonsky ...


More Signs of the Apocalypse!

Here's my take on the New York tenure law discussion going on around the blogs:1) The backdoor process was unsavory, and now threatens to displace an important discussion about the limits of value-added measures in New York. Sherman Dorn offers some fertile thoughts on the process issue. Also worth noting that last week's outragists were hardly outraged about the secrecy surrounding NYC's teacher experiment.2) Critics would do well to separate the likely effects of this law from their unhappiness with the process. Consider Robert Gordon's post, which interprets the law's effects as follows:This means that in deciding ...


With New Gifted and Talented Rules, Who Wins and Loses?

"Today, there’s limited access to gifted and talented education in some districts. The opposite is true in other districts. We want to create universal opportunity—and dramatically increase the numbers of students testing for, and hopefully entering, gifted and talented programs." -Joel Klein, October 29, 2007 Press ReleaseThis fall, New York City adopted a uniform system for gifted and talented admissions. Educational equity, we were told, was the reason for this reform; New York City has long operated a decentralized network of gifted programs, and the conventional wisdom is that more affluent community districts had more than their fair ...


Finally, Credit Recovery Uncovered by NY Times

To close observers of the NYC system, the "credit recovery" story is old news. But this burgeoning phenomenon had received scant media attention until Elissa Gootman turned in this important NYT article linking credit recovery to the mounting pressure to increase graduation rates by any means necessary.For the uninitiated, credit recovery involves "letting those who lack credits make them up by means other than retaking a class or attending traditional summer school." This often involves completing a project which demonstrates "mastery" of the course. I've seen projects ranging from a packet of math problems to a 5-page "term paper," ...


Quotes of the Day

This afternoon, Randi Weingarten was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the annual meetings of the American Education Finance Association. More detail on the talk later, but here are three quotable quotes in the meantime:"What drives me crazy is that there is so much disinformation and downright hostility towards teachers these days. The fact that they get scapegoated so much is a huge disservice to society." "The vast accounting trick [of current educational accountability systems] sooner or later will implode and leave the shareholders - the public - holding an empty bag.""Education used to have the ...


After NY's Teacher Tenure Law, Blogosphere Plays Union Pinata

That's what I get for predicting that the big ed news of the week would be Mario Chalmers' shot. The NY legislature has put a two year hold on the use of test scores for teacher tenure decisions, and will convene a commission to study the issue in the meantime. First, check out these links to Joel Klein's op-ed, Randi Weingarten's op-ed, the NY Times article, and the NY Post article.Neither policymakers nor the public understands the complexity of estimating value-added models, so I preferred educating lawmakers and the public about what conditions would have to be in place ...


Why Do Journalists Love Shaky Science on Race?

Let me preface this post by saying that I am predisposed to believe that peer effects influence students' success. But I am consistently frustrated that journalists pick up, run with, and extrapolate from poorly executed studies on the topic of "acting white" or "acting Black." Let's walk through two examples from the last month:1) I've now seen two articles on this mess of a study published in Professional School Counseling. The articles feature headlines like, "Having a best friend of a different race can make a big difference in the academic achievement of black and Hispanic high school students, ...


Nothing This Exciting Will Happen In Ed Policy This Week

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!...


Has "A Nation at Risk" Done More Harm Than Good?

Richard Rothstein bats first in a lineup of essays at Cato Unbound commemorating the 25th anniversary of "A Nation At Risk," and asserts that the report has done more harm than good.Why? First, Rothstein argues, the report wrongly concluded that student achievement was declining. The report mistook the changing composition of SAT test takers for a half a standard deviation decline in SAT scores since the 1960s. Second, Risk placed the blame on schools for national economic problems over which schools have relatively little influence. While education surely plays a part in economic growth, he shows that our economic ...


Is Teaching an Overrated Career?

