October 2008 Archives

It’s Halloween, and time for skoolboy to present eduwonkette’s second annual Edu-Parade. Here are some of the few costumes you won’t see at the Greenwich Village Halloween parade in New York City: First up are Philissa Cramer, Kelly Vaughan, and Elizabeth Green as the Gossip Girls. (That’s Elizabeth as vulnerable part-good, part-evil Blair Waldorf.) Over at GothamSchools, Philissa, Kelly and Elizabeth spill all the gossip on what’s happening in New York City schools and beyond. XOXO, ladies! Here comes Jim Liebman, Director of the Office of Accountability and Assessment in New York City, as ARIS, ...


Recently, skoolboy’s students had a spirited discussion of Subtractive Schooling (SUNY Press, 1999), Angela Valenzuela’s wonderful book chronicling the social relations between teachers and students in Seguin, a Houston high school serving a high concentration of Mexican immigrant and Mexican-American youth. A central theme of the book is that teachers and students often fail to understand one another’s orientations and values, resulting in a kind of mutual alienation. Valenzuela, now on the faculty of the University of Texas-Austin (and founder of a blog on educational equity in Texas) demonstrated that students often felt that their teachers didn’t...


Maybe to a duck. The term originated in the world of finance, accompanying bulls and bears, and gravitated from referring to businessmen who couldn’t pay their debts to describing politicians who lose political power in anticipation of their scheduled loss of office. It’s hard not to view President George W. Bush and the men and women who surround him as lame ducks. But lame duck status generally doesn’t serve as a muzzle. On Friday, White House Domestic Policy Director Karl Zinsmeister published a letter to the Editor of the New York Times responding to Sam Dillon's front-page ...


eduwonkette's Halloween parade last year was such a big hit, it's time for a reprise. Because she's on the road, skoolboy (who lacks her Photoshop chops) is at the wheel. Please post suggestions for parade participants and their costumes below, or e-mail them to me at skoolboy2 (at) gmail (dot) com. This year, participants will be on floats. There could be a big-city mayor float, with mayor-for-life Mike Bloomberg and Adrien Fenty; big-city superintendents, such as the ever-popular Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, and Paul Vallas; high-flying free spenders, such as Eli Broad and Bill Gates; policy entrepreneurs, such ...


Apologies for being AWOL, folks - both skoolboy and I are on the road. Below, you can find the beginning of an op-ed about the NYC Progress Reports that the two of us wrote for our local West Side Spirit - the link to the full text is below.Each fall, many New Yorkers head to family physicians for an annual physical. Doctors record some standard measures—body temperature and blood pressure, for example—and perhaps draw some blood to send to the lab. Doctors will also ask about changes in health over the last year. Only after considering all ...


1) 8% of This Year's Teaching Fellows to Be Let Go in December: 139 teachers, or 8% of the 1840 teachers who joined the NYC Teaching Fellows June 2008 cohort, will be let go on December 5th because they have not yet been placed in a teaching position. As Gotham Schools reports, they are now organizing. Matthew Rudansky, a teaching fellow speaking for a group of Fellows that have banded together, explains the situation below:By no fault of our own, we face December 5th dismissal from a program for which many of us have made huge sacrifices. Fellows in ...


Dan Brown's book, The Great Expectations School, is out in paperback now with some new endorsements. (As a sidenote, it turns out that the two of us went to the same elementary school, pictured left, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and even shared four of six elementary school teachers.)Also keep your eye out for two new books on accountability and NCLB:* Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen, and Tamara Wilder, Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right* Richard Kahlenberg (Editor), Improving on No Child Left Behind: Getting Education Reform Back on Track...


On Tuesday, the Broad Foundation awarded the 2008 Broad Prize for Urban Education to the Brownsville, Texas School District. skoolboy has a soft spot in his heart for Brownsville: skoolboy’s spouse (who has made it clear that he is a dead man if he refers to her as Mrs. skoolboy here) is a product of the Brownsville schools, and she briefly taught English as a Second Language at the middle-school level there a long time ago. I don’t know enough about the Broad Foundation process or what the administrators and teachers in Brownsville have done to warrant this ...


Have you noticed that presidential debates are a bunch of loosely related thoughts haphazardly pulled together? Kind of like this carnival. To pregame tonight’s debate, I let our fine candidates speak. I’ve done my best to give all of them, irrespective of party affiliation, a hard time - though may not have been entirely successful in achieving parity, and for that you will have to forgive me. Snippets of the candidates' real policy plans are drawn from McCain and Obama’s excerpted speeches in this month’s Phi Delta Kappan. Will McCain “whip Obama’s you-know-what?” Only time ...