Over at the Faculty Room, they're discussing the US News and World Report claim that teaching is an overrated career. Devin Ozdogu shares an old excerpt from Whitney Tilson's guru, Linda Darling-Hammond:HELP WANTED. College graduate with academic major (master’s preferred). Challenging opportunity to serve 150 clients daily on tight schedule, developing up to five different products each day to meet individual needs. Adaptability helpful since suppliers cannot always deliver goods and support services on time. Diversified position allows employee to exercise typing, clerical, law enforcement, and social work skills between assignments and after hours. Ideal candidate will enjoy ...


TGI - NCLB

1) Grad Rate Questions: Sherman Dorn frames 12 questions about the forthcoming grad rate measure. If the 2014 proficiency target provides any indication, the answer to this question, "If there are such required benchmarks, is there any supporting research to suggest that the status or improvement benchmarks are realistic?" will be a resounding no.2) Swifty Statistics: I'm a sucker for a good Harper's Index, so head over to Charlie Barone's brief on the new school choice and tutoring report. His take: "The take-home message is that more and more students are exercising their options to transfer to another school ...


Obam-Arts

Via Mike Klonsky, looks like Obama has been reading the ed blogs on curriculum narrowing. He said: Part of the reason you’re seeing schools eliminate art and music – or at least diminish them – is because of No Child Left Behind, a law that was intended to raise standards in local schools but what happened was because it relied just on a single standardized test, school districts felt pressured to just teach to the test….in a lot of school districts, they just had to make choices, and they decided, you know what, if we’re going to bring our ...


Do High School Exit Exams Pay Off in the Labor Market?

High school exit exams have become a common fixture in American high school life. By 2006, 22 states had exit exams - and because larger states are more likely to have exams, approximately two-thirds of all high school students face exit exam requirements.Proponents of exit exams often assert that these tests make the high school diploma more meaningful to employers. If this is the case, these policies should widen the gap in earnings and labor market outcomes between those who earn high school diplomas and those that don't. Despite the popularity of these policies, few papers have examined this ...


Value-Added Preview

Wisconsin's Center for Educational Research has posted abstracts for the National Conference on Value-Added Modeling. Take a look here....


Quotes of the Day

Call me old fashioned and curmudgeonly, but I can't stand it when the wonks break out in a "research shows" chorus with no references. If research so valiantly and definitively shows it, you should be able to tell us whose research shows it. The quote of the day is a tie; both quotes hail from the Teachers College forum on class size this afternoon.1) In introducing NYC Department of Education's Garth Harries, who is the "Chief Portfolio Officer" and the former "engagement manager" at McKinsey, TC prof Carolyn Riehl said, "These titles - we usually don't think about them ...


AERA continued: The Teachings of Russ Whitehurst

In a talk last Thursday entitled, “Seven Things I've Learned About Education Research and Policy, Plus or Minus Two,” Russ Whitehurst, the Director of the Institute of Educational Sciences, summarized what he’s learned about education policymaking during his seven years at IES.1) The research community is oriented towards understanding, while the policy community is oriented towards action. Researchers are often upset that their work is not defined as “policy relevant” (and thus not included in IES’s funding priorities). But they usually haven’t thought about what’s actionable in their own research. Whitehurst gave the example of ...


April Fool in Love Links

1) We Can Fix AERA!: Sherman Dorn has thought a lot about how the AERA rating system stacks the deck against presenters lacking tacit knowledge.2) Marry Me, Eduwonk!: Boys, watch and learn from a Clinton-certified Don Juan - the passive aggressive flirting, truculent pet names, salacious locker room gossip, and wonky bickering all make me hot. Sure, you're already married - but after #9, polygamy is the new prostitution in New York.3) E.D. in '08: This is What 60 Million Gets You: Fordham goes funny....


AERA Continued: Dropout Factories

In the fall, the AP reported that 1 in 10 US high schools are “dropout factories.” At AERA, Robert Balfanz provided an overview of Hopkins Center for the Social Organization of Schools' research that led to the AP article.Central to the “dropout factory” is the idea of promoting power. “Promoting power” compares the number of 12th-graders in a high school to the number of 9th-graders three years earlier. While this is not a direct measure of the graduation rate, it is a decent indicator, and can be calculated for every school in America from the NCES Common Core of ...


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