As a public service to the central district offices everywhere (and especially the NYC Department of Education), readers have proposed new names for administrative positions. I've chosen two winners:* Senior Director in charge of All Senior Directors ($190,000) - Diane Ravitch* Chief Student Incentivizer ($175,000) - GPSend me a tee shirt size and a preferred color to claim your prize!...


I'm hosting the carnival on Wednesday, folks. Send your posts to me at eduwonkette (at) gmail (dot) com by 7pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, October 14th, or use this submission form....


In this interview with Simon Doolittle at AfterEd, Sol Stern explains where mayoral control went awry, tries to sell you some stock in Lehman Brothers, and gives Mayor Bloomberg a gentleman's C. Watch a clip below, or check out the whole 15 minute interview here....


Ceci Rouse is a labor economist who teaches at Princeton. She has evaluated the effects of vouchers in Milwaukee, and more recently has studied the effects of accountability in Florida with fellow cool person David Figlio.With Lisa Barrow, Rouse has a new literature review out (School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence, Remaining Questions) about the effects of vouchers on both the students who receive them and the students who remain in public schools. Basically, the take home story is that we shouldn't expect much from vouchers. No surprises there for those who have watched vouchers closely, but do ...


If you just got laid off from Lehman, do I have an edu-job for you!Michelle Rhee needs a "safe, prompt, reliable and comfortable driver to assist [the] Chancellor with her daily schedule and a variety of duties. The incumbent’s primary responsibility is the safe operation of DCPS vehicles for the purpose of transporting the Chancellor to and from events in accordance with the daily itinerary of events."Do all superintendents of big districts get drivers? I had no idea. But just think about the splashy, tell-all book you could write! I'm out of the running as I have ...


Thanks to everyone who's participated in the spirited discussion below on the Art Siebens case. Commenters have raised a number of important questions, among them:1) Will eliminating tenure increase the quality of teachers in DCPS? Where will this fleet of new exceptional teachers come from? Do principals have incentives to keep the best teachers? Will principals nix “bad” teachers, or will teachers who are outspoken take the fall, too? Might it not be prudent to make investments in improving the teachers that we have, rather than just replacing them in large numbers?2) What are the implications of arbitrary ...


Reporter: “The teachers’ union is saying that their concern is arbitrary firing…. that it just isn’t possible to give everyone sort of a level of fair scrutiny.Rhee: “It’s interesting because, I mean, the bottom line is that people are saying, ‘Well, great teachers could be fired arbitrarily.’ My answer to that is, ‘Why would I ever create a system where we were arbitrarily firing great teachers? That would not benefit me or the school system.’” - Michelle Rhee on NPRAll along the Eastern corridor, folks are buzzing about firing teachers. In New York City two weeks ago, ...


You have to hand it to the New York City Department of Education's Department of Assessment and Accountability. You really do.Yesterday morning, the NY Times reported that the DOE will now distribute teacher value-added reports to teachers and principals.* Here's the thing - the value-added reports don't just report that a teacher performs at the 65th percentile, the 25th percentile, etc. Instead - as they should - the DOE reports a confidence interval around each teacher's value-added to represent the uncertainty of the estimate. And unsurprisingly, these confidence intervals are quite wide. A 65th percentile teacher in this example ...


It is a rare talent that can filter the mass of information around us, process it, and spit it back out to shed new light on things we thought we already understood. Among educational researchers, few share Jonathan Zimmerman's knack for cutting to the core of the issues of the day.A historian who teaches at NYU, Zimmerman is the author of three books that examine cultural and political conflict in our schools throughout history. His first book, Distilling Democracy: Alcohol Education in America’s Public Schools, 1880-1925, reviews conflicts over how children were taught about alcohol during the temperance ...


It’s election season, which means that we’re being inundated with polls. The reporting of poll results drives statisticians nuts, because the press often reports the percentage of those surveyed who favor one candidate or another, without taking into account the poll’s margin of error. The margin of error is a way of quantifying the uncertainty in the poll numbers, because even a well-designed poll that surveys a random and representative sample of the population is going to generate an estimate of the true proportion of those in the population who favor a particular candidate. The general rule ...


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